Category Archives: Trips

The Innkeepers in Kauai – B & B Free

A Couple of Nuts

Jim and I recently returned from a much needed break – a brief, but relaxing holiday on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.  Kauai has been described as the most lush and tropical of the islands, a virtual garden of delight.  Its vast, craggy mountains, covered in textured shades of green, form a continuous backdrop.  And in the foreground, never have we seen happier looking foliage on palm trees, or more colourful flame trees, virtually filling canyons for as far as the eye could see.  Stunning.  You can’t go wrong.

Hanalei Bay.   Like the other islands, Kauai’s single main road forms a pathway between the unique and varied small villages which call to visitors, and always, the jade green and turquoise sea makes its appearance, and pulls one onto white, sandy beaches.

But for us, what was different on this week long holiday was that we stayed the whole time at an anonymous timeshare condo community, rather than breaking up our time with B & B’s and hotels.  The difference was very noticeable to us, and definitely not in a good way.

Pina coladas – a delicious and happy thing!

This caused us to reflect upon what we try to do at our B & B, Seasons Above the Bay, in Cowichan Bay,  and what we’ve noticed that other B & B owners do for us when we stay with them. 

If you’ve never stayed at a B & B, and maybe can’t imagine doing so, it’s the personalized, yet not obtrusive element that I’m trying to describe here.  A B & B, at its best, brings together a group of people who are all intent on exploring an area with sound, reliable advice so that they don’t waste time with things that are really not worth the expense and trouble, or more importantly, don’t miss out on things that are so unique and special they can literally make your holiday.  What we realized this time around is just how much it’s about the people, and about the conversations you’d never get to have if you weren’t a part of such a group.  We really missed the personalized service and the conversation that make staying at a great B & B the backbone of a wonderful holiday. 

Golden Hibiscus to die for
The most gorgeous and perfect Birds of Paradise

Generally speaking, it begins and ends at the breakfast table.  I can’t tell you how many times people have sat down at our dining room table, or at the garden breakfast table in the summer, not knowing who was going to be sitting across from them, but knowing it would be a kindred spirit.  So many times people began as complete strangers, but departed as friends, sharing really new ideas and exchanging information, helping each other out.  It makes for a rich, tapestry-like experience, and somehow the whole thing just runs deeper.  This is why people return again and again, seeking that real connection to deepen their own experience.  If that sounds a little heavy for a holiday, I’m missing the mark a bit.  It’s a happy thing, and one wants to repeat it again and again.  This makes one a B & B convert, and I’m happy to say that that is what Jim and I are.

Gorgeous breakfast at Hemingway Art Cafe in Kapa’a

Yes, Kauai was beautiful, and Jimmy Oliver and I rarely run out of conversation.  The best thing about us is the delight we take in cracking each other up, and there was no shortage of that.  But some of our best moments were spent in friendly conversation with locals, yakking over breakfast at Hemingway Art Cafe in Kapa’a, or happenstance life talk with a young man on Hapuna Beach.  It’s about people. (And chickens and kitties, of course, you cannot go to Kauai without meeting a ton of each of them.)  But truly, we regret the condo.  It didn’t measure up for us, and a big ‘something’ was just missing.  Next time, the human connection: we’ll read the reviews carefully, and book ourselves into some great B & B’s.  No regret. 

Happy travels!

Unforgettable Italy

The Innkeepers Abroad

As nearly all of our guests from last summer surely know,  James and I, along with our youngest son, Tom, made an exquisite trip to Italy this past fall.

When I say ‘exquisite’, you know full well that travel is work.  Hard work, in fact, and struggle.  This wasn’t the sort of deal where you handed over your suitcase at the end of the day to some convivial servant, or got swanned around in the latest overland hovercraft.  Nope.  We planned and executed this adventure all by ourselves.  So, ‘exquisite’?  Well….that, I would say, is the take away.  When all the dust is cleared, and you just let yourself ‘feel’ what it is you experienced, why not let the cream rise to the top?

Rome

A Week in Tuscany

When I think about Italy, I think about golden light. It floods just about every image I can conjure. I think about faces that mainly smiled, and about people who were mainly very warm and enthusiastic. And about landscapes that stunned one with their beauty.

Tuscany really does look like that.  Whether villages or cities, history and beauty is everywhere, and I long to return.  Sienna, we seem all to agree, went most deeply into our imaginations and into our psyches.  The photo above shows the view from our bedroom window.  We chose a lovely Siennese B&B, and stayed for several days as we explored the city.

Bev in Italy

The villa in the photo above is located just outside of the Tuscan walled city of Lucca.  Another B&B, we had a remarkable stay with extremely friendly locals.  All of this took place at the start of our vacation, and it made it really easy to relax, catch up on sleep, and explore the many hill towns of Tuscany.

Jim in Italy

And here is the Innkeeper himself, James, looking relaxed and happy from a Tuscan rooftop.  We spent our first week in this region, and some of our happiest memories were certainly found here.

Rome. By all means, Rome.

Week two found us in the Eternal City, and what an unbelievable place it is.  Even to eyes accustomed to urban European landscapes, Rome is something else again.  Everywhere you turn, you are left gasping.  History simply surrounds you, and is everywhere underfoot.

It is ancient, but at the same time, stunning and quite clean.  It presents itself so grandly!  There is nothing understated about Rome.

Rome

Our third week found us in Sicily, the lovely island found at the tip of the toe.  Sicily was certainly an adventure in itself, and bears its own story telling, so memorable was our time there.

I’ve only just alluded to the actual stories within stories that describe the adventures we had.  If you’d enjoy hearing and seeing more about it, just become a follower of our blog, and we’ll send you our tales.

Until next time.