ITALY FAM TRIP TUSCANY AND ROME (69 KMS AND 109,000 STEPS LATER) FEBRUARY 2019 (LISA BAIN AND MANYA KELLOU)
Part One – by Lisa Bain
Flights – British Airways via London to Pisa
We flew British Airways with an overnight stay in London to break up the trip. When checking in for our flight we were surprised with an upgrade to Business class so we were able to experience the lie-flat beds. I was torn between staying awake (there were so many good movies to watch) or trying out the lie-flat bed for a good night's sleep. After a nice dinner and a couple of glasses of champagne going to bed was much more appealing.
Costa Rica, located in Central America, shares its borders with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the southeast, with shorelines on the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea on the east. An eco-tourism hotspot, Costa Rica is a haven for nature lovers, devoting 26% of its land to national parks, wildlife reserves and protected lands.
One of my top ten bucket list destinations has long been Ireland and the opportunity finally presented itself this past October. It was an amazing week that exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return and take in more experiences.
In planning our vacation, there were many reasons why my wife and I chose cruising instead of a single destination holiday. Primarily, a cruise vacation offers an all-in-one experience like no other. Visiting many different destinations without having to constantly re-pack, trying out a variety of superb dining options (from casual buffets to elegant restaurants), indulging in a multitude of onboard activities (including a wide variety of stage shows, music, games, movies, sports, and casino) would keep you entertained throughout the entire cruise - all that and more is offered at one single price!
Having never been to Newfoundland before I was very excited about the opportunity to go to St. John’s, and I was not disappointed.
Getting to Canada’s most easterly province is an adventure in itself; I flew Vancouver-Toronto-St. John’s, and factoring in flying and connecting time, it took me longer to get to St. John’s than it takes to fly from Vancouver to Beijing!
At the Airport we were met by an UnCruise representative and transferred to the Barcelo to meet up with all the other guests that had arrived earlier to get on the bus for the transfer to La Paz. When we arrived the welcoming committee from the ship took everyone’s pictures and told us they would put them in a book in the main lounge so that we could get to know our fellow passengers names. This was such a nice touch, we were lucky the ship was only half full so there were only 43 names, plus crew to remember.
In December 2017, I spent an amazing week at the Hyatt Ziva in San Jose Del Cabo. I flew down on WestJet, a wonderful direct/nonstop short flight of just over four hours. In my opinion this is the number one selling feature of this destination, especially if travelling with young children. The next selling feature is the short 15 minute shuttle service from the airport to the Hyatt.Read More
In view of the fact that a destructive typhoon paid a visit to Vietnam before I did, I would like to start by thanking the weather gods for the relief. Apparently heavy rains continued to soak parts of the region, but my experience was to be, both literally and figuratively, a sunny one.
Overall Trip Impression: We took the nonstop Air New Zealand flight from Vancouver to Auckland which was very convenient. I had pre booked our accommodation and rental car, and we started our tour by exploring Auckland, Waitomo and Rotorua, with my husband as the driver and me as the navigator. It was my husband’s first time driving on the left side of the road, but it didn’t take him long to get the swing of it.
Overall Impression: We were there during the monsoon season so everything was very green and lush. Colour is everywhere with the children walking along the street in brightly coloured clothes, and the women in saris in a kaleidoscope of colours. The Maldives – a Paradise of Tropical Islands with swaying palm trees and pure white beaches surrounded by crystalline lagoons of varying shades of blue. The Islands are very low lying with the highest point approximately 8 ft above sea level. Ring shaped reef structures form the atolls providing natural defense against wind and wave action. There are more than 2000 tropical islands with only about 200 inhabited. About 100 islands have been developed into exotic resorts offering secluded serenity, soothing spas, wonderful swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing and the weather is ideal year round.
Gisela Maskell, one of our senior leisure agents, specializes in organizing and escorting small groups to different parts of the globe. She is currently organizing a tour to East Africa to see the migration in Northern Tanzania and Kenya with an extension to travel to Rwanda to go gorilla trekking.
Overall Impression: The Eco Camps are all located in park conservancies, which are areas right outside the actual parks. The conservancies are full of almost every animal you will see within the parks themselves, but staying in a conservancy, does have a very positive side. You can take part in night game drives which you cannot do in the parks as they close between 6-6.30pm and guests staying in the park cannot leave their resort after this time.
This being our first visit to South America, we figured that Brazil, with its newfound status as emerging economic powerhouse and upcoming host nation of both soccer’s World Cup and the Olympics, would be a good place to start. What we found was a photogenic country, albeit a study in contrasts, populated (mostly) by warm, free-spirited, sport-loving people.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
I had traveled here often in the past, specifically 8-9 years ago, and while I noticed a significant change with the additions of new highways, shopping plazas, independent restaurants and cinema’s, the beauty of the Island and the kind hospitality of the locals was just as I had fondly remembered it to be. It still resembled the simple, un-hurried lifestyle that I appreciate so much.
Japan turned out to be one of the best countries I’ve ever visited outside of Canada.
Clean, efficient (everything runs on schedule), superior service and friendliness of people no matter where you are. There are so many fascinating places to visit that even the whole year in Japan may not be enough to fully explore and appreciate everything this unique country has to offer.
For my first trip to Turkey and some of the Greek Islands, I was so lucky to experience a wonderful cruise from Athens, on September 20th, 2015 onboard the Azamara Club Journey. The Nine Night Turquoise voyage included 4 stops in Greece: Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes and Santorini and 4 stops in Turkey: Bodrum, Kas, Fethiye and Marmaris.
Being the largest country in East Africa, Tanzania offers a wide variety of things to do for a variety of travellers.
While world-famous Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest free-standing mountain) is one of the country’s main attractions, Tanzania offers so much more. With its stunning landscapes and spectacular diversity of its wildlife, safari in Tanzania is a truly unique and unforgettable experience. There is a multitude of companies providing a wide variety of safari options for every taste and budget all year round. And for those looking for an exotic beach vacation, will find it on a spice island of Zanzibar and on Tanzania’s coast.
“Amazing!” that’s the one word that comes to mind when I think back on my visit to Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai, has been one bucket list destination I have longed to visit and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The UAE is a small country, only 83,600 square metres, and is home to ten million residents. Two million of those reside in Dubai. What shocked me the most as I learned more about the UAE is that only 11% of the population are Emirati, the other 89% have relocated to the UAE from all over the world with a large population of Pakistani, Indian, Filipino, British and other Middle Eastern countries now making the UAE their home.
Provence and Burgundy conjure up lavender fields, endless vineyards, relaxed pace of life. It is all of that and much more: history, art and culture, gastronomy that make these two regions so popular with tourists.
New York City is a destination that should be visited at least once in a lifetime, but preferably more. With so much to see and do, it truly does offer something for everyone.
I had been to China once before on an organized fam trip, over ten years ago, but my partner had China high up on his bucket list, so it seemed like a good time for a return visit.
I had never been to France or Italy before, so I chose an itinerary starting in Paris and ending in Rome, to give me a taste of both countries.
Between the two we went to Gordes in Provence, Monaco, Venice and Florence, doing the “in-between” transportation mostly by train or car, with the leg from Nice to Venice by plane. Here’s how it went!
July 1st started with a quick bite to eat and a short drive to Nice airport for our flight to Venice.
Everything was going well until we went to the Easyjet counter to drop our bags off, only to find out that our flight scheduled to depart in just over an hour had been cancelled. Their customer service was quite atrocious and I will never book them again.
Found high on many people’s bucket list is the Inca “lost city” of Machu Picchu, and even with such lofty expectations, it certainly did not disappoint. However, our exploration of Peru leading up to Machu Picchu was a very worthwhile adventure on its own.
Having never been to Croatia, and only having one week to travel around, we decided to stay in the north of the country, so that we would only have short drives between the places we were wanting to visit.
Puerto Los Cabos, located on the Sea of Cortez and only a five minute drive from San Jose del Cabo and 40 minute drive from Los Cabos is one of the newest up-and-coming vacation destinations for those seeking a more relaxed setting. A master-planned resort destination, Puerto Los Cabos is a mixture of gated residential communities, golf courses and a world class marina offering deep sea fishing excursions for those wanting to experience the thrill of catching ‘the big one.’
One of my childhood best friends was from Iran, which may explain why I find myself feeling at home in the company of Persians. And for that reason, I have always been interested in visiting the country, but it’s not exactly a top travel destination. Fast-forward many years and I finally get my opportunity as we journey to the land of Shahs to meet my brother's future in-laws! Our families bonded so tightly that I felt more like a relative than a guest or tourist.