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When you are looking for that “Somewhere Warm” destination, perhaps your thoughts are of diving and snorkeling in the turquoise, clear waters of the Caribbean, or exploring the jungles and culture of Mexico, or relaxing on the beautiful sand beaches under swaying palms in Hawaii, but what if you could visit one destination that envelops you with all of this and so much more. Welcome to French Polynesia!

Situated halfway between California and Australia, the 118 islands of French Polynesia are clustered in five archipelagos: the Austral Islands, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, and the most populous and popular, Society Islands. My visit included five of the nine islands that make up the Society Islands and each island offered its own share of lush beauty and tropical adventure, mingled with Polynesian and French culture.

With late night departures from Los Angeles, the eight-hour nonstop flight gives you an early morning arrival at the Faa’a International Airport in Papeete, Tahiti, where you can immediately start exploring. The city of Papeete is bustling with shops, restaurants, and a large market place. Outside the city, the island offers hiking trails to waterfalls and hidden pools. Whether a novice hiker or an expert, local hiking guides are highly recommended as the terrain can be tricky even on well-marked paths. And what better way to have a true “off-the-beaten-track” experience than with someone who knows the best trails and best view points? There are also lava tube trails, the Arahoho blow hole and lighthouse, museums, and even a golf course.

In the near future the incredible Hawaiian Islands will open again to visitors from around the world. There may be some restrictions but in my opinion the restrictions will be worth it to experience Hawaii again. My family was actually on the Big Island of Hawaii in March when everything was shut down. We had to come home four days early and I can’t wait to go back to finish my vacation.

The first time that I went to Hawaii was over 35 years ago and I instantly fell in love with this beautiful and exciting destination. I have since returned many times to Hawaii and each time was a wonderful experience. I often find myself daydreaming about my next trip there. Which island will I go to? Which incredible resort will I stay at? How many strikingly colorful fish will I see as I snorkel? There I go off daydreaming again! I love Hawaii and all it has to offer.

There are a few changes, but Disney is still making it a magical vacation. You now have to have a reservation for each park which is easy to do through the Disney app and because they are limiting people in each park that means shorter and faster lines. Some lines even have a virtual queue so you don’t have to stand in line at all. Disney is doing temperature checks and you must wear a mask except when eating or drinking, but this is so you can enjoy your vacation safely. Even though they don’t have character meet and greets they have added fun touches like have a princess wave and call out to people from a balcony, or a quick parade will pass by you. Things at Disney may have changed, but they work hard for you to have the most magical, safe, vacation possible.

Please contact me and I can help make your Disney dreams become a reality!

Amber Lee Johanson

If I can help plan your next vacation, please contact me:

Street: 101 S. 200 East, Suite 100
City: Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Phone: (801) 483-6314

Business Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

There is a way to get a little culture and education, all from the comfort of your own home. We've compiled a list of 10 of the world's top museums and galleries to bring you virtual tours and online exhibits. Click on each museum's main image to “go to the museum”, all from the comfort of your own couch.

Natural History Museum London

London's famous Natural History Museum uses its unique collections and unrivaled expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today. The museum cares for more than 80 million specimens spanning billions of years and now you can delve into the Museum from home with a virtual self-guided tour of the galleries, an interactive experience about Hope the blue whale and audio guides narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Vatican Museums Rome Italy

"The Vatican, the Museum of Museums," houses Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman, Christian, and epigraphic, paintings of several centuries and the great Renaissance of Raphael and Michelangelo in the “Rooms” and the Sistine Chapel. And then there are the decorative arts, the ethnological collections, the historical collections, the carriages and the papal berlins, up to modern and contemporary art.

Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) is one of the most famous artists in the history of Western art. Read Van Gogh's biography, discover the stories about his life and work, and explore his paintings, drawings and letters in the museum's collection.Step into Van Gogh's world. Explore the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh at home by clicking the image above.

The Picasso Museum Barcelona

The Picasso museum is very rich in regard to work from the formative years in the life of the artist; it is practically exhaustive up to the Blue Period. The Museum also houses an important representation of works from 1917, and the series Las Meninas (1957) as well as a comprehensive print collection.

J Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center in Los Angeles houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and photography from its beginnings to the present, gathered internationally.

The Met New York

The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum's galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

The Louvre Museum Paris

Formerly a royal palace, the Louvre has embraced the history of France for eight centuries. Intended as a universal museum since its inception in 1793, its collections—among the finest in the world—span several thousands of years and a territory that extends from America to the confines of Asia. Divided among eight departments, these collections feature works admired throughout the globe, including the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Venus de Milo. With nearly ten million visitors annually, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum.

National Musem Anthropology Mexico

National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) in Mexico City contains the world's largest collection of ancient Mexican art and also has ethnographic exhibits about Mexico's present-day indigenous groups. From its conception, this icon of urban architecture of the 20th century was designed to be, more than a repository, a space for reflection on the rich indigenous heritage of our multicultural nation. Its 22 rooms and its more than 45 thousand square meters of construction make it the largest museum in Mexico and one of the most outstanding in the world.

Museo de Sau Paulo

With the most important collection of European art in the southern hemisphere, MASP’s holdings currently consist of more than 11 thousand artworks, including paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs, videos and pieces of clothing from various periods, from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Pergonon Museum Berlin

With its numerous institutions that have evolved over generations, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin constitutes an encyclopedic museum, spread over many different sites, that aims to preserve, research, and display art treasures and cultural artifacts dating from all human history, and educate the public about their importance. The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s collections encompass the fields of European and non-European art, archaeology and ethnology from virtually all nations, cultures, and periods.

   

“First” experiences when I get to travel still give me butterflies which to me is part of the fun. I can tell you that taking the Italio fast train for the day from Rome to Florence was one of the best first experiences that I truly enjoyed from beginning to end.

Here are a few reasons why I highly recommend this, and any train day trip from Rome.

1. The cost of the ticket for the train for us was more expensive since we bought it on the day of travel, but if you buy it in advance, it is economical. We did upgrade our ticket to first-class and got that got a seat assignment and beverage service. I don’t think we’d do that again if we bought in advance because it wasn’t that much of a benefit. In case there wasn’t much of a difference in cost so we thought we’d try it out.

For Florence, it’s a walking city so having a car would have been a waist and renting a car in Italy is not for the faint of heart.

2. The fast train got us from Rome to the center of Florence in just 90 mins. That was important to give us as much time in the city as we could get for the day experience. We took the early train in and one of the last departures back that day which gave us 10 hours to explore.

3. Seeing the country outside of the bigger cities is so refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, the cities in Italy are why we come but getting out of the noise and busy streets, it’s easy to imagine the simple day to day life of the countrysides. I also could imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago with the simple beauty of the hillside villages in simpler times.

4. For us, this was our first introduction to Florence and let me tell you, it does NOT disappoint in any way. It is an easy city to “find” the important places you want to see. We bought a “highlight” city map when we got off the train and could find every site easily on our own. Even when we did go down the wrong streets, there was wonderful discovery’s to be made.

Most cities in Rome you’d visit via train I can imagine would be the same in many ways: wonderful sites, smells, and people.

5. Doing a day trip lets you get just enough of a city to know if it’s a place you want to spend more time on your next visit. I’ve done day trips to places others have raved about that to me, I was ok to experience it once and not feel the need to return. It didn’t speak to me I guess the way it to someone else. It happens. And, I’ve been to places that I’ve cried when I left before I knew my heart was there and I wanted to see and experience everything – One day would never be enough and those are the places that will be the focus of your next trip.

Now that hope that if you find yourself in Rome you consider taking a day to explore outside of that magnificent city and see what more is waiting for you to experience.

Happy travels!

All the best,
Wendy Fracchia
Morris Murdock Escorted Tours

(801) 483-5285
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