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Stay in a Castle! In the States?

When you say hey….I stayed the night in a castle, visions of a Cinderella type mountain top postcard shot come to mind.  Well you don’t need to go to Austria or Switzerland to cross this one off you bucket list.  Just head to the beautiful pacific northwest.  Manresa Castle is one of the most enchanting bed and breakfast we have found.

We rolled up to the Castle late on a misty evening.  We were stunned the next morning to throw open the drapes and we were overpowered by the dramatic view.  Perched on an overlook of the San Juan Islands-the view is simply not to be missed.

The Castle is steeped in history, and finely restored.  From the Castle’s Website:

“The Castle was completed in 1892 as the home of Charles and Kate Eisenbeis. Mr. Eisenbeis was a prominent member of the early Port Townsend business community. His business interests were diverse including a bakery, brick works, lumber mill, brewery, bank and a hotel.

In keeping with his status in the community, Eisenbeis built what was the largest private residence ever built in Port Townsend, consisting of 30 rooms. Locals referred to the building as the “Eisenbeis Castle;” its design was reminiscent of some of the castles in Eisenbeis’ native Prussia.”

The rooms are spacious with “bizzillion” foot tall ceilings.  Room furnishing are a bit understated.  But the common rooms, especially the library and the bar are impressive.

What would you expect? The food is fit for a king!  Chef Chad Woodland is a master!  Loved the fresh pacnorthwest seafood!  Here is a link to the menu.

We kept saying to each other…wouldn’t this be such a cool place to get married.  You bride to be’s looking for a great place for a location wedding..look no further.  Imagine the bragging rites:  Yeah…I got married in a Castle.

Port Townsend is a quaint Victorian seaport, located across the sound from Seattle, WA.  The area is chock full of fun.  Port Townsend has it all: wineries, golf, whale watching, and even a rain forest!

Getting there is half the adventure:

Seaplane

Ferry

By car: From points south, you follow Highway 104 across the Hood Canal bridge and take the SR 19 exit to Port Townsend. If you are coming from the west, follow scenic Highway 101 to the SR 20 turnoff to Port Townsend. From points north, you can take the coastal roads on Whidbey Island and board the ferry at Keystone.

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5 Things Every Woman Should Know About Men…While Traveling.

Love We collected a few tidbits of advice for those traveling women who get a little frustrated with their man.  We broke them down into 5 simple rules:

1 Hunger-One of the intriguing features of male physiology is the constant need for…..food.  In the bible of understanding all men aka: The Godfather, note when big decisions need to be made…food is included ie  “Leave the gun bring the cannoli.”  A little known fact is that 61 scenes  involve food.  Why?  Men need Man Fuel.  It makes everything go much better.  Those little mini-meals they serve on long haul flights?  Not gonna cut it.

How to deal with the food issue?  A little planning can go a long way.  Want to hit that French “chic” resterauant that is all the rave?  You know the one.  Where the portions are super tiny and the plates look like a work of art?  What to do?  The solution is simple. Hit a burger joint for lunch earlier in the day.  Even better yet all you can eat wings!  Problem solved.


2 Directions-Just like the pitiful scene of Napoleon at  Waterloo or  Lee at Appomattox, asking a man to hand over his sword and ask for directions is just as humiliating.  Admitting defeat, even in the face of insurmountable odds, is next to impossible!  Instead, might we suggest that if possible you approach by using rule number one.  “Hey I am starving…is there anyway we could stop by this store/café and grab a quick bite?” (see rule #1)  At the same time… this will give you a chance to inconspicuously ask for some pointers on where the heck you are.  The invention of GPS has quite possibly single handedly saved our marriage.  It is now a travel must.

 

3 Shopping– One of the key factors in maintaining our man card is preserving our dignity while shopping.  Key to men’s primal instincts in the notion of hunting and gathering.  We hunt something.  We kill it.  We drag it home.  The faster the better.  We view shopping as no different.  Enter store.  Find item.  Buy said item.  Done.  The thought of spending countless hours comparing the fairy wings on a half dozen winged porcelain figurines is so counter to our instincts.

In order to counter this predisposition ladies…give us something to occupy our time.  “Why don’t you grab some food and wait for me in the bar and watch the game?” (see rule  #1)  Better yet..make it our idea aka the Jedi Mind Trick.   FEMALE:  “This is going to take awhile…”I bet you don’t want to hangout here and look for hand bags with me.”  MALE: “I don’t want to stay here and watch you drool over patent leather, I will meet you back at the hotel.”

 

4 The Interest Gap– This rule is best understood by reliving one of our greatest fights.  The setting was west of London at what is thought to be Jane Austen’s home.  AKA Female mecca.  AKA Male purgatory.  We pulled up to the thatched roof home to giggling shrieks of delight from Luci.  When she started to bounce up and down and do the little happy clapping motion with her hands…I knew this was not going to end well.  I smiled and pretended that this was what we had come to this God forsaken land for.  I made it to the ticket counter where the asking price to look at a door that squeeks and a couple of old rocking chairs was explained to me.  “There is no way I am spending that much for that.  I am headed to the pub.”  Enter a little pouting and zoooom she was gone to join the tens of other gleeful gals who were doing similar happy clapping.  The men’s congress was convened at the pub next door.

As this experience illustrates…we have found that you need to budget your time to allow for things that may only interest one of you.   In addition to doing the “together” things.  We have found that going our own ways on vacations to see items of interest is just fine.

 

5 Cave Dwelling-In the Dr. John Gray’s book: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus we learn that men need their cave time.  They need quite time to reflect.

“When a man loves a woman, periodically he needs to pull away before he can get closer.” Dr. John Gray.

Vacation often creates situations that as a couple you are alone together for long patches of time.  At times men need to commune with our inner Neanderthal.  We need some alone time with out thoughts.  We need those long lulls in the conversation.   When we are quiet, we are not upset.  We are not giving you the silent treatment.  We are just pondering the expanse of the universe or the defensive scheme for our fav football club.  This will pass and all will be well.

 

We hope that these few insights give you some ideas on how best to deal with men on vacation.  Any other tips that we missed?

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Swaziland-A window into Hope and Desperation

Sometimes what you expect to see and reality can be so dramatically different.  Unknown to us, we found Swaziland is a hauntingly beautiful land of undulating mountains.  Huge tracts of domesticated forests at different points of growth and harvest dominate most of the country.  Amid this striking setting, people cling to life in dire poverty.  Nearly a quarter of the county is infected with HIV/Aids.  The living conditions and mortality rate is dire.

In prep for our visit we had done our homework on the tiny Kingdom located almost entirely in South Africa.  As a part of our research we watch Without the King.  A documentary on the Monarcy, and specifically the King’s eldest daughter, Princess Sikhanyiso.  The movie portrays the masses as being on the verge of a overthrowing the ruling body.  We did not witness any outward evidence of civil unrest.  We witnessed a people eking out a meager existence.  A people clinging to life in anyway possible.

So why visit Swaziland?  We truly count our visit there as a blessing.  Amid difficult circumstance there is hope.  We met hope in the people with whom we interacted.

We stayed at the Forester Arms Hotel outside the capital, Mbabane.  Roughly a 30 min. drive through the mountains and forest to an isolated tree plantation.  This charming retreat is very comfortable and the food was very good.  They serve both dinner and a full to order breakfast.  The hostess of this impressive oasis is an amazing woman.  Our interaction was limited, as we only stayed a night, but we witnessed the kindness she exhibited to her extensive staff was only exceeded by her graciousness to us as guests.

You really must visit Swaziland.  The natural beauty is compelling.  Swazi crafts are also impressive.  But most of all, go to Swaziland to learn about yourself.  So many life lessons are learned when you witness happiness and hope amid abject poverty.  The Swazi situation is difficult to witness, but you will be the better human for the experience.

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7 Questions with Our Momentary Lapse of Reason

Our Momentary Lapse of Reason

From their site:  ”Beginning in June of 2008 we (Tracy & Jason) left our families, friends, house & jobs in Denver to follow our dream of traveling the world. This website is a chronicle of our 2 year journey.”

When we started asking our fellow couple travelers to awnser our 7 questions, our hope was to really capture a glimpse into how and why they travel.  What makes them unique.  Our latest couple gives us that reflection.

Tracy is truely a fine photographer.  Her pics of India with their use of color and story telling are truely not to be missed.  We are also very impressed with their fighting skills!  Please enjoy.

1) How many countries visited between the two of you?Over 50

2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be? (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said:  I like Anthony Bourdain.  If I could have traveled in the 60′s-70′s, Tony Wheeler (LP author) would be a good companion as well.  Both are insightful and a little edgy.

She Said: Hmmm, I like Jason’s choice!  Imagine a personally escorted food tour by an international celebrity.  I could wrap my mind around that pretty quickly.

3)What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

He said: I have to answer this in groups:  The Galapagos Islands have to be my favorite wildlife spot.  Angkor Wat has to be the most under appreciated ancient site but the place that keeps calling for more exploration is India.  It has to be the craziest place on earth and there were moments where I hated it with a passion but the more I have time to reflect, the more I miss it.

She said: That’s such a difficult question to answer.  We always tell people that we enjoy different places for different reasons.  SE Asia is our favorite region and within that region we love Indonesia (though we still have much to explore there), Burma & Laos.  Aside from SE Asia, we love eating in Thailand, Italy & Argentina :-)  The wildlife viewing in the Galapagos is amazing & diving Sipadan is a real highlight.  For natural beauty it’s hard to top Patagonia but we haven’t been to New Zealand yet (the USA is no slouch either of course!).  I could go on and on…I agree with Jason that India is high on our list to return to.

4) If you had to eat one last meal, what/ where would you eat?

He said:  WOW, so many choices on this.  I have to go with what first pops in my head – Steak and wine in the breathtaking mountains of Patagonia, Argentina.

She said:  Lets see, it would have to include an incredible red wine, perhaps a goat cheese souffle appetizer followed by a blue cheese & tomato salad then a rare steak with crab legs.  For dessert, I love ice cream!  Thanks for making me hungry with that question :-)

5)How do you pick the places you visit? Spontaneous vs. planned?

He said: “SO, where are we going tomorrow?”  She picks the places, I plan the logistics of how to get there.  Of course, we both daydream all the time about our next adventures.

She said: I”m the A-type person in our world so usually I like to have a plan but I”m totally ok with changing it as we go (which we almost always do).

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Lack of Tolerance.  If everyone just showed a little more tolerance for people of other backgrounds/religions/countries etc. the would would be a nicer place.

She said:  Wow, that’s a pretty difficult question.  When we were traveling around India it apparent that the lack of available fresh & clean water was a huge problem.  If I could solve one problem, I think I would bring the world plenty of clean water for consumption & agriculture.

7)You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?

She said: We took a Transatlantic cruise from Harwich to Boston to round out our Middle East & Europe segment of our trip and one day we stopped in Cherbourg off the coast of France.  Having read a lot about the amazing war & peace museum in Caen we decided to before hand to visit it despite the fact that it was 90 minutes away by train and our ship was only docked for 8 hours.  The ship was an hour late docking and on our way out we stopped and asked the information desk about trains to Caen.  We were told there was one leaving in 30 minutes and the train station was 25 minutes away with a return trip that would get us back into Cherbourg with a few minutes to spare!  We raced off, determined to make that train.  By that time I was thinking that it wasn’t such a great idea to head all the way to Caen (90 minutes away by train) and as we were racing to the train station I told Jason that I thought we should stay in Cherbourg for the day, after all, spending 3+ hours in transport just to see a museum when we only had 7 hours didn’t really seem worth it.  We thought we would have more time and I thought there was enough to do in Cherbourg.  Well, Jason’s the type of person that has a one track mind and while I was talking I could practically hear him thinking “Train, train, must get to the train.  Can’t miss that train.”.  He told me in no uncertain terms that we already decided to go to Caen and it was too late to change our mind…and so we went to Caen.  We arrived at the museum and enjoyed 2 hours there (which was probably less than half the amount of time we really needed as it was probably one of the best museums we had been to).  After racing around the museum trying to take it all in we raced back to the train station to buy our return tickets to Cherbourg.  DOH!  The train we planned on taking back was a summer train that expired on Sept. 1st and it was Sept. 5th…the next train was an hour later and would have gotten us back to Cherbourg AFTER our ship sailed.  We hightailed it to the bus station where they politely told us to take the train.  We thought about renting a car but we never would have made it.  Our last resort was a taxi…at a princely price.  As we raced down the highway watching the Euros add all the way up to 191.20 E (all the while converting it into dollars at 1 Euro = $1.50 USD) I muttered, “wow, that was a nice museum.”    It was certainly the most expensive!

He said: I don’t think many people realize how hard it is to travel…not vacation/holiday…but long term travel.  I can’t really remember a knock-down-drag-out fight but three weeks in, we were walking down a street in Malaysia about ready to call the whole thing off.  We both calmed down however and it all worked out in the end.

For more visit:  Our Momentary Lapse of Reason

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