About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

How to Lose Weight on (the best) Vacation

As I sit typing this, I can barely walk. I resumed my regular morning workouts just last week after a 6-7 week hiatus, which included pre-vacation hustling time, a 3-week vacation and post-vacation indifference. It is always the same. Yesterday I worked legs – squats, lunges, upping the resistance on the cardio machines. Today, I am sore and miserable.

The good news is, despite the damage done by multiple “happy hours”, including pink beer in Amsterdam and coffee mojitos in Lausanne, as well the havoc wreaked by vacation foodie goodness, including Swiss cheese fondue and great pastries, I did not actually put any weight on. How is this possible? You don’t even have to pack gym clothes! This is how you do it.

One heavy suitcase. If you are on an extended vacation, and are not low maintenance, then you will still, despite your best efforts, have a heavy bag. We can talk about my success in only having ONE bag in another post. However, the limit on regular airlines like British Airways is 23kg, while on the budget airlines, I am only willing to pay for 20kg. So at the very least, you are going to be doing some weight lifting especially if it is a multi-trip itinerary. I had to hoist that bag in and out of taxis, trains, and hotels over a 3 week period, across 4 cities. That is a workout in itself, let me tell you. That pink bag is better than any weight machine.

The infamous globe trotting pink suitcase

Take the most inconvenient mode of travel. Taxis are a luxury in most any place. Taxis are also usually more expensive. The cheaper options like trains often come with their own challenges, but when viewed through the lens of weight management, one can turn challenges into freakin’ opportunities. Trains don’t drop you off in front of the hotel. Trains usually park your ass at some train station that can be as near as a 2 minute stroll or as annoying as a 20-minute huff and puff. Train stations also sometimes have stairs – no lifts, no escalators, but stairs. Tiring memories of London Victoria and Ealing Common come to mind as I hoisted my pink bag and brown self up and down multiple steps in agony. Taxis are for people who want the wonderful Italian dinner to stay on their hips. For the health conscious – take a train.

Avoid public transport and not only save money, but lose a pound or two. If your travel spot is gorgeous, as most tend to be, then why take a train, tram or bus to go everywhere? The canals of Amsterdam make for scenic walking routes and I did a lot of walking. Not always good for tired tourist feet but great for burning off the pink beer! At the end of my trip with a sore back caused by a pre-vacation fall down the stairs at home and lifting the pink bag everywhere, too much walking, particularly uphill walking as in Lausanne, was not the best option. But it still worked those glutes.

But still, take the train and be late for said train. I had forgotten about how “great” relying on public transportation can be, and even when on vacation, you can still find yourself running for trains. Don’t want to wait another 30-45 minutes in the cold at midnight in Geneva International? Run for the train, with pink bag. Don’t want to wait another hour for the train from Bournemouth to London? Run up the stairs, across the walkover, down the stairs and to the train door just as it is closing. Don’t want to be late for dinner date with friends? Run for the train! Yep…running for the train in Europe is inevitable. In the chase after the train you will probably lose necklaces (check), flip flops (check check), scarves (check) and the like. But there is nothing sweeter than losing a bit of weight (CHECK!!!).

Oh, and sit in the restaurant having cocktails while not checking your flight time and then realise you have 5 minutes to run about 100 miles from the table to the departure gate. That burns calories as well. These helpful tips should help you on future trips in managing all the goodies associated with vacation and your waistline!

*This blogger was not hurt in the pursuit of this weight loss.

Shakespeare in England and the Llandaff Ghost Walk in Cardiff

On my last full day in Cardiff, we decided we would make a girls' lime/girls' day out and we crossed the border back into England for a lovely sunny day out in Stratford-upon-Avon. For those who did not know, S-u-A is the birthplace of ole Billy Shakespeare, and what I loved about the town is the lovely quaintness of it all. From the cobblestoned streets to the old buildings - very lovely.

Beautiful day for a stroll along the River Avon

Beautiful day to sail the River Avon

William Shakespeare's House - another cliched tourist attraction

The ghost of Shakespeare? He was very amorous with me I must say.

We did partake in some modern day girls' day out activities like shopping, drinking and getting ice cream, but it was really just about some down time and taking in the scenery of the place.

Back in Cardiff, I had a quick change of clothes as we prepared ourselves for the Llandaff Ghost Walk. Now, my disclaimer is that I did not plan this outing. It was planned for me. However, we were going to approach it with a laugh and I did indeed hope for the best, not knowing quite what to expect.

The walk itself was scheduled for the eerie hour of 8.30pm, and the group of suckers adventurers met at the ancient city cross just a few steps from the Llandaff Cathedral. Now the walk started off on a bit of a promising note with the guide (will get back to him shortly) giving us a historical/plausible sounding account of the "cursed" cathedral whose spires were destroyed time and time again, until finally being blessed by some whodunit. That part was interesting.

Llandaff Cathedral just as the sun started to set at 8.30pm
- just as we set off for the Ghost Walk

The rest - well...it went downhill after that and so did we, as we made our way into the belly of the field around the cathedral and then to the cemetery. The guide was just over-the-top for me - too over-the-top. It was almost like a slumber party where someone tells bad horror stories around a flashlight in the dark bedroom. It was ridiculous. I am not going to discount the possibility of ghosts and other such supernatural beings, but the stories of men in black gliding across the field, balls of light chasing co-eds and winged women knocking at windows to steal one's soul, all told in the pitch blackness of this cemetery - well, it made me roll my eyes, yawn, stretch and dream of cider in the pub. I went back to the reviews to see if anyone else agreed with me and nope - I was alone in my skepticism. This was rated the #2 tour/attraction in Cardiff - even ahead of the lovely Cardiff Castle. Bollocks.

Still, my friends and I made the best of it, snickering in the dark and scaring each other to keep from falling asleep, but I would not recommend this if you are a rational human being. That was how the trip to Cardiff ended and that was almost the end of my vacation - which ended back in London, with friends, dinner and drinks, a free upgrade on my flight the next day and an uneventful flight back to Port of Spain.

I am already thinking - where can I go next - but then I opened my credit card statement this morning and well, I will not be going anywhere anytime soon. :-)

Hello Wales! Nice to see you again!

So then it was back to London, where I spent a few days recuperating. Yes. Recuperating. Between tourist life and running for trains, running for trains with the pink suitcase, heaving 19kg suitcase onto train platforms and up stairs (thank you London Victoria and Ealing Common for the free weight training sessions), I was happy to spend a few very anonymous days in my favourite city.

Being a loyal Hiltoner, I had some Hilton Honours points in the kitty and booked myself a 3-day stay at the newly refurbished Double Tree by Hilton in Ealing Common. Though a bit off the beaten path, the hotel itself was quite comfortable, terribly clean and just of the standard I have come to expect from the Hilton brand. Special mention goes out to the Nespresso machine in the room, which just made the stay that much sweeter. I had the best sleep of the entire trip here – with no maniacal tourist life activity keeping me in the tight clutches of exhaustion.

Hello, Nespresso!

I managed just to see a few people including the lovely Corey and the stay also included a lovely day trip to Bournemouth, to catch up with an old friend as he launched a new chapter in his life. But after a bliss-filled pitstop, I was off to Cardiff, Wales – a reunion with the city I first visited while still a poor post-grad. I love Cardiff though. While not as hectic as London, it has enough diversity, character and beauty to make it a great place to visit. My friends are also the warmest hosts ever, and there was to be no rest! Always eager to make sure her guests are properly entertained, our first adventure was to the Big Pit – and as the name suggests, it was a damn big pit.

The Big Pit National Coal Museum is an actual coal mine and the tour takes you 300 feet underground into the mine, where you get a vivid recounting of the life of the miner, including the evolution of mining, the risks, their domestic situations (wives had to put up with some smelly, dirty, gnat-infested men coming home from work) and the eventual loss of an entire way of life for the region, with the global emergence of natural gas and nuclear energy. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour, though not a fan of dark, confined spaces, and I managed to bump my head more than a few times in the low underground tunnels. But it was a highlight.

Dreary, windy Welsh day. Great day for an underground coal mine

The Big Pit in Wales

This guy is showing off some of the gear I wore on my tour

Of course after a morning in the mines, one simply has to go taste beer at the local brewery. But of course!

Nothing beats a cold beer after a few hours in the mine

I want to save the ghost walk for another entry so will end it here. That ghost walk…something special.

Caux and Montreux - Swiss Life continues

Amsterdam was always meant to be the more hectic part of the vacation, with my plans for Lausanne being really just to relax. It did not always feel like that though, but the next day, after a lot of wine, we headed towards Montreux, where we would take the funicular train up the mountain side to the small village of Caux. And it is small. But cute.

I guess a highlight of the village is the former Caux Palace Hotel, which is now a conference centre and a hotel school. But it is a beautiful building and though we were not allowed inside, I imagined the views from the grounds were stunning.

Still, we did not do too badly on the outskirts.

This funicular train experience was much better than a previous experience I had in Hastings, probably because the views were nicer, there were more people onboard (who wants to die alone?), and you could not see the incline from the base of the mountain.

With it being a warm and sunny day at last, we took the train back down and took an easy stroll along la Place du Marché in Montreux. Here, there were street vendors, boardwalk cafes and of course, the lake.

After a quick bite, we took the bus to Château de Chillon, where we would leave our friend to explore the castle on her own, but not before a few photos.

This was my last full day in Switzerland before heading back to my third favourite island after Trinidad and Tobago - Great Britain!

It's Wine O'Clock - Trip to Swiss Wine Country

After a great night out with adventures into Swiss fondue, we prepared ourselves for the next mission - to visit Lavaux - a region in the canton of Vaud, or as I like to call it, part of Swiss wine country. I was very excited for this and the weather seemed to cooperate ever so slightly as the rains abated, though the sun never really quite joined the party.

Lavaux is beautiful, framed by the gorgeous waters of the lake and with the Swiss alps nestled neatly in the background, though on this day we could barely see the peaks behind the grey of the now non-threatening clouds.

Beautiful views from the top of the vineyards

The wine villages below us 

We took the wine trail through the vineyards to the lovely town of St Saphorin, where we stopped for a bite and of course, had some wine. The trail itself takes you through the terraced vineyards which stretch for miles (and miles!), with the Chasselas grape being master (or mistress) of the vineyards.

Our lunch break was at a small, unpretentious village pub-like establishment (you know how I "love" pub-like establishments), but this was Switzerland and the dish of the day, comprised of perfectly cooked lamb, spinach and roast potatoes was fantastic.

Assiette du Jour!

With our bellies full, we took a less scenic stroll to the town of Rivas, the central town of the region and the location of the Lavaux Vinorama, where we would sample some of the best wines the region had to offer. Exciting!

After a short film about the life of the wine grower or le vigneron (during which time I unashamedly stole a few winks), we were led back upstairs to the main event - the tasting. We were actually supposed to taste 3 wines, but our dedicated host was a real gem, and between us girls, we managed to taste quite a few reds and whites - each exquisite (though there was one red which really did not make love to my palate at all!). Paired with bread and sticks of puff pastry, our afternoon wine tasting was decadent and is a must for anyone visiting this beautiful area of Lausanne.

Wines everywhere, at every turn...

Lovely whites from the Lavaux region in Switzerland

Our reds -all for us!

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