Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another one for the bucket-list - globe trotting

Here's a great idea for those couple such as myself and Amy, who'd want to spend a few days alone, away from their kids. Imagine having the luxury to trot around the globe, enjoying the scenes, taking-in the sites and sampling the cuisine from one country to another on 4 or 5 different continents.

I read an article recently at Lifestyle section on top 10 getaways without the kids. The title itself shot me a few years ahead with me and my wife back packing it around the world to these 10 destinations, a handful of memory cards for the camera in our pockets, a netbook to write about our adventures and empty stomachs to sample the different local cuisines.

Not only is this list inside my bucket-list, it also makes on my list of top TO-DOs with Amy before I retire (or when I retire, which ever comes first); something I wish for me and Amy to do while we're still strong and able. 

Cheers to life!


1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Thanks to Vegas, we know there is plenty of fun to be had in the desert, but nothing comes close to Dubai; the adult playground set in the piping hot deserts of the United Arab Emirates. From the world's largest man-made islands to the entrancing gold markets and underwater hotels, everything in Dubai is bigger, better and more luxurious. Feel free to spend some time being overwhelmed by shopping malls and markets known as souks, then tee off at world-renowned golf courses, stop at the only Formula 1 theme park and kick up some fun with a Jeep trip into the sand dunes.
2. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
In 1995, the old town of Lunenburg on Canada's east coast was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its survival as a British colonial settlement. This quaint coastal village off Mahone Bay is the perfect place to book a bed-and-breakfast or small cottage and explore the history, do a little kayaking or simply unwind. Let Lunenburg's small-town charm and the tranquil seaside views win you over. When looking for things to do, visit Bluenose, the world-famous wooden racing schooner, check out the Fisheries Museum and learn about the salty men who navigated the Atlantic, then head over to the Ironworks Distillery for artisan spirit tastings.
3. St. Lucia, Antilles
Just getting away isn't always enough - sometimes it takes a tropical island in the middle of the ocean for us to feel completely free of our duties and responsibilities. Home to the grand Piton mountains, the world's only drive-in volcano and warm crystal blue waters, St. Lucia is an ideal Caribbean getaway for any relaxation-seeking couple. For a quick and rewarding hike, check out the Saltibus Waterfall Trail, which leads you through mountaintop rainforests to several picturesque waterfalls, perfect for cooling off. If you're not interested in leaving the beach, take advantage of renowned scuba and snorkeling, or hop aboard a sailboat and cruise around the island.
4. Napa Valley, California
Even though early autumn is Napa Valley's most popular season for visitors, we still think it's the best time to take part in the grape harvesting festivities known as Crush. It's one of the Valley's most exciting times and vineyards all over hold special events and celebrations. Napa boasts more than 200 vineyards, world-renowned spas and a dense population of Michelin-rated restaurants, so there are plenty of opportunities for you and your significant other to spoil yourselves. The scenery alone is worth the trip, and we recommend viewing it from a hot air balloon or the Napa Valley Wine Train, which stops at several vineyards.
5. Portofino, Italy
The words "Italian Riviera" are usually enticing enough to dust off the suitcases, and Portofino is considered to be the most beautiful harbor of them all. What was once a quaint fishing village is now a popular boating and yachting destination. The best place to stay is on a boat, and there are plenty of exquisite restaurants and high-end boutiques that line the harbor. If sleeping on dry land is more your style, travel the sea by water taxi to other towns along the Riviera, including Genoa and San Fruttuoso. And, if you haven't seen enough breathtaking scenery, head up to Castello Brown to check out the beautiful views and stunning gardens.
6. Cozumel, Mexico
Cancun might have a reputation for college kids, foam parties and a heavy late-night scene, but on the island of Cozumel, just a short distance away, it's a different story. As a tourist destination, Mexico is known for catering to its visitors at spectacular resorts where the possibilities for fun in the sun are endless - and Cozumel is no exception. Aside from observing the beautiful surroundings, consider hanging out at the beach, getting in some scuba diving, taking advantage of resort activities like tennis and yoga, or catching up on some reading by the pool. Best of all, there are plenty of resorts on the island that only accommodate adults, so you don't need to deal with anyone else's rugrats.
7. Stirling, Scotland
A bit smaller than some of Scotland's other cities, Stirling is an ideal place for parents who are looking for a quiet getaway. Packed with history, lush rolling hills, charming bed-and-breakfasts, and plenty of outdoor activity, there's a little something for everyone. Whether you're a history buff or not, The National Wallace Monument, in honor of William Wallace, is a must see. (That's for you, Braveheart fans.) Then tour the Stirling Old Town Jail, visit Stirling Castle and check out the Old Bridge. If golfing is on the list, you won't be disappointed with the abundant greenways that meander through the flawless landscape.
8. Valle Nevado, Chile
A day on the ski slopes is a great way for families to bond and for kids to put to use some of that excess energy, but with the hassle of gloves, hats, equipment and the occasional cold-weather whining, a ski trip for two could be just what you need. Since good skiing in summer months is hard to come by, think about heading south to Valle Nevado in Chile, where it's still winter - if you've got a chunk of time to spend. It's considered the best ski resort in South America, and is comparable to something you might experience in the Alps. Valle Nevado even offers world-famous Heli-skiing and boarding for those needing a bigger rush.
9. Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Conveniently located between Jacksonville and St. Augustine is the famed Ponte Vedra Beach. You may think the only thing Ponte Vedra has to offer is a ridiculous golf scene - which it does - but that's not the sole reason to visit this swanky coastal community. When not teeing off, visitors take full advantage of exquisite spa treatments offered at several multi-diamond spa resorts, hit around the tennis ball, stop off at beautifully manicured beaches, check out quaint and unique shops, and partake in other activities you indulge in when the kids aren't around. And no Ponte Vedra Beach experience goes without a look into the Spanish colonial history stretching back as far as 1513.
10. Lavaux, Switzerland
The vineyard terraces of Lavaux may not be on your travel radar, but they should be. There is evidence to suggest that these terraces were used to grow grapes for wine during the Roman Empire, and they have now been inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Settled along the coast of placid Lake Geneva are a string of small villages connected by the grape vines of the ancient terraces. Travel between the villages by foot, stopping for picnics and wine tastings, and spend the night at bed-and-breakfasts as you go. Or, take the train, which stops in many small towns. If travel within the autumn months is possible, make sure to have the camera handy for some truly stunning fall foliage photographs.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The anatomy of vegetables according to Sam

We had an interesting conversation with Samantha last night over dinner. While she was focused on her hot miso soup, she was at her usual self chatting away asking questions left and right, but a few set of question caught her mom and I by surprise.

Sam: "Daddy, what's in the soup?"
Daddy: "Umm ... I'm not sure ..."
Sam: "Daddy, its egg and cheese and vegetables!" (...thinking that the color of the soup and the tofu came from egg and cheese).
Daddy: "Oh, okay. Good" (...winking at Amy)
Sam: "Daddy, what's in the vegetables?"
Mommy: "More vegetables, baby"
Sam: "No Mommy, vitamins!"

Amy and I were stared at each other, wide-eyed and broke into laughter. Our precious Sam, getting sharper by the day, outsmarting me and her mom.

Samantha is transitioning into another phase in her young years. From the terrible-two stage, she is now entering the inquisitive stage where her curiosity is peaking and she throws questions at us at every minute of every day. Although we find it annoying at times, particularly when her mom and I feel tired due to lack of sleep, we try our best to entertain her questions and answer them the best and most understandable way possible.

At the end of the day, what matters is that we give Samantha the attention that she needs. She already feels some form of competition with her sister Sophia when it comes to getting attention, but we try our best to keep it equal between the two girls.

Hmm ... I wonder what Samantha has next in her arsenal of surprises?