Boston Skyline, credit: Emily Baillieul
Spring time around the world is a time for renewal. It’s a time to rejuvenate, revitalize and refresh. In Boston, it’s also a time to rebuild. If you have plans to travel to Boston, keep them. If you don’t, come visit. Boston is open for business. And it will remain that way.
This morning I woke up, laced up my running shoes and set out for a run. Like many others in Boston today, nothing was going to break my stride.
I’ve spent years running along the Boston Esplanade, walking the Freedom Trail, and shopping along Newbury Street. I’ve ridden the Duck Boats and Swan Boats, bought endless trinkets from the SoWa Summer Market, watched the revitalization of Faneuil Hall, inched my way into a foot of open green space for the Boston Pops Fourth of July Celebration, cheered on the Red Sox and Patriots, cried over the Celtics, touched the Stanley Cup, walked the halls of the MFA and picnicked in Boston Common. I’ve watched the sunset from the Longfellow Bridge, just like my friend did last night when she captured the photo above. I’ve visited the bars in Southie and Charlestown, dined endlessly in the North End, walked through Harvard Yard with ice cream cones and sailed in Boston Harbor.
And you should, too.
Keep reading more from my article on HuffingtonPost Travel
Before we entered the ancient burial ground on Kapaula, Clifford Naeole offered a chant introducing me to the 400-plus Hawaiian ancestors who lay 40 feet under in the lush gardens overlooking the Hawaiian islands. He touched my arm gently midway through the chant – a signal for me to make my introduction. “Melanie Nayer, from Boston,” I said, as instructed. The introduction by Naeole and my acknowledgement to his ancestors is a customary way to enter the burial ground, and let them know you’re family.
Reminder at Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
Naeole, the cultural director for The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, and Maui’s resident historian, took me on a tour of the Kapalua grounds. My history lesson was more of an emotional and spiritual journey, something neither Naeole or I expected.
I arrived in Maui for one night before making my way to L’anai, where I would spend the holidays. The purpose of the trip: reflection and relaxation. It had been a busy year and one not without its complications. It was the first year I’d spend away from my family at Christmas, but also the first Christmas I’d spend focusing on me. I was exhausted, and while this trip wasn’t without its work, there was also time carved out for exploration on the beautiful island of Hawaii. At first concerned by my solo travel to Hawaii, my friends slowly warmed up to the idea of it. The island of honeymooners and newlyweds could be distracting and depressing, or it could be the opportunity for a “Melanie-Moon” — a 10-day island excursion where the focus was on me.
I left the Maui airport mid-afternoon on Dec. 15, located the car service I had pre-arranged and settled in for the 45-minute drive to Kapalua. First thing the next morning I was on my way with Naeole, which would be a morning I’d never forget.
See photos of Hawaii
There’s an undeniable beauty about Hawaii. It’s hard to explain and photographs don’t always do it justice, but imagine the first time you saw the perfect sunset, or the way the streets look after the first snowfall of the season. The Hawaiian landscape is to writers what a great wave is to surfers – you can’t explain it, you just marvel in it.
Naeole and I made our way to the edge of the ancient burial ground, looked past Maui toward the other islands and brushed away the mist of the water that crashed against the rocks. The wind was whipping through the air on this particular day, and according to Naeole, it’s something to pay attention to. According to Hawaiin legend, the wind is the voice of your ancestors; the mist is the touch of your ancestors; and the rainbow (a common scene on Hawaii, although I hadn’t seen one yet) is the journey of your ancestors — where they came from and where you are going.
We walked the grounds and chatted about prosperity, spirituality and mystery. We shared our stories of success and heartaches, We discussed the history of Hawaii, the state of affairs today and loves lost and found on the grounds of Kapalua. I had come to Hawaii to be alone and pull the year to a close. While most people looked at me with pity when they heard this, Naeole just smiled – some things, he understood, just have been to done alone. When the time is right, there will be someone who will see the world the same way you do.
Naeole walked toward the flowering bushes that lined the burial grounds and separated the hotel from the historical site. He picked off a flower – which was only half a flower – and told me the legend of Naupaka.
It is said that two lovers, greatly devoted to each other, came to the attention of the Goddess Pele. Pele found the young man desirable and appeared before him as a beautiful stranger. But no matter what Pele did the lovers remained devoted to each other.
Angered, Pele chased the young man into the mountains, throwing molten lava at him. Pele’s sisters witnessed this and to save the young man from a certain death they changed him into the mountain Naupaka. Pele immediately went after the young woman and chased her towards the sea – but again Pele’s sisters stepped in and changed the young lover into beach Naupaka. The two forms of the flower Naupaka can never reside together as they are separated by distance and climate. Both flowers are half blossoms, never to be fulfilled as a whole, but it is said that if the mountain Naupaka and beach Naupaka flowers are reunited, the two young lovers will be together again.
I wasn’t in Hawaii to mourn a love lost or find a new romance. I was here to channel my energies, pay homage to my year and plan the year ahead. My life as a travel writer holds distinct differences from my reality, but there’s a spiritual connection I have with my work and my career. It fulfills me on levels many can’t understand, but I still look to the Gods every now and again for a sign of good fortune and guidance. My professional life and my personal life might never unite, but their separate worlds work in harmony. Somehow I connected with the story of Naupaka, and I suspect all along Naeole knew I would.
If eating, praying and loving is the new way of traveling, then the British Virgin Islands are the meeting place for paradise. The trifecta: Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Necker Island – three islands that posses everything a traveler could want, from the finest food to the bluest oceans to the most private coves and caves, perfect for those wanting a little solitude while searching for their own secret paradise. Any food-loving, sun-worshiping, romance-seeking traveler will find peace in the British Virgin Islands.
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
There’s no better way to end a day than with a rum cocktail on one of the world’s most secluded beaches. Whether you come here for the day or choose to stay a few nights, your time in Anegada will be nothing short of peaceful, and plentiful. For centuries, ships have been lost along the islands treacherous reef, but these wrecks provide an underwater fantasy for today’s visitors. Head out to sea for a glimpse of exotic fish and marine life, or just lounge beachside with a cocktail and a good book.
Anegada is so deserted changes are you won’t run into another set of footsteps in the sand. If you do, it’s likely from the 118 locals who call the island home. Only 10 miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide, Anegada is wrought with charm. Whether you arrive by boat or sea plane, the views are nothing short of spectacular. But before you leave, you must indulge.
Read more from my feature article in the September 2010 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine.