WITS – women in travel summit 

I am on my way to my first travel writer and blogger conference. This one is located in Irvine, California. I am so excited to network with other writers, learn from industry professionals, connect with brands and just meet some all around great women! 

Flew out of Denver. What a busy airport! The TSA lines were the longest I have everseen, but thankfully it was moving fast. 

  

Kayaking Laguna Madre in Port Mansfield

Recently we (my husband and I) were able to Kayak the Laguna  Madre in Port Mansfield, Texas. It was – what I would consider – a very easy kayaking trip. It was easy to put in right from the shore. The waves were very calm and gentle with an occasional splash over the tip of the kayak. The water was also very shallow, perhaps 2-feet deep about 500-feet from the shore. You could stand up and walk back to shore. I would recommend this trip for a beginner kayaker because of its simplicity and the shallow water.

streatching our legs compressed pelicans on pier compressed remnants of boarwalk compressed nilgai antalope-compressed launch area compressed my man compressed donna compressed beach compressed heron compressed antalope tracks compressed

The Travel and Adventure Show in Dalllas

 

After 12 years and 61 shows, the Travel & Adventure Show Series has established itself as the premier consumer marketing platform in the travel industry. Since 2004, the Travel & Adventure Shows have helped over 1.1 million travelers find, plan and book their dream vacation.

 nicaragua- buen viaje

This past weekend I was thrilled to attend the Travel and Adventure show in Dallas, Texas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. There were over 100 amazing travel related booths showcasing the most amazing destinations that spanned the globe. There were travel specialists and tour operators from cruise lines, photo safaris in Africa, Yoga tours in Nicaragua, and trekking in Nepal. There were large, well-known companies as well as small private owner/operator tour companies such as Buen Viaje Tours in Nicaragua which offers small, personable tours for families as well as individuals, ranging from cultural tours, birding tours and photography and art workshops.

rick steves

The show hosted several guest speakers that gave talks aimed at helping you in your travels with advice on planning your next trip – what is new for 2016, and suggestions on where to go. The guest speakers included; Rick Steves – traveling through Europe through the back door, Pauline Frommer – What you need to know before you plan your next vacation, Peter Greenberg – The brave new world of travel in 2016, and Patricia Schultz the author of 1,000 places to see before you die.

The savvy traveler is always looking for new tips and techniques to enrich their travel experience. The Travel and Adventure Show did not disappoint! There were presentations on the challenges and rewards of traveling solo around the world on a motorcycle, how to travel smart and pack light, and how to take better travel photography.

camel 1

Not only could you plan your next dream vacation get-away at amazing show only prices, there were also activities that you could participate in and shows that you could watch to give you a feel of the exotic destination that you would soon be headed to. Some of the fun, and even unusual, activities were camel rides, ride a segway, climb a rock tower, or practice your diving in a 18,000 gallon heated dive pool.

diving

Throughout the weekend you could watch colorful dancers from Mexico, Hawaii, Bulgaria, Bahamas and the Middle East performing elaborate traditional dances on the Cultural Stage.

 

In addition to cultural dance and music demonstrations, there were also cooking demonstrations from local chefs and chefs from Maui who created mouth-watering recipes such as Ahi Tuna Cruda with grilled pineapple; pan roasted brussel sprouts with sweet chili vinaigrette and goat cheese; seafood tostadas and more.

MY 2 CENTS – All in all, it was an exciting show with a fabulous turn out! Travel excitement abounded and dreams to explore new places were fostered and born. This was a great local event to learn about activities and cultures in distant foreign lands, learn about available adventures in your own backyard, and even meet your tour operators before you go on the tour! I highly recommend you attend one in a city near you! The Travel and Adventure Show currently has venues in Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego and Dallas.

 

Till we talk again!

Donna

The Botanist – where steampunk meets botanical magic

Delicious treats
Delicious treats

Do you ever read those advertising magazines that are spread across the desk in your hotel room? I have to confess – Sometimes, maybe, but usually I just brush them aside to make room for all of the travel books, casual books, magazines, and electronics that I brought with me. It is not like I just push it all onto the floor – I neatly clean off the paraphernalia that is “littering” the top of the desk so I can organize what I brought with me and see where all the outlets (or lack thereof) are located. At some point during the trip I may eventually take a quick flip through one of their magazines. I know, probably not the best habit for a travel writer, but I am working on changing that.

On a recent excursion to Chester, England I actually took a moment to stop and flip through that colorful magazine before I swept it off to the side – scanning headlines, reading the occasional recipe, reviews of the seasonal spirits, or the most noteworthy up-and-coming restaurants.

One brief headline caught my eye, The Botanist – an eclectic dining experience steeped in charm and style. There are so many ‘wine bars’ and ‘brewers’ that this caught my eye. The name was just enough to give a little intrigue and interest without giving away what it was all about. It was so steampunkish!

The lobby at The Botanist
The lobby at The Botanist

I was not disappointed! The atmosphere was so amazing and unique! It gave the feeling that you had stepped back in time to a garden sanctuary. The exterior of the restaurant was decorated in wrought iron panels with vines growing over them. The interior was decorated with wood accents that had a weathered-gray finish to them.

steampunk decor
steampunk decor

The bar area was quite impressive with an expansive front bar that had ample room for the botanical mix-masters to work their magic with herbal infused liquor and spirits. The back bar consisted of a massive shelving system that contained a sizeable assortment of liqueurs infused with berries, herbs, and fruits in addition to a fabulous selection of craft beers and ales.

Our mix-masters
Our mix-masters
The bar at The Botanist
The bar at The Botanist

Their menu is a beautiful and tasty selection of dishes inspired from delis and rotisseries of the UK and the comfort food from grandma’s English kitchen. Note worthy menu items that had a unique table presentation were the Hanging Kebabs (a very savory dish available in chicken, lamb kofta, prawn or beef and slathered with sweet chili, ginger, and garlic butter), Chicken Liver and Rum Pate that is brought to your table in a mini terracotta flower pot on a wooden plank with Turkish flat bread and a plumb and apple chutney that is served in a mini wheelbarrow.

Chicken liver and rum pate
Chicken liver and rum pate
Hanging lamb kabab
Hanging lamb kabab
carrot cocktail - it was actually good
carrot cocktail – it was actually good

Other favorites include the homemade Scotch Egg (fried to perfection so that the breading is crispy on the outside but the egg still has a soft center) and the Salt and Pepper Onion Petals served with a herbed sour cream sauce.

Scotch egg
Scotch egg

 

Craft ale and cocktail flight
Craft ale and cocktail flight
watermelon cocktail - great for hot summer days!
watermelon cocktail – great for hot summer days!

The food was delicious, flavorful, and wholesome! What a great find tucked in a narrow little side street off Eastgate St. and Northgate St. The Botanist is a great place for lunch, dinner, or a place to meet friends in the evening for cocktails and to listen to live music.

 

For more information on locations, hours and menu items check out their website at http://thebotanist.uk.com/

My 2015 in a nut shell

My 2015 in a nut shell divider_scroll

Looking back, 2015 was a very active year. It contained some big steps and changes, and some small. There were quiet-momentous moments and there were loud-joyous moments. 2015 was a year of discovery, growth, and shedding of old shells.

I hope that 2016 continues with that same momentum and theme.

This is my 2015 in a nut shell, without divulging to much incriminating info:

Started the year in a still relatively new place, new surroundings, new environment. Trying to feel settled and situated

Came to terms with good-byes from long ago

Became closer to old friends

Made a new circle of friends

Saw my youngest child graduate from high school

Saw my oldest child start college with new vigor

Started a new career

Started a network web that spans the globe

Toured U.K. for 3 weeks

Experienced a new city and state

Became involved

Almost lost someone very dear

Almost lost someone else that is becoming important again

Re-kindled the flame that I saw in that sexy man that I am proud to call my husband

Re-affirmed who and what family is

Rediscovered me

I now feel settled and situated

Take a moment to reflect on your 2015. I hope your 2016 is better, more productive, more fun, more engaging, and you have more opportunity for growth.

Happy New Year!

Welcome   2016

The Smallest House in Britain

 

Smallest House in Britian
Smallest House in Britain– the itty bitty red one on the side!

Tucked onto the end of a row of houses near the walls of Conwy Castle is Britain’s smallest house. The Quay House, with a footprint measuring a mere 10’ by 5.9’ and a total height of 10’2” to the eves, pained fire-engine red, is located in Conwy, Wales. The house got its name because it is located on the quay, a wharf or reinforced bank for the loading or unloading or ships or boats. The Quay House was a residence from the 16th century until 1900. The last resident was a fisherman by the name of Robert Jones, he was 6’3”.

The Quay House, which is still owned by descendants of Robert Jones, hosts thousands of visitors a year. Visitors to the house are amazed and awed that a house, which is so small, is still so practical and efficient. The Quay House is open from 10am to 4pm during most days. Late visitors and school trips please contact The Quay House here . The cost of admission is 50p for children and £1 for adults.

Other places of interest to visit while you are in Conwy are:

Aberconwy House
Aberconwy House

The Aberconwy House is a 14th century merchant’s house from medieval times, which has survived six centuries of a turbulent history. Upon visiting the house, you can learn about the daily life through the centuries by an audio-visual presentation.

Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle was built during King Edward I’s second campaign in North Wales between 1283 and 1289. Conwy Castle sits on the location of Deganwy Castle, the former stronghold of King Henry III that was destroyed by Llywelyn the Last in 1263.

Fishing boats waiting for the tide

It is a little known fact that Conwy was once an important pearl fishery and harvested as much as 4 kilograms of pearls per week in the 169th century. Musseling the old-fashioned way is still active in Conwy today, but now practiced on a much smaller scale. The Conwy Mussel Museum provides the history behind the Conwy mussels, their uses, and the mysteries involving a royal crown.

conwy wales

 

 

 

Empty nest, adventure, life, travel

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