What You Need to Know Before Visiting the Alhambra

Last spring, my husband and I spent two weeks traveling through France and Portugal. Justin had to return to San Diego for work, but we were so close to southern Spain, I decided to stay another week by myself. I have always wanted to visit the Alhambra and the Generalife, the complex of palaces used by the Kings of Granada as summer residences. The site’s Moorish architecture, sumptuous gardens and hilltop location backed by the Sierra Nevada mountains appeared to me in photos like a sort of Shangri-La. Continue reading “What You Need to Know Before Visiting the Alhambra”

Copenhagen Mini Guide

Since the U.S. election, I’ve been thinking a lot about Copenhagen. My husband and I visited with friends last fall. Denmark is one of the world’s happiest countries and when in the capital city it’s hard not to notice how content the residents are despite the dark, dreary weather that persists for much of the year. Dane’s pay some of the highest taxes in the world and while the prime minister has made remarks that it’s not a planned socialist economy residents do get access to child care, state-guaranteed medical and parental leave from work, free college tuition and free health care. Continue reading “Copenhagen Mini Guide”

New York City Guide

Central Park

When I go to New York I stay up later than usual, walk for miles and eat and eat and eat. I find the pulse of the city infectious and it gives me energy I didn’t know I had. December when the city seems like a holiday movie set is my favorite time to go, but there are good reasons to visit in every season. Central Park is probably most beautiful in fall when the leaves range from burnt red to bright yellow. In the springtime as the days get longer and the weather finally thaws New Yorkers seem to be in a particularly good mood and summer is the best time to snag good hotel deals and visit rooftop bars. When I visit the city I often think to myself “I could live here.” Maybe if I did some of the romance would wear off so until then I will make the most of every trip. Continue reading “New York City Guide”

Finding Peace After Paris in the Realm of King Ludwig

Work on Neuschwanstein Castle started in 1868.
Work on Neuschwanstein Castle started in 1868.

I watched the news of the Paris terrorist attacks unfold from my apartment in the Marais with a mix of sadness, horror and disgust. It’s a cliché to say it but I’ve never felt so much like it could have been me. Just that morning my mom and I ate breakfast in the 10th Arrondissement near where one of the shootings took place. I had so many questions. Continue reading “Finding Peace After Paris in the Realm of King Ludwig”

My Paris Guide Part 1: Restaurants, Sights and Shopping

On the Seine.
On the Seine.

Paris may be the most beautiful city in the world, but it is not the movie set many of us have come to expect. It is a big city with gritty areas, and diverse cultures and cuisines, but this is precisely what makes it special. In addition to enjoying crêpes on the street and steak frites in a picture perfect French bistro you can also find Israeli street food, Asian-French fusion and globally influenced small plates from up-and-coming Parisian chefs.

It’s true that the pace is slower here than say New York or London. Shops still close on Sundays and don’t even think about trying to purchase meat at mid-day (butchers close for a two hour lunch break). While anybody who visits the city should see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay, these sites are just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to what Paris has to offer culturally and architecturally. There’s nothing like coming to Paris and feeling more like a local than a tourist and hopefully this guide will help you do that. Continue reading “My Paris Guide Part 1: Restaurants, Sights and Shopping”

A Marais Walking Tour

Place des Vosges.
Place des Vosges.

By Justin Chiotti

Situated on the right bank, the Marais is one of the most historic and beautifully preserved areas of Paris. Marais is French for marsh or swamp and the area was first drained and settled by the Knights of the Templar in the 1300s. Today, the Marais is home to aristocratic mansions from the 1600s, one of Europe’s most beloved squares, and a baguette “tradition” that has taken top honors in the city.

Continue reading “A Marais Walking Tour”

Sandpoint Idaho Guide

Lake view
Lake Pend Oreille.


Every year my family spends the first two weeks of August on Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho Panhandle. This year we’re here for a very special reason- the marriage of my sister Kerby. I’ve done my fair share of traveling and I think this is one of the best places on earth. The blue green lake is backed by the Selkirk mountains. There’s hiking, biking, and a great historic downtown with coffee shops, breweries and wine bars. Apparently the word is getting out–Matthew McConaughey just bought an island on the lake.  Continue reading “Sandpoint Idaho Guide”

Becoming a Better Skier in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole has frequent inversions where the temperature on the mountain is warmer than in town.
Jackson Hole has frequent inversions where the temperature on the mountain is warmer than in town.

I’m staring down the face of a double back diamond run as my instructor for the day, Jess McMillan, (a Freeskiing World Tour Champion) shouts up encouragement. “You an do it, just stay focused,” say McMillan. The run is so steep, with a sheer rocky section in the middle, I can’t even see McMillan or my classmates at the bottom. Judging by the wipeouts that have gone before me, I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be easy. Continue reading “Becoming a Better Skier in Jackson Hole”

Mini Guide to Strasbourg

The Christmas tree in Place Kléber.
The Christmas tree in Place Kléber.

This year marked the first time in my life that I didn’t go home for the holidays and it was bittersweet. On the one hand, my husband and I relished the peace and tranquility of a holiday season that was largely spent just the two of us. We ate oysters, drank bottles of white Burgundy and made many warm, comforting meals in our cozy apartment. We enjoyed decorating our pint-sized tree and starting some Christmas traditions of our own. Continue reading “Mini Guide to Strasbourg”

Guide to Rome

A view from the reconstructed arena floor.
The Colosseum.

I’ve visited Rome at many different stages in my life, when I was 18 and fresh out of high school, as a backpacker during college and on my honeymoon. I can still remember by first visit vividly. After studying Greco-Roman history during my senior year, I was absolutely enthralled by the remnants of ancient civilization that I was able to see first hand and the city was a highlight of my trip to Europe. To this day I still hear people say something to the affect of, “Rome is just a big dirty city.” I simply don’t understand this. Continue reading “Guide to Rome”