Maui is my favorite Hawaiian island. Frankly my dear, I would not be opposed to retiring on the island of Maui. I already envision myself at sunset, strolling along the shore with my husband, with the water lapping at our toes. I glance around the area and smile as I see my daughters, with their children enjoying the last rays of the sun. I can feel the warm breeze, and hear the comforting crush of the waves, and I feel at peace.
When I saw that Trip Advisor had named Maui number two in the world, of the top 10 islands for 2015, I was pleased, but not surprised. I raised a shaka sign, and smiled.
In April, our family of four went home to Maui for about ten days. I say home, because as soon as my feet touch the ground in Hawaii, and I breathe in, I’m home. In all our travels, there isn’t another place that has felt like that to me.
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands, and the third most populated, following O’ahu and the Big Island. For us the Big Island is wild, and arid. O’ahu is busy, … >> find out more...
One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is the final three minutes of Love Actually. Do you know the one I’m talking about? It’s where travelers are greeted by family and loved ones as they exit the privy part of the airport that only those with boarding passes can enter. I do have a thing for airports, but I think what draws me to the scene is the value of a tender, excited greeting to the weary traveler. I’ve been on that side many times, a long journey that ends with someone glad to see you. It brings rest to the tired soul.
I recently went on an insanity trip. I live in S. Africa, and I went to the states for a week. To be exact, I was in country for 6 days. Do you know how many days I spent getting there and back? Three…one day to get to Texas, six days in Texas, and two days to get home. Told you I was insane.
As I sat in Heathrow Terminal 5, a place that has become all too familiar since living in S. Africa, my eyes happened upon people trying to sleep in uncomfortable plastic chairs, frantic … >> find out more...
About a year ago, one of my good friends and I were dreaming about her and her daughter traveling to South Africa one day to visit us. She said, “Can you promise me that I won’t see a snake?” Uh, negatory. First of all, what is it with people associating Africa with snakes? They don’t just dwell on the African plains. North America is home to rattlesnakes, something you don’t want to have an encounter with. Unfortunately, this post isn’t going to help any preconceived ideas about Africa.
Let’s just talk about snakes.
I moved to South Africa in 2007. I had been on numerous trips prior to moving there, but my first month was quite the experience. My whole family, with the exception of my son, got bit by a mango fly which burrowed its larvae into our skin. Gross, I know. A monkey was found perched on the door to our security gate in our kitchen, probably looking for food, because that’s what those annoying vervet monkeys do. And then there was the snake. I’ll never forget it. I walked into our bathroom to see something curled up in the window. At the sound of my intrusion, it … >> find out more...
I figure there’s two categories of people when it comes to visually documenting life’s memories…the ones who take a photo of everything and the ones who have a thick layer of dust on the camera sitting on the shelf. I fall into the former category. The food we ate at Brick Lane in London? Captured it. My son’s first airplane ride? Captured that, too. Standing in line at Leo Burdock’s in Dublin? Got it. The bike my husband test drove down the streets of London? Click. Why? Because it’s the little moments that you think you will remember, but I got news for you. You won’t. You think you’ll never forget, but as new memories invade your thinking cap, the only thread keeping the old ones there are visual reminders.
Make the fleeting moments last forever. Take a visual snapshot.
There’s two reasons I value documenting your travels with your camera.
1. They tell a story that needs to be passed down. My husband and I traveled a lot before we had kids. Typically, twelve weeks out of the year we were traveling. We visited some awesome places like Thailand, Norway (in the dead of Winter, mind you), … >> find out more...
Part 2 of this series is all about booking a resort/hotel. I want to start packing my bags right this minute. From day one of our planning process we saved and budgeted to stay at a DisneyWorld resort. I’m admittedly biased here, but I’m happy to say that there are plenty of other decent options nearby with a good relationship with Disney. So, don’t let my biases deter you from going at all! For today, though, I’m giving my reasons for loving the Disney resorts so much that I schedule time into our trip to just to enjoy our hotel. I mean resort.
1. The service really is better. I’ve stayed at non-Disney resorts here before, and they are fine. Really! They often cost a little less, but the service, cleanliness and atmosphere just don’t quite compare to the Disney resorts. Staying at a Disney resort only adds to your total experience, with bonuses like extended park hours, Fast Pass perks, and the little “pixie dust” touches, like impromptu visits with favorite characters. Read: no standing in line for hugs from Goofy!
2. Convenience. All the Disney resorts offer frequent complimentary shuttles to the parks. From some resorts you … >> find out more...
Today I’m going to introduce you to the best thing ever. Are you ready for this? Think of your palate exploding with chocolate, coconut, and banana, and you have a South Africa banana braai. Not only am I going to give you the how-to, but I’m going to throw in some free history lessons along the way. Let’s start with braai. What the heck is that??
braai ~ (pronounced bry) a structure on which a fire can be made for the outdoor grilling of meat. English translation, grill or barbecue.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s look at all you need to know to wow your friends with the best banana braai ever.
1. Grab your favorite guinea fowl tablecloth. What? You don’t have a guinea fowl tablecloth? I guess any old tablecloth will do, BUT did you know that the guinea fowl are native to Africa? We have the helmeted guinea fowl here in S. Africa, and they are absolutely beautiful with their blue heads. If you want an authentic, traditional table setting, guinea fowl are the way to go.
2. Create your toppings bar. This is the best part. My toppings bar included chocolate (of course), peanut … >> find out more...
This is a continuation of my cruise post you can find here on Petit Elefant.
Our first cruise embarked on Jan 28, 2011, it was a nine-day Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit. We loved that ship’s set-up. We booked two cabins. On the Carnival Spirit, on decks five through seven there are six interior cabins that connect to balcony cabins. What that means for those of you that haven’t cruised before, is that you get a phenomenal deal, due to the fact that interior’s are less than balconies. We chose this option so that our girls could sleep in the interior room, and we’d have the balcony, but because the rooms connect, we’d leave the door open and our living space was much more comfortable. For nine days the cost was $67 per person, per night, all inclusive.
Sadly the Carnival Spirit was moved to Australia in 2012 with it’s sister ship the Carnival Legend. However, they have two other sister ships with that sweet set-up, the Carnival Pride which sails on the west coast, and the Carnival Miracle which sails on the east coast.
What does that mean, all inclusive? First of all the food, taken … >> find out more...
I’ve told this story many times, but the other day I realized I’ve never written it. It’s time to put it out there, because it’s unreal. I still don’t know how it happened, but it did. I flew halfway around the world on an airplane without a ticket. This is not fabricated. Honest. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.
It was 2006, the year before we moved to S. Africa, and we were taking lots of short-term teams over to do what we could to help with the orphan crisis that resulted from the AIDS pandemic. S. Africa is a long ways away, about an 18 hour flight from the U.S. East coast. For some reason, my husband and I planned a trip that was only a week long, including travel, with a four-year-old and a two-year-old. The odds were against us before we even began, but we were young and we forged ahead with that “I can do anything” attitude.
When we checked in at JFK airport in New York, something was up. The gentleman at the gate frowned slightly when he ran my boarding pass and told me the same thing the ticket agent said when we … >> find out more...
Okay folks, let’s talk cruising. For those of you that have been on a cruise, I’d love to hear your thoughts too. For those of you new to cruising, curious about cruising, not interested in cruising, or simply are turned off by it, scoot a bit closer. I’m talking to you. Frankly, my dear, I used to be you.
I used to scoff at the bulging bulk of all those ships. I would turn my nose up at the blatant hedonistic buffets, and masses of humanity that would lazily float, nay, sludge through our oceans. I was afraid I would go stir-crazy, and feel trapped on a ship. I was skeptical about how much I would really see at port. Is a cruise really worth it?
Then I went on a cruise with my family, and I was changed.
My husband’s best friend had been trying to get us to cruise with them for years. They’ve been cruising for about half their lifetime, and their boys have been on more cruises than years they’ve been alive. So they are obvious fans.
In 2011, after a lot of research we embarked on our first cruise with our friends. I hope … >> find out more...