Exploring Sao Miguel, The Capital of the Azores

Sao Miguel is the largest of the Azores Islands. It was settled in the mid 15th century where a military fort was established.  Sao Miguel is nicknamed “the Green Island” due to the abundance of mountains, trees and its very fertile soil. Driving around the island is amazing- the natural landscape is so beautiful. The landscape feels a bit like Ireland, Iceland and Hawaii all rolled into one magical place! We couldn’t wait to explore this island. We spent for nights on Sao Miguel with a quick trip to Terceira in the middle. Sao Miguel provided us a great introduction to the beautiful Azores Islands!

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Volterra

Volterra is a hill town slightly off the beaten path but a must visit! It is one of the oldest towns in all of Italy. The town is remarkable in that it has ruins or sites from the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval period.  The ancient Etruscans named the city Velathri or Felathri, while its Roman name was Volaterrae. The town is located right in the heart of Tuscany, in the province of Pisa bordering the province of Siena. We couldn’t wait to explore this ancient, incredible (but hilly) town.

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Terceira, A Portuguese Island Gem

The Azores Islands are a treasure in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. These islands are quickly becoming a hot destination to visit. The combination of outdoor adventure and Portuguese culture make for an incredible vacation. My son and I decided these incredible volcanic islands were our summer destination.  With Delta offering seasonal service from NYC to Sao Miguel, it is easy to get to the Azores from the United States. We decided to spend a week visiting Sao Miguel and Terceira, 2 of the 9 major islands that comprise the Azores. Both flights and ferries connect the islands, so inter-island travel is also easy. We fell in love with both of these magical islands.

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Exploring Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. This gem of Catalonia is full of incredible sights, art, shopping, and restaurants. But it’s the spirit and friendliness of the Catalonian people that truly warms this city. Barcelona has been on my list of places for so long (I have a very long list). I was not disappointed! Between the many, many museums, the Gaudi and Art Nouveau architecture, and the stunning Gothic quarter, I couldn’t wait to explore.

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Springtime in London

It’s no secret that London is one of my most favorite cities.  Any chance to visit I jump at. So recently I packed my bags and headed across the pond for a long spring weekend in London staying at the fabulous Corinthia Hotel and exploring some amazing sights. While the idea of spring in London may bring images of lots of rain to mind, our spring weekend was sunny, dry and full of wonderful adventures!

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Costa Rica: The Land of "Pure Vida"

The Central American country, Costa Rica, is an incredible place to visit for adventure, wildlife experiences or just hanging by the beach. With a wide range of biodiversity and culture, there is plenty to do for either the adventure loving traveler, beach lovers, or the cultural tourist. We decided for spring break this year to sample a small portion of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle at the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

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Wynwood Walls and Doors: Celebrating Graffiti Art

Wynwood Walls and Doors in Miami celebrates the incredible art form of street graffiti. It creates the perfect “museum” for street graffiti art: a gorgeous park in an industrial neighborhood of Miami. Traditional museums offer an astounding wide variety of artist, styles, and genres. But most don’t feature the fun works of street graffiti artists. Street art is meant to be seen outside and surrounded by people. Wynwood Walls provides this amazing experience showcasing some of the leading street artists in the world! The Wynwood Art district is a must visit for any art lover or visitor to Miami. My daughter, who is a non-art lover, was wowed by the spot. It’s super hip, very cool and just simply awesome.

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Quebec City, a Winter Wonderland

One of the top places on my list of places to see has always been Quebec City, Canada during Winter Carnival. This February my daughter and I decided to venture North to this charming, snowy, Canadian town. Visitors to Quebec City feel like they have stepped back in time to a quaint, French, 16th century town with old stone buildings, cobblestones streets and 16th century architecture. The town celebrates a two-week Winter Carnival unrivaled in the world. During the carnival, the streets are filled with incredible snow sculptures, sucré (sugar) houses, games and other festive events. While visiting Quebec City in itself is wonderful, Winter Carnival captures the true magic of this charming city.

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The Museum of Ice Cream Miami, a Sweet Spot

Everyone knows that I love museums. I work in a museum.  I write tours about museums. But there is no museum that I have been to that is anything like the Museum of Ice Cream Miami. My daughter, her friend (both who are not museum lover) and I visited Miami in early January. We planned to just relax by the pool and beach. The weather, however, didn’t cooperate with that plan. So, we looked for alternative ideas.  Miami offers a wide variety of cultural activities including this whimsical, pop up museum. It was a dream come true for the girls with hip rooms and displays, pink everywhere, candy treats and of course, ice cream! They was in heaven; it was an Instagram dream come true for them.

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Jade Mountain, The Jewel of St. Lucia

WOW is the best word to describe Nick Troubetzkoy’s Jade Mountain Resort. Located on the island of St. Lucia, Jade Mountain is a true work of art. Carved into the top of a mountain near the lush rain forest, the hotel offers spectacular views of the Piton Mountains while also giving guests a unique, peaceful experience. Staying at the hotel gives you a sense of floating in space while becoming one with the Pitons. Jade Mountain strives to create an organic spot that exist in harmony with nature. The use of materials and colors all work to help a person restore balance and peace to their life. We had no idea what an amazing experience was in store for us!

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The Andaz 5th Avenue: an Oasis of Art and Style in NYC

There are so many different hotel choices when visiting New York City. Each hotel, just like each neighborhood, offers visitors a different experience and flavor of New York. This past week I was so lucky to stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue, a concept by Hyatt. Andaz hotels look to create a more intimate, sophisticated experience using local cuisine and the social scene of the local area. Andaz actually means “personal style” in Hindi. This hotel has major style of its own but also pays attention to each individual guest with incredible service.

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Masterpieces of The Museum of Modern Art NYC

For any art lover, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City is a must visit. Throughout the year, MoMA presents many incredible exhibits showcasing different kinds of mediums including painting, sculpture, film, even performance art. But MoMA’s permanent collection is perhaps the most impressive collection of modern art in the world. Located on the 4th and 5th floor, the collection will appeal to all visitors. I have so many favorites but I’ve picked 10 to highlight for you. But first a little history of the MoMA.

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Touring the Silver Whisper Cruise Ship

I’ve been on lots of different types of vacations- relaxing on the beach, skiing, and sightseeing- but the one type of vacation I have never been on is a cruise.  I have to confess that the thought of going on a boat with thousands of people was not high on my list. So, when I was invited by Silver Seas Cruises to visit their ship, the Silver Whisper, I thought why not check it out. For years, I’ve driven down the West Side Highway gazing at these mighty vessels and wondered what an experience on them would be like. My day on the Silver Whisper was wonderful, opening my eyes up to the world of cruising.

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Discovering the Iconic Carlyle Hotel

The Carlyle Hotel in New York City exudes luxury, glamour and elegance with a modern twist. Upon entering the hotel, a classy, refined ambiance greets any discerning traveler and provides a charming, graceful yet discrete experience. Located on the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan steps away from the shops of Madison Avenue, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The MET Breuer Building The Carlyle (a Rosewood hotel) offers countless sophisticated experiences whether you decide to explore this fashionable area or never leave the hotel! Art and music abound throughout the hotel creating a beautiful atmosphere to the eye and ear. While the Carlyle is noted for its luxury and elegance, it also has a fascinating, storied history allowing guests to walk and stay in the rooms of many famous and influential people.

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One Day at the Grand Canyon

Sedona is a fabulous place to visit for its own natural beauty and outdoor activities. It’s also a great place to use as a base for a day trip to the Grand Canyon. Sedona is located about a 2 ½ hour drive from either the West Rim or the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Each of the Rim areas has a very different feel from each other- the West Rim is a desert like landscape while the South Rim emerges from woods.  Neither destination disappoints visitors. There is nothing as awe inspiring and mesmerizing as seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time or the umpteenth time!

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Exploring Sedona and the Red Rocks

One of my favorite places to visit in the fall is Arizona. The weather in September is gorgeous - warm, sunny days and crisp cool night. My kids have also fallen in love with this state. When we asked them where we should visit this September they instantly said, “We want to go back to Arizona.” Last year we explored the southern Arizona area of Tucson. This year we decided to head north to the beautiful red rock town of Sedona. We couldn’t have been happier with our choice.

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Horse Racing, Saratoga, and the Adirondacks

Every August we head north to Saratoga Springs, NY for one of my most favorite weekends of the summer, The Travers Stakes. Horseracing is a fun sport to watch especially at Saratoga Racetrack, one of the oldest and most charming sporting venues in the United States. The horses are stunning, elegant athletes who streak down the dirt and grass tracks. And oh, the hats at the track! Ladies embrace this fashion trend some wearing beautiful, elegant hats while others opt for whimsical and crazy one. The Adirondack Park located a short drive from Saratoga Springs, offers visitors the outdoor experiences of this beautiful region. Saratoga Springs and neighboring Lake George (at the edge of the Adirondack Park) are wonderful places to visit during the summer but Travers weekend is even more special.

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Highlights of Portugal's Northern Region

The drive from Lisbon to Porto is very beautiful. Driving straight through takes about 2 and a half hours. We decided to make our trip a leisurely drive stopping at some of the highlights of Northern Portugal. We were not disappointed. Having a private car and driver was essential. Carlos, our driver, was friendly and full of interesting facts and information regarding all of our stops. The smaller towns, the churches, the architecture and the art were astounding. It was a long day for us but each stop was unique. We left Lisbon around 9:00 am arriving at our first stop an hour later in the charming, medieval town of Óbidos. 

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A One Day Adventure in Paris

During our visit to London, I decided to surprise my daughter with a one day trip to Paris. My daughter (even at 11 years old) has wanted to visit Paris. So, my husband and I thought it would be a great surprise by to take her on a quick trip to the city of lights. While this sounds crazy to many people (especially my European friends), it was an incredibly easy day trip! The hard part came in trying to decide what we were going to  do in Paris for one day since there is just so much to see! The art, the history, the food, and the shopping in Paris are truly the best. I planned a day that incorporated all of it. We saw so much of the city; I even surprised myself.

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London

London is one of my favorite cities to visit. My husband, daughter and I decided to head across the pond for a week. Having been many times, we didn’t plan to do all of the traditional sightseeing spots. We planned some really fun, unique experiences combined with a few typical sights that my daughter would really enjoy. London offers so much that it’s hard to decide what to see!  A visitor has their pick of museums, historical sites, culture, restaurants, shopping, and parks.

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