For Our Friends Who Love TV!

Rob and I were once again chosen as a Neilsen Rating Household.  Those of you that know us well – are probably laughing histerically.  Other’s don’t understand why it’s funny at all.  I am writing this because we get so much grief for having the money and taking multiple vacations every year.  So I wanted to give you some things to think about.

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Each morning Rob dutifully sits down to flip the Neilsen Ratings Survey Page from “yesterday”, to “today”.  But he doesn’t have to write a thing down because we don’t watch TV.  We have not turned on our television since the winter olympics early in 2018, and most likely the Chicago Cubs World Series before that.  We are a special event ONLY Neilsen household. But the survey only wants to know what we watched today, so we continue turning the page, and writing nothing down!

If you think about it – I bet you could say that we trade our TV time for Vacations. By not turning on the TV – we have plenty of money to take several very nice vacations each year. What would you choose vacation or your favorite nightly Tv show?

Let me explain.

First of all we have no Cable Bill.  I know – not paying for cable isn’t going to net you enough money for multiple vacations.  But here is another way to look at it.

Time is money.  The more time you waste in front of the TV, the less money you can have. What does that have to do with it you ask?  With our extra time we either save or generate more money!

Rob and I do a lot of food prep.  We eat well and we make most of it ourselves. For instance – a bacon wrapped filet dinner out could cost between $50 and $150 at a restaurant.  It is one of the fastest, easiest and best meals we prepare at home for as little as $15.

Rob grows a HUGE vegetable garden!  In the Spring he plants.  In the Summer he waters. Each fall before we head out on one of our amazing trips Rob spends evenings making and canning things like spagetti sauce, barbecuse sauce, canned tomatos for use in chili, pizza sauce and other things most of you buy at the grocery store.  This food is not free, it costs time, but time is money.

Lynn keeps the house clean and does all of the laundry.  We keep all of our shoes in the garage which really minimizes the amount of cleaning it takes to keep our home clean.  Hey – that’s a no brainer right?  If you don’t bring any dirt in, you don’t have to clean it up.  How many of you pay someone to dust and vaccum each week, while you spend your spare time watching TV?

We limit our “Eating Out”.  Rob carries a business card with check boxes for different eating out values.  We are allowed an assortment each month.  You know like 4 – $20 meals and only 1 – $60 meal at a restaurant.  The total adds to our monthly “eating out” budget.  When all the boxes are checked, we are done, until next month.

Rob mows the lawn and we both do maintenance outdoors.  If you live in a condo, you can’t do this yourself to save money.

We work late in our home office.  Most evenings after enjoying a very nice dinner together (when you might be headed to the sofa) we return to our home office to finish up something.  The extra time allows us to clear our plate for a fresh start tomorrow.  Even if you work for someone else you could get a jump on tomorrow by cleaning up your email, or doing a little laptop work at home.  Better use of your time will yield higher productivity and ultimately more MONEY!

It’s not all about saving or making money though.  For the most part, these things that we do are things we enjoy doing.

What do you enjoy?

Is there something you could do instead of watching TV, that would free up YOUR money for Vacations!   – – – –  I bet there is….

Finally – when you are ready to shop for your vacation, call a travel agent.  They are experts at what they do.  You can continue earning or saving money while they find you the best deal on a vacation.  Rob and I like Cruises and Cruises Inc. always has the best deals!  They have a nice website but call them when you are ready to book – they can even find better deals than you see some times…..

 

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Escape From Tourism – Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere

We had planned to drive over to Chitzen Itza on Monday. But our scuba dive excursion was postponed, re-scheduled for Monday.  Tuesday was “packing day” so we had less time.  Roberto had an idea for a substitute pyramid destination just south of Tulum. After our resort waiter Gabriel validated the idea, we headed out. #TLAATulum18 #notsponsored

Upon arrival we learned that Muyil was a UNESCO Site! See Rob’s post at Belles Architecture’s Blog – CLICK HERE. We had no idea what a special treat awaited us beyond Muyil at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

We were kind of confused about where we were going. We had seen signs for both destinations, having done little or no research. It was a good thing that we found the pyramids first. The Muyil Archeological Site was out by the road (Hwy 307), one of two access points for the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

They were so happy to see us that they directed us to a parking spot in the shade along with only about 6 other cars and NO tourist busses!

We bought our admission, photographed a hand drawn map and set out to explore the Mayan Ruins.

All the way at the back of Muyil, beyond the pyramids, was a sign, an additional admission booth, and gate. Sure, why not? For less than $3 USD per person we could check it out.

We passed through the gate and the flora changed instantly!

At Rob’s post you can see the sparsely forested, rocky, manicured terrain of Muyil. Suddenly I felt like we were officially in the “Jungle”! I can imagine that the Biosphere is where a majority of oxygen is made. There is plenty of water for the plants hence the boardwalk, elevated about 1.5 feet over the muddy grounds. Because of the inconsistency of the walkway I felt like I had to watch every step.

The hand drawn map from the entrance to Muyil seemed to indicate a lookout tower. Wouldn’t you agree? We wondered if it was coming soon.

Ah-ha found it! Note the warning in the lower right of the sign.

Needless to say I didn’t need to ask “are we going to do it?” Rob was already climbing (one of the things I love most about him)

Our travel friends Chris and Kristin had been laughing about Roberto’s man bag all week. That was, until Kristin learned that he was carrying our personal WiFi hotspot device in there, when suddenly it was less funny. It connects up to five devices so we shared it with Kristin. Skyroam keeps us connected most of the time while traveling.

Using “The roofer’s rule” we ascended the tower keeping 3 points of connection at all times (2 hands and 1 foot or vise versa). At the top we could see the lagoons that connected the land to the sea. #TravelLikeAnArchitect means – be safe and adventurous too!

The Mayans actually dug one of the canals that connects the second lagoon to the Sea – for the purpose of trade. I think that is amazing!

The tower seemed sturdy, and is now “Architect tested”. Some may not want to look down.

Soon a couple from Norway joined us up top. They had been vacationing in the Yucatan for two weeks. They told us that when we reached the first lagoon there was an opportunity to take a fabulous boat tour. Describing it as the best thing they had done so far, they said “They take you across the first lagoon, then through a canal, and another lagoon. Somewhere midway you get to put a life jacket on, like a diaper, and float in the beautiful turquoise water.” It’s Always nice when others show up and you can do a photo swap!

We descended the tower carefully and continued on. We didn’t have time for the boat tour and “somebody” didn’t have a swimsuit along, but we wanted to make it to the water. The sign said there were banos and food. Curiosity had us.

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Just a little further…  and there was the first lagoon.  We used the bathroom, and thought about a snack at the cart vendor…  enjoyed a little sun before heading back.

On the way out of Muyil we found some “Mayan Chairs” to try out. Just some stones neatly stacked against a tree – something simple that anyone can do anywhere.

Always open to design inspiration. I love it – I need one!

This destination was un-spoiled by the masses. In fact, we only saw 3 or 4 other small groups of people. Both Muyil and Sian Ka’an were VERY clean and well maintained as you would expect from any UNESCO Site. If you enjoy a quiet day exploring architecture, the past & the beauty of nature we highly recommend both Sian Ka’an Biosphere & Muyil Archeological Site, a combined pleasure.

To learn more details about the Sian Ka’an Biosphere visit Wikipedia

DISCLAIMER: Maybe you noticed the #notsponsored hashtag at the beginning. This means that we were not compensated in any way for this publicity. The opinions are authentic. We own what we say and share what we feel! Click on certain links to land at a Belles Architecture post by my husband “Architect Rob”. Click on others for more information about the topic at hand.  Click on yet another to purchase and enjoy the same travel amenities that we do, like being connected.  Within this post “Skyroam” is the only way we profit from this work.  If you purchase one we earn a small comission.

PLEASE – Kick back, relax, imagine you are right here with us.

Need help with a booking call Lynn at 815-516-0300

Vacation Shopping – CLICK HERE

We are Architects and Travel Agents by trade.

At TravelLikeAnArchitect we take pride in helping YOU make GREAT Plans!

Three Times LUCKY

I can’t think of weather I would rather be flying away from. This morning it is COLD – DREARY – WET in Chicago. (Lucky 1) #notsponsored #TLAATulum18

Rob and I always do a Park-Sleep-Fly Hotel the night before an early morning flight. It tends to diffuse some of the travel stress by getting us closer to the airport the night before. After all getting out of town is the hardest part.

When I was a kid my Dad would load everyone into the car and take one lap around the block while asking who forgot what. Because you can’t remember what you forgot until you forget it. Usually it was my Mother who would need to go back for something. But at the same time, not intentionally, he must have been training us to forget stuff!

Yesterday, After getting the house sitter settled in, and saying goodbye to the dog four times, Rob and I backed out of the driveway.

Our neighbors are working on plans for a new hair salon so Architect Rob dropped off a roll of drawings for them to study while we are gone. One more stop at a store and we would officially be on our way.

EXCEPT – while standing in line at the store my phone “blinged” it was the house sitter Collin.

OMG – of course I do! (Lucky 2)

That’s the stuff I need tonight at the hotel! We had been right on schedule but now our Suzee would have to hold our reservation at Maria’s. It was becoming our traditional place to meet for a meal on either side of each trip! It’s just around the corner from our “Architecturally” favorite Park-Sleep-Fly hotel, the Hyatt Regency O’hare, designed by John Calvin Portman Jr. of Atlanta GA. This time we hadn’t seen our Chicago daughter Suzee, since Christmas!

(Now imagine if it was our flight and not just a dinner reservation that we would be late for.)

What I can say is, that we know how we roll, and how to make our life comfortable. Just like my Dad, we build in little assurances that enable us to be who we are without dire consequence. That Park-Sleep-Fly Hotel night cost the SAME as transportation to an from O’hare, for less stress and more Sleep and a HAPPY beginning to each vacation!

Of course it all worked out! We are on our flight headed for Cancun where Brian and Traci will become husband and wife! #forever

Thank you for dining with us Miss Suzee – it was sure nice to see you!

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Yes – you are real! (What she said when I wanted a hug) My baby girl has grown into a real, beautiful woman. Thanks to our travel habit we get to see you ONE more time than we would otherwise.

After dinner there was a short line at the hotel to check in – but worth the wait.

Arriving at our hotel room door, which was at the end of the hall, I immediately knew it would be architecturally different.

They gave us a suite! Lucky 3

I’m thinking this is going to be a GREAT TRIP! We have already been three times lucky!

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Expect: Wedding Pics – Scuba Diving – Mayan Pyramids + Authentic and Beautiful Mexican Culture!

Need help with a group booking? Call us after 4/4/18 – 815-516-0300, or email TODAY RLBELLES@CRUISESINC.com

Maybe you noticed the #notsponsored hashtag at the beginning. This means that we were not compensated in any way for this publicity. The opinions are authentic. We own what we say and share what we feel! Kick back, relax, imagine you are right here with us. Like the Park-Sleep-Fly concept? Book thru the link in the post. You get a discount & we get a couple bucks! At TravelLikeAnArchitect we take pride in helping YOU make GREAT Plans!

A Busy Day at Sea

It was to be the only Sea Day of our entire two week journey on Windstar’s Wind Surf, and the day after sailing away from Barbados the second time. I knew I would have to hurry if I wanted to book the spa. #sponsored

After reading the WindSpa menu, I really wanted to try “Reflexology”, what I will call a foot massage with a purpose.

It was exactly halfway through our two week vacation, perfect timing! We had already done a lot of walking, hiking, scuba diving, paddle boarding, and dancing. My feet must have earned a special treat!

Soon after re-embarkation I hustled down to deck two aft to see what was available. The lovely young lady at the reception desk informed me that the massage therapist was mostly booked up for tomorrow, unless I could make 9:00 am.

Okay – that makes it easy, right?

9:00 am it is – see you then. And oops – I need a nail repair appointment too. Yes – 1:30 is fine for that, as long as I work it all in, on the Sea Day, I am happy.

Later that evening I received confirmation cards on my stateroom door for both – which I appreciated. We were up watching the sunset from the hot tub!

My Sea Day began with a light breakfast then off to the “windspa”.

Mooky from the Philippines greeted me and then swept me into the treatment room immediately – no waiting.

We sat for a moment while Mooky prepared by asking me about any health problems that I might have, and why I wanted a Reflexology treatment. I told her that I didn’t suffer from anything particular but that I had heard of Reflexology and was fascinated by the idea that points in your feet were connected to vital organs. I am all about prevention of disease and a Reflexology treatment seemed like a generally good idea. I really wanted to give it a try.

Mooky asked me to lay face up of the table and she placed a warm compress over my eyes.

She began the treatment below my knees, because everything is connected. After a general release of the muscles of my calfs she went to work on my right foot first.

There is nothing quite like a foot massage but this one was especially detailed! Mooky massaged every surface of each of my feet. She worked on the tips of my toes, and between my toes. She worked on each toe and foot joint and if I mentioned a tight spot she would readily explain the part of the body governed by it.

I had a spot in my right foot that was related to upper back and neck tension, and a spot in my left foot that relates to sitting a lot. (At my desk I assume) I certainly don’t sit a lot while on vacation, and this trip was no exception.

I was pleasantly surprised by one thing. Mooky didn’t try to sell me any products. I was somewhat expecting it because there was a nice display of Elemis – which I am not familiar with. Perhaps the fact that it was a busy Sea day worked in my favor and there wasn’t extra time for an up sell. She did suggest that I return later in the week for her “full body massage” which I am sure would be GREAT!

I was impressed and my feet and ankles were rejuvenated and ready for my next two scuba dives scheduled in Montserrat the following day!

Thank YOU Mooky – you are very skilled at your craft!

Rob had gone to hang out at the Bridge during my appointment. I knew he would still be there.

I found him chatting up the Second Officer in command. The most unique characteristic of Windstar Cruises is their “open bridge” policy. I knew Rob would love having access to this area that is normally top security on a ship. What a perfect thing to do while I was at the windspa.

Rob really enjoyed studying the ship floor plan, that shows everything, not just staterooms. It really eliminates a lot of wondering for those of us who understand space in a three dimensional way.

Check out his post “Ship-itecture” if he ever gets it done – CLICK HERE.

I just hate to be “scheduled” so I refuse to clutter up any other days of my trip than this one, with time constraints. Since my nail repair appointment was at 1:30 we decided to have lunch before it.

Windstar offers beautiful food buffet style at breakfast and lunch – served at dinner.

I always go for the colors! Really appreciating the prep work done by someone else.

One of the best things about being on the ship is the availability of fresh fruit, cut up and ready as a healthy snack, most of the time. Windstar also offers fresh whole fruit in your stateroom.

After my nail appointment I would be free once again. Working for yourself really spoils you because you choose your own schedule, as though you were on vacation every day.

Rob and I have been in the Architecture business for 25+ years, and opened Belles World Travel three years ago to fill our slow season with something we are passionate experts in – International Cruise Travel.

Did you know? There is only really ONE ocean covering 75% of the Earth.

Where would you like to go? Need ideas? Call 815-516-0300

Disclaimer – as Travel Consultants we receive generously discounted fares and are required by the brand to complete an online course to learn about their identity, target market and special offerings. Only then are we invited to pay the discounted rate to experience it for ourselves. After doing so we have the most valuable asset of personal experience!

Travel Like an Architect is our Travel Blog. The opinions that you read about here are our own. We are not paid or required to post. We do receive complimentary WiFi or onboard credits that better enable our voluntary work. We don’t publish negativity but we do send it along to the PR department of the brand, if and when we experience something less than perfection. Contact us for a travel brand architect review at bellesbusinessgroup@yahoo.com or email Rob@bellesArchitecture.com

If you want us to help you with your travel plans call Lynn & Rob Belles Cruises Inc. at 815-516-0300

Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Basseterre St. Kitts

They had to mix in one mainstream port of call during our two week cruise just to remind us how fortunate we have been to visit the unspoiled destinations that Windstar takes you to. Rob and I have been here many times before. There were five ships in port this day. #Sponsored

We thought we would find a taxi or a tour to take us to the fort and the rum factory. Disappointingly they wanted way more than we were willing to spend for that experience.

So a wandering architectural tour is what we would do once again!

I love Caribbean Architecture, in all its weatherbeaten glory!

The colors are what really makes it different from what we are used to.

When was the last time you saw a pink home?

Three palms in a row satisfy the design rule of odd numbers in repetition..

We noted the location of the street grill that had lobster – perhaps we would return for lunch.

Keeping one eye open for a hardware store we headed up the hill toward St George’s Anglican Church. The last time we were here you were able to climb up the bell tower for a 360 view of the town. Rob wanted a 360 camera shot from there for our YouTube channel. Unfortunately there was now a woman guarding the entrance and charging admission.

Just my opinion but this place is really becoming greedy a couple bucks would’ve been fine but they wanted five per person for the bell tower 10 per person for the fort, and 40 per person for a ride! (February 2018)

The door to the church had really cool hinges ha ha photos are still free! I don’t mind paying for stuff but we need to justify a fair value.

We enjoy the wandering architectural tour as much is anything anyhow! We got into a neighborhood that really showcases local life.

The chicken posed for me and then turned and ran away…

This micro housing overlooks the beach!

At the next corner we turned and headed toward the water. After descending the stairs I just had to turn around and snap a photo – talk about grand!

I also paused to catch a shot of the ship from the waters edge – even a bad photo is pretty cool!

Rob is playing with his 360fly camera check out our YouTube channel for examples of his work.

When you sail with #Windstar for two weeks or more you get complementary laundry service so don’t worry Rob isn’t wearing the same T-shirt every day without getting it laundered! apparently it’s his new favorite!

We followed the water’s edge, up to the ferry port then wandered through a food market that smelled like burning cannabis. Then returned for a lobster lunch.

Two beers, a container filled with salad, steamed vegetables and a healthy portion of rice and beans complemented the lobsters nicely. We pulled up a bucket and sat on the sidewalk to eat.

After lunch we wandered over to the town Square where we sat in the shade for a bit.

Deciding we had seen all there was to see once again, in Bassetterre we headed back to the sanctuary of the ship.

In order to get there we had to navigate the tourist area of shopping like two fish swimming upstream. The tender was waiting at a private pier behind the shopping area and we never had to wait more than just a couple minutes throughout the entire trip!

Cruising with Windstar is a treat for many reasons. Their tagline 180° from the ordinary describes the experience mysteriously because they don’t want to spoil the element of surprise that you will experience once on board.

I never did find a hardware store with glue to repair my sandal, but no worries I dropped it off at the bridge and they had a Carpenter take care of it for me! A fine example of the attitude that you find on board! The staff is the finest we have experienced anywhere – and really lives up to their promise:

“anything you want – you got it, anything you need – you got it, anything at all – you got it – baby”

Disclaimer – as Travel Consultants we receive generously discounted fares and are required by the brand to complete an online course to learn about their identity, target market and special offerings. Only then are we invited to pay the discounted rate to experience it for ourselves. After doing so we have the most valuable asset of personal experience!

Travel Like an Architect is our Travel Blog. The opinions that you read about here are our own. We are not paid or required to post. We do receive complimentary WiFi or onboard credits that better enable our voluntary work. We don’t publish negativity but we do send it along to the PR department of the brand, if and when we experience something less than perfection. Contact us for a travel brand architect review at bellesbusinessgroup@yahoo.com or email Rob@bellesArchitecture.com

If you want us to help you with your travel plans call Lynn & Rob Belles Cruises Inc. at 815-516-0300

Belles Firm of Architecture is Posting Too!

Because we know you don’t want to miss a thing – we would like to invite you to follow and subscribe to Belles Firm of Architecture’s content too!

Rob manages:

Belles Firm of Architecture’s Facebook Page

Belles World Travel Cruises Inc YouTube Channel – 360fly videos, underwater videos, etc…

And

Belles Firm of Architecture’s Blog exclusively – NEW POST HERE

You are officially invited by Architect Rob!

See you there..