I want to tell you guys about a really wonderful woman, and a really special little place in the world.
The woman is named Madi Collins, and the place is the colorful little PAW Animal Sanctuary on the tiny island of Caye Caulker in Belize.
I found Madi (that’s her pictured above) several weeks ago, while asking relatively pettier questions about hotels and such on TripAdvisor’s Belize forums. (Sidebar: Do you know about/use TripAdvisor’s travel forums? They’re the best wellspring of info ever.) She popped up there in a somewhat desperate search for a donated laptop for her animal sanctuary — and as a devoted animal lover, I reached out to her in the hopes we could help.
Just before our trip, we’d not yet turned up a spare laptop we could donate, but I emailed Madi to tell her I had a never-used smartphone, still in the box, if perhaps she could use it for her organization? She emphatically said she could, so I put it in my suitcase and we set off for Belize. Read more…
Belize is well known for its world-class diving along the western hemisphere’s largest barrier reef, yes. But there’s a littler-known activity on the mainland that’s a total must for adventure travelers: the absolutely amazing ATM cave tour.
When I read about the sacred ATM cave — that’s for Actun Tunichil Muknal, no relation to the cash machine — I knew we had to try it. I did some research on the web (thanks, as always, trusty TripAdvisor!) and reached out to Carlos, who goes by “Carlos the Cave Man.” People seemed to love his expert leadership and charisma on tours through world’s top sacred cave, according to National Geographic. He’s one of only 23 guides in the country certified to lead the experience. Read more…
Readers of this blog will know that my short career as a scuba diver has been less glorious marine brochure and more P.S.A. warning.
It began with four treacherous certification dives in the frigid Southern California winter, and continued immediately with a Vietnamese dive in near zero visibility that saw me separated from the group and forced to practice my just-learned skills immediately. (Now what were they?)
I’m writing now after a pair of dives off Tranquility Bay on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize, and I’m happy to report: I get it. I totally, totally get it. The appeal of diving, when it’s good, is intensely powerful and wonderful and undeniable. Read more…
A chunk of years ago, now-hubby and I had a hankering to go to Belize. But it was the recession and everything was more spare, so we opted for a relatively budget friendlier Hawaii trip. There, he popped the question on a hike in Maui, which is an absolute setup for romance. (Try playing your “We just got engaged!” card for free dessert in Hawaii — then look around and see that every last dude in the restaurant is on bended knee.) Obviously, no complaints about our destination pick for that trip. It was the magical stuff of dreams. (Followed eventually by a Tahitian honeymoon that was like, the stuff of dreams’ dreams. I mean — gulp. Speechless.)
But the idea of Belize remained under our skin, and now that we’re open-water dive certified (which readers of this blog know is a whole other dramatic story), we knew we had to get there, where the diving is supposed to be some of the best in the world. Read more…
I’ve written extensively about Palm Springs-area properties and where to stay in Palm Springs, but I want to come back to the topic to quickly give a shout out to the Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa.
We’ve stayed at the resort before, but visited again for a last-minute overnighter during Independence Day weekend. Yes, sweltering summer is the desert’s slower season, but we were still seriously impressed with the below-market $99 rate — such that it actually inspired the spontaneous trip. Read more…
One of the truly wonderful things about Hamburg, Germany is the convergence of old and new happening everywhere.
On my recent visit, I like to think I experienced the best of both after staying in two unique hotels: Gastwerk and the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski. Read more…
I’m not especially a car person, but when you get a chance to ride in a Porsche on the automaker’s German racetrack, you take it, right?
I’ve just returned from my first trip to Germany, during which I became acquainted with the most excellent town of Leipzig in Saxony, 150 kilometers south of Berlin. It’s a wonderful place with a very special mixture of old and new, which I hope I’ll write about in more detail in another post.
It’s also home to Porsche’s high-design plant (the whole thing is rendered in the shape of a diamond, as pictured above) and adjacent racetrack. Read more…
I arrived in Berlin solo on Saturday afternoon after traveling all night on a fully packed and airless 747, during which I remained awake and eagle eyed merely inches from my seat mate who was a ringer for Gary Coleman, but that’s neither here nor there.
I was a jet-lagged zombie on my first day in town, but had a short weekend to explore before my scheduled departure for Hamburg Sunday afternoon and wanted to make the most of it. As I was feebly showing myself the sights in Mitte near my hotel, I asked a couple of traveling Americans to take a photo for me, and they turned out to be those extra vigilant people who take enough shots that you’ll be sure to be happy with at least one, and who actually pay attention to lighting and framing (the best kind of people). They also told me about this free tour I really ought to pick up the next day at 11 a.m. from the Starbucks next to the Brandenburg Gate to make the best use of my short time in town. A fortuitous meeting, as it turns out! Read more…
I love travel. I love shopping. And I’d love for you to like this blog’s Facebook page.
To that end, I’ve put together a fun little contest for you all, my dear readers, and all you have to do is “like” my Facebook page and you could win all this great stuff. For added festivity and fun (my dual middle names), I’ll draw the winner on July 15—my birthday! (Just be based in the U.S. to win, please.)
The prize you will receive, you lucky thing, is…a lovingly assembled group of fun stuff I picked up from all over the world. Read more…
Is the “36 Hours in…” phrase trademarked by The New York Times? I hope not, because I had only that amount of time in town last weekend, and I want to tell you what I did: Read more…