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PASTEL PARADISE

I was on a cruise to the Western Caribbean last week and our first port of call was the southernmost point of continental USA…Key West, Florida. I’ve been to this island multiple times and for me the best part about visiting Key West is the scenic drive through multiple keys (islands) and seeing the beautiful blue waters on both sides of the highway. Since I only had a few hours to enjoy Key West before we set sail to our next destination, I decided to limit my walk around town to a few of my favorite stores. Unfortunately, my favorite soap store, Fantasea, along Duval Street closed business a few months ago. I also planned to eat lunch in Blue Heaven but the wait time for a table was more than an hour so I ended up eating somewhere else. The only itinerary that I actually got to experience was the Key West Butterfly Museum where I was able to take a lot of photos that were featured on this page a few posts ago. I decided to return to the ship earlier than planned and found myself on my stateroom balcony staring out at this resort island across from the ship. I also noticed a pinkish haze in the atmosphere, which contrasted well to the blue waters of the sea, reminding me of the pastel colored soaps I used to buy at Fantasea. Key West is magical when seen on land but I was amazed how magical this island looks as well from the air.

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VENICE…CITY OF CANALS

When I visited Venice, Italy I prayed so hard for my trip not to end that I would wake up really early in the morning and stay up late at night just to stretch each day. The city was just magical…from the architecture, to the rich history and culture and of course the canals, which are uniquely Venice, making this city one of the most visited in the world. During my stay, I went to watch a Vivaldi concert at a theater right beside St. Mark’s Square, hopped on a gondola that cruised around the city and took long walks along narrow alleyways and across bridges connecting the multitude of islands that make up this remarkable city. I also joined a tour of the St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace and visited the former home of American socialite Peggy Guggenheim, which is now a museum showcasing her extensive art collection. Harry’s Bar, which was right beside my hotel, was also visited to try their signature Bellini and to check out the favorite hangout of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock to name a few. The icing on the cake to my vacation was my suite at the luxurious Baglioni Hotel Luna, Venezia where my room had a view of the lagoon and my bathroom a view of the St. Mark’s bell tower. The hotel lived up to it’s five star reputation providing me with the famous Baglioni luxury and first class service. The photo above was taken in the front of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum while below are photos taken at Harry’s Bar, Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the Baglioni Hotel Luna, Venezia.

Harry’s Bar

Peggy Guggenheim Museum

Dining Room at Baglioni Hotel Luna, Venezia

Baglioni Hotel Luna, Venezia

View from my hotel suite

Living area of my hotel suite

The luxurious bed in my hotel suite

TAJ 51

img_4847The Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites was my home away from home while I was in London on vacation for a week.  This was once the home of the Lords and Ladies of the Royal Court and just a few minutes walk to the Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye. This 5 star heritage hotel boasts of providing its guests with one of the most spacious and luxurious accomodations as well as the finest personal service in London.  The hotel also features a Michelin-star Indian restaurant named Quilon, which I thought the food was just okay although the service was quite impressive.  The photo above was taken in the central courtyard of the complex where one can sit and enjoy the Edwardian Victorian architecture of the hotel complex, which I think has the most colorful walls I have ever seen. I included below some photos of my residence suite taken using my iPhone. My one bedroom residence suite featured a living room, dining area, kitchen, washer and dryer and a colossal bedroom suite with a view of the 175-year-old Westminster Chapel. Overall, I would say this hotel was one of the best I have ever stayed at and the service was truly at its finest. The highlight of my stay was seeing the Dalai Lama, who was also staying at the hotel, at the hotel lobby.

A R I A


The Aria Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is an imposing edifice of glass and steel. This modern piece of architecture is a contrasting mix of soft fluid lines and sharp edges. From below, it reflects the beautiful blue skies while from above, it reflects the bright earth tones of the desert.

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