Destinations

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I noticed a lot of interest in travel to Portugal a few years ago. I had been myself around 20 years ago but only as an ending to a trip to Spain. I had done a lot of research for my client’s trips and was eager to travel there myself. Portugal is a country with very diverse scenery and climate. We started our trip by flying into Lisbon. Our intent was to rent a car and drive 3 hours to Porto to begin our adventure. One can take very short flight from Lisbon to Porto but I figured that we needed a car eventually and flying was around the same amount of time as driving. Looking back I really should have considered flying to Porto. We arrived in Lisbon to see a couple thousand people waiting for immigration and passport control After 14 hours travel time, jet lagged and hungry that is the last thing you want to see. After 2 ½ hours in the line we finally made it to the car rental which was unorganized and crowded as well. 3 ½ hours after we landed we were on the road for our 3 hour drive. If we had connected in Lisbon we could have easily gone through the short line for connecting flights, been on the plane within an hour and in Porto in another hour. Lessons learned! Apparently there has been a boom in travel to Portugal and immigration told us that since everyone had put off summer travel to Portugal, everyone was going now.

The drive to Porto was very easy. Road signs in Portugal are in English as well as Portuguese. We were rewarded for our difficult time traveling to Porto by this beautiful city. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, which I highly recommend because of it’s wonderful location to the old city, beautiful rooms, amazing service and beautiful historical building. We explored a bit that evening, finding an excellent seafood restaurant. The next day we took a walking tour of the city which included a Douro River cruise. This was a fun way to get to know Porto and the scenery along the river. The city itself is a exquisite city with historic, amazing architecture. One thing you notice is the colorful blue tiles on the buildings. There was a great street market along the river and we enjoyed browsing the city after our tour. We had wonderful Portuguese food that evening which consist mainly of seafood since Porto is a fishing port. Get ready to have the whole fish or whole prawn ready to dissect, but once you finish it’s well worth it for the freshest seafood you may ever have.

When you ask yourself or your family members where they would like to vacation that would be a truly remarkable experience, what answers do you think of? I consider different places based on location, weather, activity options, time, cost, etc. However one answer is always the same: I want it to be unforgettable experience! When people have shared with me their experiences in Alaska, I’ve not only put Alaska on my bucket list, it’s been at the very top! So, when my wife and I recently had the opportunity to tour inland Alaska with the world renown company Globus, I was ecstatic! I can already tell you… it was an unforgettable experience! Just looking at the itinerary made me feel like a kid in a candy store! We hit many of the highlights of Alaska including stops in Anchorage, Valdez, Fairbanks, Denali, Seward and the Kenai Peninsula.

To name just a few of the activities: Capturing photos of majestic mountains peaks and jaw-dropping Glaciers, cruising through Prince William Sound and seeing Orca whales, Beluga whales, Humpback whales, Sea-lions, Sea-otters, whales and native birds, visiting a local fish hatchery, touring Gold-mining towns, panning for gold, riding aboard a genuine Riverboat powered by steam, eating amazing Salmon-bake dinners, traveling into Denali National Park in a window covered train and then touring Denali Park with professional nature scientists, seeing Moose, Caribou, and other amazing animals, and then visiting the home of a 4-time Iditarod champion and playing with the dogs, and finishing a fantastic week with a cruise of the Kenai Fjords out of famous Seward, Alaska. Did I mention seeing the wild salmon spawning in unbelievably picturesque rivers?

In the last ten years I have clients who have asked me to build a trip around a concert they wanted to attend somewhere in the world. I think it is a fabulous idea. For many of us music is a part of life and is interconnected with travel. Music has the power to transport you to faraway lands, lyrics can inspire you to explore new cultures. Listening to a particular song can take you back to a memorable journey.

When I listen to The Buena Vista Social Club, I think of my trip to Cuba. When I listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, I am transported to Africa. When I listen to Andrea Bocelli, Italy comes alive. When I think of Prague, I relive the classical music concert I attended in a small church. Every trip I have taken is linked to music.

I can help you discover the world one music at a time.

I would be honored to help you plan your next vacation wherever your dreams might take you! Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533
email me

Growing up in Madagascar and Senegal, the ocean was my playground. And then in my early 30’s I moved to Salt Lake City and discovered the mountains. I have a lot of respect for both the ocean and the mountains. They are my physical challenge, my relaxation, and my spiritual escape.

Back in 2012 I was able to realize one of my ultimate dreams, see both Mount Fitz Roy and Cape Horn. Along with my sister we started our trip with two days in Buenos Aires, a city vibrant with many interesting neighborhoods. From there we flew to El Calafate, gateway to Los Glacieres National Park. After a boat ride along the Perito Moreno glacier, we made our way to El Chalten, mecca for any hiker and climber. It is the gateway to many trails surrounding the peaks of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy. It is for Argentina what Chamonix is for France. What a site! A dream come true. We then headed back to El Calafate and flew to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. We boarded the Stella Solaris for an expedition cruise to Punta Arenas, Chili. We sailed through the Beagle Channel, stopped on an island inhabited by a huge colony of Magellanic penguins and luckily, thanks to good weather, we were able to reach Cape Horn by zodiac and land. Another dream come true. I did not cross Cape Horn on a sailboat as I had dreamed but setting foot on this iconic rock was a thrill. After a day in Punta Arenas, we flew to Santiago where we ended our trip.

Travel is the gift that keeps on giving. The memories stay alive for ever.

Keep on dreaming…

I would be honored to help you plan your next vacation wherever your dreams might take you! Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533
email me

When you are looking for that “Somewhere Warm” destination, perhaps your thoughts are of diving and snorkeling in the turquoise, clear waters of the Caribbean, or exploring the jungles and culture of Mexico, or relaxing on the beautiful sand beaches under swaying palms in Hawaii, but what if you could visit one destination that envelops you with all of this and so much more. Welcome to French Polynesia!

Situated halfway between California and Australia, the 118 islands of French Polynesia are clustered in five archipelagos: the Austral Islands, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, and the most populous and popular, Society Islands. My visit included five of the nine islands that make up the Society Islands and each island offered its own share of lush beauty and tropical adventure, mingled with Polynesian and French culture.

With late night departures from Los Angeles, the eight-hour nonstop flight gives you an early morning arrival at the Faa’a International Airport in Papeete, Tahiti, where you can immediately start exploring. The city of Papeete is bustling with shops, restaurants, and a large market place. Outside the city, the island offers hiking trails to waterfalls and hidden pools. Whether a novice hiker or an expert, local hiking guides are highly recommended as the terrain can be tricky even on well-marked paths. And what better way to have a true “off-the-beaten-track” experience than with someone who knows the best trails and best view points? There are also lava tube trails, the Arahoho blow hole and lighthouse, museums, and even a golf course.