Sydney, Australia-May 2019

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Surprise, I found myself back in Australia. What can I say, it’s my happy place! Plus it was an easy decision when I found out Jenny and John were also going to be in Sydney. After I booked, I mentioned it to Jane, their daughter, and she booked flights to come over as well.

Jane managed to surprise her parents which is always good fun! We booked for a lovely dinner at Hubert’s, with Katherine and Evander. I just realized I talk a lot about food. But only good food that is worth talking about. After dinner, we went and checked out Vivid Sydney. Since it was opening weekend, there were just too many people everywhere.

Something that really surprised me, was how dead Sydney was on a Saturday night. There was no place open to get a dessert. Even Brisbane has Jimmy’s on the Mall!

The next day, we all minus Jane, headed to lunch with our friend Ananda to a Nepalese cafe. I have not been to Nepal, so I was not sure what to expect. Turns out its like Indian food, but less spicy. I loved it! I guess I not surprised that most of travel pants involve elastic waists.

I know it’s a ridiculous long way to go to for good food. But when you add in great company, nothing can compare.

Back to Chicago I went for a one month break in travel. Somewhere along the way, I broke my toe. It healed improperly, so I required surgery to get it corrected. Which slowed my travels down a bit. But it worked out, friends came to me. Stay tuned!

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Osaka, Japan-April 2019

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After 6 weeks on the ground, I was super excited to get my jet fuel fix. Jenny and John were traveling around Asia and I mentioned that it was direct flight from Chicago to Japan. I should have clarified, it’s a direct flight to Tokyo, not Osaka. Oops. Oh well what’s a connection? What with low fares and free upgrades, why not!

My last trip to Japan was a disaster. Friends keep telling me they love it, but it just had not clicked with me yet. Kind of like Paris. I will say this Osaka is beautiful in the spring!

One of the benefits of being a modern city, it’s well planned out. Which makes being a tourist so easy. We just hung around and took in the sights.

I even convinced Jenny to go cloth shopping. Which any bigger then a US size 4 knows it’s normally a waste of time to shop in Asia. But one brand I really like is actually Japanese. So we hunted down a shop. In order to try on clothes they ask you to put on a face cover. WHY is this only in Japan??? This should be worldwide!

It always good fun to meet up with friends and explore different cities. I know my travels appear to be bit boring. In part because they are. I am less about exploring as much and more about absorbing the surroundings. Which means I may not see as much but I am enjoying it more.

Stay tuned……

Zanzibar, Tanzania-December 2018

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Christmas found me in Zanzibar this year. I had been before but spent most of my time up in Nungwi, and very little time in Stone Town. So I decided to head back and spend some time in Stone Town. In hindsight, 6 nights was a bit too many, but there are worse places to be.

I spent most of my days just enjoying the sound of the ocean waves. I did walk around the maze of streets that make up Stone Town and admired the amazing doors.

I walked along the beach and basically just recharged my batteries. While I probably would not go again for 7 days, it worked out in the end. It’s not the easiest journey from the US. Next time I would probably do safari before heading to the beach. Next stop London for New Year’s. Stay Tuned.

Australian Goodbye-July 2018

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After 2 and 1/2 years it was time for stay goodby to my Australian adventures.  In the ideal world, I would have stayed but pesky things like needing job got in my way.

This trip started in Melbourne. My friends, Carrie and Nick, were over visiting from the States. Jenny and John flew down from Brisbane to join us as well. One of my favorite things to do when visiting Melbourne is to go down the the Mornington Pensinula. We got lucky with the blue skies.

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We ate cheese and drank lots of wine!

We then headed up to Brisbane, where we took a trip out to the Sunshine Coast. Where Carrie and Nick were able to partake in fresh from the ocean seafood.

And it was time for Carrie and Nick to head back to the States. I attended my graduation from QUT and said goodbye to all the lovely friends I had made during my time in Brisbane. I took a few days to recover from everything and headed out Broome. Which clear on the other side of Australia.

Cable Beach has been named one of the best beaches in the world. I can see why. But outside of that, there is not a whole lot to do in Broome if you don’t like outdoor activities.  When the moon is full, you can watch it rise on the water, which gives this look of a staircase to the moon. You can also watch the sunset and it gives the same look. Just note, the moon viewing involved going to local cemetery… not sure who I felt about that.

Broome is home to lots of pearl farms. I took a tour with Paspaley, a local Australian company.  It was quite cool to see how pearls are cultured. We even got lucky and spotted some whales.

After Broome, I headed to Darwin. It was interesting. I am going to leave that there.  It was great way to end my extended time in Australia. I really enjoyed getting explore the land, the people and the culture. A piece of me will always remind.

Until next time…… safe travels!

 

 

Japan- April 2017

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I’ve been dreaming of seeing cherry blossoms in their full  blossom glory for years.  I could have made my life easy, by just picking a random day and flying to Washington D.C.  But no, I decided to make my life difficult and aim for Asia. My first attempt was a few years ago. I went to Seoul, South Korea, but that year they bloomed early and I missed them. So this year, I did some research and thought I had timed it better. I used to my frequent flier miles so I could cancel if necessary.  The day before I was scheduled to leave I checked one last time.  Well best laid plans blah blah.

I saw one……

Apparently, the bloom was off a bit.  They bloom showed up early in Tokyo and was late in Osaka. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

I took a trip to nearby Nara. I checked out the Deer Park and local temple

After quite a bit of walking around, I stopped to get some green tea ice cream. But man this line…..

The next day I took an organized tour to Kyoto. I was bit disappointed it was pouring rain.  The little I saw looked amazing, and definitely requires more then just a few hours. My tour stopped along with all the other tours in this little shopping area. It was pouring rain and bit chilly so I just walked around, unsuccessfully, trying to find the meeting point for the next part of the tour.  I almost missed the bus, because the rain just made everything more difficult.

With the lack of cherry blossoms and the continuing rain, and frankly I was just not feeling well, so I decided to call it a trip and head back to Brisbane early.  Since I had booked the flights with my frequent flier miles, I was easily change it.  One of my options, was to go home via Taipei, Taiwan with a 9 hour layover. A quick check of the weather showed, clear skies.  Done. Hello Taipei.

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I saw very little in the 5 minutes that I was there. But from what I was able to see, it’s high on my list of places I want to visit.  It was so green, the architecture was just so interesting. One minute you see a rice paddy, next a pagoda, next a skyscraper.   Just beautiful.

Until next time, safe travels!

 

Portugal and Spain- December 2016

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I’ve been wanting to visit Portugal for years! It was on the top of the list of places that I wanted to visit but for some reason, it never made it into my travel plans.I had planned on being in the States for holidays, but my plans changed and I ended up coming in a week earlier then planned. I love my family, but 3 weeks, especially at the holidays was just not going to happen.

As much as I love European Christmas Markets, I was not willing to bear the cold weather. And the best ones, in my opinion,close on December 24th. I had fun trying to find a location that would not be too cold and that I could also get a decent flight. Oh and I need to fly on American Airlines or at least a One World partner because I need to the miles to keep my status. Madrid and Barcelona, ticked each box. I had been to Barcelona a few years, so I opted for Madrid. But then I realized I was so close to Portugal. I decided to just book another ticket, wise use of my British Airways Miles, and headed straight to Lisbon.

Best idea, ever!  Here is the part that I should say it was awful, that I had a horrible time and I would not recommend it at all.  I would say this so it stays amazing and does not become over run with tourists.  I just felt relaxed. Not paranoid about pickpockets like I was in Spain,  or ring scams in Paris. The skies were blue, albeit a little chilly. The streets were clean and while there were tourist there were not everywhere. They had the fun pedestrian paths in the middle of the busy streets, like in Barcelona.

I made an interesting hotel choice. I did not, gasp, stay at a Hilton or Hyatt. I stayed at a Marriott property, Fontecruz Lisboa.  It’s more boutique then large chain hotel. The location was great, located on one of the major streets. I  headed out to take in the sights. I opted for the Hop on Hop off bus. I find they are a great way to orient yourself in a new city. I tend to do the loop first and then hop off.

Lisbon is quite walk-able, if you can handle the cobble streets and some hills. Ladies, bring your sensible shoes. In fact, just bring an old ugly pair so you have an excuse to go shop. I did… at Moskkito. It was quite an adventure trying to get my stuff home.

I took sidetrips to Sintra and Fatima.  I booked the tours last minute and ended up on a big bus one. I wish I had done better research and gone with a smaller tour company.  I probably could have done them on my own. Something to redo on the next trip.

There was situation with a nutella crepe in Sintra. Let’s just say I learned my lesson about trying to eat messy street food. I am still finding nutella on stuff.

I headed back to Madrid for New Year’s Eve. I had high hopes of doing all this sightseeing, specially checking out the Prado Museum.  All those plans changed drastically when I arrived and it was freezing.  I was tired and cold and so basically I did nothing in Madrid. Well nothing that I am willing to admit doing on this public blog. There may or may not have been a potential meal at a American chain restaurant.

I really enjoyed this trip, I just wish I had more time. And I probably go back when the weather is warmer. I also think if I had to do it again, I would suggest doing Madrid first, then Lisbon. Two totally different cities with different energies.

Until next time, safe travels!