Ahhh Puerto Vallarta Mexico, a sunny place to get away from the harsh cloudy and rainy days of Vancouver. What used to be a yearly trip for both Russ and I during the month of January, I haven’t been to the lovely bay town since 2008. Russ on the other hand has been there quite frequently, sometimes visiting Puerto Vallarta twice a year.
This time we are heading to Puerto Vallarta a little later than normal for the both of us. With Russ having 3 weeks of holidays and I currently looking for a new career opportunity, it’s a perfect time to head down for a vacation before life gets busy again for both of us.
The kids are all booked up for their own vacations while we are away. Junior will be heading to the Rex Dog Spa as usual and Cyd is set to visit the aviary. It does get hard when one travels and have pets to look after. We don’t like to ask people to look after them as it does take commitment on their part and we don’t want it to be a burden. Sometimes I wish I had family here as they would be the ones to gladly look in on them.
I hoping to explore different areas of Puerto Vallarta this time around. I want to dig deeper into the area and find those hidden gems that most people wouldn’t know existed. Since Russ and I are not big beach people, I think we can accomplish this task easily.
We might take a side trip into Guadalajara for a few days. A 5 hour bus ride away will allow me to see the country side from a different angle as well as visit a city we stayed at last year for a week.
I’m looking forward to seeing those amazing sunsets and seeing what has changed in the 5 years that I haven’t been there. I’m also looking forward to spending my birthday in another city this time around.
Of course I’ll still be on the job hunt while I’m down there. One never knows what opportunities might arise from it.
On our recent trip to Guadalajara Mexico, Russ and I stayed at the lovely La Perla – Boutique Bed & Breakfast which has a strong connection to Mexican movie stars of the past.
Situated in the heart of the Historical section of Guadalajara, this 3 guest room two storey with roof top Moorish mansion has been welcoming visitors from around the world since September 2005.Decorated with magnificent works of art from local artists, La Perla highlights Mexican artists.
You might be lucky enough to be staying during one of their parties. Some parties they invite local musicians and opera singers to come in and sing. We were lucky enough to be surprised by a visit from a couple of opera singers during our stay and they showed us how wonderful their voices were. An amazing experience I won’t soon forget.
The two hosts, Lars and Cristobal, were amazing. They both made sure that everyone in the house was well looked after and that their stay was enjoyable. They would make daily suggestions on places to visit and where to go. They made sure directions were easy to understand and would even offer to join us on our adventures of discovering Guadalajara. At one point I got food poisoning during my stay and they were kind enough to go out the pharmacy and make sure I had some over the counter medicine as well as made sure I kept I fully hydrated.
The host can also book any side trips you would like and can join you along the way giving you a local perspective of the area. All the main attractions to the historical city are within walking distance of La Perla.
If you are ever in Guadalajara, I highly recommend staying here. You will not be disappointed and you will be well looked after!
This weekend I was invited, thanks to a Klout Perk, to spend 2 days in Seattle. During these 2 days, we are invited to visit the city and explore hidden gems and hopefully tweet about it while we are down there with the hashtag #2DaysInSeattle.
I haven’t been to Seattle in about 3 years. Yeah I know it’s very close for us here in Vancouver and I am looking forward to exploring the city a little bit more. How much can I do in 2 days? I’m not 100% sure. If you had just 2 days in Seattle what would you do? What restaurants should I try? What local hot spots is a must see?
I’ll admit I will be going up the Space Needle this time around as I’ve never done that before. I have done the underground city tour before as well and of course I will be revisiting Pike’s Place Market. I’m also thinking of taking either a dinner boat cruise or just a regular boat cruise.
I’ve very excited about the opportunity and hopefully everyone will enjoy my tweets (internet hotspots permitting) as well as a post, or two afterwards.
Yesterday was one of those days when Russ and I just wanted to get away for a road trip that took us eastward. We had no game plan except to drive and see how far we wanted to go. As we got closer to Hope, we decided to continue along the Hope-Princeton highway and drive and quickly explore the area.
We had a quick stop in Princeton where we had lunch at a local restaurant. And allowed Junior, who was with us on this trip, a quick bathroom break. Though we were only there for a few short minutes. It was fun to enjoy the warm sun that the area gives you this time of year. The town is filled with many trails and great places to enjoy nature. Next weekend, August 19 – 21, their annual Princeton Traditional Music Festival takes place. So if you are into fiddlers, sea chanties and Celtic music, make sure to check them out.
We continued on towards Keremeos where we stopped at a local fruit stand, Mariposa, and bought some great local fruits and vegetables that this season offers. As the temperature was reaching 32C we had a nice ice cream to help cool us off. Truly a wonderful area with the surrounding mountains.
Continuing our trip we stopped in Osoysoos just before 6pm where we decided to walk along the beach. As it was the weekend and wonderful weather, there were tons of people in Osoyoos. I would have loved to have stayed longer and explore the city more, but we didn’t get a chance.
What is wonderful about driving through the Similkameen valley was the amount of fruit stands, wineries and wonderful park areas it has to offer. If you are fine with driving a few hours from Vancouver, I think you will enjoy a day trip to this area. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.
Our tour has officially ended with most of our tour mates leaving today. Russ and I still have a couple of days left to enjoy the city and since museums are closed on Mondays we thought it would be a good day to check out a museum.
Photo by Wikipedia
Russ really loves Egyptian artifacts and has gone to Egypt before so and our main goal today was to head over to the Egyptian Museum to view their artifacts. The museum has 4 levels of great artifacts throughout the many history of Egypt from the 4000BC up to the Roman rule and up to rule of Akhenaten (around 1340BC). The main highlight of the museum is the famous Nefertiti colour bust which is guarded and on the top floor.
I was really amazed at the quality of the collection and how it was showcased. Seeing Nefertiti’s bust was amazing. Truly a work of art and truly a beautiful piece. The bust is said to be a true likeliness of Nefertiti and lives up to all the hype around it. She was a beautiful woman with amazing features. Well worth the €10 price.
On our way to the museum we encountered an open air concert from the Berlin Symphony outside the Humboldt University on Unter den Linden. It was amazing to see people of walks of life enjoying the music, from young and old, it was a great experience. I just wished we would have had more time to enjoy the music, but we wanted to make the most of the museum itself.
The day concluded with a nice dinner out to an Argentinian Steak House (which really wasn’t Argentinian at all ).
It’s not often that you get to experience a huge event in another country, and on our third day in Berlin, we got to experience one of their most popular events – Christopher Street Day (Berlin Gay Pride). We ended up catching the parade in front of the KaDeWe department store.
This parade was huge, with many huge floats hosting people dancing and drinking in celebration. Everyone seemed to have a fantastic time and the spectators where all enjoying themselves. The parade continued well into the afternoon and ended up at the Brandenburg Gate.
What I did find interesting was that people were opening up champagne bottles and drinking in celebration, even the floats themselves where selling alcohol to anyone that was following along. Unlike here in North America, there were no fights, there were no riots, just people enjoying a good party. Granted the mess that is left behind is huge, but the cleaners do a fantastic job of cleaning it up quickly afterwards.
You can catch more of my photos from the parade on my Flickr – Christopher Street Day set.
Today was a free day for us, which meant we had no schedule tour plans from the company and we can go out and explore Berlin as we sought fit. Our tour guide the night before did mention that he was going to get on the “hop-on, hop-off” bus and see if there was anything of interest that might be worth seeing. Both Russ and I thought it would be a good way to see the city as well as I had a few places I wanted to stop off at, including the Parliament building with this glass dome.
Luckily one of the stops for the “hop-on, hop-off” bus was just outside our hotel. One bus that stopped, offered a day pass for €15, with a €5 more to have the audio accompaniment but only until 10pm that night. Another bus stopped and offered a 24 hour pass for €20 which included the audio accompaniment. Since it was for 24 hours we opted for this company. (Alas on further inspection afterwards we did notice that bus stops at 10pm also.)
With map provided, we were on our way to tour the city. We stopped at several places where we stopped the day before during our half day tour so those places were off our list. I made notes of places to hopefully stop off again on the return trip. We ended up getting off just near the Berlin Cathedral which is surrounded by several other museums.
We continued to walk down along Unter den Linden which was surrounded on both sides by more museums and we got to the Humboldt University where they were setting up for an open air concert in a couple of days.
We continued on our way toward the Brandenburg Gate where we got back on the “hop-on, hop-off” bus to continue on our way. Realizing that we promised to meet some fellow people from the tour to head to the Bauhaus Museum, we had to rush along and not stop at any other stop. There were some interesting other stops we wanted to see, but we might have to wait until our other free day on Monday.
The Bauhaus Museum was just down the street from our hotel (yes the hotel was really well placed) where we got to see some examples from Bauhaus and learn more about the school and some of their famous teachers. Overall I wasn’t too impressed with it as I found the exhibit to be fairly small. We completed the exhibit within an hour.
The evening was completed with some of the tour group getting together for a dinner our near by. Fun was had by all this day!
After a 2 hour bus ride from Dresden, we finally arrived to our new home in Berlin at the famous Hotel Berlin Berlin. It was nice to be greeted at the Hotel door by the Berlin Bear that throughout the city. This is similar to the Orcas and Eagles that were throughout Vancouver. It was great to see other cities doing the same thing.
Once we got settled into our hotel rooms, we headed out on 1/2 day tour of the city. It was amazing to see that we were given such a huge bus for only 14 people.
Our first stop took us to the famous Brandenburg Gate. The gate was commissioned by Fredrick William II of Prussia in 1788 and was the entry point to the city palace in the boulevard of linden trees. It was also an important entry point when Berlin was separated into the East and West sides. Now the Brandenburg Gate is a European landmark and is surrounded by many consulates.
Our tour continued through the city where we got to see a section of the remaining Berlin Wall where famous artists where asked to paint the wall after the wall came down in 1989 to form a huge graffiti wall. Most recently the artists where invited to come back and repaint their section and update them with their signature.
We continued our tour around the city seeing all the old section of the former East Berlin and seeing the new architecture throughout the city including the famous Sony Centre.
Our next stop was the famous Checkpoint Charlie. This was the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Here you can pose with some people dressed in US, French and Russian soldier uniforms (at a cost of 4 Euros) or get your passport stamped with replicas of the original stamps for about 5 Euros. I opted out not to get my passport stamped as I felt it was too “Niagara Falls” for me.
It was very odd being such an area where there was a division of the city. If it wasn’t for some of the monuments currently around the city, you wouldn’t know there was an old wall. I even got to step over the old line.
An amazing day with lots of information provided by our tour guide. The evening we got together as a group for an amazing dinner. The next couple of days we will be on our own and I’ll hopefully get to go back to some of the sites we saw our initial tour.
After a wonderful sleep at the QF Hotel, we boarded our bus to a short trip to Meissen Germany, known as the cradle of Saxony. The drive was wonderful as we crossed some wonderful countryside.
Meissen is famous for being the first place in Europe to produce porcelain outside of the Orient in 1710. The Meissen factory still is up and running and was our first stop. We had a personal tour of the museum and even got to see how they currently produce porcelain and create the wonderful pieces from cookware to porcelain figures. It was interesting to note that most start work at the factory by apprenticing as early as 16 years of age.
We later continued our tour of Meissen which included a wonderful view of the Albrechtsburg castle and Cathedral.
The remaining of the day was a free day from the tour where we got to explore the rest of the city. We stopped at a coffee shop just outside the Opera House and watched a wonderful sunset hit the Palace and watched people just come out of the Opera House as it was over. It was such a pleasure to see people enjoying culture from young and old.
We are now in Dresden which is the capital of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. This city was bombed heavily during World War II and most of the city was destroyed. It wasn’t until fairly recently that this city has begun a full reconstruction and major historical buildings are being rebuilt in the same style (baroque and rococo) and craftsmanship as it was before their destruction
Upon arrival into our hotel, the amazing QF Hotel, located in the centre square of the Old Town, we headed on a quick private tour beginning at the restored Opera House. Our 1 hour long tour took us to several halls and meetings area which were magnificently reconstructed to their original style. Although there weren’t a lot of photos pre World War II, most of the citizens from Dresden were interviewed and shared their memories which gave the architects a way of reconstructing the Opera House. Alas we were not allowed backstage, which is larger than the actual seating area I was thoroughly impressed with the structure and acoustics.
We continued for a quick tour around the old town to get ourselves familiar with the town. It was obvious that their tram system is amazing with a tram running in all directions from the old town.
We later celebrated a birthday of one of the fellow tour attendees at an amazing German restaurant – Sophienkeller. We even sat in their merry go round table which had swings and actually rotated around. We had several people take photos of the tour group, alas I don’t have any (which might be a good thing )