Mar 29, 2015

A Perfect Day: Lille

The Vieille Bourse, the old stock exchange
It’s hard to believe that just a generation ago, Lille, known as the “first factory of France”, was seen as nothing more than a gritty industrial town. I must say the city cleans up nicely, due in large part to it being the European Capital of Culture in 2004, and is now a not-to-miss destination for those in the know with numerous cultural attractions, restaurants and boutiques.

Mar 24, 2015

Scooting Through Athens with Scooterise

Athens, Greece
When I only have a short amount of time in a city or it’s my first trip, I’m usually an advocate for a Hop On-Hop Off bus tour. However, on a trip to Athens with my teen and tween queens, Miss P and Miss V, in an effort to minimize the eye rolling, sighing and overall whining, I aimed to find a tour that would engage them more than a basic HO-HO, and came across Scooterise.

Mar 16, 2015

North London Half Marathon: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Mo Farrah starts the North London Half Marathon
Photo credit: Vitality North London Half Marathon

After completing the North London Half Marathon, I am happy to report that I have claimed another destination on my quest to run the world. Olympic gold medalist Mo Farrah fired the starting gun, and I, along with 7000 other runners including three buddies from my running group in Holland, took to the streets of North London for the inaugural event. Here’s my take on the event: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Mar 6, 2015

The Marvelous Jardin Marjorelle

The villa at Jardin Marjorelle
Marrakech is truly a vivacious city. A little too vivacious, truth be told, so during my recent visit, I found the Jardin Marjorelle to be a welcome reprieve. Created in the 1920's by French painter Jacques Marjorelle, this idyllic garden set in the center of the Ville Nouvelle neighborhood of Marrakech was made famous by the designer Yves Saint Laurent who purchased the property after Marjorelle's death and gifted it to the city.

Nov 16, 2014

The Pretty Churches of Santorini

The Greek island of Santorini is known for the beautiful sapphire blue waters of the Aegean Sea that surrounds it, the houses carved into its cliffs that are stuff of architectural dreams, and of course, the white-washed buildings with blue domes that speckle the island like polka dots.

Oct 20, 2014

Run the World: 20 kilomètres de Paris

A race. In the fall. In Paris. Sounds pretty close to perfect to me!  It also sounded good to 24,500 other people. 24,500 other people who were fast enough to register for the race before it sold out. Since I’ve never been one to let lack of speed deter me from running a race, I made my travel arrangements for Paris for said weekend with the faith that some how, some way, I would participate in the 20 Kilometre de Paris.

Oct 16, 2014

Philadelphia in an Instagram

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to spend a day in Philadelphia. Not even a day, really. More like a few hours, so I wanted to maximize my time and see all that I could in that short period of time. I’ve always believed the best way to get an overview of a city is via a Hop On Hop-Off (HO-HO) bus. This is especially true if you are somewhere for the first and/or a very short amount time. You get the lay of the land, which, if you’re anything like me and have no sense of direction, is really helpful. Then there’s the commentary, which provides some history of place, and a bit local trivia.

Jul 10, 2014

Everyone Loves a Parade

De Parade arts and theater festival in Holland
The little ladies and I recently joined some friends for an afternoon at De Parade, a performing arts festival that travels around The Netherlands. A delightful combination of fair, circus, and theater, De Parade travels through four major Dutch cities - Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam - pitching colorful tents in parks and squares and staging a succession of theater, musical and dance performances, bands and children’s shows.

Jun 28, 2014

The Marvelous Mauritshuis

The Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, recently reopened to great fanfare after a 2-year renovation. I’ve always loved this museum, which appears to float on the water, because of its intimate feel. Despite its expansion, which has doubled the size of the museum with an additional wing accessible via underground tunnel that can accommodate larger pieces of art and house special exhibitions,  this intimate feeling remains.

Apr 22, 2014

Road Trippin' Along the Dalmatian Coast

Croatia has long been one of the places on my travel bucket list and I am finally able to cross it off. My family and I are doing a short tour of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast by car for spring break, including driving from Split to Dubrovnik. 

We flew into Split, where we rented a car and drove to Dubrovnik. The 155 mile (250 kilometer) drive along the vast coastline, dotted with tiny, picturesque towns, is frequently cited as one of the top drives in the world.  The journey took just over 4 hours, though it could have been shorter had we not continued to stop to take in and take pictures of the absolutely stunning views of the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea on one side, and the majestic mountains on the other. 
One of the towns we passed was Omiš. This cute seaside village and harbor may be all rainbows and sunshine now, but its history is much more sinister. Located where the Cetina River meets the Adriatic Sea, Omiš was an infamously dangerous nest of the pirates from the 13th to the beginning of 15th century. The pirates mostly targeted Venetian ships, ambushing them as the attempted to navigate the Adriatic Sea. 

We also passed Medici, a small village popular for its restaurants and beautiful pebble beaches, and Makarska, a popular tourist destination in the heart of the Makarska Riviera, just at the foot of the Biokovo mountains. 
When traveling between Split and Dubrovnik there is a six-mile stretch of land that crosses into Bosnia-Herzegovina, so we had to go through border control and show our passports. Croatia plans to build a bridge at some point so that visitors and locals, who also have to do this every time they go between Split and Dubrovnik, can bypass this little exercise. But until then, it is what it is, and while the process was relatively quick and painless (but it's not the busy season), I'd still file it under random. 
We also passed a number of churches on our drive, and each village seemed to have distinctive steeple or bell tower that also serves as a landmark. I would have loved to have taken pictures of each one, but there wasn't always a convenient place on the road to pull over causing me to resort to "drive-by shooting", which resulted in windshields and rearview mirrors being prominently featured in my photos.

As evening fell, our journey came to an end. Dubrovnik, with its characteristic orange rooftops and turquoise blue water, was now in view. And while we certainly did "enjoy the journey", we were happy to have reached our destination. 

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