Victoria, the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, lies on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The biggest tourist draw is the downtown area with its historical British Victorian architecture and an island vibe that is a lot different from that of busy Seattle or Vancouver just 60 miles (100km) East. 

Last time I visited Seattle and Washington was back in 2006. It was for a family event, and we had a pretty limited time due to work schedules. Though we did manage to see a few touristy things, my most vivid memory was having to ask people for a winter jacket (!) in mid-June just to walk along the beach. It was sooo cold and windy! I don’t like cold, I don’t like rain, and I don’t like grey skies, so after this experience I did not have much desire to return here. The unfortunate fact is that my husband considers Seattle somewhat his home-town, so my unwillingness to go back there for another vacation caused an occasional friction. Forward 12 years, and we receive an invitation to a family member’s wedding near Seattle. There is really no way around it this time and we will have to go, so I decide to make the best of it by expanding our wedding weekend into a whole 2-week long road trip around Washington (and also Victoria, British Columbia in Canada) to give this state a fair chance to make me change my first impressions from 2006. And, oh boy, was I impressed – it was absolutely breathtaking!

‘’I will have a conference in New Orleans next month. Want to come with?’’ asked my husband coming home from work one day. And just like that we broke our own vow to never travel again until our kids are 18 and out of the house! Yes, our last trip to the Dominican Republic was far from relaxing; however, the bad memories had already faded and it felt like we were ready to conquer new places again! Besides, since our move to Memphis I have been eyeballing New Orleans as a possible fun destination to visit, and this was a perfect timing for several reasons. Generally, nothing much else was going on in our lives this very moment. Besides, May is a great shoulder season to visit when the summer heat and humidity has not quite kicked in 100% yet. But most importantly of all – who can refuse a company paid for hotel and covered travel expenses?! This was a no-brainer, and a big fat ‘’YES’’ from me! 

It has been quite a few years since we last went to the Caribbean. And although every cold, dark and snowy winter I wished I was walking on the white Caribbean sand again feeling fresh ocean breeze it just never happened. The reasons were various (mostly because different other vacation destinations crossed our path); however, this year was finally it – the year we were going to return to the part of the world with an endless summer. The only problem was – which Caribbean island to pick? It took a little research. I wanted to go to a green, tropical island (vs dry desert type); it had to be an island we had not visited before; the island had to have enough for us to go, see and explore as just lying on the beach is not our thing; and the flights from the US had to be reasonably priced along with the available accommodations. Everything combined, my choice ended up being the Dominican Republic.