Let me first explain the title of this post. As you will shortly see, I wasn’t able to post many pictures of this “would’ve been” spectacular vacation, because my purse was stolen on Miami beach at the tail end of my trip, and OF COURSE my camera was in the purse. My wallet, license, car keys, house keys, and a few other unmentionables were also in the purse, but that’s a whirlwind of a story for another day…
So, let’s start at the beginning… Six months ago I decided I wanted to do something completely out of the ordinary for New Years. For a few years now, I had trekked up to Stowe, VT for an overindulgent ski weekend with my friends. Don’t get me wrong, it was a total blast, but I had a hankering for something new and exciting. So, I signed up for my 2nd G Adventures trip that would take me through southern Chile, Patagonia, and finally, Argentina. With my limited knowledge of South America, I was under the impression it was going to be beautifully warm and a wonderful escape from the New England winter. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I met my fellow travelers in Santiago, Chile, which was…. ok. If you’re thinking about going to Santiago, I would skip it. There are far more beautiful places to go in Chile. If anything, I would just head to the wineries – Chile is famous for it’s wine, don’t you know? From there, we travelled to Puerto Varas, in the stunning Chilean Lake District. The town was super cute, with great restaurants and shopping. While I thoroughly enjoyed the town and neighboring sites (e.g. the Osorno Volcano), it was FREEZING! Not having the right gear and clothing (I swear “really warm clothing” was not listed on the packing list), I came down with a horrific cold, which lasted throughout the majority of the trip. Boo.
While I always mourn the end of summer – the long, easy days, over-indulgent BBQ’s, and heartwarming sunsets – I can’t help but get excited for fall and all of the wonderful colors, landscapes, and breathtaking views it brings.
This is one of the biggest reasons why I moved back to New England, and now Newport, RI. New England is the mecca of fall foliage, and I am so thankful to live in such a wonderful place with all of this beauty right in my back yard.
Outside of my day job, I have been busy getting my digital photography certificate at the Rhode Island School of Design, so with my camera now attached to me at all times, I have taken the opportunity to take some great shots that truly showcase the splendor of New England.
This summer, I hit a very, VERY big milestone… I turned 40 (insert high-pitched scream here). I know, I know, hard to imagine, considering I still feel (and think) like someone in their late 20’s. Unlike most people, I didn’t want to hide in my closet and cry, I wanted to celebrate and do something I would remember for the rest of my life. So what did I do? I took myself to Spain and Portugal – and it was AMAZING.
Following the advice of my favorite travel blog Nomadic Matt, I hopped on travel tour site G (or Gap) Adventures and found what I was looking for – broad gauge “Best of” tour of Spain & Portugal. While I normally don’t like taking these types of trips because you don’t get to see the non-touristy sites and you’re being rushed from place to place, I had a limited time to see everything I wanted. I was also nervous because I was afraid I’d hate everyone on my trip, or worse, everyone would hate me (gasp!)
However, my fears subsided the minute I met the rest of the group in Lisbon. Not knowing a lick of Spanish (I think I even threw out a “grazie” at the airport), it was by the grace of God I found the hotel in the first place. However, during the orientation meeting, I realized I was in pretty great company and it was going to be a fantastic trip.
For those who call the city home, being able to escape the hustle and bustle and find a slower and quieter retreat to escape to for the weekend becomes almost life-saving. For me, that place is Stowe, Vermont. Being the country mouse that I am, I always look forward to the opportunity to take leave of my crazy city life and head North to the quaint little Vermont town, where the air is crisp and clean, and the people are… dare I say.. friendly?
Located just three hours North of Boston, Stowe is the idyllic Vermont ski town, yet has so much more to offer than nearby Jay Peak, Sugarbush, or even Killington. With the gorgeous mountainous backdrop, an adorable town center, and wide range of coffee shops, restaurants, and watering holes, Stowe is small enough that you get the cozy, neighborhood feel, yet large enough that you don’t get claustrophobic. And while I can’t say Vermont skiing is the absolute best I’ve ever come across (come on, I lived a stones throw away from Lake Tahoe for 11 years!) on a good day, Stowe is by far one of the best mountains I’ve skied on in the East.
This is an exciting time of year for many people – the holidays are finally upon us, it’s almost 2013 (thank God), and just as the cold, winter air settles in for the season, it’s time to start planning that warm, beach vacation with your family, friends or significant others.
When it comes to beach vacations, one of the most daunting tasks is finding the best place to go. I’m currently just beginning this process, and have finally narrowed my list down to an island in the Caribbean. Well great, there are almost 7,000 Caribbean islands (source: Ask.com) – how the heck am I going to narrow down the list and find the best location that will fit my budget?
Since I’m sure there are tons of people out there doing the same kind of research, I thought this would be a great opportunity to enlist the help of my good friend Stephanie Kohn from SniqueAway – one of my favorite new private travel sale sites. I love SniqueAway because it’s like a RueLaLa – but for travel – and they offer some pretty fantastic accommodations at surprisingly affordable prices.
Stephanie was kind enough to provide responses to my questions about finding the best beach vacation deals (including a few great deals available today,) so I hope you find her feedback as helpful as I do.
**For an added treat, anyone who signs up for SniqueAway between today and December 16 gets $25 in credit!! Click here for the deal: http://www.sniqueaway.com/invite/AsCrowFlies
While I’m undoubtedly a bit bummed that summer is over, I am so excited that my one of my favorite seasons is finally upon us. Fall is such a spectacular time here in New England, and thousands of people flock here each year just to experience the breathtaking change of colors, as well as the quintessential fall activities.
One of the best (albeit a bit odd) fall activities is none other than the King Richards Faire, which is now open thru October 21. This is no joke – one of my fondest childhood memories was going to this fair with my family. I still remember having the time of my life watching the live jousting, having an odd run in with a pirate (don’t ask) and collecting all the Renaissance-era garb I could get my hands on. I’m hoping to make it down there before King Richard evacuates the premises, in which case I’ll do a blog post on that as well. Regardless, I highly recommend adding this to your list!
It’s also that special time of year for apple picking and hot apple cider donuts!! There are so many quaint, little farms in and around Boston that have fantastic apple picking, a wide selection of pumpkins, as well as delicious hot apple cider and donuts. To name a few, Honey Pot Hill and Shelburne Farm in Stow (not to be confused with Stowe, VT), Russell Orchards in Ipswich, and Smolak Farms in North Andover are some of the most reputable and closest to the city.
What a fantastic summer it’s been! In just a few short months, I’ve managed to cover a significant amount of territory, seeing parts of New England I hadn’t had the opportunity to see until now. Hard to believe considering the fact I grew up in these parts! To cap off an already adventurous, fun-filled summer, I decided to take an extended road trip through Maine and the Adirondacks. Why? Well, at the end of July, I decided to leave my job and take a few weeks off to travel and then figure out my next career move. So, with my new found freedom, I hopped in the car with my friend (who coincidentally was also taking some time off) and headed North.
Our first stop was Camden, Maine. Just 3.5 hours North of Boston, this adorable coastal town has become a favorite vacation spot for many New Englanders. We stayed at Whitehall Inn, which was an quaint little B&B located right outside of town. Apparently two major movies were filmed there, but it’s luckily been able to hold onto its rustic charm. We walked around town and then grabbed a bite to eat at a cute restaurant with a patio overlooking the harbor. I can’t say it was the best food I’d ever had, which is probably why I can’t remember the name of the restaurant – oops! On our way back, we got to listen in on a local orchestra performing in a beautiful, little park.
I know, I know, it’s been a while since my last post. Many apologies! It’s been a rather chaotic month or so, but I’ve been able to see quite a few new and memorable places since my last post. I’ve been back in Boston for almost four years, and it continues to astound me how many wonderful places there are to visit within only an hour or two’s drive. Over the 4th of July weekend, I had a week off of work, so I took advantage of the open road and took a drive to visit a few of the places I’d been wanting to visit along the coast.
The first stop was Wellfleet, MA – located near the most southern tip of Cape Cod. I had never been to this chill little town before, but I had always heard such wonderful things about it. One of my friends was renting a house there for a week, so I took her up on her offer to come for a visit. Unlike many places in Cape Cod, Wellfleet is incredibly laid back and not as packed with tourists – definitely my cup of tea. I only stayed there for a night, but I was able to see quite a bit. We had lunch in town and then walked around to see some of the local flavor. The shops were super cute and they had quite a few little markets selling fresh fish and homemade pastries.
Ten days and three reunions later, I feel like I need a two week vacation! Not only did I have a mini-college reunion with some of my best gal pals in Newport, RI on Friday night (had dinner at the Boat House in Tiverton which was fantastic), but on Saturday, I headed over to Marion, MA for my 20-year high school reunion at Tabor Academy. The school has changed so much since I graduated – new dorms, state-of-the-art athletic facility and scientific wing of the academic center – I hardly recognized it. However, all of my closest friends were there and everyone looked exactly the same. I had been looking forward to this reunion for a long time since they were clustering our year with the year above and the year below us, so I got to see people I hadn’t seen since I graduated. Reminiscing about the “old days,” it’s an absolute miracle we lived through those years. But what an amazing place to go to high school – we were so spoiled!
My first reunion actually took place last weekend in Newport, RI (yes, this is becoming a trend). Our Jackson Hole ski crew organized this weekend so we could finally get to see the highly anticipated ‘Between Apres’ ski movie our friend Wade put together. Thanks to his professional helmet cam, and a few of the crews’ best shots, Wade put together a fantastic montage of our Jackson Hole trip, including some of our best (and worst) ski moves.We had been looking forward to this reunion ever since we left each other in March.
What an amazing year it’s been! Not only was I able to visit Jackson Hole for the very first time but I was able to spend a luxurious week in Costa Rica with my entire family. We stayed on the beautiful Papagayo Peninsula along the north Pacific coast, and I couldn’t even try to describe what a breathtaking place it was. We were celebrating my stepfather’s birthday, so not only was my sister able to come all the way from San Francisco, but all four of my step-sisters and all of their families. This was the first time we’ve all been together since their wedding over ten years ago, so this was a pretty special event for everyone.
Some of the highlights included taking salsa lessons (never quitting my day job), a cooking class from one of the hotel restaurant chefs, a nature hike where we got to see (and hear) the unmistakable howler monkeys, a luxurious spa day and a fun-filled day of zip lining. I even got to share some quality time with Johnny Rzeznik, the lead singer from the Goo Goo Dolls! Okay not really, but I stood behind him in line at the hotel check-in desk and he smiled at me -that has to count for something! For anyone looking for a romantic or even family get-away in Costa Rica and don’t mind shelling out the big bucks, the Four Seasons in Costa Rica is an unbelievable resort and absolutely worth the price. I was completely spoiled in every sense and started going through withdrawal after a day of not receiving free cold towels and fresh fruit smoothies at the pool. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.