Entries tagged with “sabbatical”.


Think back to 5 years ago. What were you doing then to prepare for now? My thoughts take me back to when I took a step of faith to leave my corporate job to follow what God placed in my heart. That one step took me on a journey around the world to over 30 countries. That one little step instilled in me that faith in God comes by taking action…one step at a time. Today, 5 years later, I love this lifestyle!! I have a renewed sense of God and the truths found in His word. It is indeed a faithwalk!

So, where will you be 5 years from now?

Angie in Curacao 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

angie in grand turk 2014

Romans 1:17 – “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith”.

Where will your dreams take you?

Be Blessed!

Sometimes we need to slow down, rest, and look at the big picture…It helps if it is on a beach!  Where will your dreams take you?

 

Rhodes, Greece - Where will your dreams take you?

“The ultimate of being successful is the luxury of giving yourself the time to do what you want to do.” — Leontyne Price

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Hi All!

After many jaunts to and around the Mediterranean, Croatia has been on my LifeList for a long time.  Proclaimed to be one of the newest jet set hot spots, Croatia did not disappoint.  Nestled on the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik was a welcomed treat as the last stop aboard the European cruise ship.

Wandering through the medieval alleys of the Old City, there is a certain old world charm and elegance that surrounds you. The walled city rides the coast giving way to beautiful landscapes and a sea of tiled red roofs.

Taking a taxi up the steep one-laned street up to the fortress, we were pleasantly surprised at the beautiful panoramic overlooking the Old Harbor.  Apparently, one of the oldest European pharmacies is still in operation in Dubrovnik.  I never did find it.  But, I did find shopping, bell towers, beautiful churches, historic landmarks, and impressive architectural highlights at every twist and turn. Croatia is a jewel to be discovered…and I will definitely be back!!

Inspiration Travel is at its most rewarding when it ceases to be about
your reaching a destination and becomes indistinguishable from living your
life.  Paul Theroux

Where will your dreams take you?

Blessings!

~A

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Hi All!

Years ago,  I made a pledge to celebrate my birthday by traveling.  This year was no different.  In fact, it was definitely a stellar year with stellar destinations…A 12 day cruise to China, Russia, and Japan!!  So, follow along as we  journey through this cruise of a lifetime!

SabbaticalScape…Shanghai

The trip started off jetsetting on my birthday from Houston to Newark and then onward to Shanghai.  Once in Shanghai, we had the opportunity to explore the city until….we spotted KFC!! I was indeed hungry but didn’t have any Yuans/RMBs . Surely, KFC would accept a credit card – NOT.  The journey to the ATM began.  Actually, it wasn’t hard to find.  We got our money and our original recipe.  Ok, I know I broke my rule of no local food chains while traveling, but I needed a quick fix.  By the way, KFC Original recipe never tasted so good.

We spent the next day checking out Shanghai…Actually, we spent it shopping.   At every turn we made, there was someone saying “hey lady” and indicating us to follow.  They then proceeded to say those trigger key words – Prada, Louie, and my personal favorite Chanel!!  Those were probably the only English words they knew.  But, it was enough for my aunt.  With my swift take it or we leave negotiation skills, she bought several bags for really cheap.  Me?  Ok, they almost got me.  That bag was cute!!  But I prefer genuine vs. genuine fake!!

Party over here!!

Aboard the beautiful Ocean Princess, the fun began.  I was invited to coveted private tours, exclusive parties and even got to celebrate my birthday at the Captain’s table for dinner.  I met many wonderful travelers, and not to mention the crew and staff were absolutely wonderful!  I even tried karaoke for the first time – twice! 

To add to the life on board experience, I am always ready for an adventure.  One of my friends tried to coax me into getting in the hot tub in SIBERIA!!!  I seriously considered it, but a quick look at the ice blocks in the ocean and my frost biten fingers turned me away from that experience.  But, hats (and coats, and gloves) off to Ross.  He did it!  He got in the hot tub on the main deck in the freezing cold weather.

Beijing – My Great Wall of Freedom!

There is a saying that “you are not a hero until you climb the Great Wall” (Chairman Mao).  With Shanghai behind us, Beijing was where my heart was set.  On cruises, I never take the offered tours as they can be a pricey and plus you have to get up at dark:thirty to participate!!  But this time was different.  Since we were actually 2 – 3 hours from the Great Wall and the tour included lunch, it was well worth every penny.  Plus, there was no way I was going to chance missing the boat in the middle of no where.

To see the architectural grandeur of the Great Wall was everything I expected and more.  It was one of those surreal moments where you just have to stop and be in awe at every step you take. Granted, there are a lot of steps!  Uneven, loose, and very steep steps on the wall.  Our visit turned out to be at the right time. Since it was winter, the crowds were gone and the air was nice, but crispy cold.  There were remnants of snow still nestled to the side of the stairways.  Oh, contrary to popular belief, you can’t see the Great Wall from space with the naked eye.

Most of you know that I am a native Houstonian.  Meaning that cold to us is either going skiing or a few days of 280 weather.  But nothing could have prepared me for Dalian, China.  Disembarking the ship, snow and ice were everywhere.  The shuttle bus dropped us off at department store and from there I scouted out the town.  This was truly cold…I fell down on the ice-covered sidewalks several times.  After exploring, the cold got a bit too much for me. So, I just decided to go shopping instead.  Click on the pictures to see what I mean.

 

Siberia – What do you mean we are going to Siberia?  Check back for the rest of the story!!

Where Will Your Dreams Take You?

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“You’ve never been to NY!!”  That’s what people exclaim to me, knowing that I have been all around the world, but never NYC.  Well, after firming up details for my Holland America cruise slated to leave out of Manhattan, I finally decided to take a bite out of the big apple.  

NYC here I come!!

Hurricane? What!?!

For this “sabbaticalscape”, my friend Kerri was able to join me again.  Little did I know that Hurricane Earl had dibs on the big apple as well. Weather reports were pouring in stating that Earl was on his way toward our intended path. But with tickets bought and bags (almost) packed, this did not stop us!

The Arrival – Day 1

We landed in Newark and shuttled our way to the Marrakech hotel, located on the Mahattan’s upper west side.  This trendy boutique hotel was nicely decorated in a Moroccan motif.  Energetic music greeted us as we entered the door and walked up the stairs to the front desk for check in. With no elevator, the bell hops eagerly packed our bags to our 3rdfloor abode.  The room was clean, cute, and kind of small…much like our budget!! But I must say that I was well pleased with the excellent service from the staff.  They did a lot to accommodate us – everything from hailing cabs to carrying bags, and getting a delicious pizza ordered at 3 am!

Not wanting to waste any time, we quickly put our bags down, got a map, and hit the streets. I was able to give a friend a call, who referred us to a small restaurant many blocks away.  Much to my surprise, the food was really good.

From there, we continued walking…walking…and more walking down Broadway. Then all of a sudden we heard music. It was Lincoln Center!! They were having a free outdoor concert/opera of Hansel and Gretel on the big screen…did I mention FREE.

The Experience – Day 2

 The next day, a friend of mine offered to show us around the city. But, Kerri had other ideas.  Needless to say, after much “discussion”, we bought the 2-day ticket for the hop on-hop off bus and decided to meet up with my friend later that evening.  Regardless, I knew we would have fun.

As a first timer in NYC, imagine my surprise as I stepped out of the hotel, caught the nearby subway, and in a flash we were on 42nd street in Times Square.  Amazing!  The lights, the people, the buildings, and the shopping!! But wait, we were also hungry.  Generally, my rule while traveling is to only eat things that are local to the area.  In other words, no chain restaurants!! But, we made an executive exception – McDonald’s.  We had to eat quickly and get moving – so much to see and do.

From the hop on bus route, we were able to see the Empire State Building, the original Macy’s, Greenwich Village, and more.  We then walked to the World Trade Center site, did some window shopping, and walked down to Battery Park. Hungry again, we bought a $2 hot dog from the infamous carts. I thought for sure I would be sorry, but everything turned out ok…if you know what I mean.

Nearing dusk, my friend Keir met us at the park and took us around to board the Staten Island Ferry. I actually saw some kids break dancing in the street! Of course, this added to my authentic NYC experience. LOL!!!

With the night still young, Kerri was ready to go out.  Actually, I could have gone back to the hotel and hung out in that area. But, we were in NY and we were both eager to break in the hot new shoes we bought.  Nonetheless, we danced, met new friends, and club hopped (a first for me). We got back to the hotel and guess what?  Half asleep, Kerri wanted a NY pizza.  She ordered some awful looking pizza at 3 am in the morning. Turns out, that was the best $30- 3 am in the morning pizza I have ever tasted…Not anything like pizza here at home.

The Explorers – Day 3

This was the last full day of our labor day weekend and not being morning people, we pulled an “Angie” – we didn’t get up until 1 pm. But, we still had one more day on our hop on bus ticket. So, we decided to use it for the blue route to Harlem, the museums, and enjoying Central Park.  We never did make breakfast anywhere. LOL!!!  Oh, we did forget one thing… the bus stopped running at 6!!  (Tip – Always note where and what time the last bus runs). So, we explored, okay walked,  the area back to the hotel , stopping to eat (as usual) and just taking in the sites. Even with our late start, it turned out to be a great day.

The End – Last day

With only a few hours left before check out, we rolled out of bed at 7 am with a goal to get on tv. We took the subway into Manhattan and started to make the rounds to each tv studio. I actually got on GMA!!  Even though it was only for a split second, it was a thrill to call home and to tell them to try to catch me on the show. In addition, we were lucky enough to get a photo with anchor David Muir.  Afterwards, we made it to the Met to snap photos of us with the masters.

Much to my surprise, I LOVED NY!

With only a short amount of time left before Kerri’s shuttle arrival, we made it back to the hotel—just in time!! She left for Houston and me..well, I was en route to my next sabbaticalscape – a 10 day cruise of New England and Canada. WOO HOO!!  Oh by the way, we never saw any signs of Hurricane Earl!

 
Inspiration – Don’t save all your dreams of retirement for the end.  Live some now while you’re young, healthy and able to tango!  Tim Ferriss
 
Be blesssed!
~A
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Hi All!

Pura Vida!! Costa Rica was nice (more about this later). But, Nicaragua was BETTER!! Once we settled into our hotel, Allegro Papagaya, we noticed that we could arrange a day trip to Nicaragua. (Tip – All day with breakfast and lunch $135). There was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity.

We got up at dark-thirty to meet our ride to grab breakfast, which was part of the tour. He shuttled us about 25 minutes away to a restaurant just past the airport.  Not knowing what to expect, we sat at a table with a few others who were also going to Nicaragua.  Bacon, eggs, and toast…how could such a simple ordinary breakfast be sooo good?  It was delicious!!  This was only a preview of the wonderful day ahead of us.

Border control:

After breakfast and introductions, we then loaded into the bus and pushed onward to the border for the next 2 hours or so. Once near the border, we were immersed in a sea of 18-wheelers waiting to pass immigration. (I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture—uurrghh). Luckily, our guide knew the ropes and got us through the lines quickly and easily. We did have to get out and actually present our documentation to authorities. Ok, so I also bought a candy bar or two and a soda!!

Now that we were back on the road, the guide gave a lot of information about the area. Actually, he was talking too much.  At this point, I sensed the need to take my mid-morning sabbatical nap. So, I missed his explanations about the scenery and background info.

I woke up just as we embarked upon the colonial city. We spent a great deal of time exploring the old church, La Merced, and its bell tower. The views were spectacular!  You could even see the Cathedral Granada in the distance. I am getting all excited just reminiscing about the adventure.

The next part of the tour included a jungle boat ride wherein a hindsight view enabled us to see the volcanic vistas. We also saw monkeys on an island in the middle of the river – strategically place for tourist purposes!! LOL!!   Yes, Nicaragua has interesting wildlife.  After exploring Granada, there was still plenty more to see.

Masaya Volcano – It’s Active!!

As you approach the volcano, you can see a huge cross marking the top. Warning signs abound telling visitors to park outward facing the exit and giving instructions to only stay about 20 minutes as to not be overcome by gases. Climbing to the top, Jeff fell in love with my camera and couldn’t resist being my photographer. He snapped so many pictures and told me to “work it” – so funny!!  We were utterly amazed when we reached the top and saw inside the rim of the crater, with gases spewing out!!  According to our guide, the cross was erected in honor of a priest who either stopped people from sacrificing babies into the volcano or exercising the devil from it…I guess the story depends on what guide you get!!

After a great lunch and shopping in the nearby marketplace, we headed off to see another volcano and Nicaragua lake. I don’t even remember the name of the volcano, but it was such a special treat!!

At the end of the tour, our guide gave each of us a maracas with our names engraved!! This was such a pleasant surprise. To say the least, I was very impressed with Nicaragua. Who would have thought that all the notions of it being unsafe, full of drugs, and poverty, could result in such a wonderful adventure in nature and culture!

Take a look at my photo essay of the trip…Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about Costa Rica. Look for this in my next post.

Inspiration – “You have two choices in life. You can dissolve into the main stream, or you can choose to become an achiever and be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no else but you can be.” (Unknown)
 
Be blessed beyond measure!!
~A

WOW!!!  We really got a great deal aboard the beautiful brand new Celebrity Equinox cruise ship.  Thank you Aunt Thelma.  Here are the details of our adventure…

We landed in Rome and quickly found the train route that would take us to the port city of Civitavecchia.  From there, we boarded the ship for a 12 relaxing days around the Mediterranean Sea.  These days were filled with taking advantage of learning new languages, eating, relaxing in the hot tub, meeting our fellow cruisers, listening to great jazz music, and dressing up for exquisite dinners. 

Oh, I must mention, aside from the exotic ports of call, one of the most exciting part of the cruise was the broadway style show after dinner. In Cirque style, there were aerial performers (which I LOVE) and other dancers in flamboyant costumes.  This show was world-class!  This voyage was definitely off to a great start.

First Stop – Athens

The weather was slated to be clear and hot for our  first stop – Athens, Greece.  Boy, was the weatherman ever wrong!! On our way to the Acropolis, it started to drizzle.  But that didn’t stop our adventure.  The taxi dropped us off and we were headed up the steep pathway to see this ancient wonder of the world. Finally making it to the top, we also treated to a spectacular overview of Athens and the Parthenon. At this point, it started to POUR!!!  There was no place to take cover.  Luckily, we saw friends with umbrellas who gladly escorted us down the hill.  From there, we got a taxi and went back to the ship…So much for a day in Athens.

Next stop??  Onward to Ancient Empires

Words cannot express the awe I felt traveling through the Holy Land and following in the footsteps of St. Paul in Ephesus, Turkey.  Imagine my excitement seeing the magnificent Pyramids of Giza and standing right next to the Sphinx.  I actually envisioned the baby Moses sailing down the Nile River in his basket.  Definitely an impressive journey!  

Here is a challenge – Can you name the site/locations captured in the photos below? (hint – mouse over the pic for the location).

Wait!!   There’s more…But, it will have to wait until my next post.
Be Blessed ’til then!
-A