Part two of the Cook Islands trip. But what else is there to do besides eat and drink, you ask? Well, let talk about transportation. Most people zip about on little scooters that accommodate only one or two people. Right hand-drive cars are available as well if you are more than two or really can’t live without climate control. Either way, you’ll have to get a Cook Islands drivers license. Scooters will also require a short training course if you don’t have a motorcycle certification of some sort. Or if you’re daring, there are a few places that will rent bicycles. On the islands, they are called “push bikes” – some are squeaky, old mountain bikes with terrible brakes (like we had), others have battery-assisted power for when you get tired. Your choice. But, and I emphasize the “but” here, when the sun goes down, the island gets dark, and push bikes don’t have lights. We made it home alive after a leisurely dinner stuck us five or six miles from our hotel after sunset. It’s the only adventure on the island I don’t recommend.
Read more: Top travel tips for the Cook Islands and Rarotonga
Every now and then internet travel sites splash some really intriguing vacation packages up on my screen. And every now and then, like a big game fish, we bite. So when Living Social tossed out a trip for two to Rarotonga, Cook Islands… Sorry, where, you just asked? The Cook Islands are a Polynesian island chain in the South Pacific, kind of like an English-speaking Tahiti, with clear lagoons and beautiful reefs surrounding the island. And Rarotonga, the largest of the islands, is home of the Maitai, a freighter that went down on the reef on Christmas Day, 1916, carrying Model-T cars from San Francisco. So if you like tropical vacations on tiny islands populated by the Maori (who swear they’ve given up cannibalism) then put this rock on your must-see list. But I’ll share some of my insights with you first so you really can have the tropical paradise you’ll be dreaming about.
Read more: Top foodie travel tips for the Cook Islands and Rarotonga
A few weeks ago, I was privileged enough to be invited to a slightly flawed Scotch tasting sponsored by Glenfiddich (side note: the pronunciation is glen-fid-ik – the ‘ch’ is hard like Loch Ness). The original plan for the dinner and tasting was to preview the upcoming release of Glenfiddich’s Snow Phoenix, a one-time only blend of whiskies which survived the great roof collapse of 2010. But that’s not what happened.
Read more: Out with the old, in with the new: The out-dated traditions of Scotch Whisky
I blame John Wayne for America’s desire to waste good whiskey by slamming it down the gullet from a tiny glass or even straight from the bottle as proof of manliness. How many great cowboy movies or World War II flicks offer up images of heroic men hitting the hard stuff before running off to face a hail of bullets? Or maybe those old-timey bartenders should be held responsible. I mean, was there ever a scene when the Duke sauntered up the bar and ordered a whiskey only to be asked, “How do you want that? Neat, rocks or a splash of water?” Then again, I don’t recall the iconic tough guy ever taking a quiet moment to admire the floral notes wafting off of a glass of anything, either.
Read more: To Sip or Slam – the Whiskey Dilemma