Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ever Have One of those Travel Days?

I wouldn't say that it was a horrible travel day, just long. Yesterday we started out by leaving the house at 7 am. to catch a 9:20 am flight. Thankfully it was Saturday and the traffic was light. The airport was pretty busy but not like we thought it would be on the start of the Christmas vacation week.

We were catching a flight to LA, then renting a car to drive to San Diego. We rented a house there to bake out and spend time together as a family. We have been to Florida so many times over the holidays, that we wanted a change of pace.

Here is the tough part. Warren woke up with a bad cold. As the day went on it progressed to a fever. The flight was ok, however, it seemed really long. Probably because it was an extra 45 min or so due to weather (they had to circle over LA as the rain was pretty bad). We also hit alot of turbulents when we hit Colorado and the mountains. The seatbelt sign was on for at least a hour (and of course I had to pee). I was surprised at Montana as she slept right through it!

We landed in LA in the rain, and had to rent our car and drive to San Diego. It rained for about 1/2 of the 2 1/2 hour drive, with a stop at Inn and Out Burger (yum!).

Warren was a trooper. He carried on and tried not to complain too much until we arrived at the house. I reminded him that if he made it through the Pyramids in Egypt with a cold, and a stomach issue in Thailand driving to San Diego would be a cinch! It is hard watching him feel horrible when we are finally on our much needed family vacation. All we could do was make it easier for him. So Montana and I went out to get some groceries and let him sleep for awhile. That is the advantage of renting a house for family vacations. You don't have to worry about hotel rooms, and eating out. It gives you a chance to just relax. Unless of course you are stuck with all the cooking and cleaning up! hmmmmm...

So we hope Warren feels better soon. He needs this rest more than anyone as he works so hard during the year.

Have you been ill while on a family vacation? Have any members of your family? What are your stories of travelling while ill and how do you deal with the stress of that?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Photo of the Week - The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica California

The Third Street Promenade is a great place to spend an afternoon while in Santa Monica, California.

You can wander through the shops, have lunch with a friend, have a coffee, watch the people go by, or enjoy the street performers. There are many volunteer ambassadors for the Third Street Promenade, who are volunteers and are there to help you find what you're looking for.

We really enjoyed our afternoon at third street promenade and had an amazing lunch at La Sandia which is on the third level of Santa Monica Pl.

So the next time you're in Santa Monica don't forget to spend an afternoon at the Third Street Promenade.

Third Street Promenade - Click here for more information on California Vacations

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about hotels and things to do in Santa Monica

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photo of the Week - Santa Monica Pier and the Arlington West Memorial

Last weekend Warren and I went to Los Angeles to see the LA Lakers play at the Staples Center. Few know it but I am a big Lakers fan! I also love to watch the celebrities at the game (hey what can I say). We stayed at the beautiful Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica and stayed just a couple of nights.

This photo is from the Santa Monica Pier on a sunny Sunday morning in November.

It is the Arlington West Memorial, Santa Monica and is a project of Veterans for Peace. Each Sunday from sunrise to sunset, this organization displays the memorial known as "the Arlington West Memorial". It really is a site to see and this photo doesn't do it justice.

The crosses represent each fallen soldier and the red ones actually represent 10 military personnel. The draped coffins represent the fallen soldiers in the last week.

We didn't realize that it was temporary and only displayed on Sundays. We must have visited the Santa Monica Pier on a Sunday last year as we thought this was a permanent display. We were sad to see how many more crosses there were from last year.

Have you seen this memorial? We would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about hotels and things to do in Santa Monica

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photo of the Week - Sea Lions at the Pier 39

The Sea Lions at Pier 39 were a highlight of our trip to San Francisco in August. At first I was unsure where they were. I knew they were down by Fisherman's Wharf, but where was still a mystery to me. After a quick look on our IPhone we knew they were at Pier 39. We were going to try to avoid Pier 39 as we aren't fans of the touristy places. Some we are good with but Pier 39 looked over the top to us.

It was really busy and cold (August can be really cold in San Francisco, around 60 F). We had just finished an awesome segway tour with City Segway Tours.

We were going to skip it but I insisted (I have a way of doing that). I really wanted to see the famous sea lions. So we braved the cold wind and walked to the pier. Pier 39 is a typical tourist attraction, packed with people, shops and restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Once there we figured out we had to go to K Dock. We started out upstairs by the restaurant. There weren't many people there, but it was really cold with the wind.

So I went downstairs where most of the people were. There was a great guide there that was telling people about the Sea Lions and their hypothesis on why the Sea Lions liked to hang out here. They have only been doing this for about 20 years. They think that the big earthquake may have changed where they used to beach, and San Francisco Bay is free of predators for them, but had a great food source.

No one really knows why they started coming to Pier 39, but I can tell you the tourists are ecstatic, as I am sure the businesses on Pier 39!

When you are next in San Francisco, make sure you check them out. They are a lot of fun to watch!

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about hotels in San Francisco

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photo of the Week - San Francisco Fairmont Lobby

This past summer, Warren and I were looking for a place to visit that was cooler than everywhere else. We chose to spend a few days in San Fransisco as part of our 2 week adventure to Las Vegas and the Central Coast of California. We got our wish as it was quite cool but we didn't care as we loved the city!

Since Warren travels to Calgary a lot on business and stays at the Fairmont, he is a presidents club member so it only made sense that we stayed at one of the two Fairmont's in the city. The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square was sold out, so we chose the Fairmont San Fransisco. We were very happy with this choice.

The Lobby of the San Francisco Fairmont

Located in Nob Hill (at the top of a Hill) it was central to most everything we wanted to see. The Cable cars (which we loved to ride on) stopped just outside of the hotel and made it easy to get around (although they can get quite busy). There were many restaurants within walking distance and the lobby (as you can see in the photo) is beautiful. The staff were accommodating and friendly, and we were upgraded to an amazing main building suite .

The best part for me was when I discovered that this was the very first Fairmont. The history on this property is quite incredible and dates back to the beginnings of San Francisco. Tony Bennett first sang "I left my heart in San Fransisco" in the Venetian room.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo of the Week - Observatories on the Big Island Hawaii

One of our absolute favorite trips was our tour up to the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii. We were staying for a few days at the Mauna Kea Resort area and knew that we wanted to do the trip up to see the Observatories. We did a tour with Hawaii Forest and Trail Tours, primarily because they were voted in the top five on Things to do on Kona on TripAdvisor.

It was hard to believe the weather changes. We started in the afternoon, swimming in the pool at 90 F, and by the end of the day we had climbed up to below 30 F. Thankfully they included parkas and gloves!

It was a spectacular tour and we will do it again! This photo is of the observatories at sunset. We stayed at the top (about 14000 feet) until the sunset then went down to a lower level (to the information center) and pulled out the telescope to see the stars.

The Observatories at the Top of Mauna Kea at Sunset

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo of the Week - Port Douglas, Queensland

Recently I was going through photos of our trip to Australia. I am in the middle of transitioning the website's look and feel (we would love to know what you think) and was working on some pages in Australia. I came across this photo. We had just arrived in Port Douglas, Queensland, after flying in to Carins from Melbourne and driving for the first time on the other side of the road for 2 hours.

We visited Australia in August of 2008, and it had been quite cold and windy in Melbourne and Sydney. We were happy to have found some warm weather so Montana and I went to check out the town. We found this park down the way from where we were staying. People were hanging around enjoying the we joined in.

Have you been to Port Douglas in Queensland?
Please comment below on your experience in Port Douglas, or on our website's new look and feel...We would love your feedback!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo of the Week - Chicago Hot Dog

While in Chicago recently on a conference, I took and extra day to tour the city. A fellow conference attendee and I decided to go on a segway tour (as you probably know Warren and I are fans of the segway!). Part way through the tour we got to have a break and try a Chicago hot dog.

I didn't know that there was such a thing but hey...when in Chicago try their hot dogs! The stand we went to was down near the John G. Shedd Aquarium. I was told that the only way to have a hot dog is "Chicago Style":  Beef Hot dog topped with mustard, onion, relish, tomato, hot pepper, celery salt and a pickle. Kethcup was only on request and expect to get kidded about it.

Unfortunately I don't like most of the toppings so I opted for just mustard (I didn't dare ask for Ketchup!) Cath, my segway buddy) went for the whole thing:

She enjoyed it! So hey, you never know!

If you are going to Chicago check out the Chicago CityPass for a great price on passes into the citys biggest attractions.

What is the coolest "local specialty" that you have ever tried while on vacation? We would love to hear in the comments below:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo of the Week - Chinese Garden in Darling Harbour, Sydney Australia

We were amazed at the beauty of the Chinese Garden in Darling Harbor, Sydney Australia. While touring around on a hop on hop off bus in Sydney, the tour guide (a recording) said that the next stop includes Darling Harbour and the Chinese Gardens. Warren piped up and said he wanted to check them out. We are so glad we did!

The Chinese Gardens were created by the Chinese community in Sydney to celebrate Australia's 1988 Bicententary. We had a lot of fun in the gardens. Not only did we enjoy the incredible foliage, they also had a place where we could rent Emperor and princess costumes to take photos in all around the gardens. We had so much fun with this!
Check out our pages on Australia for planning your Australia Vacation.

Find and book Sydney tours and activities on Book ahead to save time and money!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thinking of Christmas in Rome?
Here are the Top Ten Things to do in Rome at Christmas

Just before Christmas we spent a day in Rome while on a cruise. It rained the whole day but the city was busy with people Christmas shopping and enjoying the holidays. We really enjoyed it! We picked up a couple of Christmas tree ornaments that we look forward to displaying this year.

A friend of mine, Cath Andrews, just recently posted this article on things to do in Rome at Christmas time. She writes a great website about Italian Culture,

Our awesome lunch in the Piazza Navona at Christmas
Here is her article,

Christmas in Rome
If you're spending Christmas in Rome for the first time and wondering about things to do, here's our top ten activities which combine the magic of Rome with real Christmas traditions in Italy.

  1. Top priority - Christmas in Rome just wouldn't be complete without the amazing experience of the Christmas market in the Piazza Navona. There are stalls selling all shapes and sizes of 'presepi' - the nativity figures you'll see everywhere in Italy at Christmas, stalls selling Christmas ornaments, models of the Italian 'befana'' who brings the children's gifts on January 6th, stalls selling nothing to do with Christmas at all, and some old-fashioned 'knock the cans off the shelf' type stalls. Not to mention a carousel, street performers and balloon sellers. Wonderful!

    (Where: Piazza Navona, from 6 December until 6 January each year).

  2. Admire the beautiful - and huge - Christmas trees tastefully decorated which are at all the main sites. Against the beautiful blue of a Roman sky in December they are majestic and in the dark of the evening sky they're magical.

    (Various places - the best are St Peter's Square, the Colosseum and the Piazza Venezia).

  3. Watch 'presepi' being built: nativity scenes are one of the major Christmas traditions in Italy, but Rome's are works of art and aren't finished before Christmas week. However, if you have to leave the city before that, one of the most interesting activities in Rome is to watch the huge nativity scene inside St Peter's basilica being built. The outside nativity, which is the biggest in Rome, is screened off until it's completed. It's wonderful to watch the craftsmen at work building not just a stable scene but a complete village.

    (Where: St Peter's Basilica).

  4. See finished presepi: the life-sized nativity scenes in every church and in key public places in Rome are a key part of Christmas traditions in Italy. Don't be surprised not to see the baby in the manger - he's always placed there at midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

    (Where: St Peter's Square, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, and any church).

  5. Talking of which, midnight mass at any Italian church is worth attending but in St Peter's Basilica is a particularly special event as it's celebrated by the Pope. Inside the Basilica it's strictly tickets only, but there are big screens on St Peter's Square where thousands of people gather.

    (Where: St Peter's Square, from 11p.m., Christmas Eve each year).

  6. See the presepi exhibition: this houses nativity scenes from all over the world as well as from the different regions of Italy. It's interesting to see how different cultures make the figures in their own image - and interesting to see the materials used which include pasta and rice as well as the more usual plaster and wood.

    (Where: Sala del Bramante, Piazza del Popolo, from early December to 6 January each year. Admission charge - EUR5.50 in 2009 - 2010).

  7. Escape turkey - eat Italian! Turkey is not part of Christmas traditions in Italy. Family meals on Christmas Eve are always fish-based and on Christmas Day will be lots of different types of meat - lamb, chicken, beef - but no turkey!
  8. Pope's blessing: the Pope gives his traditional blessing from the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square at mid-day. It's one of the highlights of Christmas in Rome and televised all over the world.

    (Where: St Peter's Square, mid-day, Christmas Day).

  9. Wander round the city: you'll find shops and most bars and restaurants are closed on Christmas Day, but you can still find lots of things to do in Rome. It's a wonderful time to wander round the city in peace and see some of the usually crowded sites with very few people to bother you.

    (Where: try the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, St Peter's Basilica, and walk off all that food in the beautiful Borghese Park).

  10. And finally, when Christmas in Rome is all over, hang around till New Year's Eve and spend it in the Piazza del Popolo. It's the place to be to celebrate New Year in Rome, the equivalent of London's Trafalgar Square, or Times Square in New York. There's plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks at midnight.

    (Where: Piazza del Popolo, New Year's Eve from any time after dark!).
Cath Andrews lives in Italy, was married in Rome and visits the city regularly. A dedicated Italophile, she is currently writing a website about Italian culture. For more detailed information about Italy in general and Christmas in Rome in particular, have a look at Cath's website at:
Article Source:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photo of the Week - Monte Carlo Harbor

Nothing says opulence like Monte Carlo, Monaco, especially it's Harbor. The yachts are absolutely incredibel and defines wealth.

On our trip to Nice, France, we splurged and took a helicopter to Monte Carlo for the evening. (It wasn't much more than a taxi really). This was  a view of the harbor and a few of the yachts. These yachts make the speed boats behind them look tiny.

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Photo of the Week - The Plaza in Central Park

This week's photo is of the Plaza hotel peaking through the trees in Central Park. New York City is an amazing city. We love to go for the weekend, both as a couple and with Montana. Montana absolutely loves New York for the excitement and shopping of it all.

Warren and I have a soft spot for New York City as our very first trip away together over 13 years ago was to Manhattan. We stayed at the Plaza solely due to the movie Home Alone 2 (if you can remember that one!). We have done that a lot in our travels. We choose a hotel or destination because of a movie we liked. Hey inspiration can come from anywhere!

Through a series of mess ups (on the hotels part) we were upgraded to the actual "Home Alone Suite" It was HUGE and overlooked 5th Avenue. It was a perfect first trip away together.

Since then, the Plaza was bought, renovated and reopened in 2008. The Plaza now offers 282 hotel rooms and 152 private condo hotel units. It is operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

One day we would like to stay in the Plaza again, but with the prices around $1000 a night, we will have to find a more "value for our money" type of rate.

The World Famous Plaza peaking Through the Trees in Central Park
 Have you stayed in the Plaza in New York City? Comment below on your experience

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor about the Plaza

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photo of the Week - The Macau Tower, Macau

On a tour of Macau we were taken to the Macau Tower. We didn't have any desire to go there before, but were happy we did. The tower gives you a lovely view of Macau, and China. There were many activities available including bungy jumping and the Sky Walk (where you walk around the outside of the tower).

It is worth the visit if you are visiting Macau.

Macau Tower peaking through the Trees
But I do have to say, Toronto's CN Tower is still taller! (yes we are from Toronto, Canada)

For more information on Macau, try the Lonely Planet Guide for Hong Kong and Macau.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photo of the Week - Eiffel Tower Paris, France

On a recent trip to Paris, we spent a lovely afternoon in the Parc du Champs de Mars, just below the Eiffel Tower. We were not sure of our plans, so didn't book a time online to go up the Eiffel Tower, because of that we missed it as we weren't willing to wait the 3 hours in line to venture to the top.

Not sure what we missed out on, but we did climb to the top of the Arc De Triomphe, so we still got an amazing view of the city, at sunset too. We really enjoyed our couple of hours napping in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower on a Beautiful Sunny Day in Paris
 The book we found most helpful on our 3 day whirlwind through Paris was Frommer's Paris Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Pocket). It helped us figure out exactly what we wanted to see, and if we came across anything that we weren't sure about it gave us enough of a description to answer our questions.
We highly recommend it for Paris!

What do you like about Paris? Comment below, we would love to hear about it.

More travel Facts about the Eiffel Tower.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Photo of the Week - Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California

I love to watch the sun set. Warren says that I wore him out of sunsets when we were in Hawaii. That could be true!

This is the sunset over Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California. We stayed at the Blue Dolphin Inn (which we highly recommend for a romantic getaway) and had a patio oceanview room.

We could snuggle in the patio "loveseat" under a blanket and watch the sunset each night.

This is my favorite sunset photo from that trip:

Sunset at Moonstone Beach,
Cambria, California

If you have a favorite sunset photo, please send it to me or link it in the comments section below.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Amelia Island Florida - Looks like a Great Family Vacation Idea

On Twitter this morning this Tweet came through from @travelingmoms:

All I could think of was "Wow Really?". We place a premium on family time around here. But one thing that we tend to have issues with (and we are all guilty of it) is releasing the technology...even when traveling and supposed to be on "holiday". There are only two requirements when I am choosing somewhere to stay:

  1. It must have a King Sized bed; and
  2. IT MUST HAVE WIFI or some kind of Internet other than dial up.
I must admit that sometimes it would be nice if we could just unplug together. Kim Orlando managed for the most part to get her kids to turn off the electronics and spend time together (OK she didn't' totally win but I think the compromise still worked).

What really worked for them was the fun planned activities, they made sure they included something for every member of the family. I enjoyed watching their activities and even said to Warren that the next time we are in Florida (we go often as my parents spend their winters there) that we should check out Amelia Island!

What are your suggestions for getting your family to unplug and get some family time together? Comment below, we would love to hear!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Photo of the Week - Mauna Kea Sunset in Hawaii

Wow, 3 weeks in a row, I must be on a roll with these Photos of the week!

This week I chose the sunset in Hawaii. The summer is ending here in Toronto. The kids have gone back to school, and there is a slight chill in the air. I was starting to think about the Christmas and New Year's holidays. That means it will be quite cold here soon. So what sprung to mind but Hawaii!

Hawaii is one of our absolute favorite destinations. This photo of the sunset was taken from a house we rented in Mauna Kea on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island.

My favorite time of day!

Do you love Hawaii? Please share your favorite images of Hawaii with us and we may display them here as a photo of the week on future Fridays.

Contact us here:

We always welcome comments, or suggestions for our photos!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Taking a Seine River Cruise in Paris

On our recent trip to Paris, one of the items on my To Do list was to take a river cruise on the Seine. For a change I didn't plan every detail and activity of our trip and didn't know what type of River cruise to do.

So Warren went to the Concierge at our hotel and he recommended doing a dinner river cruise along the Seine but gave us a few options as well. We could enjoy a 4 course gourmet French meal while taking a two hour dinner cruise on a boat like La Marina de Paris, Have lunch at the Eiffel tower and then the Seine River Cruise, or do a bike tour with a Seine River Cruise.

The only thing I knew for sure, was that I wanted to do the river cruise at sunset as I wanted to see Paris on the Seine by day and by night. After some discussion, we realized that we just wanted to do a Seine river cruise, with no other options attached. The Concierge said, that was the easiest and the cheapest option of all then. Sunset is around 9 pm just go to the Bateaux Mouches down by the Eiffel Tower. In High season boat tours go every 20 minutes from 7 pm to 11 pm. We jumped on the 8:30 tour. It cost 10 Euros (children are only 5 Euros or free if they are younger than 4) each and was totally worth the money.

On the Boat Getting Ready for the Sunset Cruise on the Seine
The commentary is a playback and it plays back in French, English, and German (and possibly Japanese). Sometimes it was hard to hear, but that was ok, we just wanted to experience the city from the Seine.

The boat was massive and could hold 100's of people. We were shocked when we saw how many people it could hold.

This Seine River Cruise travels past all of the big landmarks on the Seine. In fact it was the only time we saw Notre Dame as we never made it over there in the short 3 days we were there. We also went under the kissing bridge as I wrote about in our Romantic things to do in Paris page.

It was a great time and a lot of fun. We ended back at the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed it all lit up. 

We then had a romantic walk along the Seine back to our hotel and watched the light show put on by the Eiffel Tower each night.

Another option that I wish I had seen before going to Paris was the Paris Pass. It includes entry to over 60 attractions in Paris, free use of public transport, hop on hop off bus tour, Skip the line access at the Lourve the Museum d'Orsay and many others, a free map of Paris and a free Bateau Parisiens Seine River Cruise.

Seine River Cruise and Paris Illuminations by Minivan - $ 93.30
For a night to remember, cruise along the river Seine, pass under the many bridges and admire the architecture of the historical buildings. Soak up the wonderful Parisian atmosphere and admire the monuments all around you. Paris looks simply stunning at night time, come and see for yourself!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Photo of the Week - Amsterdam Canal

OK, another Friday has come along, and so does another Photo of the week. This week I chose one of my favorites from Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is one of our favorite cities in Europe. We went back there for a visit in July 2010.
I love this photo as it was the view from the front of our hotel, the Grand Amrath. I love how is shows the homes of the people in Amsterdam, from walk ups across the canal, to houseboats on the canals.

It is free to dock your boat on any of the canals, so many people hook up and don't leave...makes sense to me if that is the life you want.

Do you have a favorite travel photo you would like to share? Contact us here:

When in Amsterdam, don't forget to take one of the many Amsterdam canal cruises to get a different view of the city.

What do you like about Amsterdam? Comment below:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo of the Week - Alabater Mosque in Cairo

So Photo Friday isn't really a regular feature in our Travel Journal, I thought that I would like to showcase one of our photos today. I enjoy the photos that many of my favorite travel blogs and websites post so I thought, "Hey why not!"

I am not promising to showcase one every Friday, but I will try. If you have a favorite travel photo that you would like me to showcase, please feel free to send a note to me through our contact page here:
and we can arrange that.

So for today's photo:

Alabaster Mosque in Cairo
(Mosque of Muhammad Ali at the Citadel)

Not bad for my attempt at being "artsy".

What do you think? Comment below I would love to hear any tips of tricks you may have! 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Playing with the Elephant Seals

Recently Warren and I took a lovely romantic and relaxing trip to the central coast of California. One of the main reasons I wanted to do this trip was to see the Elephant Seals.

I wasn't disappointed. In fact, on our first evening in Cambria, Warren and I went for a walk on the boardwalk and found a couple baked out on the rocks as the tide was going out.

However the next morning, while Warren did a little work, I went for a walk on my own. There was lots of activity on the boardwalk that morning. The squirrels were out, and quite brave! They are obviously fed by humans often as they followed me and got really close.

I was so excited to see the Elephant seals baking out on the rocks as the tide was out.

I decided I wanted to get a little closer and walked down to the rocks. I sat and hung out with them for a while.

I couldn't wait to bring warren back to see them! Unfortunately it didn't work out as every other time we were near he beach the tide was in and the seals were bouncing around in the water. Tip...take advantage of seeing wildlife when you see it as it may not work out if you "come back later".

These seals were younger as they were smaller. They were most likely the younger males.

On our way out of Cambria and up through San Simeon, we stopped to see the big beach where thousands migrate too in the winter months. There were about 30 hanging out when we got there so Warren got to see them then.

Have you seen the elephant seals on the Central Coast of California? Share your experience by commenting below:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Does the Amsterdam Red Light District Live Up to It's Reputation?

When I tell people we spent some time in Amsterdam, one of their first questions is, "did you go to the Red Light District?"  I answer, of course we did. There are not many places in the world where you can buy marijuana, sex films and toys, or sex so openly, it is hard not to be curious about it and want to check it out.

Now having said that, we did walk through it often to get back to our hotel due to where our hotel was located. But we didn't mind, we love the vibrancy of the area and would have sought it out anyway.

We love watching the tourists gawk and awe at the ladies in the windows lit up with red light (apparently they chose red as it makes the ladies look better). We also like the energy of the area. You have grooms and brides to be on their Stag and/or Doe weekends (or bachelor or hen night parties), military men from many different countries on leave walking around, young people, older people. The energy is light and party like, with now judgment (at least in my experience). It's a real mix of fun, especially as we were there during the World Cup and Holland was in the Quarter and Semi Finals.

We even did a tour of the Red Light District to learn more about the history of the area and to be honest how it all works. Every tourist we talked to wondered the same thing. What we learned was that the prostitutes are paid anywhere from 30 to 50 Euros for 15 minutes of their time. They rent out the "windows" or work areas for 8 hours at a time. Their services are regulated and they must pay taxes on their earnings. There are also rules on how each girl is to dress (must where a bikini of some sort). There are girls of all shapes, sizes, nationalities and age and sexes (blue lights mean that they are actually transvestites). Whatever you do DON"T take a picture of the girls - in my mind out of respect - but also they will get REALLY angry with good reason.

Trying to catch a breeze in his apartment during the heat wave in the Red Light District
This is just like any other neighbourhood really. There are schools and apartments, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, even art in some windows (the city bought out 1/3 of the windows to try to "clean" up the area and display local artists work).

You will find live sex shows too.... On our visit in 2004 a doorman at a live sex show told us that it would save our marriage if we saw the show - thanks but our marriage is perfectly fine.

Overall the Red Light District is a lot of fun. As the majority of visitors to it are tourists it really feels like a big tourist attraction.

Have you been to the Amsterdam Red Light District? We would love to hear your experience - Please comment below.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back from our Romantic and Relaxing Trip to Europe

Wow. I didn't know it was possible, but Warren and I managed to have a relaxing vacation in Europe. We visited Amsterdam, Netherlands, Nice France and Paris France.

In my younger days (fine I am only 40 but still) I always felt like I had to spend every waking moment experiencing the places I was visiting. I wanted to pack in as much as I could.

This trip however we didn't do that. We actually took it easy and really experienced these cities. Instead of waking up early, rushing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, we changed it up. (It helped that we had been to Amsterdam and Nice before and I had been to Paris as a teenager).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Amsterdam, Relax or Not...

Amsterdam is the first stop on our upcoming romantic vacation to Europe. Warren and I visited this awesome city back in 2004 on a whim. He came home one day in June with a map and said that he wanted to go to Amsterdam for our July long weekend.

This wasn't like him back then, so what was I to say but OK!!! Lets see what we can do.

First the airfare, we found a cheap last minute charter flight with perfect times to maximize our trip there, then a hotel right in Dam Square. The famous, NG Krasnapolsky Hotel Amsterdam and when we got there got upgraded to a room with an awesome view of Dam Square.

So 2 weeks after Warren came home with a guide book and the map, we were off on an adventure.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Paris, The City of Lights.

Warren and I are taking a romantic vacation to Europe this summer. Things have been really busy around here and to be honest I haven't done a lot of planning for this trip.

We have booked Amsterdam, Nice in the south of France and Paris. I have been to all three places before and Warren has too, except for Paris.

Warren hasn't had much desire to go to Paris, I convinced him to go as we were going to be in France anyway. I am really excited to experience Paris with Warren. It is a city of romance after all!

Inspiration to plan Paris was required, as I didn't seem to have any. Through my search I found this video. Inspiration found!

If you have any suggestions of what we should do while in Paris, we would love to hear what you would recommend - please comment below.

Enjoy this video and let it inspire you to make Paris, France a Romantic Vacation Idea sometime soon!

Watch more Paris videos at

Monday, January 18, 2010

European Holiday Cruise to Remember.

We recently returned from a fantastic trip over Christmas and New Years on the NCL Jade out of Barcelona. It really was one of our favorite trips and it reignited my passion for cruising and I fell in love with Europe again.
As it was winter the weather was cooler. We booked this trip 11 months in advance. This is unheard of for us, but we knew that we wanted to do this itinerary in the cooler months (seeing the pyramids in 120 F doesn't appeal to us) and we wanted to make sure we were in a suite at a minimum. This is why we booked so early.

We loved Greece, even though we didn't think we would. We had some hiccups in Egypt, but it all worked out.

We flew to Barcelona a couple of days early to recover from Jet lag and then set sail on Sunday Dec 20.

Our Ports of Call:

  • Rome, Italy - rained the whole day but was still romantic - we went back to our favorite spots from our Honeymoon - lunch on the Piazza Navona

  • Naples, Italy - Climbed Mount Vesuvius in a cloud and then visited Pompeii - it was incredible!

  • Alexandria, Egypt - did a 2 day tour to Cairo to see the Great Pyramids - Absolutely magical!

  • Rhodes - missed port due to weather - but that was OK, because after 2 days in Egypt we needed a sea day.
  • Izmir, Turkey - Wandered around the Bazaar

  • Athens, Greece - Loved this port more than we thought we would - visited Acropolis and had lunch in the Plaka historic district

  • Heraklion, Crete, Greece - New Year's Eve, spent the morning with some new friends in a cafe in the town square, then wandered around the shops - weather was the best here so we went back to the ship and baked out on the Courtyard Sun Deck

Not only were the ports of call amazing, so were the people we met, the crew and the ship.

For more pictures check out my facebook shots:



'Til next time.....