My Yearly Travels as seen through my Ornaments

I used to find it really hard to choose a special keepsake from each of our trips.  I loved so many cool “things”, but it just isn’t reasonable to get them all!  So a while back, I decided to get an ornament from each of our trips.

Every year, when we put up our tree, it is a wonderful opportunity to remember our travels and stories as a family.  It is something I treasure and our tree is really full of US.

Here are the ornaments I got this year.

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Paris. January 2019

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Disneyland Paris. January 2019

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Symphony of the Seas. February 2019

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February 2019

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Disney World. February 2019

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Tuscon Arizona. April 2019

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Tombstone, Arizona. April 2019

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Bearizona. April 2019

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Las Vegas, Nevada. April 2019

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O’hau, Hawai’i. October 2019.

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Strasbourg, France. November 2019

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Switzerland 2019

Taking it slow

Last month, I wrote a bit about Impact Travel and my own experience with the emerging trend.  Another emerging trend in travel in Slow Travel.  This type of adventure engages the traveler in an experience that revolves around not only immersing one’s self in the cultural aspects of a destination, but that idea is reinforced and made possible by the ACT of traveling slowly.  Examples of slow travel include rail vacations, river cruising (all over the world) and the American favorite – the road trip!  Traditional ocean/sea cruising can also take the form of slow travel, but the idea would be staying overnight or multiple nights in one port before moving on.

I think this concept was brought about by the fact that we desire to slow the revolution of the earth.  Time is fleeting and the older we get, the faster it seems to go!  We are so busy; we have so little vacation time; we realize our kids grow so fast and our parents are aging before our eyes.  Our family trips to Disney are wonderful and anything BUT a vacation and hopping from spot to spot on a cruise ship is not only filled with constant entertainment, but endless stimulation options that busy the mind and exercise the spirit.  People are realizing the beauty in slowing down, stopping to smell the roses, and the knowledge gained by personal interactions in culture and with people who are different than we are.

Every vacation can contain some aspects of slow travel – whether you are traveling abroad or to another part of your own country.  For example, instead of aiming to visit four destinations in a week-long trip, choose two and dive in – eat where the locals eat.  Shop where locals shop.  Ask a local about the hidden treasures of their city – they want to brag about THEIR place on this big blue ball and they are the EXPERTS!  Try a new mode of transportation!  When my daughter and I were in Paris earlier this year, we not only did a bike tour but also “rented” Lime scooters (the kind you stand on like a big kid) and scooted around everywhere!  Find a quiet place and reflect.  This single act allows me to inhale a place.  Become a people watcher and learn through observation.  Basically, slow it down.

Don’t get me wrong – there is a time and a place for the hurried vacation – I am planning a group cruise to Hawaii in 2021 for my son’s graduation (wanna go?) and know that we may never go to Hawaii again – especially as a family – so we are seeing as much as possible!!!  In the meantime, I plan on enjoying a few slow travel experiences in my near future – a river cruise in November and our weekly long camping trip coming up later in July – it doesn’t get much slower than camping!!!  The world is big and time is flying by….take it slow!

Here are some ways we have experienced aspects of slow travel on our adventures.

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Amtrak Downeaster on a gorgeous summer’s day in New Hampshire! Old school slow travel.

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Anyone need a hat?

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Harbour Island – ACTUAL pink sand!!!

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Cadiz, Spain. Churros and chocolate and a little bit of people watching.

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Try a new form of transportation….Char and Sable on a Segway tour of the city – in Europe, kids can do many things they aren’t “allowed” to do in the US.

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Try to blend in. Zurich, Switzerland – these are our “Polish faces” – my sister in law is Polish, and she said Americans smile too big in pictures – so this is how we imagine the Poles smile!

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June 2018. Shortly after sunrise over Vatican City. I ache for another opportunity like this one….we were high tailing it to our private Vatican Tour so we could barely stop to smell the roses, but man, I wish I could’ve frozen time in this very spot. It was so peaceful and serene.

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Well, I am not generally a wine drinker but I was in PARIS!!! A glass of wine was a requirement. Eat and drink like the locals.

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The Eiffel Tower was closed due to the weather, but we scooted all the way there to take in the rare sight!

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Eating like the locals in Quebec….this place was off the beaten path and we were rewarded with an amazing dinner. Everyone got a platter of thinly sliced beef, then there was shrimp and chicken to fondue as well!

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Our appetizer..bread dipped in cheese!

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Taking it easy at the Siberian Spa outside of Quebec. A family trip to remember.

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It isn’t hard to eat like a local in Italy. Lemon risotto – the most amazing risotto ever!

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Scooter pick up! Try a new form of transportation….the best way to see the Amalfi Coast!

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Limoncello to end the evening! Drink like the locals! This is the restaurant near the Vatican – halfway through our meal about 20 priests walked into the restaurant….a good beginning to a joke!

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Eat where the locals eat. Giuseppe and his biggest fans!

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So much Caprese!

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Our greatest find! Just hop off the highway to find your treasure!

Throw Back Thursday….Growing up Disney

If you know me in real life, you now that if you start talking about Disney World, my eyes light up, my voice raises an octave and I talk 100 miles per minute because I LOVE DISNEY!!!!!  I know people who hate Disney and I am not sure they are human or believe in magic 😊  Seriously, though…I think you either love Disney or you do not…there aren’t many wishy washy Disney people out there!

When we plan our Disney trips (we go every 12-18 months), we start getting pretty psyched about a year out!  We start with the WHEN (we never go during school vacations or holidays), then move to the WHERE (we have stayed at Saratoga Springs, Bay Lake Towers, Animal Kingdom Resort, Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Art of Animation and the Polynesian).  We plan out which parks we will be at which days based on crowd projections, plan our dining experiences and fast passes when the time is right.  And then we wait – probably not so patiently – for our vacation to begin!!

I love helping my clients do all this planning as well!  It is a labor of love – as not all agents take on Disney, but I know it well and love to help bring the magic to others!  Every new trip presents a new point of view and new experience!  I have enjoyed this ritual trip with my family and have enjoyed how, at each stage of my kids’ lives, Disney brings another level of wonder and growth along with the crazy joy that is Disney!

Here are some of my favorite memories from some of our trips at Disney over the years.  This succession of memories are so precious to me!  They are experiences my kids will always remember as times spent with their parents, family and friends.  I hope as they become adults, they will also enjoy bringing their families to Disney and have the same fond remembrances that I do of my own childhood at Disney with my mom.  What an awesome gift!

PS – we ALWAYS wear matching/themed shirts and always will!  That is part of the fun!!

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I have a picture of my kids doing this SAME thing in London in 2013. It is fun to recreate special moments in different locations! EPCOT 2019

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Beef hot dogs. OK – well…what can I say?! We were at Disneyland Paris and needed a pick me up!!! 2019

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From the other side!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Finding Eva and Wally – pure joy!!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Gusteau’s!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Germany/EPCOT 2018

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Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Magic Kingdom 2018

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Cousin’s Trip – Animal Kingdom 2016

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Magical Christmas – EVERY year!

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Magic Kingdom 2017 – mom and dad’s second trip to Disney without kids!!!!

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France/EPCOT

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Sunset from the Contemporary 2019

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Our first trip to Disney as family. Magic Kingdom 2006

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Magic Kingdom 2006

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Magic Kingdom 2009

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Magic Kingdom 2009

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Polynesian Luau 2013

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Morocco/EPCOT 2015

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Hollywood Studios 2015

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Hollywood Studios 2015 (our favorite time of year to go to Disney is during the Holidays!

EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

Disney has really branched out over the years, and I don’t mean into movies, marketing or memorabilia.  Those things are great, but not too long ago, Disney began to realize that if they diversified their game plan, they would engage whole new groups of people and bring them into the Parks.  A great example of this is all the festivals and yearly planned activities that have had growing attendance over the years – the Food and Wine Festival; Festival of the Arts; Flower and Garden Festival and the 5Ks, half and full marathons that are ever so popular.  The folks that work at Disney are geniuses….you can’t deny it!!!!

Twice now we have been lucky enough to be at Disney during the International Festival of the Arts and once during the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival.  These festivals are diverse – meaning they highlight many aspects of their theme.  For the Arts Festival, the “arts” is a broad term and is applied through the culinary, visual, textile and classical arts…and more!!  Disney weaves into these themes experiential opportunities to engage adults and children alike.  One of my favorite ways they do this is through the large color-by-number mural they do every day.  People are “assigned” a color and a number and are sent out to find their square on a large vertical canvas.  In the beginning, it is hard to see what the picture will be, but as the day goes on, the art materializes before your eyes and the idea that everyone plays an integral part coloring our world is as important as the next.  It is powerful on so many levels!

Here are some photos of this year’s EPCOT International Festival of the Arts.  I hope it encourages you to attend next year.  You won’t be sorry you did!

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A beautiful sight upon arrival! Remember Figment?

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Charlotte – pretty as a picture?

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The food during the Festival of the Arts is just as amazing as the sights! This delight is a palette of white chocolate accompanied by “colors” of painting chocolate and sprinkles. What fun!!!

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Scream? She fits right in!! hahahaha

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Brother had to get into the action!

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My favorite stop is right around Canada…the Bloody Mary’s are to die for and the poutine chips with lobster meat….magnifique!

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Yes, these were BOTH for me!

Post Vacation Reboot! Getting my brain to reengage.

So, it’s hard to get back into the swing of things after vacation.  My brain still wants to be on vacation!  And yet, I know I need to start writing again because it keeps my mind flowing!  So if my brain is still on vacation, I guess I should write about vacation!  Here’s an overview – details to follow in other posts!

This February, we departed the great North East during my kids’ February vacation with thousands of others and headed to a much warmer climate!!  We spent 4 days in Florida at the Happiest Place on Earth and then went on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the amazing Symphony of the Seas – Royal Caribbean’s newest marvel!  We had the best time!!  Let me highlight each day with my favorite photo from that day!

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We are members of Disney Vacation Club and this was our first stay at Bay Lake Towers. We love staying on the monorail line and being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom is wonderful!!!

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I cannot help but get a little teary eyed when the opening music plays at Magic Kingdom. It brings back memories that I cherish and makes me feel like a kid!

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To me, this photo says, “Follow your dreams.” What greater lessons can we learn from a man and a mouse?

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EPCOT is cool for so many reasons! My hubby was definitely rocking this Wreck It Ralph pose!!!

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I have a picture of my kids doing this SAME thing in London in 2013. It is fun to recreate special moments in different locations!

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Our boarding day on Symphony of the Seas – she blew me away! I marveled every day at her size, how smoothly she sailed, all of her wonderful amenities and how I felt at home on the giantess of the seas!! I cannot wait to go back!

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A day at sea means we get to play at sea! Ten stories above the Boardwalk, I zip-lined across a cruise ship!!!! How cool is that?

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Symphony After Dark! Stunning!

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My girl makes friends wherever she goes and this beautiful fellow wanted to stick around!

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T-Rex, know affectionately as “Rexy” in our family, made an appearance our last day at sea. We may or may not have a few videos of this!

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Sunset in the Caribbean. Do I need to say more?