Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico!

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El Castillo (“the Castle”)

Chichen Itza, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, boasts some of the most spectacular Mayan ruins in the world. Dating from 600-900AD, Chichen Itza means “the well at the mouth of the Itza.” Although remote, Chichen Itza is frequently featured in bus tour excursions from Playa del Carmen (2 hours, 7 minutes), Cancun (2 hours, 15 minutes), and Cozumel (3 hours, 25 minutes). Although that may sound like a long trek, the treasures to be found once there make every second worth the journey! Perhaps the most enthralling architectural marvel of all here is El Castillo, Temple of Kukulcan, or “the castle,” a 98 foot high enormous ziggurat temple. (Art History tip: when there are steps it is a ziggurat, not a pyramid.) On the platform at the top sacrifices were conducted.

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Templo de los Guerreros (“Temple of the Warriors”)

Near the Castle is the Temple of the Warriors, where a forest of columns is adorned with depictions of the most honored fighting champions.

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“Great Ball Court”

Athletes were champions, too. A favorite with visitors here is the Great Ball Court, the largest (551 by 230 feet) and most well-preserved Mayan ball court in the world. The court is surrounded by “stands,” or audience seating areas. Different classes were assigned to different seating areas, becoming increasingly more lavish and “with a better view of the action” as the audience member elevated in social class. It reminded me of the seating structure of the amphitheaters of Ancient Rome, a whole ocean away. Notice the donut-shaped carving (top left on the photo above.) The ball had to get through this hole! Seeing this, you contemplate the tremendous skill of the Mayan athletes.

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Carvings on the wall of the Ball Court

Carvings on the walls of the ball court are extremely detailed, and tell the story of the ball game and its athletes. The “winner” had the privilege of being selected for sacrifice through decapitation (also depicted here!)

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“Venus Platform”

There are many other buildings here to explore. Take your time to notice the intricate detail on many of these structures. There is absolutely no better way to learn about a time and place in history than from the original people, who, here, eternally tell their first-hand story through their artwork. No modern tour guide can tell it so well.

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Overhead view*

*Open source (credit: dronepicr, http://www.commons.wikimedia.org)

You can view my full video tour of Chichen Itza here!:

 

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Captivating Contradictions in Mazatlan, Mexico!

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Cliff Divers

Mazatlan is a bustling metropolis on the Mexican Riviera, though you’re never far from the laid-back pleasures of miles of beaches and oceanfront pedestrian pathways here. There are many pleasures to partake in here, but if you’re up for some real excitement, don’t miss the “cliff divers,” one of the city’s primary tourist draws. These guys make the death-defying leap all day in exchange for your voluntary donation. Well worth the “price of admission!”

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Big city, big beaches!

The beaches are seemingly endless here. Enjoy views of the city skyline and distant islands while the waves wash over you.

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Miles of oceanfront walkways

If swimming’s not your thing, there are miles of pedestrian pathways sporting the same super views! Statues and other art guide the way to the tropical delights all around you.

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Mazatlan Cathedral, exterior

Mazatlan’s architectural highlight is Mazatlan Cathedral, or, more formally, the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. This baroque revival style building was finished in 1899.

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Mazatlan Cathedral, interior

The interior is inspiring. The sunlight glow beaming through the stained glass bathe the sanctuary in brilliantly bold color, and towering pillars line the aisle like exclamation points paying tribute to the undeniable beauty of this place.

Mazatlan is at once old and new, peaceful and exciting. The contradictions are a joy to experience!

You can view my full video tour of Mazatlan here!:

https://www.youtube.comwatch?v=iFkr1Z25res

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Magnificent Mainland Michigan: a Convivial Road Trip!

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Fort Michimilackinac

My Michigan road trip changed everything. Previously not on my radar, it didn’t take long to reach the conclusion that Michigan is, in my opinion, the most underrated destination in the United States. The scenic beauty up there was well beyond what my wildest imagination could conceive! I could easily spend a lifetime there… and that’s no exaggeration… I literally put my money where my mouth is on the topic and put an offer on a vacation cabin in Michigan last month. (No, I’m not relocating out of Florida. This will be a recreational getaway!) But I digress… more on that in another post!

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More Michimilackinac…

Fort Michimilackinac is a National Historic Landmark in Mackinaw, Michigan. Built in 1715 it served first as a fort, trading post, and supply depot for the French and later for the British. Today you can explore the myriad of brilliantly restored buildings contemplating a much different way of life in an era lifetimes away. Among the buildings are a blacksmith shop (complete with re-enactor), barracks, officers’ quarters, a medical clinic, a chapel, Native American teepees, gardens, and so much more. Old cannons, weaponry, and artifacts are also on display. Get lost in history at Fort Michimilackinac – you might not be able to pronounce it but chances are you will be able to appreciate it!

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Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Built in 1889, the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse remained in operation until 1957. Durable and resilient, it served many a hard-bitten sailor in the treacherous waters and fierce fog of the Straits of Mackinac. This lighthouse is located next to Fort Michimilackinac in Mackinaw, so it makes a convenient stop during your day at the Fort. You’re welcome to head inside and browse the museum.

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Petoskey

One of the reasons that road trips are such a great way to travel are the unexpected pleasures you stumble upon just exploring – or, better yet, getting lost on purpose! I have enjoyed some of my most rewarding travel experiences ever this way. Petoskey has an attractive historic gaslight district in town with many buildings from the 1700s and 1800s and quaint cobbled streets and gas lamps, but the most fascinating neighborhood in Petoskey is off the beaten path. When you get back up into the residential areas you stumble on stopped time – a Victorian village of summer cottages (more like mansions) with the most intricate and ornate detail on each and every colorfully endowed house. The entire neighborhood is completely closed off for the winter, but blooms in all of its beautiful brilliance again every spring. Don’t be afraid to get lost in Petoskey, and have the chance to enjoy this hidden gem!

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Crane’s Orchards

One of my favorite things about Michigan are the apple orchards. The landscape is dotted with miles of rows of apple trees, cider mill barns, and wineries. Crane’s Apple Orchard in Fennville is one of my favorites. Here you can pick-your-own apples, and you have a choice from many different varieties. My favorite are the Honeycrisp! It was here that I picked the most delectable, delicious, sweet and juicy fresh apples I’ve ever tried in my life. You haven’t had an apple until you’ve picked one fresh in Michigan!

 

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Local delicacies!

When you’re done filling up your apple sack, head over to the restaurant, where you can try a flight of pie (think flight of beer or whiskey – only with fresh-baked pie varieties instead…), fresh milled apple cider, piping hot apple cider donuts (a Michigan specialty!), and many other local delicacies, grown and produced locally, including a cheese selection from local farms, local fruits and jams, and farmhouse breads. I always advocate experiencing a travel destination with all five senses – and this is the perfect place to do that. The sights, sounds, scents, touches, and tastes are all here to delight.

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Apple orchard

Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns, Michigan is another great stop on the apple hopping trail. Here you can indulge in a hard cider tasting (or, if you prefer, wine) for free! All of the delicious ciders and wines are produced on-site. I didn’t want the experience to end, so I got some to go!

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Traverse City

As enthralling as Michigan’s countryside is, you’ll want to venture out into some of the bigger cities, too. Traverse City is the largest city in the northern area of the state, and the largest cherry producer in the country. TripAdvisor has named Traverse City the number 2 “small town travel destination in the U.S.” While I wouldn’t call it a “small town,” more of a small “city,” I would agree it’s a travel destination worth venturing to. The older buildings and quirky shops and pubs are bursting with character, and a stroll along the lake is a great pleasure indeed.

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Higgins Lake

Another media favorite, Higgins Lake was rated 6th most beautiful lake in the world by National Geographic. The shallow waters are ideal for wading near the shoreline, and pontoon boats and jet skis provide playful pastimes here. On the shore is a state park with public access, where you can just enjoy the views from swing benches or delight in a peaceful picnic (hopefully with some local Michigan wine!)

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Chocolates by Grimaldi

Chocolates by Grimaldi is a chocolate factory and shop in Grand Haven, Michigan where you can call ahead for a tour of the factory and see how the chocolate is made from scratch. The irresistible aromas will have your mouth watering long before the end of the tour… luckily it comes with a scrumptious goody bag to reward you for your patience at the end! For a fascinating, fun foodie experience be sure to check it out!

As I’m sure you’re well aware by now, I just can’t get enough of marvelous Michigan! If you haven’t had a chance to check out my other blog posts on Michigan, you can do so here! (And don’t be surprised to see more soon!):

Outdoor Delights in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan!

A German Christmas in Frankenmuth, Michigan!

And you can view the video of my Mainland Michigan Road Trip tour here!:

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St. Maarten and St. Martin: A Tale of Two Cultures on One Island Paradise

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St. Maarten harbor

If you ever wanted to visit Europe without having to fly to the European continent – you’re in luck! Hop on a cruise ship or plane heading to St. Maarten/St. Martin and you can visit the only place in the world where the Netherlands borders France! St. Maarten/St. Martin is divided by two nationalities and cultures, approximately 60% French and 40% Dutch. Unlike many other Caribbean islands that were former colonies now turned independent, this Caribbean paradise is different. St. Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and St. Martin is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic. These two jurisdictions share the same island paradise.

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Warm welcomes!

Greeted by sunny skies, bright jewel-toned sailboats, lush green mini-mountains, pristine beaches… and with the remnants of colonial muscle-flexing, like old forts, standing down… this is an inviting place. Plentiful pirates (in costume!) will have you dreaming of the days of buried treasure and seafaring adventure… without the danger! St. Maarten/St. Martin has been hit hard over the years by hurricanes, but the resourceful and resilient people here have worked hard to recover and restore their beautiful island after the damage. It was rewarding to be able to visit this place that locals take great pride in, and do business with them to help play a role, albeit small, in helping boost their economy after the hardships they have endured in recent years. The real treasure here isn’t buried, and wasn’t looted by the pirates of old – it’s St. Maarten/St. Martin’s people.

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Boat tour

A great way to see both sides, French and Dutch, is to take a boat tour. You can catch one in Phillipsburg, on the Dutch side, that will take you all the way around to the French section. After my boat tour, I took a bus ride to Marigot, on the French side, for a closer look at faraway France’s quaint colonial charms!

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Eglise Saint Martin de Tours church, Marigot

While I’ve received some disagreeable reactions from locals in France making my best attempt to communicate in the local language, the people of Marigot were pleasantly surprised and impressed with my, admittedly broken, French! There is something infinitely satisfying about being able to converse with locals in their own tongue – it’s another element of immersion that fully envelops you in the travel experience. It is also rewarding when locals are pleasantly surprised and flattered by your efforts. Regrettably, I didn’t know any Dutch yet (note to self: bucket list!)

The cultural immersion doesn’t stop at sights and sounds, however. If you long for the tantalizing tastes and sweet scents of the continent, you can find them right here too. Stroll into a cafe in Marigot for cafe au lait and croissant to savor while you watch the tide roll in by sunset… it’s the best of both worlds!

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National pride on the French side

If you romanticize about Caribbean pirate culture, breathtaking beaches, and a laid-back life of nautical wonders, or the charms of Europe right in your back yard (if you live on the North American continent), then this may be just the place for you!

You can view my full tour of St. Maarten/St. Martin, here!:

 

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Underwater Fun in Nautical Nassau, Bahamas!

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Abandoned lighthouse & Atlantis

Nassau, Bahamas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, and given all that there is to see and do here it’s not surprising! Besides the endless sunshine, bountiful beaches, and cool Caribbean vibe, the historical architecture and underwater adventures are well worth reveling in! The old and new captured by the rusty, whitewashed abandoned lighthouse facing the ultra-modern seashell pink towers of Atlantis Resort epitomize this island paradise: sentimentally historic while forward-thinking.

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Historic old town

A stroll through Nassau’s old town delights with vibrant pastel colors, colonial classical design, and a boisterously beachy vibe. Service is always delivered with a smile. It’s said that greater exposure to sunshine can lead to greatly improved mood and outlook – judging by the optimism ever-present among the locals here I believe it! The heavy hordes of tourists, while a common sight year-round in this tropical paradise, do not diminish the charm of this lively city!

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Parliament building

After a visit to the historic colonial buildings in town, the short trip to Fort Fincastle offers another perspective. This tenacious fort built in 1793, and still standing proud, reminds us that multiple colonial powers would have liked to have a piece of this paradise. Once you visit, you will wish you had one too! Cannons can’t keep you away as you invade these limestone walls, marking one of your own greatest victories in history – your amazing and unforgettable Nassau vacation!

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Fort Fincastle

Perhaps one of the greatest pleasures of all in Nassau, however, is not by land, but by sea! Aboard the SeaWorld Explorer submarine, you can dive the depths to be amazed by the dizzying variety of boldly colored fish and exotically shaped coral occupying the brilliant aqua depths below. While “wildlife” type tours can be extremely hit-or-miss (and, unfortunately, more often than not “miss”) there is no shortage of sea life to be seen from this submarine! Enter another world entirely as it is the people who inhabit the “fish tank” here, surrounded by a whirlwind of fascinating and fanciful fish!

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Views from the SeaWorld Explorer submarine

Of course, the most popular tourist attraction of all in Nassau may be Atlantis. While this may be a positive or negative for you depending on your perspective on travel, there’s no denying it is a massive and impressive structure. Resembling a castle, it invites you in to be “king or queen” for a day getting the VIP treatment in the casino, or being lavished in hedonism among its spectacular pools, waterfalls, and other luxurious surroundings. Wherever you go in Nassau, your memories are sure to be priceless!

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Atlantis

You can view my video tour of Nassau, Bahamas here!:

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Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship Review!

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Oasis of the Seas

The Oasis of the Seas is among the most majestic on the Royal Caribbean fleet. It launched in 2008, and has an occupancy of 6,296 maximum. It holds 16 passenger decks. This city on the sea is an exciting treat indeed!

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The Atrium – sort of…!

The Oasis has a very different layout than many of the mega-ships I’ve traveled on before. A signature design for this class of Royal Caribbean ship is a cut-out middle, interior as well as exterior balcony cabins, and “neighborhoods”: a variety of unique types of “destination” locations around the ship. The “Atrium” does not resemble those of most of the ships I’ve experienced before, either. In this case, it’s a long hallway filled with shops, restaurants, and much more beyond passenger services desks.

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Lido Deck

The Lido Deck is expansive, and there are multiple pools and jacuzzis as well as an adults-specific deck under glass (admittedly it gets hot and starts to feel like a greenhouse in there!)

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Central Park

Central Park is one of the neighborhoods on the ship, replete with trees, plants, cobblestones, and relaxing benches. Many of the interior balconies have views over this delightfully green section of the ship.

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The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk looks and feels like a likeness to the Boardwalk at Atlantic City, complete with a Johnny Rockets diner, Zoltar fortune telling machine, arcade booths, boardwalk food, and an operational merry-go-round. There are also interior balconies facing the Boardwalk, as well as a massive water-based stage at the back of the ship.

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Ice Stage

Entertainment is abundant aboard the Oasis, and “go big or go home” never seemed a more fitting description than aboard this ship! Unique stages include the ice rink – a stage for ice shows by night and available for guests to ice skate on by day. Olympic skaters perform spectacular stunts, and I was thrilled and amazed every minute of it!

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Water Stage

The other unique “stage” on this ship is the water stage, on the Boardwalk, where Olympic divers perform death defying feats, complimented by synchronized swimming and other aquatic performances, all with a backdrop of cotton-candy clouds. The stage is outdoors under the sun, and the seating consists of splendidly colorful beach chairs.

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Balcony Cabin

I had a balcony cabin and found it to be plenty roomy, comfortable, and pleasingly decorated. I opted for the Oceanview, because I can’t get enough of the beauty of the open sea. But how great it was to have three balcony cabin view options at booking! Because there are so many balconies on this ship, I found them to be a better value than on some of the other ships I’ve sailed on.

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More of the Atrium

I greatly enjoyed my experience aboard the Oasis of the Seas. The ship is spectacular, well-maintained, beautifully designed, and offers a dizzying array of great entertainment, fun activities, and diverse areas to dine, party, and relax. I did not find it to be a particularly solo-traveler friendly ship – every time I entered the main dining room and asked for a table for one I was made to feel like Steve Martin in “The Lonely Guy” when a huge spotlight appears over his head and everyone stares at him like he’s psycho or something… and with no good promotion for the drink package on this cruise line I ended up drinking more than my fair share of ice water with lime. But all-in-all I had a fantastic time choosing neighborhoods to suit my mood, reveling in effervescent entertainment, and soaking in the sun!

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Larger than Life!

You can view a full video tour of the entire ship here!:

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Greyhound Bus Travel Tips!

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Greyhound Bus

Time for more tips! This time we’re looking at bus travel in the U.S. Greyhound is the most common and well-known bus operator, and there are ways of making sure you have a better experience traveling with them. Greyhound Bus can be a very cost-effective method of ground travel. (Note: this post is NOT sponsored by Greyhound.) Without further adieu, here are the tips!:

Save money on your ticket!

Prices are lower if you can book 3 weeks in advance, when you can save a quarter or even more off the full price of the ticket. If you can’t, then it may help to at least book 2 weeks in advance, which is still better than last-minute. Whatever you do, don’t wait until you get to the station. Book your trip mid-week if possible. Prices are lower if you can hop on on hump day! Note that discounts are available if you are a member of Student Advantage or Veteran Advantage; go to “Discount Options” when making your reservation to choose this discount. Finally, do a search for promo codes – there’s a good chance you can score an additional discount that way. You will have a chance to enter the code before submitting payment. REMEMBER: There is a surcharge to “gift” a ticket to someone else. If at all possible, the traveler should be the one to pay for the ticket on their own credit or debit card, rather than someone else buying it for them!

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I used this 25% off code – and it worked

Luggage Tips

Note that you are allowed 2 pieces of luggage at no additional charge: one checked bag up to 50 pounds and one carry-on that will fit in the overhead compartment. (Avoid placing fragile items in the checked bag – disturbance of bags due to potholes and bumps is not unlikely!) Be careful about leaving carry-on luggage on the bus when you disembark on breaks, and keep your eye on your bags in the stations. Don’t create a temptation for thieves! Instructions for claiming luggage at different stations varies – listen to the driver for directions each time you disembark.

Ticket Tips

You will be able to print out a ticket or pick it up at will-call at the station, or have a digital ticket sent to your mobile device. Keep your ticket through the entire trip – you may need it to change buses and collect your luggage en route and at your destination.

Bus Comfort

Arrive early to line up to board early. Seating is first-come, first-served. Your bus may already have seated passengers on it, making this even more important if you want a good choice of seats. And if you need an outlet for your electronic devices, try to get a seat towards the front; not all seats have outlets. Free wi-fi is available on the bus. Travel pillows and blankets can be a welcome comfort on overnight trips – both on the bus and during long station transfers. Make sure you set an alarm on your cellphone to wake yourself up before your next stop – just in case!

Download the App

With the Greyhound app you can have easy access to your trip information, station location, and track your bus (and transfer bus) locations. And if your bus is running late and you may miss your transfer, you can find out when the next one is and make a bolt for the ticket window at the station to reserve a seat on that next bus before it fills up, potentially minimizing transfer time. Other customers may be clamoring to make the same alternate arrangements as you, in which case that next bus might fill up fast!

I hope these tips have been helpful for those traveling by ground on a budget! When it comes to traveling on a budget by land, road trips and buses are by far your best options.

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Perfectly Paradisiacal!

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Scenic St. Thomas views

St. Thomas, an island paradise in the Caribbean, and United States territory, is a playground of crystal clear waters dotted by lush, jade islands, all viewable from an endless supply of scenic mountain overlooks – each one more spectacular than the last! Basque in the beams of sunshine, be refreshed in the surf of the ocean, and inhale the essence of intoxicating Yellow Trumpetbush and Frangipani flowers as you explore the wonders of St. Thomas!

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Magen’s Bay Beach

Magen’s Bay Beach consistently ranks in the world’s top ten for beaches. With spectacular views, sand the consistency of baking powder, water so clear you can see your feet – and so warm it feels like bathwater… lounging out here will leave you feeling super spoiled while the sun soaks you in warmth amidst the sea-salt scented breezes. It’s the perfect place to relax… and escape!

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Charlotte Amalie

The United States purchased St. Thomas from Denmark in 1917 for the unbeatable bargain of $25 million in gold, or, what would be the equivalent of $489 million today. The transaction allowed the island to remain free from adversarial hands and boost Denmark’s coffers during the hefty expenses of World War I fighting. Much of the old Danish colonial architecture remains in the capital of Charlotte Amalie, and is indubitably charming.

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Danish colonial architecture

St. Thomas is a varied landscape of crystal clear waters, island formations big and small, and mountains and hilltops boasting amazing views of the expanse below.  It is truly one of the greatest jewels in the string of islands adorning the Caribbean! If you still have time for shopping in Charlotte Amalie, I highly recommend seeking out the paintings and photography by local artists in the AH Riise outdoor mall. The locals’ sources of inspiration are numerous, and talent enviable! The local art is my favorite souvenir to leave this beautiful place with.

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Cruise ships views

You can view my video tour of St. Thomas here!:

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Seattle, Washington: Bastion of Bohemianism!

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Seattle Skyline

Seattle is a free-spirited, bohemian paradise, as I quickly discovered trekking up and down the boisterous bumps of its many hills, encountering its coffee culture, starving artists, and plumes of pot smoke along the way! (Yes, it’s legal here.) The grunge culture popularized in the 90s by local bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana is alive and well here as well. Seattle is fun, vibrant, and vigorously vivacious!

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Views from the Space Needle

A trip to the top of the Space Needle is high on many visitors’ Seattle bucket list, and for good reason. The observatory provides outstanding views of the booming skyline and surrounding natural beauty of ocean and forest, and, if you’re lucky enough to be here on a clear day, the brilliant white snow-cap of Mt. Rainier. I daresay it’s worth the dreadfully long wait in line to have this experience. Yes, be prepared to stand and wait over an hour… and then have no regrets. When you reach the top, make sure you stand on the glass floor as it turns high above the safety of solid ground – even the least height-averse person can feel a tad uneasy looking straight down up here!

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Pike Place Market

The iconic Pike Place Market is exhilarating in all of its commotion and excitement! Here humungous crowds of people gather and stroll amid shouting fisherman playing “catch” with their catch, people in tie-dye selling hemp-infused wares, artists displaying the colorful fruits of their creative efforts, and so much more. Endless varieties of foods quickly get you drooling as you bask in the gloriously gourmet culture. There are so many distractions here to peak your interest – sights, smells, and sounds. Here you can be surrounded and spoiled by the spirit that is Seattle.

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Port of Seattle

With so many cruise ships sailing to Alaska out of Seattle, a dynamic port scene has built up around them. With a Ferris wheel, restaurants, bars, shops, this area can easily keep you busy for hours. Soak it all in before you set sail!

Seattle is a great destination for the visitor looking to get laid back and let their free-spirited beatnik loose!

You can view my Seattle vlog here!:

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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Outdoor Delights in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan!

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Mackinac Bridge

Your entry point into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from the “mainland” is the magnificent Mackinac Bridge. This beautiful suspension bridge was opened in 1957, has a tower height of 552 feet, a length of 26,372 feet, and $4 toll for cars – well worth the “price of admission”! A wild, wonderful wilderness awaits on the other side! My anticipation escalated as I traversed this awe-inspiring bridge, and when I arrived on the U.P. side I was not disappointed!

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Painted Rocks

The Upper Peninsula boasts many natural wonders, and a visit is not complete without checking out the Painted Rocks near Munising. Two of the most popular ways of exploring the rocks are by taking a cruise tour or by renting a kayak. If you partake in one of the cruises, I highly recommend lining up EARLY if you want to avoid getting a seat in the middle of the boat, for the best view. At least half an hour before sailing or even more is recommended in the summer. The rocky cliffs are described as “painted” because of the brilliant stripes and splashes of different colors composed on them. You will also notice many waterfalls and delightfully strange rock formations, and pine trees that seem to grow out of solid rock!

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Tahquamenon Falls

The Tahquamenon Falls are another must-see in the U.P., and are located in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. In addition to the spectacular falls (the color is derived from high copper content), there are many hiking trails and a wonderful restaurant and brewery on-site, where I ordered delicious fresh whitefish and a flight of craft beers brewed on site. You can enjoy many different viewpoints of the falls by taking the provided walking paths. Almost as enthralling as the sight of the falls is the sound of the falls, leaving an amazing impression of their power on the senses.

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Views from atop Brockway Mountain

The peak of Brockway Mountain, near Copper Harbor, is accessible to vehicles, and the views are awe-inspiring! If anyone had any doubt that the U.P. is covered in unspoiled wilderness, these views of endless gloriously green forest and brilliantly blue lakes will remove all doubt! My only regret about visiting this site is that I didn’t do so during the peak of the fall leaf-turning season! Another great way to enjoy the U.P.’s beautiful forests: drive through the “Tunnel of Trees,” which hang over the road in a way that seemingly envelops you in a passage through wild wonderland!

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Point Iroquois Lighthouse

The U.P. is chock full of lighthouses of all shapes, sizes, and styles! There are over 40 lighthouses in the U.P. mostly from the 1800s. The lighthouse at Point Iroquois is one of many that you can climb to the top of (nice views!), and view the preserved, historic living quarters of former lighthouse-keepers, and visit a small museum at. If you’re into lighthouses, you’ll be spoiled rotten in the U.P.! They are a major part of the area’s history and culture. You’ll have no trouble finding them either; the Michigan Tourism Bureau has done an outstanding job with attraction signage throughout the state, and the lighthouses are no exception.

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Shipwreck Museum, Whitefish Point

The Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point provides a fascinating look into the mysterious world of shipwrecks! As an Art History major I have a lot of education on museums and their curation, and I can tell you the installations here are very well done, very interesting and informative, and include many fascinating historical artifacts, including underwater explorer suits, parts of shipwrecked vessels, historic articles found at shipwreck sites, and more.

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Interesting… house in Calumet…

You’ll never know what you’re going to find when you wander the back streets of U.P. towns. For example, this house in the above photo! There’s something particularly rewarding about stumbling on something quirky and unusual like this taking the time to get off the beaten path – often some of the most rewarding travel experiences of all. I found this house taking the back roads in Calumet.

There is an abundance of things to see and do in the U.P., and I can’t wait to return!

You can view my video tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula here!:

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