Chicago and the Bean.

What a fabulous city….this city is perfect for walking around, maybe catching the L train a couple stops and for being on the river. I chose the architecture cruise, and was provided with excellent commentary, witty and informative, on the buildings lining this beautiful river. The story is told of the great fire of 1871, requiring 3 and a half square miles of city to be rebuilt. The origin of the fire ? Take the cruise and all will be revealed.

Leaving the river and walking towards Lake Michigan means heading to Navy Pier where a 15 story replica Ferris Wheel dominates the landscape. The first Ferris wheel was invented in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, but was demolished in 1906. You can enjoy the experience in 21st century comfort.

Navy Pier is not just home to a huge Ferris Wheel. There are multiple choices to eat and drink, spaces to just wander and sit, and everywhere you can take in the sight of this massive lake. If you visit the Pier, don’t leave without tasting the spinach and artichoke dip at Harry Caray’s…. delicious!

To get the best view in town, head to the John Hancock building and a heart racingridecalled the Tilt. On the observation deck of the 94th story, along with the obligatory glass floor, is a device that tilts you 45 degrees away from the building, looking straight down at the streets below you. If you need a bit of courage to enable this, they got you covered, with a free cocktail first 😊 at Bar 94.

Millennium Park is where you will find the Bean, being a nickname for the sculpture called Cloud Gate. The Bean suits perfectly and it is a fun place to hang out and take artistic photos of your own reflection. The challenge is getting a photo alone as this is a very popular spot. Don’t be put off, it’s fabulous.

In Many movies set in Chicago, you see the L train, short for elevated, as it sits about a story up, travelling between buildings, landmarks and stores. Great way to do a loop of the inner city and feel like a local too. It’s cheap, quick and easy to use.

Foodies, The choice is huge ….. Wildberry for pancakes and eggs at breakfast, 2000 hotdog stands for lunch and Giordano’s for famous deep dish pizza come dinner time. There are many options along the riverwalk too. The taverns have tables on the river edge, to watch the world of Chicago pass by.

A city I can’t wait to return to ❤️

Blow baby blow….

If you enjoy feeling the force of Mother Nature and being awed by her skills, take a wee wander along the Nusa Dua boardwalk to the very end.

Along the way, the view is a patchwork of high end hotels and their beachfronts. These beaches are not beautiful compared to many I’ve seen in the world, but all are set up to enjoy 100% relaxation or the most amazing wedding settings. The beachfront pools are all stunning and all offer a slightly different poolside experience. Friendly Balinese staff wish you Good Morning and invite you in. I didn’t succumb as I was on my way to the mighty blow hole.

The 45 ( or so) minute walk also allows for a spot of retail therapy. Scattered here and there are makeshift stalls selling local items, colourful Bali pants, Bali bags and of course the obligatory Bintang singlet.

I did digress a wee bit as I can’t resist those beautiful Bali bags.

If you feel you must eat or drink along the way, you won’t be disappointed in the choice of places available.

Once you enter the Nusa Dua Park area, head to the water line. They have recently added turnstiles here and I can only guess that there will be a viewing charge in the future, so get there soon.

The purpose built wooden path leads you to the place with optimum viewing opportunities, but all along that path, the force of the water gushing through the rocks can be seen. Each mighty pound of waves is accompanied by the spectators ooooohhhhhh. It’s a great spot to feel the magic of our earth and experience the connection of awe in its inhabitants.

Shine Bright like a Jewel…

The Jewel at SIngapore’s Changi Airport is amazing. You don’t need to be airside to visit the Jewel, as it’s accessible without checking in.

This place is 10 stories high and houses the biggest indoor waterfall in the world.

The water, of course, is recirculated, totally sustainable.

As you make your way into the Jewel, you become aware of the sound of fast moving water, before you actually see the mist and the beautiful sight of the waterfall.

Not only is there a huge waterfall, there is shopping and eating places that would keep you busy for a couple of days.

The best place though is the Canopy walk and gardens. You can wander and wander, kids can slide and bounce or sit in foggy hollows.

The gardens are spectacular with colour, greenery and stunning topiaries.

As you wander through the serenity, you also spot many places to just chill out, making this the perfect airport for a layover. There is no better airport.

The Jewel, have a Sparkling time…..

Bumming around Singapore on a Bumboat

Bumboats are brightly coloured low slung boats that in the past carried cargo between the ships and the harbour, but today they carry bums of tourists 😊

It was a great way to appreciate Singapore’s skyline on a beautiful morning.

We passed under many bridges, often named after British men who forged businesses in the area.

Many of the Quays now operate as brightly coloured eating places on the river front, with high rise buildings as the back drop.

The Merlion, icon of Singapore, was surrounded by tourists as it is every day.

……to the May sun in Cuba!

Havana

Where do I start ? What an amazing day. From the moment we stepped off the ship, walked across the crossing to San Francisco Square, we saw colour, classic cars and classic architecture. ❤️

With a tour in a classic car booked for a couple hours later, we decided to wander.

First stop, a cafe in Plaza Vieja and the best Frappuccino I have ever had.

From a lovely outdoor and upstairs balcony we had a beautiful view of the square and a group of local school kids enjoying athletics day competitions.

As we walked on towards a market area, we were chatted to, smiled at, told we were beautiful more times than ever before. Haha. Such beautiful people, friendliness on such a scale that I don’t think I have witnessed elsewhere. The locals love to chat, ask where you are from and chat some more. It was impossible to get from street corner to street corner without someone talking to you.

Most of the buildings are stunning and many are under renovation, aiming to be restored in time for the 500 year anniversary in November.

Others are painted in bright colours with even brighter doorways. I loved the big wooden doors with smaller openings within the door to look out, without opening the large door. Brilliant!

Classic cars in every colour catch your eye continuously. The drivers wave and offer their services and when you explain that you are booked elsewhere, or just say no thanks, they wave and say, have a good day. No pressure, no aggression, and no bad feelings.

The markets are in an old warehouse dockside, with a selection of art, souvenirs, t-shirts, bags, coffee mugs and much more. The art works are incredible and I now own a piece.

Leaving the market, we headed back towards Old Havana, wandering amongst the cobblestone streets again. We found a second hand book market with many amazing first edition books, Che Guevara being a popular subject.

Like many islands, there seems to be a large population of street cats and dogs, mostly they seemed healthy ish. They were not neutered though, so I guess the population will keep growing. A local told us that lots of people care for the street animals and in fact, later that night, we came across an elderly lady putting food out for the cats so I gave her some money.

The tour in a 1954 Chevrolet, took us to New Havana, the 8 km Seawall, the Malecon, Revolution Square, where a million people once gathered, the embassy district and the Hotel Nacionale where many events, political and celebratory, in Cuba’s past took place.

In a bar in this hotel, with photos of the many famous faces who have visited, we had a Mojito, with both light and dark rum. Very refreshing after a couple hours in a convertible, in the sun, seeing the sights.

Leaving the car, back on foot, we headed to Floradita, Hemingway’s hangout. The place was very busy, full and lively. Live Music, people singing along and an air of fun.

We tried the Daquiri, and a lobster cocktail 😊

Another wander, this time down Obispo street and many more eating and drinking opportunities.

Wondering around Havana felt very safe even at 10pm, the locals all assuring us that it is very safe. Even at night, wandering around the cobbled streets, people chatted and smiled.

I’ll be back. ❤️Cuba.

Galveston oh Galveston….

Galveston was only just waking up from winter and preparing for summer when we visited but you could tell it would be a fun place once the crowds came back and all the shops and restaurants opened up again.

The main attraction on the Seawall was Pleasure Pier, with a selection of rides, games and eating places. Even though the pier had not opened for summer, Bubba Gump Shrimp, a staple of every pier across America, was ready to feed the hordes.

We chose a local IHOP instead and sat at a booth looking out at the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s quite a stunning length of coastline, and we were able to drive from West beach to East Beach and compare the holiday homes along the way. West beach was prettier with its brightly coloured wooden homes on stilts.

Most of these were right on the beach front and although the water was a bit dirty looking today, these houses would enjoy the best views all summer.

East beach was more built up, literally, with rows of condominiums.

Galveston Historic Downtown was worth the visit. An area called the Strand had many old buildings that had been saved from destruction and restored beautifully, now housing shops, restaurants and apartments. It wasn’t too busy as this area was also only just getting into peak season mode.

Galveston is only an hour and a half from Houston and was an easy drive.

I’d like to visit agin when she is wide awake 😊

Whistler Whistlestop.

Today’s adventure began with an early morning bus ride. The Epic Rides company has regular trips to Whistler in their really comfy buses.
The ride up to Whistler started in the dark, but once the sun was up the views were fabulous. I sat on the left of the bus, so saw all the islands that are off the coast of British Columbia. There was no wind, the water still and peaceful.
Climbing as we went, we reached Whistler in less than 2 hours.
My travelling buddies all headed for the snow immediately to ski and snowboard but I wandered through the gorgeous village of Whistler. Even for a non skier there is plenty to see.

The village has a real “alpine” vibe and is chocka full of eating and drinking choices, along with shopping options.
The village is divided into Village Centre, Upper Village and North Village.
You can also stop and have a pic at the Olympic Rings by Market Place.

After a long meander through the streets, I headed to the Gondola station. The ride up to the peak of Whistler takes 25 minutes and once at the top you have the option to jump across to another gondola, the Peak 2 Peak and ride to Blackcomb peak. That ride is only 10 mins and you don’t have to backtrack as you can take the gondola to the the bottom of Blackcomb, a true round trip.

The views are of course, birds eye. The weather started out really cloudy on the first gondola and I was excited that it was snowing at the Whistler peak. There were tons of skiers moving around so rather than risk being mowed over, I walked in the snow over to the next gondola, and a quick ride across the expanse between the two peaks, to Blackcomb.
The final ride was downhill and very peaceful. I was the only one in the gondola so the only sound was the moving of the cab.
When I returned to the village, it was even more alive, with loads of skiers breaking for lunch.
The bus ride home was pretty, peaceful and before long, I was back in downtown Vancouver.

❤️