Mallorca, Summer 2018

In 2008, I had the privilege of living and working in Mallorca for 1 year during my career with Meliá Hotels & Resorts.  I fell in love with the island and vowed that one day after I get married, I would return with my family to spend some time there.  After constantly hearing about me rave about Mallorca and its beauty, Sina agreed that it was time to spend some time there.  So we planned for eight months to spend the summer of 2018 with our girls on one of the most stunning islands in the world.

Mallorca has so much to offer.  Palma de Mallorca is a vibrant city teeming with nightlife and full of history.  The beaches of Mallorca are incredible, and each one has its own unique offering.  There are charming towns in the mountains and on the coasts that too many people never take the time to visit.

Spending three months in Europe changed our lives.  Even though Sina is from Austria originally, she has not lived in Europe since high school.  As an American, I believe there are things about the cultures in Europe that we should look at emulating.  In Mallorca, people work to live, they do not live to work.  They take the time to enjoy life and the phenomenal island that they call home.


The time in Mallorca was extremely valuable for us as a family.  Since I work for a Canadian company, I was able to spend at least some time with my kids every morning before people in the US and Canada started waking up around 11am to 12pm Spain time.  Granted, I usually had to continue working before and after dinner, but that isn’t much different when I’m at home on the East Coast.  The fact that the girls were on summer vacation certainly contributed to our ability to spend more time together.


As you get older, it can be difficult to have a close group of friends.  The people that I consider friends, from college or grad school, live all over the world and I rarely get to see them.  Here in Charlottesville, there are plenty of nice people that we enjoy spending time with, but that’s different than having close friends.  On one hand, there is a limit to how much people want to let you into their lives.  As an example, when someone throws a birthday party for their kids, it is typically limited to 2 hours and then it is understood that everyone is to leave.  It feels like “please come to my house so that my child can have a party but then get out.”  Maybe we just don’t fit in here.  In Mallorca, we felt like the friends we have there just ‘get us’ and we could sit around for hours just talking about life, love and happiness.


Here in the United States, our lives revolve too much around money.  I sit down in my seat on United Airlines and by default I’ve got the CNBC ticker tape in my face.  Ever day I open my mailbox at home and have to carry the armful of useless brochures and fliers to the recycle bin because of all the companies that bought my data in an attempt to sell me something.  Not to mention the spam phone calls I get from robots telling me about that business loan that I’ve been approved for, or the CIGNA health plan that they are selling.  More importantly, our work consumes our lives in this country.  This is very different in Europe.


For some reason, people in Europe take more time and energy to dress nicely, even if they are just popping out to the grocery store to buy some eggs.  Not everyone… but here in the United States you have to really look for someone who has gone out of their way to dress nicely.  It makes a difference when you walk down the street and people are fashionably dressed.  This does not mean they are wearing expensive name brands or fancy suits.  It just means they put some thought into combining colors and expressing themselves through fashion instead of throwing on the first pair of jeans or sweat pants they could get their hands on.

Personal Development

I don’t know why it took living in Mallorca for the summer to wake up and realize that I have been putting off doing the things that I really enjoy for far too long.  Photography, film making, music…  these are all things that I want to spend some time on each week.  Entrepreneurship is a great way to kill any chance of spending time on hobbies unless you can somehow incorporate those into your work.  Over the summer I was able to take some time and spend it learning how to mix music and beats in Garageband.  I created the mix used in the video above.  I wonder if one can be sued for copyright violations if the music is changed enough.  Comments anyone?  Since we have been back and the girls are learning to play the piano, I have also started to play a little bit each day and get back into the music I used to play when I was younger.


It was only three months, but it had a huge impact on our lives and our outlook.  It was difficult to come back home.  While we love our home and it was extremely difficult to leave our pets with house-sitters, something just didn’t feel right after we came back.  Sina and I are not the type of people to accept the status quo and we tend to follow our instincts.  So we have decided to move to Paris for a year.  I plan to blog about our travels and experiences over the next year.

Yucatan Peninsula – Summer 2017

In the summer of 2017, our goal was to swim with the whale sharks in Holbox.  So we decided to make a 2 week trip out of it and explore the Yucatan Peninsula.

We started out trip in Playa del Carmen.  We chose the Be Playa hotel which was perfect. Service was excellent and the atmosphere had a chic vibe but was still kid-friendly.  Perfect for us.  We had an excellent breakfast every morning that we looked forward to, and the Quinta Avenida was only a block away.  We weren’t thrilled with the beach in Playa del Carmen.  It was quite crowded and didn’t feel relaxing at all.  If you like Frida Khalo, don’t miss the new museum in downtown Playa del Carmen.

From Playa del Carmen we moved to Alaya Tulum.  Again, excellent service and beautiful hotel.  We chose a room that was not directly on the beach but was very close.  We were lucky to have chosen a time of year when the turtles were laying their eggs on the beach.  At night one can go out and sit on the beach and if you’re lucky you will see turtles coming up out of the ocean onto the beach, digging a giant hole and laying their eggs.  The process takes hours but just to see these magnificent creatures crawling on the beach is quite a spectacle.  Thankfully there are many local volunteers that patrol the beaches at night to ensure that the tourists don’t get too close or disturb the turtles in any way.  If you visit during the summer months please do not use flashlights on the beaches at night, as this confuses the turtles.  We liked Tulum, but we didn’t love it.  That’s because outside of the hotel there are little shops and plenty of restaurants to explore, but walking on the narrow street in Tulum with the traffic is a bit stressful, especially if you have kids.  I wish there was some way they could make it more pedestrian friendly.  Maybe close off the street to traffic and taxis and only have a local tram that takes people up and down Tulum.  Also, while the beach is beautiful, the surf was quite rough, at least while we were there.  So it wasn’t that enjoyable to bathe in the ocean.

From Tulum we hit the road and drove to Valladolid.  We stayed at Hotel El Mesón del Marqués and loved it!  Now, keep in mind this is not a luxurious hotel.  The rooms were Days Inn quality at best, but if you can get past that, I highly recommend choosing this property.  The website doesn’t do it justice.  First of all it is located right on the main plaza of Valladolid, which we were ecstatic about since there was a festival going on in the square during our visit which meant a street market, music, ice cream and more.  If you enter the hotel from the square, you would be entering through the restaurant which has an authentic hacienda feel to it.  In fact the entire property feels like a traditional authentic Mexican property.  If they would upgrade their rooms they could charge 3 times the price but they have a lot of rooms so I would imagine that would be a challenge, and I don’t know how many tourists visit Valladolid, although they should!  We used Valladolid as a base to visit several cenotes around the area as well as Rio Lagartos and Los Colorados where the pink lakes are.  Many of the cenotes are quite touristy and commercialized.  We found one that was incredible and there was hardly anyone there.  It’s a bit off the beaten path but completely worth it.  It’s called Cenote Oxman.  It’s located within a Hacienda (Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman), and you have to drive down a dirt road to get there.  The owners were there enjoying the pool with their family and were extremely nice.  The cenote there is pristine and it’s the one you can see in the video with the rope swing.

The tour in Rio Lagartos was ok.  We got to see a few flamingos and it was a nice boat ride and all, but what made the trip worthwhile was to see the pink lakes in Los Colorados.  From what was explained to us, the water is pink because of the salt mines.  The company adds an agent to the water which allows them to produce more salt and it turns the water pink.  You are not supposed to go in the water and there are people patrolling the lake to tell people to get out.  So don’t be fooled by the Instagram pictures that make it look like you can leisurely swim and float in the lake.  However, it is pretty cool and worth a visit.

From Valladolid we drove to Holbox, the highlight of the trip.  We stayed at Casa de Las Tortugas which again, we absolutely loved and would definitely stay there again.  We stayed in the Frida Khalo room and since Sina is crazy about Frida, this was a big hit.  Holbox has suffered lately from over tourism and we could feel that while we were there.  The electricity would go out sometimes during the day and it was quite crowded in the streets.  We spoke with some locals who had lived there from the time when there was nothing and they voiced their discontent with the uncontrolled influx of tourists.  If I had lived there I would probably feel the same way and completely understood their feelings of frustration.  We arrived on one of the last ferries and there were no taxies waiting at the terminal, so we had to walk to the hotel.  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because it’s really not that far, but… we don’t travel light, and so we had to drag a few large bags through the dirt roads of Holbox.  But it was worth it.  Swimming with the whale sharks was an experience that none of us will ever forget.  It takes a good 2 hours by boat to get to the place where they swim.  We spotted one and got to swim with it for a bit but then she went down deep into the water and we couldn’t see her anymore.  The water tends to be a bit cloudy because of all the plankton, which is why they are there in the first place.  We convinced our tour guide to let us find another one, and this time we spent quite a lot of time with her.  She let us swim right along side for quite a while before we just couldn’t keep up anymore.  These sharks are completely harmless and are beautiful, docile creatures.  Swimming with whale sharks is something that you should definitely add to your bucket list.

Swimming with Wild Dolphins in Bimini, Bahamas – Summer 2016

We traveled to Bimini specifically because we wanted to swim with wild dolphins.  Sina and I do not believe that animals should be held in captivity, especially for entertainment.  We booked a trip with Captain Neal Watson and had such an unbelievable experience that we immediately booked an encore tour for the next day, but this time without the kids!

You need to have patience and just enjoy the beautiful views of the blue water as Neal and his crew search for pods of dolphin.  It’s so exciting though when they are spotted.  Dolphins are very fast swimmers so if they don’t want to be with you they will just take off.  The first few times we tried getting in the water, that’s exactly what happened.  Having our 2 girls with us didn’t help either because by the time we got them geared up and in the water, the dolphins were long gone.

The next day, however, was a different story.  We found groups of 20 dolphin and after we got into the water, they literally just hung around and played with us.  It made us wish that we didn’t have to breathe because it was such a joy to be underwater with them.  If we swam down into the water and twirled around, they would do the same.  One can see that these are extremely intelligent and curious creatures.

If you are interested in swimming with wild dolphins, I highly recommend a trip to Bimini.