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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Big Island Hawaii

Throw Back Thursday on Kauna’oa Bay, Hawaii in 1994. Good times, great memories.

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From Dublin, we drove through The Burren which is the region in North County Clare between Clare and Kinvara. The natural beauty of this area is breathtaking. We had reservations in a little town on the coast of The Burren called Doolin. We decided since we were leaving the city behind, we would opt for a small B&B called Kate’s Place. What a great choice. With only 3 rooms and it being brand new, we were treated to a very clean, charming little B&B with super friendly hosts, delicious & extremely filling breakfasts, and access to information about the area by someone who’s lived there all her life. We only stayed two nights but I was very tempted to spend the remainder of our vacation there (three additional nights).

Entering The Burren, County Clare, Ireland

Entering The Burren, County Clare, Ireland

Kate's Place B&B

Kate’s Place B&B

Driving into Doolin made me feel like I was back home on the Big Island (Hawaii). I know comparing Ireland to Hawaii sounds strange but the north part of County Clare has a similar landscape and feel to it. There are lots of wide open spaces, cattle grazing in the green fields, it’s a bit windy, hilly and, oddly enough, lots of surfboards on top of the cars. Although the Western Coast of Ireland is known for surfing ~ the air/water temperatures is where the comparison to Hawaii ends. It was still freezing when we arrived in Doolin.

Doolin's Narrow Road

Doolin’s Narrow Road

Church in Doolin, County Clare

                                                  Catholic Church in Doolin, County Clare

Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Narrow Road Driving to Doolin, County Clare

Narrow Road Driving to Doolin, County Clare

More Sheep in Doolin

More Sheep in Doolin

House in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

House in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Pier in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Pier in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Stream in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Stream in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

Doolin is known for its traditional Irish music at the pubs and O’Connor’s Pub has nightly music at 9:30 pm. Since it was Easter Monday, they also had a small band playing at 6:30pm. While the local musicians played, a local Irish singer named Ted McCormac joined in and it was fabulous! Felt fortunate to hear him sing.

O'Connors Pub in Doolin, County Clare

O’Connors Pub in Doolin, County Clare

On the second night at O’Connors, we saw the owner of the B&B join in the band with his button accordion. The best Irish music is when the locals get together and join in randomly.

I didn’t drive while we were in Scotland but have since taken to the wheel. So far, I haven’t had any trouble with remembering to stay left when driving and shifting with my left hand instead of right is easy. In fact, I prefer driving to being a passenger…especially since John always asks “would you like “on-coming traffic side” or “stone wall side” ~ both choices are stressful.

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¡Adiós a Malaga!

I could have definitely stayed another few days enjoying beautiful Malaga but as always it’s nice to be back home.

For our last day there, we took a train to Torremolinos to enjoy a bit of sun and sand. The train ride is about 20 minutes and costs €1.95 each. The short but meandering walk from the train station to the beach is lined with cafes and shops (mostly touristy stuff but a few artist shops).

Torremolinos Beach ~ looking toward Malaga

Torremolinos Beach ~ looking toward Malaga

A la Playa

A la Playa

Spain 2013

Spain 2013

On the Boadwalk in Torremolinos

On the boardwalk in Torremolinos

Fountain in Torremolinos

Fountain in Torremolinos near Train Station

One of the hotels in Torremolinos

One of the hotels in Torremolinos

Clocks in Torremolinos

Clocks in Torremolinos

Looking Fierce

Looking Fierce

While it was nice to spend time walking along the beach and having lunch on a patio enjoying the sunshine, I’m so glad we chose to stay in the city rather than at the beach. So much more character in Malaga and lots more cultural things to do. We stayed at Barcelo Malaga hotel located adjacent to the Malaga Maria Zambrano train station. Very contemporary decor, friendly staff, large rooms and great location. So easy (and cheap) to get to the beaches and airport. The walk from the hotel to the town center or to the Pier took about 10-15 minutes. They have a slide in the lobby which Logan couldn’t resist:

Slide at Hotel Barcelo in Malaga

Slide at Hotel Barcelo in Malaga

On our travels, we usually purchase an item to remind us of our visit. I prefer to buy from local artists so I was excited to see a shop in the town center which carries only local Spanish artwork. It’s called “Versión Original Málaga” and is located at Calle Granada, 71.  I’d popped into the shop several times and finally decided on hand painted poppy earrings:

Poppy Earring from Malaga (local artist)

Poppy Earring from Malaga (local artist)

And for John’s Valentine’s gift, I bought a hand painted mask. We’ve collected a few masks on our travels so this will add to the collection. How could I go wrong with fish and gnomes on it…

Hand-painted Mask from Malaga

Hand-painted Mask from Malaga

Logan and I definitely fell in love with Malaga. We’re excited to return to Spain and we’ve already booked a visit to Madrid ~ thanks to Easy Jet for the $126.00 roundtrip flight from London to Madrid.

A highlight of our trip to Malaga was being able to practice our Spanish. It was wonderful to communicate in another language and actually understand when they spoke back to me (as long as they spoke slowly!). It warmed my heart when my daughter said she was so proud of me for speaking Spanish even though I’m not fluent. Hopefully, I set a good example of what a traveler should do ~ respect the culture, attempt the language (even if it’s rudimentary) and keep an open mind. Now, here’s hoping the people of Madrid are just as patient with us.

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After a vacation, it’s tradition that we list our top 5 things about the trip. We went to Oahu for a quick three-day trip and here’s our Oahu top five:

1) Snorkeling at Shark’s Cove on the North Shore. The ocean is calm in the summer and we got to the cove early enough to get a prime spot on the beach. The snorkeling was fun and being back in the pacific ocean felt fabulous.

2) Spending time with our friends, The Karamaths and The Petersons. Always great to see Army family again.

   Heather, CJ and Hayden

 Jake, Shelley and Hoss

3) Parasailing with Hawaiian Parasail Inc ($62 per person and $30 for their photos) in Waikiki:

4) Paddleboarding in Haleiwa, lots of turtles in the river/bay:

5) Driving along the North Shore ~ checking out all the beaches such as Sunset and Waimea Bay. For a few days, I was no longer a Displaced Beachbum. I will never tire of being on a beautiful beach!

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Hawaii: Home Again

We’re back in New York. As much as I love to travel, it always feels so good to be back in my own home. And one day, that home will be on the beach!

Even though we had a great flight without delays, I don’t do well on “red-eye” flights and this one was no exception. Thankfully, we’ve got tomorrow off and can recover.

Don’t know if I mentioned that my mom made the trip to Hawaii with us. John has always been her favorite but even more so now ~ not only was he OK with his mother in-law traveling with us but he gave her his upgrade miles so she could sit in First Class and have the extra leg room. That’s why I married the man ~ he’s a great guy!!

We like to list our top favorite things about our vacation and here’s a compilation of our combined top five things we enjoyed during our visit:
1) Horseback Riding in the South Kohala Mountains
2) Snorkeling at the following beaches: Puako, Hapuna, Lapakahi
3) Helicopter Ride over Hilo and the lava flow
4) The Eisenhower House at Kilauea Military Camp
5) THE FOOD ~ we ate a lot!

There’s so much to do on the Big Island so we’ve made a list of what we want to do the NEXT time we visit. Yes, we’re already planning a return visit:
1) Green Sand Beach
2) Black Sand Beach
3) Waipio Valley
4) We’ll stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel or in a rental villa. It’s nice to have access to a kitchen
5) Play a round of golf at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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Our Last Full Day of Beach Bumming

We plan to take full advantage of our last full day on the island ~ we have plans to snorkel in at least three different spots ~ Puako, Spencer Park and Lapakahi State Park.  Then this evening we’ll be back for a swim at Hapuna Beach which is where we’re staying:

It’s so convenient staying at a hotel on the beach. Favorite Man spent last evening sitting on the beach under the stars and a full moon. I’m guessing he enjoyed a beer and cigar while there. I stayed in the room because FG was exhausted from all the swimming and walking around we did during the day.

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Two years ago, we were spending the President’s Day weekend in Palau. From Guam, Palau is only a two hour flight and had we stayed longer than one year in Guam, I would have gone back to Palau as often as possible. For a beachbum, it IS paradise.

On our way to the Rock Islands:

Favorite Girl at the “Milky Way”:

Touring the Rock Islands:

All last week, I searched Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz for a cheap getaway to Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Orlando and Charleston but all flights/hotels were too much for just a couple days. So instead, we’re embracing the winter and heading further north. We’ll be stimulating the Canadian economy this weekend…

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