This past summer I crossed off a bucket list item!!
Over the last twenty years we have visited the Texas coast at least 2-3 times a year but we have never been able to catch any of the famous turtle releases at Malaquite Beach , North Padre Island. This year was different, thanks to social media, planning a trip around the release days of the hatchlings was easy.
We recently decided to take a very short drive for an almost “staycation” in Salado, Texas. We live a mere 15 minutes north of this historic village and decided it was a perfect place to get away for a day. If you live in the central Texas area, Salado really is a great place to visit. Salado dates to the 1800’s so there is plenty of history, quaint shops, unique boutiques, interesting eateries and a great little brewery. Here are some of my recommendations for a short but sweet trip to a marvelous little town in Central Texas.
Recently my sweet husband bought me a shotgun for my birthday, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. So, when Father’s Day rolled around, I couldn’t resist getting him something unexpected too- a trip!!
I purchased two tickets in the Presidential car on the Texas State Railroad. He was about as thrilled with this gift as I was with the shotgun, but as it turned out we both had a blast.
If you live in Central Texas or even Dallas, I recommend driving to the area the night before and see some of the beautiful East Texas Piney woods scenery. We opted to stay in an Airbnb near Athens which was truly perfect.
Let me begin by saying I love Austin. I could probably write a blog a week on this vibrant city. We live a mere 55-minute drive away so we can be there in no time- depending on the dreaded traffic on I35. We recently had family visit so before they flew out of town, we opted on a day away in the city.
Austin has so much to offer for everyone, eclectic shopping, amazing food choices, the arts and of course the amazing music scene – what’s not to love!!! This visit we chose a more laid-back approach which had to of course include bats. Family from out of town just has to see the bats in Austin……
The State Capital
Whether it’s a quick visit to Austin or a long stay a visit to the State Capital is a must. This is a beautiful building with lovely grounds all of which are worth exploring for an hour or two. I have been many times, but I am always thrilled to visit, I love standing in the rotunda under the dome. The star in the dome looms 218 feet above and measures eight feet from point to point- thoroughly Texas!!
From here you can opt to take a guided tour or follow the provided information for a self-guided tour. Be sure to check out the House of Representatives Chamber; behind the speakers desk hangs the flag from 1836 Battle of San Jacinto.
Five Reasons to Visit Honduras.................
Honduras is off the beaten track. It is the least visited of the Central American counties. The travel advisories obviously have had an effect on the struggling tourist industry and competition is fierce. Here are some reasons to consider Honduras as a possible travel destination .
Value for Money
We spent three nights in a beautiful bed and breakfast in thePico Bonito National Park.La Villa de Soledad is a perfect retreat and at just $63 a night for room and breakfast it is a real bargain.
For something entirely different we moved to the Indura Beach Resort a Hilton property, which was quite spectacular and worthy of 5 starts. Two nights here at $118 plus tax was a steal.
Finally our last night was spent at the Intercontinental by the airport. Prices here were higher at $170 but the hotel was impressive with an incredible breakfast buffet and probably the best coffee I have ever tasted.
The entire world knows the history of the world’s most luxurious liner, The Titanic. Most know that the ship hit an iceberg and over 1500 lives were lost. The epic tale was forever memorialized in the movie.
Many people have a real interest in the history of this famous ship; if you happen to have any interest in the Titanic, a trip to the Titanic Museum in Belfast is obligatory.
The ship was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. The Titanic Museum rises above the land in the exact area where the original ship was built. It is an astounding piece of architecture that has a five-story-high glazed atrium. Positioned at the center of the building this atrium gives visitors access to each of the nine galleries contained within the four wings.
Photos of this building are what first drew me to consider a trip to Belfast. The sheer size and brilliance of the building is quite breathtaking.
This past March I was fortunate enough to cross The Giants Causeway off my bucket list. If this archeological wonder is on your list I recommend a visit via the coastal highway from Belfast.
We only had a day but I could have easily spent longer sauntering through sleepy seaside villages , exploring beautiful seascapes and countryside. If like us you have a day consider a tour through McCombs- they are the best.
Belfast once famous for The Troubles , decades of bitter conflict, is now a peaceful city fast becoming a destination city in Europe. This past year a record-breaking 185,000 cruise passengers and crew called at Belfast. Soon the Disney Cruise line will begin berthing in Belfast so those numbers will continue to grow.
There are many reasons why a visit to Belfast should be considered. This blog will cover just a few.
My mother and I chose Belfast for a short get away as the city offers so many sights and is just a short flight from England. We were also enticed by the idea of a visit to the iconic Titanic Museum.
We were not disappointed by our choice and more than pleasantly surprised at the pure , genuine friendliness of the people of Belfast.
Once a city in turmoil and fear, the tenacity and courage of the people of Belfast paid off. This town is now truly a place to visit and explore in peace.....................some would argue a beacon of hope.
Meet The Big Fish, also known as The Salmon of Knowledge, it is a printed ceramic mosaic sculpture by John Kindness.
The outer skin of the fish is a cladding of ceramic tiles decorated with texts and images relating to the history of Belfast. Each scale tells a story of Belfast. The Big Fish contains a time capsule storing information, images, and poetry on the City.
Be sure to stop by and get a selfie!
Recently I planned a spring break trip to Belfast to meet my Mom and spend some time exploring this up and coming city in Northern Ireland. Living in Central Texas my options for international flight includes Dallas, Houston and now Austin. Austin Airport has numerous options for direct flights from Austin to London. I flew into Gatwick and decided to opt for a layover in London so I could spend the day in London and cross off a bucket list item – The National Gallery.
As I only had a day in London, I limited my sight seeing escapades to a small area of London, Westminster. I headed from Gatwick to Charing Cross, about 35 minutes on the train with a change at London Bridge.
Once you emerge from Charing Cross station a short walk around the corner and you will find yourself in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Obviously, a visit to Trafalgar Square is on most people’s "London List" because of the history of this area. This vibrant square is in Westminster and steeped in history it is also surrounded by museums and churches.
Rallies and demonstrations are frequently held at weekends on different political, religious and general issues. The Mayor of London supports this democratic tradition and gives access to the square for such causes.
If you live in Central Texas you should seriously consider taking a flight from Austin, Tx to London Gatwick in the UK. You can find some great deals on direct flights through Norwegian Airlines. The great thing about flying into Gatwick is the fact that once you land you are a 35-minute train ride into the center of London with all that London has to offer. Spend a day exploring the sights, see Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Trafalgar Square -all within walking distance of one another. If you are only spending a day head back to the airport to one of the many fabulous hotels that Gatwick has on offer. The next day you can head out to just about any major city in Europe. From Gatwick you can get to just about anywhere in Europe return for under $100. I opted for Belfast this trip and flew Easy Jet.
If you are planning a trip to Europe, I would suggest considering London Gatwick as a possible layover as it is so easy to get into central London from the train station at Gatwick. If you have a few hours to spare you can easily get on the train and be at London Bridge station in 30 minutes. From there it is two stops to Charing Cross which is a block away from Trafalgar Square. If you can't check into your hotel right away or if you just have a long layover leaving your luggage is safe and easy at the Left Luggage Station. Buy a ticket for the train ( mine was approximately $20 return for off peak hours).
For the past 8 years on MLK weekend my husband and I travel somewhere to meet my in-laws. Although my father-in-law passed, we keep this tradition going in his honor we raise a glass and explore a new city. This year it seemed appropriate that we finally explore Atlanta the hometown of Dr. Martin Luther King and some would argue the birthplace of the civil rights movement in this country.
If you live in Texas – even if you don’t – I highly recommend taking a trip to Galveston in the Winter. I love this historical seaside town with all that it has to offer. I especially love it when it’s chilly and the seawall stretches on and on virtually tourist free. Galveston has so much to offer even in the winter. Right before Christmas you can be enthralled with all that A Dickens of a Christmas has to offer on the historic Strand. At Moody Gardens families can be thrilled with winter ice sculptures and so much more. We opted to visit the day after Christmas to just enjoy some great seafood and to explore a few places we had not yet visited. We made our home-base Harbor House Hotel and we were not disappointed………………………
Harbor House Hotel
The Harbor House Hotel was a perfect choice for us. We wanted a place with views of the sea channel and within walking distance of restaurants and bars- it was perfect! What I loved the most was the fabulous service from Dee when we checked in. She was warm and welcoming and provided lots of information. She clearly loves her job and she does it well. What I loved even more was the amazing view from our room. The room itself was huge, clean and well appointed. I really loved the industrial-nautical décor. The hotel is literally minutes from the Strand with an abundance of options for bars and restaurants. We were only at the hotel 2 nights but we really enjoyed our stay.
Late Friday night, Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey churned through the Gulf of Mexico. It intensified from a tropical storm into a dangerous Category 4 hurricane before its whirling eye crashed into Port Aransas. With winds gusting up to 160 mph, the storm spewed tornadoes that ripped apart homes and buildings . Port A was slammed, and Harvey left destruction and devastation on every street corner.
A year later and thankfully there are real signs of a renaissance.
We recently visited during a cold and bleak Veterans Day weekend. Port A has grit and true character and we felt a sense of homecoming as much of what we recalled remained or had been rebuilt. Restaurants and businesses were open and it was clear that Port A is well on the road to recovery and hopefully set for a fabulous summer season.
Here are some reasons why Port A should be on your list of places to visit any season.
Go for The Beach................
There are 6.5 miles of beautiful beaches to explore . Here at Port A you can also drive on the beach but a $12 permit is required for parking. I love the beaches here especially in the off season as I have often been blessed to have miles of stretches of beach all to myself to walk and discover. The jetty is also a fun place to walk and watch the fishermen at work.
Fort Worth Union Stockyards opened for business on January 19, 1890 the history of the successes of this area is quite fascinating. If you live in Texas, visit Texas or ever plan to visit this historic area should be on your list. The 90-acre Historic Stockyards area is a major tourist attraction but don’t let that dissuade you, simply embrace the Western heritage and history of the area and enjoy all that it has to offer...........bucking bulls and all !!!
The Daily Cattle Drive
Situated in Central Texas San Saba is said to be the Pecan Capital of the World. It is a beautiful little town nestled in beautiful Texas countryside.
The town of San Saba has so much to offer. There are award winning wineries, historic buildings, speciality stores and lots more. My daughter and I headed out for a mother -daughter retreat. San Saba and the surrounding area prooved to be perfect.
Take a Day Trip to A slice of Heaven Educational Farm in Holland, Texas.
We were pleasantly surprised at the “soft” opening of A Slice of Heaven Educational Farm. This is a fabulous addition to the kid’s friendly activities for families in the Central Texas area.
Situated just south of Salado on the outskirts of Holland this is an easy daytrip from Austin and all the surrounding areas.
I was blessed to spend the afternoon with my grandkids as they got to explore all that this place has to offer which is a lot.
We had tried to take a trip to this part of Texas for years, on each occasion our plans were canceled due to emergencies. We opted to make few plans and just hit the road during the off season. Many said we were insane to head to the desert in the summer, but we had a blast. After spending a fabulous time exploring Alpine, Marfa and Ft. Davis we headed south to the Big Bend area.
Here are some of the highlights and some of the disappointments.
I will say this, Big Bend in the summer months is spectacular and even more so because the park is not inundated with visitors. This part of the world is beautiful no matter the season so if you can take a trip here- the desert sights are food for the soul!
The Drive South
Fort Davis lies 21 miles Southwest of Alpine which makes it a perfect destination for a day-trip if you are based in Alpine. We opted to do just that and it turned out to be one of our best day trips.
Along The Way..............
We stopped to hike at the Chihuahuan Dessert Nature Center . This place is a must see if you are in the area. The gardens are stunning and the hikes beautiful. The center itself is staffed by well informed and helpful volunteers who are passionate about conserving the beauty of the area. WE stayed about 2 hours hiking one of the trails and then exploring the indigenous gardens.
Many of you may never of heard of this little West Texas town but take it from me this town should be on your bucket list.
The Big Bend Brewing Company was established in Alpine in 2012 and it is well worth a visit; in fact, it was our first stop as we settled into town. It is situated just on the outskirts of town and has a tap room. We were greeted by friendly bar staff and introduced to some pretty good beers. I loved the light, pilsner, Tejas and Gene tried a pretty strong darker beer. We both agreed the beer was solid and the choices extensive. The atmosphere is casual, and we pulled up a seat on a wooden bench and met some of the locals.
Travel is a passion of mine – I love to travel. I also love to plan in detail my trips. This past summer I took a chance and booked flights using Kiwi.com. What seemed to be too good to be true turned out to be just that- too good to be true. My initial travel itinerary involved a flight from Austin to Rhode Island with a 90-minute layover before catching a flight to Belfast where I had a hotel booked and paid for, as well as a planned tour. Arriving two hours early I checked in only to be told that I never actually had a flight direct to Rhode Island and that I would fly four hours later to Denver and then on to Rhode Island. This of course meant I missed my flight to Belfast and I also had a 6-hour layover in Denver. My new itinerary involved 5 flights involving 3 states and 3 countries putting me at my final destination 3 days later…………………………
Gennadi is a Greek village in the Sothern region of Rhodes. The village has a population of about 700 people and it is a “tourist town “in the making. That is a town that is trying to grown into something more than it is right now. It truly does has the makings of a great place to base your holiday in Rhodes. You will find Gennadi 40 miles south of Rhodes City and the International airport, 15 miles south of Lindos which means it is easy to drive or get a bus to any of the sights you want to visit. Read on to find out why I fell in love with this small Greek town……………
Go for the Beach...........
The reason I fell in love with this place was the calm, tranquil beach. Yes, it’s a pebble beach but that in itself has many advantages. The water of the Aegean Sea is crystal clear and so very refreshing. The beach here is typically quiet with a few Italian, Greek and German tourists soaking up the sun. I loved that you can rent an umbrella and 2 lounges for 7 euro for the whole day. Even better you can stroll the 20 yards from your lounger to the outdoor restaurant for lunch or light refreshments then stroll back for a nap. I spent two days at this beach and it was probably the most relaxing days I had all year. Loved it!!!
Go for the Fish Resturants........
There are two fish restaurants situated right on the beach that have clearly been around for a while. Both offer a two course fresh fish meal for 15 euros, both offer beach loungers and relaxing atmospheres but I fell in love with Klemis Taverna. The food here was fabulous and the service wonderful.
Lindos is an archeological site , a fishing village and beach. Tourists flood into Lindos for all three. The town lies on the east coast about 65 miles from the town of Rhodes. Lindos is quite beautiful with it’s towering acropolis, white cubed houses and the radiantly blue waters of the bay. In Lindos you can go up or down but at some point you will need to go back up. Our bus dropped us at the top a hill that lead down to the beach and the beginning of the town.
Symi Island is one of the smaller Dodecanese group if islands just 9 kilometers off the Turkish coast north of Rhodes. "Sizzling Symi" as the island is often referred to, is one of the hottest of the Greek Island with temperatures often rising well over 100 in the summer months.
The island is probably one of the most picturesque islands I have had the pleasure of visiting. As the ferry glides into the marina pastel painted neoclassical houses climb up the hillsides.
The island was once home to a thriving shipbuilding and sponge diving industry. Symi relies now almost entirely on tourism, mostly day trippers from Rhodes. We took such a day trip and it turned out to be one of my favorite days in Greece.
Soaking up the sun in Symi.............................Do it because....................
The seafood is amazing......... but be sure to look around don't just stop at the best looking seafood restaurant like we did. There are so many wonderful places to eat and NOT all are over priced like the one we stopped at.
A Day in Marmaris
Marmaris is a popular destination for day trippers from Rhodes. I have always wanted to visit Turkey and have considered a stopover however my sweet husband has always talked me out of it. On this trip he wasn’t around to “reason” with me........So I opted for a day trip through Thomas Cook.
Marmaris lies on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and is only an hour ferry ride from Rhodes City. It is in the Mugla Province along what is termed the Turkish Riviera. Marmaris is a tourist town which swells in population during the summer months. So why spend a day in Marmaris………………………….
Go for the Ferry Ride..................
The ferry ride from Rhodes City to Marmaris is more than pleasant. The ferry is equipped with plenty of seats, open air and inside with A C. There are snack bars serving drinks and light refreshments. The hour passes quickly and in no time you find yourself pulling into the beautiful port of Marmaris with it’s deep harbor , gorgeous mountains and every imaginable sea vessel. Turkey requires a port/visa fee from each person, this is paid in Rhodes ( approximately 15 euro) so entering Turkey is relatively fast once the ferry docks. Once through passport control our Thomas Cook representative was waiting with another bus this time with a Turkish guide.
Why Stay Here.................................
I don’t usually focus a whole blog on a place to stay but I really fell in love with The Florentine situated in Fulwood , Sheffield. I may be biased as I went to school at Notre Dame which is situated just up the road so I know the area well. I love this area of Sheffield with it’s beautiful tree lined roads and fabulous pubs and parks. Minutes from the city center this area offers so much. If you are fortunate to visit the city of Sheffield I highly recommend that you stay at The Florentine, here’s why………theflorentinepub.com/
The pub has a lot to offer, friendly staff, great drinks and, good food are always a recipe for a good night out. I was in Sheffield for only a few nights and on two occasions decided to stay in and have friends and family visit me at The Florentine - It was a good choice! Both nights we were able to relax in a friendly atmosphere , comfortable setting and enjoy some pretty good food. The Florentine offered a two for one fire roasted pizza deal which couldn’t be beat. The pizza and service was excellent both nights.