Bittersweet Goodbyes

My trip back home was eventful & memorable. Family & friends never disappoint; my son & I have such lovely memories to return home with. Beach days & ice cream with Grandma & Great Grandma, a trip to the zoo with a favorite aunt & summer parties with good friends.

My hometown in New Jersey always has a special place in my heart. It’s always wonderful knowing I can come back to the place where I grew up- now I get to share it with my little guy.

20140701-234834-85714641.jpg

20140701-234833-85713665.jpg

Advertisements

Summer Weather, Hawaiian Memories…

This beautiful warm weather that has arrived so early in March has really been surprising and pleasant.  It has also come with rain, and plants have started blooming.  Our neighbors’ cherry blossom tree has bloomed and filled my husband’s home office with its delicious scent; the cherry blossom is all you smell as soon as you enter the room. Today, we have had our warmest day so far…79 degrees!  Such a day took my mind back to our Hawaii trips.  My husband and I loved our time in Hawaii so much we had our wedding there (Maui) in 2009.  The last time we were in Hawaii was for our wedding and we do plan to return.  I’m thinking about my top ten favorite things about Maui today and hoping our next trip to Hawaii isn’t too too far away…

#10- My favorite Hawaiian drink is the Lava Flow!  A delightful combination of pina colada and strawberry daquiri.  Ahhh!  So refreshing…

#9- My favorite treat is haupia ice cream- I believe haupia is actually a Hawaiian pudding with coconut flavor, and there’s a shop where my husband goes to pick up his must-have shaved ice.  I always go for the haupia ice cream, so creamy and coconuty.

#8- My favorite meal is mahi mahi.  On our first trip to Maui, I planned on ordering mahi mahi because it was very fun to say.  When I bit into it, I was in love.

# 7- Favorite restaurant in Lahaina- Lahaina Fish Company

#6- My favorite souvenir I am obsessed with vintage Hawaiian post cards!  I always pick up a set to add to my collection.

#5- Favorite spot in Lahaina- I had never heard of a Banyan tree until I went to Maui; its branches stretch horizontally over the square where it’s planted and the branches intertwine with each other.  Nothing beats sitting near the Banyan tree in the evening and enjoying the warm breeze as I look out to the ocean and admire the moonlight glimmer on the water.

#4- Favorite excursion- we always make sure to fit in snorkeling when we’re in Maui. The first time we snorkeled in the ocean, the diversity and beauty of sea life I saw just took my breath away.  I swam inches away from a sea turtle. The last time I snorkeled we saw a group of spinner dolphins before reaching our snorkeling site.  What a sight we had as these beautiful creatures spun out of the water together- I was totally awestruck.

#3- Sleeping in a room facing the ocean with the balcony door open.  NOTHING more soothing than the sound of the sea at night. Just lulls me like I’m a baby.

#2 – Sunsets by the sea- this just speaks for itself…

#1- The beach- lounging on the sand by the ocean just reading my book or listening to music and people watching.  Oh, bliss!

Never Stand Under a Tree Full of Monkeys!

    While vacationing in Costa Rica, my husband and I signed up for an ATV excursion.  Luis, our guide, had been leading us through beautiful beaches-white sand, turquoise-colored seawater, quaint little hotels in the background, all the makings of riding through a postcard.  Luis, who had been riding in front of us suddenly began to veer right and stopped at a tree.  I parked right behind his ATV obediently as he motioned to where I should stop, and my husband followed and parked right behind me.

            My guide said nothing at first and simply strode toward the tree, pointing up as he continued. At first I thought, “What’s there to see here?” Nevertheless, we followed curiously and looked in the same direction- up into the tree. On many branches of this large tree sat a family of howler monkeys- we stared up in wonderment at the scene, little black creatures leaping from one limb to another visiting with one relative then the next.  My husband immediately whipped out his Canon so-and-so, a fancy digital camera he bought especially for the trip. He snapped away, picture after picture, my very own Ansel Adams.

My eyes shifted to one particular relative…a baby howler monkey!  It seemed so small high in the tree, its furry little body cowering as it tried to get closer to its mama.  At this point, I kept hearing the faint warnings of my husband as he stated more than once, “Don’t walk under the tree.”  He had said it so calmly , as if it were something I should casually consider, but I should have paid attention to that preposition UNDER!  There was really a good reason I shouldn’t walk UNDER the tree. At the moment, heeding my husband’s directions were not first priority in my mind.  Priority one for me was to get closer to that little bundle of monkey joy.  I inched closer toward the spot right under the baby and mama.  Before I reached my destination, it hit me.  A large drop of water.  I looked around, wondering to myself “How could it possibly be raining?”  I am no meteorologist, but the conditions for rain were not there.   Surrounding me was nothing but warm sunshine; puffy, friendly clouds in the sky; a delicious breeze that blew around me, lifting the hair around my neck and causing the rickety Coca-Cola sign of a nearby convenience store to sway back and forth.

“Nooooo, that can’t be rain,” I thought.  The true reason for the drops that now trickled down the side of my face smacked me upside the head just then…I had been peed on by a howler monkey! Here I was- monkey urine moving down along my temple and my husband chuckling and declaring “I told you so,” as he snapped pictures to document my moment of gross (literally) humiliation.

Reflections on Travels

Yesterday,  my blog post was about a list of places I’ve been and places I still would like to visit some day.  Today, I thought I would spend some time reflecting on somewhere I’ve visited, recalling all my wonderful experiences there.

                                               

I have been to Rome twice and had wonderful experiences both times. Here are some of the things I loved about my trips to Rome:

The people– the people of Rome are wonderful and welcoming.  I speak no Italian but the people I came across during my trip were warm and helpful.  Some spoke broken English, others spoke no English at all. No one, however, ignored me or seemed annoyed because I didn’t speak their native language.  If I stopped people on the street for assistance, they were gracious and pointed me in the right direction. If they couldn’t understand me right away, they didn’t get irritated and storm off. Instead, they took more time out of their day to listen more closely and help a complete stranger.  

The Christmas Decorations–  December and January are great times to visit Rome.  The Christmas decorations are stellar.  First of all, I spent some of my time taking pictures of the different nativity scenes people can find around the city. Every church has a nativity scene during Christmas, one as/or more beautiful than the next. My favorite nativity scenes were Saint Peter’s Basilica’s (the one inside) and the one at the top of the Spanish Steps. Christmas lights and decor also line busy streets around the city.  I took a double decker bus tour ride through the city, and the bus always passed through one street which was lined with green, white and red twinkling lights (quite patriotic) that hung above and covered the whole street.  As I rode through this street we [my mom and I] admired the twinkling lights above us.  The great fashion houses could not be left out of the festivities, of course, and I think Fendi’s decorations were some of the best I’ve seen- the front of the building boasted a belt and icicles made out of twinkiling lights; in front of  the store stood a beautiful Christmas tree topped with the Fendi logo, also made of twinkling lights, instead of a traditional star.

The gelato– there are gelato stands and shops everywhere and since Rome has lovely winter weather- most of my days there were sunny and fifty degrees- it makes perfect sense to delight in one of Italy’s tastiest treats.  On both my trips, I stopped at my favorite gelato shop, San Crispino.  As soon as I was done snapping photos of the Trevi Fountain, I headed to San Crispino for creamy gelato. The shop is small and modest, but the gelato is remarkable.   I tried honey, chocolate chip and hazelnut.  All very delicious. 

The bells– the first time I visited Rome, I would sit on the balcony of the hotel in the evening and just listen to the church bells ring.  I’d reflect on all the things I had seen throughout the day, all the beauty I had witnessed, and listened to the bells.  The sun would set and the bells would play and my heart felt so full and content. 

I could go on for hours just listing what I love about Rome, but for tonight I have this list.  It was great reminiscing about the wonderful memories I created on my trips.

Places I’ve Been and Places I’d Like to Visit Some Day….

I love to travel. Most people who know me know this about me. My English class students definitely know this about me, because I share tales about my travels with them and have started using my experiences as I write with my students. Their ultimate favorite tale is the one I told them after I returned from Costa Rica- a monkey peed a little on my head as I stood under a tree to get a closer look at it. This past Christmas, one of my students gave me a travel-theme Coach keyring; I carry it with my classroom keys every day. Many people I know often tell me to travel now before I have children. I plan to heed this advice and continue to add destinations to my list of places I want to visit.

So far I have been to…

Chile

London

Madrid

Hawaii

Mexico

Costa Rica

Rome

The Bahamas

Montreal (Canada)

Niagra Falls (Canada)

London (Canada)

Hope to someday visit…

Ireland

France- Paris and southern regions

Austria- must see the Sound of Music mansion

Germany

Japan

Australia

Bora Bora

Aruba

Amsterdam

Portugal

Greece

Amalfi Coast

Venice

A girl can dream….