November 28, 2014

The 2014 Wanderer's Gift Guide AND A HUGE Giveaway!

Happy Black Friday, everyone!  I will probably brave the traffic and head out to do a little bit of shopping today and tomorrow, mostly because Caroline, my #1 shopping companion is in town, and I take every chance I can to shop with her.  We won't be hitting any malls (my idea of a nightmare) but we will be visiting some smaller local shops. To be honest, other than supporting local businesses, I prefer to do most of my shopping online.  How about you?

Today, I am joining many other bloggers and presenting my version of a gift guide - of course, my gift guide has a travel theme. I am sure you have a few people on your shopping list who love to travel...and don't forget yourselves - you probably wouldn't be reading this if you don't have a tiny bit of wanderlust! Best of all, I am giving away several of the items that I am including in the gift guide, so be sure to scroll down to find out how to enter to win!

My "cannot live without" travel items also happen to make perfect gifts...

The fabulous EMME Bag...I wrote about it here. After 18 days on the road, I am pleased to report this bag is amazing!  I cannot recommend it enough! And even better, EMME Bags are 20% off to my readers with the code "Wander".

An all in one electrical adapter in its own case (my sister-in-law gave me a fantastic one from Coach last year but they don't have them any more. Tumi is the next best thing!)

Perfumes in bottles smaller than 3 ounces are hard to find - this collection from Jo Malone includes all of my favorites.

Experiences are often the best gifts, especially for those people on your gift list who have absolutely everything...

For friends or family who have a big trip planned for next year, a Gift Certificate to Flytographer will capture the highlights of their vacation forever and will be a gift to remember.

 How about a gift certificate for a Context Walk on their next vacation or even in their home town? These scholarly walks help travelers dig a bit deeper into their destinations.

A couple of new books for dreaming between trips...

Kate Spade "Places to Go, People to See"...this book is about as perfect as you can get...It makes me smile every time I look at it!

Paris In Love...Nichole and Evan Robertson's latest book is ideal for any Francophile on your list.

For the foodie who loves to travel...

A six month or yearly subscription to Try The World...each box features local delicacies  selected by celebrity chefs from different countries every month.

Stocking Stuffers...

Pop-Up Maps for future destinations


I hope these items help you cross a few people off your list this weekend! Now for YOU...

I am giving away the following to FIVE different winners:

One copy of Paris in Love

One Eye Mask in your choice of color and design


Two Sets of Vintage Inspired Luggage Stickers (which I purchased at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore)

All you need to do to enter is follow the instructions below...

November 26, 2014

The Best Laid Plans... Have A Happy Thanksgiving!!!

You know what they say about "the best laid plans"'s post was supposed to be a recap of our time in Hong Kong. But life got in the way...Nothing bad, nothing exciting - just wrapping up the plans for a Thanksgiving trip to Berlin for one of my favorite clients, still catching up after being away for so long, battling the crowds at the grocery store, and getting ready for the kids to come home (two of the three - it is a bit too far for Carter to come from Hong Kong).

I will write about our time in Hong Kong in due time, and I am sure you all will appreciate it even more if I am not rushing to get it done. On Friday, I will be posting my "Wanderers Gift Guide" AND I will be kicking off a couple of amazing giveaways, so please pop in to say hello and enter to win!

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I would like to express my incredible gratitude towards all of you for your support and friendship each and every day. I wake up every day feeling grateful for the blessings that have come my way because of this blog. Thank you, my friends.

Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving...wherever you may be wandering!


November 24, 2014

Paradise in Singapore

Singapore, like much of Asia, is a study in is one of only three city states in the world and has experienced rapid growth in the past twenty years. Originally colonized by the British, there are many places which retain a distinct colonial feel, but much of Singapore is very modern.  The best way to describe Singapore today is a that it is a combination of New York, Las Vegas and Disney World. It is spotlessly clean, efficiently run and everyone speaks English (it is one of four official languages). The only drawback to the paradise that is Singapore is its weather - sitting directly on the equator means that Singapore experiences tropical weather every day - 90 degrees and humid is the norm!

Every night there is a laser light show from Marina Bay Sands
The view from our room at the Mandarin Oriental was absolutely spectacular...I could not stop looking out the window. I have photos of sunrise, daytime, in the rain, sunset and at are a just a few:

Looking towards the famous Marina Bay Sands complex on a hazy morning...the building was designed to look like a ship landing on top of the three towers.
Looking in the other direction is the skyline of the business district at sunset just as the lights were coming on...
...which was even prettier at night with the twinkling lights.

Our first day in Singapore, we met up with Tetyana,  sales manager for Raffles Singapore for a tour of the iconic hotel. I have so many photos of our visit there that I decided to do a separate post just on our day at the Raffles. Here is a glimpse to give you something to look forward to:

After our tour and a fabulous curry buffet lunch at the famous Tiffin Room at the Raffles, we switched gears from classic colonial to uber-modern and headed over to Marina Bay Sands. The complex is the most expensive building in the world (including the primo real estate it sits upon) and was opened in 2011.

The best way to enjoy the view from the top is to take the elevator up to Ku De Ta - the bar by the pool to have a drink or two.

The famous drop edge pool is for hotel guests only, but we still managed to get a good look.
Behind the Marina Bay Sands complex is "Gardens By the Bay" - a park created from reclaimed land. 

These "Super Trees" are tree-like structures that are solar powered and mimic the function of actual trees within the garden. At night they are lit using the solar power harnessed during the day.
There are two "conservatories in the garden - the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. On a hot day (every day in Singapore) these are the places to be! The domes are uniquely constructed without the need for interior support.

The Flower Dome simulates a Mediterranean environment and showcases various flowers native to that climate.
When we were there they had a special exhibit for an Indian festival - these peacocks were created using orchids!
The Cloud Forest simulates the tropical mountain climate and includes the "Cloud Mountain" inside. You take an elevator up seven floors to the top and walk down the elevated pathway viewing the flowers and waterfalls along the way.
I was fine on the 115th floor of our hotel in Hong Kong but THIS scared me to death!
That night we headed over to the Central Business District for dinner and drinks with a view at the Fullerton Bay Hotel and took an evening stroll along the river.

The lovely rooftop pool and bar at the Fullerton Bay Hotel.
The Fullerton Hotel was an old post office building re-purposed as a luxury hotel.
The next morning we decided to take a river cruise on a bumboat to get an overview of the city. It began across the street from our hotel and circled Marina Bay and the Esplanade before going along the Singapore River.

We got a close up view of the MerLion - the half lion, half fish that is the symbol of Singapore...

The juxtaposition between colonial and modern buildings was ever present on the river cruise as the river winds it way through the Central Business District surrounded by skyscrapers...

Past colorful colonial buildings...

To quays lined with restaurants (which used to be where the goods were unloaded from the bumboats coming into the city)...

We headed to Orchard Road in the afternoon - the shopping district of Singapore. As home to the world's highest percentage of millionaires, it wasn't surprising to discover some of the finest stores in the world along Orchard Road.  Normally spending a day inside a mall wouldn't be high on my list of things to do after being outside all morning, I was happy to cool off a bit inside.
I was surprised to see Christmas decorations up along Orchard Road in early November!

No trip to Singapore would be complete without visiting one of the famous outdoor "hawker centers" which feature street food from the myriad of cultures in the melting pot that is Singapore...we quickly learned that if you go to the stall with the longest line, you will get the best food!

We sampled a little of everything including Singaporean favorites - Chicken Rice and Satay. My husband is disappointed he didn't get to try the Chilli Crab, though!
This guy must be a blogger too!
 We spent our last day in Singapore at the famous Royal Botanic Garden - an oasis in the heart of the city.

Not to be missed was the National Orchid Garden...

The orchid is the national flower of Singapore and it was remarkable to see them growing in "the wild"...I have never seen so many beautiful orchids in one place!

After a few hours in the garden, we stopped for delicious lunch at the beautiful restaurant Halia which is in the garden.  Refreshed and relaxed we headed back out to finish our walk in the garden only to be thwarted by a tropical downpour.  It was still a fantastic day! 

Singapore is a model city - it is immaculate and runs like a finely tuned watch. It has something for everyone and is the perfect place to unwind after touring other parts of Asia. We flew Singapore Air, which allowed us a stopover in each direction - Tokyo on the way over and Hong Kong on the way back. It was the perfect way to see three countries with one round trip ticket. 

Tips for Singapore:

-Don't miss the famous street food. The hawker centers are highly regulated by strict government controls so, even though you are eating street food, you can be sure the kitchens are clean! 

-Don't break the law! Singapore is known for its strict rule of law. The customs form when you enter the country says "the penalty for drug trafficking is death". As such, there is no crime in Singapore. 

-Remember to pack for the tropical heat. 

-Taxis and subways are both very user friendly - it is an easy city to get around.

-Head to the airport early - it is a destination in and of itself and well worth exploring! 

When was the last time you were in a baggage claim that looks like this???
On to Hong Kong...(with a stop back in Singapore for a visit to the Raffles a bit later)


November 21, 2014

On My Radar Screen

Happy Friday! It is hard to believe Thanksgiving is next week! We are having a low-key holiday this year, so I don't have to spend the weekend preparing. One of my colleagues (Hi Lynn!) is baking 259 pies this weekend - her family farm in Pennsylvania sells them and they already have that many pre-orders.

I am taking a break from sharing the details of our trip to Asia, to return to one of my favorite "regular" posts...On My Radar Screen...sharing my favorites from around the web this week:

 Have Some Decorum is a blog I have recently fallen in love with (thanks for telling me about it, Patricia!)...I love her genuine voice - she is an amazing writer with an interesting life story. I especially enjoyed reading about her visit to Coco Chanel's apartment in Paris

What is hitting up on your radar screen these days??

I had hoped to run a giveaway this week, but I have delayed until next Friday -  "Black Friday" - the official start to the holiday shopping madness.  I will be presenting my version of a Holiday Gift Guide - for the wanderers on your shopping list. And, I will also be giving away a few of my favorite things! 

So, even though it is a holiday week be sure to check back next week for my round up of our travels to Singapore and Hong Kong, in addition to the Wanderer's Gift Guide and Giveaway!

Have a fabulous weekend, my friends...wherever you may be wandering!