Goa, India- January 2018

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I have been to India a few times now, and I’ve always enjoy

I need to get my health back on track, so I decided to go to Goa, India for 2 weeks and do a cleanse. I joked that I was going to eat street food and let nature take it’s course. The look of horror on people’s face. If you are not able to drink the local water, it’s not advised to eat street food. This is an international rule. FYI, the drinking water is not kind to the western stomach in India.

My “cleanse” was more of no drinking and making better food choices. And lot of walking around taking sunset and landscape photos.

I spent two in total in Goa. Which in my opinion was a week too long.  I did change hotels 1/2 way thru. For the first week, I stayed at the Park Hyatt and then 2nd week the Grand Hyatt.  If I were go back, I would choose the Park of the Grand. Only because if you are in Goa to relax, the Park is much calmer and quieter. The Grand was quite active. In fact I gate crashed about 4 wedding during the week I was there.  And I worked on taking more landscape photos.

I did manage to lose weight, so mission accomplished.  Most people would not travel that far for that but it worked for me.

Until next time, safe travels.

 

Rio de Janerio, Brazil- January 2018

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Back in 2002, I went to Santiago, Chile and I was pick-pocketed. My travel wallet was stolen, which had all money, credit cards and passport. It was experience to say the least.  Since then I’ve had no desire to return to the South American continent. Which was just ridiculous.

So when presented with the opportunity to go to Brazil for the holidays, I agreed.  It helped that I was in the States for 3 continuous weeks, so I was able to get a visa issued. And for some odd reason I was able to book saver flights with my miles. You know that’s like the traveler’s equivalent of winning the lottery.

I took a friend’s suggestions and signed up for the Eat Rio Tour on my day of arrival.  Not normally my thing, but I am SO glad I did it. I had a lot of fun, and the group that day was actually great! We started the tour at local produce market. Tom, the guide, was very informative.  (P.S. I was excited to use my new Iphone X,  hence the better quality photos).

I am not going to go into great detail of my day, because honestly, you should just stop reading this right now and book a ticket to Rio.  Once that is done use this link, Eat Rio , to sign up for the same tour.  See how easy that was…

If you are considering traveling to Brazil and have safety concerns, ask yourself why?  What is the crime like where you live? If you live in a community in middle of nowhere and it’s safe to leave your doors unlocked at night, then you may have a problem traveling to Chicago, never mind Brazil. IF you live in place, where crime is an every day occurrence, sorry to say like Chicago, then you will be fine traveling to Brazil.  At the end of the day it’s common sense.  Do not ask for trouble, and trouble will probably ignore you.  Every time I mentioned I was going to Brazil, I heard, BE CAREFUL. I should have asked those that told me to be careful, if they have ever been there? And if so did something to them? Or had something to happened to someone they actually know? Or was it, like it most cases, a friend of friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s Uncle who heard of it may happen? Common Sense is your friend. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t bring it. And maybe leave the shiny stuff at home.  This is just my opinion. I spent 7 days in Rio de Janerio and not once did I feel unsafe.  Not to say crime does not exist just that I was lucky enough not to encounter it.

I rocked in the New Year, eating a ridiculous amount of cheese and watching the fireworks,

 

 

I did the required sites one must see while in Rio, including Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, Selaron Steps and yes the famous Copacobana and Ipanema beaches.

And of course then there with fun times with these two…..

Most of my photos moving forward involve porn, food, but still. This is a public blog. So I will only share this one taken at Gringo Cafe, a cafe with an American flair in Ipanema. Since you will already be in Rio, remember you booked your ticket earlier, stop by and say Hello to Sam!

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So we stayed at the Grand Hyatt which is in Barra di Tijuca. It’s a newer area and felt quite safe. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for sightseeing in Rio, as it’s a bit a drive from the Copacabana and Ipanema.  BUT if you are Hyatt loyal, that won’t stop you.  The hotel, has great views. And an amazing staff. I can’t speak highly enough of the concierge, Felipe and Caia, dealing with my 50,000 requests. Or Ramon, making sure I have coffee for breakfast. Or Marlon that keep feeding me cheese on New Year’s. I would go back for the staff, the property could use some TLC.

Until next time, safe travels!

Krakow, Poland- November 2017

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I’ve been wanting to visit Poland for years. I had several co-workers that would from various parts and would always say how nice it is. I had tried to go a few years ago, but no surprise I had an accident and could not walk.  It also helped that there was a direct flight on Austrian from Vienna to Krakow, and I could use miles.

*Travel Tidbit*- I fell off the stairs of the airplane when we were deplaning. I luckily was wearing ugly sturdy shoes, so no damage was done.

First impression of Krakow. NOPE. I arrived at 2pm and it might as well as been 7pm. It was dark,dreary and cold. I was crabby because I took out too much cash from the ATM. And it was pouring rain. So I just took a time out. I stayed in the hotel and did some work. Horrible I know give how little time I had in Krakow to begin with.

I booked a tour to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was an interesting choice on my part. It was Thanksgiving Day in the US, a day that we give thanks. I opted to tour a memorial of where over a million people lost their lives.  I have no words to describe it. So I will not.  It should be noted that if you happen to visit, remember it’s a memorial. Where people died. It’s NOT a place to use your selfie stick and pose for photos.

After my tour I went to the Oskar Schindler factory. But it was just too much history for me take in for one day. I wish I had done the factory tour on a different day.  I headed back to my hotel and since the sun was out decided to check out the town. How AMAZING.  Oops.

A friend had given me some suggestions for dinner. I went to Szara, because hunger and laziness kicked in, and it was the easiest one to locate from his suggestions.  It was SO good! High recommend it, if you happen to be in the main square in Krakow.

I also checked out the Wieliczka Salt Mines.

I timed my visit in just in time for the opening of the Christmas Markets. I actually met a fellow solo American traveler, who I was able to tour around the market with.  It turns out we were on the same flight heading to Munich.  Such a crazy world.

In the end I did not spend nearly enough time in Krakow. I would like to go back but maybe not in the winter, I have to imagine its beautiful in Spring.

Too soon I was back in my happy place heading off to my next adventure.

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Until next time… safe travels.

Vienna, Austria-November 2017

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It’s Christmas Market time! My favorite time of year! Before moving to Australia, I would  take advantage of the airline fare sales. I would choose my destination based on wherever it was cheapest to fly to.  Well the airlines adjusted their business model and realized it would be better decrease capacity then offer fare sales. So this year I actually had to think about where I would like to go. Which actually harder then I thought it would be. SO many markets to choose from. In the end, the decision was made for me.  I was able to use my miles to book a direct flight in Austrian Airlines to Vienna and from there to Kraow, Poland.

Fun Fact, Austrian Airlines has a chef in Business Class!IMG_2732

Another reason I chose Vienna, I was able to use my points to book in the Park Hyatt. It’s in an old bank building. In fact the pool is in the old vault. Funny enough I never did make it to the pool. Oh well next time!

I was settling into my room, when the phone rang. ” Good Morning, I just saw you check in and you looked so familiar, it’s me Kevin from the Grand Hyatt Berlin.” I met Kevin in lounge in November, 2014 and he actually checked me in during my birthday stay in July, 2016.  Got to love this “travel” world I live in.

I arrived early enough to catch breakfast in The Bank. It’s the old reception area for the bank. It worth checking out, even if you are not staying at the hotel. The coffee alone is worth the visit.

Then it was time to start exploring the town. Lucky for me it had stopped raining. A bit unlucky for me, the first thing I see when stepping out of the hotel?  A Christmas Market!
I went to check out St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Where musical great, Joseph Haydn once sang and Mozart was married.

It started to rain, so I headed over to the Jewish Museum. The history of the Jewish people in Vienna was quite fascinating.  I had not known what they had to go thru to be able to live openly in in their faith.

And then I did what anyone rational would have done on a cold rainy day in Vienna. I found a cafe for a Hot Toddy and some Strudel.

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And then I couldn’t put it off any longer, it was time to hit the markets. It seem like every time I turned a corner I found another one. Unfortunately, I was unable to partake in my normal gluhwein indulgence. I was worried about walking on the uneven surface.

I had grand plans of going to the Opera while I was in town, but in the end I did not get organized in time to secure tickets. So instead I opted for a tour of the Opera House. I also walked around quite a bit and took in the sights.

And of course I eat some really good food, and some bad… the Langos was bad. Like really bad.

As you can tell from the pure volume of photos, I really enjoyed my time in Vienna. Something that made my visit even more magical? The staff at the Park Hyatt. They were just so nice and engaging. Which is ideal for me being a solo traveler. On my last night I ordered room service. It was a rainy and I had a long day of walking around the city. I just could not be bothered to find food. When my food was delivered I said something about missing out on the Christmas market food due to the rain. The room service guy asked if I had any gluhwein and I explained how I had to limit myself because I was afraid of falling. (So sad).  Imagine my surprise about 15 minutes later, there was knock on my door. The room service delivery guy was back with glass of gluhwein from the market across the way.  UNBELIEVABLE.

I was sad to leave but it was time to head to Krakow. Until next time, Safe Travels!

Hong Kong, SAR- October 2017

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Hmmm I can’t remember why I booked Hong Kong for 7 nights. At this point, it does not matter. I booked a trip to Hong Kong for week. You could probably just stop reading at this point and just look at the photos. I was pretty boring on this trip.

Coming from Brisbane I was prepared for warmer weather. BUT I was not prepared for the humidity.  I did manage to walk over the Avenue of the Stars, part of it was under construction but it was still fun to see.

I also checked out the Hong Kong Museum of History.  Which was quite fascinating and in depth about the history of Hong Kong.

I also spent a lot of time staring out the window and watching people swim over at the Holiday Inn.  And the sunsets too!

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I probably would have enjoyed it more, if I had been with friends and healthier. My bones were not up for running around in humidity yet. I am happy to report, though, that the concept of slow travel has caught up with me. Gone are the days of trying to see the entire city in 2 days. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment. I’ll see what I see. I know I am missing stuff, but that is okay. I rather stop and have a coffee or meal, then feel like I need to rush off to the next sight.

Until next time, safe travels.

 

Auckland,New Zealand-October 2017

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Have you heard of Teeks? If not, stop reading and click on one of these links, Itunes, Spotify, Youtube. You are welcome.

You would think after Sam Smith and Adele concerts being cancelled, that I would learn not fly to another country to see a concert. Lucky for me, Teeks showed up and gave an amazing performance.

I had been telling my friend Madison about the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney. How it’s worthy of spending a few hours in it. Couple this with @thisteeks having a show in Auckland, it seem like a no brainer.  I however did not factor in daylight savings…. I ended up on 5:00 am flight out of Brisbane, to maximize my lounge time in Sydney.  It was pretty, but way too early, even for me.

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We managed to taste all the champagne offerings, have the requisite corn fritters, get facials and still had time/room for some chocolate cake.

We had a pretty fun flight to Auckland. Although I made mistake drinking the sparkling wine that was offered in economy. Nothing good after came after that sentence. I got a horrible migraine. I am a bit convinced I am allergic to something in the air in Auckland. I had horrible migraine on my previous trip too.  We shall see what happens on my next trip.
On Saturday, we went to Waiheke to do some wine tastings.  The rain stayed at bay, but the day was a bit gloomy. Luckily you don’t need sun to enjoy some wine.

On Sunday, we made the fateful decision to go shopping.  For the most part Australian designers are cut on the smaller size. You would think New Zealand would be similar.  Nope. In fact, the New Zealand designers are just cut better for everyone.  And poor Madison learned the hard way, she should have just brought a bigger bag.  We started over on Ponsonby.  Spring has sprung!

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We ended the day with our new friend Beau, enjoying wine and randomly some fireworks.

And then it was ugly o’clock and I was heading back to the airport for a 6:00 am flight back to Brisbane. WHEN will I learn to stop booking early flights????  It was sooo worth it to hear Teeks live.  Next trip to New Zealand, will NOT be to Auckland. I must get to Queenstown.

Until next time… Safe Travels!

 

Adventures in Australia-September 2017

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I have very few adventures in Australia in September. Mainly because I was gone most of the month. A friend was unexpectedly in Melbourne for the weekend, so I flew down to hang out. Which was rough, I flew in from Austin on Thursday and flew down to Melbourne on Friday.

I stayed at my 2nd home in Australia, Grand Hyatt Melbourne. I love this place, it like visiting with friends. Truly. They called me out for being cranky and jet legged, yes Roddy- I heard you. So they organized a massage over at the Park Hyatt. So much for never going back there. It was just what I needed.

Since it was raining when I met up with my friend ,we headed over to the National Gallery Victoria, which was featuring a Dior exhibit. It was surprisingly fun.  His original pieces were just amazing.

The gallery was quite interesting as well. It has unique collection of art and aside from special exhibits, it’s free. So another reason to visit.

Ironically, the sun came out as we were leaving. Melbourne is a bit like Chicago with it’s weather.

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There were not too many adventures in Brisbane, because I headed back to the States a few days later. Yes you reading that correctly,  I was in Texas flew back to Australia and then back to the States in a matter of 2 weeks.

Until next time, safe travels!