Tag Archives | couple blog

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.

11

Globe Nomads

The Globe Nomads

Leng & Li have one of the most organized blogs out there.  They even invented a unique rating system for reviews on hotels, gear and destinations!  Leng and Li offer an extensive review of sites in the UK.  Give their blog a look!

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

Just 12 for now.

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: Sir David Attenborough. I have always been fascinated by his documentaries.

She Said: Joanna Lumley

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

He said: I have to say it’s Japan with no place in particular. Both the cities and the countryside or the historical attractions and the modern entertainment have lots to offer with incredible hospitality.

She said: I cant decide between Mt Fuji (Japan) or the great ocean road in Melbourne.

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

He said: A simple Chinese kind of thick vermicelli in soup. The broth reminds me of home and family.

She said: Barbeque chicken wings and dark chocolate ice-cream for dessert

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

He said: Always planned using a combination of guide books and online review sites such as tripadvisor.

She said: Planned

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

He said: Quality education for all.

She said: Species extinction

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

She said: I hate it when the travel itinerary is so packed that I have to rush from place to place.

He said: I’m always complaining on my wife being slow and not being aware of our surroundings. However it can be tiring to be always vigilant and that led to me having a foul mood at the most inappropriate of times.

2

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

2

The Souvenir Dilemma

Dong Xi’s, Choch-Keys, junk, Dust collectors, trophies…whatever you call them… they are the items that you bring home as little mementos of your travels. The tradition is as old as time: Romans picked up Egyptian Obelisks…Greeks a golden fleece…hundreds of US midwesterns….I heart (insert town). Souvenierring is a time honored tradition. One of my favorites is exhibited above. My prized Whirling Dervish! My wife keeps hiding it as he continues to show up on various “highly visible”-her words not mine– places. I cherish my dervish. It really spins! I remember the tiny shop in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul where I discover this treasure. Tucked way back in vast dark passageways, was this little family selling metal wares. I tried a little Turkish, they a lot better English, and the result was an emigrating Dervish (and a lighter wallet).

Why do we do it? Why must we bring a piece of our travels home? Do we worry that we will forget the sights sounds and smells of _________? I really think so. I think that in our soul, we hope that one day when time creates a great chasm between the now and then, we will find the Dervish and it will bring a smile and a rush of memories to mind.

Sometimes these items represent a victorious negotiation. Perhaps a memorable shopkeeper or locale? Not sure some items will qualify…my I heart NY t-shirt never really spans the distance like my Dervish.

What is your favorite item? What reminds you of your adventure?

4

Why can’t we just get along?

60 percent of British couples fight on holiday

Holidays with one’s partner can become a relationship’s crucial test. As an international online survey by the travel site trivago.co.uk has just revealed, only 40 percent of British couples spend their holidays in peace and harmony.

A holiday trip with one’s partner can mean harmony and cozy togetherness. But what if you do not agree with your partner on the destination, the organization of your trip or your holiday activities? How to react, if your partner flirts shamelessly with other travellers? According to the survey, it seems that 60 percent of British vacationers fight with their beloved while on holiday. In most cases it is jealousy which causes such fights, said 17 percent of the survey’s respondents. 16 percent stated they fight about everyday issues like the weather or food and 15 percent about who’s in charge of what on vacation.

The reasons for holiday tiffs differ enormously throughout Europe. With their latin temperaments, the Spanish are especially prone to react aggressively to their partners’ flirting: 60 percent of them named jealousy as the reason for arguments. Only 19 percent of the French spend their holidays untroubled; again it is jealousy which causes disquiet. In contrast to that 40 percent of the English and Polish and 45 percent of the Italian vacationers get along perfectly with their partners on holiday. Germans fight mostly about jealousy and diverging ideas about travel plans (22 percent). It seems that the further North you go the less inclined travellers are to quarrel. Hence the country with the most harmonious holiday couples is Sweden: 62 percent of the Swedish couples relax without any conflicts on their vacation.

BY WWW.TRIVAGO.CO.UK

0

Fight on Flight



helicopterOf all the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is best known for its breathtaking landscapes. It is known as the “Garden Isle” due to the beautiful greenery that drapes the island. Cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls remain untouched, as the terrain is impassable by car. The only way to see the whole island is by air.

We are partnering with The Villas at Poipu Kai to give our readers a chance to fly around the island for free. For every booking made in March of 6 nights or more the Villas at Poipu Kai is giving away a free helicopter ride.  The helicopter ride lasts an hour and takes you to the most remote places on the island. The helicopter comes with “Mega” windows so that all passengers have an unobstructed panoramic view – a very unique opportunity for couples and families.

1

The Oak Room

Oak Room (at the Plaza Hotel) on Urbanspoon

The food highlight of our NYC weekend!!  Brace yourself for the price.  It is a true four star establishment in every sense of the word.  Dinner is served in American dim sum manner: they have a cart that comes around, you pick out the dishes you would like.  For the main course, I went with the New York steak.  Luci had the lobster pot pie.   Waiter makes your salad at your table: Choice of greens, veggies and other interesting toppings.  For dessert I had one of the strangest banana splits.  Pics will be forthcoming.  It looked like a great big wafer…very good!  Beautiful decor.  Waitstaff were knowledgeable and competent.

0

10 Downing Street

10 Downing on Urbanspoon

We took the Context travel immigrant food tour.  Our guide was an executive chef and is really keyed in on the food scene in NYC.  At the end of the tour I posed the question.   If you had a day to live and were able to goto one restaurant in NYC, which would it be?   She thought hard and long and said 10 Downing.  We took her recommendation for dinner.  It did not disappoint.  I had the balsamic beef, which was extremely tender and very flavorful.  The highlight for me was their house lemonade!  I am a softy for the really sour.  Try it!  Luci had the flounder and it was ok.

0