You know what the problem is with wanting to see more of the world? It means you have to go places you haven't been before. Apparently flying to Las Vegas and Disneyland time after time doesn't allow you to claim the title of International Explorer, although if I joined Foursquare I could probably get myself elected mayor of those places. Despite my lack of political experience, I've always thought I'd make a good mayor. I'm an expert at cutting ribbons and banging gavels. What else do they do?
Political aspirations aside, we did manage to broaden our horizons a tiny bit this year. Although the new cities we visited probably weren't likely to inspire culture shock, it's always good for my kids to see that every place has it's own unique customs and traditions ("This place is so weird! Why does everybody in Santa Monica drive BMW's Dad?"). Moving on...
Today's Category - Best New City
The nominees are:
Cabo San Lucas - Yes we took our children out of their sheltered bubble of Canada/US travels and began their international experiences. Of course, before you get images of us bartering our way through a Spanish marketplace, we were on a Disney guided port excursion and our most authentic interaction with the locals was trying to order a Blizzard at Dairy Queen. Side Note: Why is it that after a full semester of Spanish 11, I have no idea what the Spanish word for ice cream is, yet the phrase for ordering two beers (Dos cervezas por favor!) is still perfectly ingrained in my memory? Priorities at the time I suppose.
Orlando - Really, it was our first visit to the land of highway toll booths. We had a lot of fun, but I have a bit of an issue with Florida. For a place that advertises itself as the Sunshine State, it sure rains a lot. I mean everyday, pretty much right at two in the afternoon. I appreciate punctuality as much as the next person, but does anybody else find it strange that it rained exactly from 2pm - 3pm every day, the exact hours that the Dr. Phil show airs in Florida? I mean, if it was Oprah, I'd suspect some sort of deal had been made, but Dr. Phil?
Puerto Vallarta - Our kids first international port of call! We came into port overnight, so in the morning we went down to disembark the ship and experience the true Mexico. We cleared customs, stepped outside the cruise compound, and the first thing we saw was WalMart. Close enough, let's go shopping. It will forever be remembered however, as the place where our daughter first discovered her passion for Mexican Cheetos. Apparently they just taste better!
Santa Monica - We went to see the pier, which was a real disappointment, but the beach, the houses, and the shopping were all well above what we expected. My favorite part was the parking garage though. It was huge, so they had these computers where you could type your license plate in and it would show you a picture of where you parked and how to get there. I'll always remember Santa Monica as the best place to park ever! Of course my daughter remembers it differently. I was explaining to her which city was Santa Monica and she came back with "Oh, is that where we had the Dippin' Dots? I like that place!"
Seattle - Yes, I'm bending the rules here a little. Lori and I have been to Seattle lots, and our kids have been to Sea-Tac countless times, but this year was the first time we actually stayed downtown and explored the city itself. What made us do it? I got tired of driving through Seattle on the I-5 and my son constantly saying "I don't see any Starbucks." Do you believe me now Tal?
And the winner is.........
Cabo San Lucas!!
Despite the fact that I'm pretty sure we got ripped off at Dairy Queen, our experience in Cabo was excellent. The fact that we could walk off the boat and already be in the middle of town was a huge plus, and after the chaos of the Puerto Vallarta market, I found the vendors in Cabo to be much more relaxed and easy to deal with (The guy who kept trying to sell us a whip with suggestive undertones was particularly amusing.). I've never really wanted to see Mexico as I'm not a fan of lying on the beach, drinking, or humidity, but the couple of days we got to spend in Cabo might just be enough to change my mind.
Here's the voting results (Look...I remembered to put them after the winner this time...)
Steve - Cabo San Lucas
Lori - Cabo San Lucas
Talon - Seattle
Neve - Cabo San Lucas
Leeds - Orlando
Congratulations to our favorite new city for 2011 -
Cabo San Lucas!!!