The small Caribbean island may be only a 10-hour flight away on the other side of the Atlantic, but you are greeted by scenes you would have thought probably only possible in paradise: beautiful blue skies, the ocean lapping at the side of the runway, and scorching sunshine.
It was strange to go to a bar in Nova Scotia and overhear Arcadian spoken by the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who once settled here. It's not quite French and there are lots of English words, but with an unusual striking accent.
Visiting this rugged Maritime province with 4,700 miles of spectacular coastline is full of surprises.
Even the most seasoned traveller can be prejudiced by misconceptions, and in the case of Mexico's Caribbean coast, I put my hands up. I resolutely avoided the newish holiday playground known as the Riviera Maya for years; certain it would be overbuilt and overrun by package tourists, rather than remaining the pristine paradise much of it still is.
That's the problem with being a Mexicophile - you fall in love with the colour, the chaos and the ancient culture which underpins this most fascinating of countries.
If anyone could bring a touch of class to an area whose reputation has been damaged by overbuilding and too many package tourists, it's Fairmont. The company which now owns the Savoy, and is overseeing a restoration to its art deco glory days, has shown, in its Mayakoba resort on Mexico's Caribbean coast, that it can also do eco resorts.
I have to confess I fell hopelessly and completely in love with the pelicans. It became my morning ritual to go out the back door of my beach condo and watch them forage around the ocean looking for fish for an hour or so. It was just the birds, me and a glorious stretch of powder-white beach. This was Florida's western Gulf coast, a world away from what many of you would think of Florida.
This coast of Florida and in particular Sarasota and her neighbouring islands Siesta Key, Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island, offer temptingly tropical retreats that are simply too hard to resist.
Right now it is a building site, a block away from the birthplace of American freedom and opposite the Liberty Bell. Not much to look at yet, but by November it will have been transformed into the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Stretching over five floors and 100,000 square feet, it will showcase more than 350 years of American Jewry and will become the definitive centre for all things Jewish in the USA. Located beside the iconic landmarks of America's birth, it is both a tribute to the US community and a reminder of the role Jews played in shaping America.
A swaying palm tree, the gentle lapping of the waves, warm sunshine, dazzling blue sky - in the dark days of British winters, these are the images we conjure of the perfect escape.
If the Caribbean region has written the book on the must-have holiday ingredients of sun, sea and sand, Antigua and its sister island Barbuda - which boast 365 beaches between them - have perfected the formula.
With average temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to mid 80s in winter, these are the sunniest islands in the eastern Caribbean.
Day one in Los Angeles had been full of surprises, not all of them pleasant. On the debit side, an unremitting downpour and the discovery that there is more nightlife in Frinton than in parts of downtown LA.
For our 20-year-old daughter, there was compensation in initial retail therapy (we did not chance on LA’s three Urban Outfitters branches until later in the trip) and for us both, an evening of glorious spectacle watching the LA Kings ice hockey team at the Staples Centre.