Archive for ‘Travels’

May 22, 2014

Holland and Belgium

Heather, Sophie and I went on a fabulous trip to Holland and Brussels, Belgium. While it was only 10 days, it was still great to see a couple beautiful countries!

Sophie did great on the 11 hour flight to and from Amsterdam(Schippol Airport). She also flew for free since children under 2 fly free, but after 2 they pay FULL FARE(which sucks), so we decided to take this international trip now rather than later because of the cost for her as well. She turns 2 in July. When Heather and I went to Hawaii last October, I hated the feeling I had leaving Sophie behind, so having her with us on this trip was great and I was glad she was with us. I don’t like leaving her for any length of time apart from us.

We got to do pretty much everything we wanted to do while in Holland, but there is never enough time to do ‘IT ALL’. We saw the Van Gogh/Rembrandt Museums in Amsterdam, as well as the Rijks Museum, Heineken Brewery, the ‘I AM(STERDAM)’ famous letters near Rijks Museum, and the ubiquitous Hard Rock Café. Sad part was we never went into any of these places due to our poor planning and late arrival into Amsterdam that Sunday. It was all good though. We did take a boat tour on the canals and saw the city from that perspective. Commentary on the boat was bad, but great views none-the-less.

A highlight on the whole trip was going to Keukenhoff where the Famous Tulip Festival is held yearly for about 2 months(March-May). The place was fantastic and worth the trip in gold. We spent over 4 hours there and loved it!

We spent some time in Delft, where the famous porcelain shoes/pottery is made with the classic white with blue colors are painted on. Very scenic and pretty city.

We spent several days in Den Haag aka THE HAGUE. Another pretty city with lots of vibrant life in the streets. I love the public transportation in Europe because you really don’t HAVE to drive anywhere, just take your local bus/tram/train to get where your going.

We stayed in Rotterdam for a night and the next day headed out to Brussels on the Thallus(Fast Train) which took about 55 mts. Not a bad ride and enjoyable. We were blown away at the beauty of Brussels. We stayed right off the Grand Place at an Ibis hotel. Now most hotels in Europe are small, but I really don’t care, because most of the time your just using it for sleep anyway, so that doesn’t really bother me. Now, the Grand Plaas, as it were, is a big center cobblestone floor surrounded by Giant 500-year-old buildings, each unique in its own right. With many avenues to get here, the architecture/steeples/designs were tremendous. People of all walks of life there, enjoying Belgian Waffles, making sketches of the facades on paper, Sophie chasing the pigeons all over and laughing her head off and on and on…

Heather and I did take a beer tour one afternoon while we were there. Belgium is known for creating beer, thank you Trappists Monks!!! It was a great experience, with so much history in Europe and Belgium wasn’t lacking!! We entered into many pubs and tried out the local brews, which weren’t sold anywhere outside of Belgium and they were fantastic! Pubs in Europe and not only a local watering hole, but also a place where families would come together to socialize and spend time together-which is a lot different from our ‘bars’ here in the USA.

Loved the trip, would definitely recommend both countries and very glad we were able to see another part of the world that Heather and I both have passions for.

Brussels

April 1, 2012

Florida

Heather & I drove to Rosemary Beach, FL last weekend. Her uncle Bob owns a second home there. It’s right past Destin & Panama City. It was very beautiful there. We rented a carriage house for 3 nights.

The sands were white and lovely and the water was refreshing and pretty. We went to celebrate Heather’s Grandmothers 90th Birthday. All of heathers aunts & 1 uncle were there. Bunch of cousins as well. It was a real nice family time. We laughed and ate and enjoyed the whole trip. We bought her grandma 90 scratch-off lottery tix because she loves those. She was pretty shocked we bought her that many. On her first scratch-off she won a dollar. We smiled.

We also went parasailing on morning. That was pretty fun too. We drove back after a fine weekend and crossed 4 states to get back. Very pretty countryside and the 9.5 hour drive wasn’t too bad.

I’m blessed to have such a wonderful side of a new family.

October 4, 2010

A New Mexico Weekend

We just got back from a fun-filled trip to New Mexico this weekend!  What a great time we had in Albuquerque(specifically), as Heather’s folks live there. 

The plan was focused around hanging with the family and going on a balloon ride.  There is what is known as the ‘Balloon Fiesta’ that occurs the first two consecutive weekends in October.  Really cool.  So, we got in on Thursday and went on our balloon ride on Friday morning.  It was real cool.  There is a lot to setting up and getting ready to go on the balloon initially.  So, they blew up the balloon & Heather and I got on.   We rode for about an hour and twenty minutes.  It seemed like it went much quicker than that though.  Very smooth ride it was.  Not sure what I was expecting, but it was as smooth as anything.  Not real scary either being about only 250′ above the earth.  The views were real pretty as well.  I know what it’s like to be Superman a little bit, with a bird’s-eye view from above and looking down and around on God’s splendor.  The ride ended and to say that these rides end smoothly is not true.  We had to find a place to land, which we found a road and then landed it, which is a feet in itself.  There is a crew that follows you around on the ground and they were a bunch of neat guys.  They showed up and we got the balloon deflated and started packing it up, all before 9:30 am  HA!  Then there was the ritual for the newby, me.  It involved a short ‘Balloonist Prayer’ along with the sprinkling of mother earth’s gravel on both my shoulders and 2 pieces of sage on both my ears.  Lastly, as I was kneeling before the group, there was the grabbing of the cup of champagne with no hands and then the dousing of the same(by one of the crew members Andy) over my head with the left-overs of such after everyone got to toast with me.  I was wet and smiling and enjoying the fun ritual.  Great weather, great people and a good time!!

Later that day, after a good shower, we went to the Sandia Peak Tramway.  This was Fabulous!   It boasts the world’s longest passenger tramway and sits 2 miles above sea level.  Spectacular views of the entire city and region await atop of this majestic location.  We ate lunch at High Finance restaurant and walked around and saw the beautiful scenery.  Can’t really put into words how gorgeous it truly was up there.  The rocks, foliage, animals and views were all worth it!  This place definitely comes with a huge recommendation must when visiting this city!!

The weather was in the 80’s most of the time and cool in the evenings, but not too cold…yet.  Very dry climate though, unlike Houston.  It reminded me of California in a lot of ways, with the restaurants, grocery stores and climate that all were similar. 

We visited the Greek festival while there, met some wonderful family friends and ate at all the local favorite hot spots that Heather grew up with.  It was truly a fun time.  As with all fun times, they unfortunately have to end.  Seeing ABQ, NM was a great time.  I look forward to visiting there again.

Here’s to great vacations!

May 13, 2010

Trip of a lifetime

I just got back from a really Awesome trip of a lifetime.  I went to Giza/Cairo, Egypt. The Giza Pyramids as they’re called, as well as Memphis(the original capitol of Egypt) where Huge statues of Ramses II were and then off to see Saqqara, another location of pyramids.  I also visited a papyrus institute and a hand making carpet factory.  WOW!  All of these places individually were phenomenal!!!  almost 4600 years old.

I travelled south then to Sharm El-Sheikh on the Red Sea.  Very touristy city where lots of European vacationers go as well as Russians too.  From there I took a 3 hour trek on bus to Mt.Sinai(where Moses was given the 10 Commandments TWICE).  This was really cool.  At the base of the mountain(and it was a mountain!) was St. Catherine’s Monastery, which is the oldest active monastery in the world(circa 550 AD).  The Red Sea was full of beautiful fish that were up on close on the shore and you could see all kinds of wonderful tropical fish.  Wild! 

Lastly, I ended up at Aqaba/Petra, Jordan.  This place was magnificent(circa 500 BC).  The sites were unbelievable!!   The Gulf of Aqaba was real pretty and nice.  The water was pretty hues of blues and very salty.

I loved eating the arabic food there for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The shisha was good too!!

I have never seen so much history in one trip, as old as it was.  The people were very kind and hospitable everywhere and there weren’t any major issues besides a little volcanic ash to postpone the flight home.

July 1, 2009

vacation

Just got back from a fabulous trip in California with my family.  I really enjoyed the time.  I got to see my uncle Jessie, whom I haven’t seen in 10+ years.  He looked good too!  I saw his son MO(Hamoudi) whom I haven’t seen since he was like 3 or 4, and now he’s 18 and in college, crazy!  I also met his other son, whom I didn’t even know, Omar.

The weather was great, the beach was Awesome and now I’m back from vacation and at work and wishing I was still on vacation. 

Saw some close friends and hung out and that was real nice too!!

Work to Live is my motto, not vice versa!!

June 1, 2009

travels

Just came back from Taos, New Mexico.  Absolute beautiful city along with Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  Tony and I went and had a long 4 day weekend.  It was absolutely beautiful and fun.  We white water rafted for 2 days in a row on the Rio Grande was the river(which had 2, 3 & 4+ rapids).  It starts in Colorado and goes through New Mexico and passes through Texas and Mexico.  It was very fun and this was my first experience white water rafting. Too much fun for sure.  Day 1 was fun, but not too eventful on the river, but day 2 was where the action was.  Not sure why it was so much different, but it was. We ended going High-side on a rock that we hit and almost caused us to tip the raft, but we survived that. Then we hit another rock, due to the unguidance of the guide, and I went flying into the water on top of Tony.  It was so fast and there was no question we were heading out of the raft the instant it happened.  He got back in quickly with the help of some folks on the raft, but I ended up sucking some water, hitting my knee on a rock and holding my breathe under water for about 10 seconds going through the last of the ‘enima’ rapid(which is what it was called).  I was put back in the raft and I grabbed my paddle and get back to it.  The experience was a great one and I look forward to doing this sport again for sure.  Anyway, I work to LIVE and not vice versa.  This was definitely an experience I will never ever forget and I hope you get a chance to do it at least once as well.

March 9, 2009

my trip

I just got back from a fabulous trip in California.  I had too much fun with my pops, my bro and the rest of my family and friends!  I saw some cousins and my 2 Aunts, Ghassana and Najah, whom I haven’t seen in 12+ years.  I missed them soo much and it was so great to see them and spend some really good quality time with them.  I also my some of the best arabic food in the entire world that my aunt Najah cooks.  She is soo good that she should open her own arabic restaurant…it’s that good.  She asked me what I wanted for dinner when I got there on Thursday and I told her, of course, it’s grape leaves.  NO ONE can make them as good or like how she does them, MAD DELICIOUS!!

I am silver elite on Continental and I got upgraded for FREE, to First Class.  That was WAYYY sweet!!  I have been in first class seating before, but it’s always nice to be there and get waited on and feel very comfortable for a few hours flying.

Anyway, I just got back in tonight and I’m extremely tired, but I must wash some clothes and order things up cuz I’m a neat and clean freak like that.

I love California, my original home!

Good Night!