For such a tiny island, we had some amazing varieties of food on Little Corn Island. There was mostly Nica (Nicaraguan) food, but our favourite restaurant was the Cuban Café, which served delicious Coconut Lobster. The dinners at our hotel, the Lobster Inn, were typical Nica food: fried pork or ribs or chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw and plantain chips for $3. Always good. One morning we asked Erika, the cook, if she could make us some hash browns. She looked totally confused. We said that you just fry onions and potatoes, chopped. She still looked lost, but she … More… →
Someone told us that bags of money and/or drugs have been found floating in the ocean around Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. Drug dealers on the ocean might see another boat, perhaps a police/army boat, get scared of getting caught and quickly dump the drugs or money overboard. When we asked what people who found such bags did with the cache, no one would answer. So guess what we did the next few days?! Of course. We went to the virgin west side of the island to spend the day at the beach, eyes peeled intently for … More… →
At last! Big Corn Island disappeared far off in the distance. No more threatening thugs, no more loud music, no more hurtling cars – just crystal clear blue water, soft sand, and the sweet sweet quiet of Little Corn Island. That’s right – there are no roads on Little Corn Island, and no cars. A taxi driver on Big Corn had recommended we stay at the Lobster Inn, instead of Los Dolphines, so we were delighted to meet Momma Cornelia, and negotiate a rate of $15 per night, rather than $20. http://littlecornisland.net/accomodation/ We were right on the … More… →
We didn’t want to go to crime-and-drug-ridden Big Corn Island but we had no choice. It was the only way to get to gorgeous Little Corn Island on the virtually unknown Caribbean side of Nicaragua. First we had to fly from Managua to Big Corn Island, then take a small boat to Little Corn. We had contemplated a long river boat trip down the rivers across Nicaragua to the Caribbean side, but it was across vast uninhabited parts of Nicaragua, and it looked like a rough week-long voyage. Taking the local bus from Rivas back to Managua for … More… →
We had been offered an opportunity to stay at a new upscale development of villas on the Pacific coast near Rivas, Southern Nicaragua, for a free luxurious weekend. Rancho Santana was spread over 2700 acres on the rocky Pacific coastline with 5 beaches. The homes were for sale of course, and they hoped, by offering a free stay, you might invest in a vacation/residential home. After a pleasant drive by taxi through the countryside from Granada to Rivas… We arrived at Rancho Santana… It was brand new, sparkling clean and quite modern… a huge contrast from our … More… →
It was hard to leave charming and colonial Granada. After playing like children on an uninhabited island, being amazed on our walk in the cloud rain forest and screaming through an invigorating zip line across the top of the Nicaraguan jungle, it was hard to imagine that anything could beat those experiences. But we had this idea that we should check out off-the-beaten-path San Juan del Sur, where Playa Gigante was known as the most beautiful beach in Nicaragua. The not-so-friendly taxi driver said it would only be about $10 to get to the Bahia Majagual Eco-Lodge, which was billed … More… →
While we were still enjoying the lovely town and relaxing atmosphere of Granada, Nicaragua, we wanted to see the Volcano Mombacho, still active we had been told, as well as the cloud forest in the mountains and to experience the jungle zip line. We were both a little worried about the zip line and whether we could manage climbing a makeshift ladder, 100 metres up a tree! But embarrassed to admit it, we bought the tour and determined to try. Both tours were private tours with only the tour guides and the two of us. Nice. First … More… →
After missed and delayed flights, and a cramped old hotel in Managua, arriving in Granada was a delightful surprise. It was a pretty town with a gorgeous town square featuring a huge pink and white gazebo, food vendors selling all kinds of snacks and sweets, vendors selling jewelry and hats and balloons, children playing, adults chatting, and everyone just enjoying the splendid sunshine. We spent almost every evening sitting in the town square waiting for the birds to start chirping and sweeping across the square as they nestled into the trees for the night. The Hotel Alhambra, a … More… →
It started with a comedy of errors. Freezing rain cancelled our flight out of Toronto to Nicaragua so there were 40-minute line-ups at the pay phones just to try to re-schedule. T was relatively new at “travel glitches” and was wringing his hands in anxiety. After many years of travel I was used to flight delays, but this long forty-minute wait was getting to me too. We finally gave it up and suddenly found direct line phones where we quickly got re-scheduled on a flight the next morning. Then it was back to the hotel overnight. … More… →
Are you totally bored with typical canned packaged same-old holidays? Longing for something a little different? Are you tired of walking half a mile down corridors, waiting for elevators, then walking another half mile of paved walks to get to an over-stuffed pool or a crowded beach with people lined-up like dominoes? Are you sick of having to race down to the pool to put a towel on a chair to save it? Or worse yet, paying for a chair? Are you tired of lining-up to book a restaurant table days before you even know what kind … More… →
Ok, here’s the thing. Everybody is too friggin’ busy at Christmas to read (or write) a blog post. So we’ll keep it short and sweet. You’re not the only one freaking out about all the things you still have to do before Christmas. Everyone is! Well OK, maybe it’s more likely the women in every family. If you’re one of the lucky ones (or smart ones) to avoid all the stresses of preparing for Christmas, tell us your secret… pleeeeeese… tell us… We are begging you… Because, damn it, next year, we will be more … More… →
T is Mr. Christmas. You’ve heard about his smart remarks and wry sense of humour in previous posts, but I think we shall reveal a little more of his character, since he is always the silent partner in our escapades around the world. Did you ever in your life hear of someone having 30, yes thirty, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause dolls, most of them 2-3 feet tall?! One set is even a Vintage Animated Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Aren’t they the cutest? But that’s not all – no, no, no, not by a long shot. He … More… →
The Chinese people were warm and sweet, smiling beguilingly at Westerners, offering quick assistance, showing deep respect, bowing slightly, and always using “you first” gestures. A Chinese acquaintance told me that the government is very strict that the people make Westerners feel welcome, but I sensed, especially outside of Beijing and the tourist places, that people felt flattered and privileged to know, talk to, or have a picture taken with a Westerner. It seemed as if one gained status to have some personal contact with a Westerner. Several times I was invited to stand affectionately close to a … More… →
Did you ever experience a Chinese Foot Massage? Wow, amazing. Absolutely nothing like our North American massages, at least the ones we’ve had. It was a special and unique opportunity to experience a traditional Chinese foot massage at the famous Liang Zi Foot Massage in Beijing, China. Absolute pampering is the only way to describe it, and considering all the walking you’re likely to be doing, it will be just the cure for aching feet and tired muscles. OK, maybe pampering is not quite the right word, but you will have to read on to find out … More… →
From Xian, we flew to Tsingtao (pronounced ching-dow), a small city (according to Chinese standards) of only 6 million people, on the southeast coast of China in Shandong province. It had the feel of a beautiful small resort nestled between the mountains and the ocean. It was quiet, and not at all crowded. I don’t know where all those millions of people were, but we didn’t see many. There were supposedly one million people at the annual Tsingtao Beer Festival, which was on the week we were there, but again – it didn’t seem crowded. Tsingtao Beer … More… →
From Beijing, we travelled inland south to Xian. 2200 years ago, Emperor Quin Shi Huant, one of the most famous emperors in China, was losing a battle with his enemy. He developed an ingenious plan. He asked his soldiers to build an army of clay soldiers exactly like his own army, with soldiers of all ranks, as well as horses and chariots. The thousands of soldiers were even painted in colour. They are known as the Terra Cotta Warriors. Lined up at a distance, this massive army appeared foreboding and frightened the enemy. What a simple but clever … More… →
My friend, L, arranged a car and driver to take us to the GREAT WALL – not to the touristy rebuilt sections but to the original authentic Great Wall, unrestored, fewer tourists, 120 km NE of Beijing, called Simatai. We were anxious to see the countryside in China, and the trip there was utterly astonishing! Not so much for the lush green valleys, the approaching Yanshan Mountains, the fruit stands dotting the edge of the winding mountain highway with bags of apples, pears, and exotic fruits or vegetables selling for a mere 15 yuan (C$3), but for the riveting … More… →
The parks in Beijing are simply stunning! They make parks in Canada look embarrassingly simple. Beijing’s parks are full of themed areas with separate pathways leading to separate areas within the larger park. Each one is set in a magnificent and serene setting and unique theme. With ponds and streams, hills and valleys, glades and gardens, rare trees, unusual flowers, the landscapes were choreographed to reflect each specific theme. Even the scent of each theme area seemed to match the theme. With impressive displays of wisteria, bamboo, peonies, orchids, cherry blossoms and apple blossoms, ancient cypress trees, pine … More… →
The food in Beijing, China was absolutely nothing like any Chinese food I have eaten in North America or anywhere in the world, for that matter. Because they were business dinners, we had fairly formal dinners in the better restaurants. All of the dinners were served on large round tables with a huge turn-table or Lazy Susan in the centre. At least twenty dishes would appear on the table, and no matter if the end of the business dinner was obvious, no dish, according to custom, could become empty and would be replaced as soon as it was … More… →
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Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor… Explore. Dream. Discover.
— Mark Twain
Shirley and Mr. T
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