I’ve taken hundreds of tours in my lifetime. From half-hour guided tours in museums to day-long city tours, it’s been one of my favorite avenues to discover someplace new. (I’ve taken a few at home, too.) But anyone who’s been on their fair share of tours will know that’s it’s pretty hit or miss. Even if you do the research, locate a reputable company and pick someone with stellar reviews, you could still have a bad experience. I know many travelers who opt for the thrill of self-discovery instead. But if you’re exploring a medina with almost 10,000 unmapped streets in a country where you don’t speak the language, it might be a good time to consider hiring a guide. I did, and here’s what I can tell you about hiring a guide in Fès.Continue reading The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: The Truth About Hiring a Guide in Fès, Morocco
If you have limited annual vacation time like we do, then there’s a trip planning exercise you’re probably familiar with: The Deadly Edit. It’s the point where you recognize you’re probably not going to be able to see an entire country in 9 days, and you’re going to have to make some tough choices. But even as I painfully sliced away at my itinerary, I knew Fès had to remain a part of it. This historical city is the heart and soul of Morocco.Continue reading The Intoxicating Medina of Fès, Morocco: 10 Things I Loved (And A Few I Didn’t)
One of my brother’s first encounters in Morocco was with a Maroc man who had moved from Casablanca to Marrakech, and he gushed endlessly about what a good decision he’d made. A fellow traveler I chatted with in Marrakech said he had just come from Casablanca and didn’t like it at all. Even the front desk clerk at my hotel in Casablanca, mistakenly thinking I was just beginning my Moroccan adventure, said “You’ll love Marrakech!” It didn’t inspire confidence. But Casablanca surprised me in the very best way, and it ended up being the perfect place to end my Moroccan adventure. Casablanca is the point of entry for most North American flights, and its large port also makes it a popular cruise destination. If you have a layover in Casablanca, here’s how to make the most of it–even if you only have a few hours to spare.Continue reading How to Make the Most of Your Layover in Casablanca, Morocco
One of the first things we research before we take a trip is where we’re going to eat. As we geared up for a visit to Montreal, we couldn’t ignore the serious grudge match between The City of Saints and The City That Never Sleeps. The debate was simple: which city has better bagels?Continue reading Battle of the Bagel: The Ultimate Guide to New York and Montreal Bagels
There are certain cities you can visit over and over, and London is definitely one of them. We have many friends and family who call it home, so we’ve been fortunate to make several return visits over time. While there are some classic London sights we’ll never tire of, our local guides have introduced us to unique, off-the-beaten-path sights and activities that tourists may not get to. If you’re looking for something new to do on a second, third or fourth visit, then check out some of London’s best hidden gems.Continue reading London’s Best Hidden Gems: Fun Things To Do Off the Beaten Path
Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is so recognizable it’s almost synonymous with the Basque city. It’s difficult to imagine today, but in the late 1980s and early 1990s Bilbao was suffering from severe decline due to dwindling industry, rising unemployment and ongoing Basque separatist conflict. The Guggenheim Museum was a last-ditch effort to save the city, and it paid off in spades. Gehry’s building was so successful in drawing in tourism dollars, that the “Bilbao Effect” is now used as a term for urban renewal and reinvention. The Guggenheim Museum is still a great reason to visit Bilbao, but the bustling Basque city has a lot more to offer. Here are some fun things to do in Bilbao:Continue reading 5 Things to Do in Bilbao Besides Visit the Guggenheim
I have a pretty stupid confession to make. I don’t drink, and that’s why it took me so long to make my way to Dublin. From the seven-floor Guinness Storehouse to the number of pubs per capita, this is a place that knows how to put the “happy” in happy hour. So I couldn’t help but wonder if Dublin would be fun for someone who wasn’t going to imbibe. Well, it turns out Dublin has plenty to offer. If you’re planning your first trip to Dublin, here’s what you should add to your to-do list.Continue reading 5 Things You Must Do On Your First Visit to Dublin
Newsflash: We love to eat. And we have a lot of friends who love to eat. Each and every one of them has sung the praises of San Sebastián as a foodie destination. And why not? It has a significant number of Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as countless pintxos bars serving some truly incredible food. When we set our sights on San Sebastián, we figured all we would do there is eat. But this little resort town ended up surprising us. Even though we spent a considerable amount of time stuffing our faces, we found so many other things to love during our visit there too.
Wandering souls can’t always explain exactly what it is that beckons them to a particular destination. It could be the glimpse of a photograph in a magazine, or a particularly memorable description in a book. Perhaps the location was the backdrop of a popular movie, or mentioned in the lyrics of a favorite song. But I can explain exactly what it was that drew me to Greece. My parents went there on a vacation when I was a girl–the first one I could ever recall them taking, and one of the very few trips they enjoyed without the kids.
Every major city has a neighborhood both tourists and locals adore, and in Athens that neighborhood is Plaka. We met several locals who spoke reverently about it, and when we got there we immediately understood why. It’s impossible not to be captivated by the cobblestone streets and the brightly colored buildings juxtaposed against the vibrant bougainvillea plants. Plaka is Athens’ oldest neighborhood, and its classic beauty draws quite a crowd. There are innumerable restaurants and shops vying for your attention (and your dollar!), and it’s easy to miss the true gems. But fear not: here’s a walking tour to highlight the best this delightful neighborhood has to offer.