The Garden District – A breathtaking side of New Orleans

A city with a special vibe, a city that screams “come on down, let’s have some fun”.  We have been to New Orleans a number of times before, but never tire of it.  When we lived in Texas, we’d visit frequently and also on more recent trips with friends.  Trawling the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, beignets which are those soft pillowy donuts showered with powdered sugar, cajun and creole restaurants, musicians around every corner, are all synonymous of what New Orleans is all about.  What we had never experienced before though, was the Jazz Festival that typically takes place around May.  A group of about 11 of us decided to rent a B & B in the Garden District.  Although we had taken the St. Charles Street car before, we had never really stopped off to admire the architecture or the gardens around the area.  This trip definitely changed that for me.  We all parted ways at different times of the day for various music events.  Hubby and I had tickets to see Sting and Rod Stewart.  What fun!  Now back to the Garden District to get a view of what we experienced.

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Island in the Sun – Jamaica

Anyone remember the song ‘Island in the Sun’ by Harry Belafonte?  I had this playing on my desktop computer as I wrote this post on Jamaica.   We had just returned from a beautiful 10 days on this fourth-largest Caribbean island surrounded by mountains, rain-forests and reef lined beaches.   I had always wanted to visit Jamaica ever since I lived in London which is home to probably the largest Jamaican population outside of Jamaica.  The reggae music, the food, the warmth of the people attracted me to this island in the sun. I was familiar with names such as Montego Bay and Kingston, but had never heard of Portland, the area we explored.

A local friend who lived in Portland Parish many years ago encouraged us to seek it out.  So in my usual fashion, I went about  researching the area, I asked around and jumped on the Trip Advisor forum, my faithful source for seeking information from travelers who have actually been there.  Portland Parish is on the northeast coast of the island.  When researching Portland, I found that it was a mixture of lush green countryside and beautiful beaches, rivers, caves, coves and waterfalls.  I’m so glad we checked it out, it was all that I had read and researched about and so much more.  We felt we had experienced the real Jamaica.   Below are just a few highlights of our trip to paradise.

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Lucerne, Switzerland

The third and final installment of our Switzerland trip in June was traveling from Montreux to Lucerne on the train.   The Golden Pass train is a rail line in the Swiss Alps which connects Montreux to Lucerne.  We had about 2 changes before we got to Lucerne.  The Swiss railroad engineers have engineered all the connections to run like a Swiss watch 🙂 The scenery with the mountains and lake being viewed through the panoramic windows, was a sight to behold.  The train lazily climbed the mountains, affording us many photo opportunities.  Little alpine villages dotted the vast green landscape.  Cowbells and wild flowers were evident throughout the journey.

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Wine from Switzerland?

Wine from Switzerland I hear you ask?  Well, I thought the same when I was planning the trip, but the more I read about the region, the more it piqued my curiosity.   The warm sunny region of the Lavaux region is situated along the picturesque postcard shores of Lake Geneva.  The region produces wonderful white wines, but only in small batches.  Enjoying wine is part of the local culture, so there’s literally none to export. Now that explains why I do not see Swiss wines back home 🙂

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Our time in Montreux, Switzerland

When asked “why Switzerland” on our recent trip to that picturesque country, in a nutshell for me it would have to be nature.  Switzerland is a mountainous country, home to numerous lakes, alpine villages, and the high peaks of the Alps.  In addition, it is the land of watches, chocolates, Guyere cheese, scenic views and so much more. Reading and prepping for the journey was the hardest part.  I am the planner, the booker and the executor of our travel.  I wanted to see it all,  being such a small country, but we settled on Montreux, Lucerne and Bern.   I did enjoy researching it all though as it gave me an opportunity to learn a bit more about the country and its people.

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Shifting Rocks and the Sea

If you were to look at the main picture above, could you hazard a guess as to where my travels took me to this past month?  Would you believe it if I told you this was in the county of Dorset in England?  I had to pinch myself to believe it as I first caught a  glimpse of the stunningly blue waters and the formation of the natural limestone arch.  This could easily have been somewhere in the Caribbean.

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Into Africa

My latest posts have included a bit of history and background on a few countries my family called “home” for a period of time.  Kenya is one such place.  When my family left India in 1954, we moved to Kenya.  The 1950’s – 1970’s were arguably some of the best times of my formative years evoking fond memories.  Kenya straddles the Equator and as a result enjoys some of the finest weather year round.  It’s amazing how much we took for granted back then when the weather was never a topic of conversation.

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Celebrating Black History Month and my 100th post

I’ve been working on this post for quite sometime now, and seeing as we are almost nearing the end of February, when America celebrates “Black History Month” I thought of speeding it up before the month came to an end.

When we lived in Texas, we visited Louisiana often.  I had always wanted to visit a plantation home and experience a swamp tour on some of our visits there, but we never quite made it.  However, this past Fall, some of our British friends were visiting parts of the USA and invited us to join them on the southern tour.  We were able to visit 2 plantation homes and of course a swamp tour was on the itinerary.  There was a lot to take in on the plantation homes, it truly gives you an idea of what life was like and takes you back in time.

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The Laurels Preserve with a sweet ending!

Fall is the second  most favorite season for me, Spring being my first.   Every Fall, nature showcases a brilliant display of colors and leaf-peeping trips are planned all over to take in a glimpse of nature’s splendor.  There are many factors that can impact the leaves, such as a sudden drop in temperature or a violent storm that blows the leaves off the trees before they have a chance to fall.  The Northeast United States probably has the most splendid display of colors.  Reds, yellows, and orange hues seem to fire up the sky, in places it almost seems like the sky is ablaze and indescribably beautiful.  The cooler, crisp nights bring better results.

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The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee

On a very recent trip to Memphis, Tennessee, we did what most tourists do.  We joined the flocks of visitors to Graceland the home of Elvis Presley, we meandered to Beale Street where one is in the heart of the country’s live Blues scene.  Sun Studios, the birth place of Rock N’ Roll, is definitely a must-see, it is a small museum but holds a lot of music history.  The Soul and Rock n’ Roll museum is also very interesting.  However, what remained most poignant in my memory, was The Lorraine Motel that is part of the complex of The National Civil Rights Museum.   On my return home, I became curious about that era of American history and proceeded to research more about this great man and the iconic motel.  I’ll show you the photos and the history of that era which the museum covered.

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