Today I am off on a new adventure. I am flying to Jamaica! I was able to get a good last minute deal at an all inclusive resort in Montego Bay aka MoBay. I honestly didn’t think that I would be going anywhere for spring break this year. If you remember, last year I headed out to New Mexico to go to Ojo Caliente. I am hoping to get a tropical spa experience in Jamaica.
In the spirt of full disclosure I loathe this part of traveling. I arrived at the airport at 3:00 A.M. I had to wait until 4:00 A.M. for the kiosk to open so I could get my boarding pass. There was a red headed woman from Michigan who kept offering to watch everyone’s bags for them. She was a bit too eager for my liking. I was the first one in line because I was anxious about the dreaded TSA portion of the trip over with. Sure enough I was flagged for a full pat down. The agent who patted me down seriously owes me dinner and a drink She got a little too close for comfort. Now I am waiting to board my flight. I am flying United so I have to fly to Chicago then we go to Jamaica from there.
I will check back in once I have a cool tropical beverage in hand.
Don’t you hate it when you ask for travel advice and someone tells you not to go to the one place that you have always wanted to go because it is a tourist trap? Whether it is The Empire State Building in New York, The White House in Washington, D.C., or The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, tourists spots are popular for the simple fact that tourists want the experience that they have to offer. It’s no wonder that tourism is a multi-million dollar business.
I get that we want people to have an authentic experience when they visit a destination, but I always encourage first time visitors to do all of the touristy things just in case you don’t get a chance to go back again. The next time you visit the same destination, I say you should explore the off the beaten path hidden gems. I grew up in San Francisco which is one of the most touristy destinations in the United States. Whenever family and friends visited San Francisco they wanted to go on the cable cars, view the Golden Gate Bridge, and go to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was always happy to oblige because my hometown is a beautiful city and I love to show it off. I am also a big fan of the hop on hop off buses like Big Bus which lets you visit all of the touristy spots in one day at your leisure. Click on the link to book your tickets in advance.
The next time someone tries to dissuade you from seeing a popular tourist destination just politely thank them, then ask if they can offer helpful tips for getting around the long lines and the crowds.
What touristy spots have you been told not to visit during your travels? Share them in the comment section. Remember to like, subscribe, and share!
It is amazing how being away from a bad situation can provide you with much needed perspective. Last year during my winter break I planned a quick jaunt to Philadelphia. I had never been to Philadelphia and I didn’t really know anyone there, however I spent the first few days of my break mulling around my apartment not doing much. I was determined to end the year by going somewhere. I had to get out of Washington, D.C. which was where I lived at the time. Someone had posted about the Kimpton Hotels brand and I dreamed (no, literally) about their Fiji soaking tubs. I know some people get really grossed out by hotel bathtubs, but I always bring my own cleaning products when I travel so I cleaned it well before I used it.
I can’t deny that the trip to Philly was rough. First I scheduled and missed a couple of buses. The bus that I finally made was late because the driver had to go all the way to Baltimore to get his license. I kid you not! To add insult to injury there was high drama on the bus, but I was determined to get to Philadelphia. Word to the wise, never take Greyhound if you have another option available. There are other bus companies that provide much better service.
When we finally pulled into the bus terminal in Philadelphia, it was too late to sightsee so I requested an Uber(I could have walked but it was freezing and I had no idea where I was.) Once I was checked into my hotel room I headed upstairs to have a cocktail at the hotel’s swaggyrooftop lounge. The lounge only offered small bites and I was voraciously hungry so I headed back down to the main floor to eat dinner at the Red Owl Tavern.
After a full day of stressful bus travel I was exhausted, so I headed back to my room recorded a room tour, took a shower, and went to bed. The nighttime views from my 9th floor corner suite were stunning! On one side there’s a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge and on the other side there’s Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. In the interest of full disclosure, the bell atop Independence Hall rings every hour on the hour. You can see the nighttime view from my room by watching my room tour video on Youtube.
When I woke up the next morning I looked out of the window and I thought I was Alice in Wonderland trapped inside of a giant snow globe! Snowflakes whizzed past my window and everything below was blanketed with a fresh white coat of snow.
While it snowed outside I took a long luxurious soak in the Fiji soaking tub. It was everything I imagined it to be! All of my cares and worries melted away and the stress that previously had my muscles tight and knotted seemed to dissolve. When I emerged from the tub I felt like a new woman. I brought my own bath salts, but the products provided by the hotel, Atelier Bloem, are quite amazing and have a refreshing clean scent to them.
I did a little sightseeing after lounging around the room all morning. I visited Independence Hall but because of the inclement weather there weren’t many tourist out. I crossed the street to visit the Liberty Bellwhere a line of visitors waited patiently in the cold to get inside of the building where the bell is housed. I was starving afterward so I grabbed a pizza from down the street to bring back to the room for dinner. I relaxed in my room for the rest of the evening.
The Liberty Bell
The next day I needed to check out by noon, but not before I indulged in one more luscious bath in the amazing soaking tub. I planned to stay in Philly to watch the early fireworks show at Penn’s Landing but the temperatures were too frigid so I decided to change my bus reservation so I could leave about an hour and half after my scheduled check out time.
I still managed to have enough time to have coffee at the Cosi down the street from the hotel then wander the streets of Old City until I reached Penn’s Landing. I hopped on the SEPTA for $2.50 and rode the subway down to 30th Street station where I got on the Mega Bus and had an relaxing and uneventful ride back to Washington, D.C.
I definitely want to go back to Philly once the temperature begins to warm up. It’s an often overlooked tough little city with a lot of moxie and great architecture. The vibe of the city is primarily working class and unpretentious. People for the most part are chilled. It felt like a mix of New York, Jersey, and Baltimore.
Philly has the history of D.C. but the personality of New York. I love it! I want to experience the other areas of the city and I want to see how it operates during a typical work week. This trip was the highlight of my year and I am so glad that I bit the bullet and decided to go. I had two other trips booked and planned earlier in the year but I canceled them. I think it was a bit easier to navigate this trip because it was still relatively close to home. Want to see more photos from my visit? Click here.
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Cruising through the street of Havana, Cuba in a classic convertible.
This year I was determined to travel more. I finally got over my travel anxiety and made it happen. Nike was right…sometimes you have to “just do it!” I am so glad that I not only booked the two trips that I took this year to New Mexico and Cuba, but that I followed through and actually went on the trips! Both experiences have been life affirming and the timing was perfect for the transitions that are happening in my life.
Next year will be a milestone birthday for me. I have been waiting for this birthday because I figured by the time I reached this point in my life I would have it all together. Well, life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at us to keep us on our toes and I am ready for my new chapter. I pray that it involves as much travel as possible.
Upward and onward!
What are your travel goals for 2018? Share them in the comments section. Remember to like, share, and subscribe for more travel related content.