Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Destination Idea - Atlanta!

Yes Scarlett, I said Atlanta.
I have a different sort of trip for this city ...themed revolved around art - one of my most passionate hobbies / interests that I have.
I wanted to start off by saying how impressed I was with the airport in transportation system from the airport. The railway from the airport that dumps you out around the art district is not only clean but I felt extraordinarily safe even with my luggage.
Now regarding our theme, we started out touring the Atlanta Art Museum which had a special exhibit around coke. Now I've been to art museums all over the world and this wasn't the best or even close but it was a nice quaint museum to breeze through.

Following the art museum we headed off to the Swan ouse which was one of the plantation owners townhomes. It is named after the theme of the house. There's a swan in every room (painted ... sculpted. .) in addition there is a very small art exhibit from local artists attached to the gift shop which is in the car port portion of the home. There is a cute restaurant there and if you ask for it they will give you a tour. A lot of the furnishings there are original. Then make your way back to the actual house you might pass small house on the way. Believe it or not this was the children's playhouse. From the guide who is in character that greets you as you walk in to the beautiful painted bathrooms to mimic marvel you will feel transported back in time. Make sure you don't forget to check out the basement where they have a whole exhibit dedicated to the architect of this home. They have his drawings and also a small collection of  antique furniture and collections.

For dinner a must is the Atlas which is connected to the Ritz Carlton. I suggest you have a drink at the hotel bar which has a very fun ambiance with jazzy entertainment then head over to the Atlas. The background behind the Atlas is that there is a British art collector who decided to build a restaurant around his art collection. I actually dined under of Van Gogh and Picasso! I had to ask my friend to pinch me!

If you get a later reservation,  at the end of your meal ask for a tour of the restaurant they will also give you a printout of all of the artwork there as well.

We ended the trip by taking a leisurely walk through the beautiful botannical gardens there. They had the most beautiful picturesque display of flowers concentrated with tulips on our visit with fountains and a marvelous backdrop of the city of Atlanta.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Destination Idea- Los Cabos San Lucas

Cabo is an absolutely relaxing fun gorgeous place to "get away". There are many all inclusive safe and fun places to choose from that give you a beautiful ocean view with many pina coladas and my most recently discovered drink the "dirty monkey" (banana,  creme liquor, rum, and chocolate).

Here was my daily routine this go around. ...
Wake up early, swim laps (no one else is out there! )
eat breakfast looking out over ocean and the magnificent rocks
Scope out perfect lay out spot  (note:be prepared to pay $25 for suntan lotion at the resort)
Pool bar opens at 10.
Obtain perfect pina colada.
Make dinner reservations.
Layout and dip in pool.
Reapply and lay out (don't forget good book)
Get ready for dinner
Show time!
Perfect get away for relaxation!

If you get the urge for some activity here are my suggestions:
Sunset cruise
Deep sea fishing (restaurant at harbor will cook what you catch! )
Tequila tasting
And if you are brave and had too much tequilla... a swim in the ocean.

You see the ocean there is absolutely gorgeous and the temperature of the water is perfect. It is very tempting but it also has a rough undertow and monster waves that come out of nowhere.
I'm very capable swimmer in fact I swam before I walked and have swam my whole life. Since the water was so tempting I decided to go out and it seemed pretty calm. The lifeguard then started blowing his whistle and we promptly told him that I was a very capable swimmer. He then started blowing his whistle like crazy and pointing behind us. I turned around and just saw a wall of teal water I couldn't even see the top! A bunch of explicit things came out of my mouth that I have never said before and I turned around and started swimming as hard as I could to try to ride it in. As the monster wave pulled my upper body to the beach I
 suddenly felt the rest of my body pulled in the opposite direction.  I then was caught in a mess of sand and water with every limb pulled in every direction.  I felt as of were in a washing machine and had no idea which way was up.  I tried staying still for a bit too reorient myself but the violence was too great.  I didn't even realize that the lifeguard had grabbed my arm until he had pulled me out of the sand and water vortex.  He was at a dead run dragging me along the sand so that the next wave didn't pull is both back in.  I seemingly reached down and found that I was still wearing my bottoms to my suprise. After coughing up sand and water and washing out about 5 lbs of course cabo sand from my bikini, ears, and nose,  I made it back to the pool chair. I was promptly given a pina colada and didn't move for an hour. There wasn't a wave that big for the remainder of the trip. That evening I met a couple that said they just talked to another couple who saw a massive wave completely take out a lady and a lifeguard had to save her.  I told them that it sounded just horrible.  :^/  and searched for myself on utube that night!

In short,  no matter how good of a swimmer you are,  cabo waves are definitely like a wild animal or a box of chocolates...whichever relates to you better.
Three days later I was still getting sand out of my ears. ... guess i wanted to take a bit of cabo with me!

Unless you go for a swim in the beach, Cabo is an ideal place to relax and escape every day life!

things airports should consider. ...

1. Bathoom stall doors that swing out not into the stall or better yet, doors that slide/collapse into themselves.
2. Conveyor belts for your things to go through xray and better yet a return bin conveyor belt that returns the bins.
3. Bootie socks when you remove shoes to go through security and hand sanitizers after.
4. Switch terminal attendants and gate attendants to have part of thier income as tips...better yet each customer after they have been "helped" pushes a green or red button. Three red buttons and they are dismissed without pay that day!
5. A line up of tsa employees that you can pick from if you are chosen for a pat down.
6. Reminder signs to not throw away your custom and declaration forms in the bathroom trash after customs because you need them for declaration! Our else you will be asked to go to the detain and search area! !! (Not really speaking from personal experience?)
7. Wifi downloadable books and movies in airport.
8. You get a warm cookie and chocolate milk if your flight gets delayed. ... that makes everyone feel better.
9. Mini arcade in airport that takes all currancies.
10. Allow artists to come and paint portraits of people waiting.

Monday, March 19, 2012

France Day 8 of 18 - Albi, Carcassonne, Nimes

I did fail to mention that we stopped in Albi before heading over to Carcassonne on Day 7. One of our friends was actually from this town, so we thought we would swing by and see what it was like. Albi was a cute town with a carousel where we stopped and looked at a museum were Toulouse Lautrec had some of his paintings in an old Abby. I enjoyed the museum more than I thought I would.
Now on day 8, we headed to Carcassone which was a beautiful walled medieval city. I think Kevin Costner's Robin Hood was filmed there. If it wasn't, it should have been. Carcassonne, was somewhat touristy, but was fun to explore none the less. Check out the old and beautiful Hotel there. Very fitting for a medieval town, could not believe the prices! Maybe schedule a lunch in their exquisite medieval restaurant. We ate at a restaurant down the way where I thought I ordered duck and salad, but my basic French translation did not realize that it was actually duck gizzards! Whoops! My husbands insisted that I eat it any way not to offend the owners, but I was not in the mood, and I decided that I wanted to eat alot and what I wanted on my vacation, so I reordered. Note: Canard confit is not what I imagined either... it is duck preserved in its own fat...yet another reorder...Lesson learned... even if you think you know what something is... do some food research ahead of time just to be sure...

Then we were off to Nimes which was a pleasant surprise. Nimes is where they actually invented denim... which in French translates to " of Nimes" I thoroughly enjoyed Nimes. There was beautiful bull fighting area that looked beautiful lit up at night.
I also enjoyed looking at the roman temple there which was one of the best preserved I have seen and the Jardin de la fountaine (Roman water gardens). As you can see we are in a unique location with Spanish and Roman influences. The water gardens were absolutely beautiful. You walk over bridges and paths with water, ducks geese, and fish under neath you. The Romans showed here how they knew how to capture both architectural and natural beauty in one.

Phew what a full and beautiful day in Southern France!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Destination Idea - Arkansas

Arkansas?!? you say?
Actually, one day, we got a cheap weekend fare to Little Rock through Continental.com specials and I thought the same thing...Arkansas?!? I do like to check things out myself and give things and people for that matter a shot. I just might like it, or at least know there will be something about a place or person that I will like. That is what adventure is all about. Looking for the nugget of fun. After going, man, what a relaxing, beautiful, fun place to go! I will always have a special place in for Arkansas in my heart.
We flew in early on a Saturday morning, and just checked out the cute town of Little Rock. We shopped at the little craft fair that is open on the weekends and checked out the cute, oldest part of town across the river. I even got to see the duck parade in the Peabody hotel - what a fun show!
We ended up staying in a gorgeous cabin on Lake Ouachita with a hot tub in the back! I will always remember the beautiful sunset over the lake surrounded by the woods.
The next day we shopped along the streets of Hot Springs and had a super hot, relaxing bath at one of the old bath houses from the natural springs in the area. I think that is when I knew I really like Arkansas! We even got to take a leisurely walk around the beautiful botanical gardens there (I snagged a peacock feather from one of the peacocks there that I use for table decorations), tried some good pork bbq, and checked out the smoky casino.
The next morning came early as we had booked a fishing trip with a superb guide on the lake. I absolutely love fishing, and even more...catching. I like fishing for a few reasons: so peaceful there on a calm lake; relaxing; can chat a bit with good company; you can just be in nature without being "in" nature; and if you get lucky you hook something and your adrenalin kicks in for a bit - plus I like to eat yummy fish. That trip snagged a nice sized big mouth bass, and we called it a day and flew home. Most places I say we have to come back, but seldom do because there are too many other places to see, but I know I will come back to Arkansas - my hot springs cool lake oasis.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Destination Idea - New Orleans, LA

Well this post is a bit late, considering Mardi Gras was well... 3 days ago.

Knowing now I like history/culture I will start off with some concerning Mardi Gras.
Based on their French roots, New Orleans is mainly Catholics, who celebrate Lent, 40 days to reflect on Jesus life while he was on this Earth. I think 40 days is in reference to Jesus being tempted in the desert (victorious of course). During this time, Catholics refrain from some item or thing they do which triggers them to reflect and find their strength on God and not themselves and resist temptation as Jesus did. 40 days before Easter is Mardi Gras which means "Fat Tuesday" in French. This is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. So, back in the day (when ever that day was), the people would cook up all the fat they had and made sweets and had a party to eat up all the goodies that they had in preparation for Lent.

To what began as a religious holiday, now is what we all know as one of the biggest, craziest parties in the world. Cajuns definitely know their food and how to have some fun even if most have forgotten what the true meaning of Mardi Gras is unfortunately (after you see pictures or experience the festivites you will understand what I mean when I say forgotten its relgious roots). However, I absolutely love the intense and unique culture in New Orleans almost as muchas I enjoy their food. There is no place on the planet in either of these categories (and I have been to alot of places!). The first time I took my Yankee-bred husband there he said, " All we do here is eat, drink, sleep and repeat - I like it though." I had to explain to him that is life in New Orleans. The French truly believe only they live life the way it should be lived, and thier cousin Cajuns max it out for sure.

One of my favorite foods during this time is the King Cake. It is a breaded dessert sometimes filled with cinnamon, jellies, or pudding topped with sugar icing in the Madi Gras colors of purple, gold and green. These colors stand for the three gifts that the Kings gave King Jesus at his birth (Frank incense - signifying holy , gold - to give royalty, and myrrh - which is a burial spice foretelling Jesus death for us all). There is a little plastic baby, Jesus, that is put in the cake. Tradition is that if you end up getting the baby in your slice, you ahve to bring the king cake next year! I could go on and on about the food in New Orleans, but really you cant go wrong. I love gumbo (Cajun style not Creole style), crawfish etuffee, poorboy, bananas foster, catfish, bengiets, cherries jubilee, hurricanes and especially bread pudding! Some of my favorite restaurants are Bon Ton Cafe, 3 Sisters, Hotel Montelone rotating carousel bar, Cafe Du Monde, Mammas, I could go on and on...

Aside the awesome food, during Mardi Gras beautiful parades line the streets. Certain distinguished families have their own "crews" that have balls and then ride the parades. Upstairs in a great restaurant called Arnuad's, there is a free museum where a former owner kept all of her beautiful Mardi Gras gowns and invitations.

Other than food and floats, there are some great things to see for families as well. Check out the Autobahn zoo -(don't skip the swamp section where you will see some white alligators!), the garden district, Jackson square live performances and side walk artists, a ride on the trolley (very famous - almost as old as the San Fran I think), and the awesome aquarium.

Go for a weekend and check it out!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Monday, January 16, 2012

France Day 7 of 18 - The Pyrenees

On our 7th day, we had a big drive a head of us.
Uncle Map likes beautiful landscapes and was determined to drive through the Pyrenees.
I think it took us about an hour and a half to dive "into" the Pyrenees after driving a while to get to them since you have to drive in and out and around the mountains. We passed cute little streams and some waterfalls as the greenery got thicker. I remembered it seeming so clean and not overgrown. We found a small parking lot where we were able to take a ski lift to a stopping point. At this level we walked around and took some fantastic pictures of the mountains around us and a waterfall. We then got brave and decided to take another ski lift and then hike a bit to a beautiful lake surrounded by mountain peaks. I was not sure if I wanted to go, but then I saw not only a two year old go up, but then a full sized dog get up on the ski lift! Little did I know that a heard of cows had been through the same walking path to lake, so we had to be careful where we stepped! Some French teenagers got brave or dumb depending on how you look at it, and decided to jump into the lake that was well... freezing...we heard some of them yell.
We then decided to head back to the car, to make sure that we had enough daylight to get out of the mountains and to our next hotel. Pretty big day for some non-outdoorsy folk!