Hello everyone. I'm a long time Marriott user who just recently discovered Marriott Rewards Insiders. I am accountant in the oil and gas industry in Houston, Texas. I love to travel but unfortunately haven't been able to do much of it until the last few years. I've mostly travelled within the U.S., but I will be making my first trip abroad later this year. I am so excited! I am single with no children, while most of my friends are married and with children. This makes it hard to find travel companions. I have decided that I've waited long enough and that it's time to start travelling solo. I'm not sure when it'll be or where it'll be to, but I can rest assured knowing that it'll be an adventure.
I just planned a trip for my family (my brother and my parents) to Panama. Besides the Panama Canal, I'm not sure what there is to see and do in Panama, but I'm excited to find out. I'll probably start my research soon so I can plan our days. Sadly, we don't know how to relax during our vacations. We seem to fill our days with as much things to see and do as possible. Since we can't afford to travel often, we like to make the most of our vacations and get to know the city we're visiting.
After Panama, I am planning a trip to Costa Rica, and then Madrid sometime next year. In between, I'd like to plan one or two trips here in the U.S. One of these trips I've decided will be to Portland, but I'm not sure about the other one. Any suggestions? I like outdoorsy stuff like kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and zip lining, and I prefer cooler rather than warmer weather. I'd obviously like to stay at a Marriott, especially since I plan to travel alone. I've never had a bad experience and always felt safe at Marriott hotels.
Welcome to MI and howdy neighbor! Yep, I'm in The Woodlands so we are neighbors in the big scheme of things. You will find some excellent tips from the insiders here who have traveled the world as well as our wonderful country.
As for your Panama trip, my son and his wife spent a week in the Panama City area spending quite a bit of time on http://bocasdeltoro.com/. They raved about the place so it might be worth checking out.
Portland is a great city with the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, the beautiful http://www.crgva.org/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multnomah_Falls, Oregon Wineries if you're into wine and of course Mt. Hood all near to Portland. My wife grew up in the Portland area so we travel there a few times each year and will be there next weekend. merb will be able to give you the best recommendations as she mentioned she lives in the "Rose City"
If you're going to the northwest you might want to venture to Seattle as well, another gem and probably my first or second favorite city in the country. I'd live there if we could live in the same lifestyle there as we are lucky enough to here in Houston!!
Off to the golf course I must go, but I will look forward to learning more of your travel plans and experiences when you return from each trip, mean time enjoy a wonderful time on insiders and don't be a stranger.
My husband is also in the oil & gas industry, but here in California. See our screen name is "Oilmasters"
It looks like you've got the travel bug with all your exciting trips planned! We just got back from Portland & Seattle so I can comment on that trip. I really enjoyed the Multnomah Falls & I would recommend walking to the top for a great view. It is so green & pretty there that if you love the outdoors you will find a lot to do. If you drive further into Seattle, I would recommend the Chihuly Museum filled with colorful, artistic glass art & the Seattle Needle is right next door for some great aerial views. Also, stop by Serious Pie for some great pizza.
Another U.S. trip recommendation would be to San Diego, CA. Weather is great year round & lots of nice beaches, kayaking, hiking to do. The San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina would be an ideal hotel located next to the water & near GasLamp district with lots of restaurants.
You might also consider a tour group if you go international by yourself. You can meet people & the guides are very informative. We went on a family tour to China & we met some nice people & learned so much about the culture.
Have great travels!
Welcome to MRI!
I am a female solo traveler. I always travel independently, never with a tour group. I'm just not one of those people that like to be shepherded around from site to site via a bus. And, have your luggage outside the door at 7am and be on the bus before 8am. Where "seeing" a site means a drive by on the bus.
I prefer to do things on my timeline with the opportunity to change plans on the fly if I don't like somewhere or I like it very much and want to stay longer!
I am currently in NW Spain on a 23 day vacation. I will spend my last 2 nights in Madrid.
Last year, I also vacationed in Spain in a different area (central) but spent my last 5 nights in Madrid. I thought that I'd do a couple of day trips but ended up finding so much to see and do in Madrid that one of those day trips has moved to this year. The other will have to wait for another trip!
i travel to Europe alone each year. No need for an organized tour. Buy a couple of guide books, figure out what areas and activities interest you and start planning. Along with this site, there are other travel forums such as Fodors, lonely planet, etc. where people will answer any questions you may have.
Have been to both Panama and Costa Rica on cruises. Had a wonderful time in both countries and would not hesitate to return.
The must do in Panama is of course the canal tour. I would recommend cruising the length of the canal, and see all the locks. One of the most fascinating things about taking a cruise through the canal is that it all starts about 4 am as the ships start queuing for the day to pass through the canal, and then the local pilot arrives on the pilot ship to take control. As you pass through each lock, there is a ship in the lock going in the opposite direction. There are cruises that do partial or full transits. The partial transits go as far as Gatun Lake, and then you can take a cruise exercusion to sail the remaining length of the canal and through all the locks. With a full transit you stay on the cruise ship the entire journey. Most partial transits cruises are 10-11 days, and full transit are 14 day cruises. The cruise excursion to sail the canal is a one-day excursion and could be done if you are staying in a hotel. The other popular ship tour was kayaking in Lake Gatun, or visiting the local indigenous tribes living near Lake Gatun, some of which were relocated when they built the canal.
If you want to read up on the Canal history, I highly recommend the book by the Yale educated, American historian, David McCullough "The Path Between the Seas"
Its a fascinating history that also describes the initial French effort based on their Suez Canal experience, how the US took over the troubled French Panama project, how the canal was almost further north, the history at the time between the US and Columbia, as Panama was part of Grand Columbia, and how the cause for Malaria was identified and solved.
There are several indigenous groups living in Panama and Costa Rica. Check with the hotels for local tours to see how these people live and their various cultures.
Costa Rican Planation tours is another interesting thing to do. We wen t to see Plantation Hayutic. Their tour includes Macadamia Nuts and Sugar Cane production, as well as coffee. It was a pleasant drive up into the highlands were it was cooler and drier. Lunch was served on the verandah with beautiful views of the valley and hills. The plantation has its own church which has been nicely maintained. Since we were on a cruise we had to return to the ship, but they also have a hotel there, and I would love to try it out sometime. Its a gorgeous place, and interesting to see a working plantation owned by the family that owns the national bank.
My next trip is a repositioning cruise from Rome, Italy back to Florida, stopping in
Lookinng to spending another weekend in Rome before the cruise, revisiting places I have been before (Sevilla, Jerez, Madeira) and visiting new places (Cadiz, Portimao and Lisbon).
Had a wonderful trip one year spending part of the week in Vienna (daytrip to Bratislava and Lippazan stud farm in Piber) and then part of the week in Prague.
Much of the symphony and opera options can be seen in Bratislava or Prague for far less than in Vienna.
Also did several trips to Budapest, traveling into Romania (Translyvania) and Ukraine from there.
Welcome to the nuthouse.... I mean... The forum....
Outdoorsy and cool... Well, that begs the NW and having spent 6 months in the Seattle area recently, I can tell you that you would love it there. I would say a nice stay in the SEA-TAC area heading east through Snowqualmie Pass, then east to the NW corner, then south for a day or two in the Mt Ranier area... (Maybe more... That is quite a place to explore.) Then a train ride from Seattle to Portland for some more adventure and down even into California as long as you stay north of Sacramento... (Just the hillbilly in me coming out there...)
Then come to my neck of the woods to the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. Plenty of trails and streams to keep you in your kayak and the Buffalo National River is a must.
Then, and I'm only speaking from second hand information since I've not been there personally, go for east Tennessee and west North Carolina...
OK... As I said... Hillbilly here... so you can tell the mountains mean a lot to me.