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The Oh So Fun Art & Culture of Colombia’s Cartagena

December 16, 2014 by  

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Do you feel the beat?  I sure did this last week in Cartagena Colombia!  This was my first trip to Colombia and with a few salsa beats and welcoming hugs it had me won over and wanting more. Our itinerary was jam packed with local experiences and adventures beginning with dinner with a local family in the Cartagena suburbs — a great introduction to Colombian cuisine and the incredible warm hospitality of the Colombian people. Bazurto Market Colombia We spent a morning at Buzurto Market – a dingy, gritty, smelly, local experience that had me smiling from ear to ear.  This was the best market I’ve ever been to in the world – but it’s not for the faint of heart.  What made it amazing was the soul of the market – happy people, working hard, with a constant musical beat in the background. I even tried fish testicles fried up at the market – and that was probably one of the more tame things I could have tried! We also spent time learning more about Colonial history of the city, taking salsa dance lessons (and putting them to use at a local salsa club),…

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The Spring Ballarat Begonia Festival Down Under

December 14, 2014 by  

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If you’re heading Down Under early next year or CAN, Melbourne should be on your agenda. Consider a swing out to the Ballarat Begonia Festival. Winner of the 2014 Best Regional Event in Victoria and the national title of Australia’s Favourite Event, the Ballarat Begonia Festival is a must visit in March. In 2015, experience an adventure in the gardens with the Begonia Display, Begonia Parade, Live Entertainment, Central Highlands Water ‘Grow Your Own Food’ program, Be Smart Choose Tap water café and schools scarecrow display. Other popular attractions returning to the festival are The Tea House, Mitchell Harris Wine Garden, APEX Art Show, NEW kids’ activities and much more. It takes place March 7, 8 and 9, 2015, at Lake Wendouree and Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Wendouree Pde, Wendouree, Victoria, Australia. Hours each day are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Photo courtesy of ballarat Begonia Festival)


Cycling Your Way Through Bogota Colombia

December 14, 2014 by  

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  Traveling through Cartagena and Medellin, I was told by locals and other travelers that while Bogota had a lot of culture, it was also a place you needed to watch your back. As I only had one full day in the city and wanted to make the most of it — but also wanted to feel safe and not end up in any dodgy neighborhoods alone — I opted for a bike tour. colombia I’m an avid cyclist, both when I’m traveling and when I’m not. For me, cycling around a city allows you to really feel its pulse. It’s not like a bus tour where you’re looking out at a place and its people from behind glass — similar to a zoo experience — or spending an entire day at an attraction becoming an expert on one facet of the culture. Biking around a city allows you to get a feel for it, to immerse yourself in its sights, sound, smells and colors. Speaking of colors, Bogota has a lot of them, as it’s one of the world’s best cities for exploring thought-provoking street art. We learned about many of the local artists…

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Why Palm Springs Is So Much More Than Golf Courses, Casinos & Pools

December 12, 2014 by  

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I’d always pictured Palm Springs in California to be a place for luxury travelers looking to lounge around the Marriott pool, spend their days on the golf course and place bets at the casino. I’d heard so much about the Hollywood Stars who all had homes there, figuring it couldn’t possibly cater to a traveler like myself, who gets antsy at the mere thought of “lounging” and who is currently renting out her own bedroom to be able to pay her rent. This is why on a recent trip to the destination I was pleasantly surprised to find there was A LOT there totally unrelated to luxury travel that immersed me in local culture and provided authentic, sometimes alternative, experiences. Note: Some of the below-mentioned experiences are actually slightly outside of Palm Springs, but are all part of the Greater Palm Springs area. palm strings Snapshots of Two Bunch Palms.

Stay: Two Bunch Palms

My home-base was located a bit outside of Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs, at the Two Bunch Palms. As I was traveling with my boyfriend, Chris, the $149 a night starting price wasn’t so bad and allowed us to enjoy…

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Toronto’s Murals, Art Scene & Hip Neighborhoods

December 12, 2014 by  

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I had always heard great things about Toronto and there have been numerous reasons I was eager to visit Toronto but above all, I was eager to explore everything the city has to offer: the tall skyscrapers that rival the ones in New York, the quirky shops with personality to space and of course, the revamped neighborhoods that are trendy beyond compare. While the weather wasn’t exactly ideal during my trip, it didn’t matter because Toronto is colorful rain or shine. This quickly became apparent when wandering through the eclectic Kensington Market neighborhood.   Street art guide to Toronto Located on the edge of Chinatown, another fascinating neighborhood with a ton of history, Kensington Market is a one-stop shop for graffiti, artisanal goods, vintage clothes and accessories and lively bars. It’s not a huge area but it’s packed with personality. Back in the 1920s, the neighborhood was known as the Jewish Market and even today, there’s a mix of different cultures represented – Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean to name a few. Whether in search of fresh food or souvenirs, there’s something for everyone at Kensington…

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Get Ready to Tap Your Feet with the Harlem Gospel Choir

December 9, 2014 by  

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I wouldn’t call myself a classic gospel music lover — in other words, I don’t listen to gospel CDs or go to gospel concerts on a regular basis….in fact, it’s rare that gospel falls on my radar and yet when I hear it, I always find my spirits uplifted immediately. It’s not hard to see why since its enthusiastic, happy and peppy and when it’s not, a gospel version of Amazing Grace with a little blues and jazz thrown in, can be life changing. Since I’ve been trying to cover other New York City boroughs and less traveled to areas in recent months, I found myself taking in some of the best brunches in Harlem and exploring the foodie scene in the Bronx. On that adventure, I discovered the Harlem Gosepl Choir, which is touted as the top gospel choir in America. Who knew? I then learned not long after that discovery that they were performing in a week’s time at BBK Blues in Times Square, and so, we got tickets and off we went. Imagine an invigorating performance that is a cross between a musical, a jazz and blues performance and the hippest church service you can imagine attending.…

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Foodie & Other Walking Tours of New York City

December 8, 2014 by  

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Since I’m in New York City for a stint,  I decided my cure for chilly jet lag would be to hit the cold streets of New York head on. I had a friend in town who was a first time visitor to NYC so I dusted off my NYC visitor playbook and got us on a few walking tours in New York.  I have always recommended food and walking tours for first time visitors to NYC – it’s a great way to orient yourself to the neighborhoods and find some awesome local places to eat during your stay. My body revolted as I bundled up in my winter jacket and scarf to head out on the streets for 3 hours.  But it wasn’t mad at me for long when I started feeding it delicious homemade pasta from the Mario Batali food tour we went on!  A fun orientation to the Village and the legacy of Batali.  He was a key player in showing Americans what Italian food really was, as opposed to the oversauced, meatballed versions we had grown accustomed to.  We went to 3 restaurants and a gelato store, basically having a 4 course Italian meal (antipasto, primo, secondo,…

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5 Top Picks on Broadway Shows for the Holiday Season

December 6, 2014 by  

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I give my regards to Broadway, (and Off-Broadway), as much as humanly possible.  I see a lot of shows, so narrowing them down for a seasonal roundup is no easy feat, as you can probably imagine.  But, despite all the really great theater that’s out there right now, here are five really great shows that struck our hearts a little bit deeper, made us laugh a little bit harder, and had us talking a little bit longer than most. They’re all pretty different, but we’re certain there’s one here that will speak to you.

The Lion King

3.159802 OK, this show has been on Broadway for the longest.  But I must shamefully confess, until this fall, I had never seen it.  I guess I was just thinking, “hmm, ginormous animal heads on actors strutting around on stilts?  there’s just no way that can ever be on par with beauty and the beast or aladdin.”  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I seriously had chills during the opening scene as the animals came down the aisles, and those chills didn’t subside until long, long after I left the theater that evening. You’ll love this if: Obviously, if…

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