Nate and Jennifer Manning

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The Hawaiian island of Maui is widely known as one of the most beautiful destinations on planet Earth. Its luscious green peaks and pristine beaches are nothing short of breath taking. Upon landing at the Kahului Airport on the northernmost coast of the island and hearing the tranquil sound of live Hawaiian music at baggage claim, it becomes clear why this is a treasured vacation spot of many people. This busy father, husband and businessman found it to be the perfect sanctuary to escape from daily burdens and worriment.

In addition to an exquisite seascape, the quaint port-town of Lahaina offers a perfect place to search for a memorable keepsake or to simply embrace the true Hawaiian culture. A quick walk down Front Street or a stroll past the famous Banyan Tree will quickly orient you to the laid-back feel of the native islanders. My wife, a true introvert, often found herself gabbing with the locals due to their innate ability to connect with those who surround them. The Banyan Tree in the center of Lahaina is a perfect portrayal of the deep-rooted Hawaiian kin that reside on the island of Maui. Planted in the year 1873, this local historical token has grown to completely enwrap the Lahaina town square.

Stunning accommodations are “a dime a dozen” around the Island of Maui. However, the Honua Kai Resort and Spa near Kaanapali on the East coast is exquisite beyond belief. Clear blue relaxation pools lined with colorful green landscape makes for the perfect relaxation spot. Upon waking up each morning, we quickly found ourselves drawn to the oversized lanai (balcony) to bask in the astounding views while enjoying a breakfast prepared in our fully equipped kitchen. The thought frequently came to mind – “Why would I ever leave this place?”

During one of our daily explorations of the stunning Island, we wandered to one of Maui’s best-kept secrets – Slaughterhouse Beach. Hidden from the view of the coastal highway and tucked away in a beautiful cove, this beach is perfect for a day of relaxation. The high-towering rocks that surround you are topped with palm trees, which gives this beach the perfect ratio of shade and sunlight.

The luxuriant green hills that constantly surround locals and travelers alike are hard to ignore. We heard about a short hike through the hills that led to a dream-like waterfall which we attempted one afternoon. At the front end of the picturesque “Road to Hana” is a small trailhead called “Twin Falls”. A small, tree-engulfed shack which welcomed us provided a variety of juices that perfectly complemented the short one mile hike that followed. During walk through a thick forest of bamboo trees, the sound of falling water will slowly began to surround. Upon arrival at the falls, we found a calm 10-foot-deep pool of crisp-cool water being replenished by a steady waterfall. The sound of the crashing water was enough to put us in a Hawaii-induced relaxation coma.

As we sat in our seats at gate seven of the Kahului airport awaiting our red-eye Delta flight back to the mainland, I couldn’t get my mind off the sweet smell of the Maui Air. My mind is frequently taken back to our precious time on the Island. Now returned to the reality of an office, frequently as I lift the water glass from my bamboo Maui coaster I find myself asking, “Why am I not back in Maui?”

 

 

When planing for a trip it is completely normal to research everything you can about your destination. You want to know the ins and outs of the entire city. You come up with a plan to see everything and experience the “greatest” of what other people have told you the city has to offer. This is exactly what I was doing before I traveled to The Big Apple. Until one day a good friend of mine said to me, “Nate, do it yourself.” What he meant by that was that no matter what anyone else tells you, or what any website says, New York is a place with so much adventure that you have to do what you want. You have to create your own adventure. There are restaurants galore with different tastes. There are plays, sights, people, hotels and entertainment with so much variety that it is impossible, and frankly somewhat stupid to mimic someone else’s vacation or ideas of fun. Make your own adventure, or as my friend put it, “Do it yourself.” That being said, let me tell you about the adventure that we had while visiting this incredible city. Keep in mind this is our adventure. Not the adventure that you should have. We caught a red eye flight with none other than Delta Airlines, who we love using because of their flexibility and great customer service. We arrived at JFK early in the morning. We had the entire day to get our first feel for the big city. We traveled to our hotel The Wellington, which was perfect for us. It has a good location with subway stops literally right outside the hotel doors, and a short distance between Times Square and Central Park. We were right in the middle of everything. We couldn’t turn a corner without finding something that we wanted to do, or somewhere we wanted to eat. Our room was clean and our bed was comfortable, nice to come back to after a full day of walking. Again, it was the perfect hotel.
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After getting into your hotel, what is the next thing that comes to mind on a vacation? Food, of course. Breakfast food was nothing short of memorable. We started off the trip with a six egg and bacon breakfast sandwich from 810 Cafe. Another day we went to one of my wife’s favorite pastry shops from Paris called “Laduree.” They had the most incredible raspberry topped pastry for a breakfast snack. There are hundreds of bakeries and cafes where you can find anything that you need for your breakfast. Like I said, go find it yourself.
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As far as other food, there are literally thousands of places that will fit your fancy for a great meal. If you want pizza, there are hundreds of pizza shops that you can go to, each with their own special touch that gives them a different flare to separate them from the rest. One of those many is called John’s Pizza located on 8th Avenue and 44th street. John’s Pizza prides itself on not selling by the slice, they only sell full pizzas. If you are a fan of fire cooked pizza that you can fold up and eat piece after piece, John’s is one I would highly recommend. But go hungry, because you aren’t getting a slice or two, you’re getting a whole pizza. There are other places like Stardust Diner and Hardrock Café that each have such a unique energetic ambiance and experience that are a must. Another good find on our trip was Black Burger located on Canal Street. Their burgers are so good and fries freshly cooked. If you’re a burger fan I highly recommend it. Keeping yourself entertained throughout the trip is not hard when visiting New York. Everywhere you look there is something to see or do. But some of it might actually take a little bit of planning. We planned ahead of time to see some television talk shows like “The Late Show” with David Letterman, “Live with Kelly & Michael”, and “The Today Show.” Each of which is so much fun, and has a unique feel. As a member of the studio audience you feel needed in order to make the show successful. We were able to see in person stars like Johnny Depp, Samuel L. Jackson, Daniel Radcliffe and Connie Britton. We were even able to snag a picture with Daniel Radcliffe as he greeted some of his fans on the set of The Today Show.
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If you’re not a fan of any of that, there is some things that you have to see if you are going to The Big Apple. The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, the Metropolitan and Top of The Rock are all things that come to mind when you think of New York. A site that would be helpful to visit in preparation for these events is www.nycgo.com. Along with many helpful tools for your vacation, on this website you can get admission into many attractions. Instead of paying 20-30 dollars to get into each of these, you should definitely consider getting The New York City pass which you can find on the website. This pass gives you admission to several popular attractions and also lets you bypass most lines so you don’t have to wait. When we visited the Statue of Liberty having this pass was great. We were there on a slow day, but on a busy day that line can take hours and hours of waiting. With the city pass you bypass it all and get right up front. They treat you like royalty. No matter your plans the people at nycgo.com can help you with a great trip.

Being a thespian at heart, I must tell you that going to New York without seeing at least one Broadway play would be sinning . The people in these plays have such a passion for what they do that you can feel the emotion right from your seat. We were able to see two plays. We bought tickets to “Les Miserables” for about 35 dollars a ticket which wasn’t bad at all. The performance of “Bring Him Home” (a song in the play) has never hit me harder than when I was sitting in that theatre. If you aren’t in the mood to pay 200 dollars for a ticket to some of the more popular plays, many of them have lottery drawings 2-3 hours before the play starts. We, along with a couple hundred others entered the drawing for the stunning play “Wicked.” We were some of about 12 people who were chosen to win tickets. If you are chosen you pay 30 dollars a ticket and they are located on the front row. You could literally see the spit coming out of the performers’ mouths. Such a lucky experience. You may not win, but entering is free, and if you do win, it will be an unforgettable experience.
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Having never been to New York before I can now say that it is a must see. It isn’t your typical relaxing vacation. In order to fully enjoy the city you must be ready to walk and lose sleep, because there is so much to do. It would be sad to go there and waste time asleep in your bed. Just go out and have an adventure. You will not regret going and creating memories of taste, sight, sound and feel. There’s nothing like The Big Apple. Go have an adventure!