Monday, February 6, 2012

Vancouver, British Columbia

I saw this tree while traveling in British Columbia and could not help but take a picture. Not a bad lesson to learn from mother nature. 

Sometimes when one path has been cut, you simply need to create a different one...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Traditions from All Around the Globe

In honor of welcoming in 2012, here are some New Year's Eve traditions from around the world..

  • In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, Families stuff a life-size male doll with things that have bad memories or sadness associated with them, and then they dress it up in old clothes from each family member. At the stroke of midnight, this 'Mr. Old Year' is set on fire.

  • In Spain people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight (one each time the clock chimes) on New Year's Eve. This peculiar ritual originated in the twentieth century when freak weather conditions resulted in an unseasonable bumper harvest of grapes. Not able to decide what to do about so many grapes at Christmas time, the King of Spain and the grape growers came up with the idea of the New Year ritual.

  • In Japan late on the evening of December 31, people would eat a bowl of buckwheat noodles called "toshikoshisoba" ("year-crossing noodles") and listen for the sound of the Buddhist temple bells, which were rung 108 times at midnight. The sound of these bells is said to purify the listeners of the 108 sins or evil passions that plague every human being.

  • In Brazil most people wear white clothes on New Year's Eve to bring good luck and peace for the year that will follow.

  •  In Greece children leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year's Day (also the Festival of Saint Basil in Greece) with the hope that Saint Basil, who was famous for his kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts.

  • In Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico, those with hopes of traveling in the New Year carry a suitcase around the house at midnight. Some even carry it around the block to ensure traveling at greater distances.

  •  In China believe that there are evil spirits that roam the earth. So on New Year they burn crackers to scare the evil spirits. The doors and windows of every home in china can be seen sealed with paper. This is to keep the evil demons out. 

As a child, I still remember my family's tradition of cracking an egg into a cup with water and depending on how the yolk came out, it would signify how the new year would be. Pretty funny looking back on it now! No matter what tradition (s) you may have, here is wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bacardi Rum Factory Tour- Old San Juan Puerto Rico

No trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico is complete without a tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory.  Personally, I thought it was a great way of spending a few hours and on the plus side, you get a couple of free drinks.

If you happen to be on a cruise, you can save yourself a bit of money by doing this excursion on your own.  Most cruise lines charge from $30 per person to experience what is ultimately, a free tour.  There is NO charge for the tour or the drinks, just the cost of getting there.

It’s pretty easy to get there from the port of San Juan.  First, you need to take a Ferry from Pier 2 to Catano.  The cost of the ferry is $1.50 one way for adults and $.50 one way for kids. Once you get into the terminal be sure you are on the ferry for Catano and not Hato Rey. The ferry ride is about 5 minutes and the views are incredible. It’s like 2 tours in one. Be sure to have your camera ready.  It’s the best way to enjoy a full view of the bay!

View of San Juan from Catano FerryDSCN0157

Once you get off the ferry, there will be plenty of taxis available to take you on to the Bacardi Rum Factory.  The cost is $3 per person one way. When you ask the price, the taxi drivers will always say $3, but keep in mind they need to drive you back, so really the total cost is $6.  Many of the people who were in our cab did not realize this until we were well on our way.  The drive is about 5 minutes, but it would be a very long and unsafe walk as it is located in an industrial zone.

If you happen to have a car rental, you can drive there as well.  The directions from San Juan are: take Highway 22 west to the Cataño exit, Road 165. The plant is visible on the right about a mile from the exit on Road 165, Km 2.6, Int. 888, at the Bay View Industrial Park in Cataño.

Casa Bacardi Visitor Center and Gift ShopDSCN0200

Upon arrival, first thing you will notice is the Bacardi bat, the bar, and the gift shop. Be sure to pick up your tickets for the Free drinks. Why come out all this way if not for the drinks, right? When my husband and I went we had our 9 year old with us and they gave him coupons as well for juice and/or soda. You can get your drinks first and then go to the tour or vice versa. We made it just in time for the last tour, so our drinks would have to wait.


You board a tram to the entrance and the tour begins with the guide giving a brief history of rum and the Bacardi family.  Then you move on to another room where an 8 minute movie is played about the history of Bacardi and why the bat is their logo. I won’t give out the reason.  If you make it out to the tour you can hear all about it. Pictures and video are allowed in the entrance, but after that they are not allowed until the end of the tour.

After the movie, you will be led into a 3rd room where you can smell the different kinds of rum and see some pretty interesting historical memorabilia. The last room you are led into, has a guide that will go over how to make their famous “mojito”.

Now, every group always has to have that one person you want to kick off the tour.  Well, ours had him.  His cell phone kept going off during the tour and of course, he had to answer and talk right over the guide giving the recipe and we heard none of it.  Luckily, if you want their “mojito” recipe, you can find it online at And if you do go on the tour, please turn off your cell phone. The world can wait for 1 hour while you do a tour.

At the end of tour, you can make a short video and email it to your friends and family back home and then board the tram back to the bar to get your drinks and of course, stop in at the gift shop. Not a bad way to spend a few hours in Puerto Rico.

DSCN0206My husband enjoying his Daquiri!

For more information on the tour, drink recipes, and their updated tour hours, please visit

Monday, May 16, 2011

Disney offers Free autographed pictures of Disney Characters

If you are planning a trip this summer to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, here’s a great way to get the kids even more excited about their trip.  Like, they need any more reasons to get excited… 

Disney is offering a free autographed picture of your kids (or maybe your) favorite Disney Character.  You can also get a Disney executives autograph, but doubt that will cause much enthusiasm.  Simply send your request to:

Walt Disney Company

Attn: Fan Mail Department

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

Be sure to include the name of the character and your mailing information. Also, plan ahead as it can take up to 6 weeks to receive your autographed picture.

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