london calling part 1

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As the world gears up for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, scores and scores of journalists and fans will be flocking to London town (well, Windsor for the actual nuptials) to try and catch a glimpse of the royal entourage.

If you’re one of the lucky few, or even if you’re not, take this opportunity to delight in the sights of one of the best cities in the world.  It’s incomparable, really.  So much jam packed history, art, music, everything!  All roads lead back to London.

Mind the gap…

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A ‘beautiful day’ in Dublin

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Kiss me, I’m Irish.  Or at least I was while I was in Ireland.  Everyone becomes a little Irish when you’re in the beating heart that is Dublin.  The city draws you in, makes you a believer in the spirit and magic that makes the Emerald Isle unique. It’s no one tree hill.

It was a real quick trip (through your wires) there on the way to the UK, but it was a blitz of activity, colors, sounds and sights.  From Guinness to U2, the history of the city provides a backbone to a truly intriguing place whose energy pulses at all hours of the day.  As an aside, Irish history is very interesting, and not so distantly in the past were the Troubles, a very turbulent period for the Irish in general, it’s worth researching a little before you go.

I had a great time, to say the least.  In the words of the magnificent Bono, it was a beautiful day…

Hold me, thrill me, kiss me…

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3 days in Reykjavik

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Iceland is super trendy.  In the past decade, there’s been a >300% increase in the amount of visitors to Iceland — it’s almost to the point where you barely see any locals.  Because I have the worst FOMO ever, I needed to go here before tourists overrun everything and American chains start moving in.  Everyone in my family had already gone (which is not a reason to travel, but again, FOMO), so off I headed to Reykjavik for an Icelandic adventure.

all is full of love…

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Rome if you want to…

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Rome is a polarizing place.  For some, it represents the peak of romance, beauty and charm. For others, it’s a crowded, tourist-laden nightmare.  I think its real appeal is that it’s both; it’s a city of contradictions.  There is a mix of ancient and modern, sometimes seamless in execution (turning on a busy street and seeing the Parthenon) and others not so much (the futile attempt of expanding the Metro due to delays in the name of archeology). It’s very urban, but yet has simple charms similar to those found in Italy’s most rural countryside villages.  There are so many relics and ruins; it’s often a little overwhelming! But, if you take a step back to enjoy the moment, it’s a city that can leave you breathless.  You will understand why it’s called the Eternal City.

Take a Roman holiday…

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Japan part Ni: kyoto, nara, osaka

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In honor of Sakura, the internationally renowned spring cherry blossom season, we continue our journey through Japan.  Next destination: Kyoto.  One of the most magical cities in Japan, it feels like you’re a character in a novel from eons ago when you’re here.  Literally, if this city does not make you feel like you’re in Memoirs of a Geisha or Shogun, then Sayonara, Felicia.

Kyoto has a dark magic feel to it, the city of geishas.  You just know there’s secrets hidden in the dark, wooded architecture.

If these rice paper walls could talk…

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know before you go: Ontario (ONT)

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No, not Canada.  To continue the Coachella prep, for out of town friends joining in on the party, consider Ontario, an Inland Empire airport into which you can fly.  There’s not much there, so enjoy the animal style above instead.  The best thing about this airport is that there’s an In-n-out across the street.  Otherwise, it’s a hard sell unless you’re flying Southwest.

But remember, #1 rule on this blog: avoid LAX at all costs.  PSP is ideal, but it’s probably going to be pricey for the average general admission holder.  SNA is further and more expensive. Ontario is about a 90 minute drive from Indio, and it’s a really efficient and gets you from point A to point B.

There are two terminals, numbered 2 and 4, and a separate international arrivals area for a total of about 28 gates.  It is an international airport, with flights to Guadalajara and Taipei — but mostly it’s Southwest locoregional flights on the west coast.

Remember: ✈ = ontario, CA to ✈✈✈✈✈ = ontario, CA (you can decide which is which)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈✈✈✈ — it’s pretty small

Convenience of security lines: ✈✈✈

Dining: ✈ (there is a Coffee Bean, but you should really consider eating elsewhere before — hence the In-n-Out)

Bathrooms: ✈✈ (there could be more)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈✈  (free wifi available, not many charging areas)

Amenities: ✈ (you’re not here to shop, you’re here to get in and out)

wanderlust, the best Valentine’s lust of all

Hopefully love is in the air (or the sea or the train) or wherever you may be this St. Valentine’s.  And if not, well then you can always continue your wanderlust for travel and adventure, the best kind of lust in my opinion.

V-Day is right smack dab in the middle of the week this year, but it’s never too early to start planning a long, romantic weekend getaway for next year…maybe choose one of these sweet spots:

New Orleans. This magical city is teeming with dark mystery and romance.  How better to cuddle up on a winter’s night than to snuggle arm in arm along the gas lantern-lit cobblestone alleys whilst boozing it up and eating the most decadent food?  And extra points for it being Mardi Gras this time of year, so there’s a ton of stuff for singletons, too.

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Bali.  This is a top honeymoon destination for a reason.  Secluded and sexy, there’s lush landscapes and privacy abound.  Everyone loves an island rendezvous.

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New York.  If only to meet your love at the top of the Empire State Building.  Watch for traffic before you cross the street though.  (Please tell me at least someone understands this reference, the original movie, not Sleepless in Seattle–also a classic rom com).

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Tokyo/Kyoto.  Lovers in Japan, indeed.  The best way to get to really know someone is to explore a foreign country with them, specifically a place where you can’t read or speak the language.  If you can get through it unscathed, then you should probably hold on to this person forever.

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Cape Town.  Overwhelming views from the top of Table Mountain and V&A Waterfront will fill your heart.  The city offers couples everything they could want, luxurious digs, celebrated wineries, horseback riding/outdoor activities, and popular open air cinemas (especially crowded on Valentine’s).

Paris.  The City of Love may be cliche, but it is that way for a reason.  It’s a city of creatives and dreamers and there’s inspiration on every block.  Everything from the food and wine, the music, the scenery and the history is seductive.  If you’re not in love, you’ll definitely feel it here.

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And of course, probably the most romantic city, or rather, country is Italy.  Venice, Florence, Rome, Tuscany?  There could be nothing more charming, nothing that sets ones heart afire like an Italian escape.

And you may ask, why no pictures?  Well that’s because I’m headed back to Italy in about a week so there will be pictures to come.  Ciao bellas, that’s amore!

3 days in Capetown and Durban

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South Africa is an incredible destination.  Sitting at the tip of the African continent, this country has it all in terms of terrain and landscapes.  Miles and miles of beautiful coast rivaled by the mountains and rock formations of its hinterlands.  There’s the savanna to the serengeti, plans to grassy lowlands.  There’s also, of course, a very complicated, but rich history.

From the coastal beauty of Cape Town to the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg, there is so much to see in this gorgeous country.  I’d be remiss not to mention the shanty towns that provides a stark reminder of the impoverished conditions for many people there.

Having hosted the World Cup several years ago, South Africa has been on the world stage before and hopefully will thrive from the attention, in the form of economic and touristic opportunity.   In my opinion. South Africa should be visited via tour, as there is so much to see in a finite amount of time, that you’ll want to be organized and have people who know where they’re going, as it is still a developing nation.

Out of Africa…

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