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RTW #8: 7 Continents from (A)ntarctica to (Z)anzibar

The Latest from Singapore

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 | 0 comments

The Latest from Singapore

It’s been quite a while since my last visit to Singapore…7 years, in fact, on RTW #1. During that time, much has changed in this tiny island nation. Perhaps the most dramatic addition to the skyline is the daringly-engineered Marina Bay Sands hotel which opened in 2010. It features the world’s most expensive casino project and the highest infinity pool which hovers a staggering 57 floors above the city. I was definitely looking forward to getting a look at that.

I added Singapore to the itinerary for RTW #8 for a couple of reasons. One, I really enjoyed my last visit and I’d been planning to go back for a while. And two, I had a hotel review to do for my friend Jill’s eco-luxury hotel website on a tiny Indonesian island called Nikoi and Singapore was the closest major airport.

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Whatever/Whenever Wows at W Bangkok

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Whatever/Whenever Wows at W Bangkok

I arrived in Bangkok ready to leave Africa behind for now and move on to my favorite part of the world, Southeast Asia. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time in Africa, but I was due for a good meal and a night not spent sleeping under mosquito netting. My first long-haul flight on Kenya Airways was quite pleasant. Their business class seat design is one of the most effective in the Skyteam fleet for getting a decent night’s sleep, it actually goes almost completely flat (versus that sometimes annoying barely discernible slant that can leave you sliding down in the seat all night).

Unfortunately, I soon learned that arriving in Bangkok from Kenya (where I connected after Zanzibar) is a bit more complicated than arriving from Europe or the Middle East as I normally do. I waited my turn in the now familiar immigration line only to ultimately be turned back by the officer and told I must first visit the Health Inspection office. Well, that was a first. I had no idea where that was and for some reason no one else in the airport seemed to know either.

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Zen in Zanzibar

Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 | 0 comments

Zen in Zanzibar

After a lengthy (8-hour) layover in Lusaka after Victoria Falls and a sleepless night on the way to Nairobi, I landed at 6:00am with two hours to kill in the Nairobi airport before my 8:00am connection to Zanzibar. And thank goodness for the Kenya Airways Simba Lounge or I might have been reduced to finding a square of floor space somewhere. Even at 6:00am, the Nairobi airport was a hive of activity.

Though booked through Kenya Airways (a Skyteam member), my flight to Zanzibar was operated by Precision Airways. We boarded the small prop plane right on time and I grabbed a window seat hoping to get a glimpse of Zanzibar on approach. Little did I know our pilot had plans to start the show long before our arrival in Zanzibar.

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Lucky in Livingstone: A Visit to Victoria Falls

Posted by on Feb 2, 2013 | 2 comments

Lucky in Livingstone: A Visit to Victoria Falls

After my quick trip to the Canary Islands, I arrived back in Madrid with a 4-hour layover and a mission…unload my Antarctica suitcase. You see, I had this whole master plan to ship the obnoxious suitcase carrying all my heavy winter clothes (and one very yellow parka) back to the U.S. so I wouldn’t have to carry it around the world for a month. Unfortunately, when I tried to ship it back from Buenos Aires, they wanted almost $400. Preposterous! So I checked the bag to Madrid figuring I’d have better luck shipping it back from Europe than South America.

Luckily there was a post office in the Madrid airport and after filling out paperwork for an hour and parting with €100 (far more reasonable) I was approximately 40lbs lighter and had never felt better. Finally, back to my traveling weight! Unfortunately, my joy would be short-lived.

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Catching Up in the Canary Islands

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 | 0 comments

Catching Up in the Canary Islands

Each year on my RTW trip, I try to pick a stop in Europe where I won’t freeze to death in January. Some years I’m more successful than others. This year I think I did pretty well, though I continue to stretch the boundaries on the definition of Europe.

For my brief visit to the European continent this year (or rather, nearby it), I chose the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco. The Canaries are actually one of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities and operate mostly independently from continental Spain. Since I’d been to Morocco on RTW #3 and it was pretty warm in January, I was confident the Canary Islands would be a solid choice.

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Posh Patagonia

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 | 0 comments

Posh Patagonia

Last year, on RTW #7, a random twist of fate introduced me to the wonderful world of explora hotels in Chile. I was visiting Easter Island staying at a reasonably-priced, modest B&B when my friend Jill asked if I could perhaps hop over to explora Rapa Nui for a few nights to review it for her London-based site EcoLuxHotels. Never one to turn down an “upgrade,” I happily agreed.

After two nights at the incredibly magical explora Rapa Nui, I became a big believer in the explora culture of experiential, eco-friendly yet luxurious travel. At explora, the focus is always on “in-depth exploration of the surroundings and the luxury of the essential.” As a firm believer that luxury is almost always “of the essential,” I was dying to return someday to indulge in their other two Chilean properties – Patagonia and Atacama. Since my Antarctic adventure would already have me in the Patagonia Chile neighborhood, I figured there was no time like the present to check out explora Patagonia Hotel Salto Chico

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