2013 in Review

It is VERY hard to believe that this is the last day of 2013! My father always warned me that time would pass more quickly as I age, but I never believed him until now.

I must say that, in retrospect, 2013 was an incredible year both personally and professionally. I had all kind of amazing opportunities come my way during the past 12 months; some I took full advantage of, while others had to be postponed. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the awesomeness that 2013 brought to me and to Bon Voyage by Barbour:

* I traveled. I try to take at least two “big” trips a year, however a scattering of “smaller” trips works as well. In 2013, I:

– Spent a weekend at Universal Orlando resort at the Portofino Hotel. The Express Pass and proximity to the parks made it worth every red cent.

– Had a BFF weekend in Puerto Rico. Stayed at the Gran Melia and La Concha Resorts during our 4 day weekend, plus got lost in El Yunque. Good times.

– Visited Key West for the first time with Mr. B.

– Attended my cousin’s wedding in Pittsburgh, PA. I wish I’d had more time to spend refamiliarizing myself with the city I’d spent so much time in as a child.

FINALLY got to visit Jamaica on a FAM (familiarization) trip with 20 fellow travel agents. Went to Ocho Rios, Negril and Montego Bay during our week and visited ALL of the Sandals and Beaches properties on the island. Also climbed Dunn’s River Falls, which was totally on my bucket list. This was one of my favorite trips of the year, and I fell in LOVE with Jamaica. (There are tons of posts on this blog testifying to this…)

– Visited Ann Arbor and wandered around my alma mater (U of Michigan) on an incredible September afternoon. I couldn’t have asked for better weather.

– Made my inaugural visit to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for my good friend’s wedding. Had an opportunity to visit 5 other resorts while there…and I know, I never wrote those reviews. They are coming, I promise!

– Went on a two-day cruise on the newly revitalized Vision of the Seas with 90 fellow women, a group cruise that I helped organize. Visited Nassau, The Bahamas (4th island of the year!) and spent the afternoon at Sandals Royal Bahamian. These reviews are also forthcoming!

– Spent the weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and attended Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival

In addition to my personal travels, I helped clients realize their own travel dreams, including:

* 3 honeymoon cruises

* Several trips to Jamaica

* A birthday group cruise

* A family reunion group cruise

* A family reunion at Disneyland California

And more!

Bon Voyage by Barbour accomplishments included:

* Acquisition of my IATA and CLIA card

* Multiple certifications, including Certified Sandals Specialist and Graduate of College of Disney Knowledge

All in all, this was a wonderfully blessed year and I’m excited about what 2014 has in store!

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A Magical Celebration: Animal Kingdom and Epcot

Well here we are: the final chapter of my three-part Disney weekend review. Turns out I wrote this a month ago and never published it! NICE!

In my prior installments, I discussed our resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and our rained-out Saturday that took us to Downtown Disney.

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early; no matter how old I get, going to Walt Disney World makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning. We went down for a quick breakfast at the The Mara. We ate…quickly…because my inner child was doing this the entire time:

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After wolfing down my bacon and eggs, we swiftly walked to the front of the resort and caught the Disney bus to Animal Kingdom. The ride took all of 5 minutes; the park is literally RIGHT NEXT to the resort. We picked up our tickets from will call and in no time flat, we were inside of the park.

This was my first visit to Animal Kingdom, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. We grabbed a map and plotted our course. I had also downloaded the My Disney Experience app from iTunes Store, which provides guests with GPS locating, full park maps and well as live wait times throughout all of the Disney parks. It works too! Since we were at the park relatively early (one hour after opening), all of the wait times were brief. My main mission in life was to ride Expedition:Everest, but since it was toward the back of the park, we opted to travel the park in a counter-clockwise direction and get in line once we actually reached the ride.

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