Monday, October 15, 2018

My "Staycation" is Your Vacation

I live in Virginia where they say Virginia is for Lovers.  I'm sure there are wonderful places for Lovers to vacation, but today I'm going to focus on some of the wonderful offerings for families in my "neck of the woods"!

We have beach fun, amusement parks, history, arts, and great food just to name a few!

Neptune welcomes all visitors to Virginia Beach - a beautiful beach that can be enjoyed in the winter


and the summer -

Basically, its a fabulous beach any time of year!

And if you want some activity beyond the beach, there is always The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium for some outdoor fun.





Next up is an amusement park - Busch Gardens Williamsburg offers fun for the whole family 




Are you a family of history buffs?  We have plenty to offer in that regard as well.

Colonial Williamsburg is the world's largest history museum.  Plenty of hands on activities and guided tours and special events take your family back in time to experience life in the 18th century and learn about American and Virginia history.



And experience authentic food in one of the local taverns on site.



My family is a big fan of the arts - fine arts and performing arts.  One probably doesn't often think of Norfolk, VA as a tourist destination but we love it and it has many great things to see and do.  Very close to Virginia Beach it has some great rainy day or just break from the beach day activities.

The Chrysler Museum  offers a very broad collection of artwork and is sure to please anyone who appreciates art.  And admission is FREE!  Closed on Mondays and select holidays.






Also in Norfolk is Chrysler Hall which offers its Broadway in Norfolk performances.  This production of Les Miserable surpassed the one I saw in London.  


My area offers so many great activities for tourists and locals alike.  These just scratch the surface.  As I tackle my "bucket list" I may revisit this topic again on this blog!  

And if these don't entice you to come see my neck of the woods,  let me plan your vacation here and I'll even share with you where to find this plate of pure yumminess!  

I close this blog with Nutella Calzone!












Monday, October 1, 2018

A little Sandals Resorts TLC


On a recent trip to Jamaica we flew into Kingston late at night. To be honest, it was the very last plane in for the night!   The Sandals Resorts Agent met us outside customs/immigration with a warm Jamaican smile and walked with us to Club Kingston. She had her work cut out for her because we had airline issues and were not even supposed to be at the Kingston Airport at all. 

This agent fixed everything!

 Due to the late hour, Club Kingston was closed for the night and there was no food available to us.  Our Sandals agent made sure we had water while we waited and gave us a bottle for the road.  

Most travelers go through Montego Bay to get to Jamaican resorts so let me share a few observations about the Kingston Airport for those who are unfamiliar with it.  The airport is very clean and simple to navigate.  Just as Montego Bay airport has Club Mobay, Kingston has Club Kingston, a VIP lounge for arrival and departure where you receive VIP service, fast track through customs and immigration and complementary food and drinks among other things.  Please note, if you are traveling with children, there is no kids club in Club Kingston.

Our transfer to Sandals Ochi was about an hour and a half.  Even with traffic and a fair amount of road construction,  we were able to move along at a consistent pace and arrived at our destination comfortably and safely and were ready to let the fun times begin!

A classic Sandals Lounge can be found at Montego Bay airport in Jamaica.







Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Chicago

Chicago!

Another one of my favorite adventures has been Chicago. So full of life and culture. I must admit I am a bit of an architecture geek. Not kidding, I dare to admit I actually have a Frank Loyd Wright Coloring Book, and I may or may not actually have colored it in with the precise Pantone shades, LOL. Speaking of being an architecture geek, the hotel I stayed at was Embassy Suites in Rosemont just a block or so from the Airport, it is with in walking distance from the subway station. This hotel is an homage to Frank Loyd Wright. The hotel has windows, carpeting and many other details that all reflect the images of FLR inspiration. The crown moldings and traditional recessed wainscoting treatments on the walls and it has a very craftsman type feel. The hotel did not disappoint. I can say the Hilton brands in general never disappoint me and always go above and beyond my service and quality expectations. The complimentary breakfast was hot, fresh and made to order.

 The first thing I did after getting settled into my room  was to grab a bite to eat for lunch at Basil's (the hotel's restaurant and bar) I had a refreshing summer salad and a tall glass of unsweet tea (why yes, yes I am a northerner lol). I went back to my room and enjoyed a nap. It sounds like a waste of time but that bed was so fluffy and soft!  As a mom to three kids, I take advantage of nap time when I can. After my nap I was able to explore a bit and found out from the friendly front desk staff that there was a free concert and fireworks show in the park across from the hotel later that evening. I spent the rest of my afternoon exploring the Rosemont area and found there was a large outlet mall and a King's concept bowling alley/gaming center with  food and drinks. I also discovered an I-fly indoor skydiving center nearby.

The next day was an all day conference and they brought in Giordano's deep dish Chicago style pizza for lunch! Giordano's is something one must experience while in Chicago, I am more of a Brooklyn style pizza lover but Giordano's was really good. Once the conference was finished, I decided to jump on the subway and take the blue line to downtown. Once downtown,I walked around a bit to see what I could see. Then I ran across a BIG BUS tour. In just about every major city in the U.S and abroad you can find Big Bus. They allow you to hop on and hop off as much as you like throughout your day and you pay a flat rate or a multi day rate. There are also several different tours you can choose from. It's an inexpensive mode of transport too. I am just going to let my photos speak for themselves. I had a terrific time.

So much to do and so much to see in this amazing city. Since I was actually here for a business convention, I only had one day to see and do it all. I took in as much as possible, the bus tour helped me to see a lot of the city and get some great photos. I kept hearing about this great place I just had to try called Eataly. Eataly is an authentic Italian dining and shopping experience. When you walk in the door downstairs you are surrounded by all sorts of Italian wines, spices, and pastas for purchase, just off to your right there are several different dessert counters, offering Gelato, and countless hand made desserts ordered ala carte and customized to your liking. I tried the salted caramel chocolate gelato with chili.  It was a party on my lips!  Afterwards, I headed upstairs for appetizers and the main course:  Yes, I ate dessert first!   Upstairs there were many different food counters to choose from:  a caprese bar, a micro brewery,  wine and antipasti specialties, and of course fresh from scratch pizza and pastas. I sampled several of the charcuteries and then had the house made goat cheese Agnolotti with a Granita. I finished off my Eataly experience with a nice limoncello.

The nice thing about Chicago is that it is a very walkable city, I took the L train from the airport to the down town red line and was able to safely walk and explore everywhere I wanted to go.  I left Eatly, and headed a few blocks away to the Navy Pier. The Navy is an iconic Chicago landmark housing a plethora of local city vendors, arts and cultural acts. The city holds many different cultural, artistic and community events. The day arrived they were actually hosting a community foam party in the front of the venue and everyone was invited to participate but I refrained. The pier was bustling with people, there were all sorts of shops and what I like to consider carnival or fair type food vendors. The Navy pier has a giant Ferris wheel and snack vendors of all types and in the summer on Saturday nights they offer a complimentary fireworks show that would put most 4th of July shows to shame.The fire works were spectacular, I sat on the steps of the venue with many other viewers taking in every moment!





Photo Courtesty of https://navypier.org/

















Monday, September 17, 2018

Surfers Healing Virginia Beach


In August, Kristy and I spent 2 glorious days on the beach with over 450 surfers and their families at the Surfers Healing Camp in Virginia Beach.  We were there sharing what travel services we can provide for those families who have special needs to consider when making their travel plans.


For 21 years Surfers Healing, an organization whose mission is "to enrich the lives of people living with autism by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing"  has been hosting camps where surfers from all over the world, help children on the spectrum experience surfing.  This year marked the 14th year the camp has been held at Virginia Beach.  The event is so popular that families register in order to participate in a lottery to win slots for their children to surf.



We fortunately had our tent next to the speakers tent and the massage tent where the surfers and event organizers congregated. We met surfers from all over the world, including Hawaii and Australia who traveled to surf with these children.

 Event organizers thought of everything - including tents to shade surfers as they awaited their turns.


Families watching their surfers

One happy surfer!

We met families from faraway states who traveled for this event.  We are happy to help with any travel plans you may have to participate in my local event or any other events across the country.  With the exception of the Hawaii 2018 camps, which are TBA, registration for all 2018 camps is closed.  2019 is just around the corner though!

If you would like more information about Surfers Healing Virginia Beach click here.

For information on Surfers Healing Camps nationally click here.