Joan Mead-Matsui

Guest Travel Writers and Bloggers

An Expat Childhood: A Nutshell Summary

Points south and east


Finding yourself through travel and genealogy


By Ceil Lucas, the author of How I Got Here: A Memoir

Ceil Lucas How I Got Here Joan Matsui Travel

Ceil Lucas is the author of “How I Got Here: A Memoir

It would seem that I had an expat childhood.

The nutshell summary:  I was born in Phoenix in 1951; in 1956, my father the civil engineer accepted a job in Guatemala City.  In 1960, he was hired by the Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO) of the United Nations located in Rome, Italy. I came to the US for college in 1969. I returned to Rome for the 1971-1972 academic year.

While I have traveled extensively, I have lived permanently in the United States since August of 1972.  Ages 5 to 21: four years in Guatemala City and 12 in Rome, with two nine-month stints for freshman and sophomore year at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

I knew that I would eventually write a memoir about my childhood in Guatemala and Italy, to preserve the memories of living in Latin America in the mid-1950s, a fraught time, and in Italy in the 1960s, during the post-war economic boom. I learned to speak Spanish in Guatemala, learned to read and write in Spanish. I arrived in Italy at age nine, had many Italian friends, went to an all-Italian YMCA camp in Sardinia when I was ten and later went back as a camp counselor: total immersion in Italian from when we arrived and it left me with a strong Roman accent, quite distinct from the accents of Florence, Milan, Naples, or Venice.  I developed a deep attachment to Italy which I have maintained over the years, partly from teaching Italian to university students and adults for 44 years.

When I came back to the U.S. for college in 1969, my stance was often, “Well, I wasn’t raised here; I’m not from here”, hand on my hip, head cocked. This was 1969, in the middle of the Vietnam War, and I also brought with me general European opinions about it, opinions not favorable to the U.S. involvement. The deal with my parents had been that, if I wanted to go to college – which I did – it would be in the U.S., non-negotiable. So I came to fulfill my end of the deal, with a large part of my head and heart left behind in Rome.

But I have not one drop of Italian blood in me. I am frequently asked, “Oh, do you still have relatives in Italy?”  I never had any, ever, even though I sound like I must. As I was organizing the memoir, I had also started working on my family’s genealogy and came to find out my mother’s people came to Eastern Maryland from Scotland in 1654; my father’s people were Quakers who sailed to Philadelphia from Weymouth, England, in 1679. And the name in 1500 was De Lucas, with some Spanish blood as well.

As I organized the memoir and worked on the genealogy, I had to slowly come to terms with the fact that, when your folks arrive in 1654 and 1679, you’re “from here,” deeply American. No Italian blood but lots of Scots and English blood. Writing about all of my travels and working on my family’s history got me to my true ethnicity. It forced me to face the occasional difference between my identity quite naturally forged by a childhood outside of the U.S. and my American ethnicity, roots put down, in the case of my mother’s family, 122 years before there even was an America. I have come to feel like I know all of these ancestors and they made their way into what I call my genealogical memoir. I have gotten comfortable with all of them.

How I Got Here by Ceil Lucas on Joan Matsui Travel Writer

Ceil Lucas, sociolinguist, professor, and author

About Ceil Lucas


Ceil Lucas, the author of How I Got Here: A Memoir, is a sociolinguist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French and Art History, a master’s degree in French and Italian, and a doctorate in Linguistics.  She spent 40 years as a professor and researcher at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She began teaching Italian in 1973 and continues to do so.  She is the editor and co-author of 22 books. The memoir is available on Amazon.







Eye Protection to Suit Your Every Mood

Sunglasses for your adventurous spirit


Sunglass Warehouse


Has anyone seen my sunglasses?

Maybe they’re in my car or in my handbag.

The last pair of expensive designer sunglasses I purchased did not come home with me after playing a few sets of tennis. I left them on a bench near the tennis court and I experienced buyer’s regret for at least a few weeks after losing them.

Forget the expensive designer eyewear if you’re prone to breaking or losing your sunglasses.

Sunglass Warehouse review by Joan Mead-Matsui

Sunglass Warehouse has a fantastic selection of sunglasses to suit your every mood and activity.

Sunglass Warehouse offers a variety of styles and frames that can be worn for all of your activities from hiking and cycling to fly fishing. Your options are to buy sunglasses at affordable prices with no worries if you happen to lose or break them, or obsess about your designer frames when you should focus on your activity and have fun.

What if your sunglasses fall off your head into the water while you’re fly fishing or on a canoe or kayak trip? Will you dive into the water to retrieve your glasses? I hope not.

Sunglasses are not only accessories. They also protect our eyes from UV damage and Polarized lenses improve visibility for activities like fly fishing. Each of the five pairs I’ve sampled has withstood the test of time, after countless hours on the water.

Sunglass Warehouse has hundreds of styles of sunglasses that are priced at $20 or less. If you prefer round, square, oblong, Aviator, textured, black, blue or brown, you’ll find what you’re looking for at 

The site is easy to navigate and filters allow you to find your ideal pair from among Sunglass Warehouse (SW) Exclusives, Festival Shades, Brow Bars, Flat Lenses, Matte Metals, Retro Classics, Bold Shades, Colored Lenses, Cut-Out Shades and Rose Gold.



“Hail Caesar” at Villa Roma

 Old-World European Charm 


Villa Roma Resort and Conference Center


Villa Roma by Joan Mead-Matsui

Villa Roma Resort, 356 Villa Roma Road, Callicoon, NY is a hot spot for Catskill entertainment and lodging. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui, travel writer, photographer, and videographer

Getaway from city life and EXPLORE 


Have you arrived at a destination knowing from the get-go you’ll have an extraordinary stay?

My first impression of Villa Roma Resort & Conference Center was “lively.” That’s a characteristic I look for when I first step foot on a resort property.

Upon my arrival, vehicles were lined up, as guests loaded and unloaded their luggage. Even in late winter, a time of the year many resorts refer to as the “slow season,” the lobby was bustling with activity.

Caesar Night – a sight to behold and cherish


Villa Roma by Joan Mead-Matsui

A group of senior citizens found plenty of time to catch up at “Caesar Night,” an evening dedicated to fine Italian cuisine and culture.

After spending an afternoon reminiscing in the lobby, the seniors reconvened for Caesar Night that evening. As I entered the main dining room, the maitre d’ was leading the crowd in a celebration of Italian cuisine and ancient culture. They chanted, “Hail Caesar,” as I discovered a most of the crowd was decked out in garb straight out of the Roman Empire.

Caesar Night is a Thursday night ritual at Villa Roma, marked by a seven-course feast prepared by Chef Peter Selthafner. An appetizer, choices of soup or pasta, salad, selections of entrée and a variety of scrumptious desserts are extremely popular among guests who want to take the time to relax and truly savor each course. When is the last time you devoted 90 minutes to casual dining and conversation?

The Regal Dining Room (located on the third floor of the resort’s new main building) is a perfect setting for Caesar Night and unhurried meals. You’ll find the decor – shades of rich blue and gold, decorative hand painted wall murals and large ceiling fixtures are the ideal backdrop for an Italian-themed meal.

Breakfast IS a BIG DEAL 


Begin your day with breakfast prepared YOUR way. A bowl of fresh fruit arrived at my table, along with a cup of decaf coffee, shortly after I was seated at a table by the window. Service was consistently top-notch during my 24-hour visit to Villa Roma.

Villa Roma by Joan Mead-Matsui

Fresh fruit was a sweet beginning to my breakfast.

Villa Roma is ideally situated in New York State’s Catskills’ region. The mountains and countless acres of greenery that surround the resort are a draw for the thousands of guests who visit the Catskills each year in pursuit of hiking, fishing, and skiing opportunities. Abundant activities and a friendly atmosphere keep guests coming back year after year for nearly six decades.

Dining options:

The Main Dining Room, The Beechwoods Restaurant, Beechwoods Grill, Roman Garden Cafe, Dolce’s Ice Cream Parlor, Coffee Bar (new) and Pool Grill

Villa Roma by Joan Matsui Travel Writer

The decor is vibrant, with plenty of space in the common areas for guests to meet.



In the fall of 1969, Martin Passante became the sole owner and by 1973, construction of the lobby and “Future” wing was underway. Prior to 1977, the resort was largely still a seasonal escape for guests but by the 1970s, the focus had shifted to year-round activities. Guests could still count on personalized service and made-to-order food but golf and planned activities were an added draw.

You can get your hands on a copy of the entertainment schedule, brochures highlighting upcoming events and special deals when you check in at the registration desk. Additional information is available when you download the “Good Times Newsletter.”

Always plenty to do


The Villa Roma guests see today has grown from an old-fashioned guest hotel with 46 rooms, 10 cottages, a pool, and two bocce courts to 24 timeshare buildings and 139 hotel rooms. Yet, the attention to details and outstanding customer service have not been sacrificed to accommodate more than 200,000 guests each year.

Recreational opportunities are plentiful. Golf enthusiasts can play a round at the resort’s 18-Hole PGA Championship golf course or get their tennis fix on the indoor and outdoor tennis courts. You’ll also find racquetball, volleyball, bocce, shuffleboard, basketball, indoor and outdoor heated pools, a fun park, fishing pond, Go-Carts, bumper boats, an arcade room, bowling alley, and fitness center. Villa Roma also offers nightly entertainment and three year-round dining outlets.

Regardless of the season or temperature, fishing and fly fishing are year-round sports enjoyed throughout the Catskills, but if fishing isn’t for you, follow this link to find a complete list of activities to pursue near Villa Roma.

Fishing news and the best locations to fish can be found here at



The two-bedroom efficiency can accommodate up to six guests, with plenty of room to move around.

In addition to two large bedrooms, one with a king bed and the second with one queen bed, the living area also offers a pull-out double sofa bed, which is a definite plus for night owls who want to channel surf the flat screen television.

Villa Roma by Joan Mead-Matsui

Villa Roma Two-Bedroom guest suites offer a kitchen for guests who choose to dine in their rooms. This suite is ideal for family travel.

A kitchen with a full-size refrigerator, stovetop and oven, microwave, and a dishwasher is located adjacent to the living room. The bathroom in this unit is equipped with a separate bathtub and a shower stall, so guests can enjoy a long soak or shower.

Villa Roma also offers a one-bedroom efficiency, one-bedroom suite, deluxe rooms with a private balcony that’s perfect for stargazing or daydreaming; traditional rooms, and lodge rooms located only a short distance from the main building.

Nightlife – Dinner and a show


When you’ve finished dinner, where will you find nightlife in the Catskills?

Marty’s Lounge is one of the Villa Roma venues where you can enjoy a late night cocktail, sporting event or a movie on a large screen TV.

Villa Roma by Joan Mead-Matsui

Hand-clapping or toe-tapping entertainment at Villa Roma Resort and Conference Center

Villa Roma by Joan Mead-Matsui

Dance the night away with your sweetheart at Villa Roma.

Villa Roma by Joan Mead-matsui

Musician and entertainer Tommy Walker’s evening show at Villa Roma is the icing on the cake. His repertoire includes famous Sinatra and Elvis tunes. Be prepared to sing along with Tommy. 

Villa Roma by Joan Mead-Matsui

Musician and entertainer Tommy Walker is a favorite for guests of all ages.

Upcoming Events You Won’t Want to Miss


You can count on being busy when you book your getaway at Villa Roma. Take a look at the following themed weekends planned for September, October, and November.


Murder Mystery Weekend

Fri., Sept. 29 to Sun., Oct. 1, 2017

October 27,28, 29, 2017

November 3-5, 2017

Bethel Woods Special

Book your accommodations at Villa Roma and slip away to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts for a concert.


For more information, visit Villa Roma’s website or call 1-800-533-6767. 

My stay was comped but my opinions are my own.

Benefits of Gluten free diets

The Ones You Didn’t Know


By Sarah Jones


Gluten-free diets are all the rage. The proportions of the American population who follow a gluten-free diet have tripled between 2009 and 2014, despite not having any indications of celiac disease, according to the American Medical Association.

Celiac disease can be devastating, and a gluten-free diet is an essential measure to combat this condition. However, the question remains why so many others’ have chosen to go carb free?

What’s gluten?


Gluten is a protein found in plant foods such as wheat, barley, and rye that can cause a wide variety of ailments in those with Celiac disease, including severe stomach pains, lead to the formation of ulcers, permanently impact the linings of the intestines and may result in anemia.

Especially troubling is the prevalence of this disease has greatly risen from 50 years ago.

Furthermore, there are many benefits to going gluten free including losing a whole host of undesirable issues for people who don’t have Celiac disease but may have gluten intolerance. The symptoms typically associated with gluten intolerance include severe headaches, stomach pains, bloating, excessive flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, loss of feeling in your joints, skin rashes, acne and low concentration capacities.

Interestingly enough, the ingestion of wheat has been very strongly linked to the formation of eczema, and to the prevalence of sinus allergies, stomach pains and eye conditions, such as dryness. A reaction to wheat that leads to eczema can be caused by both an intolerance to wheat and by an allergy, as both affect the autoimmune system, which in turn affects the skin.


One of the first things that most people remark on when cutting out the gluten from the diets is the high amount of fruits and vegetables they have added to increase their fiber intake and, thereby, also increasing their subsequent stores of vitamins and minerals in their daily diets as well. It also leads to a much stronger immune system, helping you to fend off the cold and other seasonal bugs that may try and take you down during the year.

The second and probably one of the most lauded benefits is how much easier it is to lose weight without all of the common gluten-containing products on your plate. This weight loss can also be associated with an increase in vegetables and other complex carbohydrates over naturally refined carbohydrates that are typically eaten before going on a gluten-free diet.

A further benefit is that bloating will be significantly reduced, as well as constipation which is always a bonus. Also, the high levels of vigor and vitality people experience from this lifestyle is almost unanimous. It may be because when you eat gluten with other foods, the ability of your body to digest the other foods nutrients is impaired and therefore, you have far lower levels of the necessary nutrients entering your bloodstream.

If you are considering trying out this way of eating, you will most certainly not be alone. It is estimated that 22% of the global population are choosing to eat gluten free for either personal choice or because of allergies and intolerances. And the vast majority of these consumers seem to be between the ages of 25-34 or 50-64. However, age is just a number, and you really should do whatever you feel is best for you.

Tips to Stay Gluten Free While Travelling

For those of you who are not allowed to eat gluten due to your intolerance, but would still love to experience the tastes that travelling the globe has to offer, we have a few tips in mind that will keep your diet gluten-free.

  • Know what’s on the menu
    • Don’t ask the waiter or server if the food is gluten-free. Some will say it is gluten-free, when in fact, it may have a huge percentage of it in the meal itself. There is a small amount that can be tolerated, but it is best to know what the ingredients of the delicacy are before ordering. You may ask that of the server, but you’re better off Googling the dish before ordering.
  • Live in a place with a kitchen
    • It may feel tedious, but you can still enjoy local food offerings by cooking using local ingredients. Choose ones that are gluten-free. By now, you know which ones those are. If you must add an unknown ingredient, do your research first before adding it to your meal.
  • Find the nearest vegetarian or vegan restaurant
    • Most vegan and vegetarian restaurants nowadays serve gluten-free food because of the high demand. If you are in a place that has caught up with the GF trend, you may find a place or two that can cater to your dietary needs.
  • Bring your own food
    • Just don’t bring fruits or vegetables. You may bring packs of food in boxes; however, they will be checked and verified by airport authorities. Most airports do now allow fruits and vegetables to be brought in from other countries because of its risk to the ecosystem. That is why you are better off bringing pre-packaged gluten-free food if necessary – and it has to be checked in.
  • Customize your meal
    • Go to a reputable restaurant in the area that allows for customization of food based on allergies and dietary needs. They may be more expensive than local restaurants, but it is worth it if you do not have any adverse reactions. Reputable restaurants follow rules to the tee because they want to keep their reputation intact.

A final tip: Don’t be demanding about it. Request, ask, be polite. Your food may be gluten-free, but it won’t be spit-free if you’re demanding and irate while asking for your diet to be accommodated. And it helps to be friendly when you’re in a different place, right?

Choosing to eat in a way that will uplift your energy, mood, cognitive and physical function, while helping you to lose weight seems like a rather simple way to engage in with your whole self. So, the only thing left to ask is, are you going to be gluten free, too?

Sarah Jones contributes cooking advice to

Sarah Jones slices, dices and cooks her way to a healthy diet, but most importantly, she shares her knowledge with readers so they can enjoy preparing healthy meals.

Many thanks to Sarah Jones for sharing facts you should know about gluten. Sarah writes for Simmer and Zest, and “cooks, slices, and dices,” to be sure she stays healthy. More importantly, Sarah shares what she knows so others can enjoy cooking as well!


50 Super Cool Fidget Spinner Activities to Take on the Road

Spin on Fidget Spinners

Tricks to Take on the Road

Book review and information for the itinerant traveler to make life more enjoyable while you’re on the road. 


Fidget Spinner Book Review by Joan Mead-Matsui

Inspired by “Fun With Fidget Spinners: 50 Super cool Tricks & Activities,” my nephew, Andrew, practices a forehead spin. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui, travel writer and photographer. 

What do kids fall back on when they’re bored? Of course, most children FIDGET.

Travel by car, plane or train can drain a kid’s patience. When my son, Yoshi, bought his first Fidget Spinner, I thought the constant buzzing sound coming from my car’s back seat was REALLY annoying. But the idea behind this toy makes sense for children who are by nature, busy, young human beings inclined to keep their hands and minds busy at all times.

Fidget Spinner Review by Joan Mead-Matsui

“FUN WITH FIDGET SPINNERS: 50 Super Cool Tricks & Activities” teaches kids the ABCs of Fidget Spinner tricks.

“Fun With Fidget Spinners: 50 Super Cool Tricks & Activities,” by David King of “Geek Bite” – with Colleen Dorsey & Katie Weeber, is the bible, or guidebook to the ABCs of fidget spinning tricks. If you’ve never seen a Fidget Spinner, it’s a multi-lobed flat toy that spins on its axis, resulting in a gentle hum or buzzing noise. They were invented as far back as 1993 but became popular in spring 2017.

Fun with Fidget Spinners review by Joan Mead-Matsui

My nephews, (shown from left to right) Matthew, Noah, and Andrew, review some of author David King’s basic tricks kids of all ages can practice.

With some practice, kids can show off their skills with “The Hot Potato,” “The Tower of Power,” “Dinner is Served,” and 14 other impressive tricks. “Stop Fidgeting’ and Other Bad Advice,” and “The Origin Story” are two bonus items kids will also find entertaining. Tricks and activities are categorized for the beginner, intermediate and advanced fidgeters.

Fun With Fidget Spinners is published by Design Originals, an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing. For more details, or to buy a copy, visit


Airplane Travel With Children?

Soar with your children


Rise Above Your Fear


Are you overwhelmed by the thought of traveling by plane with your children?


More than likely, there’ll come a time when you’ll contemplate a trip abroad or a visit with family. If traveling by plane with your kids evokes fear and anxiety and doubts about whether you have the parenting skills to pull off family travel, you’ll want to read “Super Flyers: A Parent Guidebook for Airplane Travel With Children” by Dr. Lori Baudino, PsyD, BC-DMT, a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified dance/movement therapist.

If you’re like Dr. Baudino and you love to travel, why shy away from what could be a memorable journey with your children and a valuable learning experience for children and adults?

Super Flyers is a parent’s manual that’s jam-packed with strategies you can utilize when you need support to handle those trying and awkward moments.

Dr. Baudino shares her tips to handle those fleeting moments of upset and chaos that can occur during travel when children are overtired, overstimulated or restless. She outlines skills parents can employ that will set the stage for a more joyous time.

“If you are a parent then you will eventually come across traveling with your children,” says Dr. Baudino.

Whether your child is an infant, toddler, pre-teen, or teenager, or you’ll have more than one of your brood traveling with you, Dr. Baudino’s suggestions will get you on your way. In 127 pages, she offers tips and delightful progress updates from her children, Aiden and Lyla.

Why should you buy a copy of her book?

Dr. Baudino explains, “With all that we know about parenting and helping our children succeed – I can empower parents to use these skills and take children to new heights exploring cultures, change and travel in the sky.The analogies of flying and parenting are vast- it’s a journey so we might as well share and model enjoyment for and with our children.”

You can learn more about Dr. Baudino and Super Flyers at








Find Yourself Inside Your Body as “Whole Self”

“Getting Away to Find Whole Self”

by Kendrick Mercer, author of WHOLE SELF


Kendrick Mercer Whole Self

Mercer’s book, “Whole Self” is on my “must-read” list.




Nature has a healing quality. Vibrant greenery rustling from movement. The scent of moist soil. The sounds of wind and water. The startling beauty of a mountain range when you step out of a clearing on a forest hike and see a vista across from you at eye level. The morphing shapes of clouds making lazy pictures in the bright blue sky. The heat of the sun on your face and arms. If you open your senses to experience the diverse qualities of nature and connect with the consciousness that lives in you behind your words and agendas, you will find yourself inside your body as Whole Self. This harmonious, resilient being is who you were born to be.

Our early ancestors, going back as many as 250,000 years, had brains and bodies much like ours. They lived in harmony with nature and would have viewed themselves as animals. Some had an extraordinary ability to adapt and innovate, which was something new to life on Earth. And about 60,000 years ago, when a super volcano erupted, a mere handful of very hardy and adaptive souls survived the catastrophe. We are descended from these remarkable people who found ways to survive treks of hundreds of miles with uncertain food supplies through unfamiliar terrain, and gifted us—their descendants—with the genetic heritage of abstract reasoning.

While we can be grateful for our highly evolved minds, there is a drawback to them. Our powerful capacity to anticipate the future and avoid danger keeps us alive, but most people in the modern world also run on a low-grade level of anxiety because we are hyper vigilant against threats from “dangers” in settings that are not mortal threats. We fear threats to our self-images and belief systems. At birth, instead of being left to bask in Whole Self, we are encoded by our parents, families, and communities to become Constructed Selves trying to control fear. Running our lives making decisions based on these encodings rather than on our instincts and innate sense of harmony does not bring us joy or a sense of aliveness. It stresses us and leaves us feeling as if something is off. Fortunately, reconnecting with Whole Self is the antidote.

Getting away to find Whole Self in nature may be just the remedy you need for whatever ails or confuses you. Whole Self is latent, yet accessible in each of us. It is a state of inner trust that allows all our knowledge to synthesize so we may respond spontaneously and appropriately to real problems in real time in each moment of our lives. It is tranquil, dynamic, and effective. It is a state free of resistance, anxiety, self-doubt, and prejudice. Whole Self enables us to live our lives with quiet confidence and minimal effort. It is the elemental state of being human.

Travel to a forest, a lake or stream, an island, a mountain top. Or step into a garden or park. Find a place to sit where you will be undisturbed—even if only for a few minutes—and be still. You may close your eyes if it helps you get present, or keep them open. I assure you, there is no need to invent a lot of rules for this process. You already intuitively know what to do and can trust it. I recommend breathing and being with what is. Listen, observe, taste, smell, feel. As you do, you may perceive the world around you heightened, like a blurry camera setting has come into focus. You may also notice that tension has dropped away, or that you can breathe easier.

My wife, Valorie, and I live on an island in the middle of a lake in northern Idaho. Every season and day have nuances that are fascinating to us because we take time to appreciate them. Being in harmony with nature through Whole Self is integral to our lifestyle and relationships. If you use your travels to experience Whole Self in a world of setting, I can promise it will enrich your life by making every moment more vivid and peaceful. Life is a grand adventure that begins with you.

KENDRICK MERCER is a historian, philosopher, and consultant. He has provided more than fifty years of coaching to thousands of people who note the transformational power of his business and personal development advice. His extensive knowledge of history, anthropology, evolution, psychology, and science has helped numerous corporate CEOs, presidents, and executives, as well as entrepreneurs, independent business owners and more. 

Mercer graduated from Willamette University in 1958 with a major in history. He went on to earn a Doctorate of Jurisprudence in 1961 from Willamette University Law School, and passed the Oregon State Bar, standing fourteenth in a field of 400 participants, and joined a law firm in Oregon. For more information, please visit and connect with Mercer on Twitter. 

Whole Self was released on June 20, 2017, and can be ordered from Amazon and wherever fine books are sold.



Venture to the “Land of the Long White Cloud”

Top 5 Places in New Zealand

The Land of the Long White Cloud


by Sahiba Sadana


Non-copyrighted Image Source

No matter where you go in New Zealand, you’ll come across various pubs with excellent beer, fine wine and wonderful food with pleasant service and a charm that’s all their own. All one needs is to make a stopover, soak up the ambiance and have a great time. Those not from the native country can always look up locations online and find the perfect, most suitable place to stay and enjoy the culture. One can compare the costs, desirability, ratings, and locations of various places and choose the most suitable option to gain maximum utility out of one’s visit. Some of my all-time favorite themed pubs include the following:

1) The Green Dragon


The Green Dragon is a pub that takes its inspiration from the beloved “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” series. It offers followers a “True Hobbit Experience.” Art director and venture manager, Brian Massey headed the construction of the Green Dragon Pub, with a team of 80 laborers in adding the themed attraction to the beautiful Hobbiton. The Green Dragon is decorated with precise details to recreates the look and feel of the same drinking establishment as in The Lord of the Rings films.

Hobbit village, located near Matamata, was built in 1998 as a set of the films; by Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema. WingNut Films art director and Green Dragon project manager Brian Massey supervised the construction and meticulous decoration.

300,000 people have visited Hobbiton over the past decade, and the number has increased drastically after the release of “Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey.” The pub was opened to the public in late November 2012 after New Zealand Prime Minister John Key conducted the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Hobbiton Board director and New Zealand Tourism Supervisor George Hickton have stated that the establishment may be converted to allow for overnight stays to attract more tourists and provide them with convenience to enjoy the Hobbit lifestyle.

2) Leamington Tavern (Five Stags)


Leamington Tavern was established in 2012. It offers TAB dining, SKY TV, outdoor areas and a lovely open fire. It is rightly nicknamed the ‘FIVE STAGS’ as it features five impressive stag heads on the wall right above the bar that steadily view the scene below. The Leamington tavern has a hunting lodge theme that makes one want to sit by the fire and relish a hearty meal. It offers a broad range of menu items from wild boar to venison burgers and a separate children’s menu. Distinctive features of the new concept pub include columns which are exposed and integrated into life-like trees, a detached hunter’s cabin and full-sized duck shooter’s Mai Mai.

3) The Patriot


The Patriot is located in the heart of the village and is the only British-themed pub in Devonport. It is situated in the historic building of the Bank of New Zealand with its original safe vault still in place. One can soak up the ambiance while sipping a pint or drinking a fine glass of wine. The Patriot also provides a wide variety of beers, spirits, wines and soft drinks which one can be enjoyed by the warm fire during winters or in the expansive beer garden or covered verandas in the summer; guaranteeing a memorable experience all year round. It plays Live Music on Thursdays and Saturdays, has a Pub Quiz on Tuesdays and displays all big sporting events Live on their big screens for visitors to enjoy their time at the Patriot.

4) Four Kings


Four Kings are Wellington’s biggest sports pub, with 32 LCD projection screens and three enclosed booths. Four Kings is a multi-level casual eatery as well as a brew house situated in the heart of Wellington’s CBD. With over 70 plasma and LCD projection screens, Four Kings specializes in providing an excellent standard to deliver the experience, high quality, and services. The Four Kings is everybody’s dream sports pub with state-of-the-art TAB and gaming facilities which complement the particular 32 projection screens. The bar is built for comfort and ease with 15 Lazy-boy recliners that one can settle back in and check out a match or race. There usually are three surrounded booths (each consists of its LCD screen) that one can tuck oneself away along with some friends and enjoy. There are lots of different TV sets and ‘Sound Zones’ so you can choose what you want to watch. The 4 Kings Lounge could be the ultimate sports bar for sports fans. Four Kings is also a major sponsor of the “Wellington Century City Saints” basketball team, and throughout the season one can run into players when they dine in at Four Kings after home games.

5) The Riverhead


The Riverhead, 153 years of age, can be considered as New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern in addition to having New Zealand’s second oldest liquor license. The Riverhead has been home to refreshments and conviviality. Having been recently renovated, the focus has been shed upon providing the local community a meeting place and welcoming the tourists and local families to dwell in the fresh New Zealand food with a knack, local wines, great beer, and coffee. It can be seen as a venue for a distinct and attractive destination for different interest groups. The vast lawn under a historic oak tree overlooks a creek and has been a desired place for weddings and gatherings for over a century. The Riverhead along with its history and traditions has been restored recently by owners Paula and Stephen who have reinstated this iconic establishment with a remarkable fashion. The pubs mentioned above are not just merely pubs, they are a unique experience that one must NOT miss out on while they visit New Zealand.

Author Bio – Sahiba Sadana is a content writer, well-versed in SEO writing. Her works have appeared on Business Town, The Business Woman Media and other leading dailies. The English post graduate is a Sherlock Holmes fangirl. You can read a recent article by her on drones at The Absolute Reviews.


David Essel debunks “the myth of the power of positive thinking.”

The Reality of Success

It’s never too late to tackle your subconscious


David Essel Author

David Essel, M.A. is the author of nine books, a Master Life Coach and Teacher, Business, Relationship and Addiction Recovery Coach, International Speaker and Radio/TV Host.

David Essel believes positive thinking will never change your life.

Before you say, “What? That’s a ludicrous statement,” understand the premise of Essel’s ninth book, “Positive Thinking Will Never Change Your Life…But This Book Will!”

By utilizing more than 30 years of experience as a life coach and educator, addiction recovery coach, international speaker and radio/TV host, Essel has transformed his own life through diligence and hard work – the keys to facilitating change. Rather than relying solely on positive thinking, he translated those positive thoughts into an actionable plan to achieve his goals.

Positive thinking, alone, is not a vehicle for change, explains Essel, but coming to terms with the truth: the good, the bad and the ugly in your life, is an integral part of the process he avows.

Whether you need to be motivated to lose weight, resolve debt and achieve financial freedom, save your marriage, or give up bad habits like addiction and codependency, Essel will help you to understand the distinction between positive thinking and quantum thinking.

David Essel Author

David Essel, M.S. is the author of nine books. His most recent book, “Positive Thinking Will Never Change Your Life…But This Book Will!” debunks “the myth of the power of positive thinking.”

What’s the ideal age to begin your journey from positive thinking to quantum thinking?


Essel takes his readers to a place beyond wishful thinking and “fantastical affirmations.”


Much like practicing yoga, the perfect age to feed the “5000-pound gorilla,” within you, is “anywhere from eight years of age until 80 years of age,” says Essel. He cites yoga as a technique we can employ to build confidence and work through uncomfortable circumstances we face on a day-to-day basis.

The bottom line Essel spells out in black and white over and over in his book is we need to get uncomfortable in our approach to letting go of a lifestyle and habits that are not healthy for us.

“Yoga primarily is such a powerful weight loss technique because it allows us to deal with the present moment, it allows us to deal with being a little uncomfortable in a pose but not giving up. It’s the same thing with weight loss.” ~David Essel

Self-discipline is paramount to overcoming obstacles and roadblocks to success. Since the philosophy of yoga is to become one with ourselves, a regular practice will help you to become more centered, more focused, and filled with more inner peace.

“If you look around at people who have practiced yoga for years you’ll find that most of them walk with a distinct confident style. Their body alignment is excellent. They breathe from the diaphragm instead of the lungs,” he noted in a email interview. 

“Flexibility is a key part of yoga practice. Focusing on the core muscles, the abdomen, and the lower back,” he says helps people to age gracefully and reduce stress. It may even take lines off of our faces. It’s powerful.”

You can read about yoga and how to use this centuries’ old discipline to accomplish your goals and reduce stress in Chapter 5, “The Top Positive Thinkers in the World Concur: Action is the Pathway to Success.”

How can you get started today?


Use “Affirmations,” “Visualization,” and “Prayer” as adjunct action tools for success


Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 6, “Using Affirmations, Visualization and Prayer as Action Tools for Success and A Look at the ‘Dark Side” of Our Lives.” His words hit home.

“Let’s use affirmations, statements of intention, for the weight you want to lose, the money you want to make, the relationships you want to have.”

You might also find shades of your own life in contributions from New York Times best-selling authors Eldon Taylor, Scarlett Lewis, Arielle Ford, Natalie Pace, JJ Virgin, Dianne Collins, Dianne Gray, as well as other top experts in the fields of personal growth and business.

I think you’ll find Positive Thinking Will Never Change Your Life…But This Book Will! refreshing and compelling.

For more information, visit


5 Ways to Make Your Destination Wedding Outstanding

Destination Wedding:

How to Make it Special for Everyone


This post was created by GetWedSoon.


Today, people are looking for something new and exciting, be it in their career or weddings.

Speaking of weddings, there is a new trend in town that seems to be redefining the basics of the wedding ceremony for good. Thankfully, everyone is now fed up with over-the-top wedding functions and the stress that comes from micromanaging them at every turn.

More and more couples are opting for the relaxing and fun-filled destination wedding option to make sure that their wedding day turns out to be super special not just for them but for everyone involved.

Are you dreaming of a destination wedding?

Your family, your to-be in-laws, their guests and everyone else that just happens to pass by your destination wedding venue will surely catch a glimpse of the breathtaking view that it unfailingly projects.

Now, if you want your destination wedding to be as legendary as it has been portrayed in latest bridal magazine covers and social media posts then you need to take care of only a few crucial things. In fact, the hospitality and wedding industry is proactive enough nowadays to guess all your requirements right beforehand and offer you just the package you are looking for.

Still, there are some things that you need to take care of. And for that, you can take a quick look at the few essential points mentioned below and be all set for your big day (or the big week…as your schedule and budget might allow!).

5 Ways to Make Your Destination Wedding OUTSTANDING!


So when you think about your wedding, you don’t particularly imagine the biggest celebration of the century. But what you do imagine is a memorable time that is cherished equally by you and your loved ones.

Planning ahead while keeping the common interest in mind is of prime importance. Organizing a wedding ceremony at a third location does require you to do a bit of homework, no matter how many helping hands you get on the way.

The good news is, planning a destination wedding is far easier and lower on stress as compared to your traditional banquet hall ceremonies. Think of it more like an extended family vacation at the end of which you two crazy kids decide to elope but with your entire family in tow! 

  1. Destination is Everything


You might think that as long as it is exotic, it is perfect for a destination wedding but that is not quite so. See, you don’t want to be freezing in your wedding pictures. Nor do you want to appear as a melting snow cone in your wedding Instagram feed. You want to look flawless! Or at least your usual joyful self.

To make that happen, you need a destination that brings out your cheerful vibrant side. That can be arranged with a Caribbean destination wedding where the balmy weather always seems to be playing hide and seek with the sun.

The destination can be any other remote or popular island spot (as your preference might be) or even a place not too far removed from the shores such that you get to enjoy the breezy weather from the second you step into your wedding venue.

If you can afford to fly in all your guests to the wedding destination then it’s great. Else, you must pick a destination that is easily accessible and not too hard on the frequent air miles of your kith and kins. Your wedding should not be the event where your relatives and close friends have to pay through the nose just to reach the location on time.

  1. Keep Tabs on the Weather


So you picked a calm and serene location for your wedding. But, when you finally arrived with your entire bandwagon, it was raining cats and dogs. The hair-curling humidity became the common theme of the party and your wedding pictures are going to be a proof of this slip-up forever. You don’t want this to be the uncomfortable reality of your big day.

To make sure that your finalized wedding spot remains as appealing during your ceremony, it is always advisable to coordinate with the local authorities. Or, you can always google how the weather conditions usually are around the time you have scheduled your nuptials. These small but notable precautions will help you evade any major disaster thus making sure that your special day is a smooth sailing affair.

Most the popular wedding locations have proper facilities for wedding processions complete with a qualified wedding planner. So you can always pick their brain about the best timing for an all out gala or quiet ceremony. They will give you professional advice and save you from learning harsh lessons about the local weather firsthand.

  1. Plan Out the Budget


When it comes to planning events, somehow the budget always keeps on burgeoning no matter how hard you try to conform it according to your requirements. The best way to troubleshoot this age-old problem is by planning your wedding around the budget. This way you will know best what you absolutely cannot do without in your wedding and what can be easily avoided.

The wedding industry has become a billion dollar business not today but it has been so since time immemorial. And it is not just the story of one country or continent. Extravagant weddings are the trend that we humans have been blindly following since the beginning of civilization. So be smart and use the resourcefulness of the global wedding empire to your advantage.

Instead of following trends, opt for the traditions that have been passed down in your family for generations. This way you will be preserving the sanctity of the wedding ceremony without giving in to the superfluous temptations. Usually, even after all this careful budget monitoring, you will surely end up spending just a bit over your prefixed budget. But if by some miracle, you are left with something to spare then you can always extend your stay in the heaven!

  1. Pamper Thou Guests


Guests. Without them, there is no party but with the troublemaker types, you end up putting out fires all night. So, you need your guests to be in a state where they are just too busy to start some trouble but not busy enough to notice all that you have planned out just for them. You can either take care of this with the help of your family or you can hire an expert wedding planner that specializes in making the guests swoon over your party-planning skills!

5 Tips to Make Your Destination Wedding Fantastic

Focus on everyone’s needs and likes when planning a destination wedding that includes family and friends.

Your close relatives, friends and all other well-meaning acquaintances who have flown out from different corners of the globe do deserve to be pampered quite a bit during their stay. And in order to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts and them in general, you can plan a string of activities and gifts around their hobbies and preferences.

By planning out something special for everyone in attendance, you will only be adding more glory to your day. So instead of focusing on only what pleases you, plan it out to include the likes of everyone. Your celebration will become the talk of the town, or at least your social circle for as long as the next similarly amazing get-together comes along!

  1. …And Don’t Forget to have Tons of Fun!


Planning (Use this 6-month Wedding Planning Timeline), budgeting, tracking and a lot of other activities will fill up your weekends and sometimes even weekdays right before your bohemian destination wedding. But you must make sure that you have tons of fun every step of the way. Because that is the only reason you are flying half way across the globe along with everyone you love and care about.

It is important to be organized and prepared in life and it’s big as well as small events. But when we forget to enjoy the ride, the efforts become useless. So, make a fun-filled wedding your priority. Then add a dash of exotic destination flavor to it. Season it with DIY group activities and you will have the recipe of a perfect matrimonial celebration ready in no time!

 Concluding Thoughts


Our life has only a handful of milestone moments, and how we approach and celebrate these moments will ultimately shape us. These moments are temporary pauses that life gives us to reflect on how we’ve lived until now and how we would like to continue. A wedding is a double celebration for the two individuals who are about to enter into a holy matrimony and start an all new journey, together.

You want to make the right start to this timeless journey. And what better way to do so than by picking a destination that you both like and inviting all your friends and family to celebrate this union and shower you with their blessings. This will give you a chance to sneak into a world of your own for a while and admire how beautifully your life is actually shaping up.

And gazing up to see the starry night sky from time to time with someone really special!