Saturday, May 31, 2014

Manta, Ecuador

Sunset over Manta, Ecuador
This is part 4 of my series about our cruise to South America in December, 2012.  Today's port-of-call would be Manta, Ecuador, a fairly small city literally straddling the equator, its official latitude being just 0 degrees and 57 minutes south.  This would not actually be my first visit to South America - that milestone was completed when we stepped off the ship in Cartagena, Colombia a few days earlier - but this was my first visit to the Pacific side of South America south of the equator.  One of these days, I'll get around to writing about my actual first visit to the southern hemisphere, a trip to South Africa in April, 2008.

For a general overview of the cruise and the trip report index, click here.

NOTE:  if you're dying for a trip report about Bermuda, just relax, jack.  I'll start putting some up within the next few weeks.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Beaches of Bermuda - A Photo Essay

Not a beach, but waves crashing rocks in Bermuda
Greetings tonight from Columbus, Ohio, at essentially the halfway point back home to Dallas.  I normally don't like to put posts up immediately about places I've just visited - I like to take the extra time to think about what to write and how exactly to organize things - but I really didn't want to be days late with a post again.  Needing something quick to put up, I thought I'd leave all of you with some photos of the great beaches we saw in Bermuda during our short visit there.  Not to worry, I will eventually have a series of posts up about my trip, but in the meantime, enjoy - and start working on finding your beach this summer!  NOTE:  Photos posted in the order we visited them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

This Summer's Most Valuable Vacation Advice

Downtown Boston from a cruise ship balcony
Greetings from sunny Bermuda.  First off, apologies to regular readers of this blog for the late posting.  I had fully intended to schedule this post to publish before leaving on vacation, but well, let's just say that things have an amazing way of getting in the way when you're getting ready to get away.  Anyway, with Memorial Day, and thus, the traditional beginning of American summer vacation season soon to be upon us, I thought this would be an appropriate time to relay some travel advice for those planning a summer getaway.  While the title of this post may be a bit over-hyped, I do hope it proves to be useful for some of you.  To that end, I offer two simple yet effective pieces of advice...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Transiting the Panama Canal

Cruising through Gatun Lake on a sunny day
This is part 3 of my series on our cruise to South America in December, 2012.  Today was the thing I was looking forward to second most on this cruise - making the shortest transcontinental journey in the world on our cruise ship via the Panama Canal!  This was actually my second visit to the canal.  The first was in December, 2005, but the ship we were on didn't actually go through the canal.  It just went through the first set of locks on the Caribbean side (the Gatun Locks) and turned around, and then we took a small boat through the rest of the canal. 

For a general overview of the cruise and the trip report index, click here.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Stuffed in St. Louis - Restaurant Reviews

Whenever we travel somewhere, I always try to identify at least one well-regarded local restaurant ahead of time to sample the local cuisine.  During our short weekend trip to St. Louis, my wife and I each chose one place - I picked a BBQ joint to experience some of that famous St. Louis barbeque, and my wife picked an Italian place to experience the distinctive cuisine of The Hill, St. Louis' version of Little Italy. 

Hilton St. Louis Frontenac - Hotel Review

Route 66 shield on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
For our recent trip to St. Louis, we went back and forth on location.  Do we choose a hotel downtown that's walking distance to the Arch, museums, and mass transit, or someplace a little bit outside of town where we won't have to pay extra for parking?  When visiting a large city, I usually greatly prefer to stay someplace centrally located to what we want to see with good access to rail so I don't have to mess with driving.  But in this case, while sketching out our itinerary, we wanted to hit a couple of things well outside of the city, which meant we'd have no choice but to have a car.  That made the decision easy, since downtown hotels would mean an extra $20 a day for parking at least.  We ended up settling on the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac, as they had a special for an executive level room at essentially the same price as a regular room for AAA members.