In Love With The Aloha State

One of the perks of homeschooling is that you own your time. You can plan whatever you want, whenever you want, and the way you want it. Our calendar is pretty much what we make of it. Our travel schedule is planned on a whim, and I must say I am so very grateful for this. As all homeschoolers know, traveling is the greatest way for kids to learn, explore, and know more about the big world that is waiting for them when they grow up. Traveling for kids is an invitation to fully immerse themselves in different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles. They learn more about geography, money, geology, history and so much more.

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With the beginning of spring, Adam and I, packed our bags and we got ready to set sail for Hawaii. We have been putting off this trip for about two years, due to the extremely long flights: One to NYC, about 14 hours long, and another one to Honolulu with another 11hours of flying, which is not really a wise decision if you have kids.  With a push from our dear friends who live in Hawaii, we finally decided to dive in and hope for the best.

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My friend Lisa, and her boy William are some of our very best friends, from over 4 years ago, when they also lived here in Bahrain. We had the best adventures and the most awesome friendship. During the years they spent in Bahrain, we explored all the hidden gems our island had to offer, we traveled together to Seychelles, and had one of our best trips, we stayed in touch even though we were across the globe from each other. So visiting them in Hawaii was the next step.

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Even though we split the journey and stayed in NYC for a couple of weeks in between, to visit the family, it was still a really long trip. So when we finally sat foot in Honolulu, we were beyond relieved!

Hawaii… Where should I start from? The Aloha state is more than what I had ever expected! From the minute we landed and breathed the clean pure air, my eyes grew wider, to suck in the beauty of the place, and my lungs doubled in size to soak up the clean and fresh air around me.

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We spent about 4 weeks in Hawaii, every day we did something new and exciting (sometimes 2 and 3 wonderful things), yet my friend Lisa says there was so much more to do, see, and enjoy in the Islands of love.

Every morning we would wake up to the birds chirping, the sound of the water trickling, the tree leaves swaying, and to the brightest colors all around us. Every day we would wake up, my son and I, with a smile ready to fall in love even deeper with the place!

We were very lucky to have -hands down- the BEST guide EVER! My friend Lisa, made sure to take us to every wonderful corner she thought we might be interested in. She always made sure to line up many choices for every single day, for us to choose from. She also took advantage of each trip we took, to explore all the nearby gems, and came up with a whole itinerary, each and every time, this way we miss nothing, so yeah my friend is better than yours haha!

Our first day, we started with an easy trip to the library, since we were still tired from the flight, and also because it was the weekend.

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There was a Dr.Seuss hip hop musical show, with Mr.Kneel (an award winning Hip Hop musician and educator, and a fabulous entertainer). He had the attention of a room full of kids, of different ages, for 2 whole hours!  The show was definitely a hit! Adam got to go up with him, and do a little duo together. The library and the show were obviously FREE (Yup something we really miss in Bahrain!). The library also holds a tiny-tots meet-up every Tuesday and Friday, with fantastic activities for the kids… and yes for FREE too! One of the things I adored about Hawaii, is how much they love and appreciate kids. There are tons of activities for kids, planned by the community centers, and the volunteers. Children enjoy a wide range of events specially tailored for them, and parents don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for that, I wish I could say the same about Bahrain.

After making sure we were well rested, we meant business! In the course of the next weeks we kept very very busy.

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The weather was so lovely, sunny with a sweet breeze, and wherever you turn your head you would either see the sea, the mountains, or the green grass. The kids were so easily entertained by just letting them run around, play with rocks and grass, climbing trees…etc. It was a pure joy!

We kicked the week off with a trip to the Tropical Farms of macadamia nut. They show you how to crack open a Macadamia nut, which the kids enjoyed doing for a very long time- We got to taste (and buy) all the wonderful flavored macadamia nuts made in the farm- from the roasted and salted, to the onion and dill, and the cinnamon glazed ones! All so yummy! –  I also had the pleasure to taste a very tasty macadamia nut flavored coffee (Thank you Lisa for the recommendation). To end the visit, we took a bus tour, where a wonderful gentleman explained to us how life was before in Hawaii, how they made fire, milk out of coconuts, and how they sang and danced. He also showed us around the farm and explained how they did all the hard work to get such awesome macadamia nuts!

Next was the Green World Coffee Farm! You can see the pattern here haha, I love farms!  The coffee farm wasn’t as big as the Macadamia one, but full of treasures! I loved their coffee and the kids loved playing with the chickens and roosters, while running around the farm.

We couldn’t visit Hawaii and not go to the Dole Pineapple plantation! It is a huge farm and it took us the whole day to finish it! So much to do and see. All the pineapples around and all the fun activities for the kids. We rode a train, that took us all around the farm explaining how the pineapples were planted, and the kids loved everything about it!

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The thing about Hawaii is that even if you just go around the neighborhood, you would still have a fabulous time. The scenery, the clean and fresh air, the chilled but warm and welcoming people, all make you feel like you are in paradise, stress free and so very relaxed.

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We enjoyed all the hikes we took and the kids did so well. I was warned against mosquitos, but luckily we made it with only a couple of bites ;). We also managed to get a fabulous tan!

The beaches were so gorgeous and peaceful. The water so blue and warm. Truly heaven on earth! Our favorite was “Baby Makapuu” beach, very calm with protected tide pools, with sandy bottoms that the kids loved to splash in. it was more like a pool than a beach.

 

I obviously can not finish all what I have to say about Hawaii in ONE blog post. So I will talk more about the other places we visited and loved as well as the restaurants/ coffee shops we enjoyed the most! Stay Tuned..!

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My son and I fell head over bare feet in love with every aspect of this magical place. We were truly blessed with the kindness of our friends, and all their efforts to make us enjoy our trip and create wonderful memories together that we will cherish forever. So Thankful and blessed!

 

ALOHA!!

 

Ouiam

 

 

Bali Oh Bali..!

 

 

Few weeks ago, we packed our bags, booked our flights, and with a dancing heart and a warm smile, headed to the land of a thousand temples, and a million smiles: BALI, in Indonesia.

Now let me tell you, the journey is not for the faint hearted, nor for parents of small kids either (unless you are very very brave, or crazy lol). We took a flight from Bahrain To Muscat Oman, which is 1hr30 min long (They just inaugurated the new airport, and it’s so beautiful and very artistic), we then took another flight from Muscat to Jakarta (Indonesia). Then we had to go through customs and go collect our bags (they can’t send the bags all the way to Bali, for some reason, so you will have to collect your bags and then check them in again in another terminal), then we had to leave the airport, walk with our 2 suitcases, get up and down escalators, and finally take a Skytrain (it is about 5 minutes away, the ride is another 5 minutes and it takes you to the terminal of domestic flights).  The whole thing took about 1hr30 minutes, so if you are planning flights, make sure you have enough time before the next flight (we had 3 hours and it was perfect!). We then took a 2 hours’ flight to Bali! We reached around 7 pm and we were so ready to have a nice warm meal, and just sleeeeeeeeep.

My husband chose “Westin Nusa Dua” Hotel in Bali, and I seriously couldn’t be happier with his choice!  It is in a gated community, surrounded by other 5 stars hotels, the beach, and beautiful nature. Very calm and quiet if you wanna recharge and relax. Next to the hotel there is a great outdoor mall, called “Bali Collection”, with tons of amazing restaurants, cafes and shops, there is also a supermarket, and many ATMs. The hotel also has an amazing Kids’ club, very spacious and has so much to offer, the staff are so lovely and very helpful –but hey the whole population of Bali is, they are so peaceful and very kind!

 

 

Our trip was about 10 days, so we decided to do some fun sightseeing as well as to spend some time relaxing by the pool and the beach, this way we will still explore Bali, and also have time to relax, and it was a great decision!

 

Uber, and Grab, are not very popular in Bali, I’ll even dare to say that they are not safe to use, as the local Taxi drivers do not appreciate the competition, but you can always find kind drivers that will take you around and not charge you an arm and a leg. We had the chance to meet a lovely friend/driver: Mr.Lanos , he was so knowledgeable, helpful and so very kind (message me if you want his details, I can’t recommend him enough!). He took us to many places, and told us tons of stories about Bali’s culture and traditions. He has 3 kids so he is very sweet and good with kids too (always a plus when you are a parent).

One more thing about transportation in Bali, you can also use their local Taxi company which is called:” Blue Bird”, they always use the meter, and you can download their app and just order cabs from there anywhere and anytime. However, be aware that there are many similar taxis: similar color-Blue- similar logo-a blue bird- and even a similar name (sometime Blue Biro, or Blue Bir…etc), so you think they are Blue Bird, and take the cab and then be charged a little fortune since they do not use the meter, so just be careful.

 

 

We visited many places like:

  • Tegenungan Waterfall: You can book your tickets online, or just buy them at the door. It is a great spot for nature lovers. Before you reach the entrance of the waterfall, you’ll find plenty of art and souvenir shops. There are bathrooms, snacks and ice cream shops too. The falls are only few minutes’ walk down the trail beyond the shops. The water’s volume is impressive, and you can even enjoy a little dip in the water, if you want.

  • We loved visiting Ubud, a very lively “village”, with lots of shops and restaurants. Great for walks and if you wanna get some exquisite souvenirs

 

  • The Monkey Forst: Yes as the name suggests it is a forest full of monkeys. It was amazing to see that great amount of monkeys lol. Just a small advice, do not leave any food in your bag because MAN  they will steal it, even if it is just a bottle of water- which might of might not had happened to us hahaha.

 

  • Tanah Lot Temple in Tabanan : An amazing temple on the beach. Such amazing scenery that will take your breath away, and if you are lucky –as we were- you would witness the most magical sunset ever! No better place to witness the glory of God. You will also find many many shops there, for art and souvenirs and with great prices.

 

 

  • Kuta village: such a beautiful place with great big malls, and a whole neighborhood filled with amazing furniture, clothes, and souvenir shops, it also has a great beach. A stroll in Kuta village will probably take a whole day or at least a whole afternoon.

I also really enjoyed the Balinese food and the very cool and stylish restaurants and cafes. You can also find all sorts of cuisines you like: Italian, Asian, …etc.

 

 

Some of the restaurants I really enjoyed are:

Bale Agung in Denpasar- Pemecutan Kelod:  For Balinese cuisine.

De Verdant Kuma, in Badung – Benoa: For Vegan, organic food.

The Pirates Bay, on the beach in Nusa Dua: International food, you eat in Tree Houses, surrounded by the beach, beautiful scenery, and cute squirrels.

 

 

 

As there are many beaches in Bali, expect to be surrounded by mosquitos, so be equipped with mosquito repellents and creams for mosquito bites, especially if you have kids.

In the whole of Bali, there is an impressive number of squirrels! They are everywhere! Friendly though, they will never jump on you or anything like that.

Our trip was fabulous, just like we have expected, and more. We loved each and every minute of it.

 

Terima Kasih (Thank you in Indonesian)

Ouiam

A Holiday In Heaven…

  

Okay… Who doesn’t like going for a vacation?! And who doesn’t like to go for a calm serene get away, every once in a while?! I am pretty sure we all know the answer already! We just came back from one! So I thought I definitely should give you guys my feedback and recommendations, in case you too were looking for a fantastic place to go on a holiday! 
   
It has only been a day since we left Bodrum, and I sure miss it like crazy! I miss those beautiful warm breezy and sunny days. The calm that surrounded every parcel of our beings! 

  
This break was a much needed one. For the last few weeks I have been feeling that I had a hundred things running through my mind, and my brain skips from one thing to another in a mild merry-go-round that truly has no ending. I felt my to-do lists were getting bigger each day and my “ME” time was slowly disappearing from my schedule. This was driving me insane! So when we found out that my husband’s leave wasn’t canceled (absolutely normal when your husband is a pilot), you can imagine how happy and relieved I was. 

Bodrum wasn’t our first option. We had: Sharm El Sheikh, Jordan, and Bali too. We didn’t know what to choose, so we abruptly chose Turkey (Bodrum). 

We stayed a couple of days in Istanbul, a destination we love so much (by “we” I mean I, and certainly not my husband lol), then we took a flight with Turkish Airlines to go to Bodrum. The flight is only 50minutes long. A very smooth and quick flight. We landed early in the afternoon, in a small airport. We then found our driver, sent by the hotel to pick us up, waiting outside. The ride took about 40minutes to reach: Mandarin Oriental Resort & Hotel. The second we parked the car, we were in awe with the beauty of this place! 

  
The staff were very welcoming, smiling and making sure we had everything we needed, before one of them took us to our suite/ apartment.
  
Our room was incredibly amazing, spacious and beautiful. The living room was also very spacious, and beautifully decorated. In addition, we had an insanely beautiful garden attached to our suite! Everything around us was screaming: “Calm, Serenity and perfect vacation!” They even had some autentic turkish delights waiting for us on our table! 

  

  
We were pleasantly surprised to find cute little things already prepared for our toddler: Organic baby shampoo and shower gel, tiny matching bath robe and slippers, a small bath tub, and a panda bear! It is the only hotel we have ever visited that took into consideration our little one’s needs! So here is a big shout out to this amazing hotel! 

  
They also have a small kids’ club, where the little ones can have some fun of their own, with a lovely lady to take care of them! There is also a great video game room for the older kids and their dads lol ! 

Wherever we went we were delighted to meet exceptionally nice staff, always ready to help and always making sure we had all what we needed! 
My husband and I had a chance to try out their spa, and have an oriental massage done……and Oh Boy! It was amazing! No wonder their spa was ranked the second best spa in the whole world! 

  
We spent 6 days in this amazing hotel, and we enjoyed every minute of it so very much! I can’t recommend this hotel enough you guys! We absolutely positively had an awesome stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bodrum!! 

   
    
 
Ouiam