The Blue City of Jodhpur

COMMENTS: 17

uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur

Have you seen JCrew‘s catalogue set in India? I recognized the setting immediately as Udaipur—our first stop in Rajasthan when we visited a few years ago.

The entire state of Rajasthan was such an explosion of color; it was incredible. I think my favorite city from our brief tour was, however, Jodhpur—or “the blue city.” I wrote extensively about our visit in Part two of our India Travelogue, but a highlight was ascending to Meherangarh Fort. Incredible in its own right (ramparts of the fort extend from a massive sandstone outcropping and are themselves made of finely carved sandstone), the Fort also afforded us beautiful views of the indigo-hued homes below (apparently painted so because indigo was thought to protect the buildings from insects and help with cooling, and caught on after the Brahmin caste used the color).

uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur

At sunset, the dwellings truly glowed and the cool air filled with birds and the sounds of prayer from the temples.

uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur
uncategorized travel  The Blue City of Jodhpur

It was just one of the highlights from this vibrant and generous city.

P.S. The portion of India Travelogue featuring Jodhpur. The portion featuring that spot in the JCrew catalogue, Udaipur (along with Mumbai and Narlai). And one way to preserve a souvenir from the trip.

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Visiting DisneyWorld (with a toddler)

COMMENTS: 29

travel family  Visiting DisneyWorld (with a toddler)
travel family  Visiting DisneyWorld (with a toddler)
travel family  Visiting DisneyWorld (with a toddler)

Curious what it’s like to visit DisneyWorld with two under three? We just spent a week exploring the resort parks in Orlando over the course of a five-day-hopper pass with Skyler (3 months), Hudson (almost 3 years), and my parents; Aron joined us most days after wrapping up at a conference. Here are some photos from our family vacation—along with some notes and tips I gleaned during our stay.

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Such Great Heights (and Friday links)

COMMENTS: 14

travel  Such Great Heights (and Friday links)

travel  Such Great Heights (and Friday links)

I vividly remember walking across this suspension bridge as a kid. My parents have a hilarious video (probably stashed away somewhere, on a giant Beta) of me crossing it—and crouching down every few steps when it would slightly sway!

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is just outside of Vancouver, in British Columbia, and is the longest suspension bridge in the world. When you step out onto it, it looks like it’s a mile long! It’s surely incredibly secure, but you do feel it moving with the wind and foot traffic as you cross a beautiful gorge, 230 feet (23 stories) in the air! Eeek!

I have a mild fear of heights. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach and my heart rate accelerating when I look over a steep cliff. Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Beingtravel  Such Great Heights (and Friday links) ( a favorite read), says that vertigo is not the fear of falling but rather the fear of the temptation to fall “against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.” I have no suicidal tendencies, and yet I understand what he means. There’s this immediate, palpable understanding of how close the perilous lies.

Are you afraid of heights? Do you have any phobias?

Here are links for your weekend. Hope it’s a good one!

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Napa: Lunch at Redd, Yountville

COMMENTS: 8

travel food drink california  Napa: Lunch at Redd, Yountville
travel food drink california  Napa: Lunch at Redd, Yountville

Earlier this month, over the mother’s day weekend, Aron and I drove into Yountville (a little town in Napa that you may have heard of thanks to some fella named Thomas Keller) and had an anniversary lunch at Redd.

Redd won me over with the best mocktail (and a delicious meal) when I was pregnant with Hudson. This was the first time we’d been back, and I still loved it. The menu is a bit eclectic—many dishes have a bit of an Asian-fusion aspect whereas others are steadfastly European—but everything we’ve had has been great. I was especially excited about indulging in things like hamachi sashimi and tuna tartare (their take is amazing), oysters and (real) cocktails—the sorts of things that had been off limits last time (and throughout most of the past year).

But I was also reminded what a pleasure it is to indulge in a special midday meal.

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Kids on planes

COMMENTS: 48

travel family  Kids on planes

travel family  Kids on planes

By the time you read this, we’ll have taken Skyler on her first cross-country flight. In anticipation, I found myself thinking back on this proposal for a kids’ class on airplanes. (Which is a mistake, because the commenters get hostile and it will do no good to think about that.)

It feels like, every few months, news of a new way to make travel more intimidating for parents comes about. Another airline bans parents from business class, another mom has to taste-test her breast milk, and another blogger posts about passing out care packages of whiskey, earplugs, and snickers bars to all of passengers seated within earshot of his or her infant… as if it weren’t enough that you spent the past year researching devices and gizmos that will help you shlep your kids and all of your stuff as you navigate TSA lines and baggage fees.

Back when I posted my top tips for traveling with a baby or toddler, I recall there being some healthy debate in the comments about how much your fellow passengers really care (or are really predisposed to give you the evil eye when you board with a small child). Were you imagining it? Or are you really their worst nightmare as you shimmy down the aisle?

So whenever another news story hits about a “no kids class” on airplanes, I have to assume that—yes—indeed you are.

What do you think about child-free flights or child-free classes?

Part of me says it’s ridiculous: as if being a few rows apart from a troublesome tot will spare you any disturbance. Put on headphones and do your best to ignore the company of others, just as I do when I don’t want to get stuck in conversation with the adult beside me. (Frankly, I like sitting by older children… they never strike up unwanted political conversation, they prefer to immense themselves in their iPad and ignore you, and they rarely take over your armrest or knee space the way grown men tend to do.) Another part of me says, hey—sure—as long as you’re the one paying the extra fee and supporting the airline business! Why not? We pay for everything on flights now.

But it does set an interesting precedent about who we get to choose as our company.

travel family  Kids on planes

Photos from our last flight with Hudson, to Grand Cayman, trying out the Cares safety restrainttravel family  Kids on planes and using these toddler headphones. (Here are our current picks for best toddler travel gear, and a trick to kid-proofing your iPhone or iPad.)

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In My Bag: Carry-on Pouch of Essentials

COMMENTS: 12

travel  In My Bag: Carry on Pouch of Essentials

I’m starting to think about what I’m going to pack for our flight to Florida this weekend, but there’s one thing I never have to think about: my carry-on essentials. I keep a little pouch packed and at the ready to toss into my bag. Actually, in general, the contents of my larger carry-on have varied dramatically over the years: glossy fashion magazines have been traded for childrens’ books and a buffet of finger foods—even if I usually still pack a few in my checked bag. But there’s always a pouch with a few key items that’s waiting to be whisked off at a moment’s notice (and stashed in the seat pocket in front of me).

If you recall, one of our favorite strategies for flying with very small children is staying off the plane as long as possible. Aron usually gets on the plane first and grabs some overhead space, takes care of gate-check, installs the carseat and whatnot. He’s the one who has decide what goes at our feet (or solely in the seat pocket, if we happen to score the bulkhead), which is all the more reason for making sure that what I need at my fingertips is easy to grab when the seatbelt sign goes on.

Here’s what I like to keep at the ready:

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Monterey Bay Aquarium Eats

COMMENTS: 4

travel california  Monterey Bay Aquarium Eats

travel california  Monterey Bay Aquarium Eats

travel california  Monterey Bay Aquarium Eats

I was thinking back fondly on our visit to the stunning tidepools outside of Monterey, and it occurred to me that I had a lot more to say about that trip and about paying a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on your next trip to the central coast of California.

For one, where you should eat—which you know is always of chief concern to me. There’s a relatively new restaurant (it opened last year) inside the aquarium called Cindy’s Waterfront. If you’re traveling with kids and you’re absolutely sure that you can’t get them to settle for a sit-down lunch, there’s a new café attached as well; but if you can manage it, be sure and make reservations for window seats at the restaurant. We stopped by the desk first thing when we arrived and put our name in, but just to be safe, call ahead (they’re only open 11-3).

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Planning for spontaneity: Italy

COMMENTS: 82

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: 12

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: 14

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: 28

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: 18

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: 15

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: 41

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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