Thursday, September 9, 2010

We left our hearts in Providence.

view from our room
Providence, the capital city of RI, was our hub for our New England trip. This bustling city is filled with culture and great cuisine. With its many museums and outdoor activities, everyone is sure to be entertained. Providence is a great combination of small town hospitality and big city culture! Because of its size, it is a city where one very easily gets around. Its prime location made it easy for us to take daily trips to neighboring cities and states!

Providence is also very famous for its "Little Italy" known as Federal Hill. It is said that Federal Hill has more Italian restaurants than Manhattan's Little Italy. We enjoyed a delicious "home cooked style" meal at Costantino's Ristorante. It's great prices and very generous portions, make it a favorite. Although there were many diners, we did not have to wait long to be seated. It seems to be a favorite for the locals, even their Mayor was enjoying their cuisine.

One night after ordering room service, my husband went in search of wine! He found a wonderful little wine shop, ENO just blocks from our hotel. The two owners were full of knowledge and suggestions. Their very reasonably priced wines made it difficult to choose. We wish them much luck and continued success!

view from walkway from Westin to Providence Place Mall

The Westin Providence was our home away from home for five fantastic nights. Leave it to us to find the hotel with the mall attached! The Providence Place Mall houses many equisite stores along with all the favorites. From Pandora to Macy's & Nordstrom, Build-a Bear to Crate and Barrel, this multi-leveled mall has just about anything anyone could be looking for. The girls even enjoyed manicures before returning to our rooms for the night!

The Westin was amazing! Through Hotwire, we were able to stay for the rate of $120/night. My husband has become an expert at finding four to five star hotels at two star prices! We could not say enough about how wonderful our stay was! The rooms were very spacious and clean; the Westin beds really are "heavenly"- a perfect ending to an adventure filled day!You can also satisfy all of your hunger needs without travelling far. The Westin not only has room service, but they are home to Fleming's Steakhouse. If that is not your style, then you can enjoy the Food Court at the Providence Place Mall. 
The staff was incredible. Their warm hostpitality made you feel like you were truly welcome. At check in we made the request of connecting rooms. They were certainly accomodating! It was their mission to make certain that our stay was a memorable one! Wow! In our case, the connecting rooms also provided hours of entertainment for our little girl. She took turns sleeping in our room and the grandparents room. We left the interior doors open and enjoyed the luxury of both rooms.

Every employee we encountered was friendly and most helpful. They really treated us like family! If we are ever fortunate enough to return to Providence, the Westin would definetly be our home for our stay!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From sailing to mansions...


Newport, Rhode Island has so much to offer!

This coastal town a half hour south of Providence known as a summer resort is sure to take your breath away. With an abundance of sailboats decorating its waters, the picturesque scenery will delight its visitors no matter their ages. 

The Harbour is surrounded by many shops and restaurants, as well as sail boat companies.  Take some time to sail the Rhode Island Coast, enjoyiong the many lighthouses and scenic beauty of the area.  You will also enjoy strolling the many streets and shops by the Harbour.  Our daughter particularly enjoyed Magic Studio- a small "magic shop" selling kits, supplies and many prank gifts and toys.  Not only did her purchases serve as a souvenir of the trip but also provided her, us, and the hotel employees with hours of laughter and fun!

Our sailing adventure began with Sightsailing of Newport Co., which sails from May through October.  We sailed on the Aquidneck, an 80 ft gaff-rigged schooner. Our very knowledgable crew shared stories and history of the harbor and bay as they took us to see , among other attractions, Goat's Island, Fort Adams, and many yachts belonging to the rich and famous. For $27.50 adults and $20.00 children, our family sailed through Newport Harbor into Narragansett Bay and continued to cruise along the shoreline of Newport's Ocean Drive. 

If you are up for a walking adventure, tour the Cliff Walk. This 3.5 mile trail will allow you to not only enjoy the Atlantic Ocean but will provide a sneak peak into the backyards of the "Cottages" as the mansions are referred to by the locals.

A trip to Newport would not be complete without visting at least one of the "cottages."  My wife's mother had seen a program about "The Breakers,"  the Vanderbilt's family summer home in Newport and she was eager to see it.  The Breakers is one of Newport's largest "cottages."  A self guided tour which you can choose to hear in either adult or child friendly versions allowing  you to discuss it with your kids later is very educational.  The audio tour contains narratives of employees detailing what life in The Breakers was like.  The family audio tour also includes things like a "Where's Waldo" portion, asking the kids to find certain things in some of the rooms, thus making the tour more interactive and fun for even young children.

The Breakers is a truly amazing mansion.  The views of the ocean, gardens, the children's playhouse, a miniature version of the home, all make for a fun-filled tour which all your family membres, both old and young, will enjoy. 

Newport is absolutely fabulous! It offers great food, outdoor activities, and plenty of entertainment. Our family loved it so much, we would love to move there!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Connecticut & Rhode Island

We have always dreamed about travelling to New England in the fall. Coming from Miami where there are no change of seasons, we have always longed to go to a place where you can see the leaves in all shades of reds, oranges, browns. etc. We imagined that New England would be the perfect place to be.

This summer we had an opportunity to visit the North East for a good friend's wedding in Madison, CT. After much research, we decided that flying in and out of Providence, RI would be the most cost effective. So off we went. South West Airlines flies direct to Providence. After a less than three hour flight, we got to our destination. None of us could have imagined the beauty we were about to experience. We had heard how amazing the area was, but in reality we had no true preconceived notions. We were in for quite a surprise!

We took advantage and saw as much as we could. My husband and I went with my parents and daughter. We took in the sights and beauty that New England has to offer. We experienced things we had never done throughout our lifetimes: from sailing to whale watching, to visiting lighthouses and filling our bellies with lobster! Nothing was going to stop us from making this a memorable trip.

One experience which took our breath away was whale watching. We drove up to Cape Cod and took a tour with Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises. It was a truly unforgettable experience. After travelling at 18 knots an hour ( 32 miles/hour) for an hour and 20 minutes, we were so fortunate to see over 20 whales, dozens of dolphin, and even a seal. The ages on the tour boat ranged from toddler to grandparents, everyone was delighted to see such natural beauty surrounding the ship. We were so close, it felt as though we could just touch the wildlife.

This was just one of our many highlights from the trip. More to come of our Connecticut/Rhode Island getaway...

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Close friends and a very special occasion took our family to Georgetown, Texas- a quiet city on the outskirts of bustling Austin. As the saying goes, “Everything is bigger and better in Texas!”

The Southern hospitality, clean and well kept surroundings and great food make it a wonderful place to visit.

We enjoyed some outdoor activities despite the heat in late July. While the boys were spending the day golfing on the renowned Teravista Golf Club- an 18 hole Clifton-Ezell-Clifton design in Round Rock; the girls were enjoying delicious sandwiches and local wine at the CafĂ© at The Vineyard at Florence. This off the beaten path vineyard is worth the trip. Nestled among 30 acres of grapes, this gorgeous rocky masterpiece hosts many activities: weddings, special event lunches & dinners, wine tasting and seminars. We brought home wine that evening and exchanged stories with the boys of our day’s adventure.

You can’t go to Georgetown and not eat authentic BBQ! Duke’s Smokehouse is the place to go! With its large dining area and its red and white checkered table cloths, you get in the Texas BBQ mood! Duke's Smokehouse is set on the north fork of the San Gabriel River. It has a large porch and backyard picnic area where the kids can safely run loose after a yummy meal. Duke’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. How lucky for the locals that they also cater!

Inner Space Caverns, one of Texas’s best preserved caves, was our next stop. The one and a half hour walking tour begins with a downward ride in a cable car to the opening of this bat filled, limestone cavern. As you walk through the dimly lit passageways, water drops fall from the ceiling. The guides tell you that if a drop falls on you, you have been blessed with good luck! Yeah for us… we should be experiencing many years of good luck since we were “kissed” as they say. People of all ages were on our tour and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

Georgetown, Texas was a very welcoming place. Our family had a wonderful time! The best part of it all was that we were able to share four fun-filled days with our best friends. They were wonderful hosts! They live in a beautiful home and were most gracious! Good bye Hill Country… til next time!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Welcome to Farres Family Travels

My wife and I love traveling. We traveled extensively prior to and subsequent to our marriage. However, after having a child and not traveling for several years, we were itching to continue exploring the world. We quickly learned that traveling with children, both old and young, can be a daunting and challenging task. However, this task, much like traveling itself, can also be exciting, educational, and most importantly FUN!!!!

We have therefore continued traveling and have exposed our child, from an early age to the joys of traveling. Our adventures have taken us near and far and we have created a little person who at the age of 7 exhibits our love and passion for travel.

Coming soon is our guide to making the most of your travels with little ones. Both you and your children will enjoy these trips!