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.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when our street art obsession began. But New York City has been the ultimate enabler, feeding our addiction from a well that never seems to run dry. Alas, junkies are never satisfied. Our appetites grew, and pretty soon we found ourselves down deserted alleys in foreign cities trying to get a fix. We’ve hunted down street art in ditches and mansions. And then in Athens, we nearly overdosed.
Do a quick search on Athens and the first thing you’ll see at the very top of the list, perched like the magnificent fortress itself on its rocky hilltop, is the Acropolis. It’s a one-of-a-kind archaeological treasure, deserving of all that prestige, and you should absolutely go and see it when you visit the ancient city for the first time. But too many people make Athens a stopover on the way to the one of the stunning 200-plus Greek Islands without giving it much thought. They squeeze in a visit to the Acropolis then hop back on a plane or ferry. But we’re going to let you in on a secret–Athens has so much more to offer than just ruins.
When people ask for advice about what to see in New York City, we tell them to visit the greatest hits: Central Park, the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and yes, even Times Square. But after they’ve seen all that, we tell them to see the real New York City. New York City comes alive in its varied and diverse neighborhoods, and this is also true for the wonderful city of London.
I realize I might stand alone on this, but I wasn’t a fan of the movie Notting Hill. While I have a fondness for romantic comedies, this one never got me weak in the knees. So I’m not one of the many girls who flock to London’s Notting Hill neighborhood in search of The Travel Book Co. or the house with the blue door. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find reasons to make my way to this picturesque neighborhood. Notting Hill is infinitely charming not due to, but in spite of, the 1999 film. Here’s a walking tour to help you while away the day in one of London’s quaintest locales.
I’m fortunate to have many friends and family who live in London. For many years it served as a jumping-off point for our Europe travels, and we were able to fly cheap budget airlines out of London to France, Spain and Italy. But Amsterdam seemed so close that we always eschewed it for a more exotic destination. So when we recently planned a quick trip to London and wanted to include a short side trip, Amsterdam turned out to be the perfect 48-hour destination.
In case you missed it, I kicked off Part One of our Kyoto travel guide here. Kyoto’s a really fun place to visit, especially in the fall. Picking up where I left off, here are some of my other must-see destinations: Continue reading Kyoto Travel Guide: What to See and Where to Eat – Part Two
Travel seems to be a universal love. Exploring other locales and cultures is inarguably intoxicating. But it’s not a universal pursuit. Many people find themselves restricted by time, money and responsibilities, in any number of combinations. I started traveling while I was in college, and it often required sacrifices in time and comfort to accommodate a minuscule budget. To see as much of the world as I could, I sat through timeshare presentations and slept on trains. And my adventures in lodging have included a middle-of-the-night flooding and relocation to a different hotel (and I confess to using this term rather liberally here). Continue reading Kyoto Travel Guide: What to See and Where to Eat – Part One