• Charleston – 2nd Sunday on King Street

    Stephanie and I live about 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, SC.  This is one of the most fabulous cities in the world.  The readers of Conde Nast magazine named Charleston the number 1 United States travel destination for the fourth year in a row in 2014.  The readers also named Charleston the number 2 city in the world behind only Florence Italy (see Charleston City paper writeup).

    Every month Charleston closes off one of their historical streets, King Street, for the Second Sunday of the Month.  King St. is a mecca for shopping, dining and entertainment.  Today Stephanie, my sister Susan, niece Kristen and her friend Alyssa hung out on King St.

    Charleston - Kings Street

    Charleston – King Street

    Charleston has attracted some of the top retailers in the world that you would routinely see in cities such as Paris London and New York.  These are mixed in with an eclectic blend of boutique shops, art galleries, bars and restaurants.

    Street bands are all over the place on 2nd Sunday.  Most of these just find a spot and start playing.

    Gospel Band

    Gospel Band

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  • Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge

    Sometimes you can travel the world and see amazing places but then realize some of the most amazing places are near your door step.  Stephanie and I are fortunate enough to live in Charleston County 15 minutes from downtown Charleston and 25 minutes to the beach.  One of the most amazing places we have visited is the Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge (Ace Basin).

    Entrance to Ace Basin Park area

    Entrance to Ace Basin Park area

    We took our two Boston Terriers out to the Refuge on a Sunday in October.  There are 3 miles of a main hiking trail and more miles off the main trail (hiking trail description)  It passes through wetlands, old rice fields within 350,000 acres of undeveloped estuaries and wetlands.  At the beginning of the trail, is a fabulous old Plantation House which serves as a National Wildlife office.  The Grand Oaks are world-class and by themselves worth the trip just to view and photograph.

    Plantation House at Ace Basin

    Plantation House at Ace Basin

    We spent some time photographing the house and the Grand Oaks.

    Grand Oaks

    Grand Oaks

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  • Recommended International Travel Bookings Site

    Money Magazine recently had a good article on “booking sites” and brought to my attention, the site Vayama.com   If you are planning an overseas trip, you should check it out.  We are looking for an eastern Africa safari type trip (assuming Ebola does not move into that area) so I used the site and was quite pleased.  I went on to try out different traveling scenarios in Europe and southeast Asia.  Vayama Logo

    Vayama will give you multiple options of airlines and give the lowest price for each.  You can filter it by number of stops and price it in the currency of your choice.  You then pick the airline and deal of your choice and drill down further.  In addition, Vayama gives direct links from other discount booking sites and allows you to transfer your proposed itinerary directly there.

    For example, I searched for a flight from Barcelona, Spain to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and was given 18 airlines with their lowest price.  The lowest was Emirates Airline at $833 roundtrip.  I was then given the option to go directly to Priceline and three others.  Priceline beat the $833 price by one dollar on the same airline. Funny how that happens.

    Vayama is a fun site to play around with.  It has a category called deals where you pick your city or region and a choice of trips are displayed.  They go on to describe some of the highlights of the region.

     

  • Monterrico – Best Beach in Guatemala

    If you want overseas adventure travel and off the beaten path, consider the Pacific Coast of Guatemala (see Location Map).  Tourism is in its infancy and there are beautiful beaches and majestic rocky shores.

    Main St Monterrico Guatemala

    Main St Monterrico Guatemala

    Believe it not, this street is the main street of Monterrico our coastal destination. As you can see, no tourists! The local people were so nice, helpful and curious about us.

    We chose Monterrico as our destination because we love Antigua Guatemala in the highlands and wanted to drive to explore the Pacific Coast after we left Antigua.  Monterrico was large enough to have some bars and restaurants and within 3 hours drive of Antigua.

     

    Scenery on the Road to the Pacific Coast

    Scenery on the Road to the Pacific Coast

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  • Kenya Adventure

    Our friend Shannon Knisely traveled for a Kenya Adventure recently as a volunteer of the Global Autism Project and Ms. Knisely was nice enough :) to give us her story and some fantastic photos.  Click on the icon photos for a full size.

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    I spent 2 1/2 weeks in a suburb known as Karen, located approximately 30 miles outside of Nairobi, Kenya in May 2014. A small group of therapists who work with children with autism volunteered through a company based in New York, New York called Global Autism Project (a non-profit agency that establishes and maintains partnerships with autism schools around the world).

    Global Autism Project sends a team of volunteers to each site 2 times per year and provides staff and family training, consultation, and support with program development for the children being served at these schools.  We spent 10 days with the amazing staff and children at Kaizora Consultants! Our focus for this trip was natural environment teaching (NET). I was amazed at how motivated and compassionate the staff members were at the center – so willing to learn! I noticed a sign on one of the walls of the school that said, “Children only learn as fast as we teach”. Love it!

    About Nairobi:

    Nairobi is the most populous city in east Africa as well as one of the most prominent cities in Africa.  This was mostly uninhabited in the late 1800s until it became a rail depot on a British owned railway that linked Mombasa (coastal city in southeastern Kenya) to the neighboring country of Uganda, on the western border of Kenya.

    Our group stayed at a guesthouse in Karen called the Bush House. They provided us with breakfast and dinner each day, hot showers, laundry services (for an additional cost), and a community area with a t.v. and some couches.

     

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