We clocked up 50 days of travel, wow!
50 travel days is simply not enough! A fantastic (almost) 2 months away and our ‘holiday of a lifetime’! We were not ready to come home and with plenty more to see and do, 50 days of travel is definitely NOT enough time to do it all.
So where did we go, and what did we see?
Most Aussies dream of having a white Christmas and it’s been on our bucket list as a ‘must do, one day’ experience so when we decided to travel to United States, Canada and the Caribbean it seemed an obvious option to go in winter.
Whatever were we thinking!
Winter for Aussies who live in Darwin is usually a minimum of 18 degrees celsius, our summer is when we have our Christmas Down Under, and temperatures of 40 degrees celsius are common.
In Australia everyone heads to the beach on Christmas day to keep cool!
Picture this: Aussies in Niagara Falls, slipping and sliding on black ice, rugged up to the hilt with layers and layers of clothes, coats, scarves and everything else that might give us warmth.
A very funky city with so many fun things to do!
We stayed down at the Zephyr Hotel near Fisherman’s Wharf which was a great location to explore nearby Pier 39 and its assortment of bars, cafes and restaurants. The Sea Lions are a huge attraction to the Pier but were oblivious to the tourists watching their antics.
No visit to San Francisco would be complete without visiting the Golden Gate bridge. An amazing structure shrouded by clouds and mist on our visit but still allowing us some striking photos.
Haight Ashbury district needs to be on your must-do list. The original hippie movement started in this area but has now morphed into upmarket area with trendy boutiques, restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon reminiscing days gone by!
Highlights: SantaCon2016, Sonoma Valley, Haight Ashbury district, Golden Gate Bridge, the Sea Lions, Boudin’s Bakery & Cafe, the island of Alcatraz, Napa Valley
2Las Vegas was next on our list
An abundance of high quality shows, casinos in most of the hotels and the huge shopping complexes throughout Vegas were amazing.
Fremont Street is an outdoor street festival and well worth visiting for the live music, street performers and light show. There’s something for everyone.Las Vegas - the city never sleeps! Click To Tweet
The Grand Canyon South Rim tour was an amazing experience. We took a helicopter tour into the Grand Canyon. The colours of this massive canyon were incredible and to experience it with snow on some of the peaks was even more striking.
Highlights: Cirque du Soleil, South Rim tour of the Grand Canyon, Helicopter trip into the Grand Canyon. Stunning!
We traveled north to Niagara Falls (the Canadian side) on the Maple Leaf train so were able to see the snow covered countryside of the northern parts, arriving in Niagara at dusk.
Our hotel window overlooked the Falls and at first glance it was simply ‘stunning’. The Falls were lit up with blue lights, the mist off the falls wafting into the night.
Early next morning we decided to go down to the falls for a closer look. Freezing cold, unexpectedly … freezing cold. Not enough warm clothes. Did I say ‘freezing cold’?
Highlights: enjoying the snowflakes, making snowmen, exploring the tunnels under the falls, photographing this massive expanse of water.
4New York City for Christmas
New York is an amazing city – Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Broadway, Ground Zero and so many museums and memorials to visit. It’s an alive and vibrant city.
During the Christmas season the city was buzzing with Christmas fever. Christmas decorations everywhere, store windows and whole buildings decorated extravagantly and people laden with Christmas shopping.
Sadly, no white Christmas for us this year!
Highlights: Ice hockey at Madison Square Gardens, Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots, Katz Delicatessen, McSorley’s Pub and having time to explore Central Park.
5New Hampshire with friends
We were lucky enough to spend time with friends at their home in New Hampshire.
A beautiful home in the country affectionately called as ‘Cowhampshire’, totally surrounded by snow. It’s picturesque and beautiful and it’s where I would want to live .. if there wasn’t any snow that needed shoveling!
One of the amazing little places we visited was Perkins Cove. A tiny beachside cove full of lobster fishermen, superb restaurants and quaint little boutique shops. Of course, I had to try the Maine Lobster!
Highlights: Catching up with friends! and seeing everything covered in snow.
One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston is an old world city, with streets of amazing architecture – inside and out. The ornate interior of the Boston Library had me fascinated. Such beautiful work that looks like it was built yesterday.
Boston was freezing cold – it was important to drink lots of Irish coffee’s to keep warm!
New Years Eve was a buzz and people were out ready to party. Copley Square was a mass of ice carvings, live performances and plenty of people having fun.
Highlights: The Boston Library, New Years Eve Ice Sculptures in Copley Park, Cheers (where no one knows your name), squirrels in Boston Common, seeing the Blue Man Group at the Charles Playhouse, dining at PJ Chang’s & the Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chao
Overnight in Fort Lauderdale before boarding our Celebrity Equinox Cruise. We had a small cabin with a balcony which meant we had our own ‘space with a view’.
This cruise was one of the best cruises we’ve experienced. Exceptional meals in the dining room and the specialty restaurants, great on-board entertainment and fun times at the Martini Bar ensured our time on-board was great fun and relaxing for us both.
Shore excursions gave us a glimpse into the history of Labadee in Haiti, Falmouth in Jamaica, Georgetown in Grand Cayman and Cozumel in Mexico.
Highlights: Riedel Tasting Workshop, Mexican Cooking Class in Mexico, Grand Cayman Islands and relaxing on the beach in Haiti.
8Key West – the southernmost island haven
Key West has always been on our bucket list. 42 bridges and 113 miles of highway island hopping between the mainland and Key West which can be translated into approximately 4 hours of driving.
There is so much colourful history to be told about this tiny island just 16 feet above sea level. Colourful seafaring tales of treasure hunters and the salvage industry to the infamous scandals of writer Ernest Hemingway and his 6 toed cats.
Highlights: Learning about the colourful history onboard the Hop-on Hop-off tours, Everyone is so friendly, Hemingway House, Truman House, Lobster ‘to die for’ everywhere!
9Kennedy Space Center
I had initially thought 1 day would be ample time to explore the Kennedy Space Center would be enough. No way!
KSC is an extraordinary space experience. It is where rockets are launched, where NASA’s early space programs are featured and you can have lunch with an astronaut. Actual Apollo spacecraft and artifacts are displayed, see the Hubble Space telescope and get a close-up view of Atlantis suspended in flight.
Highlights: Lunch with astronaut Marcos Pontes, Heros & Legends, IMAX into deep space, Saturn V, Apollo Mission and Launch Control Center.
New Orleans is another ‘bucket list’ city. We did a few tours whilst in New Orleans and learned about the history of Louisiana and the devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from the locals.
Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!
Music everywhere, street performers, the cemetery, voodoo, hoodoo and haunted tours and people just having a great time. It’s an amazing city, the people are beautiful, the city is alive .. and yes, we will be back!
Highlights: The Louisiana Swamp Tour, Laura Plantation, the Creole food, the Cocktails, the Haunted Tour, the Music – everywhere!
What we discovered about ourselves?
This journey was a chance for us to discover what kind of travelers we really are. We do like the finer things in life, we like quality but we also like value for money.
Now that we’re over 50, our age calls for a few creature comforts. We prefer good accommodation options to provide us a better value experience and we don’t mind paying a little more for an improved experience.
Part of our self-discovery was about understanding that we do like exceptional dining experiences and good quality wines and we consider that is an integral part of enjoying our travel experience. It’s important to note that good food isn’t necessarily expensive.
We also need to pack smarter, travel lighter and stick to one latitude at a time. Packing to cope with deep winter minus temperatures and hot tropical cruise was not easy – and we didn’t do it well!
When our 50 days came to an end, neither of us were quite ready to go home. There was still so much we wanted to do and see. Having the luxury of time to explore new places and new experiences has been one of the things we loved most about this trip.
We are hungry for more!
Our plans are to travel locally in Australia for most of this year. We are based in Darwin in the Northern Territory so for most of the year it feels like we’re on holidays anyway!
There may be some 4×4 driving trips coming up. Kakadu National Park is in my sights again and we’d love to explore the difficult to access places of this ancient land. The Ord River is another place we’ve been wanting to visit, so be sure to watch this space for our next adventure!
Watch this post for a link to my itinerary for our Mammoth US Tour .. we had so much fun I’ll share it soon.
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