Pina Coladas and Getting Caught in the Rain

Sailing the South Seas on a Paul Gauguin Cruise

Visiting the South Seas of French Polynesia was not at the top of my bucket list, but since I’m always looking for a good deal we planned this trip kind of last-minute. As a fan of the TV show Survivor, I couldn’t imagine swimming in water so blue and clear.

In my research for flights I found that non-stop Air Tahiti out of Los Angeles was reasonably priced, and so were non-stops from San Francisco.  From San Francisco I found an airline called French Bee and the air was $650 pp round-trip. Since we live in Arizona it was a short flight to SFO to catch the French Bee flight. Plus, when I found out these nonstop flights to Tahiti were 7-8 hours long, I was sold! This is less flying time than going to the Caribbean for us.

Arriving 0530 am in Papeete, Tahiti. Disembarking from French Bee Airlines.

French Bee is a low-cost carrier originating in France. For the price I was happy with what we got. There was headrest entertainment with movies and music. You pay extra for meals and drinks. Soda was not complimentary, only water. It was very no-frills.

We arrived in Papeete, Tahiti, around 5:30 am, not great when you can’t board the ship until after 3 pm and you are dead-tired from the overnight flight. We discovered that a small hotel across from the airport would rent a day room for about $80. We were allowed to have the room from 8 am to 2 pm.

Outdoor dining on-board Paul Gauguin Cruise

The Paul Gaugin cruise started and ended in Papeete, Tahiti; the islands we visited were Huahine, Taha’a, Bora Bora, and Moorea.

I have to say Taha’a (or also know as Motu Mahana) was my favorite day. This is Paul Gaugin’s private island. A whole island of beach chairs, snorkeling, BBQ lunch, and open bar. It was pure heaven.

This type of trip is all about the water. This is a divers, snorkelers, swimmers, and wave runners paradise. There wasn’t much to do on the islands themselves. One day we tried the Aqua Safari Helmet excursion. You put on an 80 lb. helmet, sink to the bottom of the ocean and walk around with the fish and stingrays. It was scary, pretty cool, and we were proud of ourselves for trying something new.

Dock in Bora Bora

I feel like this was one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever had.  It seems that all I can remember is reading, snorkeling, floating in the warm water, taking lots of naps, and eating the best food.

We went in Feb and this is considered low season/ rainy season. There would be some afternoon showers on several days but they didn’t last long. And the warm rain storms just added to the tropical habitat.

Coconut Graveyard

First-Time Cruising on NCL

NCL- Norwegian Cruise Line may have just climbed to the top of my favorites in the category of large cruises. This was a pretty new ship–“Joy”–and I was curious to experience this line because it really tries to be different from the rest. There are some good things and bad things with all cruise lines, that is why it’s important to know your personal cruising style. It took a few days to get used to “Free Style”, but once I got the hang of it,  I found it was OK.

What does “Free Style” mean?

Eat whenever and wherever you want, many restaurants and lots of variety. I think this term also i shows includes and activities. There is a screen in the hallways with a list of what is going on each evening, but many shows/activities require a reservation.

Lets go over the good, and the not so good, behind “Free Style.”

Good

The variety of restaurants- half are included in the cruise fare and half you pay extra for. Some are a set price, and some are a la carte. The set price restaurants are the steakhouse and seafood; these are $50-$100 per person. With the a la carte you order items off the menu– burgers, BBQ, sushi; these are in the $10-$20 range.

We always got a table for two and we never had to wait for a table, even though we didn’t make reservations. This could be because we were usually eating early, probably not the case if you were eating at 6:30 or 7 pm.

The ship layout was good, elevators are large and plenty. For a large ship it didn’t feel that way. The ship was “Joy,” a newer ship. Layout may be different on other ships in the NCL line.

Half-way through the cruise they ran a laundry special, $20 a bag.

Besides the pool deck lounge chairs, there was another deck with nice outdoor seating . This ship had several gathering areas of fabric-style patio furniture– couches, chairs and coffee tables. Another great sitting area– gigantic, beautiful and quiet– is the Observation Lounge at the front of the ship, an area with bar, chaise lounge chairs, and floor-to-ceiling windows all around–a great place for reading and playing card games.

Horizon Lounge on Norwegian Joy
Photo by NCL
American Diner Restaurant

Not So Good

Making reservations for just about everything. I personally don’t care that much about shows and wine-tasting events. But, if these are the things you love about cruising you need to make sure you need to plan ahead and get every thing reserved. I was a little bummed that there was one show I did want to see and it sold out.

Sometimes I felt a little nickle-and-dimed. Besides half the restaurants on board charging a fee, some of the activities did too, like the race car feature. This is not unusual–most ships charge for little things, like Starbucks coffee and specialty pastries. Although, I did think it was a little too much when I was charged a gratuity on a bottle of water from the mini bar in my cabin.

Many ships allow you to carry on 2 bottles of wine at embarkation. NCL has no limit on how many you can carry on, but you need to pay a $15 per bottle corkage fee. They collect this fee and put a sticker on the bottle at embark.

No soda carried on at embark or during the cruise! This was a hard one for me, I usually buy a couple of small bottles of soda at the ports during the week. Nope–not this cruise.

My good by far outweighed the not so good list.  I plan on sailing again soon, because I bought “Cruise Next” certificates–a great way to get a discount on your next cruise.

Waterslide juts out over the side of the ship

A Glimpse of Life in Japan

There is so much I found fascinating about Japan. We made this trip easy and slow- paced; we didn’t pile on a lot of tours.

One super-nice thing was Singapore Air. We flew from PHX to Los Angeles–a quick one-hour flight–then LAX to Tokyo non-stop (same for the return). I was really dreading this super-long haul (12 hrs) — I don’t know why, but it just didn’t feel that long. The Singapore Air service (hot towels), entertainment, and food (candy bars and Haagen Dazs ice cream) on the plane helped.

I can’t tell you anything about the history of Japan. We saw plenty of shrines, temples, and gardens. But for me, I was paying more attention to the everyday life and doing a lot of people-watching.

The subway stations were packed with commuters and everyone seems to wear dark clothes and heavy sweaters and jackets while the weather was in the mid 70’s every day. It seemed like everyone was dressed for business or work. I saw no one in jeans, shorts, or sandals without socks.

The city itself and subway stations were so clean, although it was very difficult to find a trash can. It was also hard to find benches or seating on the streets or subway stations.

I never in the 10 days we were there (Tokyo and Kyoto) saw a beggar or street/homeless people. The city felt extremely safe.

 7 Eleven is practically on every block. Besides being a convenience store they are more like fast-food restaurants. They have cooked food in warmers, and lots of cold items packaged for easy to eat. I even saw a bar type eating area inside one 7 Eleven.

 In some of the restaurants, you walk in, place your order at a Kiosk machine and sit down. Then the waitress brings you your meal. Also, when you walk into most restaurants–the staff yells out a greeting. Sushi restaurants were not that easy to find. One of our guides said that Japanese people don’t eat it regularly, it’s expensive for them.

Gadgets

In most restaurants there were baskets underneath the table for storing your purse or backpack.

Let me tell you about the bathrooms! Hotels, subway stations, airport, they all had very fancy toilets. There were buttons for bidet, buttons for water-swishing sound, and a seat warmer. Some public bathroom stalls had a little seat for holding a baby, plus they had hooks for holding bags/purse at the sink. Oh, how I wish we had bathrooms like that here.

Fancy Toilet

My favorite sights:

–All the gardens were beautiful, and the fall foliage was just about to peak.

–The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto

–Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara. It was getting dark while we were there and the whole park felt mysterious. It had heavily forested paths leading through a botanical garden.

Roaming deer in Nara
Warning sign about the deer
Monkey Park Iwatayama …. people are in the cage and monkey’s roam free

I would love to go back someday and see more of the small villages and countryside.

Monkeys and More in Spain, 2019

I don’t want to be a travel snob, but of all my collected destinations thus far, Southern Spain’s Costa del Sol seemed to be a little bland to me– and I’ll tell you why. My guess is because it was a cruise. I love a good cruise and Windstar did not disappoint. Visiting the ports of the Costa del Sol was OK, but I think if I were to do this region again I’d rather do it as a land tour. It would have been nice to get outside of the port cities and see more of the countryside.

Seville, Spain

Our ship, the Wind Surf, departed from Lisbon, Portugal, early April 2019. Lisbon is a nice city. I can see myself going back to spend more time there.

Windstar Wind Surf Ship

On our first night onboard heading towards Cadiz, Spain, we experienced some rough seas. I was feeling a little nauseous and not sleeping well as it was… then all of a sudden in the middle of the night 2 pitchers of cold water slid off the nightstand and right on top of me. Yikes! what a way to wake up. In the hallway I could see that housekeeping was furiously running up and down the passageway cleaning rooms of other passengers with the same problem. I put in my request for dry sheets and ended up semi-falling asleep, curled up at the foot of the bed– the only dry spot, while also intermittently running to the bathroom and puking all night from sea sickness. Housekeeping did not come until around 9 am. It was a bad night. The next morning everyone onboard was talking about it, hearing that some people had the glass water pitchers break in their bed! Luckily the next day was a sea day. My husband and I were both seasick and spent most of the day in bed. That was OK, because it was a cold, rainy, windy day anyway. You can’t complain, rough seas are just part of the experience with small ship cruising, and it happens sometime. For the rest of the week the weather was beautiful and the sea was calm.

Alcazaba Fortress in Almeria

Back to why I found the port cities a little bland: they all seemed to look the same. This is a cruise itinerary where you might want to book excursions if you want to see more than cute towns with mostly tourist shops and restaurants. In Cadiz we took a excursion to Seville. Our other port stops were Malaga, Gibraltar, Almeria, Cartagena, Palma Mallorca, and disembarking in Barcelona.

My two favorite port stops were Gibraltar and Almeria. In Gibraltar we took a cable car to the top of the rock. There is a cave called St Michael’s with an amphitheater inside. In WWII it was used as a military hospital and for “girly exotic dancing” shows. Now it’s used more for weddings and concerts. The best part of Gibraltar was the monkeys. Monkeys everywhere, and we were warned not to feed them or even act like we had food or they’d be all over us. Gibraltar kind of reminded me of Monte Carlo–casinos and high-end resorts– a summer place. To top it off, there were dolphins jumping in the water as we sailed away.

Gibraltar Monkey
St Michael’s Cave, Gibraltar

The day in Almeria, Spain, was nice because is was so quiet. There were next to no tourists. We were the only ship in port and maybe it was quiet because it was a Sunday. Almeria had a real small-town feel to it–people walking dogs and families pushing babies in strollers. Apparently several spaghetti Westerns were filmed in this area in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Finally, I love cruising–dinner and drinks on the deck, the water at sunrise/sunset, and of course the food.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

I have wanted to visit this prominent city in Mexico for a long time. We left the Arizona February snow to find 80 degree days even at 6,000 plus feet of elevation.

This is old world colonial Mexico, cobblestone streets, caballeros, and fresh fruit vendors. Staying in the old town is walkable and it feels safe.

My favorite thing about this visit to San Miguel de Allende (SMA) was our vacation rental house. I was in heaven. It was a walled compound with a tranquil courtyard of birds, blooming bougainvillea, and a fountain. The outdoor living area with a fireplace was a garden of Eden.

Vacation rental courtyard

I love the feeling of life in the slow lane here. We did a lot of walking. At night we took cabs, or Uber to be on the safe side. The restaurants were superb and busy. My favorite things to do when traveling are visiting the outdoor fresh food markets and cemeteries. The town is loaded with art galleries and cute stores, but I’m not big on shopping.

We also spent a few days in Mexico City in the Reforma area across from Alameda Square. Again, great restaurants and museums. We found out that almost all of the museums are closed on Mondays so we missed out on some in Chapultepec Park. Every Sunday the main Paseo de la Reforma is closed for bikes and rollerblades only. It is fun to see families enjoy the park with live music and foodstands.

Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City

More photos of Mexico

San Juan Mercado, Mexico City
Street Life San Miguel de Allende, photo by Peter Gassner

San Miguel de Allende, photo by Peter Gassner

Our Mexico Trip Info Bullets

Our Trip Information Bullets, Feb 2019

Closest airports to San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Del Bajio Airport, Leon/Guanajuato, and (QRO) Queretaro Airport, MX

We had a private driver from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende. The drive was about 3 hrs and cost $279 usd for 4 people. Bajio Transportation

Ubers are nice, clean, very reasonably priced, and everywhere in Mex City and in SMA. They are hard to get on weekends in SMA when town is busy.

Baked goods, churros, and ice cream are wonderful!

We used Uber driver for round-trip to Guanajuato for about $80 usd

Every Sunday the San Miguel Library has a Home and Garden tour conducted by library volunteers

We were there for “Carnival” weekend in Feb. It was loud and busy. Fireworks start at around 4:30 am. Lots of costumes and kids breaking eggs filled with colorful confetti over each others’ heads

Church bells are always ringing in SMA

We used a private driver for 5 hrs ($110 usd) in Mexico City to take us to Teotihuacan Pyramids and to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (equivalent to Vatican City in Rome)

Russia on a Russian River Cruise Line

Ship in water

This is our second trip to Russia for a river cruise. Last time in 2009 we went on Viking River Cruises. For this trip we went with friends and decided to go on a 5-star Russian line. Our ship was called Volga Dream. Compared to several other river cruises we’ve done, this ship was a little dated. The cabins were small and the deck was an open walkway, so people were always walking past your window. The dining room had one obstructed window and the rest were small portholes. This is not good when every evening you are missing the colorful river sunsets. Other than these small complaints the ship was nice, with excellent service and food.

laying on bed in stateroom
stateroom on ship with twin beds

We flew into Moscow…. Oh, the traffic! We spent 3 days touring the city before boarding the ship and saw the usual highlights: Red Square, Tretyakov Gallery, GUM shopping mall, and of course a subway tour. The subways stops are beautiful decorated like the inside of a Palace.

melons floating in fountain
Melons floating in the fountain–“Gum” shopping mall
subway in Russia
Subway in Russia
Fish in market

My favorite port/stop on the cruise is Kizhi. I love the onion-domed wooden church and village. The main church was under repair, with much of it being covered in scaffolding.

Church in Kizhi Russia
Scaffold Church in Kizhi, Russia
woman selling crochet on street
Woman selling her crocheting
lady making pelmeni dumplings in Russia
Lady making pelmeni (dumplings)

Sites along the Volga– People gardening, and lots of little sauna huts along the river next to houses.

We spent the last two nights in St Petersburg visiting the Hermitage Museum, Catherine’s Palace, and Peterhof Palace. We did this trip the last week in August and weather was great–still lots of flowers in the gardens.

golden statue in Peterhof Palace
Peterhof Palace
statues on St Petersburg building tops
View from our hotel room in St Petersburg

A Week of Extremes: Rafting the Colorado

I’ve always considered myself somewhat outdoorsy, and the idea of 7 days on the Colorado river— rafting, hiking, and camping– made me a little nervous. I like camping and hiking, but rafting–not really.  I will tell you things I loved, and the things I found challenging.

 

What I loved—

Living literally outdoors for a week, no tent, sleeping under the wide open full-moon sky. No showers, no bathrooms, matted sticky sandy hair, it all felt so primitive. I loved the idea of knowing we were so far from civilization. Your world truly revolves around the sun (up at 5 am in bed at 8 pm) and weather.

Camp food is always good. We had steak, salmon, fried potatoes, brownies and cake baked in a cast iron Dutch oven. Eggs and pancakes for breakfast, and lunch was a table buffet of sandwich fixings, chips, candy and cookies.

Getting to know your raft-mates, people that instantly became family. You become fairly intimate with strangers when you live so closely together for a week. We all worked together on the “duffel line” loading and unloading the raft each morning and evening. Evenings were nice sitting in our camp chairs with drinks discussing the day and being entertained by ravens circling and stealing camp snacks.  After the trip our raft-mates exchanged and shared photos on Facebook.

We did not raft 6 solid hours a day, we had lots of hiking and swimming adventures throughout the day. We hiked to hidden waterfalls and natural pools to swim. One day we hiked up to the confluence of the Little Colorado River, a tributary where the water is an unusual beautiful color of turquoise caused by alkaline and high mineral content, a refreshing place to swim. One stop was a short hike to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We walked to the canteen in 100+ degrees to get cold drinks and sit on a picnic table under a shade tree. This was special since I have no desire to ride mules or hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (the only other ways to reach this “resort”). I figured this was the only chance I’ll ever have to see this hot infamous oasis.

The turquoise water of the Little Colorado River

What I found challenging—

Hot, Hot, Hot! 100+ degrees in the canyon. Hot sand and rocks and next to no shade when we stopped for lunch and late afternoon camping. In the evening the hot wind would blow sand, I was covering my head with a sheet but sand was in the sleeping bag, my duffel bag, and caked to my wet sandals.

Some of the hikes were strenuous. I’m not in the best of shape for climbing hot steep rocks and walking along ledges looking down below at the pools in Havasu Canyon. We were all wearing slippery water shoes and sandals, while the guides were jumping from rock to rock, and climbing in flip flops, yikes!

And of course– the main event of the week rafting! I did it and after the first 2 days I was feeling more comfortable with it. In the beginning being hit with that shocking cold water was really uncomfortable. But with the heat and the hot-to the-touch rubber raft, it became refreshing. The front of the raft is nicknamed the “the bathtub,” which is where you really get soaked. In the few times that I did sit up there going through rapids– you get hit (and hard) by a wall of ice cold water–I would gasp, and it took my breath away, and then I’d immediately get hit again with hardly anytime to catch a breath in between. Our raft went through a few rapids rated  “9“ and “10”.  Hitting rapids would be a cross between riding a roller coaster and a bucking bronco. I was scared to death, but all I could think of was to hang on for dear life.

What did I take away from this trip?

It’s amazing the scary things you push yourself to do. Now, in my older years I’ve become a little wimpy to this kind of adventure. I hiked trails I would have never done on my own, nor would I have ever volunteered to sit in the “bathtub” of a raft… thank goodness for peer pressure.

I feel like I’ve gotten my adventure mojo back.

Travel Ireland: Why it’s not your grandparents’ trip

I have to admit that when we first started talking about a trip to Ireland, I wasn’t that excited… it just seemed so old-school. Maybe a little too tame and mellow? Well it was, and that is the beauty of it. I personally get a little tired of touring ruins, cathedrals, and cute little towns full of souvenir shops. On this trip I was looking for more than that and I was surprised at how much I loved it.

The best way to visit Ireland is by driving yourself or hiring a private guide/driver. We went with another couple, so it made splitting the cost a little more feasible. Driving yourself didn’t look too hard. The cars are very small for the narrow roads, and the traffic was not that congested. The only thing that looked challenging was maneuvering in roundabouts from the left hand side of the road.

When you are able to customize a trip yourself, you can choose the things you are most interested in. For instance, I wanted to see old cemeteries and gardens, my husband was interested in golf courses, our travel partners’ request was to drive the shore roads, view marinas, and take a carriage ride around Dromoland Castle. We all got our wish… well almost. My husband desperately wanted to get out onto Skellig Michael island. He tried, but it’s nearly impossible. The tours only take so many people a day (it’s booked up months in advance) and it’s cancelled half the time due to the weather. It’s a long choppy boat ride. Also, it has become super popular because it’s the film location of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The top 6 reasons I love Ireland–

  • The people are so friendly, I never tired of the hearing numerous times a day in that Irish brogue with such passion “Good morning, what a lovely day it is.”
  • My wish was fulfilled of visiting 2 beautiful cemeteries- Glasnevin in Dublin, and Aghadoe in County Kerry.

  • As usual for me… the food. Scones with rich Irish butter, mussels, fish & chips, cottage pie (AKA shepherds pie). My husband had a Guinness beer with every meal, he swears it tastes so much better there on draft. One thing we had to learn, bacon is ham. We never saw crispy bacon. Even if you order a BLT sandwich, it’s a piece of ham.

  • Our driver was able to get a private tour of Old Head lighthouse just outside of Kinsale, and we enjoyed a drive through its famous golf course. This is a working lighthouse with a salty seaman that lives on the grounds to care for it. From the top of the lighthouse there was an amazing view of the golf course, the craggy rocks and crashing waves below.

Lighthouse caretaker

  • The biggest impression I got of Ireland was that it felt romantic, it seemed to me like a good place for a honeymoon. The hotels are so old and stately. When we stayed at The Great Southern in Killarney, I felt like we were staying at the Biltmore, very grand with a fireplace burning in the lobby. On one misty rainy day, we stopped into a pottery + coffee shop in Dingle and the cafe smelled of baked goods and coffee, as the rain hit the sky lights and windows. The pubs were always dark with cozy corner tables. See what I mean….. romantic!
  • We didn’t do this–but if we were to go back again, there are some fantastic walking trails. I saw a lot of backpackers walking the Kerry Way. It’s 135 miles of walking trails around Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Muckross Lake, Cork, Tralee, etc. It looks great.

Ireland, we will be back.

Kerry Camino

 

What I learned from my first Holland America cruise

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I am always excited each time I try a new or different cruise line.
In November 2017 my husband and I took a 10-day cruise from Ft Lauderdale to Panama and back. We have sailed on several different lines, but this was our first with Holland America (HAL). As far as ships go, it’s extremely similar to other large ships of its class. I will give my list of the good and not so good from this particular voyage. And I will also list a couple of ship tips I have learned.

Bird in Curacao

Good:
This is the first time we have tried open seating as opposed to a set dining time. We like having a table for 2 and this worked for the most part, but we also timed it right and kept our fingers crossed. Open seating is like walking up to a busy restaurant and asking for a table for 2. This all depends on table availability and you may have to wait. If you don’t mind sitting with others being seated without a wait is usually never a problem.
Holland America has a private Caribbean island called Half Moon Caye, and I really enjoyed this. It’s nice to get off ship and have a private uncrowded beach for swimming. On a cruise you forget that just because you are at sea for a week, you never get to swim in the ocean unless you take an excursion or can find a public beach on your own while at port. The private beach included beach towels, lounge chairs, and a wonderful gigantic lunch buffet.
There was a great selection of on-board activities. Since the Holland America demographic is more of a mature crowd, the activities are more geared towards classes, presentations, and demonstrations. Yes, I can live without Belly Flop and Hairy Chest contests. Many of the classes on board are health and fitness presentations, America’s Test Kitchen cooking demonstrations, and my favorite -Microsoft computer classes.
Every afternoon, 4-5 pm, was happy hour, with 2 for 1 drinks

Holland America Zuiderdam Pool

The not so good…. because nothing was bad this trip:
Air conditioning…. Yikes! The a/c in public areas seemed to be turned up higher than I ever remember on a cruise. I tried to look for a cozy quiet lounge area to read, but I always had to have on some pants and a heavy sweater. I remember sitting in a computer class with a sweater on and still shivering.
The buffet was always crowded, especially breakfast. It was such a chore hunting for a table. One thing I noticed that seemed to be different from other ship buffets was how much of the food needed to be served from behind glass. If I wanted a bowl of oatmeal I’d have to stand in line behind people ordering eggs and pancakes. Why can’t I scoop out my own bowl of oatmeal? Same with the salad bar–you had to instruct someone how to make your salad… am I wrong?  But most people like to build their own salad on a salad bar!
Cruise Tips:
Having dinner in the specialty restaurants costs about $20-$35 per person. We found that you can have lunch in the same restaurants for $10 pp.
Avoid the crowded buffet at lunch and have an elegant, non-hurried, sit-down lunch by eating in the big dining room. Just know that the menu is limited to about 10 items, and the dining room hours are 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm.

Cruisers watch as we pass through the locks, Panama Canal

Below are some street scene photos of Panama City

Ice cream shop in Panama City

Street Scene in Panama City

Painted Bus, Panama City

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Closing Time, Yellowstone, September 2017

What a beautiful time to visit Yellowstone– mid-September, about 2 weeks before closing for the primary tourist season. The weather was really good, with temps in the mid 70’s. On the last 2 days it rained and was just starting to get cold, especially at night.


I had no idea that there was so much to see inside the park, and 4 days was perfect. Besides the famous Old Faithful geyser there are waterfalls, canyons, hiking trails, hot springs, wildlife, and a large lake. My favorite area was Norris geyser basin with walking trails on boardwalks.


Although we had booked this trip last-minute, we were able to get rooms inside the park lodges, but we had to move around to different hotels 3 times: Canyon Lodge for 2-nights, Old Faithful Inn 1-night, and 1-night in the Old Faithful Lodge cabins.

Dining room Old Faithful Inn


Here are some things to know about visiting Yellowstone–

  • The park is very user-friendly. There are hundreds of miles to explore. As long as there are no orange cones up blocking the road you are free to roam. There are plenty of picnic areas and pull-offs to stop at and take pictures.
  • This park is very accessible. I was surprised at how many people I saw with wheelchairs and walkers. The park provides ramps, accessible rooms, and special parking.
  • The food was not very good. You have to eat in the park restaurants, or buy food in the little convenience store. The buffets were priced fair and the nicer sit-down restaurants were a little pricey for the quality. If I were to do it again, I’d bring more food in.
  • It gets really dark at night. You need a flashlight, and there are not many streetlights. This is great for star-gazing.
  • No televisions, no wifi, and no radio. Welcome to off-the-grid!