Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time we lived in Indonesia (as you do) and one day my friend told me how much she admired that I picked up and traveled with my kids and ditched my husband when he had to work. This caught me off because I didn’t really think it was a big deal. (Big) Daddy has limited vacation time, (Fabulous) Mommy has places to see and things about the world to teach my kids so we just go. I didn’t know that this wasn’t something that some other moms just regularly did. As we chatted over coffee and paint (what fabulous wall art we created) we hatched a plan to pack up our collective six kids and go! We figured we’d do a long weekend in Bali. Something easy to break her in.
Fast forward a bit and Big Daddy tells me he’s just got to go home and visit the family cottage in Canada. He needs some R&R. No problem I say, I’m going to China, what should we do with the kids? We sat our three boys down and gave them the choice: Cottage in Canada with Daddy or China!!!!! with Mommy. Two came with me and one went with Daddy.
Ok. So now I’m going to China with two thirds of my offspring. I called my friend and gave her my best pitch. Sure, we’d never been there. Sure, we didn’t speak a word of Mandarin. Sure, it wasn’t a weekend in Bali but if we were really going to show our kids #GirlPower then ten days in China was surely the way to go.
So off we went. It was a dazzling few days and I can’t wait to go back. I was smitten. What was this country that spent 200 years building a big wall to keep their enemies out? The patience, the planning, I was seriously fascinated.
And the people! In China I never saw a person sitting idly by. People were reading or dancing or practicing a martial art, or playing a game, or laughing with friends. I’ve come to learn that you can understand the ethos of a culture by just sitting back and watching her people.
There was not nearly enough time to do all that we wanted to do but we did hit the hot spots. And as an added bonus we got to visit a childhood friend who lived there at the time. I count the days in my dreams until I get to go back. What a wonderful place. Truly.
The Great Wall. It's probably totally cliche but it's really breathtaking. Even when you know from textbooks that it is the only manmade structure on earth visible in space and even when you know it took 200 years to build in the days before power, even when some parts of it are so crowded with people you can hardly breathe, even, even, even . . . it's really a site to behold.
Right near Beijing you can do the touristy thing and ride the toboggans at Mutianyu. If you don't have much time to explore this is probably your option. Just be prepared for throngs of people.
If you have the time it's well worth heading out of the city a few hours to see some of the more remote parts of the wall. Some of these parts you literally just get to see. It's really hard to appreciate the enormity of the thing with photos but I tried.
Heading back to the city there is plenty to see and do. More than you could ever experience in a vacation, for sure!
A favorite highlight for the adventurous eater is the night markets. I will admit right here that I was pretty glad to be a lifelong vegetarian so I didn't have to eat some of this stuff!
There is going to have to be a Beijing Part II post to cover even more of the highlights but let me leave you with a few pictures of the locals just enjoying life! If China is on your bucket list I'm ready to start helping you plan!
Happy travels, friends! -Suzanne
You said yes, now the fun begins! If you are considering a destination wedding there are so many things to think about! Where do you start? You could throw caution to the wind, close your eyes, spin the globe, and pack your bag for wherever your finger lands. But, let's be real here, that isn't practical for most of us even if it is a fun parlor game. Let's bring it back to reality here for a minute and talk about some realistic things to consider when you consider the options for your dream wedding.
No, really! What's your style? As a bride? As a couple? Are you a little bit country? Do you march to the beat of your own drum? Are you more traditional? Eclectic? Are you casual? Formal? Does dangling precariously off of a mountainside while you say your vows appeal to you? Do you love the idea of wiggling your toes in the sand as you say 'I do?' Take a few minutes to really think about this question together and apart. Starting out with your style and your vision for your day will help you begin your focus on where on this beautiful earth you will start your journey together.
Every couple has a budget and every guest has one too. Every couple has important people they want by their side on their day . . . don't forget that a destination wedding costs your guests a few pennies too. Be considerate about those costs - flights, visas, accommodations, extra luggage for a weeks worth of events, transfers from the airport to the final destination all cost money. Choose an appropriate option for the most important guests on your list and be prepared that some people just need to say no. Don't forget that most of the people attending your wedding have jobs and traveling out of town or overseas takes time so guests also need to factor in vacation time from their jobs to spend your big day with you.
Each and every country has their own marriage laws for non-citizens. It's important to know these laws BEFORE you choose a destination. You might need to legally marry before you enter the country. Or maybe you need to be in the country for three nights before your ceremony. You could be required a host a religious ceremony only. It's also important to know the passport and visa laws of the country where you tie the knot. Allow ample time for guests to apply for a visa, if necessary. Working with a travel agent will help you understand the laws before you put deposits down on resorts and sites.
Most locations have seasonal weather differences and travel seasons that busier than others. Are you willing to risk the possibility of a hurricane to lower the costs for you and your guests? (Don't forget the travel insurance!) Does the threat of rain during rainy season bother you or are you more go with the flow? What about your guests? Once you've narrowed down your options for your wedding it's good to look at weather patterns, temperatures, and extreme weather seasons to help you make an informed decision about when to host the big day. And don't forget about the weather at home! Escaping to a hot climate during the doldrums of winter at home sounds like a great idea but blizzards can delay travel OUT of your home. Factor that possibility into the planning if necessaryAre you ready to say "I Do" somewhere other than home? Schedule your complimentary consultation here. I look forward to helping you select the perfect destination to start your marriage off with a lifetime of memories.xoxo Suzanne
'I love rock 'n roll' - 'I get up, and nothing gets me down' - 'Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world.' I could quote songs all day long, but I will spare you and get on with my review of the ultra hip, ultra fun, and ultra rock, Hard Rock Riviera Maya all-inclusive resort. If you live a rock and roll life or just want to . . . this is the place for you. HRRM spares no detail in interest and decor. Two sides keep the peace between adults traveling alone and families with a little rock in their blood. It's a perfect resort for those who need a resort that caters to families for a destination wedding but where adults need their own spaces during the day. And the littles will be taken care of too. Hard Rock is more than a vacation — it’s a lifestyle. The Heaven side for adults and the Hacienda for families. Stunning beaches. Concerts. Legendary Hard Rock hospitality and attention to detail. This is where it's at. Check out the two bedroom Platinum Rock Suite. Live like Rock 'n Roll Royalty? Why not? And the beaches and lagoons are full of relaxing natural beauty. You could never get tired of exploring!And if all this natural beauty and rock detail isn't enough for you . . . check out the brand new Woodward. Skate. Bike. Jump. Flip. Seriously, you can get your fun on in this place! Don't miss it. Perfect for teens, bachelor (and bachelorette parties) or how about blowing off the steam the day before the big wedding!
All day. All night. Hard Rock. Let's plan your rock n' roll holiday!xoxo Suzanne
Travel Tip: Renting a car is definitely the way to go in Ireland. Meander the back roads at your pace. We can even arrange a booklet of Bed & Breakfast vouchers so you can plan as you go. Start your trip with the "must see" places in Dublin and end with a night or two at one of Ireland's amazing Castles. What you do in between can be up to you!
Ready to plan your dream to Ireland? Get in contact with me here! -Suzanne
In no particular order, these are eighteen songs you definitely don't want to forget about at your wedding. Let me know what song(s) you think I forget and then, LET THE FESTIVITIES BEGIN!
1. Celebration by Kool & The Gang
"There's a party goin' on right here, A celebration to last throughout the years . . . "
2. I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas
"I gotta feeling that tonight's gonna be a good night . . . "
3. Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen
"This thing called love, I just can't handle it . . . "
4. What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction
"Baby you light up my world like nobody else . . . "
5. Don't Stop Believing by Journey
"Don't stop believin' . . . Hold on to that feelin' . . . "
6. Happy by Pharrell Williams
"It might seem crazy what I am about to say . . . Sunshine she's here, you can take a break"
7. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen
"I trade my soul for a wish . . . Pennies and dimes for a kiss"
8. Play That Song by Train
"Play that song . . . The one that makes me go all night long . . . The one that makes me think of you"
9. Cant' Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake
"I got that sunshine in my pocket . . . Got that good soul in my feet"
10. What I Like About You by The Romantics
"What I like about you, you keep me warm at night"
11. I Want It That Way by The Backstreet Boys
"You are my fire . . . The one desire"
12. Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
"Take me into your loving arms . . . Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars"
13. All of You by John Legend
"'Cause all of me . . . Loves all of you"
14. Better Together by Jack Johnson
"Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart"
15. I'm Yours by Jason Mraz
"Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love"
16. Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti & Spearhead
"The more I see . . . The less I know . . . But I know one thing, That I love you"
17. The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra
"And that laugh that wrinkles your nose, Touches my foolish heart."
18. How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You by James Taylor
"With sweet love and devotion . . . Deeply touching my emotion"