Vatican

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square

The Vatican, also known as Vatican City, is the world’s smallest country. So there’s not much to see, but what there is to see is very significant. We literally stepped into the Vatican from Rome, which borders the country. A place with so much history, St. Peter’s Basilica is where the Pope makes his speeches and crowds gather below in St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro in Italian). While that’s not going on, the area is teeming with tourists.  I was 17 at the time of my visit. There’s a new pope now. The square is also the location where many Christian martyrs lost their lives. It’s a beautiful setting for such tragic events.

That brings us to the end of my European tour. In the coming weeks, look for new posts about my domestic travels in the United States, plus more exotic places, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and more of Japan.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Charlotte Amalie Harbor

Charlotte Amalie Harbor

A true “getaway” — far from the continental United States, the Virgin Islands is the complete opposite of Hong Kong. You won’t find crowds, skyscrapers, and vehicles jam packing the streets. This is a place you go to to disconnect from and forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life and work.

our hotel

view of the beach from our hotel

St. Thomas
My husband and I spent a week in fall 2007 on two islands, mostly St. Thomas. We stayed at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Resort, which captured the island spirit and provided enough amenities, recreation, and relaxation to entertain us for most of the time. The sound of a man playing a steel drum on the backdrop of a Caribbean beach sunset during happy hour, a swim-up bar next to a waterfall, the wind blowing through the lobby because there are no doors — paradise. Actor Matthew Perry of Friends TV-show fame ate at one of the hotel restaurants the same night we ate there.

iguanas

iguanas

And iguanas appeared in our path around every corner. I was a little afraid of them because some of the locals said the strange-looking creatures bite… and they run fast. Sometimes I’d take a detour to avoid walking too close to them.

St. John
We took a ferry and spent a day in St. John, where shopping in the cute island shops right near the port was abundant and fun. We took the multi-row, open-air taxis around both islands. The weather was perfect. It didn’t rain until the last day of our trip.

MUST-SEE

Click on image to see full size.

Saqib at Marriott Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Resort

1. Beach. It’s pretty obvious the reason to go to an island is for the water, and water is my favorite part of nature. We went sailing out into the harbor, then snorkeling among sting rays, jellyfish, and other sea creatures. The beautiful, blue-green water and white sand were idyllic.
2. Downtown shopping. Lined with quaint shops selling all sorts of souvenirs and restaurants serving fresh seafood, it’s hardly downtown in a big-city sense. It’s just nice to walk around stone paths, view antiques, and see how many gold jewelry stores you can count within one block.

 

aboard Caribe Time ferry

aboard Caribe Time ferry