It’s been a crazy busy two months of travel for me, and while it was an exciting bit of travel, it reinforces for me the preference to have a home base rather than to be nomadic. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to travel. But I LOVE coming home just as much.
There will be stories, reviews, and more details to come out of these travels, of course, but for now here’s a look at it all through Instagram. And you are following me on Instagram, right?!
Mid-September took me to Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando. You’ve missed it for this year, but if you’re a fan of the genre, put it on your calendar for next year.
Time for a scary good time.
While at Universal Orlando, I also had a chance to check out many of the other rides and attractions, and, of course the two Harry Potter areas – Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley.
The dragon guarding Gringott’s Bank in Diagonal Alley. It’s a rainy day but so much fun to explore. A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on
In late September, it was off to Portugal for a Viking River cruise on the Duoro River. I’ve wanted to return to Portugal for some time, and the opportunity to do so with a bunch of friends was the perfect way to do it. I’m a fan of Viking – their ships, itinerary, and customer service – and if you’re wondering if a river cruise is right for you, I’d recommend checking them out.
Like lace in stone. Amazing craftsmanship telling part of the history of Lisbon.
The cruise started in Porto, about a 3-ish hour drive from Lisbon. It’s a fun city in its own right, with a dynamic food scene, and it’s beautiful at night. This is also home to Port, another good reason to put it on your list of stops.
A last look at Porto at night. #vikingsocial A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on
River cruising is a relaxing way to see many of the small towns and regions that you’d miss if you contained your travels to major cities. The scenery along the Duoro was beautiful.
A beautiful day for cruising the Duoro River.
I liked being on deck when it was time to transit the many locks on the Duoro. It’s a fascinating process of raising and lowering the water level to get through. And most often, there were only a few inches of clearance on each side between the ship and the walls of the locks.
Its worthwhile to spend time on deck as the ship goes through the locks. A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on
One thing I love about river cruising is the opportunity to visit towns that I otherwise wouldn’t make it to. One of the stops was Salamanca, Spain, a university town that would be worth a return visit.
As I walked out on the streets of Lamego.
I was home from the Portugal for less than 48 hours – barely enough time to unpack, do laundry, and repack – before heading off to Bangkok. I always enjoy my time in Southeast Asia, in large part because of the delicious street food.
Street food in Bangkok. A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on
After Thailand, I had a few days at home before heading across country to Fort Lauderdale. Not much free time there, but I did have time to enjoy beach and sunset views. From a hotel. Sigh. Perhaps the next visit will offer me time to actually see those beaches.
Interesting cloud formations over the Atlantic Ocean
Then it was time to head to the cruise port and the embarkation of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. The megaship is like a floating city and carries over 8,000 people, a combined total of passengers and crew. It wasn’t as overwhelming as it sounds, and I found some favorite parts of the ship that I became very familiar with, but it’s definitely a different pace from river crusing.
The mighty #oasisoftheseas
While I loved the time in port, especially when it involved relaxing on the beach. . .
Playing in the surf at Orient Beach, Sint Martin #tbex
. . . I also loved finding a spot on the ship to relax and enjoy the view.
Even on a 6,000 passenger cruise ship, you can find space to sit quietly and enjoy the view.