Island Travel Interviews: Pacific Ocean Islands, Take 1: Savai’i

 

Located in the South Pacific and part of Polynesia, the Samoan Islands are an archipelago taking up 1,170 square miles. There is evidence of the islands being inhabited as far back as 1050 B.C.

Read on as Laura from Escapes Etc. gives us more info…

What to do in Savi'i
Photo Credit- Escapes Etc.

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

Savai’i in Western Samoa. I chose this little tiny island as I feel it is often overlooked for the more well-known pacific islands such as Fiji. But Savai’i offers a true break away from hectic life and a chance to experience time as a local without much effort. It’s full of wildlife, beautiful beaches, forests and waterfalls to explore but above all it’s the ultimate place to chill out.

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

As it is very small, I would stay here again for around 4 days, so a long weekend would be perfect.

What to do in Savi'i
Photo Credit- Escapes Etc.

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

I visited Samoa when I was on my 8 months round the world trip and it was the break we needed. There’s no phone signal  (unless you buy a local sim), limited internet and super chill. When I think about this island I just think of the detox from gadgets and rushing around I got. It made me stop, chill out and really appreciate the nature surrounding me.

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

You have to take a swim in the To Sua Ocean trench! It is a giant hole in the ground in Lalomanu where sea water enters. You have to climb down a big ladder to get to the water but it was just awesome to see and go to!

What to do in Savi'i
Photo Credit- Escapes Etc

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

I stayed at Joleen’s Beach Fales, which is a family run business and absolutely amazing. Food was included in the cost of the stay so getting to eat the local everyday food was the best! You become part of the family if you stay here which made meal times even better.

What Surprised You About this Island?

To be honest, my friend and I booked this part of a trip on a whim. We wanted to go to a Pacific Island different from the norm, so we just pointed to Samoa on the map and that was set! So really, I had no expectations or knowledge of the Island so everything was a surprise!

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)?

Western Samoa is made up to 2 islands – Opolu and Savai’i, with the airport on Opolu which is the larger of the 2. To get round the Island I rented a car and used Jeepneys, and you need to get a boat between the 2 islands. Bear in mind that the boat times are not regular and work to Pacific Islander times (by that I mean a fantastically relaxed schedule). The currency is Samoan Tala and is covered in tropical designs such as palm trees. Most people speak English so it’s easy to ask for help if you need it. Make sure you stay in a Beach Fale if you get the chance The beautiful clear blue waters are too good to not have on your doorstep while you’re there! The 2 downsides to Samoa are 1) The mosquitos – make sure you take good replant and 2) the guard dogs which are everywhere!

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

The Ultimate guide to visiting Samoa

Thanks so much to Laura! Here is a pin if you want to save this for later like I do 🙂

What to See in Samoa
Photo Credit- Pixabay

**This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you click and purchase, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

Island Travel Interviews- Mexico, Take 1

With the weather getting colder, I’m dreaming of warmer days and islands. Our Escape Clause is only encouraging these dreams with talk of Isla Holbox.  Isla Holbox is located on the northern end of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Separated from the mainland only by a shallow lagoon, it is about 26 miles long and 0.9 miles wide. Here’s Kate from Our Escape Clause to tell us more… Continue reading Island Travel Interviews- Mexico, Take 1

Chasing Fall

While summer sun and lake time has my heart, there is something about fall that is simply magical. From the stillness to the brightly colored leaves to the sweater weather, fall takes a very close second (and only that due to the fact that I know what follows fall). Michigan autumns are simply the best- apple picking, pumpkin patches, rich colored trees… the list goes on and on…

Chasing Fall
Michigan in the Fall

We are always incredibly hesitant to miss out on Michigan falls. However, after looking at some of the Instagrams below, I may be more inclined to do so… Just look at this beautiful autumn foliage worldwide.

New York, USA: Kaaterskill Falls, Catskills Mountains

Colorado, USA

Quebec City, Canada

What's your favourite season? Summer is mine for sure, but fall is my second favourite! I love the fall colours. 🍁🍂🍃

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Kotor, Montenegro

Switzerland

Sigulda, Latvia

Gouda, South Holland

Brussels, Belgium

Ontario, Canada

Kyoto, Japan

Eikan-do Zen Temple | Kyoto, Japan⠀ ⠀ Many people head to Japan during the Cherry Blossom season as Spring arrives but I find the Autumn a much more beautiful time to visit. The viewing of Autumn leaves is called ‘momijigari’ in Japanese and the pop of colour that flows across the country from mid-September to early December is wonderful to see and a photographer’s delight. ⠀ ⠀ At most tourist offices you will see wall charts tracking the spread of the Autumn leaves as they make their way from the Hokkaido region in the north to Kyushu in the south. They also show the strength of its colour, making it easy to choose the best locations and days to visit. ⠀ ⠀ These Autumn colours in the Hojo Pond at the Eikan-do Zen Temple in Kyoto were captured in mid-November.⠀ ⠀ #Kyoto #Japan

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Iceland

Paris, France

Como, Italy

I love the feeling of autumn 🍂 #havesomecolor

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Gavarnie, (French Pyrenees)

New Zealand

I have been waiting to leave ever since I figured out there were roads willing to take me anywhere I wanted to go. It was a great day..Day full of the colors. Autumn is beautiful season. Do you like it or you prefer for example summer, spring or winter time? . . #Autumn leaf #color is a phenomenon that affects the normally green leaves of many deciduous #trees and shrubs by which they take on, during a few weeks in the autumn season, various shades of red, yellow, purple, black, orange, pink, magenta, blue and brown.The phenomenon is commonly called autumn colours, autumn foliage  and fall colors. #travelphoto #travel #traveller #travelling #instatravel #instatraveling #exploringtheglobe #traveltheworld #girlsborntotravel #travelphoto # #womenwhoexplore #worldtravelpics #travelworld #purenz #neverstopexploring #newzealand #travelawesome #warsawgirl #solotravel #ladiesgoneglobal #thetravelwomen #aroundtheworld #girlaroundtheworld #purenewzealand #southislandnz#worldpackers #travellingtheworld #polishgirl

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Wachau Valley, Austria

Baden-Baden, Germany

Artists Bluff- New Hampshire, USA

Many thanks to the Travel Instagrammers who contributed their photos and experiences to this post. I’m 100% inspired to explore the world during autumn…next year 🙂 Until then…

Chasing Fall Around the World
Michigan Autumn on the Beach

What about you? Did any of these photos stir some wanderlust? Where will you explore next fall? If you found this helpful and would like to save it, here is a pin:

Places to visit in Autumn

**This post may contain affiliate links.

 

 

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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.

 

Top 5 Delhi Attractions

 

Namaste!

Remember how I told you what great parents we were to leave our children at home while we went to NYC for the Easter weekend? Well, we were equally fab parents and also left them for the Christmas holiday to go to India.

Now, this was not just another trip for me. I asked a zillion questions of my husband, knowing this would be unlike any trip I had ever taken. I had several talks with myself. Remember how I love to wander around? Go for jogs to get my bearings in a new city? Remember how I am Type A? And an introvert? Before I even got on the plane, I had come to grips with the fact that I would likely not be wandering around, not going for jogs, not be planning our days or what we would be eating, and would be around people all the time. And I let it go… And you know what? I had the best time! It was such a great trip!!!

After spending a few days in Mumbai for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s wedding reception (More on that later! Talk about beautiful people inside-and-out and a gorgeous setting!), we (my parents-in-law, husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law) headed to Delhi to visit my father-in-law’s family. Again, we had such a nice time! Below are the top 5 attractions I would recommend when visiting Delhi.

Dilli Haat- What a fun experience! Especially since we were with the negotiator of all negotiators. Dilli Haat is an open air market with several booths and also a food court Dilli Haatof sorts. The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation run Dilli Haat and we could purchase tickets to enter. There were about 62 stalls, which are rotated every 15 days. We purchased scarves and more scarves for ourselves and for gifts as well as several wooden toys for our children. This was a really fun experience for me since I am the worst negotiator- mostly because I dislike confrontation. Basically, if someone were to say “no, this is the cost,” I would say “okay.” So, as you can imagine, the whole experience was mind-blowing for me.

Red Fort- Enclosed in red sandstone walls, the Red Fort housed emperors and their households beginning in the mid-1600s. Upon entering, there was a Red Fort New Delhihallway of different shops. Once we emerged from the market, we were able to walk the grounds and view several different buildings. I have to admit that I was skeptical about wearing the tourist headphones at first. That said, my #1 recommendation for touring the Red Fort is to rent the headphones. I learned an incredible amount of Indian history and just really enjoyed the experience of standing in front of something so amazing and, well, receiving an on-the-spot history lesson. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Humayan’s Tomb- the tomb of the Mughal Emperor commissioned in 1569-70. Again there is a heavy use ofHumayan's Tomb red sandstone; it was designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, and is significant because it was the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent. More than 100 Mughal family members are buried in the complex, many on the first level terrace, which is often called the “dormitory of Mughals.” The property itself contains several additional tombs and structures, and it is clear that efforts have been made to preserve and respect this area.

Rashtrapati Bhavan- Or, as I pronounce it, The President’s House, is located in New Delhi. Built from 1921-1929 and made of cream and red sandstone, it The President's House New Delhiwas designed to be home to the Viceroys of India. We were able to follow along as a tour guide led us through just a few of 300+ rooms and the beautiful Mughal gardens outside. When we went, we needed to submit our request online along with photocopies of our passports; my husband’s uncle took care of all of this for us so a big Thank You to him. We were also required to bring our actual passports on the day that we visited. Sir Edwin Lutyens was the main designer.

India Gate- A magnificent structure also in New Delhi and reminiscent of India Gatesuch architectural icons as the Arch of Constantine in Rome, Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. India Gate is a memorial to the 82,000 servicemen who served in the Indian Army who died in the timeframe of 1914-1921. 13,000 names are inscribed on the gate. Sir. Edwin Lutyens was again the designer.

Taj Mahal- I know, this is not in Delhi but it is a MUST to travel to Agra if you are in Delhi for any length of time. It is a long day but you will not regret the drive Taj Mahalout to this amazing ivory-white marble mausoleum. Upon parking our car, someone offered to give us a tour of the grounds. We ended up with a knowledgeable tour guide who not only was able to give us several history lessons but was able to guide us through the masses of people. The grounds are lovely and tourists are able to spread out. However, once you put on your shoe coverings you will be semi-pushed past the fake sarcophagi of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, who are really buried on a lower level. There wasn’t a whole lot of dawdling, so get ready to move once you enter. I think my favorite part was being able to look at the grounds and closely view the spectacular materials of the building from the porch of the Taj Mahal.

You could really see all of these sites in about 3 days. We spent just under a week in Delhi, doing both touristy things and visiting with family. While you may want to add a couple more days just so you don’t feel rushed, I would break up the activities like this…

Day #1 India Gate and The President’s House

Day #2 Taj Mahal

Day #3 Red Fort and Humayan’s Tomb

Alvida!