colorful hue, vietnam

DSC_2542.jpg

Love a good pun.  Pronounced hway (not really exactly right don’t @ me) not hugh like the color or Grant, this very proud city was the former Imperial capital of Vietnam until the end of the Nguyen dynasty in 1945. I’m sure you’re familiar with what happened next.  Vietnam has three regions, and this is the largest city in the central region (see previous posts on Hanoi and Saigon/HCM).

Hue was the stop after Hoi An, my favorite on the Vietnam itinerary, and I think I would have enjoyed it more had I NOT GOTTEN SICK on the way there.  I made a rookie travel mistake that you will read all about after the jump.  Hot tip: don’t drink foreign beverages.

right hue, wrong hue

Continue reading

take me down to the Vatican City

IMG_2804.jpeg

So, I’m not Catholic.  Just gettin’ that little factoid out there.  I am, of course, familiar with the religion and of historical and current events, but I am by no means an expert.  I went to Rome without having read up extensively on the topic, purposefully to leave my mind open to the environment.  Despite my lack of knowledge, I have to say that going to the Vatican City was an unforgettable experience.  There is beauty in the concept of a religion, even if its not yours.

just like a dream, you are not what you seem…

Continue reading

bon voyage: know before you go CDG

IMG_7870.JPG

Paris is one of THE magnificent cities of the world, and its main airport? C’est si bon!  It is the second largest airport by volume in Europe and the 10th largest in the world.  Obviously Paris is a destination in its own right, but as a port to the rest of the world, if you’re headed to Africa or the Middle East, good chance you could be stopping here, too.

The hub for Air France, this airport is named after the leader of the French resistance against Nazi Germany during WWI who later became president of the newly re-democratic France, Charles de Gaulle.  The history is complex, so you’re gonna have to trust me when I say he was a very notable French figure in the 20th century.  They don’t name airports after just anyone (see: the soon to be Muhammad Ali airport in Louisville).

There are three Terminals, but the set up is not exactly like other airports.  Terminal 1 is for airport operations, mass transit stations, shops and restaurants, check in counters and baggage claim.  Terminal 2 is split into sub-terminals 2A-2G. 2E is where your long haul flights will be, as it can accommodate Airbus A380.  Air France international flights are almost all exclusively run through Terminal 2 (American, Delta are also Terminal 2, while United flies through both 1 and 2A).  2F is for intercontinental European and 2G is in a separate building and is dedicated to regional Air France flights.  Terminal 3 is for budget airlines.

Remember: ✈️ = hate it  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =   louvre it (sorry i couldn’t do any better, i’m le tired)

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (16 miles away, but RER metro transit will take you from central Paris –and there’s a new express trains coming soon.  There are also express buses and old fashioned car travel as well)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are CDGVAL trains that will take you from one terminal to the next; it does get confusing though and there’s not a lot of helpful people jumping at the chance to help you)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are a lot of travelers here, that doesn’t make things go quickly)

Dining:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (there is only one thing to know and that is there is a Laduree in 2F.  Otherwise, there’s a McD’s, Starbucks and Pre-A-Manger along with french offerings)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (fair for an airport of its size)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Free wifi, charging is available — don’t forget your Type E adapter!)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (this is Paris, home of Cartier, Dior, Chanel, Hermes, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Saint Laurent –you will find them all here along with well known Italian brands too 😉  All that’s missing is Goyard and Louboutin and then you’d have the best place ever airport shopping center in the world.  There are MANY lounges available as well — Air France/Delta SkyTeam in like all terminals, American, Etihad, Air Canada, El Al, Emirates, Qatar, SAS, Lufthansa, United/Star Alliance, Cathay Pacific.  Also, this airport was used in both U2 and Alan Parsons project album artwork, so extra cool points.  J’aime cela!)

All’s Mayahual in Costa Maya

IMG_9848.jpeg

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…

Continue reading

row, row, roatan

IMG_9533.jpeg

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…

Continue reading

here’s looking at you CMN: know before you go Casablanca

IMG_4839.JPG

Play it again, Sam.  Originally built by the US as a military airport during WWII, Casablanca’s Mohammed V airport has evolved into the busiest airport in Morocco.  After Morocco gained its indepedence from France in the 1950s, the airport basically rebranded into a public airport named after the former King/Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed V who ruled in the 50s-60s.

There are two terminals 1 (domestic and international) and 2 (international).  It is the hub of Royal Air Maroc and probably services more passengers from Paris to Morocco than any other airport in the country.

Remember: ✈️ = what in heaven’s name brought you to casablanca? to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = the beginning of a beautiful friendship

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (30 km from the city, but there is a train station on in Terminal 1 that will take you to the city)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️ (Terminals 1 and 2 are connected, lack of signage makes things a little difficult.  Airport communication is in French, Arabic and English but can be confusing)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️ (very crowded, expect longer wait times)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (some westernized options: Starbucks, pomme de pain — very expensive)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (could use more facilities based on the level of passenger traffic)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi x 30 minutes, remember your European adaptor plugs)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (there’s a few international brand stores, local Moroccan purveyors, pharmacy, urgent care, Pearl lounge and a VIP concierge service)

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

IMG_9139.JPG

In honor of the new Amy Poehler directed movie, Wine Country, that hit Netflix last week, here’s to celebrating some of the best Sonoma Valley has to offer.

Visiting Napa during Memorial Day weekend is a must for my all time festival love, Bottlerock, but I actually almost prefer the less crowded, easy going nature of the Sonoma Valley.   They’re both great.  This is how you know you’re old, by how much you enjoy wine country.

Continue reading

turn down for Angkor Wat

DSC_1408

Angkor Wat is one of the great ancient wonders of the world.  The pièce de résistance of the Angkor archeologic complex in Cambodia, this temple is a site of religious worship and has been used continuously through the ages.  It is truly one of the unique architectural delights anywhere.  Just incredible.  I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but the people in these ancient civilizations were so sophisticated and advanced, much more so than anything we could do these days.

This whole region in Cambodia encompasses not just Angkor Wat, but also Angkor Thom another “city” of the ancient Khmer.  The architecture, city planning, irrigation, artistry of these communities were so intricate, and even more marvelous is the fact that this was all built in the middle of the jungle.  They had to bring in the stone from a mountain 50km away by floating it down the Siem Reap river.  Think of how many elephants that must have taken!

And somehow the mossy twisted roots now coursing through the ruins of this ancient oasis has only added to its grandeur.  Everyone has a chance to feel like Lara Croft here.

welcome to the jungle

Continue reading

Bienvenido a Miami: Parte 1

IMG_9229.jpeg

south beach bringing the heat

I may be the only person who goes to Miami for the architecture. Context: Miami is not my favorite place. I don’t enjoy nightlife (I am a million years old), scantily clad people (I will never own or wear a body stocking, no one wants to see this) or loudness (both in sounds and personalities). I get you, Miami, but you’re not always my type. When you’re still, you’re lovely, but you can get crazy so fast. Too temperamental.

I think when you’re young and you go there, it’s a lot of pressure to go out and party, but you know what?   In your 30s, you no longer give AF. And that, my friends, is growing up.

Welcome to Miami…

Continue reading