October 2020 Travel Photo of the Month

While this travel fanatic loves nothing more than experiencing an adventure in a new country (current country count: 42), sometimes it’s incredible to explore one’s backyard. While this is challenging during the pandemic, being outdoors these days seems to be a safe and happy option. A dear friend and I recently discovered the national parks passport book. Now, I am on a mission to visit as many of America’s parks and monuments as possible.

Recently, I had the opportunity for a little road trip to nearby Utah. The first thing I did when making my travel plans was check out if I might get that treasured stamp in my new passport book. And I hit the jackpot with multiple options, like Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. I decided to hit the latter, as well as stop by Cedar Breaks National Monument.

This spot–at 10,000 feet–boasts stunning views of a half-mile deep “geologic amphitheater.” The entrance of this national monument is not five minutes away from nearby Brian Head, a quaint town known for its winter resorts. Visitors have four scenic overlooks in which to park and catch the views from different vantage points. Awe-inspiring views await!

August 2020 Travel Photo of the Month

While this professional travel girl has been grounded since the pandemic, the travel planning has not been on pause at all. On the list? My husband and I are looking at places that we can reach via car: California, Utah, and Arizona. Speaking of the Beehive State, it inspired this month’s POTM™ of a random spotting dring a business trip to Salt Lake City. These signs with juxaposed phrases really caught my eye and made for some interesting snaps.

See the World or Explore Closer to Home
What’s on your travel list? Whether it be somewhere nearby or a bucket list item for the future, I’d love to hear from you. For my list of tens things I’ve done to cope with COVID-19, please click here. Have an inspired day!

July 2020 Travel Photo of the Month

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As 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the coronavirus pandemic, traveling has been on the backburner for so many of us. This author believes planning a journey, looking forward to the trip, and then the actual experience of travel are three of the biggest things missed during these trying times. I hope you and yours are well, and that you are staying safe and healthy.

This time has also created an opportunity to get outside and explore locally. While I am not an experienced hiker, I’ve enjoyed discovering some of the hiking options quite literally in my backyard here in Las Vegas. Recently, I made it up to the American flag at the top of Flagpole Loop near the Red Rock Conservation Area. July’s travel POTM™ showcases the view of Summerlin–and Las Vegas–from the top of the ridge.Flagpole Loop

For more exciting things to explore outdoors in Nevada, please check out this past blog entry. 

Winter Saldi in Firenze

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, Florence is a delight for any kind of traveler–whether one likes to experience Renaissance architecture, eat incredible meals, visit museums and galleries, sample DOGC wine at Tuscan wineries, or shop. In fact, during winter and summer, Italians flock to the shops for saldi, the biannual clearance sales. It is this premise that took us two couples to Italy in January.

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And the saldi was everything we hoped it would be, although the sale prices weren’t as widespread as we’d hoped. We discovered beautifully textured jackets and handcrafted jewelry at UniqoUnique. Our foursome explored the zany bags at Graziella Braccianlini, were wowed by the stunning domed building (and the scents) at Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Novella, and giggled at the naughty linen cocktail napkins at TAF Firenze.

The sales season in Tuscany opens on January 5th and lasts 60 days with the big fashion companies and one of the most important Italian outlets: The Mall Firenze. This luxury outlet is home to brands like Balenciaga, Burberry, Chloé, D&G, Fendi, Givenchy, Jimmy Choo, Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, and Valentino. We spent the most time in the stand-alone three-story Gucci store, which had already discounted pricing with some incredible deals because of the sale.

Eat
The Florentine cuisine is the stuff foodies’ dreams are made of, and the culinary delights spanned from truffled paninis and wine inhaled on the street to a 12-course, 4-hour meal with cocktail pairings. To read more about our dining adventures, check out my latest piece for CLASS: Luxury With a Purpose.

Do
The stellar concierge team at the St. Regis Florence assisted us in avoiding the line at multiple museums and galleries, including the Galleria dell’Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s The David) and the Uffizi Gallery. I highly recommend utilizing this option to reduce wait times. We sped through these in one morning, allowing us enough time to climb to the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Florence Cathedral. (Side note: your legs will certainly burn after climbing your way to the top.)

There is a reason Florence has continued its Renaissance in the 21st century, becoming quite the crowded tourist attraction. (And short day trips to wine haven Montepulciano and portico-covered walking city Bologna are an additional enticement.) While winter weather may not appeal to all travelers, January is a perfect time to visit Firenze for minimal crowds, incredible deals, and a cold-weather Tuscan adventure.

January 2019 Travel Photo of the Month

If you’re dreaming of beach views and sunny days to help escape the winter months, this post won’t be inspirational. However, Iceland–known for its incredible nature, self-sufficiency, and sustainability–has recently become popular with tourists. In fact, the island nation experienced a 24.2% increase of visitors from 2016-2017*.

Two friends and I traveled to Reykjavík in October of last year for a quick girls’ weekend. With the flight being only 7.5 hours from DFW, three days was a great introduction to Iceland. For a complete itinerary of our trip, you can read this article I wrote for CLASS magazine. January’s POTM™ is from our day at Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon a half day’s drive from the capital.Jökulsárlón

*2018 data not available. Source: Iceland Tourist Board.

August 2018 Travel Photo of the Month

During a summertime stay in Manhattan, my sister visited for the day. Our itinerary included the Met, where we were dazzled by the Heavenly Bodies exhibit. We walked through Central Park and feasted on a prix fixe lunch on the Upper East Side. Then, we headed south to see the United Nations headquarters.

Visitors must obtain a pass across the street from the entry–only one person per party must wait in line. We went through heavy security to enter the grounds, complete with a vast garden landscape, artwork donated from countries around the world, and daily tour options.

It was while strolling around the outside of the building’s entry that I discovered the bronze sculpture that is August’s POTM™. Non-Violence, by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, was crafted in 1985 to honor John Lennon. The knotted gun is a sign of peace and was donated to the United Nations in 1988 by the government of Luxembourg.

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Summertime in Stockholm

Last month was midsommar in Sweden. The Scandinavian country’s official tourist site Visit Sweden says “Apart from Christmas, midsummer is the most important holiday in the Swedish calendar. For some, midsummer is the most important.”

It’s hard to imagine that I was in Sweden 11 years ago working on a 6 month visa and experiencing my first extended stay abroad. The weekend I arrived in Stockholm was midsommar, and I ventured to Skansen, the world’s largest open-air museum, to experience this celebration firsthand. Imagine people dancing (around what I thought to be a May pole) in traditional costumes–I even created a floral crown and wore it throughout the day.

 

That summer was magical–from the nearly 19 hours of daylight to exploring my neighborhood of Södermalm. I fell in love with my summer city, especially daily walks to explore nearby kyrka (churches with stunning architecture) and museums like Vasamuseet. I happened across festivals, met up with visiting friends, and became a huge fan of toast Skagen (prawns on sautéed bread).

While my visit was brief, the cultural–and personal–impact this summer in Sweden made upon my life was profound. I adventured, navigated, and journeyed (often alone), which was the beginning of visiting places around the globe fearlessly.

 

May 2018 Travel Photo of the Month

You might notice the months that have gone by since the last travel posts–it’s been a busy start to 2018! This year has included mini-breaks to New Orleans and Manhattan, and my husband and I are now in travel planning mode. We try to journey to one new international destination each year.

Last year was Cuba; the year prior was to Southeast Asia. It’s from this trip to Thailand, Cambodia (read about Siem Reap here), and Vietnam I feature in May’s Travel POTM. Mythical winged birds–or Garuda–guard the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok’s Grand Palace. One of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Thailand, members of the royal family change the clothing of the emerald Buddha each season.

Mythical Winged Garuda Guard the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Mythical Winged Garuda Guard the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Havana, Cuba

The 42nd stamp in my passport was one of my most exotic: Cuba! My husband and I went last spring, and we were both taken aback visiting a land in the past and attitude towards American visitors. The highlights were definitely the classic cars and a day-long tour we took to learn more about Havana. Our visit inspired one of my first published works comparing 1950s Havana and my city of Las Vegas. Read the full story here…

October 2017 Travel Photo of the Month

Five years ago this month, I traveled over 30 hours to attend a conference in Kuala Lumpur. Usually I love visiting Southeast Asia, but my time in KL was plagued by food poisoning and jetlag. My one respite (and only touristic visit) was the Petronas Twin Towers–the tallest twin towers in the world. This famous landmark was at the center of my trip, as it was the backdrop for a night event at SkyBar, as well as the site of a client visit.

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October’s POTM™ is an interior shot on the skybridge between the two towers. And now, my memories of the suffering during this trip have faded. Now I remember the gorgeous art deco interior and this fixture within the unique skyline of Malaysia’s capital city. Selamat tinggal (or “goodbye” in Malaysian)!