Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Vacation

Back From Greece

I’m a geek when it comes to Greek and Roman history. In college, Age of Caesar 3001 was the first non business class I took, that I got an A in. Not an A-, an A.

Greece has always been on my list of places to visit. In the past I’d looked into Mediterranean cruises and it was a topic of conversation as a honeymoon destination.

Having visited Rome in 2005 and being underwhelmed overall, but loving the photos I came back with I had hoped for a more balanced visit to Greece.

I spent the last week in Greece; 4 days in Athens and 2 in Santorini. Before I left, everyone had cautioned me that I was doing it wrong. Instead of 4 days in Athens and 2 in Santorini, I should be doing the opposite.

Well, let me say, I think I chose the right balance. My 2 days in Santorini were enjoyable, but more than enough for me and how I travel. And I travel through the photos I want to take.

Athens was a great experience. It shared a lot of similarities with my trip to Rome. The food was great and the wine wonderful. You have to love a country where the wine and beer are cheaper than the soda. Though I speak not a word of Greek the city was easy to get around and the people easy to converse with. Few people and signs I encountered were Greek only.

I came to Greece wanting one photo. Years ago, I created a list of places/things I wanted to photograph. The Acropolis was on that list. More specifically, the Parthenon. On day 2, I was up early and one of the first through the gates to experience the Acropolis. I couldn’t have asked for better light. The early morning Greek sun warmed the location and the deep blue skies provided a beautiful backdrop to the hero of my shot, the Parthenon. I captured it from multiple vantage points and a collection of angles. This was the winner.

The Parthenon

It’s already been sent off for printing and will be ready for pickup when I’m back.

Beyond the Parthenon, I traversed the streets like a local. The bakeries, cafes and street vendors helped me add on a few extra pounds, I’m sure.

Athens, even in its current state of political and economic turmoil…complete with riots, tear gas and armed military guarding government buildings, is a beautiful city. Not beautiful in the way Paris or New York are. Not beautiful like the Caribbean islands. But beautiful in the way the combination of old and new will leave you hypnotized. Beautiful in the way Rome was. Earlier I commented that I was disappointed with my visit to Rome, yet here I am talking about the similarities of the two cities. The problem I had with Rome is that it’s a very hard city to enjoy. The topography makes it a non walking city. Which would be fine if the train system complimented those shortcomings. But, the train system in Rome is built around their history. This means there’s rarely a direct route anywhere, for fear a piece of history would be disturbed.

Athens on the other hand had a train system to rival the wonderful London Tube, New York City’s subway system and Paris’ metra. It seems like a small thing, but when a city is easy to travel, you can see more of it. Athens made it easy.

It was a wonderful week abroad. Here’s a few photos from the trip.

Adam Stands Tall

The Parthenon

The Roman Forum In Greece


Santorini Coast

A View From The Roof

View From The Hotel

Lastly, a special thanks to all of the people who offered me great advice on what to do and see. Most of the advice came via social media, from people I’d never met. The advice made this trip so much better.

Countdown To Vacation

About 10 years ago I came up with a list of places I wanted to photograph. All the photos would ultimately end up hanging in a room I called, in my head, the gallery. On my list was the Eifel Tower, The Colosseum, Stonehenge, El Castillo, The Pyramids Of Giza, The Great Wall Of China and The Parthenon. Sure, there are other things I want to see, that I want to visit, that I want to photograph. Christ The Redeemer in Brazil, The Taj Mahal in India and a few other locations have caught my eye. But, I had to keep my list a bit focused.

To date, I’ve knocked off the Eifel Tower, The Colosseum, Stonehenge, and El Castillo. You can see the body of work below.

The Eifel Tower

The Colosseum


El Castillo At Chichen Itza

Well, this year, I aim to knock one of the remaining three off the list. The countdown begins:

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A Magical Disney Adventure

I just got back from spending 6 days in Disney World with the kids and the ex-wife. You might be scratching your head about “ex-wife” so let me explain. Cheryl, my ex, and I get along great. Unlike most divorces, there’s no hate, animosity or awkwardness. We’re two people that are great friends and realized we shouldn’t be married. Believe me, I know I’m blessed. When we were getting divorced we agreed that Disney was something we wanted to do together with the kids. I you’ve ever been to Disney then you know how monumental of an event your first visit is. Visiting Disney isn’t so much a trip or a vacation, as it is an experience. From how you tell the kids they’re going to Disney, to the costumed characters, to the themed rides, to the parades and fireworks…oh yes, it’s an experience.

We were blessed with great weather throughout. The sun was out every single day and the temperature was consistently between 68 and 82 degrees. In short, it was exactly what you’d want it to be. We agonized over when to visit and finally settled on early November. This was definitely the right decision. The parks were rarely crowded which meant the was it times for the rides were short.

Over 6 days we covered Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. I think 6 days was a day too long, but the price for passes was actually cheaper than a 5 day trip. Crazy. We spent most of our trip at Magic Kingdom and Epcot; Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were each 1/2 day experiences. There’s so much to see and experience; you never felt like you were repeating anything.

John and Cora had a blast. I was so proud of my kids. From how well they were behaved relative to other kids to how adventurous they were. For example, Cora rode the Kilimanjaro roller coaster at Animal Kingdom, TWICE, The Tower of Terror, Thunder Mountain and Test Track. Not bad for a 4 year old.

Of course the kids also wanted to see and visit with the characters. Over 6 days they met with: Pluto, Mickey, Minnie, Flick, Pinnochio, Daisy, Donald, Goofy, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Tigger, Whinnie The Poo, Buzz, Woody, Mike, Sully, Chip and Dale. Crazy, right? John even got a kiss from Tinkerbell!

I can’t say enough about how amazing the Disney staff were. There was always a smile and a bounce in their step. You don’t realize how impressive this is until you head to the airport and interact with the surly and grumpy TSA staff. Disney proves that you can operationalize core values to each and every employee. The only nit I have with the Disney experience is how poor the food was…which could be overlooked if it weren’t so expensive. Hey, no one’s perfect. There’s not much I’d change about the experience. I’m really happy that Cheryl and I were able to give our kids a life time of memories.

Here’s a few photos from the trip all taken with my Nikon D700:

John playing the drums at Animal Kingdom

Cinderella’s Castle

Cora after getting her face painted

John driving a car (I can’t even describe the laughter and pure enjoyment he had driving this car)

A caricature of the kids

Me with Tinkerbell



Webster says “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way” is how to describe the word hospitality. I tend to think of it as making visitors feel like they belong. This isn’t an easy task. I’ve been on the receiving end of some poor hospitality. Have you ever had one of those visits where you just feel like you’re a bother? As if the people hosting you clearly preferred you weren’t there?

Basically, think of that famous scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts walks into the store, armed with cash and ready to shop, but the staff looks down on her and suggests she shop elsewhere. Well I have experienced that kind of hospitality (in-stores and at-homes) and it’s not fun.

Growing up my grandmother, her sister and my mom amazed me with how generous, warm and yes…hospitable they were. Paraphrasing my grandmother’s eulogy, there was always another seat to be had at the table, another glass that could be filled and more rice to be spared. That’s just the way things were and still are, in my family. I’d probably also add, there’s always a floor, bed or couch to sleep on/in and someone to pick you up from the airport. Again, that’s just the way my family does things.

This past July 4th weekend I was given a taste of hospitality that was wonderfully reminiscent of my own family. From the get go I just had a feeling these were “good people” as my dad sometimes says. They offered to pick up and drop off from the airport, asked what I’d like to drink ahead of the trip (lots of pepsi in the fridge!), took me for a tour of the island, provided keys to the house as needed and access to their bikes, took an interest in my interests and even let a friend of mine “crash” the party at the last minute.

That’s all well and good. It makes for a nice list. But, the true testament for how wonderful the hospitality was, is how I felt throughout the weekend. It simply felt like I fit. That’s a hard feeling to create. I’m so thankful to have met these wonderful people.

I know it sounds like I’m gushing and this is a little over the top. But, if you had been here in Ocean City at this house, with these people, you’d be doing the same. Creating a sense of hospitality is not easy. Retailers like Tiffany’s and Barney’s have mastered this art. And, so have these people. I can’t wait to come back.

Finding Out About Myself

Last week I went to Mexico. It’s one of my favorite destinations. I’ve always found relaxation, piece, clarity and direction every time I visit. This time I came to Mexico with foggy head, cloudy eyes and a heavy heart. I was hoping to come back from Mexico with clarity about 3 key things. Unfortunately, I only nailed 2 of them.  I promised to share the 3 things once I got back from Mexico and a deal is a deal.

  1. My Career: I often take stock of my career.  I think about what I’ve done, what I’m doing and more importantly, what I want to be doing.  There’s a great line in the movie, “Road To Perdition” where Jude Law says to Tom Hanks, “To get paid to do what you love, isn’t that the dream?”  Well, amen to that.  I think, I’ve always thought that I loved marketing and advertising.  When an ad comes on the television I don’t skip it, I watch it.  I snap photos of in-store signage.  My spine tingles when I see a smart print ad.  Yeah, I’m an ad guy.  I also live and breathe the interactive space.  There’s a reason you’ll find a litany of related links when you Google, “Adam Kmiec.”  I took a lot of time to think about what all of that and you know what I realized?  I don’t love advertising and interactive.  I just love that I’m good at it.  That sounds a bit egotistical; I realize that.  But it’s true.  What I love is photography.  I’ve always loved photography.  I grew up with a camera in my hand.  It’s one of those things that my dad passed down to me and I’ll pass it down to John.  So while I enjoy what I do, I don’t love it.  It may sound like a duh, but it’s not.  This was a huge revelation to me.
  2. My Kids And Being A Dad: What makes a good dad?  Is it face time?  Is it your ability to provide for them financially?  What about emotionally?  Any time you go through a divorce and you’re not the person “living” with the kids I think it’s natural to wonder, how will I be a good parent?  I’ve largely lived by the idea that it makes more sense to bust you ass working while the kids are young, so that when they’re older you can spend more time with them.  But, the more I’m on the road, the more time I spend in a plane, the more nights and weekends I’m working…only to see how much the kids have changed and the moments I’ve missed, I’ve started to rethink that proposition.  In a post divorce world what it will take to be a dad is vastly different than in a pre-divorce world.  One of my big ah-has was that what it takes to be a good dad to John will be different than what it takes to be a good dad for Cora.  I’ve got a pretty damn good idea of what being a good dad means, today, and I’m ready to live that idea.
  3. That Special Someone: We’re all looking for love, aren’t we?  It’s no fun going through life alone.  Experiences are less powerful without having someone to share them with.  I had a pretty good idea of who that person was before I came to Mexico. But, I wasn’t sure if she thought the same way.  When I landed on US soil I thought we were on the same page.  I was all ready to put a check mark next to this one, but the jury is still out.  I won’t lie, I’m bummed.  I think I went through all those crazy stages…all at one time…denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I’m finally at acceptance.  But, it’s an interesting version of acceptance.  I’m going to live by the idea that you should never make someone your priority when they only make you an option. Life is too damn short to waste time chasing after someone who clearly doesn’t value you for you. It finally hit me the other morning that sometimes we need to remember that people are who they are, not who we wished they were. And the real question is can we live with that?

Ok, so this has nothing to do with the iPhone, fourSquare or DSPs. I recognize that as of late there’s been less marketing and interactive content on this site…and there’s been more personal content. But, you know what, it’s my site and I can do that 🙂 Your regular programming will be retuning shortly!

Gone Fishing

I’m off to Mexico for a week long vacation.  It’s been way too long since I took a vacation or any time off.  Hell, last year I didn’t take a single day of real vacation.  I love Mexico, specifically Cancun.  I’m hoping to relax, recharge and find myself.  Yes, that sounds a bit hokey, but honestly if 2009 was awesome; 2010 has been nothing even remotely close to that.  There’s been a lot of bumps, bruises, mistakes and problems.

I’ve got a plan though.  Yeah, I always have a plan.  By, the end of the week that I’m spending in Mexico I’m hoping to come back with clarity about 3 key things.  I’ve got a pretty good idea about them, but I think the time away is going to help me make sure I’ve got it all figured out.

I’m sure you’re wondering what those 3 things are.  No, I’m not going to share those things with you right now 🙂  But, I will share them once I gain that clarity.

The photo above was from my last trip to Cancun in 2008.  Gotta love that water.

The 7 Year Itch And Taking Time To Recharge

I genuinely love the Ted series. Their mission, their content, and their willingness to share are amazing. I often find inspiration from the different Ted talks. Each talk, in some small way, has influenced my approach and philosophy to life and business. Not unlike the great book 4 Hour Work Week, this Ted talk by Stefan Sagmeister will have you rethinking the concept of work and time off. It’s 17 minutes in length, but well worth the time.

The London Eye

I was feeling a bit nostaligic today for some reason.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t taken a real vacation in some time.  The last two “vacations” I did take I ended up working.  Granted, some of that work was done from a beach in Mexico.  But, seriously?  Working on your vacation is not cool and not something I recommend, even though I do it all the time.  In keeping with the black and white theme of the site, here’s a photo of the London Eye I took in March of 2006 with the D2Hs.

On this trip I managed to connect with “work” via the Apple Store.  Sad, I know.

Our 5th Wedding Anniversary

We spent our 5th wedding anniversary in Cancun, Mexico.  Cancun holds a special place in our heart because it’s the place we got engaged on June 5, 2002 and it’s where we spent our 3rd anniversary when Cheryl was pregnant with Cora.

Originally, we had planned to spend our 5th anniverary in Las Vegas, NV.  However, the insane costs of Vegas coupled with the amazing deal we got via Expedia helped guide us back to Cancun.  Instead of staying at the Westin Regina (where we’ve stayed in the past) we decided to stay at the all inclusive GR Royal Solaris.  It was a great choice.  Unlimited food and liquor is never a bad thing.

With this being our 3rd time in Cancun together, it was really tough to figure out what to do.  We’d been to Chitinitza, Isla Mujeres, done some parasailing, and shopped a ton.  Outside of just kicking back on the beach, something that’s very difficult for Adam to do, we took the Jungle Tour for the first time.  There’s a picture from the excursion below.  That was really the only new thing we did.  It was the familiar favorites that we really relished.  We shopped a Plaza Kulkulcan and La Isla.  We ate dinner at Cambalache and this little whole in the wall taco place that we ate at the night we got engaged.  Of course, we also ate at the Captain’s Cove, where Cheryl enjoyed a Banana Monkey.  Basically, we were right at home.

It was tough to come back after 5 days, but it was also great to see Cora again.  She stayed with Grandpa and Grandma Iverson while we were away.

A few select photos are below and the entire gallery can be seen here.

This is the front of our hotel, the GR Royal Solaris. We highly recommend it.
This is the front of our hotel, the GR Royal Solaris. We highly recommend it.
This is a picture I took on day 2.  Its probably one of my favorite photos from the trip.
This is a picture I took on day 2. It's probably one of my favorite photos from the trip.
It's rare that I make an appearance in photos on trips. Usually I'm too busy taking them. I really liked the casual and simple nature of this photo. Cheryl did a great job capturing it.
It's rare that I make an appearance in photos on trips. Usually I'm too busy taking them. I really liked the casual and simple nature of this photo. Cheryl did a great job capturing it.
We took the so-called "Jungle Tour." It basically consists of driving a speed boat 30 minutes to a huge reef. You snorkel for about 45 minutes and then head back. We had a great time driving fast and checking out the underwater life.
We took the so-called "Jungle Tour." It basically consists of driving a speed boat 30 minutes to a huge reef. You snorkel for about 45 minutes and then head back. We had a great time driving fast and checking out the underwater life.
When we came down to Cancun for our 3rd anniversary, the Captains Cove was closed due to construction from the hurricanes.  It was open this time around and we made sure to eat dinner their on our anniversary.  The coconut shrimp were as amazing as we remembered from June 2002; when we got engaged.
When we came down to Cancun for our 3rd anniversary, the Captain's Cove was closed due to construction from the hurricanes. It was open this time around and we made sure to eat dinner their on our anniversary. The coconut shrimp were as amazing as we remembered from June 2002; when we got engaged.

We’re Back From Vacation

Cancun was a blast.  More updates to come, but wanted to get this photo out there so you all could see we actually made it to Cancun and had a great time.  This was taken on our anniversary using the D2Hs, two towels, and the shutter timer.