Island Travel Interviews- Caribbean, Take 4

Photo Credit- Pixabay

Tired of the Caribbean Islands yet? I’m not! I’m super excited to share these interviews from The Wayward Walrus and Diaries From the Window Seat. Guess where we are going this week?! Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Not. Too. Shabby.

FIRST UP…. PUERTO RICO!

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL

 The Wayward Walrus

www.thewaywardwalrus.com

Photo Credit- The Wayward Walrus

Which Islands Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Puerto Rico, my first introduction to the Caribbean! Many times the island gets overlooked by travelers for the Bahamas and Jamaica on many cruise routes and other prominent luxury island destinations like Aruba, the Cayman Islands, or the Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico offers the same beautiful tropical Caribbean experience but with budget friendly options for any traveler. It’s also a very easy island to visit for Americans since English is widely spoken and they use the U.S. dollar.

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

            Anywhere from 4 – 7 days.

Photo Credit- The Wayward Walrus

What is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

There are so many! However horseback riding in the tropical rainforest of El Yunque and taking a boat to the secluded island of Isla de Culebrita were two of my favorite memories.

Photo Credit- The Wayward Walrus

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Hiking through El Yunque National Forest, exploring the beaches on the mainland, taking a boat to an uninhabited island, trying out the local cuisine, night life in San Juan, exploring old San Juan historical Spanish colonial buildings.

Photo Credit-The Wayward Walrus

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

Luquillo Food Kiosks across from a beautiful local beach. The kiosks offer a wide range of local food to select from. 

Photo Credit- The Wayward Walrus

What Surprised You About this Island?

It’s mountainous! I never expected a tropical island in the Caribbean to have a backdrop of beautiful mountains to hike in. 

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g.,where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

I’d definitely stay somewhere around San Juan, in either an Airbnb or hotel. Old San Juan is gorgeous but limited on hotels in the area so Airbnb would be a great option. Downtown San Juan offers a great selection of hotels but is a bit touristy, although still a great home base to venture out to all the spots on the mainland.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

http://www.thewaywardwalrus.com/puerto-rico-archipelago-surprise

NEXT UP… the BAHAMAS!

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Eryn MacGillivray

Diaries From The Window Seat

https://www.diariesfromthewindowseat.com/

What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Eleuthera, Bahamas

I chose this island because I have been fortunate enough to go there several times. This allowed me to get a good feel for the island and really explore.

Photo Credit- Diaries from the Window Seat

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

I would recommend staying on this island for a week to two weeks. It depends on whether you need to have activities each day, or if you like to relax at the beach and do nothing. If you can relax, you will be able to last much longer than someone who needs things to do. There aren’t a ton of activities other than playing on the beach or in the water.

What was Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

The beaches! We drove down this sketchy dirt road for half an hour into the middle of nowhere in search of a secret beach. We heard this was the best beach on the island so had to check it out. After parking the car we walked for about 5 minutes and came out onto the most beautiful beach we had ever seen! It was like a movie!

Photo Credit- Diaries From the Window Seat

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Take a ferry to Harbour Island. This island is a short ferry ride away and is great for a day trip! Lots of stuff to do and things to see! It’s a tourists dream town!

Also, if you’re on the island over Christmas, you need to check out a Junkanoo! They are these parades that the towns put on and they all compete against each other for the best costumes, floats and dances. So much work goes into this event and it’s a ton of fun! I even got pulled into the parade one year!

Photo Credit- Diaries From the Window Seat

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

You need to check out Tippy’s! It’s got a great vibe and is located right on the beach. They have amazing food as well. No matter where you eat, make sure you try the conch fritters and cracked conch! I would live off that stuff if I could!

What Surprised You About this Island?

How rural it is! I had never been to a Caribbean Island before so I was expecting large cities like Hawaii. The most you’ll find on these islands are small towns. Although you wouldn’t want to be stuck somewhere without a car, I love how much character each area had!

Photo Credit- Diaries From the Window Seat

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

If you have the funds, I would recommend renting a house on Windermere Island. It’s a private island connected to Eleuthera by bridge. The houses are beautiful and many famous people have stayed in them or owned them. We stayed in the house Princess Diana stayed in for her honeymoon!

You also need to have a car on this island, but don’t get your hopes up for anything fancy! We rented two cars and both were…. interesting! One had no air conditioning and the windows wouldn’t go down (it got hot in there to say the least). The other looked like a tiger had been trapped inside and shredded the entire interior! They got us around the island though, so that’s what really matters!

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

I have a section on my blog dedicated to my travels in the Caribbean. Here’s the link!

https://www.diariesfromthewindowseat.com/category/travel/thecaribbean/

 

Perfect… Just reading this puts me in a more relaxed and fun mood! And weren’t the pictures gorgeous?! I am nearing the end of the Caribbean section of Island Travel Interviews… Is there an island that I am missing that you were hoping to learn more about? Let me know in the comments section, and don’t forget to pin this one for later…

Photo Credit- Pixabay, cropped by Mackinaw Road

AND… don’t forget to make sure you are on my subscribers list by entering your name and email to the left and tagging a friend over on Instagram in order to win this beautiful, inspirational sign by Angela from Angtiques. (Read all of the rules here.) 

**Yes, again… this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

Winter 2017 Giveaway Time!!!

It’s Giveaway Time! I want to know… what is the biggest risk you have taken? What was your motivation? Inspiration? Any plans you are unsure of for 2017?

Whatever it is, I hope that your 2017 is off to a fabulous start! And I want to give you this sign to remind you to stay positive. I hope you all find your wings and fly this year. 

Tag a friend over on this photo on Instagram and subscribe to our updates (it’s over on the left side by the menu), and, just like that, you are entered to win. 

Only caveat…. you must have a shipping address within the continental USA.

Winner will be announced on Friday!

Oh, and one more thing, if you already subscribe to our updates, as a Thank You, you are automatically entered to win 😉 If you’re not interested, that’s a-okay too. Just shoot me a quick email or say No Thank You should your name be chosen. 

Wondering who the talent is behind this sign? It’s Angela from Angtiques. She is awesome to work with and I would highly recommend her. You can check out her store over here on Etsy or her Instagram feed here

Island Travel Interviews- Caribbean, Take 3

Photo Credit- Pixabay

This week, I’m back with two fabulous Caribbean Islands (neither of which I’ve been to- ha!), one that seems to be receiving a lot of attention lately, Cuba, and another that, unfortunately, often is confused with the Dominican Republic…it’s Dominica!

Let’s Start With… DOMINICA!

Name and Blog Name/URL

Raghav Modi from Ticker Eats The World

www.TickerEatsTheWorld.Com

What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Dominica (not to be confused with Dominican Republic)

Photo Credit- Ticker Eats the World

Dominica stood out among all the other Caribbean islands that we visited, during a 14-day cruise, because of the spotlight they shine on nature. While the Caribbean islands are famous for their beaches, underwater and over-water activities, the tropical aspect of the islands is often pushed back, but in Dominica it was the exact opposite. Waterfalls, jungles, quirky attractions like a school bus crushed under a giant tree, no wonder Dominica is also referred to as “The Nature Island”.

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

Many dream of spending a life living the island life, but since we all can’t do that, I would recommend at least 4-5 days minimum are required to make the most of what Dominica has to offer.

We covered a very minute part of the island in a single day, but being on a cruise, that one day was very satisfying, and gave us a good glimpse into what one can expect if they had more time.

What was Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

The hike to Middleham Falls deep inside the forest was not just the highlight of our day in Dominica, but one of the top attractions from our entire cruise vacation.

The trip included a drive through some of the most common tourist spots, to reach the starting point of a 45 minute hike with a well informed guide who spoke about the importance that nature holds for the locals.

Photo Credit- Ticker Eats the World

He went on to show and share wonders from the plant world – a leaf that tasted like an apple, man flower so called because it resembles a certain anatomical part of a male – and eventually led us to the cascading Middleham Falls that proved to be perfectly refreshing for the now sweating bodies of the hikers.

A dip in the plunge pool and the hike back followed by some local rum punch, it was truly a wonderful day.

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Besides the hike to the Middleham Falls mentioned above, there are a lot more impressive waterfalls across the island that are easily approachable and equally pleasing.

However, one activity that we missed out on – due to time – but was much talked about was tubing down the river and that is something I would go back to Dominica for.

Dominica is one of the few islands that presents its visitors with enough activates, both on land and in water, and can be appreciated by individuals of all ages.

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

No particular restaurant, but after the hike, I went for a stroll with my wife along the port which houses a number of small local eateries and pubs, and had the opportunity to taste the local Kubuli beer and totally recommend that you give it a try.

Photo Credit- Ticker Eats the World

What Surprised You About this Island?

After having been to islands that boasted beautiful beaches and beautiful snorkeling and diving spots, Dominica was different as it focused on in-land activities as opposed to sea based attractions. But, that is not to say Dominica doesn’t have breathtaking beaches.

Photo Credit- Ticker Eats the World

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)? 

In a perfect world, you should spend a few days exploring Dominica, but having said that, even one day via the cruise was quite interesting and definitely something you can look into doing.

The people are extremely friendly and tourism is a huge part of their revenue, so they treat everyone with smiles and are forthcoming to help or recommend activities.

You can research the web and book attractions beforehand, especially like the hike to Middleham Falls as that required government ticket/permission – one cannot just simply drive there and start hiking – and a tour operator gets all the menial work done.

We stayed on the ship, but there are a number of luxurious and cheap options available on the island to suit all budgets.

The best way to get around the island would be by taxi. I am also a big supporter of helping the locals, so hiring a guide who can share more insight into the island is also preferred.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

The Green Dominica – https://tickereatstheworld.com/2017/01/03/captivating-caribbean-the-green-dominica/

Hidden Nature: Middleham Falls – https://tickereatstheworld.com/2016/09/04/hidden-nature-middleham-falls/

 

And Now For… CUBA!

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Paint Play and Travel

www.paintplayandtravel.com

What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

I’ve chosen Cuba, the pearl of the Caribbean, because it is a unique place in the world. Just like a mosaic made of contrasts, its beauty consists of its rich culture, dramatic history, friendly people and amazing nature.

Photo Credit- Paint Play and Travel

 

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

The more the better since Cuba has too much to see and experience. However, I think a couple of weeks will do for first-timer visitors.

What is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

Cuban music! It is impossible to stand still to the hypnotizing rhythms of the drums and the charm of the singers.

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Go snorkeling/ diving in the blue-turquoise Caribbean waters. Cuba is one of the top diving destinations in the world. The beauty of the reefs will give you a memory for life.

Photo Credit- Paint Play and Travel

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

I don´t recommend Cuban restaurants. Unfortunately, most of the times you pay too much for bad quality food. However, if you’re staying at a Cuban house (casa particular), I do recommend you to eat with the family. They will make delicious, fresh food for you.

What Surprised You About this Island?

The strength of its people. Cubans have endured, and are still enduring enormous lacks and problems. Nevertheless, they always hold a smile on their faces, and a positive outlook on life.

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

It is much better to stay at a Cuban home (a Cuban air bnb) than in a hotel. It is cheaper and you will learn more about Cuban culture and way of living.

Don’t bring American dollars. Since the U.S. has an ongoing embargo on the island, it reciprocates paying you a lot less for your dollars. The same applies to American credit cards. Credit cards from the rest of the world work fine. If you want to bring cash, Euros are the best option.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?         

 http://paintplayandtravel.com/blog/cuba/

 

 

Like what you learned? Why not put a Pin on it? Here’s a readily pin-able image..

Photo Credit- Pixabay

 

**Please not that this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

Decorating with Travel Trinkets

Full disclosure (again): just the word “trinket” makes me cringe. And, yet we find ourselves tempted to buy souvenirs or street art all the time. Luckily, my inner voice often stops us. That said, we have found ourselves in possession of said trinkets because they do remind us of a fabulous beach vacation or a memorable experience. Here is how we have decorated with them…

We have tried to be somewhat discreet. I almost feel like it is more fun for guests in our home to “find” these trinkets than to walk into a room and have them front and center. (I promise, we won’t make you play too many games if you ever come to visit.;)  We have our Indian elephants that we picked up at the Dillihut on our desk in the corner of our living room. I also have a tea cup that my grandmother purchased for me from the Bahamas in our butler’s pantry passthrough. Again, in full view, but not front and center.

We also have decided to leave some things for our own enjoyment. While we love telling people where the elephants and tea cup came from, it is also special to us that we keep some of our “treasures” to our more private rooms. We just moved my husband’s home office into the children’s previous playroom on our second level. It houses, well, another wooden elephant (I think we may be slightly obsessed) and a chess board my husband got from India that he and our daughter have enjoyed playing with lately. We have a framed sketch of India Gate from Dillihut in one corner, too. While we gladly show off his office, it is also a space that is mainly for our family and our special “trinkets.” Oh, and there is a password to enter, too… of course.

Some “souvenirs” are readily identifiable, clearly the elephants are from India and the tea cup with the huge hibiscus flower is from the Bahamas… but did you know that the anchor hooks and sea creature decorations in the kids’ bathroom are from New Orleans? Yep, I went all the way to NOLA just to choose some bathroom decor. In all actuality, it was a bit of a fluke. At the time I had a 4-year old and 1-year old at home, so shopping by myself was, well,… AMAZING!!! I had been looking for something for this small space and found it on a trip. Bonus? Every time I’m giving the kids a bath, I think of our New Orleans trip.

I’m embarrassed to even admit how many photos we have saved on our computer… for our computer’s enjoyment maybe? But we have managed to pull a couple off and find time to have them printed. We have our Lake Michigan photos scattered throughout the house as well as some favorites from our jaunts to Chicago.

How do you incorporate your travel “trinkets” or “souvenirs” or photos into your home?

Feel any of this is pin-worthy? I have a pin for that 🙂

**As always, this post contains affiliate links, meaning that, if you click on them, I may receive some compensation.

Island Travel Interviews- Caribbean, Take 2

Photo Credit- Pixabay

Welcome Back! Have you booked your Caribbean trip yet? Waiting to see all of your options first? This week, we hear about Utila from Aaron of My Sweet Adventures and Jamaica from Khristina of Global Jamaican. So, without further ado…

First Up… UTILA

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Aaron Sweet, www.mysweetadventures.com

What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Utila, Honduras – I fell in love with this Island when I went there in 2011 to complete my Divemaster course.  The friendly people, the amazing diving, the WHALE SHARKS, the proper Caribbean island feel – it was just incredible.

Photo Credit- My Sweet Adventures

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

As long as you can! The joke is there are three lies on Utila – 1) I’m leaving the island tomorrow 2) I’m not drinking tonight 3) I love you.  The island sucks you in and before you know it you have spent 3 months there, and THEN you leave for 6 months, and come back on the way home!

What is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

My favorite memory was swimming with Whale Sharks for the first time.  In Honduras you cannot dive with them, you can only snorkel – when the captain told me to jump off the back of the boat and the bubbles cleared to see a 10 m fish swimming towards me – I was hooked.  It will stay with me for the rest of my life.

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

You have to visit the Jade Seahorse Resort and in particular Treetanic Bar – voted a few years ago by Lonely Planet as one of the top 5 bars in the world – it is a truly magical place.  You also have to go diving – if you can get to the North Side of the island this is more rugged and has some incredible dives.  I highly recommend diving with Utila Dive Centre – the Course Director, Andy Phillips is a true professional.

Photo Credit- My Sweet Adventures

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

My favourite is RJ’s BBQ – it is opposite Utila Dive Centre and has huge servings of BBQ.  It is only open on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday so plan accordingly!

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

You will get free accommodation if you go diving, for a certain amount of nights.  Some dive centers have accommodation on-site. UDC doesn’t, but the Mango Inn is still a great place to chill out.  If you are flying in from overseas, consider flying direct to Roatan Island and taking a boat/ferry across from there – it is probably the easiest way. There are also flights to Utila available but they are expensive.  If you are flying into Tegulcigalpa or San Pedro Sula, be wary of these cities as they are dangerous – pay extra for the most expensive buses – I used Hedman Alas which have armed guards and security before getting on the bus.  On the island, the islanders all speak at least some English – I spent three months there and didn’t improve my spanish at all! The money is Lempiras – its around 23/24 to one USD. While Honduras is very cheap, Utila is a bit more expensive due to its popularity for backpackers and the need to get everything from the mainland.

Photo Credit- My Sweet Adventures

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

My full blog article is located here: www.mysweetadventures.com/utila

 

And Next Up… JAMAICA!

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Khristina – Global Jamaican – www.globaljamaican.com

What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Jamaica – It’s where I was born and raised; No matter where I am or where I travel to, Jamaica will always hold my heart.

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

Weekend trips are good if you want to explore one part of the island at a time; but you’ll need a week or more if you’d like to explore more.

What is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

One of my favorite memories is the view from sitting on the verandah of the home I grew up in, located in Discovery Bay.

Photo Credit- Global Jamaican

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

There are so many! If I had to pick one, I’d say to spend a day at Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay.

Have you ever been in water so clear that you can see tiny fishes swimming at your feet? A visit to Montego Bay is not complete without a day at Doctor’s Cave. It is said that the water has healing powers and was made famous after Sir Herbert Barker, a British Osteopath, visited in the 1920s and later wrote an article about it. Located only 5 minutes from the airport, you can watch the planes descend to land, while soaking up the warm Caribbean sun.

The island also offers other activities for every interest. Everything from adventure tours like zip lining, horseback riding, and climbing waterfalls, to relaxing tours like rafting slowly down the Martha Brae River or enjoying a sunset cruise. There are way too many to mention.

Photo Credit- Global Jamaican

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

Again, way too many to mention. Jamaica is a food lover’s paradise. One of my favorite restaurants is also in Montego Bay. Chill Out Hut is located on a secluded beach with Tiki-style seating. They specialize in seafood, but the menu has a good variety for every taste. My favorite is the escovitch fish and bammy. Escovitch is a pickling sauce that is poured on fried fish, and bammy is a traditional Jamaican cassava flat bread.

The atmosphere is lively on weekends, with a band performing right on the sand, creating a real Caribbean vibe. The prices are reasonable and they also have a full bar with a wide variety of drink options.

Photo Credit- Global Jamaican

What Surprised You About this Island?

Being that I grew up there, I don’t think anything could surprise me. But if I looked in from an outsider’s eyes, one thing would be the amount of different cultures and backgrounds that make up our people. I hear “you don’t look Jamaican” often times when meeting people that have never been to the island. That’s because a lot of people are unaware that Jamaica is made up of a wide variety of ethnicities. Our motto is “Out of Many One People,” meaning that we are a cultural melting pot of people living together as one.

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g.,where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

After visiting Jamaica once, you’ll definitely want to return. I would start with a weekend getaway to an easy destination, like Montego Bay. There are many resorts in close proximity to the airport and a wide variety of things to do. Flights are plentiful from the USA and many have non-stop options. All-inclusive resorts are most popular, but there are many other options as well, including Airbnb.

Most hotels/resorts offer transportation from the airport and if not, there are taxis readily available.

The official language is English and the local currency is Jamaican Dollars, but US Currency is accepted.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

Two articles from my site that might help:

http://www.globaljamaican.com/2016/09/quick-affordable-weekend-getaway-jamaica.html

http://www.globaljamaican.com/2016/11/must-do-and-eat-in-montego-bay-mobay.html

*Please note that this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

 

Travel Gift Guide by Mackinaw Road

 

I do not like February. Despite it being my birthday month and housing Valentine’s Day, it is just not my month. Last year, I was determined to make it my month, went out for a run, and returned with a broken jaw. So, March wasn’t really my month either. I’m on to a new strategy for this February. Lay low. While I’m “laying low”, I’ve had some time to come up with a Valentine’s Day wish list for the traveler in your life/me.

Moment Lenses and Case– I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve wanted to bring our nice camera along on a trip, only to not have room to pack it or not want to lug it around or been in fear that it would knock one of the kids out while they were hanging on me because they needed to be carried. Problem solved with these lenses and case that fit right on to your phone. Genius.

Ebags Packing Cubes– Love these, Need these. Don’t you love it when you think you’ve gotten a great deal on a flight only to find out that each of your bags is going to be an additional $25 each way upon check in? Enter the ebag packing cubes. Now, we can pack one big suitcase but still have some separation of clothes.

Little Passports– Want to include your little ones in Valentine’s Day and your travels? This subscription looks super fun and a great way to learn about the world. You can order based on age or product (e.g., Early Explorers, USA Edition, World Edition).

Okay this is an oldie but goodie- but less expensive- yay! Need some organization in your life? Check out this Travel Cord Roll. 

Hey you! Yeah, you. The one with the sparkle in your eyes. This one is for you. Make your trip even more fun with these Anywhere Travel Guide cards.

Looking for some wall art for the Traveler in your life? I love this print you can easily get from BonsoirStudio on Etsy.

True there isn’t any chocolate or lingerie on this list, but I’m willing to bet that the traveler in your life will still be thrilled. (Keep in mind- this is my wish list, so I haven’t tried nor am I endorsing the products, but they still look pretty awesome, right?!?)

*As always, this post many contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. 

** Don’t forget to keep an eye out for a Giveaway this month. I’ll be announcing it over on Instagram as well as on the blog.

Island Travel Interviews- Caribbean, Take I

Island Travel is one of my favorite kinds of travel. There are so many activities, beautiful sights, and pretty drinks… and the pure relaxation… I have my favorite, first choice, don’t-have-to-ask-me twice island, but I thought it would be fun to ask some other travel bloggers about some of the islands they have traveled to. Get ready to be amazed! (Every week I will feature 2-3 Travel Bloggers sharing their island experiences.)

 

On the Docket for this Week is Melissa from Maps and Merlot writing about Barbados (yay! I’ve always been curious about Barbados) and Lisa from ByLisaLinh talking about St. Kitts (again… yes! I get to reminisce about our honeymoon island). And an added feature- all of their pictures are spectacular!

LET’S START WITH BARBADOS

What is your name and blog name/URL?

Melissa Ivin from Maps and Merlot – www.mapsandmerlot.com

What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

I’ll be discussing Barbados, which I chose because the island basically has everything you could ever wish for. Between white sandy beaches, spicy rum punch, friendly turtles, and cave explorations, I had an amazing time on the island.

Photo Credit- Maps and Merlot

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?   Honestly, you can do anything from a long weekend to a full week there; there are so many activities to choose from. Watersport options include jetskiing, stand-up paddle boarding, cruising on a catamaran, snorkeling, and diving. However, if you only have a few days, it’s still totally worth the visit.

What was your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Travels to This Island?

My favorite memory would definitely be snorkeling with the turtles. After jumping off the boat, I came face to face with the friendliest turtle (I named her Myrtle the Turtle). It’s amazing to see these animals in their natural habitats. They’re incredibly graceful creatures.

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

I would say you should definitely visit Harrison’s Cave. Take a bus or taxi up to the peak of the island and explore this extensive network of caves. Make sure to opt for the guided tour—they’ll take you down through this underground world and tell you all about the history and geological formation behind it.

Photo Credit- Maps and Merlot

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

I loved Brown Sugar. Featuring typical Bajan cuisine, it’s definitely a local favorite. They have some mouthwatering seafood options there.

What Surprised You About this Island? 

I was surprised by how big the island was. When I’ve been island hopping previously, it’s been relatively easy to cover the island in just a couple days, and there are many you can drive around the entire island in the span of a few hours. However, after four days in Barbados, I feel like there was still so much left to explore. I’d love to go back sometime!

Photo Credit- Maps and Merlot

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

As far as where to stay, I’d recommend the Brownes Beach area. There are some gorgeous beaches, and the water is relatively calm and perfect for swimming around there. Definitely splurge for a beachfront hotel! From the USA, it’s extremely easy to get to Barbados. I know JetBlue often offers specials (my roundtrip flight was only $160), so getting there is a breeze.The good news about Barbados is that everyone speaks English. For Americans, the exchange rate is incredibly simple; one American dollar is two Bajan dollars. For other currencies, it might be a little trickier, but the locals were extremely helpful with the conversions. As far as getting around, I’d recommend zadars, which are white vans that race through the streets picking up passengers along the way. Drivers definitely abide to “the more, the merrier” motto, so make sure to get cozy with your neighbor. It’s a super cheap and speedy way to get around, so buckle up!

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

http://mapsandmerlot.com/2017/01/24/what-to-do-in-barbados/

 

NEXT UP…ST. KITTS!!!

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL

Lisa Linh – By Lisa Linh (www.bylisalinh.com)

What is the Island You’ll Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

St. Kitts for their catamaran snorkeling tour and gorgeous water.

Photo Credit- By Lisa Linh

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

2 days

What was Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

This stop was on a cruise and we spent 1 day there, on a catamaran snorkeling tour. It was such a peaceful and relaxing afternoon out on the boat!

Do you have a “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Catamaran snorkeling tour!

Photo Credit- by Lisa Linh

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

We didn’t get a chance to dine on the island, as we had a dinner reservation on the cruise ship. However, the coffee and pastries shop on the island weren’t bad.

What Surprised You About this Island?

How small it was. It was very colorful and lively, but tourist activities are huge and the majority of the people go to just do the tours rather than spend time in the town.

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

I would highly suggest doing the Celebrity Cruises trip, which allows you to visit St Kitts for the day, along with other nearby islands. It was probably the best way to see it in my opinion, as I don’t think I would’ve stayed for more than 2 days.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

https://www.bylisalinh.com/blog/2016/3/23/islandhopping-cc?rq=island

 

Thank you Melissa and Lisa! I’ll be dreaming island dreams and see you all back here next Thursday for more featured islands!

Not planning a trip at the moment? Save these interviews for later with the pin below.

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

NOLA in 2 days

 

A while ago, my husband and I traveled to New Orleans. Frankly, I went along because it had been a long winter and I thought a little sunshine and warm weather would do my soul some good. It ended up being a high of somewhere around 50 degrees, and I was glad to have my sweater boots and this easily packable coat (turns out I didn’t end up packing it away as I had imagined) along. Nonetheless, it turns out that NOLA was just what I needed. Here are my top 5 activities in NOLA- if you’ve been, I’m sure none of them are too surprising but highly recommended nonetheless.

Hotel Monteleone- This was my first and only time in NOLA, so we haven’t stayed at any other hotels, but I would recommend this one for several reasons. One of the last family-owned and operated hotels in New Orleans, Hotel Monteleone has been run since 1886 by five generations of Monteleone’s. It is located on Royal Street in the French Quarter, making it an easy walk to fun restaurants, Bourbon Street, Cafe DuMonde, Jackson Square, the Mississippi River, the French Market, and Faulkner House Books among other places. Speaking of literary greats, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Anne Rice, Stephen Ambrose, and John Grisham have been guests of Hotel Monteleone… just to name a few. In 1999, Hotel Monteleone was given the distinction of being an official literary landmark. Also impressive is the Carosel Bar in the hotel lobby. This 25-seat bar rotates around as you sip your cocktail. The bartenders must have really good facial recognition skills- how confusing!

Bourbon Street- Gotcha! We aren’t that fun!! But we did actually walk down Bourbon Street on our way to St. Peter Street to check out Pat O’Brien’s late one afternoon.  Pat O’Brien’s became a legit bar after the prohibition ended in 1933. The bartender convinced me I should try the famous Hurricane- it was delicious. And required a nap to follow.

Cafe DuMonde- You really can’t visit New Orleans without a trip to Cafe DuMonde. Established in 1862, the Original Cafe DuMonde is open 24-7. However, if you plan to go for a beignet and cafe au lait for breakfast (as we did) plan to spend some time in line. I’ll be honest, when we came to the front of the line, it was a little stressful because some people were being seated and some were seating themselves. Nonetheless, we ended up at a cute little two-person table and had the most delicious, warm beignets I had ever tasted. (My husband had been the day before and strongly recommended that we each order our own plate of beignets- no sharing and no counting calories when you are in beignet heaven!)

Jackson Square- We spent quite a bit of time in Jackson Square. I was in awe of the vast amount of talent in such a small space. The musicians were amazing and the artist colony produced some of the finest street art I had seen. Looking over all of this is the spectacular St. Louis Cathedral and to the side are the oldest apartments in the United States. Oh, and there is also a river named Mississippi nearby. 

Faulkner House Books- This quaint book shop is located just off of Jackson Square. It houses both fine literature and rare editions. It embodies what every book store truly should be and is worth a quick stop in.

French Market- It is also worth the short stroll down to the French Market. Once a Native American Trading Post (think 1700s), the French Market contains great restaurants and fun shopping- I think you could get almost anything in this 6-block eating and spending extravaganza.

Tulane- Yes! We did actually leave the French Quarter. Really for 2 reasons… First, we needed an excuse to ride the New Orleans Street Cars. Second, because we love checking out college campuses, even though our children are no where near college age. (It’s always good to get a head start though, isn’t it?) And, of course, this is where we picked up all of our gifts to bring home.

There you have it- two days in New Orleans. I would go back in a heart beat- what a lively and historical city!

(Sorry we didn’t have any restaurant recs. We ate at Red Fish the first night and loved it, only to find out that … you guessed it… it is a southern chain. We will keep trying!)

Oh, and in case you want to save this for future trips to NOLA, below is a good pic for pinning. And, if you are looking for more pins, don’t forget to check out my profile over on Pinterest.

**Please note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

My Ultimate Travel Bucket List

Hello again from cloudy Michigan! Last week, I asked you what was on your Travel Bucket List. This week, I share the Top 10 Places on My Ultimate Travel Bucket List. Since this is a family-friendly travel blog, I’ve included some fun facts to share with your kids, grandkids, neighbor kids… grown-up friends who act like kids… really anyone.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Australia: Australia has always intrigued me. How great would it be to be there right now, enjoying sunny skies and catching a little tennis? Seeing the 12 Apostles would definitely be on my list, too. I do have to admit that binge reading all of Liane Moriarty’s books (affiliate link) this past summer has increased my fascination as well.  And, can you believe that we know two families from our small town who are traveling to Australia in the next year?  That seems like an unlikely coincidence and also an indication that we should probably book some tickets too.

Did you know… that it is believed that humans have lived in Australia for an estimated 45000 years? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Turks and Caicos: I am a huge fan of Caribbean travel. We have been to several islands, including Paradise Island (Bahamas), Grand Caymen, St. Kitts, and Aruba. Every time that I see a photo of Turks and Caicos, I am drawn to it. I can’t quite explain it (maybe it is the white sand, turquoise water, or sunny skies.. maybe?), but it seems like Turks and Caicos and our family would be very compatible.

Did you know…that there are dozens of underwater cave systems in Turks and Caicos? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Colorado: Can you believe I have lived in the United States my entire life and have never been to Colorado? I don’t think I know another person in my city or state who hasn’t been to Colorado. I feel like it must be fairly special because people leave our snowy state to go to another snowy state (what?!?) instead of heading for an all-inclusive in Jamaica.

Did you know… that Colorado is the only state to have turned down the Olympics? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Greece: My parents have such a wild and crazy story about traveling to Greece that it has always had a place in my memory (probably because we all live the opposite of wild and crazy lives). My dad often spoke of Greece fondly and, when I lived in Chicago, it was our tradition to head to Greek Town for dinner. For whatever reason, I just have always wanted to go because my dad seemed to love it so much.

Did you know… that Greece is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Portugal: While I have memories of my dad talking about Greece, Portugal is on my mom’s bucket list. Herein, I also feel enthralled with this country and would love to go someday, hopefully, on a family vacation.

Did you know…that Lisbon (Portugal’s capital city) is the oldest city in Western Europe? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Sweden: Although I am not Swedish, I have been asked several times, especially when I lived in Chicago, if I am Sweedish. Believe me, when I had my children, I often wished I lived in Sweden and could be given the maternity leave that seemed to make sense. It just seems like a place of peace and logical thinking. Oh, and the landscape doesn’t look too shabby either.

Did you know… that Sweden’s official name is the Kingdom of Sweden? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Switzerland: I don’t know much about this country other than Roger Federer represents it quite well. Again, though, judging from pictures of the mountains and the opportunity for outside activity, I think I would be very comfortable.

Did you know… that Switzerland has been a neutral country in war times for over 190 years?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Italy: While in college, I spent 3 weeks in Vienna for summer school. Afterward, several of us traveled south. We spent time in France and Spain… and only one day in Italy. I’d love to return to be able to explore more of the larger cities and history of the country. And, the Amalfi Coast, of course.

Did you know… that Campione d’Italia is in the borders of Switzerland but is part of Italy? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Texas: I really didn’t think twice about Texas until Fixer Upper. Now, it’s on my list. Waco, Texas, to be specific. (Yes, you read that correctly. A destination made my list based on an HGTV show.) I just think it is amazing how two people can really breathe a new life into not only homes but also a town and its inhabitants.

Did you know… that Waco, Texas, is the place where Dr. Pepper came to be? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Vancouver, Canada: Again, you can thank HGTV for this one. I enjoy watching Love It or List It Too not only for the fun little competition my husband and I have going (yes, he is a really good sport about my HGTV addiction) but also because of the beautiful scenery. It looks like a city I’d like to check out.

Did you know… that overall Vancouver is English-speaking but 52% of its city residents’ first language is one other than English? (Source)

*Please note that the pictures above are not my own. They were taken from Pixabay– thank you! Hopefully, someday soon, I will have my own photos to share.

**Please also note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

***While I’m asterisk-ing… I’d love for you to come visit me over on Instagram and Pinterest. See you there!

****And get ready for a giveaway next month, too!!!

Oh, and in case you are wondering what we are up to while we are grounded, here are some photos (these are mine) of our day at the beach last weekend. It was sunny and 60 degrees in January! 

Photo credit- Mackinaw Road
Photo credit- Mackinaw Road
Photo credit- Mackinaw Road

Top 5 Posts of 2016

Since I love a good countdown and have been seeing quite a few Top 5 Posts of 2016, I thought it might be entertaining (and, admittedly, a bit self-indulgent) to look back, too, especially because I’m grounded until March. (Have a mentioned that? Ha!) Granted, the statistics are from a whole 3 months, but still… Here we go…

5. Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life, Part II: This was a fun post. One, because I love lists and, two, because I love gifts.

Mackinaw Road Gift Guide

4. A Long Weekend in Northern Michigan: Northern Michigan’s beauty never ceases to amaze me. Can you believe that water is in Michigan and not the Caribbean? We had such a wonderful trip; it will definitely be on our list for next year, too.

Northern Michigan

3. Global Christmas and Holiday Traditions in 2 Hours or Less: My son and I had so much fun checking out the holiday displays from our roots at our local gardens. Can you guess which country this tree represents?

Holiday Global Traditions

2. Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life: Here I provided several gift suggestions for the traveler in your life. I purchased the Leather Charger Roll-Up for my husband for Christmas, and not only does he carry it with him when he travels, but he also tells me all about it often.

Mackinaw Road Gift Guide

1. Banff: Something for Everyone: I was so happy to see this as my top post of 2016. It was such a surprising and amazing destination. I really would recommend Banff and Lake Louise to anyone and everyone.

Mackinaw Road- Banff

I’m so excited to see what 2017 has in store for us! We already have four trips planned, two with our larger families, one with the four of us, and one with just the two of us. Do you have any destinations on your bucket list that you are hoping to check off this year?

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.