South Pacific summer!

This is part of a trip report to the South Pacific, Thailand and Turkey. We were able to fly Thai Airways first class TWICE, using 155,000 miles, costing $134, but with a value of $11,574! These tickets were booked on United, using transferred Chase Ultimate Reward points


My 2019 “round the world” summer trip was amazing and you won’t see much text because the pictures speak for themselves!

I was able to get a very cheap economy ticket to our first stop, Samoa, on Fiji Airways. Getting to the island of Savaii via ferry was somewhat easy and we mostly just relaxed at the Savaii Lagoon Resort.

We ferried back to the island of Upolo, and stayed at the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort. One day we hired a guide to explore the island and I will let the pictures do the talking!

Our next island nation was Vanuatu (van ooo ah tu) where 90% of the people fish and consume fish. We stayed at the most wonderful Holiday Inn (15,000 points per night) in the world! This is NOT your typical Holiday Inn…

Tourism is a big part of these islands’ economy; lots of tourists from Australia and New Zealand come here. We were on the island of Efate and one day we went sightseeing.

 
The people on all the islands were so welcoming and friendly!  (:


Next up, Thai Airways First class!  

NE Leaf Peepers!

Hello, I’ve missed my blog, (life is busy) but I’m going to get better at sharing more often!

Our fall trip to New England was absolutely amazing – it far exceeded my expectations and that doesn’t happen very often!  We flew to Boston using our Southwest Airlines companion pass, costing about $44 round trip; the companion pass is one of the best deals around!

Most of our hotels were booked with points, except for Bar Harbor. They were all OK, nothing outstanding. 

We immediately picked up our rental car and left for Maine. In less than a week, we drove 1,234 miles in 35 hours of driving time, and my sweet hubby did it all while I “oohed” and “aahed” over the leaves and asked him to stop every few miles feet to take photos!    

We feel like we hit the height of the leaf peeping, arriving Columbus Day weekend.  I did lots of research and used a friend’s itinerary to maximize our leaf viewing.  Our route was up Maine, hitting the coast at Camden and following the coastal road to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Here’s some pictures…

After spending a couple of days, we hit the road for New Hampshire, driving across Maine, with lots of stops!  My hubby was born in Maine, and we were driving right by the capitol, so we made a quick stop. We did the “Kanc.” which is NH route 112, a 56 mile-long east–west state highway in northern New Hampshire. The highway winds across the state, connecting Bath to Conway through the heart of the scenic and mountainous White Mountain National Forest.  It was spectacular and my very favorite; I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

It was then on to Vermont, where we stayed near Ascutney Mountain.

On the way back to Boston, we visited Shelburne Falls, MA and Starrett Tool Factory and museum in Athol, MA.  My husband got to visit old tool stores, tool museums, Ben’s Mill in Barnet, Vermont (opened just for us), and the American Precision Museum in Windsor, VT.  Some of these were planned and some were happenstance, but it made the trip so much more interesting, especially for him!  (;

I can’t say enough about the leaves – the trees were simply beautiful.  I remember staring at a tree that had more than twenty shades of color from green to red to yellow. We have lovely autumns where I live also, but the trees in NE are just everywhere with colors that look unbelievable, almost fake!  It was Mother Nature at her finest!  

Next up, my summer trip to the South Pacific, Thailand, and a Turkish gulet cruise.

Columbia = A Surprise!

Long time, no see! I had a VERY busy summer with lots of travel (more on that later) and fall is always busy for me. 
Here’s the last of my trip report during spring break to Easter Island and Columbia. Leaving Easter Island, I used 20,000 United miles to fly to Medellin, which was better than paying almost $1,400! I just want to mention that I never felt afraid or unsafe in Columbia – it’s quickly becoming a tourist destination. 
Medellin was rainy and we didn’t have much time, but we did take the metrocable up and also visited Botero Plaza, check out Botero’s artwork in the rain (excuse the quality).
The next day we had arranged a private guide for visiting El Penol and Guatape; El Penol is 650 feet tall, with views all around. The 600+ steps are not really that difficult, especially for views like this!
Guatape, the most colorful town/village in Columbia, exceeded my expectations! Zocalos, colorful representations in bas relief on the lower panels, tell the story of the family or business. This place was my favorite and you can see why in these pictures!
We left Medellin for Pereira and the coffee triangle. We stayed at the Hotel Spa La Colina, a small family-owned hotel with great views!
Our guide worked at the hotel and one day we visited some small towns in the area, stopping for coffee along the way, as we made our way to Cocoro Valley, a magical and mysterious place, especially in the rain and fog. It’s a national park filled with wax palm trees and was simply spectacular! 
We stayed our last night at the Wyndham in Bogota, before flying home via Delta business class. This flight was valued at $2,789, but I booked it using my Amex points.
This trip was a dream come true; I LOVED Easter Island and Columbia was a complete surprise! 
Next up, fall in New England, then my summer trip! 

Easter Island!

This is a two part trip report of my spring break trip to Easter Island and Columbia. I used 57,500 American Airlines miles and $11 to fly business class Lan Airlines to Santiago. the value of that ticket was $3,688! We then bought a round trip business class ticket to Easter Island, only $329, with a partial refund from my Citi Prestige card. Upon landing, you buy your park ticket, which includes admission to all sites.
We stayed at Tekarera Inn four nights and purchased a package deal, which included our accommodations, full day tour, and a one day rental car. It was the perfect amount of time to spend there and we saw all the standing moai! 
A must do on Easter Island is sunrise at Tongariki and we did that one morning, and we also saw it other times during our drives. The island has one road that rings most of the island and another road through the middle. You can easily drive it (without stops) in a half day.
Even though there’s no written record, researchers believe the 900 giant moai on the island were created in the image of chiefs. They all face inward, away from the sea for protection. They are very important to the Rapa Nui people, the natives on the island.  The ahu is the mound or pedestal upon which the moai stand, and are about four feet high.
 Tahai was within walking distance of our hotel, and I went every night for sunset pictures!
 Orongo is known as the Stone Village and was a ceremonial village during the birdman era. The houses in this village are all made of stone, built to withstand the strong winds and gales from this exposed part of the island.
 Rano Raraku is the quarry where 95% of the moai were carved out of volcanic ash and where 397 remain, some standing, some leaning, and some flat on the ground. 
Anakena Beach was just beautiful and the very last place you expect to see on Easter Island ~ you just don’t think of palm trees, sandy beach, and moai together!
 
Here are some stats on the moai averages: height is over 13 feet and weight is 13.8 tons! This trip was a dream come true and I’m so glad miles and points enabled me to see this part of the world!