Differently-able Loves to Travel


For the most part, travel for the majority of able-bodied persons is not a problem.  Standing on long lines, dragging bags through airport, train or bus terminals and running from one gate to the next, is not a hassle (well sometimes it is).  The same cannot be said for the differently-able.  Considerations and adjustments have to be made to accommodate their need.  As a versatile itinerary planner, my goal is to consider every aspect of a traveler’s profile when planning their dream vacation, including their disability.  Creating an exciting itinerary for the differently-able person can be a challenge, which I like, but not an impossibility.  To capture the travel experience of what it is like traveling with a disability, I interviewed a personal friend.  This is what she had to say:

Q.  How are you differently-able?

A.  I am physically differently-able; therefore, I must use a walker or a wheelchair

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Differently-able and caregiver – Traveltinerary

depending on the distance I have to travel.

Q.  Do you like to travel, and if so, where?

A.  Yes.  I love to travel.  I have traveled by airplane, cruise ship, and of course, every day by car.  I have been to places like:  Belize, Cayman Island, Honduras, Margarita Island, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America.

Q.  Tell me about your experiences at the airports and seaports.

A.  In 2010 I became differently-able when I lost my first toe.  Travelling at that point was not too difficult even though it had some challenges.  During that trip I was about five months post-amputation, so I did not ask for any special assistance. I was traveling with relatives. I found traveling throughout the various airports was a bit challenging as I tried to keep up with the crowd and not get left behind. I recall one of my struggles back then as I was leaving Barbados was climbing the stairs to the plane with my carry-on luggage.  I had no problems on the aircraft.  In contrast to my experience on boarding in Barbados, when I disembarked in the USA I was introduced to a nice gentleman with a wheelchair who assisted me through immigration and customs without any problems.

On the cruise ship, my only problem was walking the ramp with the bumps to get on or off the ship. For the wheelchair-bound differently-able person it would have been uncomfortable.  At some ports-of-call, the distance to exit or to pick up the tours were too far away, and I did not see any services provided for those like me who had a physical impediment.  It was a mad scramble to board a bus or taxi and to complete our tour in the allotted time we were at our destination.  Inside the ship was wonderful.  Elevators were available on every floor making it easy to move around the ship, so I did not have to use the stairs.  The bathroom facilities were spacious and easy to use.

Q.  How were you treated at the airport, in the aircraft and at your destination?

A.  In 2014 I travelled to the USA.  By now I had lost more toes – two on my left foot and two on my right.  This meant I needed assistance.  From the moment I arrived at the airport in Barbados, a wheelchair was secured for me and I was taken from the airline check-in counter, through immigration and to the passenger waiting lounge.  My daughter accompanied me on this trip.  When it was time to board we were loaded onto a vehicle which elevated us to the door of the plane.

We were the first to board the plane, and from there I walked to my seat.  We did not pay for special seats or extra leg room space. The only challenge on the aircraft was manoeuvrability in the bathroom.  The space is tight and uncomfortable.  When we arrived in the USA we were the last persons to disembark, but our wheelchair assistant took us through immigration and customs without having to wait on the long lines.

On this particular trip moving around our destination was more accessible.   Some places posed a challenge where there was a ramp to go inside the building, but to access the lower levels like the basement where some of the activities were held, for example, in the churches I visited, there was no ramp.

Q.  What changes would you recommend especially to help those who are differently-able concerning travel?

A.  My answer to this question is not a one size fit all and may not apply to many places.  However, I would like to see much larger spaces in the bathroom and dressing rooms specifically for the wheelchair-bound person and their care-giver.  Another change would be the soap and the hand towel dispensers.  Lower these bathroom services so persons in wheelchairs can reach them.  My observation of the paved streets/sidewalks in modern cities should be built with more level sidewalks and less bricked tiles.  Some of these things may look attractive but are uncomfortable for the differently-able person and they caregiver to navigate.

Q.  Do you see a difference in North America than anywhere else?

A.  The only places I have travelled to are: the Caribbean, Central America and North America. I must admit that North America is more developed than the other two regions. However, In the other two regions where tourism is one of their main sources of income, there has been some measure of progress to reach international standards.  More consideration is given to the differently-able, more public awareness, and more laws are enacted to prevent able-bodied persons from using services strictly designated for the differently-able.

Q.  Do you have a specific safety plan or an appeal for help if in difficulty?

A.  To be truthful I never thought of what I would do if I am in trouble, because I always travel with someone.  I remember once in New York City gun shots were being fired across the street from the store that I was in.  I hid behind the counter until it was over.  I guess if I am alone and need any help I would shout for help or ask a nearby stranger kindly for assistance.

Q.  Do you like to travel alone or with a chaperone?

A.  Since I am more ambulatory with the use of a stroller or a wheelchair depending on the distance, I do not mind going through the airport alone. I know the airport staff would assist me.  However, right now I would not take a trip to a strange place by myself.  Maybe I would do it in the future.

Q.  Do you believe that your disability has limited you from travelling to places you would like to visit?

A.  Certainly.  I like to travel, sight-see and experience the cultures of other people. I cannot travel solo yet, and I do not like the idea to travel if I am a great burden to someone else.  I would like my travel companion to enjoy the trip as well, and not have to worry about my every move.

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Wheelchair – Traveltinerary

Check out these other posts which highlight the pros and cons of using  wheelchairs in hotel rooms, or learn first hand the experience of this deaf traveler.   Their experiences showcase challenges, as well as, gives encouragement to those who are hesitant to travel just because of their disability.

I hope this post sheds some light from the differently-able person’s perspective regarding travel issues and challenges.  I would love to hear of other experiences or even share a best-practice with fellow itinerary planners who arrange travel for such a special group of people.  So what are you waiting for?  You have four choices:  comment in the box below, like, follow or share.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

More times,

Itinerary Planner

P.S.  If you receive this post twice, my apologies.

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Two Thousand Thanks


When I launched Travel Itineraries blog-website eight months ago, I had no idea, experience, or understanding of what it would take to maintain it.  It is like a child that needs constant attention, love and care.  Good thing I know the adage that says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”  That’s where my followers come in.  Their interest, attention, comments and likes have engendered the growth of the site into the viable entity it is today.

200 followers are not a large number, the actual number as of today is 226, but it is not a meager stat by any means.  In fact, my 200+ followers are the bedrock of the site and just the community I need to ensure that TI‘s growth continues progressively.  They are the crucial link to the site’s existence.  They are the ones who got in on the ground level and are helping to shape the dynamics of what TI is all about and the contributions she makes.  So, followers, this is all about you.

 

TI Award

Travel Itineraries landed on the world’s stage with a bang in July 2017.  She received 177 views in one day mainly from USA, Canada and Barbados.  Friends oohed, ahhed and said how beautiful she was.  Some sent messages to their social media communities echoing her existence.  Over time, she has gained global interest and to date 83 countries are included in her fan base.  She has grown to a level where she receives adoring fans on a weekly basis.  Every newborn needs support.  Lots of it.  My brainchild is no different.  She demands attention and constant care, which at times can be all-consuming, but those are just aspects of her nature.  Despite her demanding attributes and challenges, she also brings incredible joy and happiness to my daily life.

I want to thank my community peeps from the depths of my heart for their support, comments and likes from inception to now. WordPress Happy Engineers for their patience and wealth of knowledge.  Family and friends who continue to encourage and care for TI by occasionally checking in on her and giving their suggestions for her progress.

Two thousand thanks are more apropos of my heartfelt appreciation for the time you take to read the blogs, peruse the website pages, purchase a travel itinerary, view videos and photo gallery and the like.  Your time and interest in Travel Itineraries’ growth, content and contribution are valuable to me.

As always, fellow bloggers on the WordPress, LinkedIn, Google+ platforms, please drop a note in the comment box, follow or like to let me know your solidarity.  I look forward to hearing from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

 

Speak Her Love Language When You Travel


Valentine’s Day is a couple days away and it is the time people express their undying love and devotion to each other.  Couples give gifts of: chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and other tokens that may be cherished and enjoyed for the moment or for a very long time.  Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the book “The Five Love Languages” revolutionized the way we view loving associations.   He identified: acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time as motivators for building happy relationships.  A person may have one distinct language that makes them truly happy or may have a combination of these languages that makes them feel loved and appreciated.  If you know which language(s) you or your partner speaks, then you are already ahead of the game, and can daily nurture your connection for a happy relationship.

In two days you may be on your way to enjoy a romantic vacation.  Maybe you are heading to an exotic Love Language3location like Barbados, Bora Bora, Maui, Santorini, Tahiti, or some other island that wreaks romance.  You want this vacation to be indelibly written on her mind and be remembered as the best everrr for the rest of your lives.  So, I propose you spend this vacation with the girl of your dreams discovering what love language she speaks.  You can practice a motivator each day to see which one(s) she responds to the best.  Don’t know what to do?  Here are some easy suggestions to start you off.  Bear in mind, you can practice all the love languages in one day, but if you are on a five-day holiday why not assimilate one each day.

Acts of service – Plan a bespoke itinerary for each day of the vacation that says you put some thought into it.  To avoid any objections, take care of household chores that you know she may be concerned about in your absence.  Handle all the scheduling details for an evening of dinner, dance and entertainment.  As much as you can, pre-arrange to have her commitments resolved before leaving on the trip.  Consort with her work supervisors for the time off and surprise her at the job with tickets neatly tucked into a bouquet of flowers.  Last but certainly not least, select her favorite clothes, pack her bags and have them waiting by the door ready for your departure.

Gifts – After a day of exploring the island, she may feel exhausted but a gift of one or all of the items listed will surely perk her up.  You would be surprised to see how fast the exhaustion disappears into thin air: a bouquet of flowers, a box of the finest BelgiumLove Language6 chocolates, or a beautiful piece of jewelry in the signature baby-blue colored box you know she has been eyeing for a long time.  She may squeal with delight, I would, and by this reaction or even the lack there of, you may know whether you are on to discovering gifts as one of her love languages.  Giving her a gift when she least expects it may warrant a reaction that is priceless.  After all, everyone loves a good gift and if it is given in a unique way, the story will be retold for weeks, months and years to come.

Physical touch – On your down times take a leisurely stroll on the beach or along a garden path.  Walking hand in hand will speak volumes of tenderness to her mind.  A light touch on Love Language4the back or on the shoulder may be interpreted to mean, I support you, or we are  connected.  These physical touches transmit a sense of loving appreciation.  Show her you are attentive by occasionally holding her hand, recline against her shoulder, or lay your head on her lap.

Words of affirmation –  Believe it or not but this is one of the most difficult of the languages to express.  If you spout words of love too much you may run the risk of Love Language1making it sound trite.  If you express sentiment grudgingly you may come across as cold and your words forced.  Therefore, choosing your words, delivery and timing are key to making sure your person feels loved and respected.  Use a candlelight dinner in a cozy restaurant to talk of all the qualities that you find fascinating about her.  You don’t have to be untruthful, you only need to be sincere.   Let her know you appreciate the little things she may think are mundane but that means the world to you.  Let her know how well she does them and because of that you have learned to stay in your lane when it comes to certain areas where, in your book, she’s the expert.

Quality time – This time is probably the best love language of all.  Just my opinion, hehehe.  You can either lay on the beach, sip a mocktail, listen to the sound of the waves Love Language2lapping in the ebb and flow, feel the gentle breezes as they rustle through the palm trees, enjoy the glow of the evening’s sunset, or you can set an appointment to receive a full body massage for two and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the deep kneading that often lulls you to sleep.   No words are necessary.  Being there and quietly sharing the moment is the perfect finale to a five-day trip.

There you have it folks a romantic vacation to remember.  You have learned how to speak her love language and have fun doing it while on vacation.  Thank you for reading and viewing my site from time to time.  Feel free to add your comments in the box below.  As usual, I encourage you to follow, like, and share with your family and friends.  Happy Valentine’s y’all.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Enchanting Peru


Spending the first part of our vacation in Ecuador, more precisely Quito, prepared us for our journeys in Cuzco, Sacred Valley of the Inkas, Machu Picchu and Lima.

Cuzco  –  We arrived in Cuzco on a high note – read of the experience here.  We stayed in the San Blas Barrio and settled in comfortably into our accommodations.  Conveniently located in front of our hostel was the San Blas Market where we found a variety of food stalls, fruit and vegetable vendors, and all-natural juice bars to choose from.

 

No sooner had we left the produce market and entered Plaza de Armas of Cuzco than we were approached by street vendors peddling their ware of clothing, handicrafts, art, jewelry and trinkets.  Every nook and cranny of this hillside town is geared towards the many tourists who leisurely roam the narrow streets and avenues in search of bargains and attractions.  Plaza de Armas of Cuzco was a beehive of activity.   In the landmark square are two baroque-styled buildings you cannot miss:  La Cathedral and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Christ).

 

Our number one priority after arriving in Cuzco was to arrange a next-day travel tour to the Sacred Valley of the Inkas.  Tip #1 Compare prices of tours before choosing to book with your hotel.  Shop around.  It is best to compare prices in a place where bargaining is an acceptable business practice and to stay within your budget limits.  Plaza de Armas de Cuzco was not short of options.  I am happy to report we settled on a tour within our budget and that fulfilled the must-see sites on our list.

With some direction, we found the office where we could purchase the entrance tickets into Machu Picchu.  The ticket office was the scene of the crime.  My sister and I got into a heated argument about which tickets to buy.  My sister (Overly Cautious) wanted to purchase a ticket for Machu Picchu, and yours truly (Radically Impulsive) a ticket for Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu.  To my mind we came so very far it only made perfect sense to explore both places.  Lesson learned?  Certainly.  Tip #2 If traveling with a partner, decide beforehand the sites and attractions you want to visit together to avoid any conflict.   Even though the mansuetude afternoon was fractured by harsh words, we somehow managed to contritely spend the rest of the evening talking of how we could better handle situations in the future.

Sacred Valley of the Inkas

 

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To give a blow-by-blow account of the Sacred Valley of the Inkas tour would mean a few more postings (I can hear you sigh and say, enough already).  Suffice it then to say, the tour was phenomenal.  You must visit and see for yourself.  I will let the photos in the slide show speak for themselves.

Aguas Calientes  –  After spending a couple of days in Cuzco, we departed the Poroy station onboard PeruRail for Aguas Calientes, otherwise known as Machu Picchu Pueblo.  The three-hour journey was uneventful as we rambled along the scenic countryside, through rural communities, past flowing rivers, and at times, flank by mountainous terrain on either side.

 

After disembarking the train, we trudged with our bags uphill to our hostel.  Thankfully, our housing was not too far up the incline.  We were near to the main square, and within easy access to the plethora of restaurants, vendors, and handicraft shops. That same day we purchased bus tickets for the ride up the mountain to the ruins.  Machu Picchu Pueblo is a quaint town but there is not much to see or do there, except eat, relax or go to the hot springs for a therapeutic dip.  I discovered a map highlighting more than 20 stone sculptures around the town.  To pass the time I decided to use the map as a treasure hunt guide and photograph as many of the carvings as I could.  This activity took us some time to accomplish.

 

Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu  –  Of all the talk about Machu Picchu, you would think that the revered site is within walking distance.  It is not.  Of course, hardcore hikers could probably make the trek in a couple of hours, but it took the bus approximately half hour winding up the mountainside to arrive at the gated entrance.  There we stood in line, excited and eager to enter the grounds.

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Machu Picchu – Entrance to MP (Traveltinerary)

Hikers to Wayna Picchu get an hour head-start so they have enough time to cover both ruins sites before the afternoon tourists arrive. Only 400 hundred persons are allowed to climb each day.  I was among that group.  Tip #3 It is best to train before your trip if you plan to incorporate strenuous activities such as mountain climbing on your itinerary.  Assured by the authorities that the average time to scale Wayna Picchu is approximately two hours roundtrip, I started out in high spirits on the steep climb.  As I got closer to the top, navigating the tiny steps upward necessitated crawling on my hands and knees.  At first the clouds were thick and obstructing, but as the temperature rose and the sun’s rays became stronger, the clouds dissipated, revealing the crown jewel below – Machu Picchu in all her splendor.  The view of the surrounding valley as far as the eye could see was also a bonus and was worth the trek.  I came, I saw, and I conquered was the feeling I had as I surveyed the view, inhaled the cool fresh air and soaked up the tranquil surroundings along with fellow-hikers.  The decision to climb Wayna Picchu was a good one.

 

Whoever said going downhill is easier that climbing uphill probably never climbed down the slopes of Wayna Picchu.  The descent was more tedious and strenuous than anticipated.  I was anxious to rejoin my sister (maybe it was guilt) seeing that I was running late on the time we were supposed to meet.  She had been patiently waiting for me so we could begin to explore Machu Picchu together.  Of course, she was well rested, but by now my feet and leg muscles were aching, and I felt as though I was walking on stumps.  However, this was our moment of truth and we were resolute on covering every inch of the ruins.   To cap off a day well spent, we splurged on a sumptuous meal, and tried to relax before catching the train back to Cuzco.

 

Weary and tired we boarded our train retracing our travel footprint back to Cuzco en-route to Lima.  Unlike our initial ride into Machu Picchu Pueblo, this time entertainment was provided in the form of a fashion show by Felipe, Nichy and Gabriel of PeruRail.  They showcased Peruvian wear as they strutted up and down the aisle sporting reversible scarves, hooded/collared sweaters and stylish jackets that were versatile, trendy and made from the very soft but expensive alpaca wool.

 

Lima  –  With just a four days left to expend on the itinerary we looked forward to discovering the cosmopolitan city of Lima and to see what it had to offer.  We were not disappointed.  On arrival at Jorge Chavez International Airport we negotiated the fare for our taxi ride and was quickly dispatched to the Jesus Maria district to our Airbnb residence. We spent much of our time scouting the areas in and around Plaza Mayor.  We witnessed: street mimes who would only move after receiving a monetary donation; musicians and locals dancing to the vibrant salsa beats; demonstrators marching in support of a cause; a formal Christmas event for society’s crème-de-la-crème hosted at the Governor’s Palace.  The last event which took place on the steps of the Cathedral was organized by the Catholic Church in support of the expected Papal visit early in 2018.

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Lima – Miraflores (Traveltinerary)
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Lima – Barranco Street Art (Traveltinerary)
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Lima – San Isidro (Traveltinerary)
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Lima – A view from Barranco to the city of Lima (Traveltinerary)

Our last to-do in Lima was a tour to the other districts.  Tip #4 – Ride the Hop-on-Hop-off bus as a last-minute option to capture sites you may have missed.   On the bus we visited the touristy areas of: Barranco, Chorillos, Miraflores, Lima Central, Pueblo Libre, San Isidro and San Miguel.  There is something worth discovering at every location.  The history is rich and interesting.  We did not experience one dull moment.  Hands-down, this has been one of the best vacations I have had irrespective of the arguments, differences of opinions, likes and dislikes.  My sister and I definitely agree that it was worth every penny, actually, every sol.  In-spite-of our character flaws, we continue to remain best friends, and each other’s biggest supporter.

My concluding post on this epic adventure will talk of: our observations of each country – good or bad, the budget – bust or win, and the gastronomy culture.   If you have experienced similar travel challenges with a family member, please share.  Comment in the box below.  Click the follow or like buttons if you enjoy these posts.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Thanks for reading.   Stay tuned.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

Sprightly Quito


We arrived at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport just after 10:00 p.m. tired and hungry.  On our way to the exit we were stopped by an official (customs I believe) and politely asked to follow her into a side room.  My sister and I looked quizzically at each other but obeyed.  The officer immediately asked us how much money we were carrying.  She looked at me in particular and asked me to empty my pockets, purse, money wallet and loose-change bag on the table.  I was puzzled, but complied, all the while keeping an eye on the money (which included a few Barbados dollars).  She counted the US dollars and after a little explanation on the exchange rate for the Barbadian currency we were told we could leave.  I hurriedly stuffed the bills back into their hiding places and went through the door. Was that sinister or what?  No explanations were given and I did not wait around to ask questions in my Spanglish.  I was only too happy to leave, with every red cent.

Our driver was anxiously waiting outside holding a sign with my name and we quickly followed him to his vehicle.  The ride into Quito felt like an hour, but probably was no more than 45 minutes.  For a city the size of Quito, the roads were strangely clear of traffic at that time.  I turned and asked the driver where was everybody.  I do not think he understood me, or if he did, I did not understand his response.  We arrived at our lodging, checked-in and settled down for the night.  By now, our total travel time was more than 16 hours, and we were dead tired.  We immediately fell asleep.  Not even the loud party buses (traveling discotheques) on the outside disturbed our sleep.

On our first day we awoke early, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready for adventure.  Our accommodation in the old city of Quito was practically next door to the Basilica, which became our very first stop on the sightseeing trail.  Armed with map, cameras and in my case, binoculars too, we peregrinated the city in tourist like fashion, ooh-ing and ahh-ing as we viewed the historical sites with interest.  One real concern we had for this trip was how well we would adjust to the high altitude, but while that was a factor, the “little” hills proved to be our undoing.  It turned out those “little” hills (to us) were steep climbs.  As we walked, it seemed as if we were moving in slow motion, while everyone strode up and down those streets with ease.  I am not being melodramatic when I tell you there was a hill to climb where ever we went.  Nevertheless, from every vantage point the views, as far as we could see, were simply amazing.

We managed to visit all the major sites highlighted on the map.  Many of them were churches.  After a while, my sister became tired of seeing one church after another and had had enough.  She did not want to see or enter another church door.  I, on the other hand, found the historical buildings interesting and the architecture fascinating.  As we traversed the calles y avenidas (streets and avenues) teeming with street vendors of every kind , we got lost, we crisscrossed, we back-tracked until street names eventually became familiar and we could maneuver around the neighborhood with ease.

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Quito, Ecuador – Party bus (Traveltinerary)

The following day we headed to the GPS location: 0° 0′ 0″ –  the center of the world. We were not disappointed.  From every geographical location: north, east, south and west, people were busy taking photos standing on the line making sure to capture the symbolic Mitad del Mundo monument in the background. The monument sits in the middle of a square surrounded by cultural exhibitions of beer making, cacao/chocolate processing, Andean products and boutique galleries selling art, ethnic clothing and jewelry, soaps, treats, teas, etc.  It was an educational experience at Mitad’s ethnographic museum where several interesting scientific experiments are showcased.  The scientific demonstrations are a big hit with children and adults.  I had to give up my experiment attempt (causing a magnet to float in mid-air) in order to keep the lines moving.  I did not try “standing an egg on a nail” experiment either, but was satisfied to see someone else accomplish the feat.  It actually works.  We also perused the Intiñan museum where we learned about Ecuador’s early natives, tribes and culture.  In the afternoon we headed over to El Panecillo – another monument, set way up on a hill, towering over the old city as if watching over her.  From walking around the base of the statue, you can see commanding views of the city.  However, it is still worthwhile to visit the museum within the statue and climb to the very top for a panorama of Quito from any angle.

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We took a day trip away from Quito in the Pichincha province to the Cotopaxi province.  We would tour: an indigenous farmer’s market at Saquisili, hike down and up the Quilotoa Crater – a portion of the Quilotoa Loop, visit Toachi Canyon, and finally meet a Quechua family.  For more than five hours we traveled by tour bus along a scenic route which took us through small Quechua communities, over rolling hills, down into valleys and on occasion often spotting mountains like Antisana, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Chimborazo, and other names I cannot pronounce.  At the first stop – Saquisili, our guide told us the market opens once a week for local farmers to sell their vegetables and other ware.  We were impressed with the amount, variety and freshness of the produce.  Being so far away from a major community like Quito, I wondered what would happen to the unsold perishables, but I am sure they have a system to manage the excess.

Our second stop on the tour was the Quilotoa volcanic crater.  Quick facts:  elevation – 3,914m, location – Pujili Canton, Cotopaxi Province, Parent range – Andes, Mountain type – Caldera, last eruption – 1280)  – Wikipedia

When we pulled up to the quaint Quilotoa community, not many people where around since it was still very early in the morning.  We walked the few meters to the landing vista where you could see clear across the aquamarine lagoon below.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.  Weather conditions at Quilotoa can be unpredictable and we were advised to dress warmly and be prepared for rain.  The day turned out to be clear, windy and chilly. I was excited to begin the hike, but my sister had other plans.  She took one look at the crater below and decided she was not going down that trail.  She opted to sit in the bus with the driver.  I was disappointed and had to cut short our subdued argument so as to not delay the group.  Again, I am learning two things about her – the overly cautious: how stubborn and how wise she is, and me – the radical impulsive: how competitive and impulsive.  Four of us managed to hike down to the caldera in less than 25 minutes, normal descent time is 30 minutes.  Unadmitted, I was a little nervous about the climb to the top (280m vertical ascent) so I started back up the steep trail ahead of the younger, more agile folks in our group.  Of course, there was an option to take a $10 mule ride to the top.  Let me tell you, many times on that trail I considered the ride, but once I am committed to a task I have to complete it (go big or go home).  I prayed a lot.  I thanked God that my sister had the commonsense not to come.  I gave myself pep talks, prayed some more.  It took me more than one hour and a half to reach the top.  I can only thank God who gave me the strength not to faint, but to complete the hike with a half hour to spare.    Yaaay, I did it!

The hike into the Quilotoa crater was the highlight of the day after which we had a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant.  Our third stop would be the Toachi Canyons.  The wide, open crevasses are similar to canyons in Nevada and Utah but on a much smaller scale.  However, there depth and grandeur are nonetheless just as awesome.

The last stop to visit with a Quechua family was vetoed.  By now, everyone on the bus were too tired (except my sister, lol) to fraternize and endure the daunting five-hour drive back to Quito.

Before the cat could lick his ear, it was time for us to leave sprightly Quito.  We had a blast and would like to go again, because there is so much to discover there.  I am not a good photographer by any means, and since pictures can say a thousand words, I will let those I have sprinkled throughout this post speak for themselves.  I hope you enjoy my recollections.  Indicate with a comment in the box below, like or follow.  To find out what other dramas happened as we moved on to Peru stay tuned for subsequent postings.  If you have gotten this far, thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

Vacation Ultimatum


Understand this, is your vacation adrift?

Love tantrums, hissy fits or rifts?

Today or tomorrow it is all the same

If you keep your head in the game.

Many couples use Travel Itineraries to rekindle,

A dwindling love which is abysmal.

Together they plan of how to succeed

Until an ugly argument impedes,

Mostly because of an ultimatum.

 

 

Stats a Big Deal


I reached 100+ followers!  Stats a big deal.

Talking about my accomplishments is something I have never felt comfortable doing, even when I had to recite all that I did or did not achieve for my annual job review.  On one hand I understand the premise being, there is no one more capable of highlighting my successes better than me.  Also on the other hand, to talk of how well one may have done is a lot like blowing one’s own trumpet.  Is this a dilemma or what?  Look, there are no plans afoot to solve this conundrum.  The two main reasons for posting my stats are to encourage first-time bloggers to keep going, and to give thanks to my followers for their endorsement.

Travel Itinerary blog and website was created for the sole purpose to offer travel assistance in itinerary planning, talk of travel experiences, spur travel interest with informative tips, and relay timely travel news.  In 2017 TI started and 21 posts later the website has achieved, wait for it (drum roll please), the following:

WP Awards2WP Awards3WP Awards4

Views  =  2,517 (highest views in one day = 177)

Visitors  =  867

Countries that visited website  =  64

Most likes  =  275 (most recorded in one day = 13)

Comments  =  84

These statistics are small potatoes when compared to other blog sites and given the fact that I do not use FB or tweet, tweet for added leverage.  To beginner bloggers who will read this post, here are a few tips for you.  If blogging is your passion as this is mine, then keep on writing.  Check your stats daily because the data gives you a benchmark to improve on.  Stats are important and give you some validation.  They tell you who your audience is, what peaks their interest and where they come from.  All in all, remember even though you want to increase your numbers it is not a race.  Greatness takes time.  If you build it they will come and the sky is the limit are clichés that express perfectly what I truly believe in order to raise the bar.

I thank God for all the progress made on this site.  All I can say to my followers, friends, well-wishers and supporters who encourage me – my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.  Without your interest I would still be at square one.  You have been great.

Now you know what to do.  Comment in the box below, click follow, like, thumbs up or send me an email.  I look forward to hearing from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Alerts


Are you wondering how you should approach your travel plans for 2018?   Are you asking yourself, how can I get out ahead of the maddening crowd and get the best deals on airfares, hotels, attractions, destinations and such like?  The answer is simple.  Sign up to receive email travel alerts.

Man travel companies for leisure and business are busy touting all the best deals, steals and to-dos for this year: cheapest destinations, best hotels, must-see attractions, most beautiful this or that, exotic places, rare finds, and the list goes on.  Now is the perfect time to sign up to receive their alerts.  In almost every case it will cost you nothing, so why not sign up, you have nothing to lose.  It is only wise for you to take full advantage of their expertise, dedication and hard work to bring you the best chances at affordable travel, and to be the first one to receive their well researched information.  Besides getting an early heads-up, when you sign up with more than one travel alert website you will be able to use their information to compare prices against airline websites and other travel search engines, you can track price changes, and recognize best times to make bookings.

A travel alert will give you the chance to act swiftly if you see a fare that falls within your projected budget, or that appeals to you and you simply cannot turn it down.  Generally, the travel industry’s recommendation to book travel are four to six weeks for domestic and eight to 12 weeks for international.  Barring those travel schedules, if you have a destination in mind, I recommend keeping a lookout as early as six months.  As it gets closer to the industry’s standard time-frame, start a daily search until you come within the ballpark of your budget.  Timing is everything.

With only your email address and a few clicks you can set up your alerts.  Here are some fare alert sites you may find useful:

airfarewatchdog

Smarter Travel

Skyscanner

Justfly

Hipmunk

Kayak

Yapta

Farecompare

Iwantthatflight

To travel 4 less you will need a great itinerary.  You have found an affordable fare and now you need help with the day-to-day plans.  No problem.  Leave it to me.  I am happy to assist you in pulling the details together.  Click on the consultation request below to get started.

First Stop – Bogota


Recent travels to South America has whet my appetite for more experiences of the same.  My statement sounds as though I am not accustomed to travelling. On the contrary, all I am saying is this trip was phenomenal and I feel as though I have barely scratched the surface of things to do, places to go or people to see.  Ecuador and Peru were the focus of my trip but I managed to see a little bit of Colombia too, with Bogotá being the first stop on the many legs of the travel itinerary.  There is so much to tell I will have to give you the highlights with photos in three or four posting segments.

On this vacation I had a travel companion (my elder sister).  The night before we left we hardly slept so we could be up in time for our flight which was in the wee hours of the morning. On December 4th, we begin an amazing journey that neither of us will ever forget any time soon.

The first stop on our trip was at the El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá, Colombia.  Since we had to spend quite a few hours before our connection to Quito, Ecuador, I had the bright idea to scout out the area instead of sitting around the airport.  We asked the information booth representative for suggestions of nearby places of interests where we could go with consideration to our limited time in Colombia, and the directions to get there.  Armed with all the information that we needed, we boarded the local bus from the airport and headed to Plaza de Bolivar, a square of historical worth.

En route to and from Plaza de Bolívar my sister was nervous.  She was uncomfortable not knowing where we were going, how long it would take for us to get there and back given the traffic conditions at the time, and not being able to communicate.  She did not understand a lick of Spanish.  Yo creo que mi español es muy malo también (I think my Spanish is very bad also) and since I didn’t have any recent practice, it was with good reason that she was not liking our first deviation from our planned itinerary.

You should have seen the look on her face when I wanted to go further away.  Big sister was not having it when I tried to convince her to relax and that we would make it back in time for our connecting flight.  She was so afraid that she did not realize the buses had their designated lanes and were not hindered by the jammed traffic in the neighboring lanes.  When I pointed this out to her, it brought her some relief, but she was still adamant that we should stick to the plan.  Obviously, disagreeing so soon after our eager start to our vacation together was not a good way to begin for our travels I thought, so I listened to the voice of reason (hers), urging me to return to the airport with enough time to spare.  The ride would take approximately 90 minutes round-trip.

Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I like to live dangerously, or flirt with missing my flight (more to come on that in the next post), but when I travel I always want to know what lies beyond the bend, around the corner, further down the road.  You get what I mean.  The adage says, “curiosity killed the cat,” well not this time, thanks to my sis we made it to a little square outside of Aguros Bus Station and back.

Here are our first pictures of Bogotá, Colombia.

Bogotá is known for its street art

On the bus but not in the traffic jam

At the airport

Colombia_Aguros Station Square

Statute at Aguros Station Plaza

We made it to a square outside of the Aguros bus station.  I don’t know the name of the statute but it is not the Plaza de Bolívar I wanted to see.  Even though our little detour was short, it was very interesting.  We met people along the way who were eager to show us true Colombian hospitality.  They were more than willing to help whenever I asked in my halting Spanish for directions and in a few instances they did not hesitate to stop and offer their assistance to us.

To sum it all up, I realized a couple of interesting facts on the first day of our trip.  Generally speaking, people are more willing to help than to harm.  Two worlds collided (mine and my sister’s) – the radically impulsive and the overly cautious.  If we were going to have a great trip then I would have to reign in my independent solo-traveler nature and make it work so that we can both enjoy ourselves for the duration of the trip.

More to come on Ecuador and Peru and traveling with my sister in tow in subsequent postings.

Dear followers and visitors to my website, 2017 was simply an awesome year.  Thanks to you who followed, supported, viewed, or read my blog.  You made it worthwhile.  I look forward to bringing you a lot more travel related information, and experiences in 2018.  I am eager to see how God will lead me and the level He will take this site to in 2018.

I love hearing from you so don’t forget to click follow, like or please comment in the section below.  I wish you God’s choicest blessings and pray that you travel safely as you broaden your horizons in 2018.

Much love and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Itinerary Planner

A Bajan Christmas


It is too late for me to jet off to Barbados (ticket prices are a budget buster) in time for the holidays.  Below are pictures of Bajan foods I like and will miss diving into during this season.  For certain, some, if not all, will be served as part of the cuisine in every household for Christmas.  Check out the links and try some of the recipes.  You are bound to get a taste of Barbados if you do.

Pigeon Peas and Rice  and Macaroni Pie

 

 

Fish Cakes and Steamed Pudding

 

 

Black cake

 

 

Sorrel

 

 

Soca vibe  Maizie  by Calypsonian Red Plastic Bag (Stedson Wiltshire)

Besides the foods, I will miss the warm weather, the hustle and bustle of Bridgetown, watching the fashion parade in Queens Park, and listening to the Royal Barbados Police Force Band’s performance.  If you are like me and cannot make a quick getaway for the holidays, then I hope these few pictures of traditional Bajan foods at Christmas time, and the links demonstrating how to make them, as well as, listening to the local Soca vibe that is most likely being played on the airwaves there now, would be enough to encourage you to add this destination to your bucket list for 2018.  It is never too early to plan ahead.  Need help with your itinerary?  Let me know, I am here to help you.

In three days we will celebrate Christmas and I want to wish my blog community, viewership and supporters a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Itinerary Planner

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