Researching the culture and norms of a country before visiting is one of the items I check off before leaving home. Often times it helps with packing and sometimes it sets you back just a little. For instance, when I was planning my Romania trip, I discovered that I had better bring the top to my bathing suit! Actually I was headed there in the Spring so no suit was needed, however, there was a report that older or unattractive women were not allowed to go topless at the beach resorts because the sight apparently drove down sales of ice cream!
Another trip had me meeting my daughter in Singapore (she lived in Hong Kong at the time) and she wanted me to bring her some of her favorite things she missed from the USA. Bubble Gum was on the list but there was no way I would pack that in my suitcase! I’m not sure what they do to you when you disobey the multitude of “don’ts” there, but I did not want to find out.
There are a few more rules, some that make sense and others that are quite baffling. You can’t hike naked in Switzerland or wear high heels in the acropolis. Leave your camouflage at home when touring the Caribbean. And don’t take any selfies with Buddha in Sri Lanka. And heed the following: you are not supposed to wear lacy underwear in Russia or pee in the ocean off Portugal. Just saying………
Last week I agreed to bring my sister’s dog to her in Minnesota from San Diego. She was helping another sister recover from Covid-19 and had left her dog, Yogi, behind for a month. As things were improving all around I weighed the risks and decided that if I remained vigilant and practiced all advice about social distancing and mask wearing I should be okay. Granted, I was a bit nervous especially when my daughters voiced their disapproval.
I kept myself informed on all the airport, airline and TSA policy changes for my journey. Once at the airport there were numerous announcements to remind people of the new rules. Coming from San Diego where masks are mandatory if you come within 6 feet of someone you don’t live with I knew there would be potential problems. At best I would guess that only 1 out of 20 wear them here!
Traffic has been increasing at most airports lately but the numbers are still way down from normal. Only a few shops, lounges and food-to-go places are open and it is possible to keep a relatively safe distance from other travelers at the gate. The agents routinely announced that passengers should be wearing masks, keeping space between anyone in line and boarding from the rear of the plane. My first leg went smoothly even though I had to change seats after wiping it down because the dog carrier would not fit under the seat. Delta did a good job of separating passengers and flew with many empty seats.
My second flight left me feeling less protected as there were a few travelers who did not wear masks even though the agents were offering free ones to anyone who did not have one. I read later that the employees were asked not to be confrontational or expected to enforce the new policies. I, too, decided not to start any fights! BTW, there is no service on board such as drinks or snacks other than the little bag pictured above.
What a treat! I would usually go for a month at a time pretending that I too lived in Hong Kong. Her apartment was half way up Victoria Peak with giant picture windows overlooking the harbor. My favorite night-time activity was simply sitting there looking at the light show. I could not believe my luck.
She had a gym in the building which kept me busy and I was great friends with the staff. When done with my workout I would find a new way to hike down to town, exploring each block and trying not to get lost…which is more difficult when you have the harbor and peak as landmarks.
My only job was to prepare dinner and that task also became fun as I tried out different grocery stores with different foods. When loaded up with bundles I would take the apartment bus back up…
I chuckle when I see the meme of someone’s floor plan and they joke that they are traveling today to this particular room…all in honor of staying at home, sheltering in place. It’s a crazy time and I do dream about traveling soon, just not sure it’ll happen. (pics of shower curtain and suitcases hiding under my bed/sofa)
I live in a studio apartment, or what I fondly call “my shed with a bed”. I sold my home years ago in order to have travel money to fulfill my dreams. I’m usually not sad about that except for now. I miss it. (not sure if it’s my home I miss or the travel). Yes, I’m sure….it’s the “road not taken”.
So far, I’ve had to cancel three trips. I’ve two more on the schedule, one for August and one for September, trying to hit those times between outbreaks of Covid-19. I am too up to date on every country and every problem, causing many sleepless nights. I get upset with the numbers of people in my neighborhood who ignore social-distancing and refuse to wear masks. I truly don’t want to go through this again (day 40 for me).
My airline of choice, Delta, is being great with their loyalty program. Apparently I would not have to travel 125,000 miles this year and could retain my status with my miles rolling over. While I enjoy the game of meeting their requirements I enjoy the travel more.
My retirement was supposedly all about travel. My destiny was to see the World before I died. Covid-19 put a dent into those hopes. Considering the damage it has done to many people’s lives and many countries’ economies, my pending future is minute in comparison.
However, I miss packing my suitcase, I miss the anxiety of new adventures, and I miss watching all those movies in a cramped space with mediocre food. Travel has been my freedom from life’s crazy disturbances: the sustenance for my soul.
I finally cancelled my trip to Malawi even though I was unable to get most of the money back. Contacting the hotels and airlines has been very difficult. They asked that I not call until 72 hours before the trip even though that meant I missed the deadlines for any refunds. I have two more trips coming up….Peru in May and Minnesota in June. Fingers crossed.
I am trying to be a responsible citizen, respecting both the lives of those I would visit as well as those I see upon a return. It stinks though.
To experience a new country, a new language, a new cuisine, or a new garb is beyond exciting. It is first hand education using all of your senses at once. And when given an opportunity to take part in a local custom, one can only enhance one’s understanding. Trying something different allows one to appreciate the extraordinary. The following photos bring back such joy and amazement for me and remind me that all is not wrong with the world.
I realize how fortunate I’ve been to have seen so much and I am richer for having done so. I admire and respect those of you who have made a difference to these same places by doing humanitarian work while I have been the one benefiting. Maybe one of these years I will join you in your compassionate endeavors! Meanwhile, thank you.
It’s a little hard to complain about a luxury cruise when the service is incredible, the food and weather amazing and the fellow travelers are interesting and engaging. However, I don’t think it’s for me. I had read about a woman travelling on such a boat instead of spending her final years in an assisted living facility and thought that was just a legend but I actually met someone who was living on this boat! It is something I will keep in mind.
Perhaps the fact that I was traveling alone made my experience a bit different; however, I think it was that I felt myself melting into too much leisure. I no longer cared if I went to the gym daily, didn’t care that I was eating 3 full meals each day and definitely didn’t balk at drinking wine with lunch or really any other time.
I’m not judging anyone who loves this life including those who enjoy dressing up in formal wear, but it’s not for me. I prefer a bit of a struggle getting from here to there; I like planning my day and I relish unforeseen adventures that test my energy.
I’m sure I will take another cruise someday, especially if it’s the only way to get me to a destination in the most efficient and cost effective way. Meanwhile, I think I will push my limits. My next trip will take me to Malawi…a landlocked country!
While I cruised for a week on the Seabourn Odyssey it certainly was not a voyage marked by upheaval or even any big waves. It would be difficult to find something wrong with this beautiful ship on its expedition among the Caribbean islands.
This boat includes 11 decks with two swimming pools, six outdoor whirlpools, a spa and a gym. There is a capacity for 450 passengers. The dining rooms serve incredible food and drink and the overall service of the staff is amazing.
As a woman traveling alone I was invited to join other diners each evening, hosted by one of the entertainers or one of the ship officers. The majority of the passengers were Brits and I met quite a few who had made this exact trip before!
While I’ve not done many ocean voyages the fact that I would amass 5 new countries to add to my check-it-off map was a definite plus. Starting at Barbados, our stops included St. Kitt’s and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Antigua and Sint Maarten where I disembarked.
Living in San Diego I wasn’t as excited as most of the passengers to visit the local beaches although I do like walking them and enjoy a good snorkeling spot.
With my two adult daughters in tow, one a vegetarian and the other a pescatarian we delighted in the options we discovered in Lima, Peru! Breakfast was included at the hotel and actually had individual stations for various food choices including vegans!
Life is good when you can find new restaurants for both lunch and dinner each day. It is even better when the cost of these delicious morsels is less than one might spend at a fast food place in the USA!
While most of the ones we frequented were in either Miraflores or Barranco due to the close proximity to our hotel we did stop at a fun little eatery off the Plaza De Armas De Lima. I can highly recommend the following: Javier’s, Mo Bistro, Cala and Tragaluz.
But the highlight was the tasting menu at Kjolle. The price was higher than the others but probably five times less than the same meal in New York. The chef, Pia Leon, is a young woman who has wowed patrons around the world with her innovative and exquisite cuisine. Her restaurant sits above her husband’s famous Central where she previously was working. The site of these two set in a beautiful garden is worth a visit in itself.
While enjoying each course I was distracted by a young couple sitting a few tables away taking well choreographed photos of her eating. I asked them about it on the way out and they have their own blog that has allowed them to travel the world and eat at places like this! Take a look at “Cheat Day Eats”.
A report by Travel Pulse suggested that many of us exaggerate how amazing our last trip was because of all the incredible posts on Instagram and other social media sites. They made us feel we were missing out on the “good stuff”.
I have been accused of doing the same thing with my Holiday Letter….of course we’re not going to include the bad and ugly unless we’re chatting with close friends or complaining to the airline, hotel or tour company!
Why admit that you spent all the money and you would have preferred staying home? One can’t be blamed for the bad weather or even an outbreak of the flu but we wonder, did we do our “due diligence” in planning?
Sometimes the vacation is just so bad that it is actually funny. Hey, you survived! You had the “time” of your life, one to be remembered always! It makes a great story!