As the Olympic begin, missing travel – reflection of a travel adventure that led me to today – Part 4

As the Olympics begin it reminds me that I haven’t finished my look back at our travels.  Many people are still not traveling so I hope you enjoy these articles and that as you follow me you become more likely to start planning that next adventure.

It may not have been Tokyo, but Hong Kong and Saigon were destinations that I never thought I would every visit.  The culture, the architecture and the food made for a unique experience.  We flew into Hong Kong at sunrise, and it was breathtaking.  We were met at the airport and brought to one of the most elegant and historical hotels I had ever heard of.  The Peninsula hotel, we pulled up and of course there were the impressive fleet of green Rolls Royce. The doormen all dressed in white, down to the white gloves greeted us and we were escorted to our room where an amazing fruit basket waited for us and as we looked out in the harbor, we new we were in for something special.  We adventured out and walked around to acquaint ourselves with this new destination.

Our second day there we were introduced to a wonderful young lady who gave us a tour of the city and not the city the tourist sees but her town, where she lives, shops and works.  We were treated to lunch at her favorite eating spot and the charm of her neighborhood.  This culture was so different than anything I could imagine.  We went back to the hotel via the subway, an extremely clean and surprising mode of transportation. We returned to the harbor in time to explore a beautiful Zen garden and that evening we got to cruise in the bay on a Chinese Junk and view the evening light show.  It was all so fascinating.  Our last day there we were treated with high tea in the lobby. I was surprised that people stand in line for hours to have this experience, that evening we left for Saigon.

As we got off the plane in Saigon, a young man met us which was so comforting, as we new nothing of this destination except for the stories we heard surrounding the war.  Although his English was broken, he was so nice and made us feel at home. He led us through customs and immigration which made our experience so much better and stress free. He gave us a wonderful tour on our way to the Hyatt plaza a beautiful hotel near the Opera house. The next day we were taken on a cruise on the Mekong delta.  Now this was enlightening.  The poverty and the hardships of the people living along the delta was unsurpassed anything we knew. The people we met and the families we visit showed us a human resolve, that most people don’t get to experience. We stopped and visited an orphanage where we were served lunch and the children here were surprisingly well cared for and educated.  

 Our last day there we ventured out on our own, the numerous amounts of motorcycles and number of people in general was mind blowing. See them sitting on the sidewalk to get some relief from the heat, visiting their markets, and watching how they maneuver through town was extraordinary and showed us blessed we are. Although, it was an interesting destination, and I don’t think it would be a town that I would visit again, I am glad I got to experience it.

So, if you watch the Olympics, think of the destination, the sites to see, the people and how different the Asian culture is.  There are many countries out there to visit and these Asian counties will give you an experience that will maybe allow you to appreciate our everyday lives.


Missing travel – reflection of a travel adventure that led me to today – Part 3

Missing travel – reflection of a travel adventure that led me to today – Part 3

You awake and wander the dock waiting for your private transfer to the airport, where just a short 40-minute plane ride takes you to a magical area of New Zealand ,the city of Napier. 

You get picked up and are driven around this adorable art deco town, on your way to a resort that allows you to look over, Hawks bay.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is so much more that you expected, you are greeted and shown to a beautifully decorated, private cottage with all the convivences of home, and as you walk out to the patio you have the most amazing views of a gorgeous golf course and just past that, Hawks bay.  The view itself takes your breath away. 

You can relax in your cottage, lay by the pool, enjoy a wonderful day at the spa or play a round of golf on an amazing course. Maybe you decide to just get lost on a hike through a beautiful forest and fields of lavender.  You wander the sheep lined trails and as you approach the cliff to admire the calming sounds of the waves of Hawks bay you see a nest of gannets.  It is truly magical.

You dine with other guest and enjoy wonderful wines, delectable food and soft jazz that helps create a serene atmosphere to enjoy an amazing sunset.

You are sorry that you only have 2 days here and promise yourself to return so that you can enjoy spending time wandering through Napier and visiting its miles of local beaches.  You dream of driving around this small area of New Zealand stopping to enjoy the picturesque town, beautiful countryside and visiting the many wineries, but as you close your eyes in pure relaxation, on your last night you look forward to the next stop the exotic destinations of Hong Kong and Saigon.

Missing travel – Reflection of a travel adventure that lead me to today – Part 2

New Zealand a “Kiwi experience”  

I have written about my journeys before, this time I would like to delve a little deeper into each city and country with new information that will give you insight to the destinations that await your arrival and hopefully ignite your desire to travel to new horizons.

World traveling is a dream come true, that has etched memories into my heart forever.

Every city, every culture, every food experience, and every smiling face has made me richer in mind, body and soul.   I am going to start the furthest away and work our way back home, all the while painting a picture for you escape to for a few wonderful minutes.

New Zealand is land of Its rolling hills, rocky cliffs, fields of lavender, sheep, gannets and friendly people. It also has thriving cities, beautiful beaches and marinas for the most avid boat enthusiasts.  All these aspects make this place truly special.

You begin you adventure with a 13-hour flight from Los Angeles on Air New Zealand. Sit back as you have a wonderful experience. Australian wine, and fresh meals, plenty of legroom and great service was a mark of perfection for an airline.  What they call a “uniquely kiwi experience on board” 

You descend from the long haul trans-pacific flight and you breeze through customs. As you collect your luggage, you see your driver, a wonderfully friendly gentleman that will expertly take you to your hotel. The Platinum Chauffer Driver was so informative about what to do and see and as you only have one day here, he makes you feel ready to get out and explore the vibrant city of Auckland.

You arrive at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbor hotel. The hotel overlooks the marina and has a great view of the Sky tower. You check in and venture out, now imagine walking through the marina seeing beautiful sail boats, amazing yachts and wonderful catamarans. The slight breeze in your hair is simply amazing. Then you picture the same area during the hustle and bustle of the Americas cup, another item for a bucket list.  You strolled along the dock, enjoy a Gelato by the shore, and visited an Irish pub. The Viaduct harbor has so much to see and food of every nationality. 

You then enjoy a short ferry ride over to Devonport, a unique part of Auckland. As you wonder through a historic village you get lost in time strolling through the quaint neighborhoods.

As you return to the Viaduct harbor you walk up Queens street.  Where you set out to see as much as you can, remember you only have a short time in this cosmopolitan city.  The Sky Tower makes this city unique and gives a special mark to its skyline and to your surprise houses a Casino. This attraction also gives the thrill seeker a “must do” as you watch the people bungee off the top of the tower.  You spend a few more hours walking through town with its Gucci, Cartier as well as many other local vendors.  This bustling city has something for everyone.

You return to your hotel with anticipation of your short flight to Napier, Hawks Bay and 2 days of relaxation in Magical New Zealand.

Missing travel? – Enter the world, as I reflect on my travel adventures – Part I

My passion for travel began in 1977, as a 17-year-old girl, I walked onto a plane that was about to open a whole new world to me.  I was full of anxiety; I had never been away from home alone and this month-long adventure was going to take me to destinations I had only dreamed about.  Rome, Florence, Paris, Amsterdam, Switzerland and London.

To me world traveling was an illusion a thing only available to the rich and famous.  Countries to be seen only on TV, but this time is was me that was about to get kissed by the Trevi fountain, have a picnic under the Eiffel tower, step back in time through the streets of Florence,  swim in Lake Geneva, cruise down the canals of Amsterdam and view the Crown Jewels in London.

I was a naive teenager girl leaving home for the first time. I was to meet other teenagers from Colorado Springs, Texas, and Milwaukee and I would become more adventurous than ever before. We landed in Rome and divided into two groups and began to explore Europe. The next 30 days would bring new friends, new foods new cultures and a look into my Italian heritage.

If I would have known then what I know now, I would have soaked in more than cute boys, wine and my new independence.  As this was a journey that 30 years later would reignite my passion and help me to create a business and bring the world to others.

Fast forward to 2020

I turned 60 and married now 37 years, I think about how blessed I have been to have traveled the world. So many adventures, so many memories, new friends and a luxury travel business have brought me to where I am today.  This year has been challenging not being able to travel has given me a new perspective of how travel helps us grow as a human being. I miss not being able to experience new foods, new cultures to see how a smile can spread happiness even when you do not speak the same language.

Have this missing part of my life has led me to reflect on the many destinations I have been blessed to visit and the numerous experience I wish to relive.

I am writing now to share those so that you may see the world through my eyes. To understand that what is out there and maybe light a spark of wanderlust in you.

So, let begin our journey through 6 continents, 14 countries and 35 over cities, some will be mentioned briefly and other will be described in depth. I will be providing insight to 5-star hotels, private tours, hidden gems, and amazing excursions. I will painting a beautiful picture in your mind of the amazing world I have been blessed to visit and hope that you will want to visit.

Follow me!

A New Normal What’s Next?

collect moments

As many of you, I have been trying to find good use of my time while sitting in my house and trying to adjust my priorities. A couple of things that I have realized are; how I will never take for granted a power of a hug, the ability to gather with friends and family, and the many little things the we do without even thinking, like going to a restaurant for dinner or worshiping together.  A few things that haven’t changed are my ability to love, dream, to hope in the future, to see the goodness in mankind and to understand the strength of my faith.

I don’t think normal will ever be the same and maybe it shouldn’t be. Our new normal is going to be more selective on what is really important. We may think our ability to provide an income through our jobs and careers as more of a benefit rather than a burden.  Our teachers, the medical professionals, the truck driver and the grocery workers all those essential workers that where always just there, will no longer be invisible but be appreciated.  Our family and friends that we were kept apart from will now be valued as a priority in our life.

Travel that we took for granted will now be seen as treasured.  The ability to hop on a plane or cruise ship, to experience new cultures and new destinations will mean so much more.  Our safety will become paramount and for the near future we may want more private journeys and to avoid the masses and find more unique destinations.  Our budget for travel, because of the economy restart, may become tighter for a while so we may have to plan more in advance.  My passion for travel has not died and I am finding that my clients are feeling the same.  Since being isolated they have the itch to follow their wanderlust.  I pray that travel will resume in the fall as well as looking forward too many new adventures in 2021.

Let’s all look towards the future, look to new ways to enjoy this beautiful world while keeping ourselves and our families safe.  I am hear for questions, suggests and to help you through the challenging next chapter of life after Covid 19.

No one knows what lies ahead so let’s travel the path of uncertainty together.

In this together, dare to Dream

90429287_2982952245074996_5709580655440953344_nIn this together, these three words have never meant so much.  Truly we are all connected.  As much as I love to travel and my desire to explore other countries, and cultures drives me. Our priority right now is life.   I hope you are all staying home with the loved ones under your roof, communicating with your family and friends through the miracle of technology and coming to terms with what is really important in our lives, our loved ones, our health and mankind.  Many lives will be lost, and much grief will reach worldwide, but please do not give up.   There will be a time of celebration that will follow.

There are some of you that are alone, please don’t feel lonely, reach out to someone. I am here for you call me, text me, lets video chat, always know there is someone out there to talk to.

Once this threat is over and a new normal emerges, we will understand how much we need actual human contact.  How good a hug from a friend or family can feel.  How much a handshake can change the world and appreciate that neighbor next door that checked in on you and made you feel necessary.  Hopefully are faith will increase, our children will see how we are all connected even though we may miles away. We will understand how important essential personnel are, like doctors, nurses, teachers, truck drivers, grocery workers and occupations that we have taken for granted.  It’s crisis like these that if we let it will bring out the best in us.

My heart goes out to all those that have had their incomes stopped, the many people in the service industry, the life blood of the cities, small towns and villages of the world.  As someone in the service industry I understand, and all I can say is I have faith and trust in a God that he will help us through this to better days.

Please remember our lives may be put on hold but our dreams have not.  Dream of better days, of sitting around a table with friends and family to share a meal or raise a glass, of attending faith services where we can pray together, for our children to once again gather at playgrounds and in class and of traveling safely to the many beautiful destinations of world that God gave us to explore.

We are in this together, We will get through this together and I am here for you now as a friend as someone to talk to and when have exited the darkness, as someone that can help you see the world and help you get rid of the cabin fever we are all experiencing.

Until them stay safe, stay healthy, stay strong and trust in God.

The End to our Italian experience. Part 6


We awoke to the hustle and bustle in the Piazza below our window.  I opened the shutters and watched as the vendors set up for the day, the sidewalks were being swept and the restaurants were preparing their patios.  As I reminisced about the last 9 days, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and sadness.  I didn’t want this experience to come to and end.  We walked across the piazza for breakfast with a few others from out group, after which we met our guide and walked to the Colosseum.  As we walked through town a little slower today as we all didn’t want it to end.  We entered he Colosseum walls and you could just feel the history that happened here.  Our guide was great and gave us so much information, as we left the Colosseum we ventured to the Form and strolled around the grounds.  This was a morning filled with culture, history, and stories of the past.

After the tour ended Bert and I left the group and began to wander, we went to Spanish steps, walked by the “wedding cake building”, the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, and slowly lingered through the city.  I felt a little deja vu as some of the neighborhoods brought back feelings of when I walked these streets in 1977.

We met up with the rest of the group and made our way to Trevi Fountain.  My heart skipped a beat as we approached this magnificent fountain.  I stood there felt tears fall down my cheeks.  I really didn’t want this feeling to end. We of course took many pictures and selfies and couldn’t leave without throwing our coins in the fountain with a wish to return to amazing county. A few of us decided to dine together for our last night.  We walked to the Campo de Fiore and sat at an outdoor café. We shared memories over wonderful food and Prosecco, 9 days earlier we were strangers and now we were friends for life. 

All Roads lead to Rome Part 5

As we leave our amazing little hotel in Cortona, we can’t help but feel melancholy as we know that our Italy adventure only has a few more days.  We board the bus and head to Rome with a wonderful stop in Orvieto.  This jewel of a town gives you hospitality in a medieval setting. It’s  Duomo (church) in the center is just beautiful, we are also given a tour of the Underground a series of cave from the Etruscan era.  It was very interesting to see such intricate cave system under this amazing city. These miles of caves were used for refrigeration, wine and water wells.  After our tour, we stopped and had a bite to eat and do some shopping, the ceramics here were lovely. I stopped in a little shop and after purchasing some gifts, the little old man smiles leaned over grabbed my face and kissed my cheek.  I felt like family.  We wandered through the maze of streets up and down the hills and enjoyed some gelato.  Then we boarded the bus for Rome.

The hillside of Italy is simply stunning we arrived in the hustling streets of Rome and were taken to our hotel.  A location that couldn’t be beat. I opened our window and look directly at the Pantheon. You could look down onto the Piazza. I watched the people wander, the vendor open their carts and the life in Rome go by.  As the sun set, Bert and I wandered the street and ended up in Piazza Navona, we enjoyed a light dinner outside, while listening to a cellist.  We drank prosecco and watched the people enjoy life in Italy.  We strolled back, stopped and had a pastry before we headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow we visit the Vatican.

We awake to the sounds of the City, we walk across the Piazza for breakfast before we make our way with our group to the Vatican.  We are dropped off in front of Vatican City and meet our incredible tour guide.  She guided us through Saint Peters Basilica, the Vatican museum where we got to see the awesome Pieta. The opulence of it all is overwhelming.  To understand the history, the decisions and magnificence of the treasures within these walls is remarkable, but the most exciting moment of our trip was about to happen, and we didn’t even know it.  We were led into the Sistine Chapel; everyone is quiet as they gaze at the simply exquisite ceiling painted by Michelangelo.  As we stand in the quiet surrounded by many people a priest comes out onto the Alter, he greets us all in his broken English and explains that he will be on the side of the alter for any blessings that someone may want.  I look around and no one has moved.  I look at Bert and we move towards the Alter.  A policeman invites us up on the alter and the priest greets us.  He spoke with us for a few minutes, gave us a marriage blessing and blessed our children and grandchildren.  It was so surreal, as I turn around and walk off the alter, tears are flowing down my face.  The people in our group ask us how we arranged that, and I said I didn’t.  The priest just invited us up. Once everyone realized what was happening the live formed. It was such a wonderful moment it will be etched into my heart forever.

We left the Chapel and our tour ended, Bert and I decided to walk back to the hotel and as we excited Vatican City, we saw the Castle of Angels.  We decided to go through this castle and we both agreed this is a not to be missed site. It was so interesting and is was were it is said Michael the Archangel appeared as a sign to the end of the Plague in 590, this along with many other stories of angel siting lead to it name. It was used by many Popes as a fortress.  The artifacts within these walls are definitely worth seeing.  We left the castle and walked across the bridge of angles on our way back to the hotel.  We stopped in a piazza and ate a great pizza and had some wine.  We returned to the hotel to get ready for our farewell dinner.

We met the group and walked through the Jewish quarter and over a bridge to a small Island, Tiberina, where we entered the private apartment of Chef Fabio Bongianni, he runs a cooking school and has a restaurant called That’s Amore near Trevi Fountain.  As I walked through the door of this fabulous apartment, I felt warmth and hospitality everywhere.  We were met by a wonderful lady named Monica, she poured us Prosecco and introduced us to Chef Paolo, trained by Chef Bongianni, he was the one making this magnificent meal.  We enjoyed the evening and had a nice surprise when Chef Bongianni made an appearance.  The evening was superb and is another extra special event offered by our host with Story Land and Sea.  We returned to our hotel with slight sadness as tomorrow is our last day in Italy.  

Bella Italy – Part 4 Quaint Countryside


We awoke early and boarded a small shuttle bus.  We started out into the countryside as the fog was beginning to lift.  After a short time, we made a surprise stop at a remarkable location.  The Florence American Cemetery. A veteran cemetery and memorial in the lovely wooded hills of Chianti. The Italian government gave the land to the United States so that we could bury and honor our lost and missing from WWI and WWII. It was simply a profound experience. We silently walked through the rows of graves, looking at names. As we visited the small chapel and the Memorial at the top of the hill the fog began to rise, and you could see the numerous headstones that stood like solders at attention and the tears fell from our eyes.  This surprise stop was so meaningful to all of us, it touched our hearts and as we silently boarded the bus, it was hard not to reflect on the many things that took place and the men that died so that we can have the freedom to visit this magical countryside.  A wonderful hidden little gem that should not be missed.

The next stop on our trip through the Tuscany countryside was San Gimignano.  We passed many vineyards and were able to see the iconic trees of Tuscany, as we climbed the hillside, we arrived at this Italian hill town surrounded by 13th century walls.  Its medieval tower, a Piazza with a little well in the middle, and anchored by an old church with its stone stairs leading down into the center was exactly was I thought of when I dreamed of walking through a little town in Italy.  The beautiful flowers, the vines hanging off the windows.  As we entered the Piazza there was a group of old Italian men sitting at one end of the Piazza like guards watching over their family.  They smiled and nodded, but you knew you were being inspected. We walked up the stone steps to visit this wonderful little church and as we exited, we watched a groom meet his bride as she stepped out of a black car.  Surrounded by his groomsmen he greeted her and handed her a exquisite boutique. The wedding was going to take place in this amazing setting.  It was a delightful site that made my heart feel so blessed to be witness to.  It showed real Italian life not something you read about in a tourist book.   We shopped in a couple of the small stores and then walked to the outside wall on the top of the hill, for another Story exclusive an Aperitivo to toast our arrival in this quaint town.

We got back on the bus and proceeded to a family owned vineyard, Castello Monterinaldi. We were met my a young lady who gave us a short tour and then were escorted into a building that seamed like at one point is was an old family home, we were served flights of wine and the most delicious sweet olive oil and thickest sweet balsamic that I have every tasted.

We then proceeded to Cortona, known as “the Grandmother of Rome,” were we would stop for a couple of nights.  Another quaint little Tuscan town, where the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” was filmed.  This little family run boutique hotel with a little courtyard and charming dining room. As the rest of the group gathered for their group dinner, Bert and I walked up the hill and found a charming place for dinner, after dinner we wondered around, listened to people in the Piazza, it was a wonderful day.  We awoke early and had the best breakfast buffet so far, with delectable Lemon Ricotta Cake, the owner was so proud of this creation she brought a piece to each of us. We decided to attend mass with another couple, at Santa Margherita, a Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic church on the very top of the hill. With it being Sunday there were no cabs and we weren’t going to have time to walk to the top of hill. This is where you get to hear, not only about the wonderful service, we received but the helpful, friendliness of the Italian people. The owner of the hotel told us to wait one minute and then pulled up in front of the hotel was a car driven by a young gentleman who worked in the kitchen. He was so nice; he drove us to the top of the hill and dropped us off in front of the church.   We generously thanked him and walked into this wonderful little church.  You could tell it was a beloved local church, because as we walked in the elders of the church, turned to see who we were, as were outsiders.  We sat in the back and prepared for this amazing experience. Sitting there hearing mass in the beautiful Italian language, sitting next to the locals from this remarkable little town brought tears to my eyes. After mass everyone walked to the front and passed by the actual remains of St Margherita. This was very special to see the people honor this patron saint of the church.  We walked leisurely down the hill back to the piazza. Sat in the Piazza with friends and incredible pastries and coffee.  A few of the other people on the tour visited Sienna, went to a cooking class or walked down to see the house from the movie.  Staying in this little town gave you many options. We spent the afternoon, wandering around the Etruscan Museum and visiting the little shops, enjoyed some wonderful gelato and a cocktail.  We found a restaurant that advertised American Hamburgers, we knew there were a couple of people in the group, that even though we were surrounded by all this amazing food, wanted a hamburger and a beer. So, we returned to the hotel and made arraignments to dine with the group.  Before dinner we gathered for happy hour with delicious appetizers and wonderful glass of wine in the courtyard.  As we sat and discussed everyone’s day, the friendships grew.

Tomorrow we leave for Rome with a stop in Orvieto.

Bella Italy: Part 3 Classic Florence

Imagine you awake and your bags have already been picked up, you wander down and have your last breakfast in Venice, although you are sad that you are leaving this amazing city you know that you are going to experience another Italian classic, the city of Florence.  We board a train for a short ride to the Tuscan town of Florence.  We get step off the train and you can immediately feel the difference, the laid-back quiet town of Venice is gone and you hear traffic and horns honk and feel the hustle and bustle of the city. There is a short walk to our hotel. Garibaldi Blu, in Santa Maria Novella piazza.  Where there are musician playing in the square.  We are greeted warmly by the hotel staff.  The hotel was wonderful, you walk into the lobby where Palm trees stand and, in the back, a small little bar with an amazing bartender.   We are shown to our room where our luggage is brought to us.  I never realized that extra step of portage makes everything so easy.  It is definitely the way to travel in Europe.  We meet the group for a short leisurely tour of the area and of course an Aperitivo.  Bert and I chose not to dine with the group and enjoyed the evening, strolling through the city, we walked to a nearby restaurant and had a lovely dinner.  Then visited with the bartender while he introduced us to some valuable wine information.

The next morning, we awoke had a great breakfast and joined the group for a day sightseeing. We met our local guide and followed him through the streets of Florence.  We visited the magnificent architecture of the Duomo and learned much about the formidable Medici family.  We also went into the Galleria Dell Accademia, to see the breathtaking “David”.  It was so amazing, pictures could not do it justice.  We visited a couple different Piazzas where you really experience the heart of Florence. The leather works there was incredible, you can see the pride in each by the craftmanship and heart put into it.

After the morning of touring a few of us went to the Uffizi gallery.  The numerous paintings and collection of ancient statuary was so impressive.  We spent 3 hours in the amazing building and still didn’t see everything.  You really need an entire day to experience every room in this very large building.  I would also suggest that you purchase your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines.

After leaving the Uffizi we strolled into the Piazza, sat at an outdoor café and had a wonderful pizza and wine, as we reminisced about what we were blessed to see, take in the atmosphere and enjoy the sights and sounds of Florence.

The evening was magical as we met back up with the group and walked over the Ponte Vecchio, again the sights, sounds and smells of Florence were everywhere.  People were singing, shopping and of course taking numerous selfies. We were headed to Piazzale Michelangelo, where we overlooked the entire city, we enjoy a cocktail some appetizers and a musician playing while the sun went down over this spectacular town.  I am sure this is not a regular stop for most tourists, but this hidden gem made visiting this town even more memorable.  As we walked back to town we left the group to find a little restaurant and a friend had suggested just over the bridge, but away from the tourists, Ristorante Santa Felicita, was a local spot with good food, great wine and you could tell by the friendliness of the staff a neighborhood favorite.  After dinner we leisurely walked back to the hotel as we anticipated another great day in Tuscany tomorrow.