• Rooftop Pool at Ohla Hotel in Barcelona, Spain

    Best Hotel Pools Around the Globe

    <h2>7 Best Hotel Pools for Whiling Away an Afternoon</h2>   <p>It’s no secret that we love walking tours. Every one of our Classic Journeys trips includes walking trips that get us out into the countryside of Provence or immersed in the culture of Cuba or rambling along the cobblestone streets of Tuscany. And while we enjoy this type of travel so much, we also enjoy some downtime. And what better way to while away an afternoon than lounging by an amazing pool with picturesque views. Here are some of our favorites:<br><br><img alt="Desert Pearl Inn" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002ox9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Desert Pearl Inn, Springdale, Utah</b><br> </p> <p>After a day <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bryce-tours/" target="_blank">exploring Zion</a>, there’s no better place to watch the sun set over the amazing rock formations than relaxing in the pool at the Desert Pearl Inn. The large, free-form pool is surrounded by a flagstone pool deck dotted with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Soak tired muscles in the hot tub while enjoying the trickle of the nearby waterfall. Lush, green vegetation encases the entire area — a beautiful contrast to the red rock cliffs surrounding the inn.<br><br><img alt="Ohla Barcelona" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oxE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Ohla Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain</b><br> </p> <p>Situated <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/barcelona-tours/" target="_blank">right in the heart of Barcelona</a>, the Ohla Barcelona is a modern marvel masked behind a grand and exquisite neoclassical façade. The “chill-out” terrace, as they call it, offers stunning views of the city with a glass-sided pool perched between an upper sunning deck and lower seating area filled with two-tops — perfect for watching a sunset, cocktail in hand.<br><br><img alt="Hotel Lone" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oxJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Hotel Lone, Rovinj, Croatia</b><br> </p> <p>At Hotel Lone, you can choose your pool — indoors or out. Indoors you can still enjoy the view of the gardens thanks to the glass wall enclosure. If you opt for al fresco, which we highly recommend, you’ll <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia-tours/" target="_blank">enjoy views of the protected Zlatni rt forest park.</a> The area includes a sun bathing terraces (six levels!), a restaurant, a pool bar and a summer stage. The pool complex itself includes the relax pool, aqua-fun pool and a children’s pool with whirlpools, waterfalls, geysers and a swimming track — all filled with seawater. Be sure to enjoy the hydro-massage chairs available in both pools. If you’re lucky enough to stay in a Jazz Room, you’ll enjoy your own private infinity pool massage bathtub on the outside edge of you room’s patio — spectacular!<br><br><img alt="Jasper Park Lodge" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oxO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper, Alberta, Canada</b><br> </p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/canada-tours/" target="_blank">Exploring the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies is a jaw-dropping experience.</a> With the opportunity to see grizzly bears, moose, caribou and more, combined with the awe-inspiring vistas, your senses will be overwhelmed. What better way than to relax and reflect on everything you’ve experienced than poolside under the star-filled night sky. On the shores of Lac Beauvert, you’re in the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve.<br><br><img alt="Hotel Sahrai" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oxT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Hotel Sahrai, Fez, Morocco</b><br> </p> <p>Enjoy <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank">majestic views of Fez and the surrounding</a> area while soaking in the infinity pool at Hotel Sahrai on its magical hillside location. Stretch out in the afternoon sun on a daybed atop the teak pool deck. Hungry after a long day exploring the city? Grab a snack and refreshing drink from the poolside Arcades restaurant.<br><br><img alt="La Vista Boutique" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oxY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>La Vista Boutique Hotel &amp; Spa, Kusadasi, Turkey</b><br> </p> <p>It’s an endless blue vista from this luxury <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/turkey-tours/" target="_blank">infinity pool perched on the edge of the Aegean Sea</a> at the La Vista Hotel. Pick your lounge chair or sit at one of the many tables below the waterfall edge of the pool — both maximize this spectacular view. Be sure to catch a sunset and watch the cruise ships sail out to sea knowing you’ve got the best seat in the house.<br><br><img alt="Furama Resort" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lL&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oxd" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Furama Resort Danang, Da Nang City, Vietnam</b><br> </p> <p>You might be mingling with royalty, presidents and movie starts when you stay at Furama Resort Danang, a five-star favorite of the jetsetters. But all of this will fade away as you relax in the huge pool area bedecked with palm trees. The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/indochina-tours/" target="_blank">infinity edge overlooks China Beach and out onto the East Vietnam Sea</a>. Even more enticing — check out the swimming lagoon. It’s like taking a swim through the jungle — overgrown with palms and other jungle plants — all with a nice tile blue bottom and clean, refreshing water.</p>

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  • Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

    Chart a Course for Turkey

    <h2><b>In this multi-layered and exocit corner of the world, moving with the rythms of local life is as simple as tuning into your own inner frequency.</b></h2>   <p>The quiet serenity of the Sultan Ahmed’s hallowed interior melts away as we cross its threshold into a grand, open-air courtyard and are swept up by a wave of frenetic activity in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district. Car horns honk, Arabic pop music thumps from the speakers of a nearby shop and a bright tapestry of people floods past. We see men in business suits, old women in hijabs. A 20-something gal in Lululemon attire and Nike shoes brushes by a pack of her contemporaries dressed in full burqas. The salty air wafting from the Sea of Marmara mixes with the aromatic zests of the spice markets. Just as the sensory overload reaches a fever pitch, something tamps the chaos. A young man dressed in Western clothing and balancing a pallet on his head stacked high with what look like large bagels cuts through the crowd. He’s like a salmon swimming upstream, but, as if choreographed, the crowd parts to let him pass.<br><br>This morning, our guide, Cemil, told us we&#39;d walk from the Sultan Ahmed to the Hagia Sofia, but when we inquire about the bread carrier, Cemil doesn’t miss a beat. “Let’s follow him for a few minutes and see where he goes,” Cemil says. We follow the man, staying 15 or 20 paces behind, through a maze of narrow streets and across broad boulevards. Eventually, he arrives at his destination—just another street corner. There, a man is waiting next to a wheeled cart that reminds me of those old-timey rolling popcorn stalls on the Atlantic City boardwalk.<br><br><img alt="Man carrying bread" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mK&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002onY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>The ‘bagels’ are called simit, and they’ve been a staple of Turkish life for centuries. Twenty minutes ago, Cemil could have explained that the simit carrier was making one of several daily deliveries to the street vendor, who is licensed by the city to sell the bread at that specific location. He could have told us that, like Starbucks’ in the U.S., simit vendors are on almost every corner in Istanbul because—like Americans with coffee—Turks love their simit but are willing to travel only so far to get it. And Cemil could have explained that Turks—living at the intersection of Asia and Europe, East and West—have always been good at finding newer, better ways to do things … unless the ‘old’ ways work just fine.</p> <p>At first blush, the simit carrier’s balancing act seemed precarious to us; the supply chain archaic. Why wouldn’t the street vendors just wheel their carts to the bakery to restock, we might have asked 20 minutes ago? And Cemil could have explained this, too. But it turns out Cemil subscribes to the philosophy “show, don’t tell.” Had we not taken that spontaneous detour, we never would have witnessed the simit carrier’s nimble dance—just one of Turkey’s traditions that has remained largely unchanged for centuries even as its people and cities have evolved and modernized.</p> <p>A few days and several hundred miles removed from the hectic pace of Istanbul, we&#39;re lounging on the deck of our private teakwood yacht and soaking up the midafternoon Mediterranean sun. Nothing about this feels archaic, but we’re again hit by the realization that, save the modern amenities of the yacht, we’re seeing the Turquoise Coast much as maritime explorers and traders would have seen it hundreds, even thousands of years ago.<br><br><img alt="Yacht on the Turquoise Coast" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mK&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002ond" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>From our quiet, secluded cove, we can see tiny specs pushing slow by on the far horizon. They don’t look like it from here, but they’re gargantuan cruise ships—floating cities. We and the intricacies of the rocky shore must be indiscernible to their passengers, captive onboard until the boats dock in the next port on their inflexible itineraries…but at least they don’t know what they’re missing.<br><br>We, on the other hand, chart our own course. We do what we want, when we want and go where we want to go. Today, for example, several of us had the urge for a morning yoga session. But rather than strike our vinyasa poses on the ship’s deck, as we’d done yesterday and the day before, we decide to do our workout on the stand-up paddleboards. Only problem: the water was choppy. So Ali, the captain of our three-man crew, steered our yacht to a secluded bay, where the water was calm and crystal clear.</p> <p>Stretched and ready for adventure, we climb ashore for a walking tour of a portion of the old Silk Road with our guide. As we crest the first ridge, we glance back toward the water and watch the stern of the yacht disappear behind a rock outcropping. Ali is moving the yacht to pick us up on the other side of this inlet, so we don’t have to circle back to him<br><br><img alt="Group hike" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mK&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oni" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>An hour into our walk, we’re in a deep valley, and we can see five miles in either direction. There is no development out here. No cities. No towns. We’re alone, or so we think until we hear the sound of three girls giggling. And then we see them, playing what looks like the American game of Pickle. Their families are nomadic shepherds who traverse this valley through the course of the season, Cemil tells us. They have never seen Westerners, so for these few moments, we—the traveling spectators—become the spectacle. They offer to show us inside their small hut, and we get a feel for their lifestyle that, like the simit carrier’s, is much the same as their distant ancestors’. They speak zero English. We know only a few words in Arabic. But they teach us the rules of their favorite game, and before we wave goodbye we’re able to communicate in the universal lingua franca of friendship and laughter.<br> </p> <p>We return to the yacht giddy, hungry and too tired to think about what we want to eat. Luckily our chef, Kadir, was expecting us and our appetites. Within minutes I’m stabbing my fork into an aptly-named Turkish Delight chocolate cake. As I savor the treat—the perfect punctuation to the day’s sweet encounter—I wonder whose impression will last longer: the young nomad girls’ on us or ours on them.</p>

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  • Hot Air Balloons Over Turkey

    The GoGo Sisterhood

    <p>Not too long ago, the sight of a hot air balloon full of women might have caused quite a stir in the countryside of central Turkey. But when Nancy Richer, a travel consultant from Farmington, Connecticut, and eight other women wafted over a vineyard in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/turkey/" target="_blank" title="Turkey adventure travel">Cappadocia</a> recently, the grape-pickers didn’t so much as bat an eye.</p> <p>That’s because all-female groups are becoming more and more common. Nancy has been on twelve Classic Journeys trips with groups of up to ten girlfriends. “Life is short,” she reasons. “Why not travel?”<br><br><img alt="Nancy Richer and group in Turkey" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7nc&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lzQ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>“We’ve seen a huge increase in women traveling together,” confirms Amanda Babin, Senior Guest Services Coordinator at Classic Journeys. The numbers have grown by about 30% over the last three years. Now, many of them are coming back for more. “The phone rings, and I hear a familiar voice say, ‘The ladies and I are ready to go again!’”</p> <p>Like many travelers, these women set off together to celebrate a birthday or another momentous life event. But just as often, they book a trip to carve much-needed bonding time out of their busy schedules. Sometimes they share interests like cooking or shopping that the men in their lives do not.</p> <p>For Ultima Morgan, an attorney from Orlando, that common interest was walking. Her husband wasn’t into joining her on a walking trip, so, undaunted, she invited her sister and four friends to go on a Classic Journeys <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">walking tour to Tuscany</a>. The women soon discovered that walking was not only a great way to see the countryside but also to get to know each other even better. They had such a good time that the group went to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence/" target="_blank">Provence</a> three years later.</p> <p>“If you’re married or you have kids, especially as you get older, it’s nice to have a chunk of time when you can reconnect with the people you really get along with. Then you’re just bonded for life. They become more like family.” says Morgan.</p> <p>For Debby Poskanzer, a taste-test manager from Walton, Kentucky, learning to make pasta with three female friends on a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscanyculinary/" target="_blank" title="Italy Culinary Tour">culinary tour in Italy</a> was a blast. “We definitely bonded over that pasta dough,” says Poskanzer. “The cooking lessons were intimate hands-on experiences—lots of laughs and lots of fun.”</p> <p>Guided group trips like Classic Journeys make it easy to blend in and feel at ease. Fulltime local guides handle all the logistics and introductions to the local people. The women agree that such personal care liberates them to feel comfortable and at home anywhere from a Costa Rican rainforest to a Vietnamese rice paddy. And without the need to take care of children, husbands, or other responsibilities, they are free to connect with their friends, have fun, and cut loose. Ultima Morgan admits she doesn’t often laugh hysterically, but escaping the routines of daily life opened a lighter side of her group, and they laughed ‘til their ribs hurt.</p> <p>“It’s the sort of thing you just don’t get with friends unless you’re spending that type of time with them, and then you’re just bonded for life,” says Morgan. “They become more like family.” For Richer and her female travel companions, stargazing and sleeping in tents in a remote Berber encampment in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank" title="Morocco adventure travel">Morocco</a> was one of those unforgettable shared experiences.</p> <p>“No one else can understand that, right?” says Richer. “Those of you who have had that experience have a special sisterhood.”</p>

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