The Galapagos

[The traveler] may feel assured, he will meet with no difficulties or dangers, excepting in rare cases, nearly so bad as he beforehand anticipates. In a moral point of view, the effect ought to be, to teach him good-humored patience, freedom from selfishness, the habit of acting for himself, and of making the best of every occurrence. . . Traveling ought also to teach him distrust; but at the same time he will discover, how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he never before had, or ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance. ~ Charles Darwin

Eden For Your World does the Galapagos – but, not the blog. Please enjoy the following guest blog post from our dear guest Mrs. Josephine M., who accompanied us, along with her family, to experience the magic of the islands!

I have been fortunate to travel to many places in the world with trips planned by Eden for Your World. They have arranged travels to Asia, Europe, South America, and the South Pacific. I can assure you that as outstanding and memorable each of those trips have been, I have truly never experienced anything like the trip we took to the Galapagos.

It all started about two years ago… John and Kasra, at Eden For Your World, thought, wouldn’t it be fun to gather a small group of people and not just book them on a trip but lead the excursion…to the Galapagos! Along with their partners in Ecuador, they designed a trip of a lifetime! They sent out a feeler email to see if anyone was interested. I saw the email and before a minute had passed my entire family was on board. We responded immediately. Our quick reaction paid off – John and Kasra were inundated with responses. Seems everyone was anxious to explore the world with the two of them. From then on it was in their hands and it was a breeze. We were given details, updates, and payment timelines. They communicated with us via email, phone and social media. They sent pictures and relevant articles to spark our imagination. They sent guidelines on what to pack, how to tip, and local customs to ease our minds. They even arranged a wonderful reception at their home so that we could meet all of our travel companions and had representatives to answer all of our specific questions. You know the pressing questions like: What is the exchange rate? (None – the Ecuadorians use the US dollar), is their WIFI? (only some places). And the ever important question; do you have ice-cream on board? (asked by my daughter and yes, they do).

We started our trip in Quito, the capital and largest city in Ecuador. We stayed at Plaza Grande Hotel in the colonial section of Quito. The hotel is full of old world charm with the benefits of all the modern day conveniences you want. The central, historic, part of the city is quite spectacular. It is a UNESCO World Heritage city, because of it’s well preserved Spanish Colonial architecture.

We enjoyed a personally guided day tour of this enchanting city and the surrounding areas. This is a city of cobblestone streets and breath-taking churches. We started our tour at La Basilica, a Gothic church renowned for its soaring buttresses and rose windows. Unique to Ecuadorian architecture the stained glass windows feature orchids in the designs and instead of gargoyles native animals serve to protect the edifice.

We were then off to the Intinan Museum at the middle of the world. Yes, the EXACT middle of the Earth. This outdoor museum showed how native Ecuadorians lived, which was enough to make it worthwhile but the real excitement came when we stood on the Equator. We were always taught that this is an imaginary line that separates the Northern from the Southern Hemisphere. It is so much more than that. It is the place where the magnetic forces of the poles cancel each other out. Did you know that it is really hard to walk directly on the Equator? The best part of this museum was that it gave everyone in the group a chance to learn and laugh together. It was a great bonding experience that made the rest of our trip even more memorable.

Then it was back into the city with a visit to Capilla de los Milagros, a small 16th century chapel. While this chapel had all of the charm that one would hope for and expect it was what followed that truly took our breath away. We exited the church into a dazzling enclosed courtyard. Whitewashed walls -hand laid stone terraces and a bell tower that reached to an impossibly blue sky. In the shade of a small group of trees a table for 18 was set as traditional music played in the background and women dressed in authentic costumes handed us traditional refreshments. It was like walking onto a movie set. We feasted on four courses of authentic Ecuadorian cuisine while enjoying traditional dances from brightly clothed dancers. And of course Eden For Your World had worked their usual magic and surprised one of our young travelers who is a budding chef with the privilege of cooking along side the chef.

Not to be outdone we were off to another grand church, the Iglesia de la Compania. This one’s interior was entirely covered in gold leaf and is home to a most spectacular altar. We then rounded out the afternoon with a stroll through the quaint plazas that dot the old part of the city to window shop (and souvenir shop) authentic handcrafts for which Ecuador is famous.

That evening EdenFYW gave all of us a spectacular treat. They hosted a dinner at Casa Gangotena for all of us. Casa Gangotena is a spectacular hotel two plazas over from our hotel. So that evening under old-fashioned lamplight we strolled through town to Casa Gangotena. This grand hotel was once home to an old aristocratic family. We walked into the marble hall and made our way to the solarium where we enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail. Then off to a gilded dining room for dinner. Ecuadorians enjoy colorful, playful food and enjoy a varied palate. This was evidence from the very start. We were served bread. Then out came a platter with eight tiny bowls lined up; eight varied and intriguing dipping sauces for the bread. My favorite was a beet and horseradish combination. The food was glorious, the atmosphere joyous and the conversation, marvelous. It was if the 18 of us had known each other all of our lives and had always traveled together. Then another leisurely stroll back to our hotel and a welcomed night sleep in a very comfortable bed.

The following day we set off for the Galapagos Islands. The organized transfer, flights and VIP arrival at the Baltra airport could not have been easier…

Then we saw her. The M/Y Grace (I refer to her as the Grace. M/Y is her official title as she is a motor yacht. At the time she was commissioned motor yachts were not as common as they are today. )

She had all of the style, glamour and old world grace we had hoped for (pun intended). The furnishings are classic yet comfortable. This was a yacht that was designed for the comfort of her guests without a lot of the trappings and space conserving mis-steps you see in more modern vessels. The outdoor space is designed to allow cooling breezes and warm sun when you want them and shade and respite from the wind when you need it.

There were 18 of us on board and a staff of 15. I could go on for pages on the virtues of the staff, individually and as a group, but suffice to say that they take their jobs very seriously and our comfort and safety were of paramount importance to them. They were warm and kind and very knowledgeable.

What many people do not know about the Galapagos is that tourism is very well controlled and restricted. The Ecuadorians want tourists to enjoy this natural wonder but respect it enough to keep numbers of people in check so that we do not disturb the natural order of the islands. Because of this the schedule that we had was dictated by the National Park. We were given windows of times to be at certain islands then we were required to pull up anchor and move on. Here lies the biggest benefit for traveling with Eden For Your World and the Quasar Group (which owns the Grace). Because there were only 18 of us we had the flexibility to make changes within our set time frames to take full advantage of opportunities as they arose. I will get to that in a bit.

We spent 8 days on the boat. The days started with a wake-up call and either a hike on an island or a snorkel. Then back to the boat for breakfast. After breakfast we would head out for another hike or snorkel followed by lunch and an afternoon hike or snorkel and or cruise to a new island. Follow that by wrap of the day’s events and with slide show of the highlights of the day (another of John’s many talents) and finally dinner under the stars.

Let me take a minute to tell you that the food on board was ridiculously good. They joked that the chef was going to try to put weight on us while the guides would try to work it off of us. I think the chef won. Every meal featured fresh fruits and vegetables, soups and salads main dishes and dessert. Yes, we had dessert twice a day every day. Correction, we had fabulous, decadent, handmade desserts, twice a day, every day.

Now, onto the good stuff. What you’ve been waiting to hear. Is the Galapagos as good as you hear? No, it is so much better. It is truly better than you can imagine. On our first day, our first excursion we landed on a beach with 30+ sea lions that were basking in the sand. Was it roped off? NO! We were there within feet (sometimes inches) of these animals. Now, they do have rules. You may not touch the wild life – and they are serious about that. But if the wildlife touches you, that is okay. One sea lion walked up to a member of our party and brushed its whiskers against her leg (that is how they explore).

The two naturalists we had with us knew absolutely EVERYTHING about everything that had to do with the islands. They knew each animal, plant, rock, bird, and all of the history of these wonderful islands and they were funny and interesting to boot. They made sure that all of us no matter our age or ability truly enjoyed our experience. They were able to custom tailor each experience because there were two of them.

I will now list for you all of the animals we saw – up close.

  • Sea lions (they love to swim with people)
  • White tipped sharks (yes, we did swim with them too)
  • Penguins
  • Land iguanas
  • Sea iguanas (little known fact that they are the only ones that swim in the world. They are black prehistoric looking and a little disconcerting when they slither through the water using only their tails
  • Sea turtles (we swam with them too)
  • Sea stars, sea anemones, huge schools of fish
  • Hammer head sharks
  • Jelly fish
  • Sea horses
  • Rays
  • Dozens of species of birds, including of course the famous blue footed boobies
  • Crabs – lots and lots of crabs
  • Giant tortoise

Wow! That is amazing. Is that all you saw? Why no, it’s not. Remember I told you about the ability of this group to take advantage of opportunities when they arose. One day before the morning snorkel, someone spotted a killer whale off the bow. Yes that is right, a killer whale. Down went to pangas (little boats that shuttle you from ship to shore), and off everyone went. Now, it would be dangerous to swim with them but the pangas got within 20 feet of the whale that breached several times. The next day, a pod of dolphins was sited – down went the pangas filled with passengers/snorkelers (kids still in the PJs). It was thrilling and wonderful.

The days were filled with so many wonderful, astonishing, memorable moments. It was truly a life changing experience. What a great “family” we had become over our week on board together.

Upon our return some of us headed back to the States, while others headed out to Mashpi Lodge, and eco-resort in the Ecuadorian cloud forest. [Please see next blog post]

If this trip sounds like a trip of a lifetime and I assure it was. The thing is every trip that EdenFYW has planned for us is a trip of a lifetime. The thought that they put into every detail is unsurpassed in the industry. They leave nothing to chance. They are always just a phone call away if you ever need them. But to have John and Kasra actually with us made the trip all the more special.

Here is our Galapagos travel video, so you can see a why you must go: The Galapagos

Enjoy more photos on our Facebook, Galapagos, album: Galapagos 2015

Contact your Eden For Your World advisor to begin planning your visit to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: info@edenforyourworld.com

Photos and media are all by Eden For Your World, and are only for us to use, unless otherwise permitted. Thank you! #EdenFYW

Rosewood London Calling

Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford. ~ Samuel Johnson

Welcome to London, welcome to the world… We came, we walked, we shopped, we ate, we museum-ed, we pub-ed, we stayed in luxury, but, we’ll never be royals.

Samueul Johnson’s quote says it best.  London is full of life. There is so much to see and do in the city, that you’ll feel like you can never do it all. Like any big European city it has museums, cultural sites and arts, shopping, dining and local attractions that can keep you going nonstop. But, the core of the city is quite manageable in size and you can realistically walk by everything on your list quite easily.  May we just say that the we love the Victoria and Albert and British Museums. They are both so beautifully curated! They each have just enough of the empire’s amazing booty to keep you interested in visiting every one of their galleries. In London there’s a vibe and a pace that is so similar to what we find in the big cities of the U.S., but it is definitely unlike anything at home. It’s very cosmopolitan and very English at the same time. That’s what we love about it! Friendly faces and a familiar language make it easy to strike up conversations with locals and visitors alike (usually over a pint). However, getting around is not so easy.  We found the traffic to be as frustrating as it is in L.A.. So after a few private car transfers and taxi rides we opted for the Underground. It’s everywhere, it’s easy and it’s clean. Mind the gap!

You’ll enjoy the sites of course, but, you’ll also love exploring all of London’s unique neighborhoods.  Each with it’s it own vibe and energy. Visit Knightsbridge for a glimpse at some of the most gorgeous town houses and some of the haute-est cuisine in town. Check out SOHO at any time of day (or night) for non-stop action and energy.  Bloomsbury is a good respite from the fast pace, and it’s picturesque tree lined streets are just steps away from theaters and retail therapy. You know you have to see Kensington and Chelsea, it’s so London! Needless to say, there is a neighborhood for your every mood.  Just don’t forget to wave to the Queen when you pass her pad in Westminster.

Speaking of pads, London has no shortage of excellent luxury accommodations to choose from.  On this occasion we choose to stay at the beautiful Rosewood London.

Rosewood London

Hotel of the Year 2014 – Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards

Housed in a 1914 Edwardian Belle Époque building, Rosewood London is steeped in history. Its 262 guestrooms and 44 generously appointed suites, created by renowned New York-based Tony Chi and Associates, are inspired by a traditional British manor house and evoke that of a true London residence. Rooms are designed to provide a series of discoveries to surprise, please and amuse guests by doormen in tweed caps enter through wrought iron gates, into the peaceful courtyard giving a sense of arrival more akin to a private manor house than a hotel. Rosewood London embraces guests within one of London’s most historic locales. The central location, moments from Covent Garden, near an eclectic arcade of ultra-luxury boutiques on Lamb’s Conduit Street, the British Museum, Theaterland and the Royal Opera House.

EFYW guests receive the following exclusive benefits:
-Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
-Daily Full English Breakfast.
-$100 USD Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay.
-Early check-in/late check-out,subject to availability.

See London and the hotel in our video: Rosewood London

Dining (here’s where we ate or drank and loved it):

  • Gymkhana
  • Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill
  • Berners Tavern at The London Edition
  • China Tang at the Dorchester
  • Scarfe’s Bar at the Rosewood London

Contact your EdenFYW advisor to begin planning your visit to London: info@edenforyourworld.com

Photos and media are all by #edenfyw, therefore, are only for us to use. Thank you!

 

Paris! Paris! Paris!

Je suis sous le charme! 

Paris is magic!  Anyone who tells you different is confused!

We happened to fall upon it during the winter holidays.  It was the first time we’d been there to witness no leaves on the trees and very little of the quintessential overflow of Parisian diners being beautiful at outdoor cafes.  Not even the bitter cold (for us Californians) could stop us from walking the city day and night, all the while in awe of it’s elegance.  Yes, it was lovely.  But, it was also a bit like guiding the lily… Paris is so incredibly beautiful on it’s own, without festooned garlands down every street and big glittery bows adorning it’s grand palace facades. Nevertheless, the city was alive and gorgeous as ever.

Paris is organized, it’s distinct neighborhoods, it’s grand, it’s manageable, it’s museums, it’s boutiques, it’s cafes (we have new favorites), it’s chic, and it’s just too pretty to describe in words.  The big, luxurious, city can be can be anything you want it to be.  Whether you’re looking to eat, shop, get enlightened or just relax, it’s all there for you to discover.  Paris is comprised of twenty neighborhoods (arrondissements) that each have a particular feel.  It’s important to choose the location of your accommodations appropriately according to how you’d like to enjoy your stay.  There is definitely no shortage on variety of hotel/apartment types in the city.  We’re here to make that decision easier for you (read more about where we stayed below).  Needless to say, we’ve done our homework on the City of Light and we’ve got you covered.

About that… City of Light vs. City of Lights thing… We are on the City of Light team.  Paris was know as the “ville lumière”, which was meant to express Paris’ enlightenment in terms of the arts, culture and learning. Thought the city it lit beautifully, it’s clear that the city was and is still enlightened!

If it’s your first visit, plan on staying at least five nights.  You would kill yourself if you stayed any less.  If you’re returning or haven’t been for a while, be sure to visit the new Fondation Louis Vuitton that Frank Ghery designed and the newly reopened Picasso Museum.  Both amazing!

Oh, and Parisians like us (if you’re cool).  Anyone who tells you different is confused!

Let’s start planning your visit to the City of Light.  Sante!

~ ~ ~

LE BRISTOL PARIS

Within walking distance of the Champs Elysées and the Louvre, the impeccable Le Bristol Paris occupies one of the city’s most elegant shopping streets, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The hotel features 188 rooms, including 92 suites, each decorated in luxurious chintz fabrics and rare antique furnishings. Guestrooms are among the largest in Paris! Le Bristol offers an air of seclusion in its peaceful garden setting. Rare for Paris, Le Bristol features a vast interior courtyard garden, the largest of its kind. Equally impressive is the hotel’s swimming pool located on the sixth floor with stunning city views.

Fun fact: On some Saturdays, the elegant Castellane salon hosts fashion high teas, featuring designer cakes (the BEST croissants in town) and the latest collections…

EFYW guests receive the following exclusive benefits:
-Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability (up to deluxe Junior suite. Higher categories are on arrival, subject to availability).
-Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests at their Bar or in our main restaurant Epicure.
-$100 USD Spa Services credit, to be utilized during stay.
-Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability.

See Paris and the hotel in our video:  Le Bristol

PLAZA ATHENEE PARIS

Practically synonymous with Paris, Hôtel Plaza Athénée brims with all the elegance one would expect of a classic hotel situated between the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower. Located on the prestigious Avenue Montaigne, at the crossroads of fashion, entertainment and business, the Hôtel Plaza Athénée represents a delicate balance of refinement and luxury.The lobby is a vision in “Plaza red,” terra cotta, gold and bronze — accents you’ll discover in your room as well. Each of the 148 guestrooms and 46 suites offers windows that open to the Eiffel Tower, Avenue Montaigne, La Cour Jardin, the inner courtyard or the rooftops of Paris. See and be seen in one of several acclaimed dining options, including Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée.

Fun fact: As part of Paris’ citywide bicycle program, called Vélib, the hotel provides complimentary bikes with shopping totes for guests’ use.

EFYW guests receive the following exclusive benefits:
-Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests.
-Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
-85 EUR Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay.
-Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability.

See Paris and the hotel in our video:  Plaza Athenee

Photos and media are all by #edenfyw, therefore, are only for us to use.  Merci!

 

La Vie est Belle en St Barth

Another blog about St Barth… We won’t do that to you.  There is not much more left to say about it, is there?  You know it’s in a stunning French island in the Caribbean.  You know everybody, who’s anybody takes their holiday there.  You know the food is going to be amazing… it’s French!  You know everybody living on or visiting the island is, has been or will be a model.  “La vie est belle” – Life is good in St Barth!

So what are you waiting for?  With easy flight options and fabulous accommodations, what is keeping you from having that perfect croissant in paradise?

Contact your Eden For Your World travel advisor to start designing your holiday.

Enjoy a video of our recent stay at the beautiful Hotel le Toiny. Click here:  St Barth Video.

Get Your Hotel Perks!

Eden For Your World is a full service travel agency.  We offer our clients personalized and effortless assistance in travel arrangements around the globe.  Our affiliations and preferred status with the world’s leading hotels allows us to extend exceptional benefits and perks to our clients.  Who doesn’t like complimentary upgrades, complimentary breakfasts, spa treatments, bottles of wine, transfers, VIP treatment and more?

Hotel Blog 1Hotel Blog 2

Enjoy the privileges of booking with EFYW, at these fine properties:

  • Four Seasons – Preferred Partner
  • Mandarin Oriental – FAN Club
  • Starwood – Luxury Privileges
  • Ritz Carlton – STARS Program
  • Peninsula – Pen Club
  • Dorchester Collection – Diamond Club Member
  • Langham – Couture Program
  • Belmond – Orient Express – Bellini Club
  • Rocco Forte – Sir Rocco’s Knights
  • Rosewood – Elite Program
  • Fairmont – Famous Agents
  • & many more fine hotels around the world.

The benefits of our service extends far beyond hotels. Enjoy the ease, expertise and perks of planning all of your travels with us!

See the world… better, with Eden For Your World.

Contact us today to start planning.  info@edenforyourworld.com

 

Birkenhead House, Hermanus – South Africa

Hermanus and Birkenhead House

After your adventure in the bush, after you’ve downed several bottles in wine county and after you’ve thoroughly explored Cape Town… you’ll need a vacation.  There is no better place to unwind and reflect on your amazing South African journey than at Birkenhead House in Hermanus.

An hour and a half drive, from Cape Town, will bring you to the charming town of Hermanus.  You’ll definitely find enough to do to keep you busy here.  Situated on Walker Bay, it is one of the best places on earth for whale watching, close encounters with Cape Fur Seals,  as well as Great White Shark cage diving (an absolute thrill just down the road in Gansbaai).  Beyond the thrill of seeing these great animals of the sea, there are a myriad of other activities for the nature lover, including an all time favorite – laying out on one the spectacular beaches!  Of course there is enough in town to keep you busy as well.  Great galleries, local markets and restaurants will keep you occupied.  But, don’t forget that the reason you are coming here is to relax.

So you’ve read a bit of what you can do while you are in the area.  But, you may discover that you won’t be in such a hurry to get through your list once you arrive to Birkenhead House. It’s not a hotel, it’s a home.  In fact it’s like staying at your best friends place at the beach… that best friend that has exquisite taste and tends to your every wish.  The vibe here is chill.  Though you are in luxury, the atmosphere and staff are laid-back.  Lounging all day on the deck or kicking your feet up in the one of the many intimate living areas is totally normal and encouraged.  Here, you’ll fall asleep to the sound of soft waves in one of the eleven beautifully appointed rooms.  You’ll enjoy delicious meals and local wines as you wish, as the hotel is all inclusive.  Best of all, you’ll have time to relax and reflect while floating in their infinity pool which overlooks Walker Bay and beyond.  The sunsets here are magical!

Welcome to Hermanus and Gansbaai.

Watch our video of Cape Town and Surrounds, including this beautiful region!

Learn more about cage diving with the Great White Shark and why Marine Dynamics is our preferred supplier.

Birkenhead House.  Let us plan this bit of bliss into your South African holiday.  www.edenforyourworld.com.20140201-154703.jpg20140201-154710.jpg20140201-154717.jpg20140201-154723.jpg20140201-154730.jpg20140201-154736.jpg20140201-154744.jpg20140201-154751.jpg20140201-154757.jpg20140201-154804.jpg20140201-154809.jpg

20140201-154829.jpg

20140201-154836.jpg

20140201-154843.jpg

20140201-154851.jpg

Cape Town – South Africa

 

Cape Town

There is a reason that there is a buzz in the air about Cape Town… it’s because it is awesome!  And, now may be the best time to visit it yourself.  It’s in the midst of a huge transformation that you don’t want to miss… and it’s always better to go before everybody else does.

The 2010 World Cup really put the city on the map for world travelers, when government invested hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure and the private sector matched them in upping the scene for visitors by refreshing neighborhoods and an creating new restaurants and hotels.  The spark that was lit four years ago has continued to burn under the the feet of entrepreneurs, artists and investors.

The city is a buzz of activity.  With a jaw dropping setting, wonderful weather, friendly locals and plenty to do, it’s no wonder Cape Town is on every must see list of 2014!

Read more about why CPT is so hot right now.

52 Places to Go in 2014 – NY Times

Good Timing – LA Times

World Design Capital 2014

Cape Town has several distinct neighborhoods.  Make sure to make your way out of the beautiful, but touristy, Waterfront area to explore the one’s that peak your interest.  Find great shopping and cafes in the Lower Kloof area, or stroll along the up and coming De Waterkant for great jazz and galleries, or make it down to Camps Bay to play at the beach with all the beautiful people of Cape Town.  Whatever you do, don’t miss Saturday in the Woodstock neighborhood at the Old Biscuit Mill market and design center.  Trust us… go early, go hungry!  The city is full of delicious places to eat and drink, but expect to make reservations far in advance for the hot spots.  Locals love to eat out as much as visitors and getting a table at the in spot may be harder than you think. But, that’s why you have us, right?

There are a handful of wonderful five star hotels to choose from as well.  Each has it’s own unique vibe and each has a sense of place.  We enjoyed visiting three of these top hotels during our visit.  We’ll help pick just the right one for your stay.

Cape Grace in the Waterfront.

Mount Nelson Hotel in Tamboerskloof.

The Twelve Apostles just outside of Camps Bay.

Go see why life is “lekker” in Cape Town!  lekker: [lekk-irr with a rolling r] Nice, good, great, cool or tasty.

Watch our video of Cape Town and Surrounds.

Lets start planning your visit!  www.edenforyourworld.com

Here are a few photos to entice you.

20140125-155536.jpg

20140125-155528.jpg

 

20140125-155553.jpg

20140125-155602.jpg

 

20140125-155842.jpg

20140125-155850.jpg

20140125-155859.jpg

 

20140125-155931.jpg

20140125-155908.jpg

20140125-155924.jpg

20140125-160004.jpg

20140125-155956.jpg

20140125-160027.jpg