Bermuda has so many fun events during the Christmas season. There are so many things to see and do. Bermudians love to celebrate the holiday season!
The end of November St. George has a Boat Parade where dozens of boats are all decorated with their bright holiday lights and parade around St. George’s Harbour to start off the holiday season.
Then the begining of December the Bermudians welcome Jolly Old St. Nick - with of course another parade. They have majorettes, Christmas themed floats and dancing Gombey troupes that go down the streets of Hamilton to make way before the Jolly Old St Nick makes his appearance. But wait, what are Gombey troupes? They are very much a Bermudian tradition that comes from a blend of the African, Native American, Caribbean and British cultures that date back to the early 1800s. The costumes are very colorful and have mirrors, which is supose to ward off evil spirits.
And what would a holiday be without a tree-lighting ceremony? The Royal Dockyard has an annual tree lighting ceremony at the beginning of December. On the west end of the island at Destination Dockyard, on Sunday’s in December is there a holiday tradition that is called Sundays at the Frog, and is a street fair with all of the fun of the holidays with music, Mistletoe Market, tree light ceremony, and a Christmas Showcase.
If you decide the visit Bermuda during the beginning of December, you need to see the Bermuda National Trust Walkabout. The Town of St. George has their signature holiday event, several homes in the UNESCO World Heritage Site invite the public into their homes. What’s so unique is that you can see their homes completely decorated with all of their bountiful lights and decor. Plus see historical re-enactors roam the candlelit streets while you can hear classic carols in the air.
And in the Dockyard on the west end, you can go to Santa’s Workshop as well, or go hear a wonderful concert of carols with a backdrop of a choreographic dolphin display at Dolphin Quest’s annual Carols with the Dolphins.
On Christmas Eve, you can attend a traditional Christmas Eve candlelit service at St. Peter’s Church in St. George’s on the East end of the island. This church is the oldest Anglican Church in the Western Hemisphere and celebrates its traditional mass at 9 pm with both songs and scripture.
Then on Christmas Day, go to Elbow Beach, in the Paget’s Parish area, to celebrate Christmas Morning with several visitors and locals alike to take in the Christmas Sunrise with champaign, pink sand, and a dip in the ocean.
Then on New Year’s Eve, stay for the party. Now unlike New York, where you wait in the cold for the Ball to drop, in Bermuda you wait in the warm in St. George, for the Onion to drop! Yes, you read that correctly, the Onion to drop! As the onion is very popular in Bermuda since it is an crop for Bermudians to grow, it has become a staple and a symbol for them.
As you can see Bermuda is a wonderful, warm and very British island. They have many similarities to ours as far as customs go and would be a wonderful place to celebrate the holidays as a family.
It is not too late for you to plan your holiday travel. If you are interested in planning holiday travel, just let me know and I would be happy to be of service in helping you.
Bon Pasco y Bon Aña – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! That’s the spirit of the One Happy Island of Aruba at Christmas Time. The season starts just after Halloween and goes well into the New Year, this season is called Carnival. But what is there to expect?
Aruba is a blend of the Dutch, Venezuelan and Caribbean traditions. It’s a time of the year that is spent with family and friends and brings a new to everyone. The food is amazing and one tradition that resembles the states is the culinary delight of fruit cake. However, theirs is a bit different in taste it starts with a black cake called bolo pretu and is infused with brandy and fruit liquors and loaded with dried fruit and spices. You may enjoy the pistachio cake instead or how about the pan de jamon, or bread laced with ham? The Christmas Ham is at most tables with a beautiful glaze, but you will find a turkey at some homes. And make sure that you wash it down with ponche crema, a Latin American drink that is a bit sweeter than Egg Nog.
If there is one thing that you must try when in Aruba at holiday time it’s ayaca. It’s the prize dish at any table. The ayaca’s culinary heritage starts in Venezuela - you will have a boiled banana or plantain leaf that is filled with chicken, pork, or ham and a combination of spices, olives, raisins, cashews, prunes, onions and of course the secret family ingredient, that is spread over a cornmeal mixture. When it is time to eat, the reboil the entire stuffed leaf.
The lights of the island will be shining brightly, the streets are lined with lights! Plus the children have many ways of receiving gifts throughout the season. Santa comes to celebrate with the children more than once - you see with the many cultures, he’s celebrated in all of them. In Dutch, he’s called, Sinterklass, and he comes on December 5th to bring the kids sweets and toys. Then on December 25th Santa Claus comes to bring the children gifts under the Christmas Tree. Finally, on January 6th the Three Kings come and deliver gifts at the Nativity Scene. Plus for our Jewish friends, they celebrate the Festival of Light, Hanukkah, with 8 days of gift-giving.
And just like here in the US, you will start hearing holiday music being played on radio stations at the end of October. However, you may not hear White Christmas, instead, you will hear more traditional music of Gaita and Paranda Arubiano. And after the holiday, on December 31st, you will hear traditional caroling called Dande. Usually, it’s groups of 5 -6 people singing together. There is even a Dande Festival.
As the New Year comes around the shift goes from lights to fireworks. And in Oranjestad, you will hear tons of Chinese Firecrackers going off on New Year's Eve to ward off evil spirits. The beaches will have beautiful fireworks displays.
On New Year’s Day, at exactly 12:00 PM hoards of people rush into the ocean wearing orange hats for the New Year’s Plunge at Moomba Beach. It’s a tradition that was started by the Dutch. Now that’s a tradition that I could get into!
Aruba is a fun island that has so much to share with all of its many traditions and different backgrounds that there is truly something for everyone at the holiday time. What a way to spend your holiday season!
I recently found out something very special about the Dominican Republic, that made me think about one of my favorite holiday specials, “The Grinch”, “there is a feeling of the Christmas Spirit everywhere in the Dominican Republic – even at work. We go out more with our friends and spend more time with our families”. I think of The Who’s in Whosville singing around the tree together.
The bond of community is very strong in the Dominican Republic, and on Christmas, they have Aguinaldos, or informal singing parties on their way to their Christmas party. These parties are not just open to family members but to anybody. And most likely you will even get a cup of ‘jengibre’ or a homemade ginger beverage. Once everyone has come to the house they will sing carols and dance well into midnight.
Since many of the North American traditions are also celebrated in the Dominican Republic, it is very festive and adorned with big Christmas Trees filled with lights and with the beautiful weather tons of poinsettias everywhere. At night if you go to the Puerto Plata square or ‘La Plaza Indpendcia` you will find a large Christmas Tree filled with lights and decorations. The Victorian buildings and shops are filled with decorations and lights, you will even find Santa here. The only thing you won’t find is the snow.
Another fun tradition is the Fuegos artificiales. It’s one of the largest Christmas Celebrations, and it’s the Christmas Fireworks - the Dominican Republic welcomes the Spirit of Christmas with Fireworks. There are stands all over the country who specialize in the Christmas Fireworks.
Another wonderful tradition is The Un Angelito or the little angel. The tradition is that each family member’s name goes into a sack. Then the family member picks a name out of the sack and gives the individual a small gift they selected each week of the Christmas holidays. Then on the last day, each of the gift giver's names is revealed!
And yet another great way to see Christmas in the Dominican Republic is “charamico” since they don’t get snow in the tropics the artisans started creating wooden handcrafted Christmas Trees in white to represent snow-covered trees - or at least that’s the legend. Today they have all kinds of wooden trees, stars, and reindeer.
Their Christmas Dinners consist of wonderful traditional food. Including roasted pork, roasted chicken, rice and peas, Russian Salad, Fresh Green Salad, Biscuits and Cakes (Pastries filled with figs similar to Danish)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a holiday in the warmth with a lot of similar traditions to what you are use to at home without any of the cleanup or work? Contact me today to plan your stress-free holiday vacation.
When I say all-inclusive resort, the first thing you think of is buffets with mediocre food and tons of those umbrella drinks. But what if I told you the all-inclusive resort has changed over the years to a better experience?
Did you know that there are all kinds of experiences that you can find at an all-inclusive resort? Each resort is as individual as the person visiting it. For couples, there are resorts that are couples only. They procreate the ambiance for romance. They have everything from alluring settings, secluded areas for just the two of you, gourmet romantic dining, and premium spirits. Some even include excursions.
If you are a spa person, there are resorts for you as well. There are resorts that include your spa treatments as well. Again, there is something for everyone.
If you want to have a fun time with your friends, but not couples, is there something for you? Yes, there is and again you can get the gourmet dining, not just the buffets. Do you need to make reservations days in advance? Not at all resorts - again every resort is different.
Well, this sounds great but what about the kids? I want to go on vacation with my kids. That’s possible as well. Did you know that there are resorts that can give each family a wonderful experience? There are resorts that are as different as each family's needs.
Sports families, there is a resort for you - did you realize that you can go on vacation let your kids learn or brush up on a sport while you sit at the pool relaxing and connect up at dinner?
But wait, did you want to sit at the waterpark today? Then let the kids go to the kids club for a couple of hours tomorrow so you and your honey can have a romantic lunch or dinner? Yes, there is a resort for you.
How about an adventure? Did you want your excursions included in your all-inclusive for you and your family? Yes, there’s a resort for that as well. And of course, if you just want to sit at the beach, there’s a resort for that.
When you are looking at all-inclusive resorts the options are endless. That’s when working with a travel advisor comes in handy. We can sit down with you and help you find the best fit and value for you and your family.
So to me, the most stressful time of the year is the holidays! Why? It’s the decorating, having to be here and there, and to be honest all of the prepping and cooking. Sometimes as much as I LOVE all of the traditions it’s so overwhelming that I want to put my head under the covers.
Plus, I have to admit being in Wisconsin in the winter - well it’s not my favorite. My idea of a “White Christmas” would not be with snow, but with a white sandy beach. So, why would celebrating the holidays on a Caribbean vacation or cruise be a great alternative? Well, let me explain:
Having to get all of the house decorated - many hours and multiple stressors. Don’t get me wrong everyone LOVES putting the tree up, the ornaments on. They love putting up the manger scene, and all of the decorations around the house. However, come King’s Day in January, it’s me begging everyone to take everything down and back to the basement. Oh, let’s not forget the Tetra maze in the basement corner that I take apart, put together twice during that time of year.
Next, let’s talk about all the gatherings, and figuring out the “schedule”. You know what I mean figuring out what house and when you have to be where. Although we are totally blessed to have all of our family members with us to celebrate it’s hard to figure out the schedule to make everyone happy.
Lastly, all of the cooking between the baking, and the prepping of the big meals - not to mention all of the clean-up. The clean-up is the worst part!
Now let’s talk about celebrating in the Caribbean, first of all - out of the snow and in the sand. My personal favorite! That’s a gift right there. You are with your family at a resort that is decorated by someone else. They put up and take down the decorations. (YAY!) You will actually get to focus on your family and spending that special time together. You don’t have to worry about who’s going to clean up the table after you, or who’s going to clean up the house. You can actually spend time together talking, or doing something special like swimming with dolphins, or a sunset catamaran cruise. The memories of that holiday will live on for years to come. Much longer than that video game will.
You have someone cooking that holiday meal for you, and the best part - you don’t have to clean up the kitchen afterward. You just get to go create more family memories together, the true meaning of the holidays.
Each Island has its own holiday traditions. How wonderful would it be to watch how other cultures celebrate the holiday? What a great gift to share with your children and loved ones. Like seeing the Junkanoo Festival in Jamaica or attending the “Candles by Candelight” Celebration in Barbados. Surely a way for the family to talk about this holiday for years to come. And isn’t that what the holidays and Christmas is truly about, the memories.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been writing about gifting an experience instead of just things for the holidays. This week I wanted to talk about an experience that we gave the kids a few years ago. I knew that we wanted to have them go somewhere warm, and we wanted to wait until after the holiday season. But we didn’t know where exactly to go. After some research, we looked into visiting another city. We chose Houston, Texas. You see my little guy, Zach, is a huge space fan and loves astronauts. I wanted to take him to see NASA.
And what started out as a trip to NASA in Houston, turned out to be a wonderful vacation to the Houston-Galveston area. We had a blast taking the boys not only to NASA but to Houston’s Zoo, Aquarium, the Museum and to the Kemah Boardwalk. The best part is that we took Grandma with. This was not only an experience that the boys were able to enjoy but one that we all cherish because it was with their Grandmother as well.
For all of us, we had some once in a lifetime moments together. To see my mom’s face light up when she stepped into the Houston Control Room where they launched the first ship to the moon and she remembered seeing that as a child. And then hearing her explain that to Zach and seeing his excitement was simply priceless! And just watching the boys get excited about doing new things with their Grandma and the memories that they shared, down to just swimming in the swimming pool at the hotel are things that we still talk about to this day.
I guess that is why I’m so passionate about giving the gift of travel and the gift of experiences. I was blessed with parents who gave me and my sisters' experiences even more than things. We were very blessed to have had that time together to share and to bond and when we lost my Dad several years ago, during that time of solace, some of our fondest memories are of the experiences and the travel experiences that we shared.
So no matter where you are going if it is to Disney World, Houston Texas, the Caribean or to a local waterpark, give an experience - it’s the gift that will keep on giving. If the thought of putting together that experience is overwhelming, send me an email, I would love to plan it for you so that all you have to sit back and enjoy each other’s company!
Because - Love is the journey!
Let's face it, after you’ve been together for awhile, perhaps you have a couple of kids, the career, and everything else, you want to feel like newlyweds. Especially in the bedroom - that’s the biggest reason why we take the romantic vacation away. Here’s a few tips to set the mood for the two of you to enjoy each other’s company….
Most of us love to go the beach. Find us a beach resort, or a cruise and we are happy. However, that may not the setting for everyone. What setting made the two of you feel sexy. Is it a night out in the city? Is it exploring a new land? What makes you feel sexy?
When picking out your room, splurge a bit on the accommodations so that you WANT to stay in your room. Get the king size bed, or the in room jacuzzi. And when picking a resort, stay away from the family resorts, choose one that has more of an adult feel. You left the kids at home, you don’t want to see everyone else’s kids. It’s harder to “get in the mood” when the kid at the table next to you is throwing his spaghetti on the floor.
When planning activities and excursions or day trips, don’t over book yourself on your romantic vacation. Remember that you will want to rest up and get some downtime to enjoy each other’s company. You need to reconnect on all levels when you are away. You don’t need to go from sun up to sun down on excursions and activities. Pick something to do for the day for a few hours and then relax a bit. If you are a couple who feels sexier in the morning, pick afternoon activities. If you are a couple who feels sexier in the afternoon pick a morning activity. And if you really enjoy this romantic getaway and the location makes you feel sexy most likely you will want to return and you can then go see something else in that location so you don’t have to do it all in one vacation.
Most importantly, disconnect from the outside world. Yes, put down the smartphone, email, and everything else. If you must check email and take calls, talk ahead of time and setup a mutually agreed upon time to do that. And if you are going to check in on the kids, make sure that you have a window of time that you have setup with their caretaker. Check in, let them know that you are good and get back to being newlyweds.
Things might not always go as planned, from getting there to the weather, to activities. Sometimes you need to go with the flow. And that’s okay. Enjoy the moment - who knows how the romance will flow.
And until next time remember, Love is the Journey.
I have a little secret, I love to read People Magazine. Yes, it has all the juicy gossip plus it has great mysteries stories as well. This week while reading, there was an article about one of my favorite comedic actresses, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and her cancer recovery. She was stating how much she has to be thankful for. Including her friends, boys, and husband, Brad Hall. As I was looking at the pictures of her and her family the one thing that struck me was a caption under a picture of her and her husband that stated that she still refers to her husband of 30 years her boyfriend. How cool is that?
Then I started to think about marriage. I think that sometimes, and I know that I can even be guilty of this, we start to get into that “slump”. We start to go into automatic mode. You know, get up, get going for work, get the kids off to school, wait what’s for dinner? Then when you get home, there’s homework, a load of laundry, dinner, dishes and the list can go on and on. Throw in a work project or two and then the next thing you know your exhausted and falling asleep on the couch.
I know that I’m guilty of this, and I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is not afraid to voice his opinion that he wants his wife back. But after thinking more closely at it, and thinking about our life in general, sometimes I like having him as my boyfriend. I’m lucky enough that my parents gave me a great example of how important it was for them to spend time together in their relationship, and now I do that with my own husband.
When our kids were younger, we would ship them off to grandma’s for date night, or for a weekend away as much as possible. Sometimes a weekend away was a weekend away for the kids and we would stay home. Here’s the most important key to that, turn off the phone. I know it’s evil to say, but do you remember when you were dating and you didn’t pick up the phone on a date? Pretend for a few hours that you are dating. It’s fun!
To this day, there are certain songs that go on and we dance in the living room. When the boys were little they would want to dance with us, now they are still at the point where they are like, really? It’s almost fun to watch them cringe.
And now that they are old enough for us to have a date night and they can stay home alone if we don’t take at least one night out a week, they let us know. They are like, “Mom and Dad, aren’t you going out together this week?” And it’s not an all-nighter either. It’s sometimes just for a quick dinner, or maybe out for a drink. It’s funny how they realize how important that time is for us as well. I think that it’s something that we are teaching them, that our relationship is very important and if we nurture it we are able to be better parents and a better family.
So here’s to my boyfriend! I’m lucky enough to have married him and I’m lucky enough to enjoy this journey with him!
Because love is the journey!
Do you ever hear yourself say, “One day I’ll take that vacation, but right now I just can’t.” Did you know that 53% of American employees have unused vacation time? Did you know there are 705 million total unused vacation days per year? That’s a lot of vacation time that went unused and wasted away, and more stress on more Americans.
When you have kids you are setting an example to them of what life is all about. And it’s great that you are showing them hard work, but shouldn’t you show them that life is also about fun? You are setting an example. Let’s take a look at most excuses. Money? We can all make more. Time - the clock is ticking the same amount every day. And the kids are growing up so fast, plus you never know what tomorrow may hold. I know so many people who say, “I’m waiting till I retire then I’m going on that trip….” and unfortunately something happens to them and they can’t. You are living today, enjoy the day! Life is a journey, love is a journey - enjoy the journey! We all have commitments, but can you get some help or cut back on some? If you want to take that trip or vacation, I’m sure that family, or a family friend can take the kids to that weekend activity. But I have work commitments. Isn’t it good once once is a while to show the kids that your career doesn’t own your life and that your life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. That’s a great example to show your kids, a great work and life balance. Plus when you get back and you are refreshed you are refreshed and are ready to live more in the moment.
Everyone talks about budgeting for vacations, I have a tip that I’ve found to help me over the years that I would love to share with you. Do you remember the days of the “Christmas Club”? I have a “Vacation Club” account at the bank. It’s a little savings account that is my go to. I put away a little here and a little there and it adds up so quickly! Before I know it I have enough for a vacation or a getaway and it didn’t hurt the pocketbook at all. For the same as a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Last but not least, come see a professional. You would be amazed with what we can do. We think of your vacation as our vacation. I know when working on a client’s vacation I put as much time and effort into it as if it was my own. Don’t get me wrong you can spend hours and hours on the internet looking at those sites and finding a “great deal” however you are just data to those sites. When you work with a travel professional, you are more than just data, you are a person who has spent time saving, wanting and dreaming about that special vacation just like we have and we realize it and want to make it as special as you do. I just love when someone comes to me and I make their vacation or honeymoon special. My favorite comment is, “All I had to do is pack, you truly did all the work for me.” Because my friends, love is the journey.
This is not a “cookie cutter” romance! I’m going to be honest with you - I’m not a “Bachelor or Bachelorette” fan. I know, I’m romance travel specialist, however, I’m honest Romance doesn’t come in a rose.
Yes, they make the dates look fabulous, and I would love to go to all those locals, however my idea of romance doesn’t look quite like that. For Mark and I it looks somewhat different.
When we were first married, one of the most romantic things that he did was tell me pack your bags for the weekend. Pack a swimsuit, and a couple changes of clothes. Now it was early December in Wisconsin, and we were both in the holiday spirit. He booked two airplane tickets to Minneapolis and took me to the Mall of America for the weekend.
Another time, we went to Las Vegas, and he drove me down to Oatman, Arizona. What’s in Oatman you may ask? Well, it’s a very cool old town filled with tons of history, which includes the Oatman Hotel where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned back in the day. I love and geek out about history. Plus I geek out over feeding the wild burros in the streets. My parents use to take us there as kids and I have to admit it’s still one of my favorite places to visit. He knows that and when we go to Vegas he still rents a car and takes me there.
Mark likes to visit distilleries, and has turned me into a huge fan as well. We visit them whenever we go somewhere new. When we were in the Grand Cayman, we took a distillery tour. Seven Fathom Rum was one of our favorite stops. We also visit local breweries, and make a weekend away of them.
Mark also loves bowling. It’s one of true loves. When we are somewhere out of town, we go check out the bowling alleys. Last year when we were with the kids in Philadelphia, we were on a trolley and he saw a bowling alley. The next afternoon we all stopped and checked it out. On our cruise - the last afternoon they had stick bowling and Mark and I had a fun game together.
So as you can see the romance is where you make it together. Don’t get me wrong, the beaches, mountain tops, and exotic locations are great but they aren’t the true romance. It’s where you find it together, bowling, drinking, exploring history or just feeding the wild asses!
Don’t forget Love is the Journey.