‘Be Here Now’-2018 Travel Recap

USA    The very last day of 2018


To say 2018 was a year of travels wouldn’t be accurate, as I’ve traveled more and to a higher number of countries in other years.  So I’m a little stumped as to how to describe my 2018 travel year.  Maybe a year of travel from the US?  Sure, lets go with that.

January: Following my quest to see all seven world wonders, January brought me to China, and of course, the Great Wall.  What an amazing feeling to walk on such a captivating piece of history.  I conquered every last step I could on the Great Wall, finding spectacular views up into the hills.

 

February: Each year TripAdvisor puts out a list of the best beaches in the world, for two years running that beach has been Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos.  I’m curious, and a lover of nice beaches, so after being awarded with the highly renowned title I knew I had to go and see for myself!  Stunning blue water, mixed with white sand and sun, it did not disappoint.

 

March: Having previously traveled to the Western part of Australia, making my way to the East coast was a must-do!  I spent my time in and around Sydney from the coastal beaches to the mountain ranges.  And since I was already so close, I just HAD to fly over to New Zealand to frolic in Hobbiton.

 

April: Making my way to World Wonder #5 brought me to the breathtaking, peaceful country of Peru.  I NEED to begin blogging about my adventures here, but I really can’t seem to put my experience into words.  Being on top of Machu Picchu is a feeling I will never forget.

 

May: May was supposed to bring me back to Abu Dhabi and Dubai to see all my amazing friends, but unfortunately I fell very ill after my trip to Peru.  (I think it was the alpaca or my guilt for eating it).  It ended up being an inactive month for me, but I did manage a trip to North Carolina to check out Wilmington, an old town restoring their historical downtown. And of course, I caught some lovely sunsets here in Myrtle Beach, and spent another day in the Brookgreen Gardens.

 

June: This month brought me on a trip to upstate New York for some hiking in the Adirondack Mountains, and even a little road-trip to Virginia for a country winery tour.

 

July: The annual Bastille run and festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a long standing tradition for me, and this year was no different. A 5K night run with thousands of people in the streets of downtown Milwaukee. A trip to Milwaukee is never complete without a trip to the beach with family and friends.

 

August: Finishing July and entering August with my annual birthday trip brought me to a luxury resort in the Domincan Republic. A birthday trip full of breathtaking blues, sandy beaches, entertainment, crystal clear waters and cocktails.

 

September: In my attempts to start exploring more of the South, a weekend getaway to Charleston, South Carolina was a must-see destination.  Rich in history, ghost stories and culture, Charleston did not disappoint. Another unexpected trip, in the midst of Hurricane Florence making a direct hit on Myrtle Beach, we packed up and headed to Georgia for a few days, and even made time for a day trip into Alabama.  A month of the South!

 

October: After over a year of not working for ‘The Man’, it was time to pull in some extra money to finance some more travels! Back to work I went, keeping me very busy, with not as much time for adventures.  A weekend trip brought me on Camp Lejeune to photograph some of the beaches and buildings.

 

November: Another trip of discovery around South Carolina, this time taking a stop in Pawley’s Island.  There is something about these quaint little coastal towns that just draw people in, but for me, its the rich history of the land, and the things a bit out of the ordinary.

 

December: And last but not least, this brings us to the start of winter in Myrtle Beach. And what better way to celebrate then witnessing the magical fairyland of lights setting a glow to the spectacular gardens.  A night of a Thousand Candles is a sight not to be missed this time of the year.

 

 

I wish that 2019 brings myself and all of my ‘Wanderlust’ readers a journey of discovery, adventure, and the courage to continue to delve into the unknown.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Romance of Hangzhou, China

‘Heaven on Earth’

January 2018–Hangzhou, China


Some call it ‘Heaven on Earth,’ some say ‘City of Romance,’ and others refer to it as ‘Honeymoon City.’ No matter which title you choose, each of them will accurately describe the city of Hangzhou. I mean, even Marco Polo fell in love with Hangzhou, so it must be true!

This ancient Chinese capital city is a scenic beauty in the Eastern corner of China. Life here is a bit more relaxed and easy, compared to most cities in China.  With a population of just nine million people, Hangzhou is considered a small city.  I know what you’re thinking…nine million, SMALL?!? Well, if you compare it to the one hundred and twenty Chinese cities with a population of over ten million people, yes, Hangzhou is small.

It’s a city filled with natural blossoms and gardens, tea fields, silk, mountain views, authentic cuisine, and the ever so famous, West Lake.  If you have only one day to discover this dreamy city, much like I did, spend it taking in the romantic views of West Lake. It is by far the top attraction in Hangzhou, as a World Heritage Sight and ‘symbol’ of the city.  So hop on a bullet train from Shanghai and forty five minutes later, you can enjoy some of the Chinese countryside.

Have a look and enjoy some of the beauty that is Hangzhou, China.

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Sunset Through The Trees
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West Lake Bridge
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Mountain Sunset
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Pink Blooms
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A Garden In A Garden
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Flowering Kale
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Sunset Over West Lake
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Garden View
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Gardens
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Flowers
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My Peaceful Place
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Ornamental Cabbages
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Chinese Writing
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Capturing West Lake
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West Lake Beauty

 

What really makes the GREAT WALL of China so great?!

January 2018–Beijing, China


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“What really makes the Great Wall of China so great?”  The question that had been floating in my mind all the way back into September when I booked a trip to China, just to see the ever-so-famous GREAT WALL.  Of course, I remember learning about the Great Wall at some point in school, but lets be honest, it wasn’t a heavily covered subject, and my memory doesn’t always serve me so well.  It’s one of those topics that have been categorized and filed in the brain, but are completely covered in dust.

So like any other trip, I decided to go into China with the little knowledge I had, looking forward to picking the brains of the locals.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again, this is my favorite way to gain knowledge of the local culture!  As much as I enjoy reading, I do not want to read a book or watch a documentary to gain insight.  I much prefer to experience it for myself, speaking to the locals and hearing first hand what makes their country great.  And in this case, ‘great’ was the exact word in question.

So what really makes the Great Wall of China so great?!?  I must say, I had the best local guide to fill me in with the details of greatness.  And experiencing it for myself, first hand, as I climbed this World Wonder gave me the insight and understanding I needed to finally answer my burning question.

To start; the official length of the Great Wall has been measured at 13,171 miles or 21,196 kilometers!! BOOM!  That right there creates an elevated amount of greatness. Granted it’s not just one long wall from point A to B, this length includes all known sections of the wall, built during at least seven dynasties, including all of its trenches, walls, towers, and fortresses.  To put that distance into perspective; get in your car and drive from New York City to Los Angeles and back, TWICE, and then drive another 2,000 miles just for fun.  Only then will you have covered the 13,171 miles that is the Great Wall.  Talk about an impressive architectural feat!  Imagine, no cranes, tractors, or excavation equipment, just a lot of men full of determination.

Another level of greatness comes from the history behind the wall.  The construction began in 7th century B.C. and continued on into the 16th century.  That’s over two thousand years of construction!  Most of the wall we can visit today was built during Ming Dynasty, 13th-16th century.  Over two thousand years of rebuilding, modifying and extending this seemingly ‘Great Wall’ created the greatest military defense project in history.  For those still wondering WHY the Great Wall was built, well, it was simply to protect China at different periods throughout time.  Initially construction began as independent walls for different states, this evolved into protection from invasions from enemies in the North, especially nomadic tribes and Mongols.  It also held some value as to keep Chinese people from leaving China.

So what did it feel like to climb on the Great Wall??  I am so proud to be able to tell you first hand what an exhilarating experience this was.  In the back of my mind as I was climbing stair after stair and steep grades, I felt as though I was a part of history.  I reinvented in my mind what it must have felt like to climb those stairs daily, patrolling the area, climbing into the fortresses to see the 360 degree views of the mountain tops.

There are ten most famous sections of the wall to climb to catch these incredible diverse  scenic views.  I climbed a section called the Juyongguan Pass, which was first constructed in 770 BC, and was rebuilt during the time of the Ming Dynasty.  The Juyong Pass was filled with steep sloops and uneven steps, sometimes measuring three feet tall.  Making it to the top of this pass, all the way to Fortress #12, proved to be a exhilarating climb, requiring a strong level of fitness.   There were many times I stopped to take a breath, thinking, ‘OK, I’ve seen enough, I’ll stop here,’ only to put those thoughts into the back of my mind and push through all the way to the top.  Unfortunately most climbers succumbed to the challenge, only taking in 500 steps or less.  But I was determined and alive with energy!  1,768 long steps later (yes I counted, but on the way down, as I was too excited to stop and take pictures while climbing), not including all of the steep grades and walks through the fortresses, I was deeply rewarded with photographic opportunities.  It truly was a sight to take your breath away, if you had any left from the climb.  360 degree views of mountain scenery and miles of historical walls.  I felt accomplished, refreshed, alive and proud.

Simply stated, the Great Wall is a clear demonstration of wisdom and tenacity, and YES it is GREAT!

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