11 October 2012

6-14 October 2012: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

After a very long year with so few holidays it was time to just chill out by the beach in Mexico! 

Myself and two friends, Alex and Sera, decided on an apartment just 40mins from Puerto Vallarta - the town was called Punta de Mita. 

For 6 glorious days we sat on our balcony, swam in the sea or pool and did some stand up paddling. At night we would venture into the small town for frozen margaritas, octopus or whatever we fancied. 

The temp was usually around 90-95F which was a bit hot for me, but thankfully the apartment had air con and you could easily escape the heat by going back into the apartment. 

The beach was clean, the water like a bath, and the neighbours and townfolk friendly.  The other bonus was we were out of season so not many other tourists about.  In fact, one night we were the only ones at a restaurant.

05 September 2012

30 Aug-3 September 2012: Washington DC, US

Washington DC was everything I thought it would be, and also not what I thought it would be.

The monuments, sites, museums were wonderful, but the city itself...I was a little disappointed with it.  I think because it was so spread out, and nothing being allowed to be built higher than Capitol Hill, it didn't feel like a city. No real atmosphere.

But saying that, the sites around Washington are amazing!! I spent 3 days there and I walked a lot of miles! And the temp was about 90 degrees every day (thankfully you could get air con at the museums).

I think the most amazing monuments, museums, memorials in Washington are:
- US Capitol
- National Air and Space Museum
- Lincoln Memorial
- Arlington Cemetery
- Holocaust Museum
- Korea War Veteran's Memorial
- Martin Luther King Memorial
- White House

There are so many tours you can do, but honestly, by foot is the easiest, though the Hop On/Off does a night tour which I would recommend.  The museums are also all free. Also, make sure you get out to Arlington Cemetery for the changing of guard....very compelling and moving.

So much to see and do that you could easily spend a week in DC!

04 March 2012

11-23 February 2012: Whistler, Canada

12 days skiing at Whistler - I couldn't turn that opportunity down and so booked the trip with a friend from London...six months ago...not knowing I was going to be moving to New York! But thankfully it was Canada and not Europe that I was going to.

We booked an all inclusive package that included accommodation, breakfast and an evening meal.  We also organised ski passes, ski hire and everything else beforehand so the first day we were straight on the mountain (even though I didn't get to bed until 2am due to a delayed plane).  We had a 10 day ski pass so every day counted as we only had 10 days (+ 2 days travelling).

The biggest difference between Whistler and European slopes is that the runs are wider, lots more powder, lots more runs, not as crowded and there were two massive mountains to choose from (Whistler & Blackcomb).  Everyday we got to where both gondalas go to their respective mountain and decided which one we were going to spend the day on.  Of course, depending on conditions we switched mountains during the day via a gondala at 2,300 feet!

The first three days was sunny and warmish - which meant no new snow, hardpacked, a bit icy and then a bit sludgy by the end of the day.  I really enjoyed it as it was similar to European slopes.  Then it snowed on and off for the rest of the days we were there.  Of course that bought some unpleasant conditions such as low visibility, cold winds, and blasting snow!  But we did learn how to ski in poweder, and that can be hard work!

In fact I took a day's ski lesson which was really helpful.  They are called Max4 lessons and only 4 to a instructor  - I ended up sharing an instructor with 2 Aussies (there were a hell of a lot of Aussies on the slopes working!).  It was great as we were at the same level and he took us to the Blackcomb glacier (involved a walk up to it) and other areas I hadn't gone to yet.  And of course, I learnt some new stuff as well.

As for evenings we would head back to the chalet (about 20min walk from the slopes) and then join about 4-8 others for a meal.  They were a combination of many different nationalities....Brits, European, Canadian, Japenese.... We didn't go into town much at night as we were tired out and it involved another 20min walk! But we did see the Snow and Light show which is every Sunday, and did enjoy a couple of meals in Whistler village.

On one of the days we took the afternoon off to go dogsledding. What fun!  We were the only ones and got to enjoy the experience of having 7 dogs dragging us along!  Unfortunately they were not particularly motivated and so the poor guide did have to do a lot of work to get them going!! Not cheap at C$190, but really worth the experience.

It was a fantastic, if not tiring, 10 days and I really do recommend Whistler to everyone who skis/snowboards. Certainly a bit different skiing on powder, including different types of skis, but you really can ski your heart out here!

11-23 February 2012: Whistler, Canada (more photos)

The views were just spectacular!

Amazing views from Whistler mountain

Whistler village (Olympics were in 2010)

Very snowy night

Whistler village

Partner in crime Terreis!