Cathy Cruises In Dubai

What do you do at 4:30am when your internal clock is turned around? Well, you go out and feel the warm air and have tea and send an email! Saturday I visited The Mall of the Emirates and had a penguin experience. It was such fun, all geared up in snow pants, parka and gloves we entered the cold and... read more

The Long and Winding Road

The day started early with our usual fresh fruit, yoghurt and strong coffee served by the ever pleasant Maria. At 8 am we left the hotel for the long journey to Otavalo. On the way we saw miles and miles of greenhouses growing a large variety of roses. Our guide pulled over and bought a dozen white roses for the... read more

Off For The Island

The Galápagos must be one of the most preserved places on earth, if not THE most preserved. It started at the Quito airport with our bags being scrutinized by X-ray for any produce, dirt, sand or meat products. The bags were zip tied shut upon approval. Three different signatures were required giving our oath that we were not carrying any... read more

Waterfall (Bonus)

I wasn't going to write about the waterfall... I don't write travel posts that start with "I" as this is a group adventure. This one, however, was a bit of a personal experience and in the afterglow, I couldn't remember anything historical or of cultural significance to share. As we continue our journey through Ecuador, my heart keeps drifting back... read more

Bartolome Island

The calm emerald sea of the morning made every splash visible as tuna, sea turtles and rays flopped about their morning activities. With extraordinary clarity, we could see into the depths in front of our catamaran and our guide was skilled at telling us exactly what type of fish we were sailing over. The boat was not what one could... read more

When In Rome

"Its mostly flat, and then there's a few stairs, and then it's flat again." These are the deceptive words we have heard repetitively on our journey. Hills and steps have presented themselves virtually very day of our trip so far, punctuated by a variety of landscapes and heat (90% humidity to volcanic, Mars like desert dryness).Great treasure often takes some... read more

The Largest Natural Zoo In The World

The quaint Casa Marita is about 5 minutes from the pier and a 5 minutes from town - walking. Isabela Island is the largest of the Galápagos Islands. Isabela has 6 volcanoes each with their own species of land turtle. You could spend an entire vacation of several weeks just on this island.In the morning we walked down a lovely... read more

Modern Day Explorers

The hotel was kind enough to feed us breakfast after another, more calm, island transfer. We were soon joined by our Naturalist guide, Fabian. We were surprised to see him as we weren't supposed to go for a tour until the afternoon. A giant smile and bouncy enthusiasm, he explained our reserved boat had broken down and he had secured... read more

Darwin. It figures.

Puerto Baqierez Mincoa, Cristobal Island has a different feel than the others. It feels more like a local village and less like a tourist hub. Having said that, every third building seems to be a hostel. We were greeted by sea lions. Lots of them. They were on each step from the water to the dock, on every bench and... read more

Flying Indirectly

There's no real direct way to get to Quito without your own jet plane. It was an early start and a late arrival. United Airlines had wifi for 1.99 an hour and lots of tv channels for $6-8 per flight so that helped pass the time.Arriving at Quito at night is strange as you can't see your surroundings. You can... read more

Lost In The City

For those of us that arrived early, today was a day of adjusting to altitude and getting our bearings. Our little Inn remains phenomenal. Sit down for breakfast and this sweet lady brings yogurt and granola, fresh fruit and scrambled eggs - and extremely dark coffee. The same sweet lady later was cleaning our rooms, teaching us Spanish and helping... read more

QUI = CENTER, TO = WORLD

Our day started with a trip to the centre of the world. That would be zero degrees latitude. Of course there is a monument and we all had to walk the yellow line painted along the line of the equator. A couple who arrived a couple days earlier visited the cloud forest which was a "bird nerd's" dream. (Their words.)... read more

Last Entry of the Trip: Culture Shock Of Montanita Ecuador

Culture shock!After a 7-8 hour bus ride, we arrived in Montanita, a beachside town on the coast of Ecuador. Long white beaches, ocean waves suitable for a large number of surfers and a playground for locals and tourists alike. When I thought of Ecuador I envisioned simple towns, quiet life and sparse landscape. While true of some of Ecuador, this... read more

Snorkeling Around San Cristobal Island

A early start from Santa Cruz and a two hour speedboat ride and we arrived at the harbour of San Cristobal Island. Not a large town but alive with activity, shops, tours (sightseeing, scuba and fishing) and restaurants (Ecuadorian and American cuisine).Our hotel was one of the best in town complete with very comfortable beds, showers, pool and wifi. The... read more

Cuenca - If I Could Live Somewhere In This World

What a great city! Beautiful, serene and full of life. The temperature is always pleasant and in the rainy season (April/May) there's a little precipitation during the night or late afternoon. The days are always the same length being on the equator. It's almost like standing in time. Being a Central American city there the typical many small shops, churches... read more

Beautiful Isabela Island

Today we ventured over to Isabela Island. The only town here is small (about 2500 people live on the entire island). There are however some excellent restaurants and services (laundry) and tour companies. The locals seem very friendly. Life seems very laid back. Our hotel here is one of the best on the island. Right on the waterfront and with... read more

Splashing Around Santa Cruz

Returning to from Isabel Island by speed boat to Santa Cruz was for just one night. That afternoon in Santa Cruz we had a tour by boat to a nearby dock where we walked for about 100 yards past salt ponds where we could see how they still make salt in the traditional way. At the end of this path... read more

The Last Secret of the Forbidden City

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Forbidden City was China’s seat of power. Delve into the symbolism, architecture and the last ‘forbidden’ site of this great cultural treasure in Beijing.In the 15th century, the Chinese regarded their country as the centre of the world. In the heart of their seat of power stood the emperor’s palace: the Forbidden City.... read more