It all started with a snow storm.
Back on that fateful night of January 9th, my Santiago-bound flight sat for hours on the runway at Hartsfield with nothing but white outside the windows. I wondered whether I would even make it to Chile to start my 6th annual round the world trip.
Luckily, we made it out that night and it was a good omen for what turned out to be an incredible trip. South America, the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Mexico and the ever-incredible South Pacific.
14 countries in 5 ½ weeks, my longest trip yet and without a doubt one of my favorite. If you’ve missed any of the posts along the way, here they are again:Read More
I had forgotten just how perfect Cabo is in February. Of course, I’ve never been any other time of year – but I can’t imagine it gets much better than daily 80 degree sunshine and a constant parade of whales putting on a show just offshore.
When I visited the Westin last year, I got a good deal on a future week at their Regina Club property (of course, they try to sell you the whole timeshare shebang – but I came out alive and with all of my credit cards intact!). The end of this year’s trip seemed like the perfect time to use my Cabo week and after all the rain I’ve seen in the past few weeks, it was time to reacquaint myself with the sun.
The Regina Club is a stunning property, just like its Westin neighbor. Designed by a Mexican architect, the bold colors of its sweeping façade are literally carved into the side of a mountain. While navigating the steep hills of the property can be a little demanding, the visual effect is unbeatable.Read More
You can file this one under, “the travel rich keep getting richer.” I was lucky enough to go from the paradise of the Cook Islands to the Eden of Moorea.
I should mention that up until last week, I thought Moorea was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. And then there was Aitutaki. Does it get any better than a direct flight between bliss and nirvana? I think not.
My Air Tahiti flight from Rarotonga to Papeete was a flawless 2 ½ hours and almost totally empty. I landed in Papeete at 2:15pm and made record time getting to Moorea (there’s little of redeeming value in Papeete, so the best thing to do is get out as fast as you can). I made it through immigration and customs, reclaimed my bag and was in a cab by 2:30pm.
In town, I had my cab driver wait for me outside a bank so I could change a little money (Moorea may be paradise but it doesn’t come cheap…or with ATM’s) and then drop me at the Aremiti Ferry. I caught the 3:00pm ferry to Moorea and by 4:00pm I was settling into my magnificent overwater bungalow at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa.
The weather was decidedly overcast but I didn’t care. I was so happy to be back in Moorea and I was convinced that the sun would come out eventually.Read More
I left New Zealand on Saturday night at 7:30pm and landed in Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, just after midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning, thanks to a crossing of the International Date Line.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following along on this year’s trip that it was raining profusely when I landed. Here we go again.
But, even at 12:30am, there was a cheerful islander with a ukulele playing soothing tropical tunes at the baggage carousel, so I forced myself to get into the island spirit. And, happily, there was someone from my hotel waiting to pick me up.
I’d been having second thoughts about my hotel choice for the past few days, so at least this was a positive start. In no time, I was in the car and on my way to the hotel in the hopes of getting a few hours of sleep before setting out to explore Rarotonga tomorrow.
Now, I’m sure many of you are wondering, “Where in the heck are the Cook Islands?” A quick check of Google maps will verify the fact that I truly am in the middle of nowhere here in the beautiful South Pacific.
My hotel choice for my 4-night stay on the Cook’s main island of Rarotonga was Vara’s Beach House. Known primarily as a popular backpacker guest house, Vara’s also featured beachfront studios with private bath that appealed to non-backpacker types (that’s me!) as well.
I’d read good things about Vara’s online and at $60/night the price was certainly right so I figured I’d give it a try. How bad could it be?Read More
After four nights in a row sleeping (or mostly not sleeping) on airplanes, I arrived in Auckland from Guam feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.
I was exhausted and in the early stages of what promised to be a very nasty cold. Luckily, I’d already had the foresight to schedule the remedy – a morning at the spa!
Thanks to my daily deal e-mails from Auckland’s “Grab One” (the NZ version of Groupon), I’d gotten a steal on a massage and Japanese Stone Spa treatment at a spa only two blocks from my rental apartment. Since I couldn’t pick up the keys to the apartment until 2pm and I landed at 9am, I scheduled the spa appointment for 11am.
It was exactly what I needed and highly preferable to sitting around in general misery for three hours waiting for the apartment guy. After a few hours at the spa, I was feeling almost human again.
I had just enough time to run by the grocery store for a few essentials (i.e. wine…and some food, too) before heading to the apartment.Read More
Because of its proximity to the International Date Line, the island of Guam is the first US territory to greet each new day inspiring its slogan “where America’s Day begins.”
But before arriving in Guam, my flight from Palau made an interesting stop on the island of Yap. I’d not heard of Yap but let me tell you, what seemed like the entire royal family boarded the flight draped in crowns of flowers and leis. Still not sure if all the flowers meant they were A) a wedding party B) the actual royal family or C) just making an everyday Yap fashion statement.
As the Yap passengers boarded, one flower-draped islander turned to the other behind him and snapped a photo rattling off a string of words I didn’t understand followed by one that I did, “Facebook.”
Yes folks, even Yap is on Facebook. (Mark Zuckerberg, you deserve every single one of those billions of dollars.)Read More