CHILE: Long, Lean, and Simply Spectacular…Our ESCAPESEEKER South American Odyssey Continues into the Heart of Patagonia

By Mel Gee Henderson

With select images by ESCAPESEEKER Photographer, Miristi GeeDSC_0358

11001647_1627407797487815_6003666140581740289_oand, baqueano photos captured  by Miguel Angel Fuentealba,  Las Torres Hotel Patagonia

Torres del Paine Parque Nacional, Patagonia

With Torres del Paine Parque Nacional* measuring approximately 242,242 hectares, one of the largest and most visited parks in Chile, one ESCAPESEEKER episode could hardly do it justice!  We are thrilled to learn that we are being afforded an opportunity to return, explore and capture on film other facets of this magnificent nature’s wonder! Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978, the Torres del Paine National Park is internationally recognized as one of the most beautiful, pristine destinations on the planet!

My first view of Torres del Paine!Torres del Paine National Park is located between Cordillera de Los Andes and Patagonian Steppe. This view was captured as I stood on the shores of Lago Sarmiento.

d-a-a-de-campo-en-la-estancia-1940But even more priceless, we are given the chance to experience it through the eyes of the family and friends of Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic, the son of Croatian immigrants who arrived with his parents in the Magallanes Region as a teen.  Following his parents’ exemplary work ethic and immense sacrifice, Antonio became a highly successful cattle farmer, and in 1976 he bought the beautiful Cerro Paine Estancia, located at the foot of the majestic Torres del Paine mountain range. It was here at this 8,000-acre ranch that Antonio began his cattle breeding business.

In the early 90´s Antonio and his wife Amor Eliana Marusic decided to build nine rooms with a small restaurant to welcome the many tourists arriving from around the world, attracted by the sheer legendary beauty of Torres del Paine. Today,  the Hotel Las Torres Patagonia has grown in size and scope, but still retains the original goal of the Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic Family: to afford each guest an authentic Chilean Patagonian experience, “by sharing the warmth of the people and customs of Patagonia.”

Baqueano Por Un Día | Baqueano For A Day

One of the ways guests are able to get a first hand glimpse into their unique Patagonian lifestyle is well, frankly, mount a horse! Take a look:

 More on how to  follow in the footsteps of the Cowboys of Patagonia:

Chile’s Baqueanos

The word “baqueano” is usually easily translated as “cowboy” which is its closest equivalent outside of Chile.  But in reality a baqueano is so much more than just a cowboy.  Please permit me to share what I’ve learned about the rich cultural tradition of the baqueano of Patagonia:

10506951_555047434601419_6101872349018842064_oThe Baqueano

“Strong, reserved, silent, proud, courteous, loyal”  are just some of the words used by Hotel Las Torres guests to describe the characteristics of the baqueano with whom they’ve eagerly explored the mountains and valleys of Torres del Paine.   Above all things, they say “a baqueano is a man connected to the land with a detailed knowledge about their revered stunning expanse of  Patagonian soil.” It is easy to see he is a skillful rider, with an almost telepathic connection to his horse. Dressed in worn leather riding boots, baggy trousers, a beret and neckerchief, and when needed for warmth, an added wool poncho tied in a knot under his right arm so as not to fly in the wind and unduly alarm his horse, he wanders at will through the untamed wilderness, even across cold raging rivers. It is simply a striking image that you’ll not easily forget!
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Even today,  Patagonia still represents a frontier many people merely dream of exploring. Its tempestuous, unpredictable weather presents a challenge  for many, but the bagueano remains undeterred,  heading deep into Patagonia, always exploring and rediscovering its mysteries. First and foremost, the baqueano has always been a pathfinder.  A true baqueano knows how to orient himself at all times, using the sun, the stars and the landscape to find his way. They are renowned for knowing how to find shelter and clean drinking water in the middle of nowhere, and how to avoid natural hazards such as swamps and quaking bogs. It is said that they can find their way anywhere, even in the all-encompassing darkness of the Patagonian night. These are the very reasons they are so sought after as expert guides by Europeans and Americans seeking to experience a true, authentic, goosebump producing Patagonian adventure!
10547973_555041727935323_1316245774360426479_o 2The Chilean Horse
A baqueano’s horse is his proudest and perhaps, dare I say his most prized possession, since it is his favorite mode of travel, his work source and, at times may even be his only traveling companion. The Chilean horse is one of the oldest breeds on the South American continent and after centuries of breeding it is perfectly adapted to life in Patagonia. Chilean horses tend to be slightly smaller than many North American or European breeds, at about 14 hands high on average.  They are muscular and built for endurance with a very thick hair coat that protects them both from extreme cold and intense heat. They are born and grow up on the Patagonian plains and in the foothills of the Andes, so they are naturally sure-footed and at ease in their environment. Descended from generation upon generation of working horses, they are incredibly responsive, reacting to the lightest touch of the rein. This is just as well, since most baqueanos ride ‘one-handed’ using their spare hand for balance and for other needs that may arise.

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The baqueanos revere their land…in their new-found country of Chile. This is the estancia where it all began for the Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic Family.

 IMG_6261Upon setting foot on this untamed land, and witnessing the sheep farmer sheer his sheep, I am reminded of something I read:  “To husband is to use with care, to keep, to save, to make last, to conserve. Old usage tells us that there is a husbandry also of the land, of the soil, of the domestic plants and animals – obviously because of the importance of these things to the household…Husbandry is the name of all practices that sustain life by connecting us conservationly to our places and our world; it is the art of keeping tied all the strands in the living network that sustains us.” ~ Wendell Berry, writings from  Bringing it to the Table
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IT IS ALL IN THE FAMILY: 

Continuing The Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic Family Legacy

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A welcoming home built against all odds…

in the wild, untamed Patagonian Prairie

001 facebook_cover (1)It is always a cherished privilege when my ESCAPESEEKER film team is given the opportunity to share the inspiring story of dynamic individuals who helped shape the unique landscape of a region or a country we are featuring. So it is with our in-depth look at Torres del Paine.  We’ve shared our wildlife discoveries in Episode 1 of Chile: Long, Lean, and Simply Spectacular. During our 2015-2016 Season, we will take you deeper into Torres del Paine with the people who proudly reside in its midst. They will share what it is like to grow up in the shadow of the Grand Massif as they invite us to share in this unique “Estancia Experience” of Las Torres Patagonia, a place we quickly discovered makes all who visit feel like a member of the family! Honestly, the aroma of the Chilean cuisine prepared by the talented Chef derived from original family recipes alone is enough to beckon you to Las Torres‘ welcoming doors!  We hope you’ll tune in, because that’s all I’m going to share with you for now.  Some things in life are truly worth the wait!

THIS IS AUTHENTIC PATAGONIA: RELIVE THE TRUE SPIRIT OF ESTANCIA LIVING AT HOTEL LAS TORRES PATAGONIA!

toma-general-hotel-las-torres-patagonia-1.JPG.1920x807_0_134_10000Hotel Las Torres guests find its privileged location especially convenient because many of the different trails to the most renowned places of the park start just a short walk from their rooms, like the trail to the base of the iconic towers. And, after a full day of strenuous hiking, Hotel Las Torres is indeed a welcome sight!

www.lastorres.com

Torres del Paine National Park,
Magallanes and Antartica Chilena Region, Chile
+56 61 2617450

PS: STAY TUNED:  As ESCAPESEEKER continues our South American Odyssey. Our next stop:  PUNTA ARENAS…Wait until you meet the amazing, brilliant, young Chileans behind this brand new, charming BOUTIQUE HOTEL at the most southern tip of Chile– LA YEGUA LOCA…with an artistically curated, uniquely created one-of-a-kind furnishings, remnants from their ancestors’ lives, and beautifully transformed into a LIVING HOMAGE TO THEIR LASTING LEGACY! 11081310_345987045609677_7189951443939767339_nHILLTOP VIEW OF PUNTA ARENAS FROM LA YEGUA LOCA

AFFORDS GUESTS THE MOST STUNNING SUNSETS AS IT COLORS THE SEA.

Here’s to BLISSFUL, ENDLESS ESCAPES…

Until then, remember, no matter where you go, be the kindest person you know.

With love,

Mel aka The ESCAPESEEKER

IMG_6547*The park is one of the 11 protected areas of the Magallanes Region and Chilean Antarctica. Together with four national parks, three national reserves, and three national monuments, the protected forested areas comprise about 51% of the land of the region (6,728,744 hectares).
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A MASTERFUL WORK OF ART PROUDLY RESTS UPON A REMOTE PATAGONIAN TOWN

 by Mel Gee Henderson with select images captured by Miristi Gee DSC_0358

MasterfulArt: Remota HotelModern Art In Harmony With Patagonia’s Wild Horizon

 

Puerto Natales, Chile ~ It is dusk and we arrive at Remota hotel just as the sun is bidding the day adieu.  One can’t help but gaze at the way the hundreds of windows reflect the events taking place outside its walls. And, what are those events?  It’s Mother Nature’s own works of art on display day after day in this, the most remote and only outpost town of significant size in Chilean Patagonia, Puerto Natales.

AN ARCHITECT’S MISSION:  RESIDING IN HARMONY WITH NATURE

Architect Germán Del Sol, who is also a professor at the Universidad de Chile, wanted to conceal the luxury that awaits the traveler, “to lower the expectations, so its interior will appear unexpectedly in all its splendor.” It’s all about the element of surprise—including the fact that even with its innovative design and lavish comforts, the hotel was built with a conscious effort to care for nature, striving to use minimal energy.  Congratulations Mr. Del Sol. Mission accomplished. The minute one walks into Remota Hotel, you feel as though you’ve walked into an expansive living, breathing Museum of Modern Art. If it hadn’t been for the instant welcoming staff eager to make us feel right at home, I would have immediately begun exploring every corner of this innovative hotel on my own!

Golden Hue Remota Hotel exudes a warm golden hue exceeded only by the genuine warmth of its caring staff.

 

Recognizing my childlike curiosity, Marisa Pugliese, who serves as the General Manager’s international guests liaison–in great part due to her command of the English language–invited me to tour the hotel early the next morning, vividly explaining the philosophy behind each area of this masterful work of art.

No stone turned...Marisa pointed out that the empty central courtyard or plaza, introduces the vast wilderness of Patagonia at the core of the hotel.

It is surrounded in three sides by two guest rooms buildings, and the main one in the back a little higher, where the common areas of the hotel are placed.

“The plaza is empty, except for a few big boulders, but is full of suggestions- like the clear cut that one makes to see the forest. It lets one see what one wishes, whether it is the natural environment, or the strong culture that has allowed men, women and children to enjoy  life–the unique life found only in Patagonia.  The main plaza is an invitation to leave the warm environment of the hotel, and go wandering into the wild, unworried whether the day is windy or cold, keeping in mind that all the comforts of home await you at Remota when you return,” Marisa adds.

 MiristiGeeImageryThe ever-changing Patagonia light enters the building through the sequence of vertical cuts of the window panes granting guests the feeling of open space.

A LABOR OF LOVE…GIFTS FOUND IN NATURE

The strong and spartan geometric furniture was made by carpenters at the job site out of big pieces of dead native wood recovered from the big forests of Lenga trees that still thrive close to the sea in the Patagonian low lands.

In all the furnishings, the handwork expressed by the craftsmen is clearly evident, the fruit of their labors document the year-long challenge of ultimately bringing the hotel to life.

IMG_0254Remota affords so many options for guests to find their own favorite space to gather with family and friends or just merely close your eyes to ponder and reflect upon the beauty of life.  It’s easy to do when every day you’re given an opportunity to get up close to the world’s most iconic natural wonders, many of which some people can merely dream of visiting.

Let nature's light shine throughA Chilean poet describes, “What is important is not the light that one turns on every night, but the light that one once turned off allows the memory of light….”
A place to rest...After a day of exploring Puerto Natales and its nearby sites, it’s a welcome reprieve to be able to sink into our luscious beds!

NO MATTER HOW GRAND THE HOTEL, IT’S THE PEOPLE WHO ULTIMATELY MAKE IT STAND OUT ABOVE THE REST

Enter Marisa Pugliese, a beautiful Latina who embodies all the extraordinary qualities we associate with being Latina, especially after we learned of her family’s famed Argentine Tango roots.  She gave up dancing the Tango long ago, but she puts the same focus and passion the dance requires towards her hospitality duties as she serves as the liaison for all international visitors.  No matter what arises, Marisa is all about “Mission Possible”…and when you’re visiting a place as remote as Patagonia, you want someone at the helm with a total “can do” attitude!

Understanding that my ESCAPESEEKER team is on a quest to find the compelling stories to build a new episode featuring Puerto Natales, Marisa quickly introduced us to native Chilean guide, Javier Lazo.  My photographer, Miristi’s first reaction, “Ok, she knows how to be a “casting agent” too.”  Our guide definitely has a camera-friendly face! Now, the big test–will he have the encyclopedic knowledge of the area that our PBS program standard requires? Well, we were about to find out:

ANCIENT CAVES, CONDOR CLIFFS, and ETHNOBOTANY

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We arose early to enjoy Remota’s bounteous breakfast to ensure we were properly fueled for our full day’s exploration with our expert guide, Javier Lazo.  Our first stop, Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument located  24 km (15 mi) northwest of Puerto Natales.

The monument is situated along the flanks of Cerro Benitez, and comprised of several caves and a rock formation called Silla del Diablo (Devil’s Chair). The monument also includes the largest 200 meter long cave discovered in 1895 by German explorer, Hermann Eberhard who found a large, seemingly fresh piece of skin of an unidentified animal. In 1896 the cave was again explored by Otto Nordenskjold who later recognized that the skin belonged to Mylodon, a giant ground sloth animal which became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch,the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world’s most recent glacial era.

MilodonDarwiniAfter our mind-expanding geological history lesson, Javier led us further up the Cerro Benitez, continually teaching us about the flora and fauna.

10258344_10153704860798032_4915237461637036254_oThe higher we hiked, the more dramatically beautiful the vistas. I have an acronym for times like these, TYGM or “Thank You God” Moments!

Cerro Benitez8381-two-condors-soaring-below

I noticed we were not the only ones enjoying the view above Lago Sofia as we witnessed Andean Condors soaring below the cliff top where we stood.

Exploring on foot guided by an enthusiastic native guide is the fastest way to help modern travelers, especially those of us coming from big cities to relate with the natural environment and enjoy an enriching, mind-expanding, breathtaking experience.

Thank you Javier for fueling our curiosity and helping restore our childlike wonder.

Our dedicated Remota driver was waiting for us near Lago Sofia’s shoreline ready to take us back to Remota, just a short drive awaywhere we had no doubt another of Chef René Espinoza’s delightful dinner offerings were being skillfully prepared. What’s our first hint? Well, for one, the incredible aroma of hot Chilean bread baking in the kitchen is enough to make one want to steal a few loaves!

OUR THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE IS ONLY MATCHED BY OUR HUNGER FOR CHEF ESPINOZA’S CULINARY ARTISTRY

42-34986576As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so please permit me to allow this photo montage of the images captured by our own talented photographer, Miristi Gee to tell our delicious story of our nightly dining experiences. Chef Espinoza uses only the freshest ingredients–his baked crab casserole is out of this world–and, I’ve personally witnessed his bread makers and pastry chefs in action–they’ve gotta be the best bakers in Puerto Natales.

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PUERTO NATALES: A PORT TOWN BORN OF RUGGED, RESOURCEFUL,  IMMIGRANT PIONEERS WITH A WORK ETHIC THAT KNEW NO BOUNDS…

 LIFE IMITATING ARTMany Puerto Natales newly arrived adventure-seeking residents are drawn to the natural, inspiring beauty of this remote land.

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A LOOK BACK TO THE PAST…

punta-arenas-mapPuerto Natales is located in the province of  Última Esperanza (Last Hope), named by Juan Ladrilleros, the sailor who was seeking the Strait of Magellan in the year 1557. It was his “last hope” to find the Strait after exploring the maze of channels between the waters of the Pacific and the mainland. It was not until three centuries later, in 1830, that another major expedition sailed through the fjords and channels of Última Esperanza: the British expedition of the sloop HMS Beagle. Some of the expedition members, Robert FitzRoy, William Skyring and James Kirke as well as their senior officers are remembered by several place-names in the Puerto Natales area. Commander Fitzroy was the captain during the Second voyage of HMS Beagle (1831–1836).

In 1870, interest in the Ultima Esperanza region was rekindled. Among the daring travelers who ventured to these desolate lands was Santiago Zamora, also known as ‘Baqueano’ Zamora. He discovered the lakes of the Torres del Paine area. Another was the English traveler and writer Lady Florence Dixie, commemorated in the city’s present-day Hotel Lady Florence Dixie. Dixie authored the book Across Patagonia, where she describes the first tourist expedition to Torres del Paine and the Three Horns (the three granite spires) which she named as Cleopatra’s Needles.

Puerto Natales was founded on May 1911 as a port for the sheep industry. During the last half of the 20th century the sheep industry declined and many people from Puerto Natales started to work in the coal mines of Río Turbio in Argentina. During the peak of the sheep industry in Patagonia, two large “frigorificos” or cold-storage plants were constructed in the Natales area, of which one still stands.

TODAY and TOMORROW…

Puerto Natales has many tourist facilities to meet every budget,  including sporting goods stores carrying popular global brands, i.e. Solomon for the serious outdoor enthusiasts.   It has become a common base for excursions to the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most visited national parks in Chile, in great part due to its  impressive, towering rock formations.  Named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the park is home to hundreds of different birds and many mammal species, as well as the third largest ice field on the planetThe national park is open all year round, but the best season to visit the park is from October to April, the southern hemisphere’s spring and summer season, the latter of which has more than 16 hours of daylight–a mountaineer’s delight!

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Stay tuned for our next report…when we discover what it’s like to reside at a true Chilean “Estancia” located within the shadow of the Torres del Paine!

Until then, here’s to #Blissful, #Endless #Escapes…

With love,

Mel Gee Henderson aka The ESCAPESEEKER

DSC_0105How we got there: via LAN Airlines:   www.lanairlines.com MIA/SCL/PUQ

Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, we were picked up by TURISMO BOULDER

Contact: Gonzalo Ginouves @ +56 9 79572915 or turismoboulder@gmail.com

REMOTA

www.remotahotel.com

Ruta 9 Norte, km 1.5

Puerto Natales, Chile

info@remota.net

+56 2 23871500

Architect: German del Sol
Location: Provincia de Última Esperanza, Magallanes, Patagonia,
Project team: José Luis Ibañez G. / Architect, Francisca Schüler M. / Architect, Carlos Venegas / Architect, Rodrigo Arenas P. / Graphics Arts
Contractor: Salfa, Punta Arenas
Constructed Area: 5,213.46 sqm
Project year: 2004 – 2005
Construction year: 2004 – 2005
Additional
Photographs by Guy Wenborne, Felipe Camus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Art, Blog, News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#ConsistencyIsEverything: My cover story in 2007 is still deserving of a cover story today! WELCOME TO THE SANCTUARY CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN RESORT AND SPA.

Sanctuary Signature Infinity-Pool PhotoThe postcard-perfect setting of the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa continues to draw guests from around the world seeking to find their #dreamdesert escape.

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the ESCAPE Magazine cover story I wrote back in June, 2007 at the end of this latest review. In the meantime, please permit me to focus on the present–my latest findings on my recent visit to the Sanctuary.

ChefBeauMacLOVE AT FIRST BITE…All Over Again

I’m happy to discover upon my return to the Sanctuary that nothing has changed, including the ingeniously delicious signature dishes of renowned Food Network celebrity chef and Iron Chef America winner, Sanctuary’s Executive Chef Beau MacMillan. Our evening at Elements brought the memories of my premiere dining experience in 2007 with Chef Beau instantly back to life at first bite! Chef Beau believes, now more than ever, that food should not be overworked, but rather appreciated for its simplicity and natural perfection. This philosophy is evident in Chef Beau MacMillan’s innovative seasonal menus that focus on fresh, local ingredients procured from a network of artisans and organic farmers.

oysters

salmonduckIn case you’re looking for ways to justify why it’s ok to savor all of Chef Beau’s award-winning dishes, here are a few action-packed suggestions I derived from serious Arizona recreationists on how you easily burn some calories having a wonderful time in sunny Scotssdale:

SCOTTSDALE FOR FUN SEEKERS

Being in the heart of the rugged Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale is no stranger to adventure. Parks and soaring mountains provide an abundance of thrill-seeking activities. With summer on the horizon, break out your hiking boots and hit the trails.

Lady on Mountain Stretching HiRes.com
Although canyoneering may be a new word for your vocabulary, you’ll be talking about your adventure exploring pine forest pools and hidden desert passages with 360 Adventures for years to come. As you journey to the Roosevelt Lake area with your guide, you’ll become immersed in some of the world’s premier canyoneering playgrounds. Whether rappelling 40-80 feet into a canyon pool or descending through beautiful natural gorges, this extreme geology lesson will leave you with the feeling of accomplishment, having experienced an adventure unlike any other.
Why experience the Sonoran Desert in the backseat when you can be sitting in the driver’s seat? Desert Wolf Tours puts the best of desert exploration in your hands, literally. This guided adventure leads you deep into the desert in a Tomcar, originally developed as Israeli Defense vehicles. As you explore, you may even catch a glimpse of some desert natives such as javelinas, coyotes, wild burros and other indigenous creatures. Take it up a notch with a Tomcar sunset tour and you’re sure to witness a breathtaking Arizona sunset. With the help of fully-equipped off-road LED lights, you’ll experience the desert like never before while driving under twinkling stars.
Can’t decide between mountain biking, rafting, hiking or kayaking? Arizona Outback Adventures has you covered by combining two adventurous activities of your choice into one exciting day. Take full advantage of the cool mornings while hiking the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and spend the afternoon kayaking on the Lower Salt River. As you glide down some of the best trails in Scottsdale, your guides will share their knowledge of the local flora and fauna, while providing helpful tips for navigating the terrain. This full-day tour is guaranteed to satisfy your all of your adventure needs.

THE SANCTUARY CONTINUES TO LIVE UP TO ITS NAME

The best part for adventure seekers like me is knowing there’s a cool oasis waiting–your own private cozy casita after all is said and done.

Mountain Vista Casita

A PLACE TO RELAX THE MIND AND SOOTHE THE SOUL

If your body, albeit youthful, is not quite as young as your robust heart, and you require some muscle soothing after your active day, pampering is at your beck and call through these doors at the intimate setting of the Sanctuary Spa, one of the top destination spas in the U.S.  The Sanctuary’s luxurious spa offers a menu of Asian–inspired services in twelve indoor/outdoor treatment rooms. Enhanced by distinctive architecture and a splendid desert setting, the relaxing zen meditation garden, tranquil reflecting pond, and Watsu® pool provide a soothing way to begin or wrap up your Arizona day.

JPG F Spa 2I always like to end every escape on a sweet note.  May I recommend you do not leave the Sanctuary without experiencing this totally blissful dessert at Element…how apropos because I did feel very much in my ESCAPESEEKER element.  Thank you Chef Beau! Here’s to BLISSFUL, ENDLESS, ESCAPES. And, remember, no matter where you go, #BeTheKindestPersonYouKnow!

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#FLASHBACK2007:

CoverPicAZstory

 

Cover 2

After logging 35,000 fre­quent flier miles in just three months, I needed to find a place where I could plant myself for a weekend where I could rejuvenate both mind and body. Being extremely fatigued, I definitely wasn’t looking for a fit­ness retreat where I would be treated like GI Jane. I wanted a spa retreat that would combine pampering with a low to moderate fitness routine. And, after consuming airline meals I also wanted to find one with a legendary reputa­tion for fine dining. Tired west coast road warriors looking for restorative solitude have to look no further than the Sanctuary Resort and Spa, located on the north slope of Arizona’s famed Camelback Mountain.

Being raised and spoiled by Southern California’s own beach, ‘Riviera’ desert destinations were never the ones to top my ‘100 places to see before I die’ list! And, who knew that on the edge of Scottsdale and Phoenix’s bustling city life, in an area called Paradise Val­ley, 53 breathtaking acres of pure sun drenched Arizona desert would emerge and allow this tired and weary traveler as much relaxation, serenity, and tran­quility that I could possibly handle.

The minute I turned into the desert-scape designed driveway of The Sanc­tuary I was greeted by several tanned smiling faces (who appeared oblivious to the heat) asking me if I would like a nice cold bottle of water even before checking in. Within minutes I was guided to my own weekend ‘mountain casita’ terraced naturally into the rug­ged slope of the mountain.

The steep location of my little casita af­forded me a beautiful postcard perfect view of Paradise Valley complete with its imposing and shifting mountain silhou­ette that reached peak beauty at sunset— absolutely worth the daily mini-trek up and down to the resort’s base.

The Sanctuary has extracted the refined elements commonly associated with exclusive spa resorts in Asia and brought them to the Arizona desert

Desert Zen

The mountain casita is its own sanctuary and self-con­tained villa. It comes complete with feather beds and sprawling bathrooms appointed with showers and tubs for those long after hour soaks, but let’s face it—beauti­ful interiors are easy to come by in top resort destina­tions. What truly sets the Sanctuary apart is an almost inexplicable feeling of nature’s balance- one that touch­es your spirit and reminds you of the most important priorities in life. Some people may associate words like barren, lifeless, and dead heat to the desert. But, the Sanctuary has created an intimate retreat utilizing life affirming architecture complete with meditation gar­den, reflecting ponds, watsu pool, indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, all united with what nature gener­ously offers—the overwhelming views.

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It’s truly Zen-like and then some. It has extracted the refined elements commonly associated with exclusive spa resorts found in Asia and transplanted them to the Arizona desert! Among its Asian-inspired treatments is Luk Pra Kope, which I immediately booked. Luk Pra Kope is a Thai expression that means “to massage with medicinal herbs.” It is exactly what my jet-lagged body needed. I learned the treatment has been used in Thai­land for centuries.

My therapist began by soaking my feet in a fresh lime and essential-oil bath, and then followed it up with an exfoliation treatment using fine, white clay and fresh lime. And if that wasn’t blissful enough, it was com­bined with Thai massage—a medicinal blend of steamy, organically grown herbs, rolled, and massaged and pressed into my aching tight muscles and other prob­lem areas. The heated compress soothes, enhances cir­culation and reduces joint stiffness and before I knew it I found myself drifting into “never never land” during my 120 minute treatment. The indoor/outdoor layout of the spa allowed for what landscapers call “borrowed landscape” compliments of mother nature. You can hear the birds chirping—it was so pleasant that I had to ask if it was generated from a CD.

Iron Chef Delights

Untitled4I was ready to venture out, but not before I sampled some of the Sanctuary’s dining in Elements’ celebrated Chef Beau’s signature dishes

-like the pan seared wild king salmon dish, presented with bok choy, udon noodles, snow peas, and just a touch of sesame and ginger make it one of the best dining spots in Phoenix. I was not surprised to learn that Chef Beau (MacMillan) recently dethroned Iron Chef America’s Grill Master, Bobby Flay, on the popular hit reality show, Iron Chef. If you should ever find yourself dining poolside by the Sanctuary’s

peaceful infinity pool, remember to order the seared ahi salad with avocado and ginger vinaigrette. It’s tasty and light—just the right blend for a work out in the desert.

 

Ballet Stars Aglow

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3Ballet

These desert communities are richly connected by one emerald green golf course after another, but they are also rich in culture. Ballet Arizona’s world premiere performance, PLAY, has been described by Arizona Republic’s dance critic as ‘7-courses of artis­tic delight that both plays with its name and plays off it.’

Accompanied by the Phoenix Symphony under conductor Timothy Russell, the first half il­luminates the brilliant artistic di­rection of the lighting director as the dancers begin in a star-lit stage to Mozart’s variations of ‘Twinkle Twinkle little Star’ and builds into the passionate heat of a pas de deux by Ballet Arizona’s danseur, Astrit Zejnati and ballerina, Na­talia Magnicaballi. Dressed in the briefest of costumes, Zejnaati and Magnicaballi dance entwining their bodies slowly and sinuously, never breaking body contact.

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Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain is located eight miles north of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport and less than five minutes from downtown Scottsdale.

For your own desert escape experience at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, contact:

Reservations: 1-800-245-2051 Sanctuary Camelback Mountain 5700 East McDonald Drive Paradise Valley, Arizona 85253

www.sanctuaryaz.com

For Ballet Arizona tickets and info:

Ballet Arizona Box Office +1 602 381 1096 www.balletaz.org

 

 

 

 

 

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SPRING MEANS BASEBALL…AND SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA IS THE PLACE TO BE!

Scottsdale, Arizona ~ One of the perks of being a member of the Travel Media–I get all the latest updates from Tourism Boards and Travel Bureaus across the nation and the world.  And, sometimes, the exciting updates feature my own backyard!  Take a look…especially if you’re a baseball fan like me and my family! Spring is an absolutely beautiful time to visit Arizona! Just ask any of the pro baseball players. They’ll be the first to tell you they have it good!  My special thanks to the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau for keeping this ESCAPESEEKER in the know! 

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ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD AND HEAVEN AT YOUR HOTEL
Baseball fans, can we get a hallelujah? The 2015 Cactus League Spring Training season is nearly upon us. Fifteen teams will converge on greater Scottsdale March 3-April 4, including the World Champion San Francisco Giants,who call Scottsdale Stadium their spring training home. Just down the street at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies will be hitting balls out of the park.  And when you’re not at the game, let the good times roll like a ground ball to outfield with a stay at one of 70 impressive Scottsdale hotels and resorts. Check out a sampling of accommodation packages below and visit the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s spring training website for a complete list.cr

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sfgBook the “Play Ball” package at The Hermosa Inn and receive a breakfast credit for the resort’s signature restaurant, LON’s at the Hermosa, baseball-themed snacks, sunscreen, a Cactus League game schedule, and two drink vouchers per night at Last Drop at the Hermosa. Rates start at $417 per night Feb. 28-March 30.
Stay a MLB pitcher’s throw from Scottsdale Stadium at Hotel Valley Ho. Stretch you budget further with spring training weekday specials that are good every Sunday through Wednesday Feb. 24-March 31. In addition to receiving 15 percent off the best available room rate, you’ll receive a welcome amenity and two complimentary drinks upon arrival.
The Scottsdale Plaza Resort’s “Spring Training Stay and Play” package offers the best gift of all – transportation to Salt River Field at Talking Stick or the nearby Sloan Park, host of the Chicago Cubs. Plus, get the party started with a welcome gift that includes three Coronas and chips and salsa. Rates start at $229 per night for a stay between March 3 and April 5.
Show off your blackjack talents at We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center when you book the “Spring Training Stay and Play” package Feb. 23-April 30. Take advantage of a $75 resort credit, $10 free slot play at neighboring Fort McDowell Casino and a 20 percent discount on spa services. Package rates start at $269.

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W Scottsdale is in the heart of Scottsdale’s downtown nightlife district and just minutes from Scottsdale Stadium. Take advantage of the hotel’s “Spring Training Package,” which includes two cocktail tickets and a W hat and bag. Rates start at $439 per night Feb. 26 through March 31. who1736gr.74574_lg
March 15 will be a special “Bike to the Ballpark” day for the Giants-Diamondbacks matchup at Scottsdale Stadium. Skip the hassle and expense of parking a car, and enjoy riding your bicycle to the ballpark. Volunteers will staff a free, first-come, first-served “bike valet” parking service right inside the stadium gates, and you can get maps and other info about great places to ride in Scottsdale.

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THE ART OF CRUISING: Navigating with Grace

Stockholm, Sweden ~ I shall begin my cruise report from where it ended.  Yes, by the time the Wind Surf arrived in Stockholm on the 10th day of our voyage,  I knew I was going to have a difficult time disembarking this impressive vessel, and saying goodbye to so many new-found friends from around the world! After all, with only 300 passengers on board, it was easy to get to know one another, sharing delicious meals, and comparing notes on the many explorations we were offered at every stop.  Yes, by the time we said our goodbyes, we had grown into one very large, happy, cruising family–each member leaving with priceless memories and adventure stories that will only become more vivid as they will surely be repeated time and time again. If you’ve ever had a desire to make new friends who share your passion for travel, then may I suggest you take up “The Art of Cruising!”  For our voyage, we had seasoned British Captain J. Peter Harris at the helm!

The Windstar Cruises' sleek schooner, The Wind Surf wove a Scandinavian itinerary for our splendid Summer Sail...guaranteeing one breathtaking sunset after another!

The Windstar Cruises’ sleek schooner, The Wind Surf wove a Scandinavian itinerary for our splendid Summer Sail…guaranteeing one breathtaking sunset after another!

Tthe happiest seafarer I've ever met -- The Wind Surf's Captain J. Peter Harris! He took the time to meet every passenger on board, and as far as I could tell--he actually knew everyone by name! Now that is no easy feat--but then again, neither is navigating our stunning "schooner" as the Captain refers to our gorgeous Wind Surf across these Baltic waters. Captain Harris does it all with such calm and grace, inspiring me to entitle our future ESCAPESEEKER episode script,  "The Art Of Cruising: Navigating with Grace!"

The  happiest seafarer I’ve ever met — The Wind Surf’s Captain J. Peter Harris! He took the time to meet every passenger on board, and as far as I could tell–he actually knew everyone by name! Now that is no easy feat–but then again, neither is navigating our stunning “schooner” as the Captain refers to our gorgeous Wind Surf across these Baltic waters. Captain Harris does it all with such calm and grace, inspiring me to entitle our future ESCAPESEEKER episode script, “The Art Of Cruising: Navigating with Grace!”

Our final stop, Stockholm. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, Stockholm offers visitors and locals alike, a plethora of exciting activities and dining offerings to please even the most discerning palate!

Our final stop, Stockholm. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, Stockholm offers visitors and locals alike, a plethora of exciting activities and dining offerings to please even the most discerning palate!

On any given day, the 310-guest Windstar Cruises' flagship, Wind Surf, attracts admiring glances wherever she goes...as she glides gracefully into port with her tall sails dancing with the wind. As a passenger, I rarely missed an opportunity to go bridge side just to partake of her "awesomeness" as the young guests often described her in action!

On any given day, the 310-guest Windstar Cruises’ flagship, Wind Surf, attracts admiring glances wherever she goes…as she glides gracefully into port with her tall sails dancing with the wind. As a passenger, I rarely missed an opportunity to go bridge side just to partake of her “awesomeness” as the young guests often described her in action!

 

YACHT FACTS

CAPACITY: 310 Guests

STATEROOMS: 122 deluxe ocean view staterooms

SUITES: 31 deluxe ocean view suites

BRIDGE DECK SUITES: 2 deluxe ocean view bridge suites

DECKS: 6 decks

CREW: 191 international staff

SHIP’S REGISTRY: Bahamas

LENGTH: 535 feet (162 meters) at waterline; 617 feet (187meters) including bowsprit

DRAFT: 16.5 feet (5 meters)

TONNAGE: 14,745 gross registered tons (grt)

BEAM: 66 feet (20 meters)

SAILS: 7 triangular, self-furling, computer-operated sails with 26,881 square feet (or 2,600 square meters) of Dacron surface area

MASTS: 5 at 164 feet (50 meters)

ENGINES: 4 diesel electric generating sets, 2 electrical propulsion motor

SPEED: 10 to 12 knots with engines only; up to 15 knots wind and engine assisted

It is undeniable...there's something about the salty fresh air, the endless horizon, and the knowledge that by the time you greet the morning sun, you'll be met with another stunning postcard-perfect, mind-expanding exploration opportunity--what's not to love about "The Art of Cruising"?

It is undeniable…there’s something about the salty fresh air, the endless horizon, and the knowledge that by the time you greet the morning sun, you’ll be met with another stunning postcard-perfect, mind-expanding exploration opportunity–what’s not to love about “The Art of Cruising”?

Each time I savor my time on deck, I am reminded by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.” 

This could not ring more true than when you’re sailing on the Wind Surf, where each day, from sunrise to sunset, you are granted one stunning vista after another. There is something absolutely rejuvenating about being out at sea, and I’m not just referring to the nice free face lift the wind affords, complements of Mother Nature.  There’s nothing more soothing than looking out into the horizon and feeling the vastness of our beautiful universe. And, at nightfall, oh the infinite stars that shine ever so brightly in the firmament!  It’s impossible not to recognize the impact it is having on your beating heart!
Cruising is an outstanding way to make new life-long friends!

Cruising is an outstanding way to make new life-long friends!

I’m confident my fellow passengers, Joey Greenwood, and Mark Bielawny would tell you the same!  Follow our sailing footsteps, and bask beneath her stunning sails. I highly recommend you experience it for yourself.  It is truly an Art…one of which mastering would be an absolute JOY!  Stay tuned for more updates from ESCAPESEEKER as our entire  film team captures “The Art of Cruising” at its best!
Our Scandinavian itinerary offered something for everyone...for the young and the young at heart!

Our Scandinavian itinerary offered something for everyone…for the young and the young at heart!

Copenhagen was vibrant with activity.  If you wish to interact with the locals...this is the place!

Copenhagen is vibrant and beaming with activity. If you wish to interact with the locals…this is the place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were blessed with the bluest skies throughout our voyage.  Perhaps Mother Nature knew it was my birthday month and thought I deserved celebrating during the most beautiful, endless days of Summer?

We were blessed with the bluest skies throughout our voyage. Perhaps Mother Nature knew it was my birthday month and thought I deserved celebrating during the most beautiful, endless days of Summer?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ESCAPESEEKER!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ESCAPESEEKER!

In case you’re wondering about the Wind Surf’s meñu…well, here’s a sneak peak…everyday felt like a birthday celebration…as it should be right?  Life is short…Eat dessert first! I’ll end this report on a sweet note.  It’s time you find out for yourselves.  So what are you waiting for…with a click of the hand, you too, can be on your way…your first course on mastering “The Art of Cruising!” www.windstarcruises.com

Here’s to Blissful Endless Escapes…and Remember, no matter where you go, be the kindest person you know!

With love,

Mel

It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline not to order lobster every night from the Wind Surf's diverse meñu offering.  There's something to satisfy even the most discerning food aficionado!

Lobster feast anyone?

 

It's always nice to get a visit during dinner from Chef Monty...

It’s always nice to get a visit during dinner from Chef Monty…

I predict you won't be able to refuse the nightly sweet endings...

I predict you won’t be able to refuse the nightly sweet endings…

If seafood isn't your favorite fare...no worries!

If seafood isn’t your favorite fare…no worries!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snapshots…Smiles we shall remember for a lifetime…

If you wish to learn more about what kind of training it takes to be part of Captain Harris' team--just ask...they're more than happy to share.   If you wish to learn more about what kind of training it takes to be part of Captain Harris’ brilliant team–just ask…they’re more than happy to share their     knowledge and passion for the sea!

Being "Berliners" in Berlin with my new cruising friends from Northern California, Barbara and Heidy!

Being “Berliners” in Berlin with my new cruising friends from Northern California, Barbara and Heidy!

The Art of Cruising...what a beautiful way to explore the world...

The Art of Cruising…what a beautiful way to explore the world…

Our Hotel Director, just making sure we're all doing great!  I think the smiles on our faces speak volumes!

Our Hotel Director, just making sure we’re all doing great! I think the smiles on our faces speak volumes!

Happy Cruisers Indeed!

Happy Cruisers Indeed!

Postcard-Perfect Lillesand, Norway...The Wind Surf gives us an "Up close and Personal" experience!

Postcard-Perfect Lillesand, Norway…The Wind Surf  afforded us an “Up close and Personal” experience!

Edinburgh, Scotland…seems apropos that our voyage would begin where MAGIC is used to describe every day occurrence…for MAGICAL is exactly how our voyage felt right from the start! Thank you Windstar Cruises for living up to your slogan… “Always 180 degrees from ordinary!”

Edinburgh, Scotland…seems apropos that our voyage would begin where MAGIC is used to describe every day occurrence…for MAGICAL is exactly how our voyage felt right from the start! Thank you Windstar Cruises for living up to your slogan…
“Always 180 degrees from ordinary!”

[Select Images by Photojournalist, Mel Gee Henderson aka “The ESCAPESEEKER”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SPLENDID SANTORINI: AN ARTISTS’ ENCLAVE…Is it in the Genes?

Santorini-20070808-058248-panorama-smallSantorini, Greece ~ About 120 miles southeast of Greece’s mainland, in the southern Aegean Sea there is an island that endured one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history. Left is a remnant of a volcanic caldera that draws over one million visitors to its shores each year, eager to witness her breathtaking sunset as it lights up its iconic whitewashed, cubed, cliffside houses overlooking the sapphire blue waters of the Aegean.  How many natives reside on this island which forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2  or 28 sq miles?  At last count, the native population is only at 15,500!

SantoriniPartialPanoHere is our Question of the Day:  Why does this tiny Greek island seem to have such a disproportionate number of gifted artists?  My personal theory–well, let’s call it “Hand me down genes” — yes, I believe it has to do with GENETICS!

The dictionary defines genetics “as the study of heredity and how the characteristics of living things are transmitted from one generation to the next.”  Every living thing contains the genetic material that makes up DNA molecules. This material is passed on when organisms reproduce.  The basic unit of heredity  is the gene, thus my invented phrase, “Hand me down genes!”

To prove my theory, please permit me to introduce you to the ASIMIS FAMILY.

It's evident, "It's all in the Family." ~ ESCAPESEEKER

“It’s evident… It’s all in the Family.” ~ ESCAPESEEKER

About the Father…The highly regarded and beloved Patriarch of the Asimis Family, CHRISTOFOROS ASIMIS

 

Christoforos Asimis has been acclaimed internationally as the painter of Santorinian landscape.

Christoforos Asimis has been acclaimed internationally as the painter of Santorinian landscape.

 

Christoforos Asimis has the power to inspire. Not just writers like me, but many other Santorini visitors from all disciplines.  Some of his fellow artists have called him, “A modern-day equivalent of Michalengo” as Mr. Asimis spent seven years meticulously creating religious paintings at Santorini Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. 12061557196_34fea2fa5d_z

Viewing his work may even induce the same feelings on par with the Sistine Chapel…yes, that feeling that this Santorini artist is truly endowed.    Christoforos also specializes in the light and landscape of Santorini.  To own one of his orginal landscape masterpieces would be the ultimate, highly coveted souvenir of my memories of Santorini indeed.  I know a few others on my ESCAPESEEKER team who would totally agree.

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One begs to ask another question, is it NATURE OR NURTURE that explains how so much talent can be possessed by one family? Scientists have proven that Genetic processes work in combination with an organism’s environment and experiences to influence development and behavior, often referred to as “Nature versus Nurture.” Is it the “Santorini Effect” that contributes to the immense creative, artistic nature in its residents? Well, I recommend you tune in to our ESCAPESEEKER program to learn the answer.  We’ll be interviewing the Asimis Family along with a host of other Santorinian artists in residence, as we get up close and personal  in our feature episode entitled, SPLENDID SANTORINI: An Artists’ Enclave.
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About the Mother, The talented Sculptor, and distinctive Jewelry Designer,  ELENI KOLAITOU

“I speak to the world through my art.” ~ Eleni Kolaitou

1209020_503736089717210_1042170617_nWith the sculpture of Eleni Kolaitou we see the expression of the plasticity and symbolism of the human figure in a unique way. Sculptures of a grand scale can be seen also in the exterior space of ΑΚ Asimis Kolaitou Art Foundation. In the same exhibition her worldwide known jewellery collection in 22K gold and silver is presented. Every piece of this collection is considered a piece of art exclusively designed and hand made by the artist. Gentlemen, if you’re looking for that perfect one-of-a-kind expression of love, it might be worth your time to connect with Eleni, as I know she’ll be happy to design one exclusively for you, a genuine labor of love, to convey your everlasting love.  Ok, I’m getting a little too sentimental here, but Santorini artists have that effect on everyone! 577b3fcaa04010c7f392cc2f79df76c8

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About the Son, KATONAS ASIMIS…Continuing the Family’s Artistic Legacy…

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Perhaps when both of your parents are artists, it is a given that you’ll likely choose that same path.  Katonas Asimis did not rely on just his genetic gift to gain his entry into the very competitive arena of world class artists.  Katonas Asimis studied Fine Arts in London and Architecture in Bath, England.  He has participated in various international art exhibition including the prestigious Biennale di Venezia and Thessaloniki. “In his paintings, he incorporates the human figure as well as “the rhythmology of the Santorinian landscape.” Today, there’s one grand piece of art that illustrates the combined artistic and architectural talents of Katonas Asimis–it is the very edifice that houses the family’s prolific expressions of life through their varied art mediums.

Don’t take my word for it.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, well, then moving pictures are worth a thousand stories.  Please permit me to allow this film clip of the A.K. Asimis Kolaitou Art Galleries Santorini-Athens to tell the Asimis Family story…that is at least for now.  Here’s a sneak peak of their Grand Opening that took place in 2013: http://youtu.be/Sro1cw0ZGH8

Our entire ESCAPESEEKER film team will be returning to Santorini this October, 2014 to bring to life my own script wherein I took great care to capture the true essence of this amazing family whom I believe epitomizes all that we love about the Greek culture. Their passion for life…for their art…for their stunning island, and equally visible, their signature welcoming Greek hospitality which they kindly share with every guests who walk through their doors. Make sure you stop by when you’re in Santorini, You’ll be greeted by a brilliant and beautiful young lady by the name of Marianna Asimis, the manager of A. K. Asimis Kolaitou Art Galleries Santorini-Athens. Yes, Marianna is the youngest member of the Asimis family! As the adage goes, “the apple does not fall far from the tree.”  It’s definitely true with Marianna. Please tell the entire family ESCAPESEEKER says “Hello!”

I feel extremely  blessed to be given the opportunity to see, feel, and embrace the remarkable island of Santorini through their artistic eyes.  I can’t wait to share my findings with the rest of the world.  This is but a start…Oh, how I savor the ESCAPESEEKER life!

The architectural jewel of the island especially designed to accommodate unique works of art and various indoor and outdoor cultural events, just one kilometer from the center of Fire on the road to Pyrgos.

The architectural jewel of the island especially designed to accommodate unique works of art and various indoor and outdoor cultural events, just one kilometer from the center of Fire on the road to Pyrgos.

600601_10152061051318032_1805094616_nHere’s to BLISSFUL, ENDLESS ESCAPES.

And, remember, no matter where you travel, be the kindest person you know.

See you in Glorious Greece,

Mel Gee Henderson aka The ESCAPESEEKER

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MEMORIES IMPRINTED IN MY HEART

10274149_10152813861948032_8195037176766661510_n 2IN MEMORY OF MY FATHER AND MOTHER: During my entire life, I have never known two individuals more proud of their citizenship to the United States of America. Nor, two, so willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to earn the freedoms their adopted country required. I can’t count the number of times my parents would counsel me after bringing home my report card shy of a 4.0, “You have to work harder…this isn’t good enough…you are an American, you have to try to be better.” That’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid, but being an American meant something different to my Dad–originally a native of British Samoa, this Master Sergeant “Peppy” as his Marine troops fearfully called him–ran 11 miles a day, taught me to swim laps underwater in our backyard pool without coming up for air until he gave the thumbs up to do so–would lift weights in our garage, daily at 5 a.m. producing a physique that was solid as a rock. Less you think, like I did, that this daily regiment was for vanity’s sake–the real reason only became evident during his Memorial Service in a packed Chapel in Oceanside, California as members of my father’s battalion lined up to tell me again and again, “Your father saved my life in Vietnam. He was an extraordinary soldier…there wasn’t anything he would not do for us.” Dad wanted to be absolutely fit and always ready to protect his men.

While my father was fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, my mother was home raising two teenagers, working full time, and constantly praying that the Chaplain’s Black car in search of an address on our street would not stop at our driveway. We knew they were the bearer of bad news. I remember Mom spending many lonely, sleepless nights, and lived for my father’s letters which she would read over and over again. Weekends were spent manicuring our lawn and her rose garden. It kept her mind off the foreign war, reasons for which she barely understood, as her husband heeded the call to serve not once, but many times over an entire decade.

I am cognizant that this story is not exclusive to our family…it is one that continues to replay in households across America. On this Memorial Day, I reverently pay tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed for you and I…and to the women whose faces are bathed in tears…who served as both mother and father to children who sleep beneath a photograph of a soldier dressed in a hero’s uniform…for me, it was the uniform of Semper Fidelis…”Always Faithful” member of the Marine Corps of the United States of America.

#HonoredToBeAnAmerican

#FreedomHasNeverBeenFree

#ISaluteMySoldierDad

#ILoveYouMomAndDad #GratefulBeyondMeasure

#BeingAMilitaryBratTaughtMeResiliency

#MilitaryChildrenSeeTheWorldDifferently

#IPrayForPeaceEveryday

semperfidelis copy-799278a01_04050474http://youtu.be/Q65KZIqay4E

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KAMALAYA KOH SAMUI RECIPIENT OF DESTINATION SPA OF THE YEAR AT LONDON’S WORLD SPA WELLNESS & AWARDS

KAMALAYA KOH SAMUI RECIPIENT OF DESTINATION SPA OF THE YEAR AT LONDON’S WORLD SPA WELLNESS & AWARDS

Images by Lisa Hensley

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Koh Samui, ThailandKamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa was honored for the second time since The World Spa Awards began, with the award for Destination Spa of the Year: Asia & Australasia at the World Spa Awards in London last night. The World Spa & Wellness Awards, hosted at the Guildhall, located in the heart of London, acknowledges the global excellence of care, service and standards within the industry. The Awards recognizes the work that spas do around the globe, honoring hotels and destination spas in Western Europe and Scandinavia; the Middle East and North Africa; North and South America; and, Asia and Australasia.

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HARMONY + DANCE = HAPPY!

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SATURDAY’S SONG ~ Are you looking for some HAPPY music to get your weekend party started?  Here’s one guaranteed to get you smilin’, movin’ and shakin’ too! I know they had me groovin’ all over my new Arizona neighborhood!  It’s a fast way to get their attention. :-) Check it out as I join DUWENDE fans from around the world in spreading HAPPYness.  The world can always use more HARMONY and JOY…and DUWENDE definitely delivers! Simply click the following link:

Pharrell – Happy (A Cappella cover by Duwende)

DUWENDE (Doo-WEN-day) is a six-person a cappella group (who also happen to be some of my favorite people)  based out of New York. Each member of the group adds their own characteristics and talent to the group, giving them the “a cappella” credibility along with the “band” persona. The band is best known for its fiercely original, bass-and-beatbox-driven funk/pop style of music and have headlined major a cappella festivals such as the East Coast Summit, SoJam, and AcappellaStock.

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ESCAPESEEKER 2013: Our Unforgettable Year In Pictures

Returning to the most famous "floating city" in the world...the land of Serenissima -- VENEZIA!

Phoenix, Arizona ~ Here we are, already deep into the second month of 2014, and I have yet to complete our 2013 BEST DESTINATIONS LIST.  Well, I’ve decided to let these photographs tell our story for as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  These images speak volumes about why we feel so blessed to be part of this incredible mind-expanding, soul-enriching, gratitude-instilling, friendship-building adventure!  Thank you all for helping turn our dreams into reality. The more we travel, the more we realize how much there is that we do not know.  I hope we never stop learning…never stop moving…never stop loving and savoring this gift we call LIFE!  On that note, I shall allow these images to speak for themselves.

 2013:  OH, WHAT A YEAR INDEED!

JANUARY…and FEBRUARY…

ESCAPESEEKER Return to “Heaven’s Heaven”

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PRISTINE with a capital P! Aitutaki, Cook Islands

PRISTINE with a capital P! Aitutaki, Cook Islands

 

We embark on an 11-night journey on board the m/s Paul Gauguin...

We embark on an 11-night journey on board the m/s Paul Gauguin…

The ms/ Paul Gauguin’s retractable, on board water sports marina brings guests down to sea level, where they can hop aboard a windsurfer, enjoy SUP—Stand Up Paddle Board, launch a kayak, or embark on a Zodiac® for optional diving adventures.

The ms/ Paul Gauguin’s retractable, on board water sports marina brings guests down to sea level, where we can hop aboard a windsurfer, enjoy SUP—Stand Up Paddle Board, launch a kayak, or embark on a Zodiac® for optional diving adventures.

Cruise "cast members" comprised of ESCAPESEEKER supporters...some of the kindest people I know.

Cruise “cast members” comprised of ESCAPESEEKER supporters…some of the kindest people

As ESCAPESEEKER VIP's we were invited to dine with the Captain.  Nothing like breaking bread together to bring out the most entertaining stories!

As ESCAPESEEKER VIP’s we were invited to dine with the Captain. Nothing like breaking bread together to bring out the most entertaining stories!

 

We were even granted some special time to visit the Captain's Bridge and learn more about how this especially designed vessel is perfect for navigating Tahiti's shallow channels.

We were even granted some special time to visit the Captain’s Bridge and learn more about how this especially designed vessel is perfect for navigating Tahiti’s shallow channels.

Our team totally engaged.

Our team totally engaged.
Mixing with the locals is always on our list, but when we were invited to their Day of Worship, you bet we jumped at the chance! If you've ever wanted to hear the harmonious voices of angels...we recommend you take in a Sunday on the island of Taha'a.

Mixing with the locals is always on our list, but when we were invited to their Day of Worship, you bet we jumped at the chance! If you’ve ever wanted to hear the harmonious voices of angels…we recommend you take in a Sunday Service on the island of Taha’a.

A heavenly end to our day on Taha'a...

A heavenly end to our day on Taha’a…

 

January was off to such a great start, and with my role as ESCAPESEEKER Guest Speaker on board the m/s Paul Gauguin, and with our TAHITI: OH HEAVEN’S HEAVEN film presentations so well-attended by our fellow passengers, my Executive Assistant, Melody Clyde and I decided to extend our cruise dates so I can continue in my role as Guest Speaker.  Frankly, it did not take much convincing to remain on board.  The hardest part was finally deciding to disembark at the end of February!  But not before I was afforded the opportunity to visit the highly awaited, most eco-friendly luxury resort on the island of Tetiaroa–yes, the private island of one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors, Marlon Brando–thus the name, THE BRANDO!

I was flown by Mr. Richard Bailey from Papeete to Tetiaroa in his private plane which he piloted.  How cool is that?  As we approached the island, I quietly took in this extraordinary moment.  There I was about to land on Marlon Brando’s slice of Tahitian paradise–a former retreat reserved for Tahitian Royals,  with Tahiti’s most respected hotelier, and the man Brando personally entrusted to transform his revered island into the ultimate earth-friendly hideaway.  Even though my recently injured right foot was well on its way to healing, I decided to keep it protected as Mr. Bailey showed me around the construction site,  explaining all the revolutionary, eco-friendly methods they were putting into application to adhere to all of Brando’s strict specifications.  I can’t wait to return when it officially opens this July, 2014.  I have a feeling the list of guests eager to set foot on THE BRANDO is getting longer by the day.  After being impressed with the “before” visit, I can only imagine what the “after” final version will be.  Look out world, get ready to add one more “must do” to your Bucket List!

On approach to Tetioroa...Marlon Brando's private island...

On approach to Tetiaroa…Marlon Brando’s private island…

Tahitian actress Tarita Teriipia, who played his love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty, became Brando's third wife on August 10, 1962.

Tahitian actress Tarita Teriipia, who played his love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty, became Brando’s third wife on August 10, 1962.

Although I was still recovering from a foot injury, I wasn't about to let that get in the way of seeing first hand what the "The Brando" buzz was all about!  I'm so glad I did. Let me give you advance notice:  This is one "island escape" you'll definitely want to experience in 2014!

Although I was still recovering from a foot injury, I wasn’t about to let that get in the way of seeing first hand what the “The Brando” buzz was all about! I’m so glad I did. Let me give you advance notice: This is one “island escape” you’ll definitely want to experience in 2014!

 

This is what I call, "Guilt-Free Luxury"  in the ultimate Tahitian Island PARADISE.

This is what I call, “Guilt-Free Luxury” in the ultimate Tahitian Island PARADISE.

 

 

 

 

Great care is continually taken to protect the island's natural habitat.  The Tetiaroa Society, a non-profit organization is dedicated to research, conversation, and education related to the delicate ecology of the atoll. The goal of this organization is to create a scientific and educational window into the biodiversity of Tetiaroa, with the possibility of developing controlled eco-tourism and raising public awareness regarding the fragility of our biodiversity.

Great care is continually taken to protect the island’s natural habitat. The Tetiaroa Society, a non-profit organization is dedicated to research, conversation, and education related to the delicate ecology of the atoll.
The goal of this organization is to create a scientific and educational window into the biodiversity of Tetiaroa, with the possibility of developing controlled eco-tourism and raising public awareness regarding the fragility of our biodiversity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 definitely started on the right footing, even with one foot in a cast! I’m continually inspired by the tireless visionaries who go to great lengths to create meaningful travel experiences that are worthy of our hard-earned vacation currency. More than ever, I am driven to seek out those destinations that adhere to our ESCAPESEEKER mantra of being “the greatest luxury escapes in the world.”  Just when we thought it could not get any better, our 2013 itinerary turned into a series of dream experiences.  The best part, it wasn’t a dream at all, but a reality we cannot wait to capture on film and share with the rest of the world.  Thank you all so much for your unwavering support and continued enthusiasm for this insatiable passion for our majestic planet that we all share.  Take a peak at where our path led us for the remainder of 2013–from America’s iconic desert oasis of Arizona, to the “Roof of Peru”–Machu Picchu; to the glamour and glitz of the French Riviera; to the grand dame of Formula One racing–Monaco; to the Land of the Gods–Greece; to the only city in the world that spans two continents–Indescribable Istanbul; to the City of Lights–Paris and its historic River Seine; to the River Danube magically illuminated by Brilliant Budapest!  2013–is the year for our ESCAPESEEKER Record Books!

MARCH…a quick Family retreat to America’s Desert Oasis

DESERT SUNRISE...affirming life-giving source... even in the driest conditions on earth.

APRIL …On Top Of The World!

A joyous occasion indeed when my daughter, Gabrielle and I reached the mystical, towering land of the Incas:  MACHU PICCHU.

A joyous occasion indeed when my daughter, Gabrielle and I reached the mystical, towering land of the Incas: MACHU PICCHU to celebrate the completion of her voluntary 18-month mission in Peru for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

LIVING THE HIGH LIFE IN HONG KONG!

LIVING THE HIGH LIFE IN HONG KONG!

ESCAPESEEKER Perched high above Victoria Harbor...getting a Presidential Perspective from the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, the highest hotel in the world!

ESCAPESEEKER Perched high above Victoria Harbor…getting a Presidential [Suite] Perspective from the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, the highest hotel in the world!

MAY…Riviera Glam

Returning to my roots...The Cannes Film Festival where I spent 12 years covering the world's cinematic arts and the actors who starred in them!

Returning to my roots…The Cannes Film Festival where I spent 12 years covering the world’s cinematic arts and the actors and filmmakers who brought them to life!

1c570bfdfa639b8de0e08977be870185The unforgettable Cannes Premiere evening when we joined the cast and crew of  Behind the Candelabra

We’ll soon find out if Matt Damon’s leading man,  Michael Douglas will follow up his Golden Globe with an Oscar!

While exploring the richness of the French Riviera, we opted to stay in the one and only luxury hotel located within the walls of this art-inspiring medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence:  Hotel Le Saint Paul

While exploring the richness of the French Riviera, we opted to stay in the one and only luxury hotel located within the walls of this art-inspiring medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence: Hotel Le Saint Paul

Supporting our Program Supporter--INFINITI EUROPE at Monaco--Truly "Inspired Performance!"

Supporting our Program Supporter–INFINITI EUROPE at Monaco–Truly “Inspired Performance!”

What it takes to "live in the fast lane" at Monaco's Formula One!

What it takes to “live in the fast lane” at Monaco’s Formula One!

 

JUNE…Fun, Sun, Cookin’ and Soul

SANTORINI--POSTCARD PERFECT ARTISTS and VITNERS ENCLAVE...

SANTORINI–POSTCARD PERFECT ARTISTS and VINTNERS ENCLAVE…

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VOREINA GALLERY SUITES...our chosen home while discovering SANTORINI's Best Kept Secrets.

VOREINA GALLERY SUITES…our chosen artistic abode while discovering SANTORINI’s Best Kept Secrets.

We embark on another voyage, this time it's the m/v Tere Moana...it's as close as you'll come to knowing what it's like to have a private YACHT without buying one, or hiring an impeccable crew of your own! It navigates through ports mega ships cannot even attempt.

We embark on another voyage, this time it’s the m/v Tere Moana…it’s as close as you’ll come to knowing what it’s like to have your own private YACHT without buying one, or hiring an impeccable crew of your own! It navigates through ports mega ships cannot even attempt.

1098156_10153152118180105_1040107060_n 1008520_10152954714105105_1123968215_o 556477_10153262564675105_1405265411_n From a sunset Barbeque on the top deck…to secret hideaway coves usually reserved for Royals…to spotless docks that lead to quaint, quiet villages…You’ll have the option to do as much or as little as your heart desires when you cruise with the m/v Tere Moana.

We disembark the m/v Tere Moana to travel to the countrysides of Rome to begin our Culinary School at CASA GREGORIO where we engage in 7 nights of extensive authentic, delectable Italian cooking!

We disembark the m/v Tere Moana to travel to the countrysides of Rome to begin our Culinary School at CASA GREGORIO where we engage in 7 nights of extensive authentic, delectable Italian cooking!

Meet Gregory Aulensi, an Italian-American designer/entrepreneur and the founder of Casa Gregorio, and his Executive Chef, Giustino.

Meet Gregory Aulensi, an Italian-American designer/entrepreneur and the founder of Casa Gregorio, and his Executive Chef, Giustino with ESCAPESEEKER & Co.

 

Castro dei Volsci, the medieval hilltop Roman village which is home to Casa Gregorio.

Castro dei Volsci, the medieval hilltop Roman village which is home to Casa Gregorio.

885787_284864841644698_1329031609_oOur Italian  laboratory of learning aka Cooking Party Headquarters!

It's amazing how much Italian culinary skills one can acquire in 7 short days when you're totally immersed in the culture.

It’s amazing how much Italian culinary skills one can acquire in 7 short days when you’re totally immersed in their Roman culture!

We take a reprieve from our cooking classes to participate in Pope Francis Wednesday's audience at Piazza San Pietro...who knew I would find myself standing before The Holy Father...and gazing into those gentle, caring eyes?

We take a reprieve from our cooking classes to participate in Pope Francis’ Wednesday’s Audience at Piazza San Pietro…who knew I would find myself standing before The Holy Father…and gazing into those gentle, caring eyes?

June 26, 2013 will be immortalized in my mind...the day I snapped this photo of Pope Francis I, and discovered he was standing right before my eyes.

June 26, 2013 will be immortalized in my mind…the day I snapped this photo of Pope Francis I, and discovered he was standing right before me.

 

 

JULY…Birthday Wish Come True

Returning to the most famous "floating city" in the world...the land of Serenissima -- VENEZIA!

Returning to the most famous “floating city” in the world…The Land of SerenissimaVENEZIA!

We rejoin the m/v TERE MOANA...this time it's the "Chairman's Cruise" and we're bound for the Dalmatian Coast of CROATIA!

We rejoin the m/v TERE MOANA…this time it’s the “Chairman’s Cruise” and we’re bound for the Dalmatian Coast of CROATIA!

We visit port after port that look more like movie sets...but they're all very real...beautifully REAL!

We visit port after port that look more like movie sets…but they’re all very real…beautiful, authentic and REAL!

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After covering several continents in three months, I decided I'm due for a birthday celebration...a birthday rest is more like it...but a true ESCAPESEEKER does not rest from travel.  Rather, we find a way to escape to our favorite place where we are guaranteed to feel rejuvenated after all is said and done.  That for me is cruising the Tahitian Islands via the m/s Paul Gauguin.  HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME...I'm off once again to the dramatically beautiful islands of TAHITI!

After criss-crossing continents in three months, I decided I’m definitely due a birthday celebration…a birthday rest is more like it…but a true ESCAPESEEKER does not rest from travel. Rather, we find a way to escape to our favorite place where we are guaranteed to feel rejuvenated after all is said and done. That for me is cruising the Tahitian Islands via the m/s Paul Gauguin. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME…I’m off, once again to the dramatically beautiful islands of TAHITI!

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This hammock is exactly where I began to ponder how I would spend the next decade of my life...all the while feeling forever grateful for the tremendous opportunities I've been granted to see the world...to learn of cultures different from my own...to discover the beautiful human traits that unite us...and better understand my fellow beings.  What can be better for a birthday gift than the gift of a GRATEFUL HEART?

This hammock is exactly where I began to ponder how I would spend the next decade of my life…all the while feeling forever grateful for the tremendous opportunities I’ve been granted to see the world…to learn and embrace cultures different from my own…to discover the beautiful human traits that unite us…and gain a better understanding my fellow beings. What can be better for a birthday gift than the gift of a GRATEFUL HEART?

AUGUST…Where’s My Grandma?

Time for some ESCAPESEEKER GRANDMA bonding moments in the Kamas, Utah riverside meadows…

Cherished summer moments spent with my family...

Cherished summer moments spent with my family…

Doing what I love...Cooking for my family...

Doing what I love…Cooking and watching them feast with a big smile on their faces!

...And putting smiles on my grandchildren's faces.  Did I mention I have 12 of them? Oh blessed, blessed life! Motherhood is my greatest calling...and my greatest accomplishment.  Perhaps it is that same maternal love I have for my family that filters to everyone I meet...no matter where I go.

…And being able to put smiles on my grandchildren’s faces is just priceless. Did I mention I have 12 of them? Oh blessed, blessed life! Motherhood is my greatest calling…and my greatest accomplishment. Perhaps it is that same maternal love I have for my family that filters to everyone I meet…no matter where I travel.

 

SEPTEMBER…Finds me crossing the Atlantic again…this time I am bound for ISTANBUL!

I love setting foot on places I've only read about...and ISTANBUL had been on my wish list for a very long time.  Well, it did not disappoint...more beautiful and engaging than I ever imagined!

I love setting foot on places I’ve only read about…and ISTANBUL had been on my wish list for a very, very  long time. Well, it did not disappoint…more beautiful and engaging than I ever imagined! Photographs do not due her justice!

aa59f2e6ccf2932d1e99f2af0f263a432eef93730225cb07658bcae21867ad1daa432b07ac6a0a2e3d07c2ae83a9492bIredescent Istanbul

OCTOBER…A Season of Learning

After my premiere visit to Istanbul, I prepared for my long-awaited French language extensive immersion program at Alliance française Paris Ile-de-France.  Yes!  I’m finally going to tackle the French language 24/7.  With the kind generosity and hospitality of my life-long friend, Paris native Dominique Caffin-Robert, I found myself in the City of Lights…ready to be schooled in its difficult language…and, for the next six weeks, I would be thinking…talking…dreaming…eating…reading…and playing in French!

Find my way around Paris...on foot...via metro...was a worthwhile learning adventure in itself. By week two, there was no such thing as being lost...only diverted slightly...because with Paris' superb Metro system, you can always find your way!

Finding my way around Paris…on foot…via metro…was a worthwhile learning adventure in itself. By week two, there was no such thing as being lost…only diverted slightly…because with Paris’ superb Metro system, you can always find your way home…sooner or later!

Within a matter of weeks, my classmates comprised of students from around the world, found ourselves celebrating the successful passage into the next phase of our French immersion program!  Super!

Within a matter of weeks, and with our outstanding teacher, Sandrine HIdalgo Vidal,  my classmates comprised of students from around the world, found ourselves celebrating our successful passage into the next phase of our French immersion program! Super!

A humorous outlook on our French student life...

A humorous outlook on our French student life…

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New Class...guaranteed new friends...we were all in the same boat...eager to master this increasingly difficult language!

New Class…guaranteed new friends…we were all in the same boat…eager to master this increasingly difficult language!

 

 

 

NOVEMBER…And, I’m officially excused from school…

I was never very good at playing hookie from school, so when I told my teacher I had a previous ESCAPESEEKER assignment I needed to adhere to, she handed me an official absence request form to fill out.  That’s so French right?  I mean, the form was in French, and I was required to fill it out in French as well.  By the time I finished, I knew I had made great advances in the language and could now thoroughly enjoy my ESCAPE to the DANUBE on board the AMAPrima Waterways.  Germany, Austria, Hungary…here I come!

1405007_10153522619260105_1205773081_oPHOTOGENIC…is an understatement! [Image captured by yours truly from my balcony of Stateroom #225]

The entire AMAPrima Waterways experience was simply EXTRAORDINARY in every regard.  By the time we anchored in Budapest, our final stop, I knew I had made some life-long friends.  There is something about traveling that brings like-minded, joyful (generally) people together eager to embrace all aspects of a full, vibrant LIFE!  At least, that's what I found on board the AMAPrima...a day doesn't go by when I don't miss my newfound AMAfriends!  At the end of the day, that's the real treasure--the friendships we derive from cruising!

The entire AMAPrima Waterways experience was simply EXTRAORDINARY in every regard. By the time we anchored in Budapest, our final stop, I knew I had made some life-long friends. There is something about traveling that brings like-minded, joyful (generally) people together eager to embrace all aspects of a full, vibrant LIFE! At least, that’s what I found on board the AMAPrima…a day doesn’t go by when I don’t miss my newfound AMAfriends! At the end of the day, that’s the real treasure–the friendships we derive from cruising!

1398922_10152369539093032_2126828340_o 1425298_10152373665608032_1166428731_o 1398525_10152382434548032_850488970_o 778669_10152387310503032_701769250_o 1441360_10152389395783032_510056983_n 1466134_10152389400058032_1324180111_n 1397120_10152391070898032_1579205549_oIf you wish to make new friends who share your insatiable passion for life, then I recommend you consider cruising with the AMAWaterways fleet! I’ve never met so many tremendously engaging, fun individuals under one roof. I kid you not!

HELLO BUDAPEST!  Another Bucket List item checked off! To see her illuminated was a goose bump producing moment.  I was packing in my stateroom when I suddenly realized what was right before me.  I grabbed my camera, stepped onto my balcony and just went into photographer's dream mode!  With every click I found myself saying, "Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

HELLO BUDAPEST! Another Bucket List item checked off! To see her illuminated was a goose bump producing moment. I was packing in my stateroom when I suddenly realized what was right before me. I grabbed my camera, stepped onto my balcony and just went into photographer’s dream mode! With every click I found myself saying, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

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BUDAPEST…AN ENCHANTED EVENING AT ITS BEST…[Image captured from AmaPrima Stateroom 225 Balcony by yours truly, the ESCAPESEEKER on our last night of cruising the Danube. Now is this a magnificent close to an unforgettable week or what? AMAWaterways  sure knows how to script. I cannot wait to capture it all on high definition cinematic film someday soon!

HELLO PARIS! ONE FINAL WEEK BEFORE I SAY…Au Revoir…

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No matter the season...Paris, je t'aime!

No matter the season…Paris, je t’aime!

PARIS...was an incredibly healthy experience for me in so many ways.  The more miles I walked each day, the healthier my formerly shattered right foot became.  My excess weight also melted away.  Maybe, it was from excessive use of my brain trying to conquer French? :-)  Paris is the kind of city where you never, ever feel alone...because dining solo is often as enjoyable as dining with a crowd!  It's not an easy city...but it's an inspiring one! I found myself writing volumes about what I saw...what I experienced...and what I wanted to remember forever!

PARIS…was an incredibly healthy experience for me in so many ways. The more miles I walked each day, the healthier my formerly shattered right foot became. My excess weight also melted away. Maybe, it was from the excessive use of my brain trying to conquer French? :-) Paris is the kind of city where you never, ever feel alone…because dining solo is often as enjoyable as dining with a crowd! It’s not an easy city…but it’s an inspiring one! I found myself writing volumes about what I saw…what I experienced…and what I wanted to remember forever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1470325_10153573922525105_1710100590_nMy last night was spent at my all-time favorite hotel–the SHANGRI-LA HOTEL-PARIS.  With its magnificent unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower at every angle, and the consistently impeccable service and attention to detail, not to mention the quiet residential location…For me, it is simply the perfect place to feel totally Parisien…a rather pampered Parisien that is!

DECEMBER…A Time of Giving…Brings me to the BIG APPLE…NEW YORK CITY.

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As my incredibly remarkable year was coming to a close…I knew there was one more important obligation I had to fulfill…my commitment to help with the annual United Nations Ambassadors Ball–a highly anticipated event orchestrated by the Hospitality Committee for the United Nations Delegation.  Their mission is as follows:

  • To promote and strengthen understanding and friendly ties between all levels of the United Nations diplomatic community and the people of New York.

  • To assist newly arrived UN diplomats and their families adjust to their new life in New York by providing information and programs that reduce language and cultural barriers.

  • To broaden an appreciation of American culture and customs among UN diplomats and their families, thereby enhancing the reputation of the United States and the United Nations.

All of the above resonates with our ESCAPESEEKER philosophy of following the Golden Rule,  “Do unto others, what you would have others do unto you.”  It’s a lofty and worthwhile goal, so of course ESCAPESEEKER offered to do our part to assist with the event.  After all, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

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MAY 2014 BRING YOU AND YOURS BLESSINGS BEYOND MEASURE:  THE GIFT OF HEALTH…THE GIFT OF ADVENTURE…and THE GIFT OF LASTING LOVE and FRIENDSHIP wherever your path may lead.

Here’s to BLISSFUL, ENDLESS ESCAPES…And, Remember, Be the kindest person you know.

With love and joy,

Mel Gee Henderson aka The ESCAPESEEKER

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