caribbean queen: charlotte amalie

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Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the US Virgin Islands and is located on St. Thomas, the second largest island of the USVI.  Known for its history of attracting pirates and other colorful characters, St. Thomas is now one of the most popular cruise ship destinations of the region.  And it’s no wonder, there’s gorgeous white sand beaches, renowned bays, natural wonders, and of course, treasures to be found in duty free shopping.

It seems like there are more jewelry and perfume stores on this island than people to buy them, which is why I guess it’s good that there are up to 11 (!) cruise ships stopping daily filling the streets with tourists and potential money spenders.

Despite that fact, I highly recommend staying longer.  There’s so much to see and do in the region that a few hours doesn’t do it justice.  There are many Airbnbs and resorts across the whole island, so why not enjoy more R&R here, where time runs a little more languid?  Everyone loves an island vacation, and spending a week here was just what this doctor ordered.  And the best part is that it’s all in our own backyard, negating the need of a passport or a change in your cell phone plan.

be like the pina colada song, come with me and escape

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Happy Holidays!

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Xmas cheer at DFW

‘Tis the season, hope your holiday travels are going off without a hitch (although by the looks of the weather patterns across the US, eesh probably not).  By now, the holiday travel season is in full swing — I’ve already survived two trips to airports in the past few days, mainly by helping myself to many Diet Cokes from the airport lounges.

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the least wonderful travel time of the year at LAX

It’s always a test of patience this time of year, but lines and delays keep you humble and it’s not the airline worker’s fault.  Remember to Airborne, always use sanitizer and that the headrests and tray tables are not typically cleaned well during the turnaround.

This year was the year of the Cs, commencing with Cuba and the Caribbean:

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havana ooh na na

coupled with a Canadian autumn…

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and culminating in another trip to the Caribbean.

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virgin islands national park might be the low-key frontrunner for beautiful parks

Somehow I also fit in quick trips to Las Vegas, KC, Nashville and Indianapolis.

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I added Maine to my states visited list (3 left!)…

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he’s my lobster

and finally broke my Disney moratorium, traveling to a galaxy, far, far away.

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And the best was that I got to see so many friends when they came through my town! I wish I had traveled more this year (I traveled plenty, but I’m greedy), but I do have “a job,” and someone has to “pay the bills.”  Good thing I’ve already planned out a couple of trips already so it should be a full 2020 (will be full of P’s, both literally and hopefully figuratively).

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season, and a happy New Year!

 

 

 

know before you go: STT USVI

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No, that’s not a bunch of f Roman numerals.  STT is the airport code for Cyril King Airport of St. Thomas, one of the main destinations in the US Virgin Islands.  The busiest airport of the islands, many traveling will use it to hop to nearby St. John and the BVI. If you’re like me, and you have always romanticized jetting down to the islands like some New York socialite wearing a caftan and drinking gimlets whilst perched on a Mortician Adams wicker peacock chair, then wintering in the Caribbean is for you!

I mean, what’s not to love about exchanging frigid temperatures and the stress of the holidays for sandy beaches and margaritas?  Beach hair, don’t care.

STT is a tiny airport with one terminal.  There are flights to and from the US quite frequently during this season on American, Delta, Frontier, United and JetBlue.

Remember: ✈️ = Extra virgin to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =  If you like pina coladas

Convenience to the city:✈️✈️✈️ (3 miles from Charlotte Amalie, downtown)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (it’s not a big airport)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Customs check so they recommend getting there at least 3 hours ahead)

Dining:✈️✈️ (free shots when you arrive, but not much else)

Restrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (Small airport, but a lot of stalls)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (Did I mention free shots? Also free tote bags from the downtown jewelry stores.  Verrrrry slow baggage claim, so plan accordingly)

Quintana Roo Crew

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Cozumel is one of the most famous Mexican island “balnearios” or seaside resort towns in the Caribbean sea.  Located just across the way from Playa del Carmen, it is a very convenient stop for cruise ships.  Another municipality in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan peninsula, it is famed for its snorkeling/scuba diving and shopping.  Once a bustling Mayan pilgrimage site to fertility, now tourists arrive in droves to sip on cervezas and eat tacos.

Sorry, that’s a bit reductive, but I think the rich history of this region is lost amongst the thick blanket of tourism that is now its main economy.  And I’m also a little salty that the main Cozumel museum was closed when I visited.  Saltier than the rim of a fresh marg.

Cozoom zoom…

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All’s Mayahual in Costa Maya

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Quintana Roo is an eastern Mexican state on the Yucatan peninsula and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. From Cancun to Cozumel, you will find resort towns dotting the entire length of the Caribbean coast. It’s not all sandy beaches, there’s a ton of historical Mayan settlements and various ecosystems.

Costa Maya is basically a Disney-fied version of a Mexican port. Legit, it literally looks like the same developers who build the attractions at Disney built it – from the colorful plaster/stucco walls to the just-so perfect vibrant décor. El nombre real de esta area en del este de Mexico es Mahahual. I guess they figure that’s a little harder to pronounce than the more Anglicized Costa Maya. It is basically the southern most point of the Mexican seaboard and is a stone’s throw away from Belize.

My oh Mayans…

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row, row, roatan

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Honduras.

Not a region of Mexico.

There’s been plenty of news out of this country in regards to the dangerous conditions and crime, but what doesn’t get as much press is that it is a culturally rich country abutting the Caribbean sea that has white sandy beaches, temperate surf and colorful, friendly people.

Tropical the island breeze, all of nature wild and free, this is where I long to be…

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half of my heart is in havana

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Cuba has always been a mysterious destination to me, an off limits locale due to the long standing US embargo.  And what they say is true, you often want what you can’t have.  Thus, when the travel ban was eased in 2015, Havana shot to the top of my list of places to travel, and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to visit.

Growing up in the US, there was not much information about this large Caribbean nation other than what was very briefly covered in history books, so I didn’t know what to expect.

This turned out to be a good thing because Havana was the best surprise.  I was stricken by its je ne sais quois (or no se que in Spanish…doesn’t really translate ;).  I mean, it’s an incredibly culturally rich and beautiful city.  It is both quaint and cosmopolitan, architecturally divine with its expansive boulevards and thoughtful city planning.  But there’s more to it than that because a lot of cities have those things and they’re not quite as fascinating.

Historically speaking, from pirates to American gangsters, you’re not going to find as interesting a place in these parts.  The country’s rise to immense power due to the sugar trade was astounding and its revolutionary history with its colorful figures is even more intriguing.  And being closed off to American travel for so long?  Maybe that adds to the allure.  Whatever it is, Havana is a really wonderful destination.

As Camila Cabello says, take me back, back, back…

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