Do you know the old saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Recently I have had to embrace the chaos that has been my life for the last few weeks. I have been a bit of a slacker and have not gotten to posting on the blog for a little while. Work has occupied so much of my time these days and I am so glad that the summer is finally in sight!
This past weekend, fourth of July, brought me so much joy as I finally was able to enjoy a few days off. Brant and I spent some much needed quality time together, had fun with family, summer shopped, and spent an afternoon at the dog park with our little Lulu. On Monday we finalized our plans for our European vacation. Initially we had planned to travel to Switzerland for the first leg of our trip. Because of work obligations we had to change up our travel dates and ultimately decided we didn't want to rush through Switzerland. We were so excited to spend a week exploring Zurich and Lucerne and the surrounding towns. However, in an effort to truly experience Switzerland the way we wish, we decided to save it for next year. Instead, Brant and I will be spending a few days in Paris (my favorite city) and celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary before joining my family in Sicily! As many of you know... he did not have to twist my arm to go to my beloved Paris!
Anyway, we leave in just about eight weeks! I certainly don't want to wish the summer away but I cannot wait! In the meantime, we are going to plan a few day trips and really enjoy the warm weather. As summer approaches what do you have planned? Perhaps you are staying local? Or maybe you are traveling?! Share below in the comments and let me know. Meanwhile, check out my list of places to travel to in 2017!
1. Canada: It's the Canadian's 150th birthday, and we have all been invited to celebrate! Start by signing up for the free Discovery pass that allows for free entry into all of its national parks. Make sure to check out the Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan or Point Pelee National Park near Ontario. Also, Montreal is redefining itself as a food city worth the flight (it's only an hour from NYC)!
2. Cuba: As more and more travelers from the United States visit Cuba, the new frontier is growing beyond Havana. Check out some of Cuba’s smaller cities for a more authentic experience. JetBlue now flies to Santa Clara, Holguin, and Camaguey; American to Cienfuegos and Varadero. While you still need to get a visa and visit for non-touristic reasons, the recent death of Cuba's leader Fidel Castro highlights how much this country continues to change. And how fortunate are we that we have front row seats to getting to know it better!
3. Scotland: For some, the cities of Scotland are a draw. The medieval lure of Edinburgh boasts a "New Town" feel along with it's food scene that's so contemporary, it makes Brooklyn look behind the times. If you are in Glasgow, make sure to check out the gritty-but-great art and music scene, where underground is sometimes better than aboveground. Then there’s the reaches of the Highlands, from Oban up to the Orkneys, plus dozens of islands, some known for their whisky, others history, still others their white-sand beaches (no joke). The year 2017 marks the year of History, Heritage, and Archaeology in Scotland, which means it's time to explore the standing stones, discover your roots, and find your tartan!
4. Croatia: Having celebrated 25 years of independence in 2016, Croatia is seeing a major uptick in tourism (thanks, in part, to Game of Thrones), and it’s easy to see why. Destinations like Hvar and Dubrovnik are already on travelers’ radars, but branching out to one of the country’s many islands and remote fishing villages will be worth it! Check out Istria, too, which is not too far from Trieste in Italy, it is known for both its fine food and first-century Roman amphitheater.
5. Cuzco, Peru: Once the capital of the Incan Empire, now the gateway to the Sacred Valley, Cuzco is best known as the springboard to Machu Picchu. But with dozens of pre-Columbian sites and streets lined with colonial buildings, the Unesco World Heritage Site has plenty to offer on its own!
6. Paris: It may come as little surprise that the French capital makes our list for its culture (there are more than 215 museums) and food (Paris has around 16,000 cafés and restaurants). While the central districts continue to draw travelers for their timeless attractions, the outer arrondissements are also getting attention for their village-like charm and great values. Check out the 18th arrondissement, where streets are lined with cheese shops, bakeries, and flower stands! I suggest staying at the Hotel Regyn, where the rooms have big windows—some of them overlooking Sacré Coeur Basilica—range from $90 to $107 a night. And around the corner, snag a table for the $21 brunch at Les Lévres Rouges, a farm-to-table bistro with a devoted local following. Also check out this book, Parisian Chic City Guide by Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet if you are looking to do some shopping while you are there!
7. Portugal: There's a renaissance happening in Portugal, a land made famous by explorers–and well-heeled travelers are taking notice. Despite its cultural riches, Portugal never reached the same level of tourism popularity that its neighbor Spain has enjoyed for decades. But the westernmost country of continental Europe has everything a traveler could want: great food, fabulous art, robust history, sensational wine and a bustling contemporary culture scene that's reshaping the country's international reputation as a hotbed for creativity. Highlights of time in Portugal include exploring the cities of Lisbon and Porto, which beautifully marry their ancient histories and contemporary cultures.
8. Sicily: The Mediterranean’s largest island, rich in archeological sites and culture... Sicily has retained a strong sense of identity, and nowhere is it more enmeshed with the rich history than in the ancient walled neighborhood of Ortigia, in Siracusa. The high stone buildings and cobblestone streets give the sense of stepping back in time. Make sure to also hit up Mt. Etna (Europe’s tallest active volcano), Cefalù, and Taormina. Actually, just go everywhere.