Two Thousand Thanks


When I launched Travel Itineraries blog-website eight months ago, I had no idea, experience, or understanding of what it would take to maintain it.  It is like a child that needs constant attention, love and care.  Good thing I know the adage that says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”  That’s where my followers come in.  Their interest, attention, comments and likes have engendered the growth of the site into the viable entity it is today.

200 followers are not a large number, the actual number as of today is 226, but it is not a meager stat by any means.  In fact, my 200+ followers are the bedrock of the site and just the community I need to ensure that TI‘s growth continues progressively.  They are the crucial link to the site’s existence.  They are the ones who got in on the ground level and are helping to shape the dynamics of what TI is all about and the contributions she makes.  So, followers, this is all about you.

 

TI Award

Travel Itineraries landed on the world’s stage with a bang in July 2017.  She received 177 views in one day mainly from USA, Canada and Barbados.  Friends oohed, ahhed and said how beautiful she was.  Some sent messages to their social media communities echoing her existence.  Over time, she has gained global interest and to date 83 countries are included in her fan base.  She has grown to a level where she receives adoring fans on a weekly basis.  Every newborn needs support.  Lots of it.  My brainchild is no different.  She demands attention and constant care, which at times can be all-consuming, but those are just aspects of her nature.  Despite her demanding attributes and challenges, she also brings incredible joy and happiness to my daily life.

I want to thank my community peeps from the depths of my heart for their support, comments and likes from inception to now. WordPress Happy Engineers for their patience and wealth of knowledge.  Family and friends who continue to encourage and care for TI by occasionally checking in on her and giving their suggestions for her progress.

Two thousand thanks are more apropos of my heartfelt appreciation for the time you take to read the blogs, peruse the website pages, purchase a travel itinerary, view videos and photo gallery and the like.  Your time and interest in Travel Itineraries’ growth, content and contribution are valuable to me.

As always, fellow bloggers on the WordPress, LinkedIn, Google+ platforms, please drop a note in the comment box, follow or like to let me know your solidarity.  I look forward to hearing from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

 

Speak Her Love Language When You Travel


Valentine’s Day is a couple days away and it is the time people express their undying love and devotion to each other.  Couples give gifts of: chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and other tokens that may be cherished and enjoyed for the moment or for a very long time.  Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the book “The Five Love Languages” revolutionized the way we view loving associations.   He identified: acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time as motivators for building happy relationships.  A person may have one distinct language that makes them truly happy or may have a combination of these languages that makes them feel loved and appreciated.  If you know which language(s) you or your partner speaks, then you are already ahead of the game, and can daily nurture your connection for a happy relationship.

In two days you may be on your way to enjoy a romantic vacation.  Maybe you are heading to an exotic Love Language3location like Barbados, Bora Bora, Maui, Santorini, Tahiti, or some other island that wreaks romance.  You want this vacation to be indelibly written on her mind and be remembered as the best everrr for the rest of your lives.  So, I propose you spend this vacation with the girl of your dreams discovering what love language she speaks.  You can practice a motivator each day to see which one(s) she responds to the best.  Don’t know what to do?  Here are some easy suggestions to start you off.  Bear in mind, you can practice all the love languages in one day, but if you are on a five-day holiday why not assimilate one each day.

Acts of service – Plan a bespoke itinerary for each day of the vacation that says you put some thought into it.  To avoid any objections, take care of household chores that you know she may be concerned about in your absence.  Handle all the scheduling details for an evening of dinner, dance and entertainment.  As much as you can, pre-arrange to have her commitments resolved before leaving on the trip.  Consort with her work supervisors for the time off and surprise her at the job with tickets neatly tucked into a bouquet of flowers.  Last but certainly not least, select her favorite clothes, pack her bags and have them waiting by the door ready for your departure.

Gifts – After a day of exploring the island, she may feel exhausted but a gift of one or all of the items listed will surely perk her up.  You would be surprised to see how fast the exhaustion disappears into thin air: a bouquet of flowers, a box of the finest BelgiumLove Language6 chocolates, or a beautiful piece of jewelry in the signature baby-blue colored box you know she has been eyeing for a long time.  She may squeal with delight, I would, and by this reaction or even the lack there of, you may know whether you are on to discovering gifts as one of her love languages.  Giving her a gift when she least expects it may warrant a reaction that is priceless.  After all, everyone loves a good gift and if it is given in a unique way, the story will be retold for weeks, months and years to come.

Physical touch – On your down times take a leisurely stroll on the beach or along a garden path.  Walking hand in hand will speak volumes of tenderness to her mind.  A light touch on Love Language4the back or on the shoulder may be interpreted to mean, I support you, or we are  connected.  These physical touches transmit a sense of loving appreciation.  Show her you are attentive by occasionally holding her hand, recline against her shoulder, or lay your head on her lap.

Words of affirmation –  Believe it or not but this is one of the most difficult of the languages to express.  If you spout words of love too much you may run the risk of Love Language1making it sound trite.  If you express sentiment grudgingly you may come across as cold and your words forced.  Therefore, choosing your words, delivery and timing are key to making sure your person feels loved and respected.  Use a candlelight dinner in a cozy restaurant to talk of all the qualities that you find fascinating about her.  You don’t have to be untruthful, you only need to be sincere.   Let her know you appreciate the little things she may think are mundane but that means the world to you.  Let her know how well she does them and because of that you have learned to stay in your lane when it comes to certain areas where, in your book, she’s the expert.

Quality time – This time is probably the best love language of all.  Just my opinion, hehehe.  You can either lay on the beach, sip a mocktail, listen to the sound of the waves Love Language2lapping in the ebb and flow, feel the gentle breezes as they rustle through the palm trees, enjoy the glow of the evening’s sunset, or you can set an appointment to receive a full body massage for two and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the deep kneading that often lulls you to sleep.   No words are necessary.  Being there and quietly sharing the moment is the perfect finale to a five-day trip.

There you have it folks a romantic vacation to remember.  You have learned how to speak her love language and have fun doing it while on vacation.  Thank you for reading and viewing my site from time to time.  Feel free to add your comments in the box below.  As usual, I encourage you to follow, like, and share with your family and friends.  Happy Valentine’s y’all.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Sprightly Quito


We arrived at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport just after 10:00 p.m. tired and hungry.  On our way to the exit we were stopped by an official (customs I believe) and politely asked to follow her into a side room.  My sister and I looked quizzically at each other but obeyed.  The officer immediately asked us how much money we were carrying.  She looked at me in particular and asked me to empty my pockets, purse, money wallet and loose-change bag on the table.  I was puzzled, but complied, all the while keeping an eye on the money (which included a few Barbados dollars).  She counted the US dollars and after a little explanation on the exchange rate for the Barbadian currency we were told we could leave.  I hurriedly stuffed the bills back into their hiding places and went through the door. Was that sinister or what?  No explanations were given and I did not wait around to ask questions in my Spanglish.  I was only too happy to leave, with every red cent.

Our driver was anxiously waiting outside holding a sign with my name and we quickly followed him to his vehicle.  The ride into Quito felt like an hour, but probably was no more than 45 minutes.  For a city the size of Quito, the roads were strangely clear of traffic at that time.  I turned and asked the driver where was everybody.  I do not think he understood me, or if he did, I did not understand his response.  We arrived at our lodging, checked-in and settled down for the night.  By now, our total travel time was more than 16 hours, and we were dead tired.  We immediately fell asleep.  Not even the loud party buses (traveling discotheques) on the outside disturbed our sleep.

On our first day we awoke early, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready for adventure.  Our accommodation in the old city of Quito was practically next door to the Basilica, which became our very first stop on the sightseeing trail.  Armed with map, cameras and in my case, binoculars too, we peregrinated the city in tourist like fashion, ooh-ing and ahh-ing as we viewed the historical sites with interest.  One real concern we had for this trip was how well we would adjust to the high altitude, but while that was a factor, the “little” hills proved to be our undoing.  It turned out those “little” hills (to us) were steep climbs.  As we walked, it seemed as if we were moving in slow motion, while everyone strode up and down those streets with ease.  I am not being melodramatic when I tell you there was a hill to climb where ever we went.  Nevertheless, from every vantage point the views, as far as we could see, were simply amazing.

We managed to visit all the major sites highlighted on the map.  Many of them were churches.  After a while, my sister became tired of seeing one church after another and had had enough.  She did not want to see or enter another church door.  I, on the other hand, found the historical buildings interesting and the architecture fascinating.  As we traversed the calles y avenidas (streets and avenues) teeming with street vendors of every kind , we got lost, we crisscrossed, we back-tracked until street names eventually became familiar and we could maneuver around the neighborhood with ease.

Quito26

Quito, Ecuador – Party bus (Traveltinerary)

The following day we headed to the GPS location: 0° 0′ 0″ –  the center of the world. We were not disappointed.  From every geographical location: north, east, south and west, people were busy taking photos standing on the line making sure to capture the symbolic Mitad del Mundo monument in the background. The monument sits in the middle of a square surrounded by cultural exhibitions of beer making, cacao/chocolate processing, Andean products and boutique galleries selling art, ethnic clothing and jewelry, soaps, treats, teas, etc.  It was an educational experience at Mitad’s ethnographic museum where several interesting scientific experiments are showcased.  The scientific demonstrations are a big hit with children and adults.  I had to give up my experiment attempt (causing a magnet to float in mid-air) in order to keep the lines moving.  I did not try “standing an egg on a nail” experiment either, but was satisfied to see someone else accomplish the feat.  It actually works.  We also perused the Intiñan museum where we learned about Ecuador’s early natives, tribes and culture.  In the afternoon we headed over to El Panecillo – another monument, set way up on a hill, towering over the old city as if watching over her.  From walking around the base of the statue, you can see commanding views of the city.  However, it is still worthwhile to visit the museum within the statue and climb to the very top for a panorama of Quito from any angle.

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We took a day trip away from Quito in the Pichincha province to the Cotopaxi province.  We would tour: an indigenous farmer’s market at Saquisili, hike down and up the Quilotoa Crater – a portion of the Quilotoa Loop, visit Toachi Canyon, and finally meet a Quechua family.  For more than five hours we traveled by tour bus along a scenic route which took us through small Quechua communities, over rolling hills, down into valleys and on occasion often spotting mountains like Antisana, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Chimborazo, and other names I cannot pronounce.  At the first stop – Saquisili, our guide told us the market opens once a week for local farmers to sell their vegetables and other ware.  We were impressed with the amount, variety and freshness of the produce.  Being so far away from a major community like Quito, I wondered what would happen to the unsold perishables, but I am sure they have a system to manage the excess.

Our second stop on the tour was the Quilotoa volcanic crater.  Quick facts:  elevation – 3,914m, location – Pujili Canton, Cotopaxi Province, Parent range – Andes, Mountain type – Caldera, last eruption – 1280)  – Wikipedia

When we pulled up to the quaint Quilotoa community, not many people where around since it was still very early in the morning.  We walked the few meters to the landing vista where you could see clear across the aquamarine lagoon below.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.  Weather conditions at Quilotoa can be unpredictable and we were advised to dress warmly and be prepared for rain.  The day turned out to be clear, windy and chilly. I was excited to begin the hike, but my sister had other plans.  She took one look at the crater below and decided she was not going down that trail.  She opted to sit in the bus with the driver.  I was disappointed and had to cut short our subdued argument so as to not delay the group.  Again, I am learning two things about her – the overly cautious: how stubborn and how wise she is, and me – the radical impulsive: how competitive and impulsive.  Four of us managed to hike down to the caldera in less than 25 minutes, normal descent time is 30 minutes.  Unadmitted, I was a little nervous about the climb to the top (280m vertical ascent) so I started back up the steep trail ahead of the younger, more agile folks in our group.  Of course, there was an option to take a $10 mule ride to the top.  Let me tell you, many times on that trail I considered the ride, but once I am committed to a task I have to complete it (go big or go home).  I prayed a lot.  I thanked God that my sister had the commonsense not to come.  I gave myself pep talks, prayed some more.  It took me more than one hour and a half to reach the top.  I can only thank God who gave me the strength not to faint, but to complete the hike with a half hour to spare.    Yaaay, I did it!

The hike into the Quilotoa crater was the highlight of the day after which we had a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant.  Our third stop would be the Toachi Canyons.  The wide, open crevasses are similar to canyons in Nevada and Utah but on a much smaller scale.  However, there depth and grandeur are nonetheless just as awesome.

The last stop to visit with a Quechua family was vetoed.  By now, everyone on the bus were too tired (except my sister, lol) to fraternize and endure the daunting five-hour drive back to Quito.

Before the cat could lick his ear, it was time for us to leave sprightly Quito.  We had a blast and would like to go again, because there is so much to discover there.  I am not a good photographer by any means, and since pictures can say a thousand words, I will let those I have sprinkled throughout this post speak for themselves.  I hope you enjoy my recollections.  Indicate with a comment in the box below, like or follow.  To find out what other dramas happened as we moved on to Peru stay tuned for subsequent postings.  If you have gotten this far, thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

A Bajan Christmas


It is too late for me to jet off to Barbados (ticket prices are a budget buster) in time for the holidays.  Below are pictures of Bajan foods I like and will miss diving into during this season.  For certain, some, if not all, will be served as part of the cuisine in every household for Christmas.  Check out the links and try some of the recipes.  You are bound to get a taste of Barbados if you do.

Pigeon Peas and Rice  and Macaroni Pie

 

 

Fish Cakes and Steamed Pudding

 

 

Black cake

 

 

Sorrel

 

 

Soca vibe  Maizie  by Calypsonian Red Plastic Bag (Stedson Wiltshire)

Besides the foods, I will miss the warm weather, the hustle and bustle of Bridgetown, watching the fashion parade in Queens Park, and listening to the Royal Barbados Police Force Band’s performance.  If you are like me and cannot make a quick getaway for the holidays, then I hope these few pictures of traditional Bajan foods at Christmas time, and the links demonstrating how to make them, as well as, listening to the local Soca vibe that is most likely being played on the airwaves there now, would be enough to encourage you to add this destination to your bucket list for 2018.  It is never too early to plan ahead.  Need help with your itinerary?  Let me know, I am here to help you.

In three days we will celebrate Christmas and I want to wish my blog community, viewership and supporters a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Itinerary Planner

Conkies and Barbados Independence


Today is independence day in Barbados  or Bim (short for Bimshire) as it is known.  Barbadians (colloquial names: Bajan or Beige) at home and abroad are celebrating 51 years of autonomy from the British Monarchy.  Bajans from all walks of life will gather to celebrate their culture, foods and heritage.

Chorus to Barbados National Anthem

“We loyal sons and daughters all
Do hereby make it known
These fields and hills beyond recall
Are now our very own
We write our names on history’s page
With expectations great
Strict guardians of our heritage
Firm craftsmen of our fate”
–  Irving Burgie

Here are a few interesting facts about Barbados you may not know:

  • It has the oldest parliament of the British Commonwealth
  • It is 169.50 square miles, 21 miles long and 12 miles wide, located just outside the chain of islands in the Caribbean
  • It has a population of 284,996 people
  • The Bajan dialect is a broken form of the English language – “Gimme a scotch” has nothing to do with the alcoholic malt/grain whiskey but actually means, “May I have a seat”
  • It has a stable economy and boasts 98% literacy rate
  • It is home to one of the retired supersonic passenger airliner jets – Concorde
  • No other foreign country has ever invaded Barbados

So, how is Independence celebrated? Read on.

During the month of November, residents dress-up in the vibrant blue and gold colors representative of the nation’s flag.  Government buildings and businesses are decorated in bunting of similar color.  Besides an over abundance of entertainment that can be found on the island at any given time (a tourism slogan says “Never a dull moment in Barbados”), there is a month-long competition which highlights the creative work of local artists.  The event is hosted by the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA).  Groups as well as solo performers vie for the “best-in-class” titles, and for awards in categories of: art, crafts, dance, drama, music, photography and song.  On the evening of the grand gala, and before a sold-out crowd, stellar performances are rendered for the judges who select the final winners of each category.

Besides national entertainment, in every community there is a direct thrust for nationals and non-nationals to buy and eat home-grown foods.  Residents are encouraged to use Bajan products and support local businesses.  Farmers and vendors at various market places display a wide variety of Bajan fruits and foods:  dunks, gooseberries, golden apples, fat-pork, ackee (genip), sea-grapes, yam, pumpkin, eddo, breadfruit are a few of the fruits and foods you will find around.  Whether day or night, the aroma of foods such as:  fried fish, fish cakes, bakes, sweetbread, pone and other culinary treats including the national dish – cou-cou and flying fish, may be found in any kitchen.

A must-have and the star of the season is a sweet delicacy called conkie or stew-dumpling.  Made only during this time, families gather to make and share these delicious treats, which in my estimation are labor intensive.  You must grate pumpkin, coconut and sweet potato in preparation for the conkies.  The grated foods are then combined with other ingredients such as: cornmeal flour, sugar, butter, essence and several spices.  Once combined, spoonful’s of the mixture is wrapped in a singed banana leaf and steamed.  Other the years, this recipe has evolved to include other ingredients such as: raisins, eggs and milk.  I am partial to the authentic conkie and therefore cannot attest to the taste or flavor of a conkie with the latter ingredients.

On the morning of November 30th, all eyes turn to the national parade of combative and non-combative arms of government.  Troops assemble at the Garrison Savannah, home of horse racing, for the official independence ceremony.  Before large spectator crowds, speeches are given by government officials, the national anthem sung and the national pledge recited. The troops then parade before onlookers and are inspected by the Governor General – the head-of-state and the Queen’s representative on the island, and the Right Honorable Prime Minister. A gunfire salute is given to the cheers of hip, hip, hooray, and the parade begins its final march through the streets to government headquarters to the beat of Barbados’ Police Force and Defence Force music bands. People line the streets securing every vantage point to catch a glimpse of their favorite detachment or to see and support a family member marching in the parade.

After all the national pageantry, crowds head to the seashore to fun and frolic.  You might hear senior folk reminiscing of the olden days. Still, you may find others at social parties talking of pastimes, reciting old sayings, singing heritage songs, and playing games like: picksup, scables, tip fuh two, pitching, tic tocs and rounders (words are spelled in local vernacular)

Every island has its own charm, claims to beauty and uniqueness.  The same can be said of the land of my birth. It has been a favorite destination for members of the British Royal family and former US Presidents: George Washington, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. It is the playground for regular A-list visitors like: Kerry Packer, Oprah Winfrey, Simon Cowell, Tiger Woods, and home to superstars: Rihanna, Olympic Bronze medalist Obadele Thompson, musician Eddie Grant, cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers, and a Guinness book recorded checkers champion Ronald ‘Suki’ King to name drop a few.

While many people may think of Barbados as just another destination, to me it is paradise and a place called home.  While many go there to enjoy the sea, sun and sand, I go there to enjoy all things Bajan.  It is the only place where the term “Only bout hey” is understood by all and sundry.  Even though distance separates me from this land, it is always enjoyable recounting memories of the things that helped to make and shape who I am today. I want to wish my homeland a happy and blessed Independence Day.  I love you Barbados. Happy birthday!

I hope this post peaked your interest and caused you to add Barbados to you bucket-list. Remember to drop me a comment in the section below or like.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Iconic Logos, Catchy Slogans


Almost every US state and most foreign countries have adopted a logo or slogan as part of their marketing strategy to entice prospective visitors to come to their locale.  You maybe familiar with catchphrases such as “Virginia is for Lovers” for the state of Virginia, “Live Free or Die” for the state of New Hampshire, and “The Last Frontier”  for Alaska just to mention a few.  I am not aware of a survey that quantifies how many tourist actually visit a country or state based on the logo or slogan they may have seen or heard.  Even though a slogan may be recognizable, I firmly believe that it is not what draws tourist to a particular place.  It is not even given consideration when planning itineraries.  In fact, many may not even know of the country’s tourism campaign until they arrive at their destination.

On some of my trips they have been a few logos and slogans that have caught my attention, mostly because they resonated with me in an appealing way.  Either the slogan captures the essence of what their country is all about in just a few words, and I get it, or the graphic is clear, effective and accomplishes its task in conveying the intended message.

Incredible India

  • On my first visit to India, when I landed at New Delhi airport I noticed the slogan, “Incredible India” written in big bold letters.  I thought this slogan was strange until I began to witness and experience the sights, sounds, and yes, even the smell of India.  Spicy scents wafted on the night air, especially curry.  Wherever I went from Delhi to Agra to Jaipur I encountered strange, different, or intriguing experiences which kept baring out the slogan and I would find myself saying  ” This is truly incredible.”
  • Another slogan that came to life for me was “Pura Vida” from the beautiful Central America country of Costa Rica.  Translated “Pure Life” it has captured the heart of the nationals and has overflowed even to every visitor.  It is evident in the lush rain forest, abundant fresh fruit and vegetables, scenic greenery, flowing rivers, natural waterfall and wild life.  Everyone seems to have a vested interest in maintaining their healthy eco-friendly environment.  I was impressed to see the slogan at every turn and to hear it as a greeting on arrival and departure.

Barbados Logo

  • The Flying Fish is prominently portrayed in one of many logos for the beautiful island of Barbados.  The fish is known to jump out of the water, spread its wings and fly for a very short distance before diving back into the water.  It is truly a sight to behold when you see a school of flying fish in action.  It is a local delicacy and served as part of the national dish Cou-cou and Flying Fish.

If you plan to visit the World Travel Market in London on November 6 – 8,  you certainly will get to see many logos and slogans, as well as, meet country representatives and possibly receive giveaways that will bare their subtle messages of enticements. It is estimated that 51,000 travel professionals will attend this year to promote their country’s tourism vision.  Over 5000 exhibit booths will display and showcase all things travel related.  Other regions worth visiting for the three day event that brings together the travel industry and trade networks are: Africa, Arabia Travel Market, Asia, and Latin American.