Sunday, April 26, 2020

Mosaic Monday #77: Looking Forward by Looking Back

If you know me at all by now, you know I am a planner.  So it won't surprise you to discover that brainstorming for an epic 30th anniversary getaway has already commenced.  And just when is our 30th?  August 2021.  Yes.   Fifteen months in advance.  

Of course, these dreaming sessions began before I had even heard of COVID-19, and the advent of the pandemic has thrown quite a bucket of water on the whole process.  But BEFORE that wet blanket, Spousal Unit and I mused about what might define an "epic 30th anniversary getaway".  We found ourselves wandering through the memory banks of "excellent" vacations, and "not so good" vacations, and distilling those experiences into a set of critical criteria.  

So what's important? Scenic beauty.  Cultural experiences.  Pampering for part of the trip.

As I initially pictured my ideal, my mind kept returning to our 20th wedding anniversary, a trip to Rosewood Little Dix Bay in Virgin Gorda.  Scenic beauty?  Check.  Pampering?  Check.  Cultural experiences?  Not so much.  But this is how you get the hang of asking the right questions about vacation destinations!  Coincidentally, this is one of the trips that I documented in my travel journal as featured in this post.  So, come with me, back in time, and we can explore the pros and cons of this locale!
The British Virgin Islands, officially simply the Virgin Islands, are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, to the east of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  In other words, a long way from Cleveland, Ohio, where we lived at the time.   Our flights routed us from Cleveland to San Juan to Tortola, where we were met by the Rosewood Ferry for transport to the resort.  And so the pampering began.  Yes, the resort had its own ferry, which on this day was our own personal boat seeing as no other guests were on board.  We had enough time to sip two glasses of complimentary rum punch before the boat shimmied up to the dock.

We immediately noticed the British influence at the resort, from the classic red mail box to the British general manager that we met at one of the manager's happy hours.  Since Spousal Unit is a Brit by birth, this familiarity brings comfort, but if a new cultural experience is on your wish list, then it might leave you a bit hungry.

The indulgence continued with the complimentary bottle of champagne (it was our anniversary) and bottle of rum (argh, matey!) that we found in room 116 upon our arrival.  I was bemused and impressed to find that the resort did not give out keys to its rooms/suites.   Exclusive and secure - are we locked in or are others locked out?  

On our first night, we walked into Spanish Town for dinner at the Rock Cafe.  My journal says nothing about the food or the town, nor do I have any pictures of the evening.  But both of us remember being distinctly underwhelmed by the look of the town.  Suffice it to say that we did not return to town for the rest of the trip. In hindsight, we could have learned more about this before our trip - on an island as remote as this, it is reasonable that it won't have a main street with boutique-y shops and hip pubs.  But no museums, old churches and the like? To this day, I don't know anything about the history or the people of Virgin Gorda.

Breakfast at the resort was served in the Pavilion, part of the peaked roof structure you see in the second picture of this post.  Delectable fruits, cheeses, breads and other items were available buffet style, and you could also order a la carte items.  Every morning, the staff would bring a handout to our table, featuring news articles and crosswords.  So civilized, my darlings!  I would have been content to settle back in my chair, sip coffee and look out at the view.

But adventure beckoned, so we hiked a short distance from the resort to Savannah Bay, billed as Gorda's loveliest beach, a long strand of powdery white coastline lapped by placid waters.  Numerous hermit crabs and even some goats shared the trail with us.  Giant termite mounds were visible among the dense foliage, and I tried not to point out the snakes to Spousal Unit - he's not a fan!  Once at the bay, we snorkeled without noting any unusual fish or other features.  We did have the place to ourselves!
Back at Little Dix Bay, we snorkeled in the rain and spotted four large squid and one massive barracuda.  We luxuriated in a couple's massage at the on-site spa - pampering with a capital P!

In this post, I wrote about our first experience scuba diving following our certification as a family.  The trip to Gorda marked our second time diving, and how different it was!  Two dive masters led us and another couple on an underwater tour of the RMS Rhone, a UK Royal Mail Ship.  She was wrecked off the coast on October 29, 1867 in a hurricane, killing 123 people.  Now a popular dive site, the area around her was declared a national park in 1980.  
That evening, we savored a beach-side dinner at the Saw Mill, one of the restaurants at the resort.  Afterwards, we played a few hands of Gin Rummy at the bar - Spousal Unit was winning when we quit for the night.

One of the amenities offered at the resort are Beach Drops.  There are seven secluded beaches on Virgin Gorda, several of which can only be accessed by sea.  On request, the resort transports guests via water taxi to the beach of their choice.  An umbrella and towels are provided, and the resort's chefs can prepare a gourmet picnic lunch if desired.  It doesn't get much more romantic than that!
Yes, that is our umbrella.  And yes, we had the beach to ourselves.

We chose Devil's Bay, which features an additional attraction of the Baths.  Giant boulders or batholiths, brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions, are scattered about, forming a beautiful grotto and tranquil pools.   It was a thoroughly pleasant afternoon, sunning on the beach, rock climbing and snorkeling.  
Left: I loved how this tree grew among the boulders.  Lower right: some parts of the Baths had ladders to enable you to climb through openings or get a better view.
Dinner found us at the Saw Mill once again, with live music provided by Morris.  We continued our Gin Rummy tournament at the bar, and I prevailed!

Thursday's dive trip arrived, and we had the boat and the dive master to ourselves.  My travel journal says nothing more about the diving, presumably because I documented our sightings in my dive book!  In the afternoon, Spousal Unit took a sailing lesson while I made the most of the spa facilities with a facial.  Before dinner, we strolled the grounds and spotted a sting ray and turtles from the dock.  During our visit, it was very common to see pelicans fishing in the bay.
The final night of our stay, we opted for dinner in the bar.  The food was still high quality, but the environment was more casual.  This would have been our first choice over the Saw Mill, but we didn't discern it was an option until later in our visit.  You live and you learn!  My travel journal notes tell me we played Scrabble in the bar that night, but not who won.  It looks like we had fun, doesn't it?  

By now, you have probably forgotten that this post began with dreams of an epic 30th anniversary trip.   So where are with our brainstorming?  We have focused on Europe because we will be there in the fall to visit my in-laws, our standard time of year to be in the UK.  Although I feel we have barely scratched the surface, here are some early ideas:

(Internet) - Grossglockner Mountain
Austria - Grossglockner Road: more than 50 miles of alpine beauty; mountains, glaciers, lush valleys and dozens of pretty villages in which to seek a good meal and a simple overnight guesthouse.  

(Internet) - Dordogne
France - Dordogne and Cave of Lascaux: Hilly but not mountainous, the Dordogne is perfect walking country.  This scenic corner of France is also rich with flower-strewn valleys, Romanesque churches and medieval hamlets.  The Cave of Lascaux contains the world's most extraordinary repository of prehistoric wall paintings.  The original cave was closed to the public in 1963 to prevent deterioration, but a dazzlingly accurate replica was made in the 1980s, only 200 yards away.

France: Corsica: Are we allowed to return to one of our favorite places?  We went on holiday to Corsica twice when our kids were young.  Looking back on it now, we realize that we experienced a miniscule portion of this island, which resembles a mountain in the middle of the sea.  Corsica is a place of astonishing natural beauty, and its charm is evocative of the old Mediterranean.  
Corsica - 2006
For all those world travelers out there, do you have any suggestions that fit our criteria?  I look forward to hearing from you.  And here's praying that world travel will be a part of the new normal for all of us that dream of it!

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  1. What a glorious adventure! I especially like the photo of the very colorful coral! Wow! Will enjoy your adventures to come in Europe! We've certainly enjoyed our visits to Europe over the last several years! Have a grand week!

  2. On our walk yesterday I was just explaining that one of the hardest things for me is not having an event or trip to look forward to and plan for. Sounds like a good idea for you to be thinking this way about a special trip a year from now. I am so used to being able to travel and do things both planned and on the spur of the moment. But I guess everyone is going through feelings and thoughts like this. Keep dreaming, it's healthy. - Margy

  3. great that you made your trips while you could, travelling will be on hold for a while now. This year we are celebrating our 52th. I will be away from my computer for a couple of days, I'd like to have you link my Monday post. Thanks Angie and take care.

  4. Well Angie, what a great adventure and time to reminisce about. Sounds and looks like a great trip. As for Europe, I lived there for 3 years in Germany. LOVED it. The only part of Austria I was able to visit was at the Zugspitze. But it was lovely. Garmisch, the Edelweiss Resort and the surrounding area hold fond memories for me.

  5. I love reading about travel. Especially from privat sight. This is not an advertising, this is the feeling of you. Thats more!

    I can't give a tip. My favorite is Ireland, but I'm a great fan of Italie too. After Corona, we can again drive around the World, I hole so.

    Stay healthy.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  6. Oh I do hope that by 2021 we will be able to travel with peace of mind. In fact I'm hoping we can travel this September. Time will tell. I enjoyed reading about your epic 20th anniversary trip and all you learned along the way. These days there are so many of our blogging friends that will have great advice. I hope you get some great suggestions. I'm always content to just go back to Great Britain but that sounds like a normal vacation for you. Happy new week to you!

  7. It is great to look back on past holidays and plan new ones. Especially while we are battered down. I've been going through old photos. Have a great week. It has been a very different Anzac Day this past weekend for us. Take care.

  8. I certainly hope by then we are able to live our lives normally again ... including travel and celebrating! Meanwhile , it’s great to reminisce ... and that was such a fun trip you shared with us. Travel journals and photos are a big help ... I always said that I was keeping them so that when I was too old to travel I could sit in my rocker and read about all the good times we’ve had and the fun places we’ve been . I think that time might have arrived! (but only temporarily I hope).

  9. I do hope by 2021 there will be a successful vaccine against COVID and no more worries and that travel can resumed for us again. Your 20th looked like a wonderful "Robinson Crusoe" type adventure--that wonderful beach and underwater beauty! Since our country will need to rebuild its economy I hope to be able to travel around the USA to more national parks and visit more family and friends, and maybe see Hawaii. Wonderful dreams to look forward to!

  10. Happy Monday to all. Be safe


  11. Your travel posts remind me that I really should use this time to finish up the travel journals I've started on every trip we've taken in the past couple of years. I manage to start but never finish them and never even properly post about where we've been and what we've seen. I'm afraid travel to the States won't be happening for awhile, but when it is possible, that will be my first trip ... to see my boys and my mom & brother. My husband is hoping we can get to Ukraine this year but I seriously don't think it is going to happen. Austria is definitely a place I'd like to visit one day.

  12. Hello, I have never heard of Virgin Gorda. It looks like paradise. Your photos are gorgeous. I love traveling, but right now I am a little spooked to make any plans to travel out of the state much less the country. I am praying this comes to an end, that they find a vaccine soon. Thanks for hosting! Stay safe and healthy. Have a good day and great week ahead.

  13. You do take some very interesting trips! Where ever you go for your anniversary, I know it will be wonderful.♥

  14. I'm embarrassed for you to see my post today....probably not a destination you'll put on your list! hahaha! I've never traveled abroad and right now I would be happy to go to another county! But I'm glad we retired to Florida where there are so many neat places to go for a day or longer! Enjoy your fun! I love planning trips and I've traveled a lot in the US...does that count? I'm looking forward to a trip to the beach! Fun to see your photos and share your memories! Stay safe and well!

  15. I miss travelling, Angie and I hope that your planning for 2021 comes to fruition. One destination that I think fits all of your criteria is Crete, in Greece. It is a large island with a 4,000 year-old history (the palace ruins of Knossos and Phaestos are amazing!). There are several luxury resorts that fit your pampering requirement (check out Elounda Beach Hotel!). There are several large cities with lots of attractions - museums, cultural exhibits, Byzantine churches, Venetian forts, and amazing monasteries. Everywhere there are picturesque villages, hospitable people and amazing food and tasty fresh produce and fish. The 18km long Samaria Gorge is in a National Park of wild beauty and one can hike through it, ending up on Southern part of Crete and the amazing little township of Hora Sfakion. Everywhere in Crete you'll find terrific fauna and flora. :-)

  16. What was your solution to keep the Flicker from drilling in the wall? - Margy

  17. My favorite place in the world, so far, is Dominical, Costa Rica. Happy planning!

  18. I hope the evil virus leaves soon so the EPIC trip can be had! Our Dad used to scuba in the carribean too, back in the day.

  19. That was a fun trip, Angie. I've always thought it would be fun to explore the Yucatan. Maybe in my next life. Today I'd be content to visit the Hawaiian Islands again. Shoot, the Husband and I wouldn't mind living there. But, if not, all my boxes are checked--scenic beauty, pampering, cultural abundance, ocean swimming, and yummy food--by another trip to Hawaii.
    It's never too early to plan/dream for a spectacular event such as your 30th. Whooo-hoooo! I just realized next year is our 25th. Hmmm.

  20. Angie, France sounds like a great place. I am not a traveller so I have no recommendations. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

  21. Looks like it was a very pretty place!

  22. Wonderful memories and photos from your 20th Anniversary. Thank you Angie for your 77th Mosaic Monday, always appreciated.

  23. I enjoyed joining you on this trip down memory lane. The only travel available now.

  24. Wonderful post Angie, you have visited some amazing places. Hopefully travel will be back and ok by your 30th. We are planning some trips here in Australia and over to NZ, in fact we have a trip to NZ booked for August, who knows if we can go!! We went to Samoa for our 30th, which was eye opening but enjoyable.

  25. A lovely post, Angie. Dreaming and planning a trip is half the fun, I think. Any of your locations sound just perfect. I do hope travel will be back soon. We went to Paris, Provence, and Andalusia for our 30th - such a good time we had.

  26. Beautiful photos Angie, they are splendid.

  27. There so many memories from our own holidays Angie. We have never been anywhere ultra luxurious but I can think of just one holiday we didn't enjoy too much - Majorca where we chose a poor hotel, before the days of Trip Adviser. I would recommend you do loots of homework on that before your final decision.

    And of course I would suggest the Greek Islands. Wonderful people, great climate, good food and lots of history. Or Spain, Menorca before it is finally ruined by the Balearic Government. I'm sure you will make the right decision. Have fun choosing.

  28. oh angie, you are an incredible vacation planner, i hope you will be able to continue to travel the world. i got so caught up in the details of this trip, i did forget where we started. i don't have any suggestions for you, we travel local, meaning the east coast of the united states, we don't branch out!!

    your pictures are really beautiful!!

  29. Oh wonderful photo journey with you ~ gorgeous and very inviting ~ wherever you go in the near future ~ you will enjoy it I am sure ~

    Be Well,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  30. I suspect that world travel is going to be seriously curtailed for a long, long time to come. In fact interprovincial travel is unlikely to be a possibility any time soon.

  31. I have hope that travel will make a comeback soon. We had been visiting different parts of Ireland for our anniversaries. It's always fun to plan and go. Hopefully you'll be on the road again. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day.

  32. Wow, your trip looks deluxe to me. I love nice resorts being pampered and all that.

  33. Thanks for sharing this ... it's always nice to be planning ahead let's hope we may be able to do this soon.

    I'm so looking forward to seeing family other than the present internet connection :)

    All the best Jan


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