We took our first trip to Europe at Christmas in 1991, particularly because traveling on Christmas Day used to be rare and the Business Class cabins were mostly empty. In full disclosure, we were also skipping out on the usual family drama and all of the holiday hustle and bustle. There is something to be said for coming home to no holiday decorations and a clean start to the new year.
Our trip to Italy was not only spontaneous but off the beaten path for the most part. Some destinations (see Part I) earn a big check mark once we have seen them and others, like Paris and Amsterdam, we return to again and again. (more…)
Twenty Years in Paris – Part IV
Let’s face it. If you have been to Paris and liked it enough to return for another visit, you undoubtedly know the two biggest draws to the city. The visual eye candy comprised of amazing monuments, spectacular churches, ancient architecture, gardens, fountains, the River Seine and the cobblestone streets is reason enough for repeat visits to the crown jewel of Europe. The other reason is, of course, the food!
Clearly, the French can sculpt a statue, paint a canvas and design world class buildings. They can also create the most amazing, mouth-watering food I have ever seen anywhere. (more…)
Twenty Years in Paris – Part III
We arrived in Paris at the Gare du Norde train station and took a taxi to the Marriott Champs-Elysees where we discovered our room was not yet ready even though it was 4:00 p.m. and check-in was at 3:00. We asked if another room was available and after a few minutes of feverishly pounding his computer’s keyboard and making phone calls, the front desk clerk was able to change our room so we could unpack and get ready for dinner. Knowing that we were celebrating our 20th anniversary, the hotel manager kindly sent a celebratory cheese plate and bottle of white wine for our enjoyment. Abandoning all dietary common sense during our trip, we dove right in.
After such an elaborate appetizer, we had to think twice about heading out for dinner. Well, not really! We knew what was in store for us and finished dressing for dinner. This night’s destination was a small, left bank restaurant serving classic Parisian dishes. (more…)
Twenty Years in Paris – Part II
Amsterdam is as charming and picturesque in September as it is in spring or summer. The canals and narrow houses lining them glow beautifully in the Autumn sun or after the evening lights appear, which happens as early as 5:00 p.m. in the fall season. Regardless of the time of year Amsterdam never fails to provide its visitors with plenty of eye candy and a magical experience not soon forgotten.
Waking up the next morning in the quiet, gorgeous condo we found the previous day through Airbnb.com, it was hard to believe that we had gone from such a ridiculous situation to such tranquility in just a few hours. The condo’s owner, who lives in Dallas, arranged for his local manager to meet us at the unit and let us “check in” at noon after high-tailing it out of the hip, young, trendy place where we clearly did not belong.
We quickly stocked up on staples for a weekend in Mexico. Beer, wine, some Scotch and munchies to nibble on. The one bedroom condo (more…)
We paid dearly for the hotel’s car to pick us up from the airport in Cancun for our 55 minute transfer to Playa del Carmen. Having been to Mexico several times before, and even fallen prey to two of the biggest tourist scams in the country, we knew it was better to be safe than sorry since we wouldn’t need a rental car for our long weekend stay in Playa. Paying off police officers who stop tourists in rental cars on their way to the airport only fuels the corruption fires that burn throughout Mexico.
The atmosphere on the flight to Cancun was even more festive than a flight to Las Vegas. After all, nobody is flying to Cancun for business. Everyone is headed for a vacation and many of us began our libations (more…)
On our drive from Seminyak to Ubud, Bali for the remainder of our trip, we stopped at one of the many Batik producers where you can watch how Batik is made. The process begins with crafters carefully applying melted wax to the fabric forming the pattern where die will not adhere to the fabric. Die is then applied and the wax melts off leaving the natural color of the fabric.
Once the pattern is created the fabric can then be cut and sewn into any number of garments, (more…)
This year we spent Christmas in Singapore. It is so much fun and enlightening to travel to other countries and experience how they celebrate the holidays. Last year we were also in Asia, Bangkok to be more specific. Not only is the weather so very different than where we live but the culture is very different also. One thing that is a constant, however, is holiday lights and decorations.
There may not be a lot of Christmas trees like North Americans are used to seeing but there are always some type of lights and decorations, even in countries where (more…)