Adventure

The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin IslandsMy inner child escaped and scampered through a boulder-strewn playground. The maze of rocks held secrets to uncover and in a matter of hours we were tired and ecstatic with the beauty of The Baths of Virgin Gorda.

We’d slunk into the small harbor and moored our hired 42′ Catamarn to the guest dock at the V.G. Yacht Club. It was dwarfed by luxurious vessels being polished by uniformed crew. A short ride later by open air shuttle and we were on a trail to the rock strewn wonderland of The Baths. Local history has it that the round boulders reminded Columbus of a woman lying on her side, a fat virgin, and the inglorious name stuck for this generous and beautiful island.

Distant voices echoed through grottoes. The water was warm and beckoning. After sliding between rounds of massive granite, we slipped into luminous, warm jade green pools. Waves splashed white foam and a few school children shouted and splashed nearby. It could’ve been a scene from The Lord of the Flies, but the modern world imposed when we came upon a commercial photographer and his crew shooting sunglasses arranged on a tree branch for a catalog. Nice job.

On we went, twisting through narrow passages. In one carefully stacked cairns, waited silently in the sand, giving witness to the sacred beauty of the place. The passages ended at the gentle shore of Devil’s Beach. It wasn’t hard to imagine pirates polishing booty and spinning tales there by firelight.

After playing in the turquoise waves, we wound back up to the road along a sandy path passing Mangroves and Barrel Cactus. A soft wind scuttled dry leaves past our footprints. One lone dove wove into the low branches but other than a rare small lizard, there was no evidence of wildlife.

The hot afternoon and hike left us longing for a cold drink. We weren’t disappointed and ordered icy beer at one of the two open air restaurants overlooking The Baths. Mounds of multicolored Bougainvillea framed the patio fence. Across a tiled plaza, a couple dipped into a fresh water pool, drinks in hand.Sailing near The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The few veranda shops were closing for the day and beyond laid a postcard view; palm trees and low brush, rocks and beach with a few sailboats sliding towards the horizon. There was only an hour to soak in all the beauty before the shuttle returned us to the dock. I longed to stay for days but our one week catamaran trip was nearing an end.

Virgin Gorda is a remote island paradise. If you make it that far, plan several days to visit with the locals and deeply enjoy this graceful island’s spirit.

Elaine J Masters, Trip Wellness Blogger, speaker and author of Drivetime Yoga and Flytime Yoga.

Sunrise over Kenya
Sunrise over Kenya

Written by Mary Anne Been

Jetset Extra

Africa – for some it’s a fantastic adventure full of excitement and magic. For others it’s a time of reflection and an opportunity to discover something that couldn’t be found elsewhere.  For me, Africa was a lifelong dream, somewhere I have dreamed of going since I was a young girl.  I’ve imagined lions frolicking in the sunset on the savannah, and great birds nesting in the tall grass.  For 37 years I have watched movies and shows, listened to stories of other people’s journeys, and imagined myself in their shoes.  Then, I got the call to go. Jason and I packed our bags with excitement.  We were going to Africa.

Our first stop was a layover in London.  We were to spend the night and head out the next evening for Nairobi, Kenya.  While in London, we decided to take advantage of the time we had there and see a show, have a great dinner out, and play tourist.  Still filled with excitement about Africa, we were barely able to sleep that night, although I have to say the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park isn’t a bad place to be sleepless. Our room had a delightful view of Hyde Park, and we found out that the hotel was the location of the British royal couple’s reception dinner.  All the royals from around the world were there, and from what we gathered, it was quite the party. 

Exterior of Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Exterior of Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

 

The next evening, we were shuttled off to Heathrow International airport and were checked in and boarding our flight to Nairobi.  The anticipation of what was awaiting us was so overwhelming I could not close my eyes to sleep.  Then, eight hours later, the voice of the captain informed us over the loudspeaker that we were beginning our descent into Nairobi.

When I walked out of the airport, I made a mental note to be present and aware of every moment that I was in Africa.  There wasn’t one thing I wanted to miss or forget. Cars, buses and the sound of hustle and bustle were everywhere. Nairobi is a busy city full of people moving from place to place, just like any other city in the world.   We made our way to the Tribe Hotel, which was to be our home base for the length of our stay. The first night at the Tribe was a relaxing treat.  We were shown to our room, and I went straight to the Kaya Spa, where I enjoyed an hour-long massage.  After traveling for so long my body was sore and tired.  The massage made all the difference. We had a wonderful meal and studied our next few days’ itinerary.  We were to be on safari for four nights at three different safari camps in Northern Kenya and the Masai Mara. Tribe made for a very easy transition from flight to safari.

 

Tribe Hotel Niarobi, Kenya
Tribe Hotel Niarobi, Kenya


After a brief rest, we were invited by Tribe to visit the Rotary Cura Orphanage.  I was a bit hesitant at first, but after some encouragement from Jason we were on our way.  I thought it would be heartbreaking seeing children in an orphanage.  I have two children, so it was difficult not to be emotional.  We were greeted enthusiastically by the children at Cura, who sang us a fun, lighthearted song about life in Kenya and wanted to play and show us around.  It brought tears to my eyes when they were singing to us.  I couldn’t help but be touched by their sweetness.  After talking with some of the children and seeing where they sleep, learn, and play, I realized how fortunate these children were to have Cura.  Though not an ideal situation, they made the best of it.  Many of the children at Cura are orphaned by parents who have died from AIDS or have families who can’t afford to care for them properly. Rotary Cura Orphanage makes sure all the children there are educated, have medical care, and are allowed to practice their religion.

Children of Rotary Cura Orphanage
Children of Rotary Cura Orphanage

Early the next morning, we boarded a small 16-passenger Safarilink plane and flew to Lewa Downs airport to meet up with our guide from Laragai Houseon Borana Ranch.  I hate small planes, but Jason, being the daredevil that he is, asked the pilot if he could sit in the co-pilot seat to take photos. He also asked to affix his GoPro Camera to the windshield of the plane so he wouldn’t miss anything.

Safari Link Plane going to Lewa Downs
Safari Link Plane going to Lewa Downs

It was like a scene out of an old movie.  We approached a long dirt landing strip surrounded on all sides by tall yellow grass.  At the side of the strip were two dark-green Land Rovers sitting next to a thatched-roof building. There was nothing else around for miles.  I was in the Africa I have dreamed about my whole life.


Llewellyn Dyer, our guide, met us at the plane with a smile and firm handshake. Before we knew it we were heading into our first game drive of the safari.  I closed my eyes and breathed in the dusty warm air and reminded myself – I’m in Africa. We drove down elephant-gray dirt roads full of bumps and rocks while Llewellyn told us about the land we were driving through. Suddenly, to our right, two cheetahs were chasing an antelope through the grass. Llewellyn explained how rare it is to see cheetahs hunting together, and how it was even rarer to see it within the first 20 minutes of a game drive.  Then my focus became broader, and I realized we were not just looking at cheetahs and antelope – elephants and zebras and eland were grazing along side all the excitement.  As a first impression, it’s burned into my memory forever.

 

First Game Drive on our way to Laragai House
First Game Drive on our way to Laragai House


We were headed to the Borana Game Reserve, a 35,000-acre piece of land dedicated to ranching, farming, and wildlife preservation.  The Borana Ranch is owned and run by the Dyer Family. The Dyers have an exciting and rich family history in Africa, reaching all the way back to 1920.  Jason and I could have listened for days to Anthony and Rose Dyer’s stories of adventure and life in Africa, but unfortunately we only had a short time with them.  However, we did get to enjoy a dinner with Michael and Niki Dyer.

Rose and Anthony Dyer of Borana Ranch
Rose and Anthony Dyer of Borana Ranch

Our next two nights were spent at Laragai House, a home on Borana Ranchowned by the Stephenson family.  Upon arrival at Laragai House, we were greeted by the staff and shown to our room.  Laragai House is quite large and can accommodate a group of 20 people.  Our room was spacious and very romantic. We were fed a delicious curry fish lunch, and at 4 pm we were invited to tea.

Our room at Laragai House, Borana Ranch
Our room at Laragai House, Borana Ranch

It was going to be sundown soon, and Llewellyn thought it would be great to show us some lions.  Seriously, we were on our way to visit a pride of lions. My heart almost jumped out of my chest – I couldn’t wait. We headed out and drove far. There was nothing around us for miles except for tall yellow grass, flat-topped trees, and a breeze.  Even with no animals in sight, Africa is beautiful.  

King of the pride heading our for his evening hunt
King of the pride heading our for his evening hunt

 

Slowly the truck came to a stop, and we were shushed and told to look to our right.  There was nothing, then a tail flicked in the air and a female lion rolled onto her back to stretch. She peeked up over the grass, and oh my God, she was beautiful, with golden fur and round ears. Then out of nowhere, 11 more heads and bodies rose from the grass.  How were they hiding right under our noses?  These wonderful animals sat together for 30 minutes stretching, grooming each other, and playing, and paying absolutely no mind to us 20 feet away.


Like the king that he is, the male lion with his dark brown mane rose from the back of the group to sit quietly and survey what all the other lions were doing. He stretched and yawned and sniffed the air, picking up the sent of everything and everyone around him.  He fixed a long slow gaze toward us as if to decide whether we were threatening or not, and then followed the rest of the lions out for that evening’s hunt.  That night, Jason and I spent quite a bit of time sitting by the fireplace in our room talking about our day’s adventures and what the next day would hold for us.

We got up early and had breakfast on a lookout with a 180-degree view.  What to do? We had so many choices for the day.  Play tennis, go for a hike through the bush, visit a Masai village, picnics, massages, or take a horseback ride.  We thought a horse back ride would be a great way to spend our day.  Jason packed up his camera equipment and we drove over to meet our horses.

 

Horseback riding on Borana Ranch
Horseback riding on Borana Ranch


How many times can you say you’ve been 10 feet from wild zebra and giraffe? That is how close we were able to get to the animals while on horseback, remembering the entire time that this was not staged for our enjoyment.  These animals are here, living and roaming, and it is their decision to let us join them or not.  What a privilege.

The next morning we were back on board our Safarilink plane and heading out to our next safari camp.  We landed on another small landing strip in the Masai Mara. We were warmly welcomed by the staff from Richard’s Camp and promptly whisked away. The Mara was a much different place than Borana.  The views were full of flat land with tall yellow grass and trees.  From the sky they looked like a landscape of leopard spots.  Ironically enough, I asked what Mara meant and come to find out it means “spotted”.

Richard himself was at the camp with us and was so much fun.  He shared his family’s story with us and told us about how Richard’s Camp came to be. On our way from the “airport,” we drove along, not completely aware of what was happening in the river below until we stopped and took a gander over the edge.  There in the river were hippos. Not just a few – so many we couldn’t count them all.  They were snorting and calling out to each other.  These animals are unbelievably massive and there is nothing gentle about them.  They appear to be gentle giants, but they are fast and aggressive with each other.  The very large males stand up out of the water to show their size to the other males in the different pods floating along the river to make sure everyone knows where they belong.  It’s quite an interesting show.  Jason was completely fearless and ran down to the water’s edge to capture these giants on his camera.  I ventured down to the shore of the river and watched.  

Hippos in the river on our way to Richard's Camp
Hippos in the river on our way to Richard's Camp

 

Back in the truck, we drove through the Mara admiring its elegance.  Arriving at Richard’s Camp, we were given a look around and shown to our luxury camping tents.  I laughed at myself knowing what my friends at home were going to say.  “You camped in tents while on safari?” I entertained the idea of telling them how I roughed it in the Mara and had to sleep in a tent with bugs and wild animals all around at night, but I couldn’t resist bragging about how incredible it is to luxury tent camp. There was a bit of roughing it, but for the most part it couldn’t have been more comfortable.  

The large canvas tents were equipped with running water and a working toilet.  The décor was beautiful but still made us feel like we were out in the wilds of Africa.  Then Richard asked a peculiar question.  “Do you enjoy a tub?” “Well, yes. Why do you ask?” Then I saw the most romantic thing ever.  Richard introduced me to their outdoor bathtub, completely private, but still outside.  Later that night, after a fantastic meal, a hot bubble bath was drawn for me and was waiting by candlelight.  Before my tub, Richard told us a story of an elephant that paid him a visit while he was in the tub.   I wished that would have happened to me! After my lovely bath, I climbed into my bed and peacefully closed my eyes for a restful night’s sleep.  Early the next morning, before the sun was up, there were some unidentifiable noises outside our tent.  Come to find out we were paid a visit by the hippos from the river and a couple hyena.  Wish I had looked outside.

Out door tub at Richard's Camp
Out door tub at Richard's Camp

After the hyena and hippos went through camp and before sunrise, I snuck out of our tent with camera in hand and met up with our guide, who was taking me to a nearby Masai village for a visit.  We arrived as all of the women were emerging from their huts getting ready to do their morning routine and letting the cows out of their hold and ushering them over to be milked.  One woman was thrilled to let me take a turn at milking her cow.  The crying babies and little kids who were being woken up to greet the day were reminiscent of my own two at home, who I missed very much.  It was fun to be surrounded by kids who wanted to play and laugh.  The Masai men taught me how to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. Believe it or not, I did it!  They then did a ceremonial song and dance for me, for which I was very grateful.  It was such a pleasure to meet and experience the Masai people.

 

Masai Man with his cattle in the Mara
Masai Man with his cattle in the Mara


Everything was an adventure, even breakfast.  Richard arranged for us to have a “bush breakfast.”  Our guide drove us out on the Mara where our breakfast was being prepared.  Imagine driving slowly over a ridge and the first thing you see is a tree standing in the tall yellow-green grass. Then, as you drive closer, a table with a red tablecloth flapping in the breeze slowly appears. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think Africa has the ability to romance a person.  We sat at breakfast in the wide-open space of the Masai Mara enjoying great conversation and a fabulous meal with the most fantastic view.

Later that day, we headed out to our next safari camp, Saruni, which was unique among all other safari camps.  The cottages clustered in the hills of the Mara above the valley have scenic views and incredible ambiance. It was sweet – Jason and I had been booked in the Honeymoon Suite.  We were told the room has the best view, and as we explored the room we realized why.  From every room of the suite there were extraordinary views of the Mara Valley and the hills across from us where animals come to graze and get water every morning and evening.  There is nothing like being serenaded by elephants at 10 pm or being greeted by an eland and a baby on the path to our room while walking back from sitting by the fire after dinner.  Africa is unforgettable.

 

Mountain side cottage at Saruni
Mountain side cottage at Saruni


On the last leg of our African adventure, we spent two nights in Nairobi back at the Tribe Hotel. I loved this hotel.  It was really comfortable, and even though it is a hotel, it had a very intimate feel. Jason and I had a great room and the hotel staff was very accommodating.  I was ready for a fancy dinner out.  We headed down stairs to Jiko, Tribe’s restaurant. The executive chef, Luca Molteni, is highly creative and employs an interesting fusion of Italian techniques combined with African flavors. It makes for one of the best menus we have ever tasted.  He also has worked very hard to create a new BBQ technology called vapor grill.  When the grill heats up, stored water vaporizes to tenderize the meat and create an even cooking surface.  Chef Molteni uses locally sourced ingredients in his menu. We had a delightful meal and enjoyed the ambiance of the hotel very much.

Jiko Restaurant at Tribe Hotel
Jiko Restaurant at Tribe Hotel

Sadly, the next morning we finished our packing and got ready to head back to London and then to Los Angeles.  We said goodbye to the staff we had met, checked out, and headed to the airport.  On the plane, I took a deep breath and thought to myself that Africa is a place everyone needs to go once in his or her life.

Back in London, we once again stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park.  We were exhausted, jet-lagged, and hungry, but we were eager to try out their restaurant, Bar Boulud.  Acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud has created an extraordinary menu of classic French cuisine.  The restaurant features charcuterie platters to die for, realFrench onion soup, and delicious steak tartar.  We ate until we couldn’t eat any more! What a fantastic ending to such an incredible trip.  As sad as we were to say goodbye, we were just as excited to come home and share our journey with everyone we know.

Bar Boulud at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Bar Boulud at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

 

 

View Photo Galleries Here:

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penghuLonely Planet Taiwan calls the Penghu Islands the “Hawaii of Taiwan.” Might Penghu be like an old-time Hawaii? And as a place known for its fishing industry, Penghu seems like a destination far from the tourist trail, a place with a major Matsu festival and therefore a tantalizing prospect for exploration.In search of the festival and the Matsu temples, we set off to a temple and to the Fenggui Blowholes by bus. Several soldiers from Taipei and other cities are onboard but looking for “hot girls in bikinis” at the Shanshui beach. After saying dooh shiah or thank you, and Wan ahhn or good evening, we have to rely on their English; our few measly words in Taiwanese hardly suffice for a conversation.

We plan to get dropped off on Shuli Beach and walk to the next patch of sand at Shanshui, but greatly underestimate the gigantic size of the island. Thank goodness we are traveling by bus and not bicycle! Further adjusting our itinerary, we decide to walk around the grand Matsu temple. The soldiers are no longer nearby but I know they will find us on Facebook.

In the old town, we wander cobblestone streets and find the “first-class historic site” of the Empress of Heaven Temple, the oldest Matsu Temple in all of Taiwan. At this site many people are burning paper money for luck. Searching for the formal pilgrimage, we explore Aimen and Lintong Beaches, both of which are lovely and clean. Everywhere in Taiwan, the locations are spotless and the people friendly and quick to offer assistance if we seem lost; one man even turns his motorbike around in traffic to stop and chat and help us find our way, clearly inconveniencing himself to make sure we are assisted. The people are interested in us as tourists and as English-speaking Americans. They are just plain friendly; this place almost rivals the Bulas of Fijians!

Video: Exploring Penghu Islands in Taiwan

Article first published as Penghu: The Hawaii of Taiwan? on Technorati.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: We are ready for a BIG CHANGE!!  We are leaving Blogger and Weebly for the vast ocean of WORDPRESS!! Our site will be evolving and we can’t wait to share it with you! Please be patient with us and check back for the upgrades. We chose to publish TODAY since we aren’t sure we will be live on SUNDAY when we normally post a new article for you.

Coming soon: more videos from Samoa, Tonga, Memphis and an article about Lisa’s recent trip to NEW YORK CITY!!

Lisa’s article on Magicopolis posted to LACOT today–It’s enchanting!
and there is always more at www.wesaidgotravel.com

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Special Travel offer for friends of We Said Go Travel
Visit BALI in APRIL or SEPTEMBER 2012 for a luxury spiritual tour to Indonesia. See the sites where Elizabeth Gilbert found love and adventure!
Book by March 17th and mention We Said Go Travel for this incredible discount:

The Eat Pray Love Bali:

One of our guests with Ketut LiyerDates: April 17-23, 2012 
           Sep 25-Oct 1, 2012 
sign up by Saturday March 17, and take advantage of these unbeatable prices –

Deluxe room normally $2,995, double occupancy, at $1,997

Pool Villa normally $3,995, double occupancy, at $2,597  
(Add $995 if you want single occupancy on either offer)

Here’s what people have been saying about the last trip:
“Thank you.  You saved my life!”
“I had the most powerful experience in Bali – it rocked my world.”
“Spirit Quest Tours is da bomb!”

Ready to book:
Call toll-free (877) 406-5206 from anywhere in the world, to sign up!  All payments are due in full on March 17 when the trip closes!

This could be you!
Questions:
Check out the video on YouTube!

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Enjoy this article and video about Samoa and my personal Drama at Virgin Cove–right where they filmed SURVIVOR SAMOA!

Drama at Virgin Cove:
Face-Planted on the Ground
At 1:30am as I lay on the cement step outside the bathroom. I thought, “Hmm, why am I on the ground? How did this happen?” Leaving Los Angeles for a summer of sun in Samoa and the South Pacific, I had no idea about the Survivor Stories that would unfold so quickly.

I had eaten the chicken at dinner, apparently a mistake that night.

During the dark hours before dawn I fainted at the edge of the bathroom steps and there I regained consciousness, scraped and bruised on both arms and chin. I guess when I needed to run to the bathroom again and again I should have woken George, especially after falling, but I was so stunned that I ended up face-planted on the ground.  Once back in our room I lay on the mat, moaning. George woke up and asked what was wrong. After hearing my tale of woe he offered to help. Because of his concern, and despite the many eariler explosions, I was finally able to rest.

This video shows some of the gorgeous beauty of Virgin Cove, our nighttime arrival and the many steps to the bathroom. All aspects of travel are not beautiful but some of them do make us appreciate better the postcard days!

Video: Drama at Virgin Cove

Article first published as Drama at Virgin Cove on Technorati.

In Los Angeles? Join us TODAY at JetSet Extra Social!
Not in Los Angeles, Join us online with JetSet Extra Social at  http://jetsetextra.com/
More info on our website: http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/los-angeles.html

chefOh… What a night!
I joined a gathering of travelers at Luxe Hotel on Sunset. Chef Olivier from France treated us to delicious delicacies and the bar team shared their incredible cocktail creations all in the relaxing and beautiful outdoor garden lit up with twinkle lights in all the trees. The audience included people from LACOT, and We Said Go Travel as well as PR mavens, travel bloggers, foodies, newbie travelers and travel junkies were inspired by Johnny Jet from the Travel channel sharing his personal journeys.

johnnyjetAnyone who has wondered, “Can I do it?” will relate to his stories of overcoming obstacles and now wandering to twenty or more countries a year. I particularly liked it his comments; “the world would be a better place if everyone would see it.”

He had fears about travel but he faced them and now leads viewers around the world with his new travel show, Hot Spots 2012.

His program features eight destinations including: New Zealand, Richard Branson’s Necker Island and Space port in New Mexico, Belize, England, Toronto and Lower Manhattan. Johnny also spoke about how the news media make far-off places sound as if they will be full of danger, but often he arrives and realizes how similar are the world’s diverse cultures and how safe vastly different countries can be.

johnnyI hope that you can travel even a fraction of his 150,00 miles a year and create your own journeys to share! Don’t worry if you missed him last night—he will be speaking on February 26, 2012 as part of JetSet Extra’s amazing event at Union Station.

skirballMeanwhile, If you are looking for 360 degrees of serenity, look no further than the Luxe Hotels! They have incredible packages with breakfast, an ipad for use while in the hotel, Shiraz wine and their incredible food, service and locations! We heard incredible live jazz in the lounge and were delighted to find out that the group is there every Tuesday and Thursday night. We will return soon for more of the great treats, drinks, music and experience!

Look for all four Luxe hotels: Luxe Rodeo Drive, the only hotel on Rodeo Drive, Luxe City Center, near Staples Center, in Dallas the historic Stoneleigh Luxe or where we were last night with seven acres and a pool right on Sunset Boulevard! As they say, “All that you want. More than you expect!”

Article first published as LACOT in Conversation with Johnny Jet on Technorati.
TWO TRAVEL EVENTS THIS WEEK:

February 26, 2012 JETSET EXTRA SOCIAL at Union Station

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The globetrotting panel includes travel expert Johnny Jet of JohnnyJet.com, Jeff Greif owner of TravelSquire.com, Stacy Dreyfus Founder of Orchid Worldwide Resorts and Escapes, go to travel guy of CTS Travel, James Densmore, Global adventurer Lee Abbamonte, and Ashley Colburn of Take Off with Ashley Colburn; Amy Swift Founder of SMARTY will moderate.

“It was really important to me that the panel speakers be in the travel trenches today,” says Mary Anne Been of Jetset Extra. “With communication and content moving so fast, our audience needs to hear directly from the people who are forging these new paths between the old and new media.”

Register Now!  This event is from 4-8pm at the Fred Harvey Room at Union Station



February 22, 2012 roadmonkey: Adventure Philanthropy

PictureRoadmonkey…Pronounced “rohd-muhnkee,” is a curious individual who finds joy in exploring the unknown, breaking a few rules & working hard to create positive change for people in need.

On Wednesday, February 22nd, join Roadmonkey, Hostelling International and We Said Go Travel to learn more about adventure philanthropy and traveling with a purpose. Hear Paul von Zielbauer share the stories of expeditions that combine physically challenging adventures with sustainable volunteer projects. The event will take place at HI-Santa Monica, 1436 Second Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Join us at 7:30 pm, Refreshments and wine will be provided.
Limited space is available. Please RSVP to shanec@lahostels.org

OPTIONAL: the evening continues with a Pub Crawl for Charity at 9:00 pm.  

Halle Eavelyn and Lisa Niver Rajna 

When I met Halle at her book reading recently, I thought about my first trip to the Giza Pyramids. I remember that day like it was yesterday although I visited the great archeological site over thirty years ago! My family was cruising on a Greekship at the time and the vessel stopped in Egypt. The day we went to the pyramids our bus caravan was escorted by armed guards. We carried a large sack of fruit from the Maitre D’ and a brief but terrifying camel ride still burns in my memory, I remember seeing the Giza plateau and climbing through the sand and wondering, “Who built this? Why?” and, “Are there more sights like this to see in other countries?” Reading Halle’s book reminds me of my travels in Egypt, on sea-going cruises, and around other parts of the world. I hope you enjoy my review of her book and are inspired to look for your own questions AND answers!

titleHalle’s vibrant examples and personal tales draw me in to her writing style and I feel I am also sailing in a private Nile cruise on Momo’s boat, The Alfandia (which means The Old King).

The novel talks about Halle’s tour company, her trips to Egypt, and her relationship with herself, her partner, and travel companions. I feel like I was at the Philee Temple along with her and experiencing the events. Her personal tales like “the yellow fire” remind me of my own travels and how making your dreams come true can include painful moments while on the road. I appreciate that Halle shares all aspects of the journey, not just the pretty parts; I would love to be included in the “bad kids” tours! Her discussions of opening chakras, past lives and ancient religions seem perfectly in tune with the history of Egypt and the sites they visit. Her descriptions are accurate and make me want to laugh out loud as I remember similar moments on my own trips: “If you’ve ever driven in Athens, you’ve driven in Cairo, five lanes of cars driving on three lanes of streets.” One of the most noticeable things in this book is that in every section it is clear that Halle loves to travel and loves Egypt, as well as the life she has created with her partner, Greg.

After reading this book, I think most people would want Halle as a personal guide. However, the reader may also pick up incredible travel tips, such as visiting the Luxor Temple late at night as to have the place all to yourself. That temple and its light show were some of the most memorable moments I myself had while in the Nile Valley.

halleHalle has seen sights in Egypt that many of us have missed, for example the Temple of Seti I at Abydos and the Library at St. Catherine’s (where many of us could not get an invitation!) Learning about these gems wakes up my travel lust and gets me ready for more adventures.

I first was drawn to Halle’s story as she calls herself the “Julie the Cruise Director” of Spirit Quest Tours. I have personally worked on board the Love Boat and other cruise lines and enjoy that she uses that same title to convey what an incredible travel host she is for all her guests.

She says, “Many people think they come here for a vacation, when they really come to heal a hole in their hearts.” Whether cooking an incredible Thanksgiving dinner in Egypt or attending a memorial for a friend, Halle creates a spiritual zone around her. “Our lives are braided like DNA, and we so often fail to recognize that we are here, not by ourselves, not with our spouse, our children, our friends, but with everyone we touch, and everyone they touch and, by extension, the whole world.”

While reading this book, you will enjoy a trip to Egypt and quite possibly to your inner self.

Article first published as Red Goddess Rising by Halle Eavelyn on Technorati.

Please join us on Thursday, February 2, 2012 

LACOT in conversation with Johnny Jet

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Date: February 2, 2012
Time: 6-8 PM
Place: Luxe Hotel Sunset Blvd, 11461 Sunset Blvd.
Special Guest: Johnny Jet

RSVP today as space is limited: http://www.facebook.com/events/282922671769066/?context=create
Please join LACOT and We Said Go Travel for this evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine, and conversation with special guest Johnny Jet.

The Los Angeles Consortium of Online Travel (LACOT) is hosting, and we’ll hear a few words from our favorite local travel celebrity along with some helpful travel advice. Here’s what LACOT has to say about the event:

“Those of us who so choose can have a quick tour of the Luxe Sunset Hotel. Right off the 405 on Sunset Blvd, this boutique hotel is one of west Los Angeles’ great little surprises. Great food and talented, creative barkeeps are a draw for locals, and the rooms are beautifully appointed. You’d never suspect that the Luxe Hotel Sunset Blvd sits on seven acres, so close to the 405 as it is.

And – shhh – there may be one or two other surprises in store for this evening’s gathering of like-minded travel lovers. Don’t ask; you’ll have to come to the meet-up to find out. But, seriously…wine, hors d’oeuvres, chit-chat, and Johnny Jet? Sounds pretty great as it is.”

Although my personal country count is over one hundred countries (by Traveler’s Century Club), I still have so many places to go on my list! For a long time, I have wanted to go to Iceland and Ireland (and Italy–George calls is my “I” List). When Richard Bangs spoke at our travel event in October, he told me he was off to Ireland. Please see my article below about his trip, his new videos and the concept of “Craic.” I can’t wait to go to Ireland!! Where do you want to go next?

richardd

There is a mysterious and elusive concept in Ireland called “Craic.” Everyone in country knows what is it, and seeks it, and relishes it….but few outside the shores know of it….A secret within an enigma in a puzzle.

Join Richard Bangs as he unearths this underground notion, see the entire multi-media series of dispatches now; it is live on vimeo.

Richard Bangs was our keynote speaker at Meet Plan Go Los Angeles in October 2011. He has often been called the father of modern adventure travel, having spent more than 30 years as an explorer and communicator, pioneering “virtual expeditions” on the World Wide Web and leading first descents of 35 rivers around the world. He has published more than 1000 magazine articles, 19 books, a score of documentaries, several CD-ROMs, and all manner of digital media. He has lectured at the Smithsonian, the National Geographic Society, the Explorers Club and many other notable venues.

lisarichard bangsHis desire for adventure and travel was inspired by his father, a career officer in the CIA, part of the first class that came from Yale who truly believed he could change the world for the better, as the OSS did before him. Richard is working to change the world with his show, Adventure with a Purpose, seen on PBS. His series of specials celebrate a destination, and tell its stories in an evocative, emotive way, one that elicits connectivity, inspiration to visit, and to become involved.

I hope his series will inspire you to live his vision:

“Risk is the flame of the evolution of consciousness. I would rather die trying something new than live a long life of mediocrity.”

Travel, as Mark Twain supposedly says, is fatal to bigotry and prejudice, but it also reignites the internal combustion engine of the soul. Richard Bangs says, “I love finding new light, turning over new stones; falling into new holes…I love getting lost.”

More about us at: wesaidgotravel.com

 
Our Latest VIDEO from Thanksgiving in Mexico! Enjoy!

Thank you to EVERYONE for reading, commenting and sharing our blog and website! We really appreciate it! We were very well read in December 2011~ and we hope your support continues!

A few articles that featured LISA that you might have missed:

Finding your passion
After dropping out of medical school in her 20s, Lisa Niver Rajna of Los Angeles traveled for almost seven years on the high seas. “In my 30s, I worked on a cruise ship like Julie McCoy [on the TV series “The Love Boat“] and also worked for two seasons at Club Med. My family said I ran away and joined the circus.”
While some people worried that she might be “wasting her potential,” Niver Rajna discovered that she really enjoyed both traveling and working with the kids’ programs on the cruises. These experiences, plus her educational background, led her to become a science teacher and travel blogger in her 40s.
“I have no regrets about taking this other path,” Niver Rajna says. “Once I decided that leaving medicine was the right choice for me, everything else fell into place. When I am teaching or traveling, I know I am in the right place doing what I am meant to be doing.”
http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2826-Career-Growth-and-Change-Lessons-from-jobs-held-in-your-30s/?pf=true

Lisa’s Tips to Stop Emotional Eating at: Always New You

Tips to Stop Emotional Eating

  1. Know that you do it – Awareness FIRST
  2. Have a plan for what you can do instead, go for a walk or call a friend when you are mad about what someone said. Chocolate is not the answer (but, it sure can feel like the answer at the time).
  3. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. If I get over-hungry I make the worst food choices. If I keep an apple and nuts in my desk I will eat those at 3pm. If I don’t have a good snack I will find anything to eat – especially chocolate!
  4. It is not a straight path, be gentle with yourself! Eating a small chocolate is better than a pint of ice cream.
When my doctor told me I had gained 13 pounds, we had a mini-fight in her office. No one in my family or any of my friends had been brave enough to tell me. I still can’t believe I had no idea how I looked and I could not figure out why I couldn’t get a second date. I did meet George online at my heaviest of 176 and 39 years old.  I almost missed our first date because I did not write back, but luckily he wrote to me again.  At our wedding, just 3 years later, I weighed 114 lbs. It was a long journey of weight loss and of eating less but it has been worth the effort!
— Lisa Niver Rajna, Happy Traveler, We Said Go Travel   http://www.wesaidgotravel.com

   
Everyday Ways to Help Kids Learn!

Most adults think of science as an experiment or equation that has nothing to do with everyday life. But science is the process for figuring out how things work, explains Lisa Niver Rajna, a K-6 science teacher in Los Angeles. When you think of it that way, even a construction site can turn into a physics lesson.

Observation is the basis of science, so do what Rajna does when she takes her students out on a walk: ask your child to put on his imaginary detective hat and tell you everything he sees.
http://www.parenting.com/gallery/everyday-ways-sneak-learning

More news and stories coming soon! Check us out at http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/

Lisa in  2007

Five years ago I went on a New Year’s cruise and made two resolutions: To buy a condo and to find a long-term relationship. I had been focused on these items already but now I was ready to make them happen.

By January 18, 2007, I had my first date with George and by January 20 I saw the condo I would later buy. George and my second wedding anniversary was December 19 and I have owned the condo for nearly five years. I also had a secret resolution to lose weight and subsequently lost sixty pounds.

I was reminded of all this reading Atul Gawande’s Better. I have enjoyed all of his books but this one really spoke to me partially because I dropped out of UCSF Medical School and I love to read about doctors who really speak about medicine and its practice and partly because he is talking about how to be your best.

He says, “The core requirements for success are diligence, to do right and ingenuity.” 

His five suggestions for “how one might make a difference” are:

1. Ask an unscripted question
2. Don’t complain
3. Count something “if you count something interesting, you will learn something interesting.”
4. Write something “you should not underestimate the effect of your contribution, however modest.”
5. Change “So find something new to try, something to change. Count how often you succeed and how often you fail. Write about it. Ask people what they think. See if you can keep the conversation going.”

I do think this is a great plan to create the change you want to see in this world. I hope you will make a resolution to adopt one or more of his ideas for how to make a difference and share it with someone!


wedding
Lisa in 2009

I will tell you my resolution for 2012, to find a literary agent for our book about our story of meeting online, quitting our jobs, traveling in Asia for one year, getting engaged underwater, losing sixty pounds and keeping it off for over 2 and a half years, all while crying when snorkeling and of course learning to live without toilet paper!

This is what happens when Julie McCoy of the Love Boat meets a Paraguyan Peace Corps worker!! On our trip I worked hard to stop complaining, write something, change, count something other than the pounds I was losing and the months we were gone and ask lots of great questions.

Sometimes I think who would be interested in our personal story about finding love after 39 or the dramas of online dating when you don’t realize you are more than thirty or fifty pounds overweight. Sometimes I think no one will read our blog or our stories or come to our travel events. But our last event had over one hundred people so maybe someone is listening!

I give you these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson to inspire you to be better:

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

I wish you courage and that all your dreams come true in 2012.

More about us and our travels and resolutions at: http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/

Article first published as Be the Change! Be Better! on Technorati.