Norway, Our Way

I have been so focused on our recent trip to Africa that I almost forgot to blog about our gorgeous trip to Norway back in May! 

It started off like any other trip - we were going to be traveling the longest way possible. :)  We found a sweet 5th freedom route from Houston to Manchester on Singapore business and flew from Manchester to London to Oslo on British Airways.  The business seat on Singapore was definitely worth the run around! 

Flying over London was also exciting since I'll be visiting with my bestie this November for the first time.  Yep, you read that right.  I have not been to London yet! 

We landed in Oslo and made our way to our first Air BnB of the trip.  This place was really cool and well located next to shops, restaurants, and transit.  We were able to walk to our place from the main train station which saved us some much needed cash for everything else.  

Pro Tip: Buy Air BnB gift cards from grocery stores using one of many credit cards that offers a bonus for shopping at grocery.  We have scored 20% off a slew of Air BnB cards through Kroger, Tom Thumb, and even Ebay in addition to earning 3-6x in points! 

Norway is notoriously expensive.  We knew that going in and decided our best route was to red bus it to save on transport to key sites around Oslo.  I don't have many pics of the city, sorry! 

After exploring Oslo, we hoped on a flight to Bergen to drive the scenic routes showcasing Noway's fjords.  We landed early and made our way to the car rental counter to pick up our ride.  

"Would you like to upgrade to an electric car for $100 more?  The tolls are free on all of our roads if you have an electric car and with your route, you'll definitely be spending more than that on tolls."  Us "I'm not sure, what about charging it?" "OH there are superchargers in the areas you're visiting.  Tesla is good about that."

Hold. The. Phone.  This man is trying to hand me the keys to a $90,000 car AND save us money in the process?  It took one grin between me and the hubs before we took it.  We fell in love instantly and it was amazing to essentially get to test drive a car we're truly interested in (years from now) all over the country!  Probably the best decision of our trip. And we're basically sold on a future Tesla. 

We spent the next 5 days driving all over Western Norway and only once were we worried about losing charge!  This country is stunning from every angle and soaked up the cool breeze, gorgeous weather, and crystal clear water as much as we could.  Our stops included Hardanger area, Aurlandsfagen, and Balestrand.  We Air BnB'd (is that a verb now?) the entire way!  

The most obvious difference between Noway and other "tourist" countries is that Norwegians are very active and they also lack a definitive cuisine.  We kept searching for restaurants (in some cases, ANY restaurant) that served fish dishes, especially Salmon, and all we could find were grocery stores and pizza.  These people love pizza.  In Aurlandsfagen, there was literally nothing open when we were there (not an exaggeration, the only grocery store was closed) and thankfully a Thai food truck was nearby.  It was weird eating in this country for us.  So much of a culture is it's cuisine and in these small towns, no one eats out so there's no reason for a restaurant.  One gentleman told us the last time he ate at a restaurant was 4 years ago.  This resulted in us going full local and stocking up on fish at the grocery store, which were frozen fish sticks, and still delicious. 

The second most obvious thing about Norway?  The beer prices.  Ya'll.  I know we have some fairly strict alcohol laws in Texas but this was a whole new playing field.  No alcohol, outside of a state-sponsored store, could be more than 4.6% ABV.  This also included wine!  So I sampled some of the many ciders from the area and Curtis drank only a handful of beers we could find available.  

After almost a week in the fjords, we headed into Bergen!  I love this town. It's gorgeous, quaint, and very walkable.  Our house was located just a few streets up the hill from the main area so we could easily get around without having to move the car too much.  We took a cable car up one of the mountains one morning only to discover a marathon was happening with people running up to the top.  People included 5-7 year old kids!  It was fun to watch everyone enjoying their time either running, touring, or paragliding.  

We ended our trip with a stop in Stockholm, Sweden and the cold took us by surprise.  It was mid-May and the temps dropped below freezing, or right at it, daily.  We jumped at the opportunity to enjoy soups and hot chocolate at tiny cafes and restaurants before retreating back to our only hotel of the trip, the Hilton Stockholm.  I highly recommend this hotel for the location!  It is across the island of Old Town with a train stop basically at the property.  

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Our final meal was at a restaurant recommended by TripAdvisor and included famous Swedish meatballs!  They were phenomenal!  I highly recommend popping in for a meal at Restaurant Kvarnen, especially if you're staying at the Hilton as it's right up the road. 

I We headed to the airport the next morning where we flew to Frankfurt to catch Lufthansa's 747 First Class back to the states.  As we were leaving Stockholm, I got to catch a snow shower from the air and it was so cool to see!  

In Frankfurt, we enjoyed a nap in the private sleep rooms, champagne, lunch, and more champagne before heading to our flight. 

I love Lufthansa.  The service is always wonderful and the seats are exceptionally comfortable.  This configuration, where first is in the nose of the plane, allows for just 8 first class seats and 6 were taken on this flight.  We prefer the first two seats as they feel the most private.  Curtis and I got so excited when we noticed the Champagne being served on this flight - it was one of our favorite Champagne houses, Pommery!  They were pouring the rare Louise and we expressed our excitement to the flight attendant.  As we were descending into Chicago, he surprised us with an unopened bottle to take with us because we loved it so much. :)  #thingsthatdonthappenincoach 

Overall, Norway was a stunning country and one we'd definitely like to visit again.  I think next time we may try to find a small cruise though since most of the sites are on the water and the cost of your meals and drinks are built into your ship.  Thanks for reading travelers! 

 

 

 

A Peek in My Suitcase: South Africa & Botswana

I leave in less than a week for another blissful safari vacation!  I am commonly asked what to pack for an African safari and you can find some tips in my previous blog post.

For this trip, we are doing a self-drive through Kruger National Park, then spending 4 nights at Arathusa Safari Lodge in Sabi Sands, 3 nights at Chobe Bakwena Lodge in Botswana, followed by a week in Cape Town and Franschhoek.  In total, I will be gone for a little over 3 weeks. It's always challenging to pack for safari trips due to luggage restrictions but thankfully we are flying all commercial this time so normal baggage requirements are suffice.  

That doesn't mean I plan on overpacking but actually plan on packing less than ever before to save plenty of room for South African wine in my bag. :)  

Here's what I'm taking with me:

My Non-Negotioables/Carry-On

I am taking my small travel purse and a backpack to house all of our camera equipment.  I'll have my makeup bag and phone charger in my backpack as well but it will mostly be the picture below.  Pro tip - ALWAYS pack a spare pair of undies and change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case your luggage goes missing.  My Lululemons and a black long sleeve shirt will keep the cameras cushioned.  

 Gulick Camera Breakdown - including a light bean bag courtesy of mom 

Gulick Camera Breakdown - including a light bean bag courtesy of mom 

Inside My Suitcase

I scored an excellent deal at Burlington Coat Factory on this Bric's soft-sided rolling duffle last year and it held up very well in our past travel excursions.  It's going with me again this year!

Inside, I have shirts, pants, and a skirt that can be interchanged with almost every other piece.  I did this on purpose to keep my packing very light.  I am a big advocate of packing cubes too as they keep my undies and shoes separate & clean and help me stay organized.  

 
 I love my packing cubes.  I got these on Amazon. 

I love my packing cubes.  I got these on Amazon. 

 

We're spending a solid week in Cape Town and Franschhoek so I wanted to include items that can be worn there too without looking like a mega-tourist.  

A full breakdown includes:

  • 2 pairs of khaki pants (one is green) 
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 navy pleated skirt 
  • 1 black casual dress
  • 6 t-shirt tops (2 green, 4 white/ivory)
  • 2 button down tops
  • 1 bell-sleeved sweater 
  • 3 long sleeve shirts (black/blue) 
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 pair of tennis shoes
  • 1 pair of sandals 
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 1.5 weeks worth of underwear 
  • Spare contacts
  • Face wipes 
  • Razor
  • Shout wipes 
  • 1 small container of hand sanitizer 
  • Dry shampoo
  • 2 10-packs of Cottonelle wipes 
  • 1 hair brush 
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Not pictured - 1 tan safari jacket purchased online - similar here

It still feels like a lot to me but it packs down really well and leaves plenty of room to bring home goodies.  

Here's a list of common travel items I'm NOT taking and why:

  • Toothbrush - comes in our amenity kit on the plane ride there 
  • Lotion - comes in our amenity kit 
  • Hair dryer/hair curler/hair straightener - hotels will always have a hair dryer and the animals don't care 
  • Outfit "choices" - you should be packing for less days than you'll be gone - not the other way around
  • Evening clothes - Africa in general is very lax in regards to fashion so jeans and a top are more than appropriate for nice dinners out
  • Vitamins - I take a multi-vitamin at home but found that it was cumbersome to travel with these.  I usually leave them behind and pick up my routine when I get back. 
  • My laptop - we purchased a small, lightweight laptop for $150 last year and I use that to remote-desktop into my computer at home to avoid carrying my 7lb machine around.  Safari camps usually have spotty wi-fi anyways so I work almost exclusively from my phone.  I have carried it on other trips but for this one, it doesn't make a lot of sense. 
  • Travel pillow/blanket/etc. - Because we're flying at least business the entire way, the travel accessories stay at home.  Cathay provides blankets (and down comforters) and pillows for our comfort

That's it guys!  Like I said, I may still take out a few shirts that I feel are excessive (6 t-shirts is a lot to me) but that's all I'm taking with me.  My record to date for bottles of wine in my suitcase is currently sitting at 14 so I'm going to see if I can top this on this trip. :) 

For those interested, here's where we're staying:

Protea Kruger Gate, a Marriott property

 Patio at the Kruger Gate Protea

Patio at the Kruger Gate Protea

 Bush-facing Villa at Arathusa 

Bush-facing Villa at Arathusa 

 Dinner time at Chobe Bakwena 

Dinner time at Chobe Bakwena 

 How could we ever tire of this view in Cape Town?

How could we ever tire of this view in Cape Town?

 Our cottage overlooking the vineyard

Our cottage overlooking the vineyard

*Don't forget to purchase Air BnB gift cards at Kroger to earn fuel points or online when they're 20% off! 

Can't wait to share it with all of you!  Be sure you Like us on Facebook to follow our adventures! 

What to Pack on an African Safari

An African safari is pretty high on most people's bucket lists.  We have worked with multiple clients now who have enjoyed using miles to get to South Africa and surrounding countries and the question we usually get the most is "what on earth do we pack?!"

Safari companies usually arrange travel via local prop planes to avoid the bumpy roads and long distances between parks.  While it's nice to have the luxury of saving time, one major difference between these flights and commercial flights is the amount of luggage you're allowed to take on board.  Most have a maximum weight of around 33 lbs. in a soft sided bag. 

If you're anything like me, you panic slightly (ok, a ton) about how to tackle this packing challenge. Africa requires (to me, at least) looking the part and bringing every possible piece of camera equipment you own with you.  Our last trip was our most photographed to date so hard drives and extra memories cards were a must.  

Here's a few tips that I learned along the way:

 

Weigh the Non-Negotiables First

You know for a fact you're not going without your camera, extra lenses, memory cards, etc. so make sure you know how much those items are alone before you pack a single thing.  That will be your starting point.  This should also include any vital medications or things like contact solution.  

 Our camera equipment

Our camera equipment


Invest in Packing Cubes

These will add very little to the weight of your luggage but make a massive difference in terms of organization. I own these and I swear by them now.  I use them to separate shoes, underwear/swimwear/pajamas, and bathroom items, like my contact solution.  I ordered them on Amazon for around $20 and you can purchase a similar set here


Pull Everything Out You Want to Wear & Pack Half

Seriously - gather all of the clothes you think you'll need for this safari and lay them out on your bed or floor.  You most likely have multiples of very similar items such as jackets or jeans.  Those are heavy items that take up a lot of room in your bag.  You'll need only 1 jacket and depending on the time of year you're going, a very light one at that.  You also only need ONE pair of shoes and tennis shoes are more than ok.  If you're not hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, you can even get away with light flats since you'll be in the safari vehicles the entire time.  

Also keep in mind that most safari lodges, if not all, offer free or very affordable laundry options. It goes without saying to leave dry cleaning at home for this trip (the elephants hate starch smells we hear) and take advantage of the laundry services at each place you stay.  For a 10 day safari, we had laundry done 3 times, meaning we only packed 3 days worth of safari clothes that lasted us a week and a half. 

Pro tip - wear your heaviest clothing items on your flying days (such as a pair of jeans) and keep your camera around your neck to "take pictures."  That will keep the weight out of your luggage. 


 Loading up in our private safari plane

Loading up in our private safari plane


Leave the Luxuries at Home

This is the hardest part of traveling and yet, the most rewarding.  Learn to embrace what hotels have to offer and work with what you have.  I am always shocked at how many people bring a blow dryer or their own shampoo/conditioner on trips.  Those are VERY heavy items and often not needed.  For safari, a blow dryer is comical.  Not only will the power not support any hair electronics, the need for it is not there.  It's dusty, hot, dry, and sunny so wear a hat or learn to love the top knot.  It will be pointless to style your hair due to wind and dust (trust me on this one - I tried it for two days and was miserable) and sundowners and dinner are usually served fresh off of your safari drive.  Trying to shower and get dressed after it will make you late for cocktails (a cardinal sin if you ask me) and just give the dust more water to cling on to.  

 Top Knots & Hats 

Top Knots & Hats 

As for shampoo/conditioner/body wash, there are some camps that do not provide these items so you may have to bring along small travel packs.  I discovered Lush's shampoo and conditioning bars for our last trip and they were light, and got lighter, as we traveled more.  You can also snag the small bottles from hotels prior to arriving to camps to avoid bringing them from home.  Luckily, our camps this time around provide those necessities, as do the rest of our hotels on the trip, so I can use what I need and leave the rest behind for the next traveler.  

 Lush Shampoo Bars

Lush Shampoo Bars

It's also worth noting that this is not the trip to perfect your contour or go heavy on the makeup.  You're surrounded by local villages suffering from extreme poverty and driving through parks with maybe 3-5 other guests in your car.  Bring just the basic makeup essentials to avoid too much weight in your bag as well and make sure your foundation has SPF in it if you wear it.  


If You Feel Like You Need it, Buy it Locally

If you find yourself freezing and kicking yourself for not packing a heavier jacket or despite doing laundry, you're just running low on clothing, most lodges will have a small gift shop of items from the surrounding villages.  You'll help someone in need, get what you want, and score a souvenir all in one purchase.  These items can also be purchased in the nearby towns and most camps will happily arrange transport or even grab the items for you.  They're happy to show you their shops and thrilled when tourists buy locally.  

In Madagascar last year, I found myself needing a fleece jacket and the lodge manager opened up the gift shop (which clearly hadn't been opened in a few weeks) to sell me a $20 fleece.  It was nothing to me but he hugged me and told me how valuable that sale was, allowing them to give that money to one of the families who made it and worked there.  Since the per capita income in Madagascar is around $260, this was a big help to that family.  

 Sporting my Madagascar fleece

Sporting my Madagascar fleece


As overwhelming as it may be, packing for your next African safari can be much easier than you think.  It's completely worth the challenge though to experience highly endangered animals roaming free in the wild. 

 A lioness and her cubs in Maasai Mara National Park 

A lioness and her cubs in Maasai Mara National Park 

What We Know About the New Electronics Ban

Just shy of 30 days after our current administration met with US Airline CEOs to discuss the state of their businesses (record breaking profits), news broke yesterday of a nearly full electronics ban on flights directly to the US from the Middle East and parts of Africa.  We wanted to wait until the full list was announced before writing about this story in hopes that we had heard wrong.  Unfortunately, we did not. 

Using potential terrorist threats as the reason, the US has demanded, and the UK shortly behind us, that ALL electronics, with the exception of cell phones and medical devices, must travel in your checked luggage only.  This includes laptops, camera equipment, iPads, Kindles, and much more.  Yep, you read that right. The Department of Homeland Security has created a Fact Sheet with all information.

The airlines affected have been identified as:

The airports affected are:

  • Riyadh
  • Kuwait City
  • Jeddah
  • Istanbul 
  • Doha
  • Dubai
  • Casablanca
  • Cairo
  • Abu Dhabi
  • Amman

I find it oddly convenient that the ME3 are included in this just a month after the US3 met with our current administration to discuss, wait for it, the ME3.  (ME3 = Middle Eastern Big Three Airlines; Emirates, Etihad, Qatar.  US3 = US Big Three; American, Delta, United) I find it even more concerning, especially when places like Abu Dhabi have US pre-clearance screening and haven't had any issues in the past with it.  (Delays are the only real issue)  The ME3 put our US carriers to shame when it comes to all aspects of travel and this looks, and feels, like they're trying to find a way to have people forcefully fly their airlines over much better options.  

Furthermore, these only apply to flights that are non-stop to the US as of now.  With the UK expecting to make the same announcement soon, the workarounds will be harder, but as of now, if you are traveling from Dubai to New York, via London, on Emirates, you're not subjected to these rules.  

This will affect business travelers the most.  Many business travelers carry-on only, use their laptops in-flight for work, or simply can't be parted with it due to company policy.  Many experts work with classified data and therefore cannot just take the risk of checking that information in a suitcase that we know someone will go through.  

I think the most concerning part of the entire "ban" is that it only applies to certain airlines.  If this were truly a security ban, it would affect the US carriers as well.  Also, if there was a true, and specific, terrorist threat, cell phones would also be included in the ban as they have the same capabilities as computers.  If someone is using a computer as a disguise for a bomb, stowing it away in the cargo hold does absolutely nothing.  It can still be set off (from the ground or from a cell phone) and the end result is the same.  Not to mention that many manufacturers of electronics specifically tell people to NOT check certain items as they pose more of a threat when subjected to extreme temperature swings.  

According to a Spokeswoman for Emirates, the ban will be in place until October 14th and will be re-evaluated before that if the threat still remains.  

We'll continue to provide more information as it becomes available.  I do ask that everyone take a minute though and realize that the airlines involved in this ban have nothing to do with this.  Taking it out on them via social media or refusing to fly their airlines "just because" are the exact actions I'm afraid the US carriers want.  I understand changing travel plans to accommodate the need for a laptop in flight or fear of losing tens of thousands of dollars in camera equipment, but put blame where blame is due please.  

Why I Travel : The Gulick Version

Yesterday was International Women's Day and it seemed every business had something to say about the impact of women in this world. (Which was awesome!)  One of my favorite angles though included the "Why I Travel" series by Conde Nast Traveler.  They profiled a small group of celebrity women and asked them why they feel travel is important in their lives.  The answers were both beautiful and yet simple, so I decided to answer the questions for myself.

Behold, I give you the Frances Gulick version of "Why I Travel."

Where were you born?

Huntsville, Texas 

Where are your parents from? How did they meet?

My parents are from Huntsville and both grew up there.  They met in high school, as most people in Huntsville do, and married shortly after.  Both were 19 years old and are still together to this day. 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the same place my entire family lived - in Huntsville.  From a very early age though, I knew I wanted to explore beyond the city limits.  I believe I announced my move to New York (for college) when I was 3. 

Where do you live now? How did you end up here?

Today I live in Dallas, Texas, by way of New York and Nashville.  I spent a year studying musical theatre in New York City before transferring to a school outside of Nashville to complete a degree in Music Business.  I landed at job at Universal Music in Dallas and I've been here ever since. 

What do you think of as "home"?

Home has never been a place for me.  I feel just at ease in one city as I do another.  Home is a mindset; a mental place of being relaxed and wrapped in a blanket. 

How has travel defined, or changed, your life?

I had never left the country until I met my husband.  From the moment we cleared customs in the exotic country of Canada, I was bitten by the travel bug and haven't looked back.  The more I saw, the more I wanted to see, and my life went from 1-2 international trips a year to 6-7.  Every few months, we're on a plane off on a new adventure and determined to experience something we haven't before.  

It has sparked a love for animals that I didn't realize ran so deep and has opened my eyes to a world that we are sheltered from here in the US.  I have a newfound desire to work in the non-profit sector, no longer focusing on how to make as much money as possible but rather how to make the biggest impact possible.  My entire outlook on life has changed.  

Why do you travel?

Why wouldn't anyone want to travel!  I travel to learn, to experience, and to forever keep my mind and heart open to things I'm unaware of.  I travel to inspire others to do the same.  We use photography as a way to share our experiences in hopes that it sparks a desire in someone, who was once too scared to travel somewhere, to jump on a plane and just go. 

Why is choosing to travel important in 2017?

Because now, more than ever, we need to live by the words of Mark Twain. 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
— Mark Twain
 Madagascar, 2016

Madagascar, 2016

When You Fall in Love with a City

Like most people in the US, New York City has always been my favorite place to be.  I am a tried and true city-girl - I like noises when I sleep and the ability to get anything I may want or need within a 10 block radius.  I was privileged enough to live in Manhattan for a year and up until August, it took top spot of my favorite city on Earth.

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Then I visited Cape Town.

I was overwhelmed by how much I loved it before I even arrived and upon driving in, late at night, to our hotel near the Waterfront, all of my hopes were confirmed.  And that's without the view during the day.

Here's the thing; Cape Town has a rough history and it's people have been driven to hell and back, multiple times.  It lagged way too long in the dark ages where separate areas of town where set aside for only certain people.  So many of us know the struggle South Africans went through because we watched it on the news nightly in the late 80s and early 90s.  South Africa became a dangerous place to be for tourists and many locals.

Then, slowly, they put their city back together in the most magnificent way.

Construction is abundant in Cape Town, with new and unique concepts for dining halls and entertainment districts popping up everywhere. 

  Waterfront Food Market

Waterfront Food Market

Wines of South Africa began to really shine and people took the delicious grapes from this region seriously.

Eco-tourism very slowly started to pop up, with divers and ocean enthusiasts coming from around the world to study the pristine waters of where two oceans meet.

  The end of Africa - Cape Point

The end of Africa - Cape Point

I cannot begin to describe the amazing cultural blend of music, food, and creative thinking from people whose parents were part of a generation that didn't accept each other.  Jazz and blues can be heard from various cafes, boasting delicious organic coffees and all walks of life.  Young South Africans are seen flocking to wineries on the weekends to enjoy a food scene that is astonishingly fresh.  No one stays in their homes if they can help it because they're too busy biking or hiking one of the hundreds of mountains in the area.

 Best meal of my life - La Colombe, the 76th best restaurant in the world

Best meal of my life - La Colombe, the 76th best restaurant in the world

The cherry on top of all of this is that Cape Town seems to still live under the radar; there were few tourists anywhere we went and the dollar to zar was strong.  We drank and ate like there was no tomorrow and consumed as much of the city as we could - a reward for being so beautiful.  We couldn't find a single house or apartment that didn't have a view of a mountainside or the ocean, or both, which is almost impossible to do given the peninsula it sits on. 

  Camps Bay - where I would like to live

Camps Bay - where I would like to live

It's everything a city should be.  I realize it has it's own issues and I'm sure the locals would have their say but I prefer to keep my rose colored glasses on as long as possible.  Who cares if it's 24 hours of flying away? :)  It has my heart and I cannot wait to return.

6 Ways to Save the Earth this Earth Day

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22, and we have compiled a short list of things you can do to help make this world a little better on April 23rd and days after. 

1.  Go Meatless!  Cutting meat and cheese just 1 day a week for a year is equivalent to removing 7,600,000 cars off the road, if every American participated.  Pinterest is a great tool for finding meatless and vegan recipes and feel free to post your favorite in our comments for others to try out! 

2.  Consider fostering an endangered species to keep their habitats protected and around for years to come.  While organizations like WWF are vital, try to find smaller organizations that are doing great work as well who may need the money a bit more.  Our favorite is the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (foster a baby orphaned elephant) and we currently foster 3 animals there.

3. Buy items that give back.  There are thousands of companies that are donating a large portion of their profits for the items they sell and this is a trend we are excited to see grow!  We recently posted about GlobeIn, a company that sends a monthly box of hand-made goodies from around the world that provides jobs, primarily to women, in poverty stricken areas, but we also like J Crew's Garments for Good, and don't forget to setup your Amazon Smile account!  Amazon donates %.5 of your purchase to the charity of your choice for simply buying things you already plan to buy!

 

4.  Educate yourself.  We are so fortunate to live in a world where we can learn anything about anything through the internet.  One of our favorite documentaries to air recently is called Racing Extinction.  National Geographic paired up with audio/visual artists and Tesla to bring awareness to major cities of species close to extinction.  It's a highly educational film and enjoyable to watch for all ages!

5.  Walk as many places as you can.  We are in Texas and unfortunately, our city isn't exactly conducive to walking.  This Friday, however, pledge to walk to a local business and enjoy the journey along the way.  Or ride your bike to a local farmer's market to stock up on fresh Spring produce for the weekend. 

6.  Sit outside for 1 hour.  This may seem crazy but sit outside for an hour and just listen to the world around you.  If you're in a major city, find a park to soak in the sun and wildlife.  Once you realize how much life is around us, it makes it a lot easier to advocate for change.  Try to pick out 5 sounds you haven't heard before and discover where they come from. 

 

We hope everyone has a wonderful Earth Day this year!

Packing Tips from the Pros

With each new trip, I try to remove something I took on my last trip that I felt was unnecessary.  As a result, I've learned to pack creatively and with true purpose, as opposed to throwing 12 outfits to choose from in my suitcase for 4 days.  Here's some tricks and tips I've learned along the way:

1.  The hotel has 90% of the things you need. 

I cannot begin to re-iterate how many things the hotel provides that people still insist on cramming into their suitcase.  A hair dryer?  Shampoo/Conditioner? Body wash?  Those are all heavy, bulky things that take up valuable space where clothes or potential souvenirs should go.  Learn to live more in the moment and take advantage of the free products offered by hotels to save room and weight in your luggage. 

2.  Learn to plan ahead of time. 

It's not secret that I love a good spreadsheet.  Like I live for a Google doc people.  As a result, I have a daily schedule of what we will be doing and what we plan on seeing making it really easy to look through and pack for those activities.  (I may or may not note what outfit I'm wearing that day on said doc)  It's less about OCD and more about efficiency - I know I'll need a certain kind of outfit for a certain activity so this allows me to plan ahead of time and only pack exactly what I plan on wearing.

3.  Laundry is your friend.

This one is relatively new to us.  Laundry in hotels, especially higher end hotels, is ridiculously expensive, however, the laundromat or service across the street is not.  Sending laundry "out" is something a lot of other countries do and it's wonderful!  It gives you the opportunity to give to a local business and I've found that the clothes always come back cleaner than I thought possible.  Side note - I'm talking good ole fashioned laundry here.  Don't pack dry clean only clothes on vacation please. 

4. Know when the hold em, know when to fold em.

Don't put everything you're taking into one bag.  If your bag is lost, you are up a creek and in some parts of the world, there isn't an H&M on every block to the rescue.  I always pack at least one pair of undies, a shirt, and a skirt or pants in my purse/laptop bag/carry-on in case of emergencies.  This is also a way to distribute the weight across your bags to avoid fees and give your arms a break. :)

There you have it!  A few things to keep in mind when you're packing for your next vacation, wherever in the world that may be.

 

Where to Go in 2016 - Rewarding Travel Edition

I have seen a LOT of lists this month of destinations travel magazines are recommending.  While there are a few great ideas, for the most part, they are all relatively well know destinations.  I'd like to offer 5 locations you may have never heard of that we highly recommend through personal experience or client experience.  Check out the 5 places Rewarding Travel wants to see you go this year!

5.  For Honeymooners Looking for Someplace Unexpected - Palau

Unless you're a diver, you've probably never heard of this place.  This island nation is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between the southern islands of the Philippines and Guam.  This is continuously hailed as one of the top diving spots in the world and we can vouch.  We spent a little over a week here in 2014 and wanted to stay indefinitely.  Commercial fishing is illegal here and they were recently on world-wide news for burning Vietnamese fishing boats who ignored this law.  As a result, the marine life is vast with 20+ sharks spotted on every dive a norm.  If you're not a diver, Palau offers much to do topside with stunning landscapes, helicopter rides over the islands, snorkeling, pristine patches of beaches, and the perfect balance of local and modern luxury.  It's our pick for the best place to honeymoon if you're looking for something unusual.
Don't miss: Hands down, Jellyfish lake.  Swim with millions of sting-free jellyfish!

4.  For Active Friends - Patagonia Region, Argentina

Patagonia isn't as well known as I'd like for it to be and I doubt many people know much about the region outside of Torres del Paine Park.  We visited El Calafate and Ushuaia in March and holy smokes, it blew our minds.  The Andes are impressive and driving through them to get to the various activities just adds that much more to each excursion.  We hiked on a glacier, took a boat through glaciers, viewed the Upsala glacier from a ranch, and much more.  If you are a mountain lover, this should absolutely be on your list of places to visit.  Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world as well and how many people can say they've been there?  Time to really one-up your friends.
Don't miss:  Hiking the Perito Moreno glacier.  It's a difficult hike but well worth it!

3.  For Red Wine Lovers - Mendoza, Argentina

Argentina makes our top 5 list twice, so you know we're serious about this country.  Everyone knows about the wines of Napa, France, and Italy but my second favorite wine region, behind Champagne, is Mendoza.  Most Malbecs come from here and in Argentina, they are a phenomenal value.  The US Dollar is strong in Argentina, making almost every single excellent bottle of wine under $35.  And that's ordering from a restaurant!  The grapes are perfection, the Andes are behind each vineyard, and the people are so friendly and eager to show off the fruits of their labor.  (pun intended) It's a hidden gem of a wine region that few Americans have discovered yet so run there with lots of extra room in your suitcase.
Don't miss:  The 4-course lunch menu at Belasco de Banquedano for around $40, inclusive of wine pairings.  Get a bottle of the Swinto.  Trust me.

2.  For Families with Little Ones - Singapore

This one may seem odd but Singapore is one of my favorite cities on the planet for a myriad of reasons.   It is incredibly strict and tolerates very little from it's people and tourist, making it one of the safest countries to be.  A combo of theme parks, culture, amazing food, gorgeous hotels, and on the water, it's a unique getaway for families looking to introduce their children to another world while still having the luxuries of home you need to keep the kids happy. 
Don't miss: The Singapore Zoo.  Even your kids will be enamored for a full day in this cage-less place.  They also offer a night safari to make sure your kiddos are completely worn out for the day. 
 

1.  For Off-the-Beaten-Path Travelers - Madagascar

If you're like us, you try to push the envelope a bit more with each trip and this August, that includes spending some time in Madagascar.  There have been plenty of documentaries about how wild this area is and as we research what to do when there, we're realizing exactly what that means.  Infrastructure is sparse leaving us the opportunity of visiting only one park while we're there.  There are no flights between the north and south, or anywhere in between, that are flights you'd want to take.  (think recycled planes and untrained pilots...)  That means, if you want to see the famous Baobab trees, the lemurs, and the pristine waters of Nosy Be, you're looking at a 12 hour drive between each place, minimum, on unpaved roads.  Knowing we'll be next door in Africa, we couldn't resist though and will be flying into Antananarivo and heading to the Andasibe Forest to see the lemurs for 3 days.  (animals are our weak spot)  They are exceptionally friendly creatures and will jump on you without a moment's notice. 
Don't miss: The opportunity to go - this is a country that can be difficult to get to so if you find yourself with time to spare in eastern Africa, do it. 

Swiss Mrs. - A Look Back at Zurich

While many of my friends and readers know that I am an avid traveler, they may be shocked to know that a) I had never left the country until I met my husband and b) that I have never actually traveled by myself anywhere.  When we booked this trip to Poland and Hungary, I would be routing back through Zurich and decided that this was it - I wanted to see Switzerland (the hubs has been before) and I wanted to travel alone for a few days. 

I flew Swiss Air to Zurich from Budapest and arrived in time to check-in to the Sheraton near the Lake and explore the city that evening by foot.  I had scheduled a day long tour to the Alps the next day and therefore had the entire evening relatively unplanned. Within 5 minutes of walking to Lake Zurich and viewing the Alps, I was completely in awe.  I couldn't stop taking pictures and staring.

Now, it's worth noting that at the same time I was there, that *minor* FIFA raid happened 2 blocks from my hotel so the city was bombarded with journalist from all over the world.  I made it on several news stations by simply being in Zurich and well, loved it, haha.

 
 

Anyways, I found a restaurant on the water and had a delicious, albeit pricey, cocktail overlooking the city.  Zurich is the 8th most expensive city in the world so I had to be careful and aware of where I went and what I was spending at all times.  I will say that I understand why it's so expensive though - views like this aren't cheap, nor should they be!

 The restaurant I had a pricey drink at - totally worth it!

The restaurant I had a pricey drink at - totally worth it!

I slowly wandered through the park towards the brat shop I read about online and had an insanely delicious sausage, potato salad, and glass of white wine.  It set me back around $26 but for Zurich, that's a major steal!  It was filling, had lots of flavor, and I snagged a seat on the street to people watch and read my Zurich book the hotel provided.  The people in Zurich remind me a lot of those in New York; helpful if you ask but otherwise keep to themselves.  For me, it was perfect, because I could enjoy myself without feeling obligated to talk to anyone but if I had a question, locals were more than willing to help. 

The next morning, I headed over to the bus station for my tour to the Alps.  I opted for the Lucerne and Mt Pilatus self-guided tour through Greyhound and it was awesome.  There isn't a tour guide once you're there but they arrange transportation and offer information along the way so you don't feel lost.  On the ride there, I was asked to help a lady who was also traveling alone, and much older than me, as she thought this was a guided tour.  I happily obliged, especially since she thought my name was Princess (despite me correcting her multiple times) and the tour guide gave me about $50 in Swiss chocolate.  What can I say, I love helping people.  And I love chocolate. 

Mt Pilatus was first and we took a cable car ride up the top with breathtaking views along the way. I lucked out big time that the weather was nice that day as locals claim there are less than 20 days a year without rain! 

At the top, the views of the Alps were perfect.  The mountain range stretched behind the observatory with Lucerne and other towns dotted in the valley area on the other side. I took a billion and a half photos before enjoying a $25 plate of macaroni and cheese with applesauce and onions while my new travel companion enjoyed schnitzel.  She opted to stay inside and rest her legs for a while so I explored the mountaintop further.  I will never, ever forget how beautiful this place was!

We took a cogwheel car down the mountainside and I felt like I was in Heaven.  The grass was the deepest color green, the snow capped mountains were in the background, and our red train going through it made for some postcard-worthy photos. 

Once we made it to the bottom, we boarded a boat that took us back to Lucerne town.  It was a large boat and I sat outside enjoying the views from every angle.  The weather was just cool enough to need a jacket in the shade and warm enough to allow the sun to beat on your skin - weather perfection if you ask me!

Once back in Lucerne town, me and my friend wandered the main street for photos before heading back to the bus for the ride back into town.  I had dinner at a restaurant I had discovered online prior to the trip before blissfully falling asleep to the sounds of the city.

The next morning, I was itching to see Zurich from the lake and ended up jumping on a ferry that was leaving at the exact moment I arrived.  Fate!  It stopped at many locations along the way so I took it all the way to the last top -  Rapperswil, also known as the city of roses.  I ordered a glass of champagne (because, well, why not) and sat outside in the sun taking in all the suburban areas of Europe I could.  I may or may not have picked out where we would live if/when we move there. 

It took about 2 hours to get to Rapperswil and I learned that the ferry would leave in 10 minutes or be back in 2 hours for it's final pickup of the day.  I had originally thought I would stay 10 minutes but after one look at one of the many rose gardens, I knew I would be hauling ass to catch the final ferry.  I wandered through the streets of this little town, did some shopping as if I was a local, enjoyed some red wine and calamari from an Italian restaurant near the water, and then meandered through more rose gardens.   It became, yet another, city I could see myself living in. 

I woke up the next morning really sad to be leaving and on a souvenir hunt!  One of the most famous shopping streets in the world is in Zurich, the Banhoufstrousse, so naturally, I headed there first.  To look.  Until I found a chocolate shop that lured me in with it's fancy window display.  While there were a few affordable stores on the street, (H&M for example) the majority of stores were as high end as they come and unlike other places in the world, the lines were long in every one of them.  I felt like the entire city dressed as though they were in a Banana Republic ad; beige, navy, and black taking center stage.  Again, Heaven. 

My final stop was one I had been waiting for - a pizza shop.  Being so close to Italy, the pizza here is seriously legit so I ordered myself the classic Margherita pizza and had no guilt eating it with a glass of champagne. 

I took the train to the airport and checked-in for my Swiss Air business class flight home.  To say my first solo trip experience was a success would be an understatement.  I loved being on my own, relying only on myself, and exploring this incredible city for the first time.  I will definitely be back Zurich; make sure my mansion down the lake is waiting for me.

A Look Back: Krakow & Auschwitz

  We arrived into Krakow by train and went straight to the hotel to go to bed.  Capitalizing on the last night free promotion from Radisson, we stayed at the Radisson Blu again, and were not disappointed.  We were upgraded to a suite and despite a small spider incident, the place was comfy and relaxing. 

  After a good night's rest, we headed into the walled area of town known a the HIstoric Centre and began our day Wawel Royal Castle.  After a hike to the top, we toured the inside of each of the buildings in the square.  It was gorgeous!

There was an underground "Dragon Cave" we were able to walk through and legend has it, a dragon used to live here and terrorize people who came near it.  It was meant to guard the church and it's people. 

We headed towards the center of the square and found a cute coffee shop to warm up, only to discover it had a cave below it as well!  We later found out that Krakow sits on top of an extensive cave system that people used hundreds of years ago discovered when the city wanted to rebuild part of their square.

The next day was hubby's birthday and he was pretty insistent on going to Auschwitz.  Honestly, I don't like visiting places like that because my imagination and stories are all I need to go by to understand the atrocities that happened but he wanted to see it and so we did. 

To say it was overwhelming would be a severe understatement.  To say I spent 8 hours fighting back tears would also be a severe understatement.  It is one of the worst places on the planet and I still don't understand how the Nazis got away with this for as long as they did. 

 Entering Auschwitz 1 Camp

Entering Auschwitz 1 Camp

The photos, the stories, standing where so many died for no reason was haunting.  There is no peace here, to put it simply.  It's the only place I've ever been where I was surrounded by a thousand tourists and no one spoke a word. 

People were transported from the Jewish Ghetto and thought they were being moved to better housing with more opportunities.  Most women and children were immediately sent to the gas chambers and only about 15% of the people who arrived were actually put to work. 

Every item was stripped from the families and most were stolen by the Nazis.  We entered rooms that had actual luggage and shoes from victims of this camp.  It was really hard to see this because it made even more real and in our face.  People used to write their name on their luggage back then and as a result, you have names of the Jews who died right in front of you. 

The hardest room to enter was hair room.  Everyone's head was basically shaved and the hair was kept aside.  What I never knew was that this hair was purchased by clothing companies and clothes were made out of it.  I would give ANYTHING to know the names of the companies who purchased this hair so I could forever boycott them.  It was apparently much cheaper and just as strong as other materials so the companies knew what they were buying. 

The last stop in Auschwitz 1 was where the bodies were burned. 

Once the tour ended at Auschwitz 1, we were transported a few miles away to Auschwitz 2-Birkenau.  This is where the tour became sickeningly overwhelming.  Jews couldn't be killed off fast enough at 1 so a massive facility was built to house hundreds of thousands of workers.  It also had a massive gas chamber and handy rail system that could deliver people directly to the staff for their fates to be determined. 

Each rail car held 80 Jews at a time, and 10 or so arrived every hour during the day.

Once the world discovered what was happening at this camp, the staff burned as much of it as they could to hide the evidence.  This is what is left of half of the gas chamber. 

Here's a video I made of the experience. 

Trying to continue on with a vacation after this was difficult so we headed back to downtown in the rain (fitting for the day) to see what else we could find.  To cheer ourselves up, we bought at crepe at the fair going on and had a few beers and Polish sausage.  We called this the birthday crepe!

We waited for the sun to go down before grabbing a bite to eat and heading to the train station for our overnight train to Budapest.  As much of an emotional roller coaster this portion of the trip was, I am so thankful we had the ability to see it. 

Our video of Krakow!

A Look Back: Warsaw

   A few days after my birthday this year, we headed towards Europe for the first time since 2012.  We were going to Poland!  I was stoked to be flying this route as it was scheduled on the new 787 on LOT Airlines.  I would meet the hubs there a day later (since his vacation time is limited) and looked forward to my first international solo flight.

   I flew business on the LOT flight, it was only a two cabin plane, and the first thing I noticed were the windows.  They were MASSIVE. My flight route was NY - Warsaw direct and I was looking forward to catching up on some movies and sleep as the plane took off.

   The seat itself was comfy enough, although it seemed to be a little narrow for a sleeping seat.  The cabin felt open and airy, due to the design of the plane, and I really enjoyed that feature.  It kept the aircraft cooler than normal, making it much easier to sleep. 

   The ride was relatively uneventful and service was what I expected based on reviews from fellow bloggers.  It was a bit aloof but attentive, which I prefer on sleeping flights. 

  My only complaint with the flight was the timing of the meal service.  It look over 1.5 hours to begin the service and on a 7 hour flight, that's a lot of sleeping time to cut into.  Once it began, I opted for just the appetizer and entree so I could tuck in but overall, it was still a 2.5 hour process from takeoff to meal time.  I also opted out of a pre-arrival meal for the same reason. 

Not my favorite but it'll do. :)

Breakfast I opted out of.

  The meal itself was yummy.  I had a glass of Champagne to kick off the flight and double as a nightcap followed by a tuna salad and the beef filet.  The tuna was spicy but delicious and the beef was one of the better cuts I've had in the sky. 

Dinner Menu

    We landed around noon in Warsaw and because of my lack of sleep on the flight, I checked into the hotel and took a nap.  (fyi - never do this - it just makes jetlag 100 times worse) 

   We booked the Radisson Blu Sobieski Hotel, using points, back when they were running their second night free promo.  Not only did we score a nice hotel for free but it only cost us one night in points, score!  I do recommend this hotel but note that it is a short walk to any train stop and not as close to the main attractions of Warsaw as we had originally hoped.

The "loo"

 This is a horrible picture but a shot of the room.

This is a horrible picture but a shot of the room.

When I woke up, I took a shower and got dressed and headed next door to a tapas place I found online.  Yes, my first meal in Poland were tapas!

    The meal was delicious and exactly what I needed after a travel day.  The portions were huge and each one tasted so much better than I anticipated.  I sat with my guidebook from the hotel (valuable resource guys!) and drank incredibly great, and cheap, red wine, with my food.  It was an anti-climatic day but very European so I loved it.

 Potato croquettes, tomato and cheese on bread, quiche on bread, black pudding on bread, and blood sausage on bread.

Potato croquettes, tomato and cheese on bread, quiche on bread, black pudding on bread, and blood sausage on bread.

Wine just tastes better in Europe

   The next day, I headed out for my day of solo adventure!  I took a cab to the Old Town and walked around for hours.  It was everything you imagine Europe to be, with some eastern European influences sprinkled around.  Warsaw was bombed heavily during the war so every single building was rebuilt to look exactly like the original.  I love that they preserved what the city looked like before war took over.

   I spent some time shopping for Christmas presents (something I like to do during all of our travels) and had lunch in the Old Town.  It ended up being a tourist trap but I did get to enjoy my first Pierogi!

   After lunch, I walked down to the Chopin museum and was completely overwhelmed with the technology behind this place.  First, you're given an RFID card to swipe over anything you'd like more information on.  Then, you wander through the museum unlocking music at every turn.  It's a great way to keep the exhibits interactive and a perfect way for the museum to see what the most popular exhibits are.  My favorite was musical twister!

   That afternoon, I met Curtis back at the hotel and we spent the rest of the night shopping.  Because his connection in LA was so tight, his bag never made it on his flight.  Let's just say European and styles and the hubs don't mix so it was a night filled with laughter and lots of trying on clothes! 

  The next morning, we headed out to Park Wilanowski and toured the palace there.  The grounds are groomed like a mini-Versailles and were stunning.  We arrived about a week to early to see the rose garden in bloom but from what we could tell, it was about to give a beautiful show.

   We finished the day off going to Old Town and enjoying a three-glass tasting of hot chocolate at a local chocolate shop. 

    It was a quick cab ride back to the hotel to grab our bags and board the 3 hour train to Krakow! 

Flights
DFW - Houston on United, Houston - NYC on United, NYC - Warsaw on LOT Airlines

Hotel
Radisson Blu Sobieski

Sights
Old Town Warsaw
Park Wilanowski
The Royal Palace in Old Town
Chopin Museum

Food
La Vina, Vino & Tapas
Restauracja Zapiecek
E. Wedel Czekolady (Chocolate Shop)


A Look Back: Bogota, Mendoza, El Calafate, Ushuaia

Wanderlust: (n.) a strong or urge to wander or travel and explore the world

In March, the hubs and I met 2 other couples for a trek through South America.  This was only our second time to head South with the first taking us to Macchu Picchu.  (go - call us and we'll book that trip today.  It's worth it)

We had a few issues setting up flights for this trip as LAN Airlines has a strong monopoly on the region and leaving us with very few options.  After hours of research, the hubs found us 4 seats (the third couple would meet us in Mendoza) directly from DFW to Bogota.  I have no fun photos to show of that flight as we rode in the "back of the plane" in coach and therefore just wanted to get the flight over with.  Side note - I read "What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding" on the ride there and highly recommend it for my traveling buddies. 

We found a brand new W Hotel in Bogota and booked with points, a steal for the quality of the hotel.  It was modern, clean, and very "W" in every aspect.  (the toilet "room" was a glass door so privacy wasn't a priority)

 
IMG_0866.JPG
 

During our 2 day stay in Bogota, we hiked up a "hill" (read: mountain) for a panoramic city view, played Tejo with the locals, gawked at the amazing street art everywhere, pulled strings and got into a speakeasy, and had one of the best ceviche meals we've ever tasted!  While traffic was horrible at all times of the day, it allowed us some time to chat with our driver from the hotel on where we should go for the day. 

Travel tip: At luxury hotels, skip the concierge's recommendations for dinner or drinks and ask your driver where you should go.  It'll be delicious, a quarter of the price, and filled with locals.

We flew overnight on LAN Airlines to Santiago, a 7 hour flight in business, and enjoyed ourselves.  Because we had a full day in Mendoza the next morning, we opted out of meals and drinks and just slept the entire time.  The seat was comfortable enough to get some much needed shut-eye and we scored Ferragamo amenity kits, which had a face cream in it that I now swear by. 

We met up with the rest of our party in Santiago where we all boarded the 32 minute flight over the Andes.  What a flight this was!  It was hands down the most scenic flight I've ever experienced and it felt like we were just barely missing mountaintops as we flew over.  All of the flight crew had to remain seated and we didn't mind at all.  :)

We arrived in Mendoza, checked into the Sheraton in downtown, and immediately hit the wineries with our driver for the day.  We started at Belasco de Baquedano for a 5-course tasting menu, including wine, and it was divine!  Each course paired perfectly with their wine selection and our bottle collection began right then and there. 

We followed that up with a trip over to Bodega Norton and had a private tasting of their top of the line wines.  That led to the purchase of their nicest sparkling wine, which cost a whopping $21, and some strong buzzes by this point. :)  The day ended with a trip to The Vines of Mendoza, a downtown tasting room of all the vineyards in the area.  We grabbed dinner after that and headed in after a long day.

The next day I stayed at the hotel for the morning and early afternoon as I was really under the weather, and the group headed out to two wineries and a lunch consisting of all the meats in Argentina.  (that's what I was told!)  I met everyone at Alta Vista, which meant I arrived on-time and got to partake in the tasting and everyone else was running late from lunch and joined us afterwards.  The grounds were so pretty at this vineyard and it was nice to be in the warm sun for the first time in a while!  (So much snow in March here in Dallas)  Dinner that evening was open air and delicious! 

We left bright and early the next morning for El Calafate, a small town that would serve as an anchor for the activities we had planned in that area.  Our hotel, Design Suites, was perfectly located on the outskirts of town and gave us the most beautiful views of the Andes in the distance.  We spent the evening relaxing as we had two full days ahead of us....

Travel tip:  If you have a lot planned for your vacation, keep your travel day activities to a minimum.  You're always going to be tired from dealing with an airport and it helps recharge your batteries for activities later on.

The next morning, at 7am, we loaded into a bus and headed into the mountains to Los Glaciares National Park to the Perito Moreno Glacier.  We were going hiking on a glacier.  It was physically demanding, more so than anything I had ever done, but wow, was it worth it.  This is one of the easiest glaciers to get to so we jumped at the opportunity to hike on something we may never hike on again.  Pictures simply do no do it justice!  And to add to the odd feeling, it was HOT.  I packed for glacier weather and we got 65 and sunny. :) 

The following day was spent on a 3 hour boat ride to Estancia Cristina, a ranch in the middle of the park.  We sailed past glaciers on our way and hiked to see the Upsala glacier from the ranch itself.  This was a much easier day than the one before and we all thoroughly enjoyed our time on the water.  (we may have brought some wine with us too)

We left El Calafate a little sore but excited to head to our final stop - Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world!  We took it easy the day we arrived and the next morning, we headed out on a Beagle Channel tour where we saw sea lions playing in the water and the "lighthouse at the end of the world."  That afternoon, we boarded a bus to Haberton Estancia, about 2 hours outside of the city, to then take a bus to Penguin Island!  There are penguins EVERYWHERE.  We had so much fun snapping pictures and watching them in a natural habitat. 

The next day we took it easy and explored Ushuaia town by foot.  The next day we boarded our flight to Buenos Aires and then on to DFW.  We flew American Airlines 777 on from Buenos Aires to home in first class.  It never ceases to amaze me how different first class is on carriers.  The seat was comfortable enough but service was extremely lacking and the IFE (in-flight entertainment) was pretty much a joke.  The screen was smaller than my iPad and immobile so it was a strain to try and lie back while watching a movie.  Overall, it was still better than a coach seat and gave us enough rest to muscle through that day back at work.  In true "us" fashion, we arrived at 7am in DFW and went straight to work.  Never waste a moment of vacation time. :)

Want to book this trip?  Pick your plan on our RATES page and we'll get you on a glacier in no time!

A leap of faith...

A leap of faith...

"Brakes break for a reason." - The Hundred Foot Journey

 A month ago, I was faced with a choice that I knew was inevitable but didn't expect it to happen so quickly.  I left a stable, fun, and challenging job at a professional sports team to start my own company.  This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember - it started with owning my record label and through our countless travels, has landed in my lap as a travel business.