As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Sprouting from the remnants of a kosher winery in Green Valley, Cahill Winery expanded production to a variety of traditional reds, whites, dessert wines, and vinegars. The varietals are sourced from regions around California such as the North Coast and the Alexander Valley viticultural areas. German shorthair dogs and livestock welcome guests to the winery, where the Payne family has cultivated an organic garden and struck a champagne well that erupts from deep within the earth.
Few spots in Europe feel as timeless as the Irish countryside. The craggy, untouched coastline and rolling, startlingly green meadows dotted with herds of sheep and the occasional crumbling castle seem to belong to a faraway past, as though the Industrial Revolution never managed to jump the Irish Sea. It's the perfect place to cobble together a romantic country idyll, with days given over to exploring rustic byways and nights to sipping frothy pints in cozy pubs. Authentic Ireland Travel's seven-day, six-night Romantic Ireland Escape Tour provides a taste of all that the Emerald Isle has to offer, as guests follow a flexible itinerary with pre-arranged transportation and accommodations. Click here to see a detailed itinerary of the trip. Days 1–2: Visitors arrive at the Dublin, Cork, or Shannon airport, pick up a rental a car, and escort themselves to Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, a turreted, 16th-century stone castle later converted into a hotel. Later, travelers can explore the Dingle Peninsula by rental car. The circular Slea Head Drive supplies sweeping views of the coast, and the twisting, turning Conor Pass cuts through the highest grouping of mountains in the country. A pint in one of Dingle's brightly painted pubs, many of which feature live music, brings the day to a tasty, tuneful close. Days 3–4: The Fairview Guesthouse in Killarney provides a centrally located home base for visitors to explore the brick footpaths of downtown, with its clustering of quaint pubs and shops located within walking distance of the hotel. A horse-and-carriage ride, included with this tour, supplies a leisurely trip around Killarney's historical sights, including the soaring St. Mary's Cathedral and the 15th-century Ross Castle. A drive along the 110-mile Ring of Kerry passes through sleepy villages and cool forest glades, and travelers to nearby Blarney in County Cork can receive the gift of gab by kissing the Blarney Stone after treating it to a romantic candlelit dinner. Days 5–7: The final leg of the journey includes lodgings at the friendly, family-run Bunratty Manor Hotel in western Ireland's County Clare. Close by, the majestic Bunratty Castle broods over the River Shannon and popular Bunratty Folk Park, a reconstructed village that depicts life in rural Ireland as it was lived 100 years ago. A short drive to Cashel presents the arresting sight of medieval buildings perched dramatically on cliffs overlooking the town. As evening falls back in Bunratty, a medieval four-course banquet dinner is served, complete with wine, mead, and costumed singers. The next day, an included Ancient Paths of Ireland Walking Tour takes hikers on a relaxed, guided trek through the rocky Burren near the coast. Later, a visit to Ailwee Cave lets travelers explore 210 passages, bridged chasms, and giant open caverns. The tour ends on day 7, when travelers depart for home from Shannon Airport in County Clare.
More than 2 miles above the Russian River, a skydiver jumps from a plane, quickly accelerating to racecar speeds of 120 mph before a canopy opens above and glides the diver to earth amid views of neighboring clear waters, sprawling vineyards, and the San Francisco skyline. Located in the heart of wine country, NorCal Skydiving's professional staffers make it their mission to pass on these thrills to each customer regardless of skill level or ability to fly his or her own plane. During tandem jumps, experienced instructors and novice divers conjoin and jump together from a plane 13,000 feet in the air. Once students are hooked, instructors can coach them on advanced techniques, such as canopy flight, and then help them become licensed skydivers. Additionally, NorCal Skydiving's staff regularly parajumps into the U.S. Parachute Association to work as safety and training advisors.
River's Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips' owner Lollie Mercer likes to joke about being in the business of curing nature-deficiency disorder. It's certainly true that sunlight and exercise provide the body with a whole host of benefits, and Lollie's customers get plenty of those riding the rapids of the Russian River. She and her staff outfit guests with one of six types of boats, which include styles that range from the classic canoe to double kayaks. Self-guided groups embark on three- to six-hour trips where they navigate Class I and II rapids. When the water calms, they can view the abundant wildlife along the river's banks, including osprey, eagles, otters, and turtles. Eventually, groups land at River's Edge Beach, where Lollie and her crew collect gear and guests reunite with their less-awesome land-based vehicles.
Locals Wine Tasting outfits sip-seeking palates in a tasty variety of grapey frocks, all crafted by 11 lauded and loved wineries. Corral a fellow oenophile or wine-fueled automaton for an informative tasting session, which features grape-blood goods from purveyors such as Dark Horse, Foggy Valley, Bedarra Vineyards, and more. The session's flight tastings imbue suppers with a wine-filled cornucopia of vino-based knowledge, such as tasting and pairing tips and how to build a suitable flotation device from leftover corks. All participants leave with a bottle of 2008 Foggy Valley Leras Vineyard, RRV chardonnay, a fruity brew with hints of green apple, white nectarine, and melon.
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