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48 Hour Day Trip to Houston For a Wedding

One of the lady’s friends from high school was getting married in Houston, so we hopped on a plane and headed out to the Lone Star State. It was a really quick, hit-and-run, day trip kind of trip. We did a lot of driving around, marveling at how spread out Houston is. And how we spent more time on highways than anything else to get around.

Welcome To Houston Texas

We flew into George Bush Intercontinental Airport, wondering if it was different from an international airport. We took the shuttle to where the rental cars are. We spent much more time there than we wanted to because the lady’s driver’s license number has already in the system for someone else. Apparently, some states use the same numbering system and the car rental’s system couldn’t sort by state. Backwards.


Exploring Downtown Mombasa Before Diving in the Pool and Riding a Camel

There were lizards all over the resort. I thought it was cool, but Najwa seemed to think they were baby-eating snakes.



Our First Full Day In Mombasa — Old Town and Fort Jesus

Never in my life did I think I’d be at a beach during the holidays. But since Kenya straddles the equator, winter in America is summer in Kenya. Instead of near freezing temperatures, we were being scorched in 90 degree heat with enough humidity to make showering moot once you stepped out.

Severin Sea Lodge - Mombasa, KenyaSeverin Sea Lodge, the resort where we were staying, is an oasis in a city that still looks like poverty is rampant. The palm trees, the ocean breeze, the free meals with bottomless mango and passion fruit juices for breakfast and exotic entrees for dinner, you almost forget that just down the street people still live in mud homes with grass roofs.

But in the gated resort, it was heaven. There were monkeys in the trees to give it an exotic feel, the decor was authentic and well thought out, photos of wildlife in the rooms, mosquito nets over the bed to remind you that the flu here is replaced with malaria.

The beaches are of fine, white sand. The ocean water is warm and because of the geographic feature, there aren’t any waves crashing on the beach, tipping over two year olds. It was a private beach so it wasn’t crowded. The resort grounds, I keep reiterating, were flawless.


Reaching Mombasa and Checking into Severin Sea Lodge

Just as we made it to the outskirts of Mombasa, the road got really bad. Actually, the road was bad all the way to Mombasa. When we got there, it got worse. I mean, it was like riding on a rumble strip for about a mile. The traffic is impossible to explain. There were so many vehicles trying to pass each other that we got bottle-necked when there was only one lane!

The dust and fumes in the air was suffocating. The temperature increased along with the humidity, reminding us that it’s the hot season in Kenya. And that we were at the coast.

But I was so enthralled at what I saw, I [as best as I could] didn’t notice the heat and noxious gases polluting my lungs. Well, actually it was blazing hot, I was sweating [the only one at that], I couldn’t breathe, I was getting restless and impatient, I wanted to smash windows out of the matatus clogging the roads…

And then we reached Mombasa.


Breakfast in Bucharest Then off to the Metro

Our day started early our first whole day in Bucharest, only because breakfast is free at our hotel, the Green Forum. On the lower level is a restaurant that reeks of smoke. Nduku wants me to make sure I reiterate Romanians smoke every and anywhere they feel like it. Even with Najwa running around, they puff on their Pall Malls.

But we tolerated it. Again, breakfast is free.

As I learned from the last time we left the country, bacon isn’t the same as bacon back home. Actually, I’m not sure if our waitress understood me since she brought out slices of salami. And it was my fault when I ordered, from the menu, fried eggs, and they came sunny side up. The only way I like my eggs are scrambled with cheese. I thought that’s what fried eggs were, since you scramble eggs in a frying pan, right? They did their best to make them appealing, though.


On Our Way To and Our First Day in Bucharest, Romania

One of the last places I’d ever think I’d visit would be Bucharest. All I knew was that it’s a former Soviet bloc country, it had a brutal dictator after the fall of the USSR and Dracula’s castle is somewhere in the country.


Burj al Arab, Heritage Village, The Souks in Deira, Atlantis The Palm, Global Village — So Much To Do in One Day in Dubai

The day started with a quick trip to the store, but there’s nowhere in Dubai where there isn’t something to gaze at. One of the world’s most recognizable skyscrapers has been duplicated in Dubai, then duplicated right next to it. Not only does Dubai have two buildings styled after the Chrysler Building in New York, they even bought a 90 percent share in the original!


If You Need a Place to Stay in New York: Hotel 17

Hotel 17 in New YorkSince we’re talking about hotels, let me share about the one where we stayed in New York for the Prince concert. At first we [Nduku, Najwa, Mike and Jenny] were going to stay in one using an employee discount Joanne English, a friend of mine, was offering. The issue, being a week before Christmas, the only ones available were not in Manhattan. The plan was to get a room at a hotel on Staten Island until my homeboy Chad explained the only way to get there was by ferry. Then we considered New Jersey, but we didn’t want to keep paying the tolls and fighting the traffic.

Eventually, we went the William Shatner route and took Priceline.com for a spin. Amazingly, we found a hotel a few blocks from Union Square that was in line with our price. Of course, when you’re paying $150 for a night in New York, you have to wonder what the catch is. With bed bugs being the latest craze in travel [and full body x-ray machines to get on a plane], we took to the reviews and felt pretty comfortable with this option.


Surprise! Where the World’s Best Hotels Are

Tortilis Camp in KenyaIf you’re planning a vacation anytime soon [or ever for that matter], you have to check out Travel+Leisure’s Top 500 World’s Best Hotels. Considering Nduku and I will be traveling to Kenya next year, I was curious to see what Kenya had to offer. Living in Washington, DC, we have 6 on the list. Virginia has two Ritz-Carlton hotels in the DC region listed, and Maryland has, well, I’m sure Maryland has some nice hotels as well.

Kenya doesn’t strike me as a place where you have some of the world’s best hotels. I can see South Africa, Egypt, even Botswana or Zambia on the game reserves or national parks. The magazine grouped Africa with the Middle East, so naturally the sail-shaped hotel in Dubai and a little something in Israel or Jordan would be listed.