Guided Tours Highly Recommended

My Lovely trip to Italy was a guided tour provided to me from Trafalgar Tours and I would highly recommend it, especially for visiting a destination for the first time. Worry-free travel is a main reason.

A tour like this is conducted with a guide that is local, that knows the area and the information for each experience. You are chauffeured by luxury buses and the groups are no more than 40 people. The properties are 4 to 5 star and city central. The most authentic meals are provided.

“Doing it on your own” does provide a level of privacy, but there is so much that can be missed. Who would have thought to go to Perugia to see actual weaving, or go to a Olive Grove/Vineyard/19th Century Villa to have hand-made pasta made for you by an Italian countess. Not to mention cut-the-line tickets at the Vatican, which were all included, saved waiting in line for hours just to get inside.

I believe the whole experience was made so much richer by all these components and I would most certainly travel like this again to another destination.

Finding My Love for Italy

I’m so happy to have had the opportunity and the pleasure of visiting some of the amazing top cities of Italy, and discovered I am so very much in love with this destination. The sights old and new, the smells, the food, the wine, and of course the people all make me close my eyes, smile and wish I were back in this soulful place.

As I arrived into Rome, the first thing that really stood out is that even though it was October, it was 80 degrees … how wonderful! I had 3 sweaters I should not have brought along, but worse things have happened. I was on a guided tour of Italy and we started with taking a bus to a restaurant for an authentic pizza dinner. Of course, the sights were amazing on the way. The Colosseum, The Pantheon, the Government center all took your breath away. Where did the archeology and technology come from in ancient Rome? Not only were the buildings functional, but they were also beautiful and artistic.

Like the adage says, “When in Rome…” That evening we were treated to a wood-fire baked authentic pizza dinner. The smells of the fresh made sauce and the creamy mozzarella on a crispy crust filled the restaurant with deliciousness and warmth, like mama’s house, or was that the Chianti?

Day two brought our visit to the Vatican. The architecture and the art in every corner were spectacular, whether modern or ancient. I especially appreciated Michelangelo’s fresco ceiling and I was humbled at the “Touching the hand of God” painting. I was being silly but thought the Pope has a great job to be able to work and live here. Other grand pieces I enjoyed was the huge pineapple staircase outside in the courtyard and Bramante’s stepless spiral staircase on the inside.

Saint Peter’s Basilica was exquisite. I normally go to mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul, MN, so I am used to a huge church, but not like this. It is about 4 times the size with gold craftsmanship and porcelain tiling all over everything, even the ceiling. The paintings were larger than life all celebrating God and his disciples. No matter what religion you are, you will appreciate the hard work people did bringing this place to life.

Next on the itinerary was driving through the classic Tuscan countryside with the tall Cypress trees to get to the College of Preugia where we were greeted warmly by Marta, one of the last of the family textile weavers in all of Italy. Her studio was a 12th century church that housed 6 full-sized looms that were big enough to make blankets. After Marta gave us a lesson of how to set up a loom and to weave, I learned that the weaving was the easy part. The tough part was the details that go in to setting up the loom precisely to create patterns that tell a story, griffins, grape vines, falcons, fountains, made me truly appreciate the Italian art in this form that was being created before my eyes.

Florence was our next stop. Again, the sights from the familiar landscape of the city made me smile. The square was so fun and alive with people, and churches and shops and street vendors. A major feature of the area is the Duomo. (The famous domed church.) With its massive size and detail, I was in awe. Florence is known for its quality leather products so of course, I picked up a couple of handbags from the street vendors. Florence is where I had my first taste of lavender gelato in Italy. I don’t know if I can have gelato anywhere else when I started at the top.

That evening was a memory I will never forget. Our group was taken to an Italian villa and farm owned by an actual Italian Countess named Giada. The villa has been in the family since the 19th century and is still producing Olives, Olive oil and wine. I was in heaven.

After a Prosecco greeting in the courtyard of the Villa, we were given a tour of this amazing building and then settled in for some of Giada’s cooking. What an honor. It was a white linen dinner that started with a handmade dish of ribbon pasta, then salad and roasted chicken that fell off the bone. She finished the meal with a fresh baked limoncello cake. Delicioso! What a lovely evening with great food and new friends.

On to Bologna! This was a city filled with charm and vibrant sights and sounds of the Bologna Marketplace. There were fresh fish markets, bakeries, fruit stands, meat shops, and fashion houses for as far as the eye could see! For lunch I had the best pasta bolognaise I have ever tasted, alfresco with red checkered tablecloth and just watched the people of Bologna go by.

Off to Murano and the Vetreria Artistica Colleoni (Murano glass Company) for a lesson in glass blowing! Blown glass is another art that is coveted in Italy. From the most delicate pieces of jewelry, to sculptures, to the most spectacular chandeliers that are famous around the world, glass blowing is a skill that is made up of technique, speed and talent. The showroom just sparkled with color and light of the different pieces that could have been purchased.

The last stop was the best for last … AAAH, Venice. Our group was there on one of the rainiest days I have ever seen and still was a glorious experience. The view of St. Mark’s Square, the canals, the gondolas, the cobblestone streets and sculptures created what every photo I have ever seen conveyed, only better. I was there and I was in awe. Everything was so beautiful, even the water taxis! The city was alive with old and new everything and welcoming people everywhere. Walking the bridges was a challenge, but so fun and I captured some great photos and memories I will never forget.

Italy was a dream! I hope that you have the opportunity to visit this beautiful country and I would be happy to assist with the planning.

Family Fun at Nickelodeon Punta Cana

For our very first family vacation, my husband and I took our 3 year old son on a 4 night/5 day vacation to Nickelodeon Punta Cana.  To put it simply, it was AMAZING!

The property itself, is owned and operated by Karisma Resorts, which have several properties in Mexico, and recently one available in Jamaica.  They really know what they are doing!  They’ve built beautiful properties, with wonderful service, amenities, and food, and have really created the perfect resort for those parents who want to take their small children on vacation without sacrificing luxury and service.

There are two sides to the property.  The resort side, and the Nickelodeon side.  On the resort side, you will find 4 buildings with various room categories, as well as Pool Super Villas and the wonderful Pineapple Villa.  The Pineapple Villa, is a one of a kind, two level, 2292 sq foot tribute to Bikini Bottom.  Believe me, you’ve never seen anything like it!

We stayed in a Flat Suite, a large spacious room, with the ability to close off the bedroom portion to create 2 separate spaces.  It also includes a huge soaker tub (perfect to bath your little ones) and a great walk in rain shower.  The terrace was huge as well, giving great space to hang out outdoors as well.

In the main area, you will find 5 restaurant choices, including Spacewalker, where the servers are dressed in space attire, and BRGRS.PH, where you can order from an indoor food truck, a Machete Burger, big enough for the whole family!

Just a short golf cart ride away (you can catch a ride all day, either at various designated stops, or anytime a cart goes by) you will transport to Nickelodeon Place.  This is where you will find Sponge Bob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora and Boots, and Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol!

Along with character visits and photo ops, there is a wonderful water park, built for younger children. (My personal opinion is that it would lose it’s luster for children over 8).  There is a lazy river, which circles the water park, and Aqua Bite, for kid friendly meals and adult beverages to boot!

In the evening, is when you really realize how perfect this resort is for your young children.  The resort has great little “parties” they put on after dinner, with fun little activities, cotton candy and music, right in the “town square”. It has a great community vibe to it, and it’s a nice chance for your kids to play with others while Mom and Dad have a cocktail and smile.

There are so many great things about this property, and if your children are 6 and under, you may cry on numerous occasions like me…….I was overcome by that look of pure, absolute joy on my boy’s face, and I couldn’t hold back the tears 🙂

Traveling Solo Brings Wonders of the World

It’s going to be a banner year for travel, according to a new survey of American consumers. That upswing includes people who will be traveling on their own.

Travel Leaders Group polled more than 3,500 people, and 96 percent indicated that they intend to take a trip for vacation in 2019, with 76 percent planning at least two or more leisure trips. And 36 percent say that their travels, at least in part, will involve solo trips.

Solo travel isn’t a one-size-fits-all option, and travel advisors work with clients to tailor a trip that meets their needs. According to the survey, 40 percent of solo travelers want to travel and explore independently, while 25 percent prefer to be part of an organized group journey. Thirty-five percent enjoy participating in one or more guided tours.

The top five U.S. destinations for solo travelers in 2019 are Florida, California, Hawaii, New York and Alaska. The top five international destinations are Western Europe, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom/Ireland, Eastern Europe and Australia.

Each of those destinations offers opportunities for solo travelers no matter what their style.

Travelers who want to explore on their own, and love urban spaces, will find lots of interesting neighborhoods in cities like New York, London and San Francisco. New York’s artsy Greenwich Village, San Francisco’s Italian North Beach and London’s trendy Notting Hill are just a few examples of popular places where you can browse in shops or relax in a café like a local.

Solo travelers who love to explore a culture through its cuisine, Italy is, obviously, a great place to indulge in everything from gelato to pasta to wine. But there are other destinations that many might not think about for a wine trip, like Australia. The country has more than 60 designated wine regions and almost every city there has an annual festival, like the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, March 8-24, with more than 200 events.

Art-loving solo travelers can admire the masterpieces in Western Europe’s museums at their own pace. This year’s highlights include an exhibit on designer Christian Dior, opening in February at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. In Paris, the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa, will pay tribute to Leonardo da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death, beginning in October.

 

For solo travelers who love the outdoors, plan a hiking trip in a national park, like Yosemite, in northern California. It’s easier than you think to find your own little spot to commune with nature. When you don’t want to be on your own, national parks offer lots of activities, such as photography walks and strolls with a naturalist.

If you’re a solo traveler who wants the comfort and camaraderie of a group journey, cruises are a good option, whether it’s the sunny Caribbean or breathtaking Alaska. In addition to voyages geared toward singles, some cruise ships have studios that are designed and priced for solo travelers.

For help planning a solo trip, contact us today.

Time for a Romantic Dinner at Blue Bayou, Disneyland Resort

Romance is in the air for this experience!  Enjoy Nighttime in N’awlins!  Stepping down into this truly unique setting where the bayou is, literally, by YOU!

Always ask to be seated on the water’s edge!  You will spot passenger boats from inside Pirates of the Caribbean as they sail through the eatery.

Looking around, you are surrounded in the essence of New Orleans as overhead strings of colorful balloon lanterns cast an enchanting glow, dotting the darkness where crickets chirp, frogs croak and fireflies wink while providing amazing ambiance like none other.

When I visited this beautiful restaurant, it was so dark (and romantic), I wasn’t sure how I would be able to read the menu.  To my surprise, when you open the menu, it lights up!  Talk about a little Disney magic!  I will never forget my experience here.  We loved waving at the boats on the ride, and the food was simply amazing.  I ordered steak that melted in my mouth!  Best ever.

So if you are looking for a little romantic escape on your next adventure to Disneyland Resort, check out this restaurant, you won’t be disappointed!!!

The Outback Meets the Reef

Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef is a remote beach-side safari camp in the dunes of the Cape Range National Park. It’s located just an hour ride from the Learmonth Airport, a military airport for the Royal Australian Air Force. This is an extraordinary luxury lodge located in Western Australia.  You’ll be near the Indian Ocean enjoying breathtaking views of the Ningaloo Reef. During the day you can explore the reef and its 500 species of fish and over 250 species of coral. Just beyond the reef you have the opportunity to swim with some of the mighty giants of the ocean—Whale Sharks, Orcas, Humpback Whales, Manta Rays and dolphins. Depending on the season, will depend on what species you will see. So make sure to check that out before booking to be sure you are in the right season.

Sal Salis, nestled amongst the sand dunes, offers all guests Eco-luxe Safari tent accommodations. This is an eco-friendly resort and is run entirely off of solar panels. Each tent is allowed 20L of water per person per day to shower. There is no WiFi or phone service which forces you to be cut off from your everyday distractions of life offering ultimate relaxation.

The resort offers plenty of things to keep you as busy as you want. You are steps away from the Ningaloo Reef if you want to snorkel or just relax on their amazing beach. I was able to see some of the most unique fish and turtles right off the beach. No need to bring your snorkel gear, the resort has some for you to use during your stay.

Because of the seclusion of the resort is it all-inclusive. All meals are served in the main lodge or the beautiful desk and are shared with fellow guests. In the main lodge there is a set up where you can grab anything you want to drink any time of the day or some small snacks. If you wanted to grab a glass of wine, sit on the deck and watch the sun set … you can! Each night you are treated to a 5-star gourmet meal made from a simple camp kitchen. I am not sure how they did it, but the food was absolutely amazing. You will be eating with the other campers at one long table so it was quite fun to meet people from all over the world and share your stories.

From the minute you step on property you are treated like family throughout your stay. We even got to know the mangers that ran the resort, a husband and wife with a true passion for what they do. The staff is highly engaged with the guests … they offer daily walks and guided snorkeling tours at a different location each day. I truly can’t say enough about the staff … some of the best I have personally experienced. One morning I woke up, walked out of the tent to watch sunrise and there was a Wallaby just hopping by. That is what dreams are made of and I just sat back in awe and took that moment in.

This resort does offer a truly unique experience. The outback and reef combo is something you must see for yourself. When you are ready to make this dream a reality I am here to help.


 

Hiking, Glaciers and Sushi in the Canadian Rockies

My first experience seeing Lake Louise was as a teenager on a road trip with my parents.  I fell in love with the beautiful blue water and snow capped peaks then and looked forward to the day I could return.  I was able to return with my family years later and introduce my sons and husband to the beauty of this magical destination.

We started off our vacation with the hike of the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House Trail above Lake Louise.  We were fortunate to have a local guide for our hike and he was excellent!  Hiking into the snowy peaks that surround Lake Louise and stopping for a cup of tea and chocolate cake at the upper tea house was amazing.  My kids were also amazed by the beauty of the mountains and beautiful blue color of the mountain lakes.  We spent time at Moraine Lake hiking and skipping rocks with our boys.  We took a day to drive the Icefields Parkway and spent a night in Jasper.  We will always remember our sushi dinner at the little restaurant at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge with room for about 8 diners.  On our way back to Banff we stopped at the Athabasca glacier and had the amazing experience of walking on a glacier.  This is a travel destination that has beauty and adventure around every corner! 

Please let me know if I can help you plan your next travel adventure to Canada!

    

Soaking Up Culture & Adventure in Costa Rica

Costa Rica was a vacation unlike any other I have experienced. I was introduced to the rainforests of La Fortuna on this journey and fell in love! My family and I spent 4 nights near Arenal Volcano and another 4 nights on the coast of Guanacaste.

During our vacation, we went on a tour of our resorts animal preserve led by the resort’s naturalist. This was an excellent learning experience for our 3 teenagers. We also enjoyed the areas hot springs and a little white water tubing. On our list for our next visit to the rainforest is zip lining and hiking!

We also spent a day with an excellent tour guide and explored the Palo Verde National Park. We had an opportunity to observe many different species of birds, crocodiles and even monkeys that day. The coast was also full of beautiful beaches and sunsets.

Please let me know if I can help you or someone you know plan a vacation that will help you drink in the beauty and culture of a destination you would like to learn more about!

Visiting Southeast Asia

Americans are increasingly interested in exploring Asia, according to the travel advisors at Travel Leaders Network. The region has become a magnet for travelers with a desire for adventure, for those who want a trip rich in experiences that combine history, culture and cuisine.

Here are some suggestions for what to see and where to go in three popular Southeast Asian destinations.

Indonesia. Most people associate Indonesia with luxurious Bali, or the capital city of Jakarta, and they offer lots of opportunities for exploration. But with 17,000 islands, there’s much more to see on a trip to the world’s fourth-largest country. The island of Sumatra is known for the beautiful Danau Toba, a large natural lake, as well as Mount Kerinci, Indonesia’s highest volcano. The island of Java, between Sumatra and Bali, is home to Jakarta as well as historic cities like Yogyakarta, where you can get a taste of Indonesian culture at ancient temples and palaces, and sample traditional food. East Indonesia is a paradise for nature lovers. Rugged Komodo Island, a land of red volcanic hills and forests, is where you’ll find the Komodo dragon, a species of lizard.

  

Thailand offers travelers everything from peaceful temples to gorgeous beaches to mountains made for hiking. Thai culture places great emphasis on politeness, and English is spoken widely, making the country a popular destination for Americans, especially honeymooners. At resort areas like Phuket and Koh Samui, you’ll find pristine beaches and blue water similar to the Caribbean. Koh Lanta is a less touristy destination with a number of upscale properties that cater to families. The city of Chiang Mai, in the northern part of the country, is a center of Thai culture, as well as a starting point for elephant treks. At the city’s night market you can rub elbows with the locals while shopping for handicrafts and sampling delicious Thai food.

No trip to Thailand would be complete without a stay in Bangkok. Check out one of the capital’s floating markets or a traditional Thai show with dinner. The city also has a fascinating museum that chronicles the history of World War II.

Singapore. Interest in visiting Singapore has soared since the bestselling novel and movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” Visit the food stalls at Singapore’s hawker centers, the heart of the island’s culinary scene. They’re a great way to enjoy a variety of tasty and inexpensive local specialties. Singapore’s top attractions include the Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown, said to contain one of the Buddha’s teeth, the colorful Sri Mariamman Temple and the Lion City Gardens by the Bay, with trees that light up at night. Singapore is also a family-friendly destination. Children will enjoy the S.E.A. Aquarium and the Adventure Waterpark, which features the first hydro-magnetic coaster in Asia.

  

A cruise is another way to see the region. Some cruises will include Singapore as part of a Southeast Asian voyage, with additional stops in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

For help planning a trip to Southeast Asia, contact us.

Up Close and Personal with Whale Sharks

When I was in Australia I had an opportunity to swim with Whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef. Swimming with sharks has been on my bucket list FOREVER…so I was very happy to finally check it off. The Ningaloo reef is located on the west side of Australia. You would take a 2 hour flight north from Perth to the town of Exmouth.

You can swim with whale sharks from April through July so my trip in June was perfect timing. From August to October it is Humpback whale season, which is another opportunity you won’t want to miss out on. For this trip I went with a company called Live Ningaloo. Only 10 people are allowed on the boat at a time to get in the water with the sharks. It’s a very intimate experience.

There is a photographer and a guide on the boat with the 10 of us. The photographer will get in the water first so they can get in the perfect position to capture these magical moments. The guide will follow and then all us sat down on the back of the boat in a line. One by one we all got in the water and lined up to watch the whale pass by.  Once they pass you are more than welcome to swim with them IF you can keep up. They are crazy fast! I tried to swim with them but they are much faster than one would think. These sharks are magnificent creatures. I know they are very large animals but once in the water you realize they are much larger than I expected.  However they very gentle and glide with ease through the water. We are instructed to stay behind their front fins and do not go in front of the whales when swimming with them.

Ever wonder how they spot these whales? Well they have spotter planes that are up in the sky looking for the whales. Think about that for a second.. a plane is needed to spot the whales and that they are that big that they can be spotted from a plane. Once they are spotted they radio down to the boats. The captains will then take off and try to get ahead of the whales so that everyone can get situated in the water for it to swim by. We saw 2 whales and were in the water about 10 times with them. It was just such a cool experience. When looking back, I sit here and think about how you are out in the middle of the ocean with these massive creatures with nothing else around. You looking down and all you can see is the deep blue.. don’t recommend looking down. Haha.

I have always wanted to do this in Australia and know I can say that I have. This is one of the top 5 spots to do this in the World to do the whale shark swim. I was very nervous but those nerves quickly disappeared once I got in the water with them. I can’t wait to do it again, it was such an amazing experience! I would love to tell you more and help you plan your adventure.

Top Up and Coming Vacation Destinations

If you’re thinking about a different vacation experience beyond the usual destinations, consider some of the places that travel advisors have picked as the top up-and-coming international destinations.

Iceland is the top up-and-coming spot in Europe, according to the results of a survey of 1,000 North American travel advisors conducted by Travel Leaders Group as part of its annual trends survey. Peru topped the list for locations in Central and South America, with Thailand number one for Asia/Southeast Asia and Tahiti coming in at the top for the Pacific region.

For travelers who want to explore nature, Iceland offers a breathtaking landscape of mountains and glaciers, waterfalls and black-sand beaches. Enjoy a relaxing dip in the waters of the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa that’s just 40 minutes away from the lively capital of Reykjavik. Landmannalaugar National Park, in southern Iceland, is known for its hot springs and hiking trails. Take a tour from Reykjavik to see the northern lights, with September to April the optimal months for this dazzling nighttime display. Summertime, from April to September, is the best time for a whale-watching voyage off of Iceland’s coast.

Thailand draws travelers with its tropical beaches, ornate temples and ancient ruins. In Bangkok, the Wat Pho temple complex is known for its large collection of Buddhist images. You can spend all day browsing at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, with thousands of booths selling items from all over the country. The 18th-century Grand Palace complex, in the heart of the city, is a must for any first-time visitor. After a few days in Bangkok, head to one of Thailand’s beach resorts. Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island, offers lots to do in addition to sunbathing. Walk through the night market at Fisherman’s Village, go snorkeling at the Ang Thong National Marine Park and take a cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts.

The South American country of Peru is a natural destination for travelers interested in ancient history. You’ll want to visit the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu, a 15th-century citadel built by the Incas high in the Andes Mountains. In Lima, the capital, learn about Peru’s history by visiting Museo Larco, with its collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. Spend some time in the upscale Miraflores District, home to shops, bars and restaurants. Take a walk along the Parque del Amor, known for its colorful mosaics, flowers and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.

Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, offering visitors both a relaxing beach vacation and plenty of water-based activities. You can relax and bask in the sunshine as well as enjoy swimming, snorkeling and surfing. Head to La Plage de Maui, on the island’s southern shore, for soft white-sand beaches and calm, clear water. Papeete, the capital, is a center for dining, nightlife and local crafts. Accommodations in Tahiti include overwater bungalows, with a staircase that will take you right to the ocean.

For help planning a trip to an up-and-coming destination, contact us.

Exploring Lizard Island in Australia

I was lucky enough to visit Lizard Island on my first trip to Australia … talk about a dream come true! This amazing little island is an hour flight north of Cairns. It is an island in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. The 1-hour flight was on a little plane with about 12 seats. I have never been on a plane that small, this was a plane where the pilot was actually within reach. We flew right over the reef and the views below were so amazing. There are so many little reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef.

The airport was VERY small. It was basically a landing strip near the resort. You step off the plane and head right to a vehicle to take you to the resort! We arrived at the resort and were so amazed by everything. The rooms left me speechless. As I walked out the front patio … I took 10 steps and I was on the beach! We were lucky enough to spend 2-nights here.

The next morning, we hopped on a boat and did a full day snorkel tour. We were located 1 hour away from the outer reef. I have snorkeled before, but nothing will ever compare to what the Great Barrier Reef has to offer! We even were able to snorkel at the World Famous Cod Hole. It is home to huge Potato Cod. I saw sharks, turtles, clams, oysters and just about every fish you can think of.. and of course we did find Nemo and Dory … LOL. A snorkeling experience I will NEVER forget.

We also got to visit the research station that is the on the island! This was a very cool experience! It was on the opposite side of the island so guests and researchers aren’t running into each other.

Here are a few things I learned:

  • It’s a National Park in the middle of the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef
  • It has 24 sandy beaches and a lagoon
  • It is a 1-hour flight north from Cairns flying right over the amazing Great Barrier Reef
  • It is located in Tropical Queensland with an average temp of 80 degrees
  • There is a Coral Reef research Station on the island, where researchers from all over the world come to work and learn about the coral reef.

I am ready for a trip back … are you ready to go? I’d be happy to share more about my experience.

Favorite Attractions at Disney World for Kids 8-12 Years of Age

During my recent trip to Walt Disney this past September I found out how beneficial it is to purchase the Park Hopper Pass.

I got to experience so many rides during my stay that you won’t want to miss when you make your next visit.

Here are my top rides from each park for school age kids:

Magic Kingdom
In the Magic Kingdom I narrowed it down to 2 attractions. One is the climbing adventures of Swiss Family Robinson’s Treehouse. There is so much to hear and see every step you take. This is a self guided tour that takes you up to the crows nest! I can’t wait for you to experience the view! My other favorite ride in Magic Kingdom was the Pirates of the Caribbean. The calming boat ride takes you back in the day of pirates. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for all the different treasures along the way!

            

Animal Kingdom
While in Animal Kingdom I went straight to the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. Walking the trails to get to the ride was so eye catching it’s hard to concentrate on where you intended to go! The guides sure put on a show in case you miss all the animals right beside your jeep! Yup, we had 2 adult giraffes and a baby cross right in front of us. You won’t want to miss this exciting adventure!

            

 

Hollywood Studios
As I made my way to Hollywood Studios I was met by Star Troopers securing the premises! Surprise character visits can show up anywhere! As I looked ahead I saw this huge, colorful roller coaster. And there is was, the newest attraction, Slinky Dog Dash. This is such an exciting roller coaster you’ll want to get back in line to ride again! I highly recommend adding this ride to your Disney Experience!

         

Let’s set you up with a Park Hopper Pass … it’s time to head to Disney!

Kangaroo Island at its best

An added benefit of staying at Southern Ocean Lodge is that all excursions are included. It’s more like an all-inclusive luxury resort.

These are some of the tours we did:

  • Kangas and Kanapes. On this historic tour you will learn about the early island settlers at Grassdale, an island property that can be reached by a short drive from the lodge. There is plenty of local wildlife including kangaroos and wallabies that congregate to graze. It’s amazing to observe these creatures in their natural environment. During you trip you will sip on premium Southern Australian beverages and nibble on a canapé while enjoying the sunset
  • Seal Bay. Seal Bay is home to Australia’s third largest colony of Australian sea lions. You will join a naturalist guide for an exclusive tour on the beach with these wild animals. Hear about their unique breeding cycle and the ongoing research programs implemented on site. This is privilege unique to KI!
  • Wonders of KI. This half-day signature experience is a spectacular introduction to KI’s wildlife, maritime heritage and stunning coastal landscapes. The trip highlights include: visit Cape du Couedic lighthouse, a stop at Remarkable Rocks, a view from Admirals Arch and a fur seal colony encounter. What a wonder it was!
  • Koala Sanctuary. We also stopped at a Koala Sanctuary nearby to look for some Koalas in the trees. We spotted 3. It was really raining when we stopped so we didn’t stay too long to search for them. But there were a few!

                                

Luxury Livin’ at Southern Ocean Lodge

Southern Ocean is an exquisite luxury lodge located on Kangaroo island. You can reach this lodge by plane from Adelaide or via a ferry ride. This is one of the most sought after places to stay in Australia and now I know why. We arrived very late in the day from Adelaide and were anxious to get to the resort. Upon landing in Kangaroo island, the resort had someone waiting at the airport to pick us up. The staff member at the airport knew who we were and were awaiting our arrival. As it was dark once we landed, we learned how alert and a driver/guide have to be on the roads on Kangaroo island. Those Wallabies, Kangaroos and Koala’s don’t always obey the animal crossing signs. LOL They can jump out in front of a car at night or even during the day. The training for these drivers and guides is intense as they have to learn to not be distracted while driving and always on the lookout for these cute animals. 😊  

      

We traveled there in the Winter so it was rainy season, but the lodge was still completely booked. Upon arrival at the resort, the Manager of the hotel was waiting for us and ready to welcome us. There is no standard check in desk, you are lead to the beautiful couch in front of the fire place to get all checked in. Once we were checked in, we mentioned we were starving from traveling all day. They kept the kitchen open a little later for us to be able to have something to eat so that we didn’t go hungry. So thoughtful and made a great first impression.

      

The dining at the lodge was superb some of the best I have divulged in my travel. There was everything from burgers to the gastronomic journey of Kangaroo Island. The menu changes daily and there are plenty of selections to please your palette. There is also complimentary FULL bar as well … and when I say full bar, I mean full bar. They had wine selections from all over Australia and endless beer varieties including local specialties. All beverages were self-serve. The rooms and common areas were focused on the outdoors and amazing surroundings. 

      

The rooms are absolutely breathtaking. Since we arrived in the dark, we were very anxious to see our view and the rest of the hotel once the sun came up. Trust me, it didn’t disappoint. 

       

The lodge is located on Hanson Bay on the southwest coast of the island. There are just 21 luxury suites with some of the most amazing views you will ever have the pleasure of experiencing. The best features of the room were the heated Floors, free Wi-Fi, walk in closet and a mini bar that is stocked daily 

      

When you’re ready for the ultimate luxury experience in Australia contact me and I will share more about this once in a lifetime experience and help you to plan your own personal journey.