We didn’t make it to the Arc de Triomphe during our first trip to Paris, but we made a point of visiting it during our second trip. It was cold and rainy, but that didn’t deter us from going to the top of the Arc and getting views of the city. In addition to the famous Champs-Elysees, there are another 11 avenues that all stretch to and from the Arc de Triomphe. The full name of the Arc is the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, which translates to Triumphant Arch of the Star. The star refers to the shape that is made by the twelve radiating avenues that look like rays of light emanating from the Arc.
The Arc de Triomphe was originally commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, but it wasn’t completed until 1836 and Napoleon never actually saw the completed project. The monument was erected to honor the French people that fought and died in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of all of the French generals and victories are inscribed on the inner and outer walls. There is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and an eternal flame located at the arc.
Seeing the Arc de Triomphe is definitely fascinating, but going to the terrace at the top and seeing the city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower is probably the highlight of going to the Arc. You can definitely expect it to be crowded and only a limited number of people are able to go to the terrace at any given time. The Arc de Triomphe should certainly be on your itinerary if you visit Paris and we are glad that we got the opportunity to see it since we missed it on our first trip.
Within three weeks of our youngest daughter leaving home for college, we were sitting at the beach in Cabo San Lucas. As our friends have gone through the same transition from having kids at home to being empty nesters, we’ve seen two typical transitions. One, like ours, where the couple starts dating again and enjoying the freedom that it offers. And the second, which always saddens us, is when, after spending years devoted to the children and their activities, the couple wakes up to find that the only thing they had in common was taking care of the kids and they drift apart and often get divorced. Happily we couldn’t wait to start spending more time together because not only are we husband and wife, but we’ve always been each other’s best friend. So, as sad as we were to drop our daughter off at college, we were excited to start having more adventures and we were off to Cabo.
We’ve said this many times, but we truly prefer to travel in the off season, so our trip to Cabo was in late October. Our parents, who are avid travelers as well, had given us a week using their timeshare and this would be our first experience using a timeshare. We flew into the Los Cabos International Airport, which is located in San Jose Cabo and is about a 45 minute taxi or shuttle ride to Cabo San Lucas. This was our first trip to Mexico, we’ve been there several times since, but seeing the armed federal police officers all over the airport was unexpected. You deplane outside and then walk into the airport to go through customs. Somehow we managed to go through a wrong door into a room with all of the luggage. There was a large glass wall between us and the room to go through customs with a door where a policeman stood. We went to walk through the door to get into the other room and were quickly and abruptly told that we had to exit the way we came and go in the correct door. No arguing with a man with semi-automatic rifle.
We made it through customs and were prepared for what we would face next, which was the gauntlet of timeshare salesman claiming that they will take you to your resort. We’d been warned in advance and walked through, ignoring the fervent pleas to provide us a ride, and made it to the taxis and shuttles. We chose to take a shuttle, which is cheaper, but you share the shuttle with several other families and couples, so it takes a little longer as they stop at the various resorts until they reach your resort. As you get closer and closer to Cabo San Lucas, the ocean and the resorts start coming into view and it finally starts sinking in that you’re about to spend a week in paradise. We were staying at the Villa Del Arco resort and from the moment we arrived, we knew we were in for an incredible stay.
Resorts in Cabo San Lucas aren’t like resorts in most other tourist locations in Mexico, they have a height restriction on resorts near downtown, so you don’t have these giant monstrosities along the beach. The result of this is that the resorts are smaller, with fewer crowds in the resort and on their private beaches. As we checked in, we were told that if we attended the one hour timeshare sales presentation we would get discounts in town and some vouchers for the resort. Having not been through a timeshare pitch before, we accepted and were off to have a tropical drink while our luggage was taken to our suite. Once we got to our suite, with its gorgeous view of the ocean and the famous arch in Cabo San Lucas (El Arco de Cabo San Lucas), we were truly impressed.
The following morning, we went to our timeshare tour where we were shown the different rooms of the resort and then taken to breakfast with our sales person. Afterwards, we went to the sales office for the closing pitch. We had told ourselves before we went that, no matter what, we were going to say “no”, this was just to get some free stuff. Even though we’d only been there for a night, we were in love with the resort. It wasn’t an easy decision, but after much debating and the sales manager sweetening the pot, we decided to buy what would turn out to be our first timeshare. After the stress of making the decision to purchase, we were off to the pool and the pirate ship bar and restaurant located in the center of the pool. We have swam laps around that ship/bar many times now and it is one of our fondest memories.
Another great thing about Cabo is the close proximity to town, restaurants, and the marina. We love going to the restaurants and asking for the fresh catch of the day and having it prepared specially for us. Cabo is also famous for the marlin and other sport fishing, so you can catch some fresh fish and take it to the restaurants to prepare for you and your guests. On this trip we discovered walking down the beach from the resort to town and the marina provided us with many beach bar opportunities with drinks almost always on special and ceviche, guacamole, and fresh seafood always in abundance. Walking from the resort to town to see the famous Cabo Wabo bar or haggle with the beach and street vendors for trinkets to take home is an easy twenty minute walk and some nice exercise to offset the time spent sitting pool or ocean side eating and drinking.
It was the first of what has been many happy trips that we’ve had since becoming empty nesters, but obviously holds a special memory in our hearts. Not only did we become timeshare owners, but we fell in love with our home resort, the Villa Del Arco. Most importantly, if it was possible, we became even closer by sharing another travel experience and have been back to Mexico several times since. For those of you that aren’t empty nesters yet, take our advice, don’t forget to be a couple and foster the things that brought you together, the things that you have in common, the things that will fill your lives when raising the children is no longer your number one priority. You’ll always be parents, there will always be advice to give and wisdom to share, but hopefully you’ll do that while filling your lives with adventure.