Mardi Gras is one of the biggest parties to happen anywhere in the world, and it draws all sorts of people to it. It is also an awesome representation of the distinct culture of New Orleans, which is festive and colorful all year round. I didn’t make it down to Mardi Gras this year, but in its honor this week, I’ll tell you a bit about my trip a few years ago.
“Here I am in the place where I come let go
Miami the base and the sunset glow
Everyday like a Mardi Gras, everybody party all day
No work all play, okay”
The unparalleled genius of Will Smith’s song, “Miami” from 1997’s great Big Willie Style album, sums up the city of Miami beautifully. After spending this past long weekend along the South Beach strip, I can honestly say I fully understand the poetry that is Will Smith’s words.
Yes, I admit it. London is my favorite city on the planet. Not only because I lived there for two and a half years but also because this city is actually amazing (I know I’ve ruined my credibility with the previous sentence, but it really is true).
London is a sprawling, multifaceted network of neighborhoods (neighbourhoods, if you will) strung together with a common theme but all with drastically distinct stories. It’s more of a group of towns than one large city, which means it’s impossible to make one travel guide for the whole of it.
I’m in a Colorado state of mind this week – probably because I had so much fun there. I was lucky to get a surprise extension on the end of my trip, so I got to explore a new city, Denver! The original plan was to drive back from Vail Monday afternoon, spend an evening in a nice hotel in Denver for some R&R and fly home Tuesday. However, when Southwest cancels your flight, you know there must be something terribly wrong (I’m a big fan of Southwest), and unfortunately, that something was Polar Vortex Round II. So, while the East Coast was being pummeled with freezing air and snow, I was “stuck” in Denver enjoying the sunshine and 60 degree weather. Things could be worse, right?
First thing worth mentioning – the drive between Vail and Denver is absolutely beautiful. It’s an attraction in itself! It takes about 2 hours in good weather, and I took approximately 400 photos during that time. Luckily I will only make you endure this beauty…
The Mile High City is not big by any means (particularly compared to my present home of New York City), but there is definitely enough hustle and bustle to keep tourists and locals entertained. It’s trendy, new and clean and kind of reminded me of a small, outdoorsy Chicago…if that makes sense to anyone.
Colorado – land of the free. Particularly as of late, since the implementation of their own set of laws around certain….substances….But my trip this weekend had nothing to do with politics. It had to do with skiing! And my oh my did I choose a good place to do it.
Vail is one of the best known ski resorts in Colorado and rightly so because it’s awesome. Despite being there on one of the busiest weekends of the Winter, because of the size of the mountain and the number of slopes, it never felt crowded. Actually, in some places (particularly the backside of the mountain), you are left feeling almost alone.
It’s pretty tough to do Vail wrong – there’s loads of nice hotels and fun restaurants and bars. However, I had a really really great time, so I figured I’d give you a run down of how I did it…really really right. Most importantly, I was with five of my very favorite people – friends I’ve known for years and all, conveniently, different level skiers.
Venice, Venezia, La Dominante – whatever you call it, it is without a doubt the most magical city in the world. It’s romantic, picturesque, charming and so much more. No words can describe the absolute unparalleled beauty that is Venice, Italy.
Do I really need to go on? I think we’re all convinced….go to Venice. That is all.
Just kidding I’ll tell you more. To start with, these are real photos. I know, I know, they don’t look it. That’s just too pretty a place to be real! But I actually took these, so I know Venice is real…at least I think it was…
So, what’s the best way to see Paris? Ask a local, of course! …No, I do not have the audacity to mean myself, after visiting a only handful of times. I asked a real local for recommendations – one who grew up in the city.
On my last trip to Paris, her city guide opened up a whole new realm of Paris to me. While I do recommend visiting the monuments, museums and tourist hotspots, combine them with a few trips down the Parisian backstreets to find some local restaurants and hidden bars. It’ll be worth your while, I promise.
I’ve spent a good amount of time in Paris and its surrounding areas, having first been there at age 12 on a school trip, living in a suburb of the city for a summer and having been back to visit a few times since. So, you’d think I’d be sick of it there, right?
Oh, how little you know me.
I’ve never been great at keeping resolutions, but this year I’m really motivated. 2013 was a year of pretty epic change for me. I settled into adulthood with my first (and second) grown-up job, I moved countries (and continents), rented an apartment in New York City (the most difficult thing in the world) and somehow found time to start a travel blog.
I’ve thought a lot about what I want out of 2014, and besides never moving in this city again, here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Travel More: I figure this one is pretty obvious, but also I want to be more creative with my experiences. Living in Europe made me spoiled. Every two hour (cheappp) flight was a new country, a new language and a totally new experience. But moving back to the US, I’m not as excited to travel. I need to change my attitude, since I’ve still got approximately 20 states left I’ve never even been to! It may not be a new country or a new language, but every state is different and worth a visit. So, my resolution is really to make every place I go to an adventure. Because even if it’s just down the road, you’ve got to travel to get there!
2. Be More Selfish: I know this sounds weird, but I’ve actually always been kind of bad at this. I worry too much about what others might want or need, even in situations where making one choice isn’t really going to be very good for me. But I make that choice anyway. So, whether it’s choosing to take that trip I can’t really afford for a long weekend because it’s going to make me happy or just making my friends go to my restaurant of choice, I’m going to be more selfish (sometimes) in 2014!
This week I’m in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky for Christmas. While I never used to think of Kentucky as much of a travel destination, I’ve recently been hearing of an increasing number of travelers frequenting the area, be it as a full vacation or as part of a Southern road trip. So, for once, I can speak as a true local and tell you what’s best to do and see in Kentucky because really there’s A LOT.
Here’s my top 10 for Kentucky (and as a local, I obviously know everything):
1. A Day at the Races — Every April and October, Keeneland Racetrack opens for the horse races, and it really represents Kentucky at its finest. From the clubhouse to the grounds, Keeneland is absolutely beautiful and worth a trip if you’re around in either month.