Although the holidays will be different this year, we still celebrate the occasion. And, fortunately, domestic travel remains a possibility for those of us who need a change of scene. This year, discover the spirit of Christmas right here in our northern states.
A note about winter sports
Good news for skiers! Despite the pandemic, our ski season is poised to go ahead this year. However, resorts are slated to operate at 50% capacity this season, and lift passes must be purchased in advance. So it’s important to book early if you do intend to hit the slopes - whether that’s for a day or a week-long stay.
Next week, AmaWaterways and I will team up on a live chat about how you can experience Europe's Christmas markets via a magical river cruise. These festive trips weave you on a journey through the winter wonderland on the banks of the Rhine and Danube Rivers.
If you have been fortunate to visit Europe in the lead-up to Christmas before, you will know how enchanting a time this is across the continent. And these festive Christmas markets that add a special type of celebration to the season of goodwill.
When you embark on a trip to Portugal, the northern region of Porto and the Douro River Valley are a great place for culture, history, and wine. The River Douro is in the Iberian Peninsula and runs from Porto, Portugal, to Soria, Spain. The Douro River Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it has been deemed the oldest wine region in the world. Some of the vineyards date pack to 1756. The area has breathtaking scenery with zigzag roads that travel up and down steep hills to give you many vantage points of the valley surrounding you.
There are many ways to travel through this region of Portugal. If you decide to take a relaxing drive through the valley, a great place to stay is at the Six Senses Douro Valley. This hotel is situated in the heart of the oldest wine-producing region and has an old-world charm with contemporary interiors. The estate offers a wine library which features wines from the valley.
Something that I always look forward to when I travel is capturing the essence of a new place in my own words and pictures. I’m sure that I’m not alone in my love of taking photographs and noting down my impressions of a place in my travel journal.
But, while our travel plans are paused - there’s no reason why we can’t still indulge in these creative pursuits in our local environment. Earlier this month, I shared some tips on how to bring the flavors of Italy to your staycation. Today, let’s talk about finding some creative inspiration from wherever in the world you call home.
For the last several weeks, different countries around the world are opening their borders to American travelers. Though many are not yet comfortable traveling during this time, it is encouraging to see countries around the globe adopting procedures to keep travelers and residents safe during this pandemic. Here are a few countries open for travel and the procedures* to travel there and an inspired looked at the many possible experiences during your future trip.
Are you dreaming about Tuscany's idyllic beauty, the bustle of Rome, or the serenity of Italy’s southern islands? Even if I can’t send you to Italy this season, I can at least bring a piece of the Mediterranean to your own home. Whether you are taking a local getaway or staying put, follow my tips on how to get a touch of Italy to your staycation.
Tour one of Italy’s best galleries
A number of Italian galleries and museums have kept their doors open, virtually speaking. Art aficionados: you can experience Italian heritage and culture with a digital 360° tour. All you need is an internet connection, and the best thing is - there are no lines. This is just a handful of galleries you can explore online:
Spain versus Portugal, which one is best for you and your travel style? Once you have a taste of the food and wine in each of these beautiful destinations, now let us look at the culture and adventure that Spain and Portugal can offer.
Island Enthusiasts: Madeira vs. Mallorca
Madeira: Known as the Island of Eternal Spring, Madeira has long attracted travelers seeking to warm themselves under the island’s year-round subtropical sun. Lush and mountainous with spectacular ocean views, this Portuguese archipelago off the coast of Africa is nothing if not remote. For couples looking for a quiet getaway, it would be hard to find a more idyllic location. The Belmond Reid’s Palace, the island’s grand dame hotel long known for its elegant interiors and impeccable service, offers an array of romantic excursions, including classic car tours, hikes with expert naturalists, and sunset sails aboard a private yacht.
In northern Spain, in the Iberian Peninsula, you will find one of Spain’s best wine destinations in La Rioja. This area of Spain sits below the Cantabrian Mountains in the Ebro valley and is a great region to spend time in nature and exploring the many family-owned vineyards. The region is approximately an hour and a half from Bilbao, Spain.
The region is where you will find the Sierra de Cebollera Natural Park. In the park, you will find a diverse ecosystem where you can explore the many forests and high mountain peaks. One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites is in this region is the San Millan Yuso and Suso Monasteries. This community was founded in the mid 6th century and is a popular pilgrimage site. This monastery is famous since it was the site of the first book written in Castilian, which was the language that spoken Spanish was derived from.
Handshakes, hugs, air kisses and pecks on the cheek are on hold while we practice social distancing during the pandemic. While for most of us Westerners, it feels strange to greet others without physical contact; in most Asian and some African countries, this is the norm.
As you go about your socially distanced day-to-day, here are four no-touch ways to say hello from around the globe.
Fun, lively flamenco clubs, intimate little tapas bars, undiscovered beaches, and stunning wine regions — whatever your passion, the Iberian Peninsula has the perfect destination to satisfy your romantic inclinations. But where to go, Spain or Portugal? You can’t go wrong with either, but if you must choose, let us help make your decision a little easier. Keep reading as we match up our favorite spots in the ultimate destination showdown: Spain versus Portugal.
As the pandemic spread across Europe, summer travel was in jeopardy. In May, the EU announced borders would reopen under strict guidance. As we know, the majority only opened for fellow member states or selected ‘safe’ nations.
Across continental Europe, social distancing protocols are now in place to protect residents and tourists, including:
Here is a brief overview of what travel currently looks like across Europe.
For those of us that live on the east coast, visiting the west coast is always a stark difference in scenery, from the high peaks to the unforgiving Pacific Ocean. Oregon is known for its sprawling forests, rolling hills, abundant farms, and top-notch vineyards. The city of Portland, Oregon, is an adventure in itself, and the Willamette Valley offers many wineries to visit.
The City of Roses or Rose City, as the locals call Portland, is a cultural melting pot with many people from all walks of life living here. The city offers high-end dining, and for those who love street food, visiting one of the 600 food carts is sure to please. Portland has the most craft beer breweries than any other city in the states. The city has so much character as far as culture, food, beer and wine, and music that some forget that the city offers one of the best outdoor enthusiast’s recreational areas in the state. Forest Park is a hidden oasis that offers hiking, biking, and outdoor adventure right in the heart of the city. Portland also has excellent shopping since there is no sales tax, and you can save on your treasures to bring home. Portland is also home to the Willamette River that brings you to the Willamette Valley about an hour south of the city where there are several of the wineries; we will be sharing with you.
Each week there are new changes in where we can travel, what we need to do to travel there and when we can go to some destinations. Here are some of the latest updates.
Hawaii – The state of Hawaii has extended the two-week quarantine for the islands until October 1st. They have also moved the pre-testing program out until October 1st, which would have allowed travelers to arrive with a negative Covid test within 72 hours of arrival. The island of O’ahu has seen an increase in cases, so the Governor and Mayor have announced additional restrictions on the island. The inter-island quarantine will also remain in effect for all residents of the other Hawaiian Islands.
When people think of Miami, Miami Beach always comes to mind with the chic shopping and the glitz of the rich and famous. But there is more to Miami besides the beach and Lincoln Road Mall. With vast beaches, vibrant nightlife, and rich culture, Miami has something to offer everyone besides the world-renowned beaches. Here are five places to try out on your next trip to Miami.
1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Visit this gorgeous park on a sunny day and enjoy the vast array of exotic and rare plants and wildlife. Explore the Rare Plant House, which is home to 450 species of rare tropical plants such as palms, orchids, and fruit trees. The Tropical Fruit Pavilion displays fruit species only found in exotic locations such as the Amazon. You can also visit the Butterfly Garden to enjoy rare species of these beautiful insects.
The California coast is a wonderful place to explore from the north around San Francisco all the way south to San Diego. The ocean and the beaches on the west coast are so different from the east coast that you just have to experience it to appreciate the beauty. Stretching more than 650 miles, California Highway 1 has long been the best way to take in all the sights the California Coastline has to offer. When you think of the West Coast, you’re probably familiar with images of beach attire and surf culture. And while it’s perfectly acceptable to conjure these images of the coast, not everything about the California coast is big cities and bigger personalities.
Extraordinary trips for exceptional travelers, where the details make all the difference
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