If you like to travel then you probably have a bucket list of places you haven't yet visited. I decided it was time to look at my own bucket list. I just returned from the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena. I had admired the floats while watching the parade on TV and the opportunity came for me to experience it myself, so I jumped on it. I actually took a mini-tour which included the parade, but also visited some of the other special attractions in the Los Angeles area.
If you want to see this parade a package really is the best way to go. You don't have to worry about driving (the traffic in LA is crazy), parking, etc. We only had to walk two blocks to get to our reserved seats at the parade. We had a great view of the floats, bands and many equestrian groups and didn't have to camp-out the night before to reserve a seat location. The floats are even more beautiful in person than they are on TV.
One of the other highlights was viewing the floats up close and personal the day after the parade. All of the floats are displayed in one area. It is amazing how they are constructed and to see how seeds, flowers and fruit are used to decorate; every inch of the float has to be covered. What was special for me is one of our clients had volunteered to decorate one of the floats so I was really anxious to see their work (their float did win one of the top prizes)
Some of the other things included with my tour were visits to the Reagan Library and the Getty Museum, a Gala New Year's Eve party and a farewell dinner on the Queen Mary (very neat experience).
If a visit to the Rose Bowl is on your bucket list, we can make that become a reality. If you would like to see a few of my photos from the parade, please visit our Facebook page (Port of Call Travel)
Aruba is a popular destination even though there aren't non-stop flights from Pittsburgh. It was over 20 years since I was last year so I was far overdue for a visit. It is a beautiful island with turquoise water and white, sandy beaches. There is a mix of all-inclusive properties as well as those that are not. It of course had changed a lot since my last visit. It feels very Americanized as there are so many restaurants and shops that can be found in the USA.
There are two main areas of the hotels - the low-rise & high-rise area. There is much more activity in the high-rise area. There is a walkway by the beach between the hotels, which is nice for those who want to walk, but not necessarily in the sand. There are many shops and restaurants in this area within walking distance of the hotels so there are many dining options for those that don't have meals included with their package. One thing I liked is the stores opened in the afternoon and stayed open later in the evening. Often when you go to an island after a day on the beach there is not much to do outside of the resort in the evening. In Aruba there were a lot of people out and about.
I did stay in an all-inclusive property which had everything included - meals, drinks and non-motorized watersports with lots of other activities throughout the day. I did look at other hotels that weren't all-inclusive and there were some very nice ones. All-inclusive is not for everyone so it's nice to have the option to dine at some of the local restaurants.
As I mentioned, there is so much shopping available. This ranges from up-scale stores to local crafts, so those who like to shop will be delighted with all the options!
Due to the fact that there aren't a lot of all-inclusives, Aruba does tend to be a higher in price than some other popular destinations. If you want a tropical vacation, but want to feel that you are still in the USA with all the shopping & dining options then Aruba may be the perfect choice for you.