Brendan Vermillion


Brendan Vermillion

Well, through good timing and lots of luck, I am about to hit the skies again. It has been far too long since my last journey. As much as I love going to visit my family each year, the act of heading to the airport and climbing on a plane to the homeland lacks the edge, excitement and the element of the unknown that a trip abroad brings. As with the rest of the world, my life shifted and changed through the pandemic; however, it is time to set free Brenno, the traveler lurking just beneath my daily home persona. The next big adventure is a trip to the Galapagos Islands. This will once again include a small boat cruise, and several days of fun, food and adventure with my travel team. Wait just a little longer my friends, I am on my way.


South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Española Island February 26th 2023

I was thinking about starting the blog with a saccharine sweet story of having been lulled to sleep by the rocking of the ship from the gentle waves. Cool ocean breezes would have danced over me as I peacefully slumbered. The reality is that I hit the bed and crashed like a frat boy after Homecoming Weekend. I was shattered and the death-like sleep I enjoyed was the cure I needed. After a nice breakfast buffet and meeting some more of the fellow travelers, it was time for a wet landing at Gardner Bay on Espanola Island. Into the dinghy we went. Life jackets on, Ecuadorian Handshake executed, and off we sailed over the turquoise water towards to most pristine white sand beach. The point of this excursion was to enjoy the beach, which I did ... read more
Gaurding the Island
Nazca Booby and Eggs
Map of our Trip

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » San Cristóbal Island February 25th 2023

These were the ominous words given in the nightly briefing regarding the choice between a Zodiac excursion along the shoreline or a hike at Punta Pitt on San Cristobal Island, which was described as challenging. The choice was simple in my mind. This is the only place in the Galapagos to see 3 kinds of boobies, and I wanted to see the red footed booby. Good, bad, or indifferent, I was going hiking and was glad that I had the volcano climb under my belt to boost my confidence. After a wet landing on the beach at Punta Pitt, we changed into our hiking shoes, and started the hike through a narrow, rocky ravine. It was not as treacherous as I had anticipated, which made me happy as well as the fact that we were doing ... read more
Blue Footed Boobies
Red Footed Booby

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island February 24th 2023

Our morning started with a 3:30 pick up to take us to the airport. Not my favorite time of day, but even I was up and ready for this. After almost a year of planning and waiting, it was time to fly to the Galapagos Islands. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened, tray table stowed and your seat is in the full upright, most uncomfortable position because we are cleared for takeoff. Our flight had to stop at Guayaquil for 45 minutes to pick up travelers before heading approximately 600 miles out to sea, landing on Baltra Island. All flights to the Islands depart from Quito or Guayaquil. At the airport we spotted two ladies who had been on our tour at the real middle of the world. I liked them, so decreed that ... read more
Zodiac on a Beautiful Day
Ticket to Paradise
We Have Arrived

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito February 23rd 2023

While I was visiting Dave and Merry Jo in Florida last October, we agreed that we wanted to take an Ecuadorian cooking class. After some online research, we found the Traveling Spoon, and booked a class for our last night in Quito, which was today. We only had a couple of hours in between the mad taxi ride from the Mitad Del Mundo, and the taxi to our class which meant we were still on the go. Not a down moment this trip so far. Since Quito is so large, it required at least an hour or so to reach the class, where we were to meet in front of a local pharmacy. We made it with plenty of time and stood and waited. And waited. By15 minutes past the arranged time, we were concerned that ... read more
Tree Tomato
Reporting for Class
Working Hard

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Cotopaxi February 22nd 2023

The day started with a quick breakfast at 6:45 so we could catch our 7:00 ride to the Cotopaxi Volcano for climbing and horseback riding. No, please don’t think that you are in the wrong blog, this is Brenno, the free-spirited vacation version of Brendan. He was in total control today, and it was a grand day. Traffic in Quito is quite chaotic, as in most cities. What makes it so bad here is that the buses, and there are many many buses, run on diesel fuel and spew clouds of black exhaust each time they shift. The city reeks of exhaust. It is a very clean city; we saw workers out sweeping sidewalks and keeping the city clean, but the air. Ugh Our guide for the day Pedro was a nice and friendly man who ... read more
The Band in Quito
Driving to Cotopaxi

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito February 21st 2023

To be honest, I am 9,350 feet above sea level in Quito, Ecuador the second highest capital in the world. La Paz, Bolivia takes that honor at around 11,975 feet above sea level. Happily, I did not encounter the effects of altitude sickness in Quito, like I did in La Paz, and Cusco, Peru. Small victories make me happy and my trips so much more enjoyable. Quito is the starting place for my vacation in the Galapagos Islands. I will later learn that it is called an experience in the Galapagos Islands, because as you will see, it was no ordinary vacation. I hope this is enough of a tease that you will check back to read more about this truly beyond extraordinary trip. Flying from Seattle to San Francisco, then overnight to Panama City, with ... read more
Volcanos in the Clouds
The Band Is Back Together Again
Hotel Casa Alquimia

Europe » Portugal » Central » Nazaré October 24th 2021

Since Dave, Merry Jo and I were not catching a flight or train, we were among the last of the passengers to disembark the ship. After lingering over coffee, and saying goodbye to the crew, we were taken to the rental car center at the airport, where we sat, and sat, and sat outdoors in the gloom waiting for our rental. Soon, we were on our way out of Porto driving the somewhat bland countryside. Before we left Lisbon, we had changed our plans and decided to visit the ancient city of Coimbra rather than spend another night in Porto. It was a great plan, and we were all excited to stretch our traveler legs again after such a pampered time on the cruise. With Siri as our guide, Dave did the driving while I was ... read more
Seafood Stew in Nazare
On the road again

Europe » Portugal » Northern October 22nd 2021

Fueled by my blue pancakes, I was ready to get the day under way. Our next excursion was the town of Pinhao. This is the first year of doing the Duoro River cruise, so they are still fine tuning the activities. We walked up to a train station were given vouchers for free gifts at various shops throughout the town. I spent most of the day with Alex, a Tauck tour guide from Ecuador who was on this trip as part vacation, part training. We had talked frequently, so it was nice to stroll the town while chatting. We had delicious local sausage at a shop called the Mercearia do Viking, a sad tiny hot dog on a giant bun at another, coffee and a sublime lemon cake at a third, but my favorite was the ... read more
Quinta do Noval
Quinta do Noval
Captain Alves

Europe » Portugal » Northern October 19th 2021

Seasick. Yes, that is what ran through my mind as I woke up feeling slightly under the weather and sluggish in my cabin. Seasickness could truly be the only reason. (mmm-hmm). After hitting the snooze alarm a few times, I rallied and met Dave and Merry Jo for coffee, although I wasn’t up to facing breakfast quite yet. We lingered at the table as we sailed along the river. Today was a low-key day with no off-ship excursions, also known as a relaxing vacation day. The sun came out making for a perfect day to sit on deck and read. It was nice to sit on the Sun Deck and watch the scenery pass by while waiting for some more food. Lunch was always a full-on buffet with entrees, salads, desserts, and an action station of ... read more
Warming up for dinner
Chef's Signature Dinner
Our parking spot for the evening

Europe » Portugal » Northern October 18th 2021

After the incredible first night on the ship, I woke up ready to get this adventure underway. We met for breakfast where we had the options of made to order breakfast items as well as a breakfast buffet. Breakfast is not something I normally eat, but I did enjoy the coffee and some blueberry pancakes. Once we were through, we went to the lounge to get our VOX headsets so we would be able to hear the guides through earpieces as we toured. And then, it was time to swipe off and disembark for a ride on a replica of a Rabelo the flat bottom boats traditionally used to carry port from the vineyards to the warehouses along the shores of the Douro. The day was gray, gloomy, drizzly, and quite reminded me of being home ... read more
Quinta da Pacheca
Quinto do Portal
Even the moon came to dinner

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