Monthly Archives: September 2011

My Traveling Panda is published in Beautiful Bride Magazine- Summer 2011 – Las Vegas & Orlando

Bridal magazines are a wonderful thing. I think I had a stack about 3 feet tall by the time my wedding date came. I do not buy as many wedding magazines now that I am married, but this one is special, I have an article published on Page 80 of the Summer issue of Beautiful Bride. It is published nationally (Las Vegas and Orlando), so pick-up a copy if you can. Here is a link to the website:

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

I just came across this article on about traveling to Argentina. Reading it brought back so many memories of my trip there in 2007, with one of my good friends. My friend lived in Finland and I lived in The States. We decided to meet up somewhere neither of us had been, but both of us wanted to visit and we chose Buenos Aires (BA) as our destination.

At this point in my life, I had traveled to Europe and lived in the UK, but Argentina was more foreign to me…the culture, the language…the lay of the land. Fortunately, I spoke some Spanish, though it was a bit rusty, but I was able to communicate none the less. Once I arrived and met up with my friend, the adventure truly began. Many call BA the Paris of South America, and it is a beautiful city, rich in culture. During our week in BA we traveled down El Tigre River, took a Ferry to Colonia, Uruguay, visited museums, and walked the famed Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron (Evita) is entombed. We went to Tango bars, saw the most colorful buildings in La Boca, ate the most amazing steak, took a trip to El Campo to spend the day with authentic Gauchos and patronized many cafes, just to name a few of our activities.

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Visiting the Cafes was one of my favorite things. Not only do you receive the coffee, you also get water (con o sin gas) and a small pastry. It was a lovely experience that we enjoyed many times. Argentines also enjoy Mate, a very strong tea that is sipped through a straw. It has an unusual bitter taste, but I suggest giving it a go, after all, when in Rome.

We also learned that Argentina has a large community of Italian immigrants; so much of the “local” cuisine has Italian influences. Thought we traveled in May, it was autumn in Argentina and the local chefs took full advantage of the season. We had the most delicious pumpkin ravioli. I still dream of it to this day.

And of course, every girl loves to Shop! Sure, using my sky miles and getting a killer rate on the Marriott helped save a few dollars, but I was amazed by how far my dollar stretched in Argentina. My favorite finds were all leather goods. My friend and I each bought a handbag. I also found a lovely wallet and a leather duffle bag made of the softest richest leather. I love it!

I truly enjoyed my experience in BA and hope one day to return to Argentina to explore the country further.

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Off to the Bahamas

I am getting Excited. This time tomorrow, we will be in Charleston, getting ready to board our cruise ship. My husband and I are going on a five day cruise to the Bahamas with some of our friends. We plan to relax, go horseback riding and take a powerboat to Exuma. I will post some pics and more details once we start our journey!

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Mother-Daughter Weekend at Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica

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Earlier this summer, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go on Girl’s Trip with my mom.  I gave her the choice of any Sandals or Beaches Resort in Jamaicaor The Bahamas.  After careful consideration, she choice Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica

We leftAtlantaon a Friday morning and by lunch time, we were at the Resort, enjoying lunch on an open-air patio with gorgeous vistas of theCaribbean Sea.  The shuttle ride to Whitehouse fromMontego Baywas quite an adventure; I have never seen so many potholes!  But, we had a skilled driver who was able to maneuver the roads and we arrived safely.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted with a chilled wash cloth and a delicious beverage.  Then, we were escorted to our suite.  We had the pleasure of enjoying an upgraded suite with Butler Service!  One of the great things about Sandals Whitehouse is that all the rooms face the ocean, but the upgraded penthouse suites practically hang over the ocean.  We had gorgeous views of theCaribbeanand the mountains.  Plus, the Butler Service made us feel likeQueens.  Joy and Kamar, ourButlers, took great efforts to attend to our needs.  In fact, we were given cell phones, so we could give them a ring, whenever we needed anything.  Some of my favorite services included the fact that they reserved prime beach chairs for us.  The chairs where made up like beds with cozy towels and a cooler full of our favorite chilled beverages was left on the beach for us as well.  Additionally, theButlerswould make dinner reservations for us, ensuring we had the best seats in the restaurants and they would add our names to the snorkel and glass bottom boats rides.  On a few occasions, we needed take-out from a restaurant, and theButlerswould deliver the orders to our room, it was lovely.  Plus, they would surprise us with treats delivered to us on the beach.  Joy brought us fresh coconuts, tropical drinks, Jamaican patties and more, it was devine!

So, what else did we do, besides get pampered?  My mom and I woke up in time to enjoy the sunrise; this was spectacular.  We were virtually the only guests on the beach, so we felt as though we had the entire beach and resort to ourselves.  The sunrises over the mountains were gorgeous, so worth the early rise!  Once the sun was up, we patronized Le Cafe de Paris and ordered lattes and fresh pastries.  We loved this coffee shop and visited it countless times during our stay.

We made good use of the sun and enjoyed walks along thelong beach, I went snorkeling, both at the resort’s shore and on the snorkel excursion provided by Sandals.  I really enjoyed this and saw numerous starfish and found lovely shells as well.  I attempted some of the other activities provided by Sandals including the sea Kayaks and knee boards.  Each afternoon, we had rain storms; during this time, I visited the spa to try the sauna, steam room and plunge pools.  It was very relaxing and I highly recommend it.

We tried all the restaurants for at least one meal.  From Italian to Asian, toIslandand seafood, Sandals Whitehouse offered cuisine that fit nearly every palate. Our favorites wereNeptune’s, Bluefield Beach Club, Cafe De Paris and Jasmine’s. 

Although I was traveling with my mom, I can highly recommend this resort as a romantic escape with a significant other.  Since the resort sits on such a large stretch of beach, you feel like you have your own private slice of heaven.  There are numerous little nooks and crannies sit and relax where you can enjoy privacy.  From beach bed cabanas to hidden benches and couches, to floating squares in the sea, there are plenty of places to have peace and quiet. 

So, not only did my mom enjoy being pampered and treated like queens, we created new memories, spending quality time together on a long weekend, mini-vacation inJamaica!  I can’t wait until our next mother-daughter getaway!

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Everyone knows about vacations and the more recent STAYcation, but what about a TRAINcation? 

Karleen Dirmantas (, someone I know from childhood, is training to do the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii on October 8, 2011. This it  is the Super Bowl of triathlons; of the tens of thousands of triathletes who vie to compete in the World Championship Ironman, only “1,800 “lucky” people get to test themselves on one of the biggest challenges the sports world has to offer … 2.4-miles of swimming, 112-miles of biking, and a 26.2-mile marathon run through tough ocean waves, and challenging lava-covered terrain”

Karleen, who has been successfully competing in triathlons for years, lives and trains in Arizona.  As you can imagine, the heat in the summer becomes too much to handle.  So, in order to continue her training, but to also give herself some much need rest and relaxation, she goes on TRAINcations.  Karleen recently ventured to Carlsbad, CA where she met up with friends to conduct her training regime.  Karleen says it is vital to consider your resources when planning a TRAINcation.  Not only do you need to think about where you are going to stay and how you are going to get there, you must also think about your needs as an athlete.  Learn where equipment shops are located, where are the training facilities, do you need a physical therapist, etc.  Dirmantas enjoys the TRAINcation because it gives her training some variety.  When she joins up with a Masters swim club, they swim different sets at a faster pace than she swims back home, so she was able to cover more distance in the same amount of time.  Plus, she was able to get in some open water swims.  Not to mention that for her bike rides and run, the change of scenery and cooler temperatures were a welcome change to the hot, dry Arizona desert.

Dirmantas says one best aspects of the TRAINcation is that she not only trains with purpose, but she can relax with purpose.  On her most recent TRAINcation, she traveled with her husband and visited with family and friends during her time in California.  She took in local sites and cuisine, went boating, attended concerts and even competed in a swimming competition.  This was the last trip out of town for Karleen before the big trip to Kona.  In her blog, she outlines all the preparations required when traveling for such an important competition. 

So, just because you are in the middle of training for a competition does not mean you cannot take a vacation.  You can combine your workouts and training with your relaxing vacation by taking a TRAINcation!

Please take a few minutes to visit Karleen’s blog and wish her GOOD LUCK at Kona on October 8th.

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