CHAMPAGNE OCCASIONS & HONEYMOONS

There is something so delicious about this time of year!  Apart from the turkey and trimmings….. it’s a thing called love and family and sweet beginnings. Many a canny mother or dad seem to know to keep a special bottle of champagne hidden away for that “unexpected” occasion.  Champagne

We are going to the New Year’s Eve celebration of the NC Symphony again this year and I hope we are treated once more to another romantic evening.  Last time as we gathered for the second half of the concert the young girl sitting next to me, a total stranger, turned to me in sweet joy to show off her brand new engagement ring!  Her boyfriend had proposed to her during the interval and she was beside herself with delight!! A whole row of unassociated persons united for a few short minutes rejoicing, laughing and exclaiming with the happy young couple.

Yup, it’s the time of love, family and sweet beginnings.  Planning a wedding can be stressful and a somewhat daunting undertaking – but planning the honeymoon afterwards can be the easiest part if you turn to experts for help!  We have that expertise in romantic destinations.

This is the perfect time to try an exotic trip to Africa.  It’s surprisingly affordable.  Combine the elegance of the Cape winelands and the stunning scenery of the Peninsula with the thrill of a photographic safari in the bush.  Makoro canoeOr travel to the golden sands and pounding surf of the Indian Ocean and on to Big Five Wildlife in Zululand.  Glide on makoro canoes through the Okavango Delta, watch elephants splash and play in Botswana, marvel at the magnificent Victoria Falls and end your journey sipping sundowners as you watch the sun set from the top of ancient granite boulders. Marriage is a big adventure and what better way to celebrate than starting out with your own African adventure?

Do you dream of the sun-bathed islands of the Caribbean and see the two of you relaxing on white sand beaches, toes in warm aqua oceans while sipping something tropically colorful?  There are so many wonderful resorts to choose from on a bewildering array of islands, each with their own particular charm.  It makes all the difference to have expert assistance in picking out the one just right for you.

Perhaps it’s the time-drenched cultures of Europe that appeal.  A rambling wander through countryside dotted with castles, vineyards, olive groves or lavender fields.  Castle ChateauxJourney down a river on an elegant cruise, ride bikes or hike mountain trails, take a fast train or test drive a new Mercedes, focus on food or beer or art.  There are so many ways to make memories in Europe and what a special way to begin your life together!

Planning honeymoons and destination weddings are some of our most favorite trips.  It’s such a wonderful way to begin and as we celebrate our 33rd year of marriage – we think we know what we are talking about!  We’re looking forward to hearing from you in 2014 and beginning those plans.

African Sunrise

It happens sometimes when you travel across time zones that you take a while to settle into the time change.  That can mean waking or sleeping at times not usual to you and in turn hearing or seeing things that you would normally not experience.  I woke sometime during the night and lay listening to the African night sounds.  The fiery necked night jar calling his distinctive “Good-Lord-deliver-us!” and an owl with his mournful hoot.  Somewhere a disturbed cockerel begins calling for the sun but it’s still too early for that.  We drift back to sleep only to wake again in the pearly light of dawn and lie quietly talking about the journey we have come.

Granite kopjie Zimbabwe

With a jolt I remember how dramatic the sunrise is in Africa and we jump out of bed to fully open the drapes.  A rosy hue touches the tops of the trees and suddenly the glowing orange orb of the rising sun pushes its way into view over the horizon.  We watch fascinated as pale pastel light rapidly changes to bright colorful vibrancy.  It lights up the room, the garden and beyond in a matter of minutes.  It’s almost as if some giant Hand reaches down and plucks the sun up and then hangs it in the sky.  Time will seem to move slowly for the rest of the day – until the sun once more approaches the horizon when suddenly it will drop and darkness will fall almost instantly.

Low light on eles at waterhole Zim

There is nothing stealthy or subtle about sunrise or sunset here in the African tropics.  The beginning and ending of every day is a dramatic enactment of life – a moment or two to pause and rejoice, a moment or two to pause and consider.  Each takes your breath away and it is a comment I hear often while traveling in this incredible continent “why is it that the sunrise/sunset here is so much more beautiful than anywhere else?”  I don’t know the answer to that – but I have to agree!

Jamaican Sandals Royal Caribbean

Our exploring over for the while, we returned the car to the depot at the airport and met up with the Sandals Representative in the luxurious private lounge in the arrivals hall.  Our luggage was tagged and taken away while we were offered an ice-cold drink and then escorted to our mini-van.

Beach at Sandals Montego Bay

Beach Sandals Mo Bay

We traveled with other passengers who had just flown in to the island, many of whom were returning Sandals guests, something we found not to be uncommon.  We were booked to spend the rest of the week at Sandals Royal Caribbean and as such were the last to be taken to our hotel.  We were able to get a peek into the Sandals Carlyle Inn and the Sandals Montego Bay on our way.

All of Sandals Resorts are adult-only luxury included resorts and sold as such with the emphasis on “couples in love”.  I was a little skeptical about this and not at all sure if I would find it to be a little cloying and even uncomfortable.  How wrong I was!

Ocean and beach view at Royal Caribbean

Ocean and beach view at RC

From the minute we arrived, the high standard of service and discretion that the staff employed was reassuring and it turned out to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations we have ever enjoyed.  Imagine no whining or screaming kids to detract, no childish demands to impinge upon your time, nobody else’s bad mannered children to irritate – just no children!

In addition, the emphasis on couples in love means that everyone is taken care of, “hooked up” or “coupled”, so you never find yourself in a position where you are being picked up, propositioned, or made to feel uncomfortable.  It’s such relief!  And makes for easy friendships and conversations whether you are in your couple or having some alone time while your partner is at the gym, or diving or whatever!

Keith windsurfing

Windsurfing

It is as easy to spend time just the two of you, as it is to meet new friends or even plan to go as a group of favorite friends.  It’s the perfect resort to enjoy a destination wedding with only your adult friends in attendance, or travel with your close family.

Sandals Royal Caribbean resort is spread out in such a way that there are so many different places to go and things to enjoy that you have to make a plan to meet!

Private coves at Royal Caribbean

Private coves at Royal Caribbean

With gorgeous landscaping all set around buildings offering different experiences from swim-up rooms, to beachside walk-out suites, there is bound to be something to appeal.

This resort is designed around a series of little coves all looking west over their private island and beyond the stunning sunsets.  It is an exclusive, intimate and very inviting place to enjoy some special time with your precious partner.

Sunset on Jamaica

Sunset on Jamaica

Jamaica B&B

It was easy to follow the directions to our bed and breakfast guest house, although a little disconcerting.  Once we ventured off the main highway through the port city of Montego Bay and on to the small back roads, it was hard to decide if the dirt was interrupted with asphalt or asphalt liberally sprinkled with dirt!  It was just as well that we had a little SUV. We lurched our way up the hill on what appeared to be a seldom used trail between half-built houses and empty lots, under tangles of power and telephone wires haphazardly tied until suddenly we were confronted with two very nice houses on either side of the road.

View from balcony

Polkerris turned out to be the double story on the upper side of the road.  It is surrounded by lush and well maintained gardens resplendent with blooming tropical plants and shrubs such as tumbling bouganvilla, thumbergia in riotous colours and the ever-present multi-hued croton plant.  Wide double doors led into a cool foyer and up a spiral staircase to a view-to-die-for or at the very least, to happily pay-for!!  It was an expansive view over the little town, around the bay and the ocean beyond.  A Cruise Ship was in the middle distance docked at the cruise terminal for the day.  Later on that evening we had the pleasure of watching her steam out of port and head west into the sunset toward her next call.  But for now, we were greeted by our hosts and welcomed graciously to their home.

Polkerris pool

The rooms are beautifully laid out and all off a covered verandah which surrounds the house on all sides.  Our room looked out over the private swimming pool and the splashing waterfall.  Everywhere you gazed the gardens were lush and filled with contrasting shades, colors and textures leaving the eye feeling most satisfied.

 

 

 

Carolina Fall

Glowing autumn colours

I was gazing out of the hotel window a couple weeks ago when I was on a trip to Tennessee.  It is officially Fall but we have had unseasonably warm weather and the trees seem reluctant to turn.  The fact that we followed some incredible storms with wind and heavy rain, tornado sightings and generally what the Weather People here call “active weather”, spoke more of summer.  But as a skein of geese fly overhead calling disconsolately, I know that I am looking at the beginning of autumn. 

It often seems to me that trees are like people and many have quirky personalities.  Some of the trees out there are completely bare – almost flaunting their nakedness!  Not in a vulgar way as an exhibitionist, but rather a matter of expediency.  As if they know that they will be bare most of winter so instead of going about it slowly, they just got it done – in a green-today and gone-tomorrow kind of way.  Others almost seem apologetic and a little shy about this whole changing thing.  In fact some of these trees look as if they are blushing, turning pink or orange from the top down.  Then there are those trees which are just down-right determined to hang onto their green for as long as possible.  All this makes for gorgeous quilted-counterpane-scenery with soft golds, glowing yellows, blushing orange and starter reds showing against the deeper multi-hues of green.
Blue Ridge Parkway

Tomorrow we will travel up the Smoky Mountains and over to the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of a more advanced stage of autumn.  We expect to see a forest of trees in a far bolder dress.  There we will find the ones who have embraced this change of seasons and are flaunting their glorious colors before taking their well-earned winter rest.  There will be different colors at differing heights and dependant on the sunshine aspect of the slope or the protection of the valley.    

Smoky Mountains

A unique feature of the Blue Ridge Parkway is to be found in its name – this road of twists and turns often runs along the mountain ridge giving one the feeling that you are driving on the very tip of the world.  The views to left and right extend for mile after undulating blue mile.  It is one of those things so hard to capture in photographs which give but an indication of the magnificence and harder still to describe in words, all of which are inadequate.  It is truly a soul-kind of experience no matter the season you visit but perhaps especially true of the fall. Then the scenery takes on a living technicolor with specimens that continually surprise with their vibrant and extravagant color.  A stranger turned to us at one incredible viewing point, and said, “It makes you long to paint!” and I couldn’t have said it better.

Quilted-counterpane scenery
101 Painted Fall Way, Cary, NC 27513 | email: su@lazylizardtravel.com or keith@lazylizardtravel.com | tel: (919) 463-8009
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