Planning for spontaneity: Italy

COMMENTS: 69

travel  Planning for spontaneity: Italy
travel  Planning for spontaneity: Italy
travel  Planning for spontaneity: Italy
[Polignano a Mare // Sorano/Trentino // Sardinia/Santa Maria al Bagno]

We’re going! We’ve booked our tickets—three and a lap-infant—to Italy for the end of summer! Italy has been on our minds since our trip to Sardinia, as you might recall.

In her editor’s letter in the revamped Condé Nast Traveler, Pilar Guzmán, said something that felt so spot-on for me and how I like to approach traveling: “Sometimes a truly memorable trip is the one when the unexpected happens, when you get lost in a good way. But spontaneity takes planning, gathering, and the collective wisdom of travelers you trust.” So many of you have already left such helpful comments, so I’m hoping I can solicit your collective wisdom again.

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Bring a children’s book to life (Boston)

COMMENTS: 6

travel family  Bring a childrens book to life (Boston) travel family  Bring a childrens book to life (Boston)

Lately, in our house, we have been spending a lot of time looking at Larry Gets Lost in San Franciscotravel family  Bring a childrens book to life (Boston) , a children’s book about a boy and his dog who get separated and, of course, reunited after the dog has some fun adventures around the city. I love hearing Hudson pronounce “San Francisco” and “Golden Gate Bridge.” We talk about the cable cars and the sea lions (which he remembers), and the curvy streets and colorful Victorian houses (which he does not).

I love the idea of discovering other children’s books to bring to life and combining them with travel. It was an idea explored so sweetly by Bridget Hunt (on her blog, Tales of Me and the Husband) last year. In fact I couldn’t stop thinking about the video (below), so I asked if she would share the experience of bringing Make Way for Ducklings to life. Here’s what she had to say…
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Under-the-radar Caribbean: Roatan

COMMENTS: 15

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

I rarely hear Central America discussed when the topic of tropical getaways surfaces, but the Honduran island of Roatan is definitely worth some serious spring-break (or even summer) consideration—especially for anyone who wants to go snorkeling or diving.

It’s been a few years since our trip. We were living in New York and flew down via Houston. We actually went in August–the temperatures are fairly consistent year-round and the island lies south of the Hurricane belt (which doesn’t mean no risk, but there’s less).

We continue to talk about going back. The island is surrounded by reef, and the off-shore snorkeling was great and the diving was fantastic. (And so much more affordable! It would be a great place to get certified.) The reading under palm trees on a white sandy beach wasn’t bad either.

There was definitely less tourist infrastructure than on many Caribbean islands, but I expect a lot has changed since our visit. They’ve since opened a new cruise port. Still, when I search online for information, I get the sense it’s off the beaten track. Has anyone been recently?

I’ve just updated our Travelogue, if you’d like to take a look.

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

 

 

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan
travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

travel  Under the radar Caribbean: Roatan

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Celebrating Holi

COMMENTS: 10

travel  Celebrating Holi

travel  Celebrating Holi

travel  Celebrating Holi

As if India weren’t colorful enough, the Hindu ritual of Holi—to welcome spring—will be making it even brighter very soon. Thousands of people gather to throw colored powder and water, often perfumed, at each other—and the hues are incredible. I thought these images, taken from above by German artist Katrin Korfmann were particularly striking, and resembled abstract paintings as much as brilliant photographs!

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Trip-planning tip: itineraries

COMMENTS: 13

travel  Trip planning tip: itineraries
travel  Trip planning tip: itineraries
travel  Trip planning tip: itineraries

The other day I was doing some office clean-up—trying to bring myself to throw away the outdated copy of Let’s Go France I brought on my first trip to Europe by myself in college—and I came across some old itineraries I’d made. I know there are all kinds of apps that do this for you now, but I still love putting together an old-fashioned, paper travel-itinerary. And I love looking back at them (even if now I’d rather they be scanned then add to the clutter).

People ask me about trip-planning strategies all of the time and I often forget about this, but making an itinerary yourself is a great one. (Now, I haven’t tried the electronic itinerary app, so take this with a grain of salt.) Here are four things I love about it:

  • When I pull everything into one place and type in any missing details, I’m more likely to remember things—like the difficult-to-pronounce town we change trains in. And to notice what hasn’t been confirmed or thought through (connections and the like). And to bring the voucher you have to print.
  • If we’re traveling internationally, I add notes about “body time.” This is a post-kid addition, but it was really handy for our trip to Bali to see where we stood in terms of body time at the end of each leg, in multiple countries.
  • I type out the days and dates and can see immediately if we’re going to be disappointed to arrive in, for example, a market city on the day of the week the market is closed. And I get a better sense of time for packing and planning activities.
  • But most of all, I like using them to gather ideas. I rarely like to schedule too much before we arrive somewhere, often preferring to see where the day takes us. But I also hate getting someplace and wasting too much precious time looking up what to do, don’t you? So I might make a list of possible activities for a city and keep it with our hotel and travel arrangement details. Or, if we’re driving a distance (like we were in Costa Rica, up top) I might list possible detours and things to look forward to along the way… especially food. (By the way, we did stop for the strawberry shakes and they were awesome!) How many times are you driving somewhere and looking in a guidebook only to find that you’d passed something you would have liked to have seen 20 miles back?

Honestly, I don’t always have the time these days. But if you’re already doing the work of researching a trip and underlining highlights in a guidebook, just go back and note those highlights in a separate list. Or, more likely, if you’re reading blogs and online magazines and looking at Pinterest for ideas, cut and paste ideas according to location.

Of course, the notes I make on these after the fact end up being really useful for making those really detailed Travelogues.

P.S. Tips for flying with a baby or toddler. And favorite things to pack for traveling with kids.

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Bella Italia

COMMENTS: 32

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

It’s been nearly nine years since our trip to mainland Italy—far too long, don’t you think? What were we doing those years in New York that we weren’t taking advantage of the short flights to Europe more often? (Not that I could say which trip I’d trade.)  I can’t wait to go back, specifically to Italy. So beautiful!

In fact, it’s moving up on my goal list, so tell me: if a summer trip were possible, where should we go? What are your favorite destinations in the country? If you have kids, do you have specific family-friendly suggestions? And which are your favorite beaches and seaside towns?

Here’s our travelogue from our previous visit—I’ve just updated it with more photos, so check it out! (We look so young!)

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

travel  Bella Italia

Isn’t Venice like someplace out of a dream? Incredible.

P.S. The clear, turquoise waters of Sardinia. And our full Italy travelogue.

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Daytrip: Shed in Healdsburg

COMMENTS: 27

travel california  Daytrip: Shed in Healdsburg
travel california  Daytrip: Shed in Healdsburg
travel california  Daytrip: Shed in Healdsburg

On the Monday of President’s day weekend, Aron and I (and Skyler) drove out to Healdsburg—a small town at the very northern tip of Sonoma—to visit Shed, a relatively new cafe/shop space that means to update the concept of the local grange, bringing together “good farming, good cooking, and good eating.” I had first heard of its opening (and, notably, its beautiful, glass-enclosed, barn-like design) a while back and had been hoping to visit ever since; but Healdsburg always seemed like a bit too much of a trek—as compared to Calistoga or Napa, for example. Turns out it was well worth the effort.

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Translated map of Ireland (and Friday links)

COMMENTS: 12

travel  Translated map of Ireland (and Friday links)

I spotted this “Translated Map” of all 32 Counties of Ireland on Jane Flanagan‘s Facebook page. Love the insights like “Bare Spot,” “Hilly Land,” and “Church of the Toothless One.” Makes the Isle seem even more fairy-tale-like than ever (and that’s saying a lot—we were already convinced, when we visited one June.) Here’s our travelogue.

Here are some other fun things that have caught my eye of late… 

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Revisiting the Yucatan

COMMENTS: 16

travel  Revisiting the Yucatan
travel  Revisiting the Yucatan

Someone recently asked about some of my favorite warm-weather vacations for winter—and I’m guessing they’re not alone when it comes to daydreaming about jetting off to more tropical climes.

It’s been a long time, but I often think back on a two-week road trip that Aron and I took around the Yucatan Peninsula. I’d love to go back to the Mayan coast and swim again in the Cenotes around Tulum. The Yucatan Peninsula is actually a limestone shelf, porous with sinkholes that connect to underground rivers. Those sinkholes are called Cenotes—and there are thousands of them, many safe for swimming.

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Kid & Coe: Our New York apartment rental

COMMENTS: 13

travel new york  Kid & Coe: Our New York apartment rental
travel new york  Kid & Coe: Our New York apartment rental

We had the best experience staying in an apartment on our last visit to New York City: We rented a place through the new vacation site, Kid & Coe—which lists beautiful, family-friendly properties around the world—and it made all the difference in our feeling like we still have plenty of family trips to the city in our (near) future.

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Happy six years, Hither & Thither!

COMMENTS: 40

travel style new york home food drink family design california  Happy six years, Hither & Thither!
travel style new york home food drink family design california  Happy six years, Hither & Thither!
travel style new york home food drink family design california  Happy six years, Hither & Thither!
travel style new york home food drink family design california  Happy six years, Hither & Thither!
travel style new york home food drink family design california  Happy six years, Hither & Thither!

It’s been a fantastic year. I can’t believe this past Sunday marked six years of blogging on Hither & Thither. It continues to inspire me—owing so much to the feedback and comraderie I get from readers, but also thanks to the joy of having an outlet to practice skills like writing and photography and to the joy of documenting and sharing personal milestones. I would have never expected this to become the rewarding work that it has, when Aron and I first started building the space together on that cold January day. (He wrote the first post! With no photos!)

I really enjoyed looking back over highlights last year, at five years, and hoped you might again, too. (Warning: it’s a long one!) …

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Scenes from Lake Tahoe

COMMENTS: 26

travel california  Scenes from Lake Tahoe
travel california  Scenes from Lake Tahoe

Aron and I drove up to Tahoe on Thursday evening for what one might call a “babymoon,” leaving Hudson is the care of grandparents. For Aron’s 35th birthday, his parents generously gifted him two nights at the Ritz-Carlton, so we were eager to take advantage of the opportunity before baby girl arrives (which could be any time, really, within the next six weeks).

The gorgeous hotel sits mid-mountain at Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort and is ski-in/ski-out. Sadly, I couldn’t take advantage of this feature (I’ve always wanted to stay somewhere and do that!), but there was plenty else to enjoy (not least of all the view of others living out my ski-in-dreams from our room).

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A wintry escape (& Friday Links)

COMMENTS: 14

travel  A wintry escape (& Friday Links)
travel  A wintry escape (& Friday Links)
travel  A wintry escape (& Friday Links)

Aron and I are Tahoe-bound for two nights, just the two of us. Sort of a last hurrah before baby girl arrives, I suppose you could say. California is experiencing a worrisome drought this winter, so I’m not expecting a lot of snow in the Sierras—but perhaps I should count us lucky when thinking about the frigid weather much of the country has been experiencing.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re staying warm. I’ll sip some hot cocoa on your behalf.

And if you are indoors, opening up lots of browser tabs, here are a few links that have been notable to me lately…

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Your personal dialect map

COMMENTS: 26

travel  Your personal dialect map

Have you taken this dialect quiz, published on the New York Times site, yet? These are my results. Many seemed to indicate that I’m either a northern Californian at heart, or that I’ve been around one too long.

(Actually, I did send this immediately to Aron who got almost the exact same map as me. That’s 13 years for you.)

The questions themselves are so interesting. I found myself, on more than one occasion, thinking “Seriously? People say that?!” And I’m guessing I’m not the only one, because there’s even a spoof of the quiz in The New Yorker.

P.S. Now I’m curious: Do any of you pronounce Mary, merry, and marry differently? How? And where are you from?

[Image via NYTimes.com]

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Updated: Ireland Travelogue

COMMENTS: 5

travel  Updated: Ireland Travelogue

Every now and then, this photo of the Trinity College Library’s Long room from our travelogue to Ireland pops up in my Pinterest feed. I’d follow the link back to the Travelogue and it would just drive me crazy to see the old post with its few, miniature images–and a whole lot of text. It was due for an update.

That trip we took to Ireland, one spring a few years back, was such a fantastic one. We chose it as a destination on a funny whim—it just happened to be the cheapest international destination to fly to from New York City in June (presumably because it’s usually rainy there then, though it wasn’t for us)—and so I hadn’t built up that sense of eager anticipation about Ireland the way one might. It completely wowed me.

If you haven’t had a look, check out our Ireland travelogue—newly updated! (Aron and I look like such babies—before having our own.)

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Travelogue: New York City (during the holidays)

COMMENTS: 20

travel new york  Travelogue: New York City (during the holidays)
travel new york  Travelogue: New York City (during the holidays)

As I mentioned (and you may have seen on Instagram), we’ve just spent a week in New York. We had a wonderful time visiting favorite old haunts and taking in all of the holiday decorations; it was so nice to spend a week in a city we know so well. It definitely made it easier for us to go at a toddler’s pace without any regrets about skipping over some things. Still, I can’t lie: it has been a rough transition home for Hudson! I’m not sure if it was the time change or the consecutive weeks of vacation, but coming off of this trip has seemed more jarring than most. So it’s nice to look back at these pictures this morning, and remember why this is all worth it!

Because the trip felt like a bit of a homecoming, and because I’ve posted about many of these places before, I’m going to be referencing a lot of previous links where you can find more details if you’re planning a trip of your own.

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Travelogue: Grand Cayman

COMMENTS: 15

travel  Travelogue: Grand Cayman
travel  Travelogue: Grand Cayman

This fall has been a great season for us, travel-wise. I suppose you could say we’re behaving as if the world is going to end when this baby arrives in a couple of months. (Is it?!) On the heels of fun weekends in Yosemite and Monterey, we spent a glorious week on Grand Cayman, a British territory in the Caribbean sea.

As goals for most beach vacations go, we aimed to spend the majority of our time relaxing and swimming in warm water. But we discovered a few things about the island that might come in handy if you’re planning a visit—owing completely to our friends Emarie and Nick, with whom we traveled there. Emarie lived on the island for a few years and knew all the best places to go.

Here are some of the highlights…

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Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel

COMMENTS: 13

travel california  Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel
travel california  Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel

After we returned from our weekend in Yosemite, many people remarked on how much they’d like to (one day) stay at the Ahwahnee. The Ahwahnee is pretty much the pinnacle of National Park Lodges, in my opinion. It’s what many of us picture when we think of a classic mountain lodge. It’s just that it also happens to be very, very expensive.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy it. Just go for their lavish Sunday brunch—and spend some time looking around!

What’s especially nice is that you don’t have to dress up for brunch the way you’d have to for dinner. I packed myself a new Fair Isle Cardigan and, for Hudson, a Buffalo Plaid shirt, both from Old Navy. But even if you’re camping, just throw in a decent-looking sweater and you’re set! Such a nice way to come off of trail food.

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