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Explore the Cayman Islands

Post by Kary

Kiss a Sting Ray and have Seven Years Good Luck!

The Cayman Islands were first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503 when he named the islands Las Tortugas due to the large amount of sea turtles seen swimming nearby.  Sir Francis Drake, an English sea captain arrived in 1586 and named the islands Cayman (pronounced cay-MAN) after the indigenous word for crocodile.  This British claimed territory has a rich history and the English influence is everywhere.  It is one of the only British colonies in the Caribbean still in existence.  Today, the Caymans are a haven for water enthusiasts and probably best known as an international financial center with more registered businesses than the 40,000 inhabitants.

 

Grand Cayman - Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach

 

The Caymans are made up of three islands.  Grand Cayman is the largest island highlighted by the North Sound which is a shallow lagoon protected by a fabulous reef.  It is due to this reef that cruise ships must tender and cannot dock in Georgetown.    Cayman Brac is named for the Gaelic word for bluff as its central feature is a bluff that runs the length of the island into the sea.  The smallest island is Little Cayman and it is the least developed as it has no sources of natural freshwater. 

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Easter celebration in The Philippines - The Traveling Gals
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Easter Celebrations Around the World

5 Easter Celebrations Around the World

Easter celebration in Seville, Spain - The Traveling Gals

Seville, Spain

Semana Santa is Holy Week in Spain.  Seville hosts the most remarkable processions of extravagant floats and masked Nazarenos.  Candelit floats illustrate the Easter story followed by the Nazarenos who are the penitents showing their sorrow and regret for their wrongs.   Semana Santa also marks the beginning of spring so the celebrations expand throughout the city to restaurants and bars.

 Easter celebration in Italy - The Traveling Gals

Prizzi, Italy

Just south of Palermo, The devil “Abbullu de Daivuli” is represented by locals running around with red robes and scary masks.  They run around on Easter Sunday to trap as many souls as possible by getting them to buy drinks until the afternoon when the Christ is resurrected and the devils are defeated.

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Is it okay to take your kids out of school to travel?

Is It OK to Take Your Kids Out of School to Travel?

Post by Kary

This is a question hotly debated by parents all over the country.  My answer to this question is YES!  You should absolutely allow your child to miss school for travel.  The only caveat being if they are truly struggling and even then you should still consider it.

Is it ok to take your kids out of school for travel? - The Traveling Gals

In my own experience, I have never hesitated at taking my daughter out of school to travel from pre-school throughout college.  I am sure this is why she is the main Traveling Gal, Ashley!  Education goes far beyond the classroom.  While the classroom is the foundation and largest part of studies, life experience is crucial to learning and overall education.  I have always stressed the importance of a solid, first-rate schooling and my daughter achieved that goal.  However, there is no substitute for experiencing culture, lifestyle, history and landscape for yourself.  To study World War I and II and then travel through Europe only strengthens your knowledge and deepens your understanding.  After learning about the Vietnam War and then traveling through Vietnam you gain perspective that can never be found in books.  The same can be said for the current world situation.  We are inundated with information regarding the global state or affairs.  To visit other places you only hear about, can completely reshape your mindset about issues and develop a more well-rounded viewpoint.   There is also unparalleled benefit in spending time as others live in other parts of the world or even our own country.  Firsthand exposure to other cultures and standards of living is an education unto itself.

It is up to you as the parent to make the most of travel.  You need to emphasize the educational aspects and teach your children how to appreciate learning while having fun.   Anticipation and planning are an important part of taking a big trip.  Here are some ideas on how to prepare in advance to make the most out of the academic side of travel:

  • Research important significant places in each city you visit and read so you are informed before you get there;
  • Download podcasts that correspond to places you are visiting.  Many museums and historical landmarks offer podcasts on-line.
  • Read travel essays or novels that take place in the countries you are visiting;
  • Educate yourself and your children on exciting events that have taken place where you are traveling;
  • Try a new sport or going to a sporting event from the country you will be in.

My daughter has been provided with a very well rounded education as well as a mature view of the world and her place in it through both the classroom and travel.  Although an excellent student, her journeys while growing up have proved equally important.  As a Mother, our travels together have been the best times of my life.  It is priceless bonding time and worth a few make-up tests and homework assignments.

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Disney

Disney World Challenge: 4 Parks in 1 Day

For those who love Disney World, a popular challenge is going to all 4 parks in 1 day. While this may sound like an impossible task, with a little planning it can be done. And it is so much fun! It is important to keep in the back of your mind that you won’t be able to do everything. If possible, try to plan some Fast Passes to coincide with when you will be in the park, just to save time. Also bring some snacks like granola bars to keep the energy levels up!

Now we routinely can do 3 parks in one day (Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, Magic Kingdom). The one that can cause problems is Animal Kingdom because it is not connected to any of the other parks. You can walk/boat/bus from Hollywood Studios to EPCOT and then take the monorail over to Magic Kingdom. Because of this we suggest starting your challenge at Animal Kingdom. We also highly suggest you use Disney transportation and not your own car if you are not staying on property. The toll booth lines can get backed up and you may end up parking really far away from the entrance. You can park for free at Disney Springs and head over to Saratoga Springs to catch your first bus.(You can also try parking at a resort. If it’s not crowded they will usually let you, but don’t tell anyone that was our idea!)

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[Infographic] Dining Etiquette from Around the World

Dining Etiquette from Around the World

Some of the biggest cultural faux-pas’ are made at the dinner table. Different cultures have different etiquettes and this handy infographic gives you the tips to make sure you are a gracious guest! Thank you to The Dunloe for providing us with this great guide!

Dining Etiquette from Around the World

Again, thank you to The Dunloe for this infographic!

Have you ever accidentally done something that was considered rude while traveling? Let us know in the comments!

The Traveling Gals

Medellin Flower Fest - The Traveling Gals
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7 Best International Spring Flower Festivals

Spring is in the air! Here are seven flower festivals from around the world:

Flower Festivals Around the World - Hanami, Japan

Hanami – Japan Cherry Blossoms
The cherry blossom holds a very prominent position in Japanese culture. There are several varieties of cherry trees (Sakura) in Japan and most of them bloom for just a few days in spring. The Japanese celebrate the yearly flower viewing with a celebration called Hanami. Hanami is an over thousand-year tradition celebrated by people hosting parties and feasts under the blossoming trees. The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC began in 1912 with a gift of cherry blossom trees from the Mayor of Tokyo. The gift was given as a symbol of friendship and the continuing relationship between the two countries.

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Healthy Miso Udon Soup Recipe

Miso Udon: Tofu, Vegetables, and Noodles in a Spicy Broth

It has been a little chilly here in Florida lately, so this is the perfect time to have soup!  Also, after the success with Sweet and Sour Tofu, we really wanted to try another tofu recipe. For some of the ingredients, we visited the local Asian market.  There are two Asian markets nearby and they were very interesting.   Although primarily Vietnamese, they offer other Asian items too.  There are so many interesting ingredients that you can’t find at regular grocery stores.

Healthy Miso Soup Recipe - check it out on thetravelinggals.com!

Please enjoy this recipe by Kary!

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Banteay Srei, Siem Reap, Cambodia - The Traveling Gals
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The Temples of Angkor: Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

Map of Cambodia - The Traveling Gals

The Temples of Angkor: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia and is bordered by Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. It is on the Gulf of Thailand and the Mekong River runs through the country into the Tonle Sap. It is becoming a popular tourist destination, particularly for Europeans and Australians. It is a bit more difficult for Americans to fly there, but as tourism becomes more popular, more and Americans are heading to Cambodia due to it being a more exotic destination. This country has a very interesting history and culture that we really enjoyed learning about and experiencing first hand. Also, just in case you were wondering, Angkor = city.

Siem Reap

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra - The Traveling Gals

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra

 

Siem Reap, Cambodia is located about 7 hours by bus from the capital city of Phnom Penh. It has become a popular tourist destination because this is where you can visit the very famous Angkor complex. Due to the influx of tourists and expats, Siem Reap has become more modern and a comfortable place to visit but still offers a view into Cambodian culture. The hotel we stayed at was the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra. This hotel is on the luxury end of the spectrum for Cambodia (rates from $198/night according to their website), but it is really gorgeous.

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra - The Traveling Gals

Hotel room at the Sofitel

 

The main attraction of Siem Reap is the Angkor site. There are several ways to get to the site from where you are staying, the easiest probably being via tuk-tuk. You can also hire a car, rent a bicycle, or take a bus. Since we were with a tour group, we had our own bus with a local guide.



The Traveling Gals Tip: WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHES. It is so hot and humid here. Remember that you are basically in a jungle climate. This is not a time to be fashionable because you will be sweating a lot. Also remember to respect the culture and not wear booty shorts.

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Towles Court - The Traveling Gals
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Towles Court Artist Colony

Towles Court Creative Arts Community

Tucked away amongst the moss-draped oak trees in the Laurel Park neighborhood of downtown Sarasota is the Towles Court Creative Arts Community.  In 1905 Sarasota’s first Mayor built his home in this area along with a nine-hole golf course.  In the 1920’s William Towles turned the golf course into a small residential neighborhood.  The area went through periods of prosperity and peril until 1983 when NJ Olivieri saw potential in Sarasota and bought up decaying properties in the area with the intention of razing them and building new homes.  Instead friends approached him with the concept of developing an artists’ colony instead.  In December, 1995 Towles Court Artist Colony was born when the first artist signed a lease.

Towles Court - The Traveling Gals

Traveling Gals Tip:  If you are visiting Sarasota, the third Friday of each month Towles Court hosts an art walk with live music, wine and a chance to experience all the creative arts offered.

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Healthy Oven Baked Fried Rice Recipe

Oven Baked “Fried Rice” – Quick and Easy

Everyone loves fried rice! This recipe is a base and can be easily customized to accommodate your preferences. It is tasty, quick and very easy. It was given the seal of approval by our whole family. Give it a try!

Healthy Oven Baked Fried Rice

Traveling Gals Tip:  This recipe is perfectly paired with Miso Udon Soup!

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups bite-sized broccoli florets or broccoli/carrot slaw chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions chopped
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 cup cubed extra firm tofu
  • 1¼ cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup of blister peanuts
  • Garlic to taste
  • Ginger to taste
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the brown rice as directed.  Combine cooked rice and all ingredients and transfer to a 9 x 11-inch or similarly sized casserole dish. Bake covered for about 45 minutes.

This is a favorite of the Gals since it is easy to make and satisfies the craving for Chinese food!  It can also be made ahead and put in the oven later for a quick and easy meal.  You can also add or subtract any vegetables or nuts.  Try the recipe and let us know your take on it!

个饱

Gè bǎo

(Enjoy Your Meal!)

The Traveling Gals

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