When my husband suggested we go to Venice, I hesitated. Venice is one of the most unique and beautiful cities in the world but during the last 15 year, it’s become a circus of tourists (an estimated 30 million a year to be exact). For this reason, I’ve avoided it. But, on route to the Dolomites in July, I snuck into Venice and managed to avoid the crush of visitors. I meandered through it’s narrow streets, walked along it’s romantic canals, crossed over it’s petite bridges, chatted with locals, and avoided the massive crowds. So, how did I enjoy Venice during the busiest month of the year??????
It’s difficult to say what captures your heart when you visit a place, but you might just fall in love with Cortona. Cortona is an artsy hill town on the Tuscan/Umbrian border. Many hill towns have been overrun by tourism, but Cortona’s year round residents maintain it’s authenticity. Francis Mayes put Cortona on the map with her book, Under the Tuscan Sun. The story of a recently divorced woman whose spontaneous purchase and of a crumbling villa in Italy, restores and revives her own broken heart. Cortona is also a favorite destination of Jordan Schlansky, Conan O’Brian’s quirky producer and Italianfile. I spent 4 days in Cortona and it left a strong impression.
The Dolomites, situated in Northwest corner of Italy on the Austrian border, are considered one of the most a beautiful mountain landscapes in the world. Once known as the “Pale Mountains”, this natural paradise was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2009. In early July, my husband and I treated ourselves to a week hiking the Dolomites with REI (outdoor adventure company) and are still giddy from the experience. Sipping cocktails poolside sounds relaxing but active trips can be life-changing. When my heart was racing after 2 hours of vertical climbing, I felt completely present and at peace. The alpenglow colors illuminating the rocks at sunset, the emerald pastures, greenish-blue lakes, flowering meadows, vertical walls, and cragged peaks make this one of the most remarkable mountain ranges to explore. If you aren’t convinced yet, keep scrolling…..
Traveling as a Vegan Has Gotten Easier
I used to worry a lot about how to travel as a vegan. And, at times, those worries were justified. But, mostly traveling as a vegan ends up being fun and easy. In fact, some of my FAVORITE vegan meals have come unexpectedly from restaurants around the world. Not only are more countries adopting vegan friendly attitudes but environmental sustainability is moving plant based eating into politics all over. In fact, Portugal recently passed a law requiring all civic restaurants to offer a vegan option. This law is intended to promote healthier eating, decrease harm to animals, and reduce long term environmental impact (source). Personally, it’s been my dream here in the U.S., but I’m thrilled it’s starting somewhere. This EXCITING news is music to my ears and makes me more eager than ever to plan a trip to Portugal next year.
When my husband and I first began dating, he treated me on a trip to Cabo San Lucas. I’d never been to Mexico and was instantly charmed by it’s perfect (dry) weather, gorgeous beaches, warm people, and vibrant colors. Mexicans have a way of making you feel “at home”, as well as making the best margaritas! We stayed at the original Sol y Mar, a simple hotel on the Pacific tucked against the terracotta rocks. I drank my first strawberry margarita at the swim-up bar which overlooked the beautiful beach. This is where I fell in love with Cabo!
Siem Reap is a tourist hot spot because it’s the closest city to the famous temples and ruins of Angkor Wat (see photo blog here). It’s also a fun place to discover with its kind people, balmy temperatures, night markets, artisan shopping, $1 beers, top notch cafes and superb Vegan restaurants. Here is a list of the 5 best things to do in Siem Reap other than Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Originally built by Hindu’s at the beginning of the 12th century AD, the city of Angkor was the Hindu capital for the Khmer Empire until Buddhism permeated the area at the end of the 13th century. Angkor Wat is the largest temple and still functions as a place of worship today. This world famous temple is the pinnacle of Kymer architecture and an icon for Cambodia. Many tourists arrive before sunrise to photograph this legendary place as the early morning clouds show pink in the lotus pools.
Singapore is called The Garden City because amidst the modern high rises, super malls, and abundant food stalls, thousands of trees have been strategically planted. In 1963, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew envisioned litter-free streets and lush greenery to highlight Singapore as a well-organized city that would attract tourists and foreign investment. His mission was accomplished.
The moment you land in Singapore, you notice how clean and green it is. Even the airport has gardens. Trees line the roads softening the concrete edges of this vertical city and manicured gardens lure residents to enjoy the natural space.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country in Central America that’s protected over 25% of its land for forests and reserves. It looks and feels like one giant rain forest with warm people, earthy beaches, crazy rain and cloud filled sunsets. If thrill seeking is what you’re after, Costa Rica has a ton of wild adventures but it’s also a great place to go if you want to slow down, relax and rejuvenate. Either way, it’s hard to resist the warm water, lush greenery and “Pura vida” vibe. Read More
Oaxaca is a vibrant colonial city recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s well known for it’s cuisine, fine restaurants, cultural arts, Pre-Colombian ruins and traditional crafts. I’ve wanted to go there for awhile but flying through Mexico City was an obstacle. So, when I found a new direct flight from Los Angeles, I snapped up tickets for a quick, two day trip.
The flight was smooth and uncrowded and we luxuriated in having a row all to ourselves (just like the old days).