Panama Canal –> Panama City

Panama Canal-passing through the Gatun Locks

 The Panama Canal was an experience I will never forget. It took many hours, multiple canal workers, thousands of gallons of water, and some serious man power to get the Fighting Irish through in one piece…but boy was it cool! There are 3 pairs of locks, so 6 in total. It is a long, slow process but it is something that I suggest every person should experience once in their lifetime. You enter from the gulf and enter the locks to remain stationary while water fills beneath you. The water brings you up to a certain height and then the locks release you into a waterway that leads you to the next set of locks. There are canal workers working tirelessly the entire time, some on land and others on the boat to ensure that all goes smoothly. Because we went through at night, we supplied the workers with plenty of caffeine and some good tunes to keep them awake and alert. As I recall it took about 6 hours or so to complete the whole process but all 6 hours were spent outside watching us coast down waterways or rise/fall according to water heights. The actual locks themselves are mechanical wonders. They work so flawlessly and have for decades upon decades. Once you exit the canal you are on your way to Panama City, which is a place to visit all in it’s own. Check out the photo below!

Panama City, a view from the wheelhouse.

Another Caribbean Paradise: Anguilla

Anguilla

White Sandy Beaches in Anguilla

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words but the photo above truly leaves you speechless. The white pristine sand beaches colliding with the turquoise sea-foam green of the ocean water screams paradise. The sand was so soft it just caressed every crevice of your body and the water was so warm it was like bathing in the most luxurious bath the world can offer. Anguilla is another island in the Caribbean, but unlike St. Barth’s, Anguilla is much more tropical and culturally diverse. St. Barth’s was more developed and anticipated tourism. This place, however, is almost untouched by outside influences which is why it is so great. The people are authentic…as is the food. Nobody gets privileges here. Everyone buys their fruit from the same stand and nobody is safe from the mosquitoes at night.

Anguilla has such a genuine feel to it. You walk barefoot everywhere and people always greet you with a smile. When we arrived, we explored the small island for a bit and the immediately hit the beaches for some sun. Speaking of sun, the sun here is hot…and when I say hot I mean HOT! Several layers of sunscreen must be applied throughout the day to avoid looking like Elmo’s twin. Inland, Anguilla is lush and full of plant life; the most vibrant greens, reds, oranges, and yellows I’ve ever seen. Unlike St. Barth’s, the people here speak a native Anguillan Creole which gives the island a more Caribbean vibe.

Anguilla was so fun and refreshing because everyone was stripped of the material possessions that so commonly define individuals. Nobody had diamond earrings on here and no one would be caught dead wearing Tory Burch flats while walking around. It was all about a bathing suit, a simple cover up, and maybe a pair of flip flops…nothing more. You didn’t have to slave over perfecting your mascara and wouldn’t be crucified for throwing you hair up in a bun on top of you head. In fact, this was encouraged. It was all about simplicity and living a life without the frills of the consumerism world. This is what I appreciated the most about this island: everything was modest and pure.

Check out Anguilla on Google Maps

St. Barth’s

Eden Rock on St. Barths

St. Barth’s island was a place we were fortunate enough to visit on several occasions. Located in the heart of the French West Indies, St. Barth’s is a celebrity vacation destination. While we were there we were graced with the presence of Catherine Zeta Jones, Russell Simmons, Bon Jovi, Denzel Washington, and other equally exciting famous faces. St. Barth’s offers a variety of fun activities like wind surfing, jet skiing, sight seeing, and checking out the local cuisine. St. Barth’s is a small island that is very easy to navigate by foot. In fact, I’d say that’s the best way to get around. The weather is second to none and the views are spectacular. You can also rent mopeds and zipcars for the day if traveling by foot isn’t your forte.

The nightlife is vibrant and is geared towards people in the early to mid-twenties. Although, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spot my parents cutting up a rug every now and then at the Yacht Club, one of the hottest local spots. There is two ways to get to St. Barth’s, by boat or by puddle jumper (a plane that looks and feels like it has been stuck together using duct tape and Elmer’s glue). Obviously we opted for travel by sea, but travel by air is always an experience. One of my favorite things to do on the island is go to the grassy knoll in front of the tiny airport and wait for the planes to fly in RIGHT over your head. You have to lie down for fear that they might graze your head. It is frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an adrenaline pumping unforgettable moment.

St. Barth’s was a place where my family and I made a lot of memories together. The hotels are phenomenal and world-class and the people are just as great. It has a very island feel. The only downfall to this wonderful place is the prices. Let’s just say your wallet will be a lot lighter after a trip to St. Barth’s. But your memories will be priceless, I guarantee it. After all, you can’t put a price on fun…right?

To check out more on St. Barths, visit Discover St. Barths!

Portofino

Pulling up to Portofino, Italy felt like a scene straight out of a storybook. Each building is painted it’s own, unique organic color in vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, and tans. It is an Italian paradise nestled in it own little nook located along the Mediterranean, easily accessible to boats but tough to get to by land. It is surrounded by lush green foliage and neighbors the equally outstanding town of Santa Margarita. The people of Portofino are genuine and kind. The food is authentic and fresh. The scenery is breath-taking and unforgettable.

Our berth, that is, where our boat was parked, was right in the heart of town. We were able to get on and off at our leisure (as opposed to being anchored out which requires a smaller boat to drive us into town). The main mode of transportation in Portofino is by foot. We walked and walked and walked, exploring all of the hidden secrets this amazing city had to offer. Now, back to the food. I know I said it was authentic, but when I say authentic, I mean it literally tastes like Italy (and not in the same way the Olive Garden “tastes like Italy”). The pasta was rich and flavorful, the sauces used ingredients native to the region, the desserts were simply exquisite. The food is what I remember most about Portofino. The seafood was as fresh as it could get given the town’s convenient marine location. You could smell a fresh loaf of bread being baked at all times. It was a chef’s paradise.

Portofino summed up into one word: perfect. It excited all of the senses and was the ideal combination of rural and urban. It is exactly what you picture when you think of Italy. The cobblestone paths, the shoemaker shops, the cafes on every corner; it is all just part of the fairytale that is Portofino. I would highly recommend this majestic city to anyone who is looking for a great weekend getaway (because any more than that and it could get tedious).

Belize it or not!

Belize
This is a photo taken from our boat looking out onto the sandy shores of Belize.

     Belize is one of those place that you have to blink twice and rub your eyes when you see just to make sure it isn’t a dream. It is truly majestic. From the sandy white shores to the multi-colored houses to the down home attitude of the locals, it’s a place that promotes ultimate relaxation and has a culture that is exciting to submerse yourself into…even if it’s just for a short while. My family and I visited Belize during Christmas break in 2008. During our trip, we enjoyed activities like snorkling, lobster diving, alligator feeding, sun bathing, and much much more (pictures to follow). Traveling by boat from Cancun to Belize was an experience in and of itself. The rough, choppy waters made us a virtual advertisement for Dramamine as we all struggled to get our sea legs for the short but treacherous trek over to this magnificent island.

     Living on a boat, you have to learn to ignore the constant movement brought on by waves, currents, and other passing boats that is inevitable and simply unavoidable. Once we got to Belize, however, it was clear that the slight hue of green in all of our faces was worth it. The turquoise, cyan, and celeste coloring of the water made it easy to peer down to the ocean floor to see a world full of color and life. Exploring these waters was just as rewarding as exploring the land. We spent an afternoon with a local fisherman catching and procuring fresh seafood for a cookout on this beach. He started the fire from scratch using beach wood and cooked our delicacies using ingredients and tools he had either made or acquired over time. It was very Man vs. Wild meets Castaway meets Survivor. Regardless, it was a meal I will never forget.

     The locals are constantly gathering fresh fruit, vegetables and locally grown crops to make their food. You won’t find any of that American processed stuff around these parts. Belize is really one of those places you read about in a fiction novel. It may be small, but it left a big lasting impression on me. I highly recommend this place to anyone who is looking to get away from their high-stress busy lives in exchange for a place that offers complete tranquility and simplicity.

Purpose

Hello Friends-

Why write this blog? What makes this blog different from all the others littered throughout the World Wide Web? Why should this blog interest you? Growing up, I was fortunate enough to spend my summers traveling and visiting different countries, nations, and cultures. Now, this was not your ordinary everyday travel by plane, train, or automobile; we traveled the world by boat. I am here to share with you my experiences, thoughts, and recommendations on places I have visited over the past decade. From Panama to Paris, Canada to Capri, Santa Margarita to St. Barths, I’ve been able to explore some of the most beautiful cities as far as the eye can sea. I will offer you details on the benefits and drawbacks to traveling by water and the must-do’s and must-see’s associated with the places I have visited. Enjoy!

Jane