November. Where has 2013 gone? So these photos are quite old and the girls (and their cousins) are almost 7 months older now…it’s hard to believe. These are the photos from Lia and Ella’s 2nd birthday party this past spring, in April. Lots of family and friends were in attendance, and the weather was nice enough to be outside. Enjoy.
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Back in March Aaron and I met up with Rita for a fun weekend in New York City. We had a great time walking around the city together. We visited the High Line, Rockefeller Center and Central Park. And of course we hit up some great restaurants. I took the above photo of Aaron and Rita at top of 30 Rockefeller Center. We’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building, but this is the first time we’ve been up to the top of 30 Rock and it was great to see the Empire State Building from this height. And the light was beautiful.
Our last full day in Tulum was just as fantastic as the first two. We started our day at Coba, the ruins of another maya city. Coba is an older and much larger city that dates back to somewhere between 100 BC and 100 AD. The temples were huge and the ruins were much more spread out. To facilitate tourists getting from one temple to the next, there were pedicabs available for hire and bicycles for rent. We opted for the bicycles. Admittedly, this is the first time I had been on a bike in a long time and I was a little wobbly at the start, but when else will I have the opportunity to ride a bike through the jungles of Mexico? So we biked from temple to temple, to ball courts, to the observatory – it was unbelievable. Another surprise was they still allow people to climb the tallest pyramid on the site, Nohoch Mol, which also happens to be the tallest temple in all of the Yucatán peninsula. Nohoch Mol stands at 138 feet tall and I was a little nervous about crawling up the almost 14 stories of uneven stone steps – but it was too special an opportunity to pass up. We climbed to the top, and I was so glad I made the climb as the views were amazing.
After returning our bikes and enjoying some coconut water (literally the water in a coconut) and mangoes, we headed out in search of cenotes. Cenotes are sinkholes that are formed by limestone bedrock collapsing and then fill either with groundwater or rainwater, becoming natural swimming pools. Laura picked three for us to visit – Multum-Ha, Choo-Ha and Tamcach-Ha. These cenotes were all underground and accessible by spiral wooden staircases. By pure chance, we lucked out and 2 of the 3 cenotes we swam in, we had completely to ourselves. We’d climb down the stairs and enter these caverns filled with stalactites, stalagmites and crystal clear turquoise water. Swimming in the cenotes was another fantastical experience in this great adventure. At the end of the trip we were sad to go, but I think we all left feeling refreshed and grateful for the amazing experience we had together. And really, we packed at least a week’s worth of relaxation and adventure into 3 1/2 days – how lucky are we?
In early February I went on an amazing trip with my good friends Laura and Courtney. Laura lives in California and Courtney lives in Oklahoma, so we only get together once a year. This year Laura planned us a fabulous adventure in Tulum, Mexico. We always have a great time together, but this trip was unforgettable. The first day we met up at the airport, traveled to the hotel and just caught up with each other, hanging out by the pool. The next morning we went to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a huge nature preserve on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Our tour started with a walk through the jungle that ended at a small dock where boats awaited to take us across the lagoon and into the natural canals of the park. Hugo, our guide for the day, traveled with us in our boat and identified every bird we saw (and there were lots), spotted some manatees in the lagoon and told us about the ongoing ecology projects at the park. The boat stopped at a raised boardwalk in the middle of nowhere. We got out there and walked through the savanna to a small Maya temple on a beautiful freshwater canal. After checking out the temple, Hugo showed us how to use our life jackets as seats to float in, on the current in the canal. We all got in the water and to say the experience was sublime does not do it justice. The water was crystal clear, the sand white, the only sounds were the birds and we just floated through the mangroves for 2 kilometers down this canal. At the end of the canal, our boats were waiting with towels, water and the most delicious mangoes I have ever eaten. We toured more of the preserve by boat, drying in the sun and the breeze, until we got back to the dock where we started. We walked back to the visitors center, where they served us a yummy lunch and then gave us some free time to swim on their beach.
On day 2, we visited the ruins of Tulum, a 13th century, Maya city built on bluffs overlooking the Caribbean. The ruins are remarkably well preserved and amazing to see. The wall around the city still stands and inside the wall we saw temples, a palace, and other buildings covered with ornate carvings. Laura, who had been there before, told us there was a beach below the ruins and recommended we wear our bathing suits under our clothes. It was a brilliant suggestion because after we hiked around the ruins, a swim was exactly what we needed. We took the stairs down to the beach and went for a nice long swim. It was entertaining to see the other tourists (who hadn’t worn their bathing suits) look longingly at the water and some really motivated folks strip down and swim in their underwear. Thanks Laura :)
We spent our second to last day of the trip at sea, lounging on the boat. Our last stop was in Búzios, a beautiful resort town full of beaches and beautiful views. The town is on a peninsula and wherever you go, it seems you are never too far from the water. We toured the town in an open air trolley and enjoyed seeing the lush landscape, the sea birds and the local fishing boats. Later that night, for our last dinner (and Becki’s birthday) we went to the Asian-fusion restaurant on the ship, Izumi and enjoyed delicious sushi and ishiyaki (hot rock grilled meat and veggies). It was the perfect ending to another fabulous adventure together. Love you Becki!
Next we visited Salvador, Brazil and in this port all of the excursions the ship offered were being done in Portuguese… So Becki splurged and booked a private guided tour – which was great. We had an entire day with a guide who took us all over the city and told us about its history, culture, politics – and answered all my questions. Totally fabulous. Salvador used to be the capital of Brazil and a center for the slave trade. There is a strong African presence in the culture which is clear in the religion, food and customs of the city. Our guide also explained that this city has been undergoing a major architectural restoration since the mid-nineties. And while the results are truly beautiful it has been a controversial project because the majority of the residents in the neighborhoods being restored have been “relocated” to the outskirts of the city. Basically the project is attracting more tourists and bringing more money to the city, but unfortunately very few are reaping the benefits.
On Day 4 we arrived in the city of Maceió in Alagoas, Brazil. Historically it was a sugar plantation and sugar mill settlement, but today it’s a pretty big urban community. Parts of it were lovely – the colonial architecture and white sand beaches, but parts of it were a bit rough. We toured the city on a bus and saw historic and municipal buildings, churches and monuments. We also visited a beach and an artisan market, but the day was incredibly hot (even for Becki) – almost too hot to be out and about – so by mid-afternoon we were happy to head back to the boat to our ocean breezes and air conditioned rooms.
After our time in São Paulo it was time for us to head to the cruise ship. We took a long bus ride through the mountains that at times reminded me of the bus ride Kathleen Turner took in the beginning of Romancing the Stone. To be fair, there wasn’t any livestock on the bus, but the bus itself had seen its share of miles and the road we traveled on was narrow, remote and offered lots of vertical, lush views. We made it to the port of Santos unscathed, got off the bus and onto the ship. The first couple of days of our cruise we were at sea – so we read books, explored the ship and relaxed.
Hello all – it’s been a while, ok… I know, it’s been a long while. But I’m diving back in – for now anyway… and we’re going to start back in January, when my Aunt Becki and I took a cruise in Brazil.
This first post features photos I took in São Paulo, where our trip began. We took a great tour of the city with Around SP. Our guide’s name was Luis and he was fabulous – he picked us up at our hotel and drove us all over the city on a personal tour. In retrospect, we felt like touring with a local was definitely the way to go – São Paulo is HUGE! We visited parks, historical buildings, churches and a municipal market. We learned a little history, a little culture and got to see everything from street art to mosaics in the Metropolitan Cathedral. Pretty good for day 1.
Oh and Aaron has upgraded the photo portion of our blog so the photo albums appear in more of a collage layout. Once you’re in the gallery, you can mouse over any photo to see its caption, and click on a photo to see a bigger version. I think it’s a huge improvement. Thanks Aar! Enjoy all :)
Here’s the next small batch of photos from months ago – these are from an afternoon outing with Amy, Joe and their boys to a local tree farm get Christmas trees. Aaron and I go for a little tree where as Amy and Joe go for a 12 footer. The boys can’t understand why we want such a little tree… but it was festive and fun to spend an afternoon outside. We spent the evening helping them decorate their tree and then set ours up later in the week.
Hi all….after a long hiatus, it’s time to blast through some old photos. Some of these are pretty outdated – but things were busy. I got a new job, then the holidays, then I did some traveling and now I’m back to the blog – until something else comes up anyway :) So – here’s the first of many. We were at Peter and Maria’s house for trick or treat this past October and got witness firsthand the hordes of people who appear on their street looking for candy. More importantly though, we got to see the girls in their Halloween costumes – pretty damn cute.
It’s been along time coming, but these are our photos from our vacation to Orcas Island, out in the San Juans off the coast of Washington state. This was our third time going with Bonney and Patrick. As their family has grown a bit with their 2 boys Rowan who is 2 and Calvin was 10 months at the time (now he’s 1) – we rented a different house on the opposite site of the island. The island continues to be quiet, beautiful and to us east coasters, it feels very “northwestern” – but in a good way. It’s a great place to take a break from life. We played games, read books, cooked, lounged and enjoyed having the time together.
Hi all, sorry for the delay – there’s been lots going on. These are from back in October when Aaron and I went to the Topsfield fair for an evening with Amy, Joe, Justin and Brian. We had a fun night eating, checking out the animals and produce, playing games and going on rides. One of my favorite fall traditions…
In early October our friends Stacey and Stephen came up from Louisiana for a visit. It was their first time visiting the area so we did our best to show them around. We spent some time in Salem visiting sites related to the witch trials. We took them up to Rockport and hiked around Halibut Point State Park, an old granite quarry that’s right on the coast. We also visited a historic lighthouse in Gloucester and went out on a whale watch. Of course we also made sure to take them to some of our favorite restaurants and local creameries. It was a fun weekend and a good reminder to Aaron and I of how many great things there are to do around here.
On a sunny fall afternoon we all took a trip to Russell Orchards, a local farm to go apple picking and buy some pumpkins. Amy and Joe brought the boys, James and Chrissy brought Alice, Peter and Maria brought the girls and Mom joined us too. We went on a hayride out to the orchards and picked apples and then returned to the farm to pick out pumpkins. Justin, Brian and Alice took a few rides around the farm in Amy and Joe’s wagon and visited the farm’s animals. We snacked on warm cider donuts and apples. This year’s new favorite for apples were ginger golds – we had never seen them before. It was one of those great New England autumn days, we were happy to spend it outside with family.