Posts Tagged LifeWellTravelled

Cotton House Barcelona

Fashion comes and goes, but style is eternal… This statement couldn’t be more visible when we stayed at the Cotton House Autograph Collection hotel in Barcelona.  Everything about it spoke of old-world wealth and beauty.  We loved that it was so central in the city, but at the same time you could find peace within its walls whenever you need a break from the outside world.  We loved every single detail the hotel team had put their attention to, down to the cotton blooms you’ll find in your room and even bathrooms.

Before it was a hotel, it used to house the Cotton Textile Foundation, until it started an intense refurbishment in 2015 that leads to the beauty that it is today.  It’s surprising and inspiring how the interior designers were able to keep and retain so many original elements from the 19th century neoclassical building.  If you want to know more about the history of the Cotton House Hotel, click here

Old Wild West

I never understood the fascination people had about horses in Texas, until I surrounded myself with horses.  Last weekend we went to Texas and had a great time in Dallas and Austin.  Dallas had huge expanses of land owned by locals who kept ranches, while Austin had the younger metropolis vibe – with streets full of Saturday night party-goers and late Sunday morning brunch scenes.  The Dallas we saw was a very quiet city, where you could go on horse riding for a whole day if you wish.  So to say it was very peaceful.

Marshall Creek Ranch was my favorite thing about Dallas.  They had beautiful horses which they let run free in the golden hours after a long day of carrying people like me around.  The thick forest on their backyard is there for them to explore, and the volunteer wranglers in the ranch feed them with treats after a good gallop.  The ranch dogs run wild and free too, and quickly warm up to visitors like me, hoping to get a pat or a treat as they rest their chins on my knees or sit under my feet.

The truth is, this is all quite a new experience to me.  I grew up in a city far from wild things like horses.  I’ve only ridden a horse twice before, and both times with a wrangler walking next to my horse when I was a kid.  So feeling like I missed out on some of those experiences made me jump to the opportunity of riding on a horse in Texas.  And it was exhilarating.

Anchored Away in Cancun

Towards the end of last year, my husband and I (I’m still not used to calling him that) decided to go on a relaxing trip to Cancun.  In case you didn’t already know, Cancun is best to visit in the months of December to February, when the country experiences milder temperatures thanks to the cold winds of the North.  This being their peak season, we dreaded flocks of tourists so we decided to avoid that by going just a bit earlier.  And our timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
One of the many reasons we chose Cancun to holiday in is because it’s undeniably close to the United States.  If we can’t go back to the pristine beaches of Asia, where else could we turn to?  From L.A. we took a direct flight to Cancun, which took about 4 hours and under $300 for a return ticket.  Not bad eh?  And then we landed here.     Luckily because we came at the end of November, we didn’t have to face a crowded island and rub shoulders with other tourists.  There was plenty of space and privacy, it almost felt like the resort was all ours.  We stayed at the Marriott Casa Magna Cancun using our SPG points and we think we made the best choice, because we loved the colonial style architecture and the spaciousness of the resort (compared to the JW Marriott next door).  Going to Cancun cannot be complete without visiting one of the seven wonders of the world.  The Chichen Itza, the world renowned historical city which dates back to 600 AD, was an amazing sight to see.  Walking through the grounds felt different, or at least to me I imagined what it must have been like to live there in that era.
And while you’re in the Yucatan Peninsula, I highly recommend dipping yourself in one of the mysterious cenotes.  The cenotes are natural sinkholes that could be deeper than 60 meters or comparably like a 20 to 30 floor building.  It’s so deep that when you look below all you’ll see is an abyss – dark, mysterious, and scary.  Naturally, the water is cold and will make you shiver on your first dip, but feels very refreshing on a warm summer day.  In the photo below you’ll see all of us wearing life jackets because it’s a requirement. The depth of the hole is not to be joked about.  One good thing I took away from this trip was I learned the Mexican way of appreciating life as it is, and to enjoy the art of doing nothing.  Though we explored the city, we put aside a lot of time to just relax by the beach, play in the pool, or enjoy a good meal.  It gave me a relaxed and peaceful feeling which felt like something I hadn’t felt for a long while.  I’m the type of person who can’t stand sitting by the beach all day – although some people really enjoy doing that, I never understood what good came out of it.  So I can almost say it felt like my first time to go on a holiday.

Exploring San Diego

For the past two weeks we’ve been staying on the southernmost part of California, San Diego.  Unfortunately, we found out from locals that May and June have been known to have unpleasant weather names – May Gray and June Gloom, because of the gloomy weather for both months.  (Something to do with the clouds forming over cool water of California and then spreading overnight onto the coasts). In the mornings, I usually like to wake up early and see the sun rise, but unfortunately there will be no sunrise appearing on the horizon while we’re here.  The good thing about it though, is that we get cooler temperatures rather than toasting under the sun.

Thanks to a friend of mine who insists that this is one of her favorite cities to live in, her enthusiasm for the town helped me feel good about the place too. The parks you’ll see below are popular places around San Diego, namely: the Cabrillo National Park, Torrey Pines, and Balboa Park.
San DiegoLiberty Public Market SDSheraton SDCabrillo National ParkCabrillo Lighthouse San DiegoCabrillo LighthouseSan Diego photographyCliffCaliforniaSan Diego CabrilloFood photographySheraton MarinaSheraton San DiegoSan Diego HarborTorrey PinesBroken Hill TrailDesert PhotographyTorrey Pines SDBroken Hill Torrey PinesNature PhotographyBeach sideTravel landscapesRocky MountainsDesert FlowersBalboa ParkSpanish VillasBalboa Park huge treeNatural decayCactusDry FlowersJapanese GardenKoi FishSpanish Style ArchitectureBeautiful light

The Road to Hana: Maui

These past 2-3 years have been a real blessing to me in terms of traveling.  Even though I had a full time day job for the past two years, I still got the chance to travel to countries I hadn’t been to before (despite the limited number of leaves I could take).  I feel so grateful that at my age, I’ve been able to travel to most of East and Southeast Asia, some of Europe and America, and am continuing to visit places I haven’t been to or revisit the ones I really love.  Naturally, human nature makes us a bit greedy, and I admit I often think or dream of what other places I’ll land up in someday.

Last weekend, my partner and I along with some friends, flew to Hawaii to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.  We spent 4 days in Maui, enjoying delicious food and soaking up fresh air.  It felt good to be connected to nature.  These days we rarely get the chance to be disconnected with technology and media, and when you’re at the beach or somewhere far away under waterfalls without cellular signal, then you have no other choice but to sit back and enjoy the view.

You might be wondering why the title says “Road to Hana.” Though Hana means ‘work’ in Hawaii, it’s also the name of a small town in Maui which a famous highway leads to.  The highway to Hana was made in such a way that as you go along that road, you get to stop by some of the most beautiful spots on the island.  Scroll down below to see some of the things we saw on our trip too. 🙂

The big island (Honolulu) as seen from the top of Haleakala Crater, Maui.
TrekkingBig Island Maui Observatory Accordion player Haleakala Crater drive Kihei in Central Maui is a great place to make your base. Aloha life Flowers A typical cafe in Paia, a charming beach town. Cafe des Amis Maui Black sand maui Paia Maui Oneuli Beach, with black sand made up of ground lava. Check out the exposed layers of cinder and lava on this picture:Oneuli BeachThe road to Hana continues on and we made several stops along the way.Road to Hana 'O'he'o Gulch Haleakala drive Maui Road Hawaii plants vast natural landscapeHawaii beachmaui waterfalls Kula Lodge Maui Hawaii plant lifeWaterfallsTravel Photographer 7 sacred pools 'O'he'o Gulch hikeRecommendations:

We stayed in Kihei in an airbnb which was as lovely as the owner, details here.

If you’re planning to travel the road to Hana, I highly recommend downloading this App which is like a GPS tour guide. It costs only $5 and gives you information so you don’t miss out on the best spots. We wouldn’t have known which stops to make without this incredible app.

Every Friday the town hosts a party in different parts of the island. Check out this link for info where the next party will be.

Have fun!