TravelingSaurus a part-time traveler, with a love for triathlon, terriers, and seeing the world Fri, 19 Apr 2019 17:41:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 TravelingSaurus 32 32 It’s Been an Embarrassingly Long Time Fri, 19 Apr 2019 17:41:06 +0000 I don’t really even know where to begin. I literally was just cleaning up my photos from 2017. That’s two years ago. It just hasn’t been a priority and to be honest, in part, it’s because 2017 was just great. We went to Mauritius and the Seychelles, two of our dream destinations, I went skiing in Vail, a wedding in North Carolina, a trip to Panama, another to Copenhagen – and did an Ironman somewhere in there too.

At least we made it to the Bahamas in 2018!

Not to say 2018 was awful, but changing jobs in 2018 was not particularly fun. To go from 24 days of leave a year (beyond generous) to 8 hours per month was garbage. I don’t really know how else to say it. Then we also staged our old place, bought a new house, and somehow I kept training. I think the training part was 90% for my mental health because moving is pretty much the worst thing ever and knowing you have no leave is just…ugh. Yes, first world problems, yes I realize these are not pressing issues, yes, I realize I sound spoiled. But I felt like a dog that had lived its entire life on a ranch that was moved to shoebox in Manhattan. Alive, well-fed, but…not much else.

And now I work for the government. Something I’ve wanted for such a long time. I’ve been trying to decide how much to say about that situation on here (both working for the government in general right now and my current role), but I’m not quite ready and need to put in some more thought on how to do so tactfully and appropriately.

Am I intellectually interested in what I do? Yes, absolutely. I read news about my field even when I’m not at work. And I waited a very long time to work my way into the government. Someone I follow on Instagram (because they are an awesome person and inspiring triathlete) said the following the other day – “Don’t cling to a mistake because you’ve spent a lot of time making it.” So, that’s about where I am. Who can I blame? I’d say 90% myself. I turned down some awesome opportunities and put up with some things I just shouldn’t have because I thought I wanted something that–guess what–turns out I don’t. At least not in its current manifestation.

Anyone need a dog-walker with a lot of letters behind their name? I’ll also organize your closet and mow your yard!

In any case – I may try to boot my blog back up with some local travel and trips when we get around to them. I’ve gotten some feedback like “why don’t you quit your job and travel full-time since you love travel so much.” Folks, I don’t want to travel full-time. I have a dog. A horse. And a husband who I actually like (full-time). I hate being on the go. I like my home and where I live. I love triathlon training. The “go travel full-time” chorus, for me, is like telling a goldfish to go check out the ocean.

So for those of you that still stop by, thanks. And I really mean that. I’ve helped some of you with gorilla questions, Dubai issues, and clothing quandaries. I love hearing from you.

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It’s Been Six Months… Mon, 20 Aug 2018 00:04:33 +0000 Though I decided to renew my hosting, I didn’t renew my interest in blogging….

In the last six months, so much has happened: slightly different job, new house and lots of insanity in the middle. Staging a house and buying a house is quite the adventure, but now that we are happily moved in to our new place, it was worth it.

With the slightly different job came no an annual leave balance of exactly zero (oomph) and, due to events/incidents out of my control, a lot of overtime. Plus, I’ve kept up with my triathlon schedule. Which means I usually go to work, train, and sleep. My husband literally force feeds me a plate of food somewhere in the middle of all that.

Yes, I know these are all choices, and I’m grateful to be able to have the ability and support system to work, race, and also…move.


Blogging just hasn’t had a place and I’m not sure if it will in the future. BUT, I do have a super post about the National Arboretum over at The Commoner Magazine, which I’m super excited about since it is one of my favorite places in Washington DC. Please head over and check it out! (here)

We are planning another trip this fall, as well. Until then, catch me on Instagram where I tend to post more and ghost less.

Exploring Nordic Cuisine at (the One Michelin Starred) “Relae” in Copenhagen Sun, 25 Feb 2018 23:30:21 +0000 I love to try new food, and when we started planning our trip to Copenhagen I figured it was a great opportunity to try out a restaurant in the city. I chose Relae, and carefully stalked their website 2 months in advance (when future reservations open) so I could have a relatively good choice of times and days for our meal there (here’s their website:

Relae frequently shows up on lists of the World’s Best Restaurants (Top 50 in 2017, here), and also has Michelin star to go along with its reputation. While food critics may argue, I definitely think the heart of the meal was based around Nordic ingredients – even if there were some other delicious items thrown in. Think, lots of fish and hearty vegetables.  This latter characteristic was one of the reasons I chose Relae over other Michelin starred restaurants (and other choices) in Copenhagen – I wanted to try cuisine that was different and unique to the city and region. When in Denmark, do Danish, right?

Relae is a bit mysterious – and different – than any restaurant I’d ever been to.

First off – you have two menu options to choose from: the Relae Menu and the Relae Experience. The menu is four to five courses, and the experience is around nine. I found that there were a number of small bites in between some of the courses, too, but that’s the rough estimate.

Second – the obvious next question is, well, what are the courses? Yea, you don’t know. You in fact don’t know until you are served each and every course. While this element of surprise certainly is going to turn off many people, I found it a bit endearing…you are never looking forward to the next course while eating the current course. Everyone is all about being “present” these days, and this menu setup certainly accomplishes that.

Third – cutlery is found in a small little drawer in an obviously Danish designed dinner table. So you just get out the forks/spoons/knives that you need to devour each course as it comes out. Pretty slick.

So…most importantly…how was the food!? There were some standout dishes that I can still taste in my head, including the celery root with coffee sprinkled on the top and some fish with daikon. Of all the dishes and small bites we received, I only felt marginally about two and can-not-eat this about one (which was a small cheese sampling on top of a pastry for dessert). Overall, I’d say that is pretty darn good.

Would I go again? Eh, not sure. I find these one of a kind meals are best not repeated – expectations based on a prior set of dishes is always hard to live up to. But I’m thrilled we had the opportunity to go while in Copenhagen – Relae was really delicious.

As a picky child and a particular adult, I also find that having excellent food and great restaurants has really helped to open up my eyes and mouth to flavors, textures, and ingredients that I would otherwise write off. In addition, as a true grazer, I really do appreciate the small, perfectly sized plates and the many course design. I love trying just a few bites of something, and often don’t find it an indication of whether I’d eat it as a single entree. E.g., I don’t really love goose, but a little bit of goose was really intriguing and delicious. A plate full of goose? No, thanks. Relae was absolutely perfect in this regard. If you didn’t like something, it’s just a course. And everything was definitely worth a few bites to see how the flavors develop as you progress through the dish.

I would be amiss to not mention that Relae also offers wine pairings with both menu options. We did not do this, because I honestly can NOT drink 6-8 glasses of wine over dinner! I mean, I could, but I would neither be able to walk or know what I was eating. To those of you that can, this might be a good option to consider. For lighter drinkers, you can order by the glass — they also have custom juice options for non-drinkers, which may be interesting to try. We opted to stick with water.

Relae changes their menu frequently, so I’m not giving anything away here, but here is the list of what we had – 10 courses (with a few pictures below). Everything was very “Danish” in presentation – simply, with no flowery adornments or distractions. The focus is on the ingredients.

Sunchoke tempura & juniper (great way to start the meal)
Apple & lemongrass
Pike perch, radish & bergamotte (delicious!)
Celeriac, caramelized cream & coffee (my very favorite)
Salsify, almond & smoked eggyolk
Goose from Gothenborg & yellow beets
Nordlys & blackberry (beautiful, but this was the cheese I couldn’t handle!)
Charcoal ice cream & clementine (so, so good)
Roasted pumpkin tart

The Sunchoke

The Trout

The Celery Root

The Charcoal Ice Cream

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Tivoli Gardens at Christmas: Full of Lights & Holiday Cheer Mon, 05 Feb 2018 23:30:56 +0000
Tivoli at Christmas

Tivoli was said to inspire Walt Disney before he created his theme parks, and it is easy to see why. It is charming in every way. Its beautiful, a tad quirky, and suitable for adults and children alike. At Christmas, it turns into a spectacle of lights, snow, and elves. It’s a must visit in Copenhagen, particularly at Christmas.

Getting In: Tickets are required for admission – you can buy one day or get a slight discount for two days (I believe 2 days was approximately $40 per person). Rides are extra – we didn’t partake, but if you have kids or have a particular affinity for rides, they did look fun.

You Too Can Ride a Pirate Ship

Tivoli has been through a lot – opened it 1843, a good chunk of it was also destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. Some of the rides are extremely old – like the oldest wooden roller coaster that requires an operator to break on the downhills – to the newer coaster with multiple inversions built in 2004.

The Park is open day and night: it’s fun to explore during the day, but with the snow and lights, it really is stunning at night. Key Tip: Just be ready for the crowds and be sure to buy your tickets in advance if you plan on visiting after dark. There were easily 100 people in line on a Friday evening around 7pm, but the line to get in if you already had a ticket was just a few people. Plus, Copenhagen’s northern bonus…it does get dark shortly after 3pm, so you don’t even have to wait that long to enjoy Tivoli’s lighted splendor!

Food: There are plenty of restaurants and food offerings in Tivoli, whether you feel like some fairy floss (cotton candy…I do wonder how that name got so changed in Europe versus the United States…I think I will start calling it fairy floss…), a candied apple, pizza, or a real meal. It also has a lovely food court with all kinds of options, from open-faced sandwiches to the international chain Vapiano. Lots of Glogg stations just in case you need some powerful mulled wine, too.

Moorish Palace – Nimb Hotel and Restaurant

Shopping: There are plenty of Christmas shops and gift shops if you are so inclined. Fur hats, wool sweaters, elves. Elves. More elves. Plenty of Christmas ornaments. I got two lovely sketches (not Christmas related at all)! There is also plenty of George Jensen, Royal Copenhagen goods, and other Danish-designs. It’s definitely fun to browse. Or browse to warm-up from the cold!

Cookie Making Elves!

There is so much to see at Tivoli, whether the cookie making elves, the rides, the pirate ship, the stores — there is also an aquarium and free concerts at Christmas. But I think one of the best things about Tivoli are the – what I would call – carnival games. It was so much fun to watch those! Tossing balls in holes to move old wooden race horses, to shooting guns at targets, to throwing wooden balls at ceramic plates. It is the carnival that both kids and adults dream of – and the carnival games that you certainly can no longer find here in the United States.

The Pirate Ship … ARRR

Target Practice!

We explored the iconic Tivoli 3 times, and found something different each time. Verdict: It’s just, particularly with all of the decorations. Tivoli is located centrally in Copenhagen, right across from the main train station. We stayed at the Marriott which was just a few short blocks away; Nyhavn and other parts of Copenhagen are a really easy walk. And…everyone knows where Tivoli is and how to get there if you happen to find yourself turned around.

Winter Wonderland


Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove in Mahe, Seychelles Mon, 29 Jan 2018 23:30:01 +0000 We planned to use points for our entire trip to Mauritius and the Seychelles, and Le Meridien was the only Starwood or Marriott property in the Seychelles, so the Le Meridien it was! The Le Meridien was much smaller than the hotels we stayed at in Mauritius (the St. Regis and the Westin), but is a lovely property nestled into a hill right above the Beau Vallon beach.

View from our Room

Food: There is a “fancy” restaurant and a lobby area bar with food – we tried both. Food in both Mauritius and the Seychelles is crazy expensive, and this was no exception. But it was very good.  Same deal with drinks – $15 and up for any mixed drink. Beer was about $10, but also much cheaper at the corner store just down the street.

Delicious Salad

Location: The location of Le Meridien is fantastic – it’s nestled on the Beau Vallon beach and you can walk over 1.5 miles down to the beautiful and picturesque granite boulders on the far end of the beach. There are many restaurants located on the beach and nearby, as well as convenience stores. Le Meridien is actually a rebuild of the oldest hotel on the entire island of Mahe. The ocean is stunning and the views really are exquisite.

Beautiful Beach

Rooms: The rooms were clean and spacious, but felt a bit odd. The balcony/porch area had a lovely little veranda with an insane view, but the inside of the rooms were modern, a touch European, and very, very white. I’m not sure why they went with that theme, and I’m sure some people love it, but it felt a little strange to me on the beach.

Spacious Rooms

Service: Helpful! Already had info I had requested in our room on the ferry service to La Digue, and the front desk/concierge all in one was happy to book us taxis and give us good advice throughout our stay.

Ocean: It was too rough to snorkel when we were there, which was really unfortunate because Le Meridien has a super cool snorkeling trail that we were sad to miss. Snorkeling is usually very good, but apparently sea conditions can be just a touch unpredictable from January-March. We did try to go out one day but the waves were breaking right on the reef and it was definitely a bit too shallow – so we retreated! Fortunately we had plenty of great snorkeling at La Digue and the St. Anne Marine Park.

Pool: There is a pretty large infinity pool that sits right on the edge, looking over the beach. We enjoyed it on the day the water was too rough to snorkel, and it was raining!

Enjoying the Infinity Pool

Would You Return? Yep, particularly if we were exploring nearby islands. Le Meridien was a great redemption of some Starwood Preferred Guest points, too. Le Meridien isn’t somewhere to hunker down for a week, but it is a great base of operations if you want to see Mahe or other sights. The location is really fantastic for walking and exploring, too. Now, if we wanted to hang out at a resort – I think we’d consider one of the other islands, perhaps.

Pool at Night

Exploring Beautiful Copenhagen at Christmas: Quick Highlights Mon, 22 Jan 2018 23:30:30 +0000 I’d never been to visit any of the Christmas-festivities in Europe before, so we decided to head to Copenhagen to check out Tivoli and the Christmas markets around the city. We spent a long weekend exploring Copenhagen–which I loved. It’s probably my favorite European city thus far.  Here are some fun shots of the food, drink, and decorations! And imagine the smell of mulled wine. It was stuck in my nose forever. I don’t know how people drink so much of the stuff…it is soo strong…

I Can’t Even Glogg without the Schnapps!

It was a lot of fun to stroll through the markets – though, I shockingly didn’t bring home any Christmas stuff! I love Christmas, and I loved the markets, but fortunately I’ve slowly become a little more refined in my knick-knack collecting. Not a gnome, not a troll, not a ornament did I buy. Progress, progress.   We did try some fudge, however…and I did buy two sketches that I adored in Tivoli.

Christmas Market Fudge

I Came Home Without a Single Gnome

These Chocolate Tools!

Copenhagen was so lovely at Christmas, though I’m sure it is lovely and picturesque at other times of the year as well! While it was chilly in December, it wasn’t frigid. Just watch the sidewalks–being near the sea, everything did ice over one night. I love walkable cities, and Copenhagen is very easy to navigate by foot for the most part.

Tivoli, which was an inspiration to Walt Disney, is every kid’s dream–and great for adults as well. It’s beautiful with lights and decorations. Also, it has all the cool games (like shooting old wooden guns at targets and breaking real ceramic plates) that just don’t fly as “socially acceptable” in the United States any more.  It’s like a little slice of history – while the rides may have been upgraded – it still feels like an amusement park from decades ago. It’s fun to visit both day and night.

The Beautiful Tivoli

Also, side note: I just remembered driving up through Washington DC yesterday that there is a Tivoli Square (named after a theatre) in Columbia Heights. I don’t know who named it such a thing, but…the irony.  Wikipedia says it was designed by architect Thomas Lamb (who also did the Rivoli theatre in Times Square). But Wikipedia also notes that the Tivoli theater has been plagued by “neglect”. Let’s call that the understatement of 2018 and move along; I’ll just say no one visits DC and takes a trip up to Tivoli Square/Theatre.

The food. I didn’t really know how I’d find Danish fare, but we had an amazing meal at Relae (one Michelin star) and good bits and pieces everywhere else we stopped. Of particular interest are the smørrebrød, or open faced sandwiches. Not only do they look beautiful, they are delicious. Ok, minus the fact that I detest rye bread. I know. I KNOW. Many smørrebrød have rye bread. But who eats sandwiches for the bread anyhow? Ok, put your hand down. No one eats sandwiches for the bread. Which is why open faced sandwiches are so delectable. More guts, less bread!

All the ‘wichies.

Last but not least, I’ll throw a Little Mermaid picture. It really is little. But it is very picturesque. The swans are also pretty adorable. Bread is obviously appreciated, and they aren’t afraid to peck at a hand that tries to pet them. Or forgets bread. I feel like the Little Mermaid is an iconic Copenhagen tourist vista, but if you miss it – it really does look better in professional photos.

THE Little Mermaid

I’ll have more on Copenhagen shortly, including a whole post on Tivoli, and some info on where we stayed (the Copenhagen Marriott).

Quick Review of the Longchamp Expandable Tote – The Perfect Road Trip Bag Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:30:23 +0000 There are a couple of travel purchases I made last year that I really feel are worth their weight (and cash), so I’m going to be highlighting them here over the next few months. If gear posts aren’t for you, don’t worry, there is also travel content (and maybe some triathlon rambles) coming your way as well. These gear posts are not sponsored (though they may have affiliate links). I just actually love this stuff and find reviews really helpful when I’m making a purchase.

ETA: Yea, I meant to get some photos of this bag over the weekend. Instead I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

If there ever was a perfect bag for road trips, this bag is THE bag.

But let me start at the beginning. Like many, I have a strong affinity for Longchamp bags. Not because they are popular, but because they are simple, stylish totes that can last forever. I have one that I purchased back in college that looks a teensy bit worse for wear, but I think its ragged corners just add a bit of character – it has been to four continents after all.

The Le Pliage totes are perfect for carrying books, enormous laptops, or a camera and a water bottle in a city. They stay on your shoulder and are pretty reasonably water resistant. Which is good, because I often forget my umbrella and I have a propensity to get caught in the rain. (And get shit on by birds. I don’t know what it is, but I get shit on at least twice a year. Unrelated. I hate pigeons.)

So when I saw the expandable tote, I was intrigued. When I ordered it, I initially was thinking I’d use it to tote my stuff on a plane trip to Omaha for Age Group Nationals. When it arrived, I was aghast–literally–at how large it was.

Like, if I was a bit more flexible, I’d easily fit into the bag. My dog could comfortably ride in the bag with room for a blanket and toys. I mean, this thing was enormous. But this is the beauty of its expandability – when you zip it and make it “small” – it actually turns into a pretty reasonable size bag! Definitely one you could take on a plane as your personal item to fit under the seat, as long as you don’t pack it to the brim.

Now, when you “expand” it, I’m not sure it could go in an overhead bin and I really can’t imagine carrying it through the airport without a cart or … someone to carry it for you. It’s too big for me to carry comfortably. Or maybe I just pack to much heavy crap in it. Either way.

But this bag, I’ve discovered, is perfect for the road trip. I always have a billion little bags, I can never remember where I put anything, I’m always hunting and digging, and jostling around to carry 6 bags of stuff. This bag, it carries it all and expands when you are staying for four nights instead of one. Literally, it’s the best road trip bag I have–and the one I’ve used on every road trip since I purchased it.

It fit all of my Ironman crap inside of it. Helmets. Shoes. Wetsuit. It fit all of my clothes and running stuff for Thanksgiving. It has an easy to carry shoulder strap so lugging it from the car to the hotel or the family house is super easy. Plus, a huge bonus in my book–it stands up on its own so it’s easy to look for what you need. And, like the other Le Pliage totes, it is water resistant and really durable. It doesn’t collect dirt easily, either, which is really important.

(For reference, that’s DH’s Patagonia Black Hole Duffel beside it…it still looks big. It’s over 20″ tall when it’s unzipped.)

Now, it is sometimes easy to lose small items in the bag, so sometimes it’s nice to put things like cords and other little pieces into another small clutch or hold-everything-cube so that they don’t drift to the bottom. But that is really the only complaint and is more a reflection of my organizational skills (and laziness at just tossing things in when I’m in a hurry) than the bag itself.

These do go on sale periodically, so if you don’t want to pay full price you can stalk Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus – as well as other retailers that carry the bag – to wait for a discount. You may be restricted on colors, though, so consider that in advance.

Quick Trip to Atlanta: The AC Hotel (by Marriott) & the Georgia Aquarium Thu, 04 Jan 2018 23:30:51 +0000 Back in late November, I headed to Atlanta on a quick trip for a work conference. I hadn’t been to Atlanta in years. Atlanta is…interesting. Downtown is a dead zone on weekends. And I saw more shoplifting in 3 days there than I’ve seen in 3 years in DC. It isn’t my favorite city, but I also didn’t have a lot of time to explore it in the way it maybe deserves.

I (gasp) took the train system – MARTA – into downtown from the airport. Some weird things happened on that train, things I hadn’t even seen in the DC Metro which is saying something. I mean, someone had their pet snake out. In terms of ease of use, MARTA was easy to figure out, very simple in terms of routes and directions, and got me downtown in about 15 minutes flat. I won’t complain.

Hotels, due to the conference, were insanely expensive. Rooms generally going for $90-$130 were $190-$325. So I chose the cheapest Marriott/Starwood Property there was, since I have Gold status with both. The Gold status was useless at the property I chose (hey Marriott – why is this the case at AC Hotels?!?!), but the AC Hotel by Marriott was really lovely.

Atlanta has a huge clubbing vibe, and if you know me, you know that clubbing is pretty much the last thing I would ever want to do. Late nights? Loud music? Lots of people? Hahahah. NO. At least six people when I was checking in came to ask about different clubs. Everyone at the bar was pre-gaming to go clubbing. There was a wedding party that was going to the wedding then clubbing.

The AC Hotel is recently renovated – and I mean completely renovated. Everything is brand new and sparkling clean. The lobby is sleek, the hotel bar is nice (with decently priced food and drink – I had a wonderful Thai-inspired beer with chili and lemongrass and a healthy salad), and the rooms are small but simplistic and very functional. I do wish they were a bit brighter. While they may have skimped on room size, the bathrooms are still decently sized which is really nice.

Modern Styling

Good Sized Bathroom

The other thing I loved about the AC Hotel was the gym. It, literally, is the nicest hotel gym I’ve ever been in. New and clean equipment, foam rollers, medicine balls, exercise balls, free weights, tv’s on treadmills that actually worked! Plus, it was light, airy, had a great water dispenser for bottles. It looks out into the pool/courtyard area which also looked very inviting, though it was cold/rainy when I had free time to check it out.

Lovely Gym

Plus, the AC Hotel is literally a stone’s throw from the Georgia Convention Center and the CNN Tower…maybe a five minute walk across the park.

Beautiful Park!

Now, my one main complaint is that there literally isn’t anything particularly interesting to eat near the convention center or the AC Hotel…there are a ton of chain restaurants, and fast food, plus one southern place that had amazing reviews but I wasn’t able to check out because their hours didn’t work with my schedule (they weren’t open for dinner). But, seriously guys — there was a line out the door for IHOP. That is where everyone wanted to go! Or maybe it was Pancake House. I don’t know, because I hate breakfast food not at breakfast and you couldn’t pay me to stand in line at IHOP. Sorry IHOP fans out there. I guess it’s a novelty if you live in other parts of the country? Shaking my head. A.line.for.IHOP.

The one thing I did decide to do is head to the Georgia Aquarium. I’ve sort of been off aquariums – I mean, seeing the real thing in real life is so much better and I just don’t know about keeping big things in big tanks anymore. But a friend–who isn’t into aquariums either–convinced me that the whale sharks were worth it.

Whale Shark

I will say that most of the animals in the Georgia Aquarium (or perhaps not most, but many), are rescued or injured animals that wouldn’t make it in the wild. And to see all the screaming children (which I promptly ran away from) that excited to see fish and other critters still makes me pause and think that maybe aquariums–for some things–are important and inspiring for kids growing up that may not have other opportunities to see those animals.

Anyway, the Georgia Aquarium is impressive, primarily because of the whale sharks and huge, huge manta rays. They were by far the biggest mantas I’ve ever seen and just stunning. You get lovely views from below and from the side, which is a really fun perspective. No matter how many times you’ve seen these animals (and I’ve never seen whale sharks in the wild), it is still fun to see them swim by you at an arm’s length.

Look at that Wingspan!

The cost for admission (about $38 I think) seems a little steep, but I can only imagine that maintaining 10 million gallons of water is an expensive adventure. I honestly didn’t spend a ton of time in the aquarium, but the time I did spend was mostly staring at the whale sharks and mantas. There were some other good exhibits, like the lovely lion fish, but school groups were starting to run the place and – well – that was my sign to exit.

Pretty Lionfish

Without hesitation, if you have to head to Atlanta and need to stay down, the AC Hotel is a lovely property. And, particularly if you have kids or are looking to get away from things for an hour, the Georgia Aquarium is a good stop, conveniently located just two blocks from CNN Tower and the Convention Center (and about 2 blocks from the AC Hotel, too). The whale sharks are worth it.

Visiting the Archaeological Site of El Cano in Panama Sat, 30 Dec 2017 17:00:53 +0000 As I mentioned in my last Panama post, I made it about two days before I wanted to go do something.

I had read about the archeological site of El Cano, and we decided to hire a car to drive over and explore for the morning. It was about an hour drive from the resort. We had no idea what to expect! I believe it is a $2 entrance fee per person; the site may not be open every day, so may be worth calling ahead.

El Cano is one of the most important sites in Central America and definitely, arguably, one of Panama’s most important archaeological finds. It contains pre-Columbian period burial sites that are dated between 700-1000 AD.  This period was prior to any European contact, and particularly Spanish looting of existing burial sites, and has provided scientists with more information about Central America during this period.  The burial sites have been full of some really fascinating artifacts that had not been previously found at other sites–in particular, a huge numbers of gold items, including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. In addition to these artifacts, including a golden lobster, there is also a field of stone monoliths and sculptures that had drawn historians before the burial sites were discovered.

Possible Game Area

Based on the findings at El Cano and another nearby site (Sitio Conte), it appears as if the chief (leader of the chiefdom) is surrounding in the burial pit by a number of individuals, including a child. Historians believe that these individuals were likely captives or slaves that may have been sacrificed when the chief died. In a very strange discovery, scientists also discovered a vessel full of bones from a pufferfish–that may have been used to kill the sacrificial humans for the burial, though that is mostly hypothesis. The pits were typically covered by a thatch hut, which they have reconstructed in a few places on the site.

Thatched Hut

Now, El Cano is really not a visitor destination. And if you are looking for a complex site with lots to look at and take pictures of this site is not for you. There are simple grass paths from one area to another. The museum is “under construction” and has been that way for more than a few years. All of the artifacts have been removed and sent to museums (most not in Panama).  That said, if you are interested in archaeology like us, and want to go explore, the site is worth a stop.  In terms of scientific interest and relevance, El Cano is pretty amazing. But there isn’t that much to see, other than the stone monoliths, the grass-covered burial hills, and a mocked-up burial pit. The largest excavation pit was covered while we were there and not available for public viewing, as of Fall 2017 (courtesy, or so we were told, of National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution who continue to pay for some of the excavation at the site).


Our guide was really enthusiastic about the site, its meaning to Panama, and was knowledgeable about El Cano and the pre-Columbian period. We took the tour in Spanish since it was obvious he preferred that, and we both needed to practice! English is also available if your Spanish is not archaeological site ready.  I’m now thankful that my Spanish teacher had me read Nat Geo for a while…

Burial Pit with Mocked Remains

Other than the entrance fee (I’m happy to pay $2 in the hopes that maybe it goes to the community or further preservation, but one never knows), there is really no indication that Panama has tried to capitalize–or has the funds to capitalize–on the finds or historical relevance of El Cano. I hope that perhaps they can get a small visitor center together with signs in both English and Spanish so that more people can learn about the importance of the site in Central American history. It’s definitely worth a stop if you are in the area and have a car. While it may be stating the obvious, there is plenty to enjoy here, just don’t go expecting a site like Caracol or Pompeii or anything you’ve seen in Egypt.

El Cano

2017 Wrap Up & Obligatory Stats Post – It’s Been a Busy Year Tue, 26 Dec 2017 23:30:11 +0000

As our Christmas card said, 2017 was a year full of traveling and triathlons. I’m glad it was a great year of both, as it seems like 2018 is going to bring some changes and probably significantly less time/ability to travel due to work. I knew this day would come, and I think I’ve put it off as long as I possibly could. Still, going from over a month of annual leave to half that, with none accrued, is going to be a really.big.change.  We are very fortunate to have the time and resources to travel as much as we do, so I’m working on not complaining. But I’m still complaining. I said I’m working on it! From a purely selfish point of view I’m actually really said to see 2017 go…

We finally crossed off our huge bucket list trip to Mauritius and the Seychelles, and I still think they are two of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We both liked Mauritius more than we were expecting, and if the opportunity was right, would love to go back and spend some more time on the island in the middle of the Indian Ocean!

I’ve had far less time to blog this year, though I tested out some new ideas including 2 gift guides which were popular. I’ve really considered that this might be the last year, but I do get a lot of web traffic and a fair number of emails of people looking for travel info, so I haven’t quite decided what I’d like to do with TS. I also just got Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Lightroom which has been awesome to play with but deserves a lot more of my time to learn how to use it effectively. I really don’t know what I am going to do with TS in 2018, but I do have a lot of posts planned on recent trips and gear purchases that I’m excited to share with you all. If there is something you’d like to see more of on TS, shoot me an email and let me know!

So let’s get down to the obligatory stats for 2017, in descending order:

Miles Flown

Number of Nights Spent in Hotels/Lodges/Boats

Number of Annual Leave Days

Let’s leave this at “a lot” this year.  It was far more than 30. I had a lot of leave, a lot of comp time, and desperately needed some time off.

Number of Flight Legs

Number of Days Pup Enjoyed with Dogsitter Extraordinaire
22 I think…

Number of Nights Dog Spent in Kennel

States Visited (> 2 Days)
10 (Virginia, New York, California, Nebraska, Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina)

Airlines Flown

Countries Visited
5 (UAE, Mauritius, Seychelles, Panama, Denmark [posts coming soon!])

Number of Times I Traveled Without DH

Number of Flight Delays > 1hr
3…also resulting in one extra night in Dubai, one extra night in Florida. Not. Awesome.

Number of Legs in Business Class
2 (Emirates business was fantastic!)

Number of Loyalty Statuses Held
2ish (Marriott & Starwood who now merged)

Number of Free Hotel or Flight Upgrades
1 (hotel)

Number of Barf Bags Used
Barf-free 2017!

Number of Forced Bag Checks

Here’s to an exciting 2018, albeit one with a whole lot less travel unfortunately. And let’s leave 2017 with some of my favorite memories.

Pretty Property View – Rio Hato, Panama

112 Miles…Done!

Happy Dog, Happy Life

Beautiful Views. Take Water!

The Infamous Joshua Tree

The Burj Khalifa

St. Regis Le Morne, Mauritius

Seafood by the Ocean

Beautiful Gold Bar Wrasse

Happy New Year!!

Heather @ Travelingsaurus

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