Monthly Archives: May 2017

The 5 Most Romantic Roads you can visit

When my now-husband and I were 16, our favorite date was to hop in his GTO and hit the road, setting out to see what there was to see. While listening to Bowie on the 8-track, we explored our hometown’s back roads. One night, we happened upon a quirky diner that served up sundaes for 2 in giant fishbowls. When my spoon trespassed onto the ice cream’s north face — the driver’s side — he simply smiled. Our fate was sealed: Ever since, we’ve been a car-traveling couple — a pair with a penchant for road trips.

Going out for drives sparked our romance, and now, decades later, road trips help revive it when kids, finances and work detour us. In the event of boredom, we might head clear across the county; for angry impasses, perhaps halfway across the country.
Mind you: Not all road trips are catalysts and/or cure-alls for romance, but here are a handful that are.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, is a drive through jaw-dropping drama. That fact is especially true for the 123-mile stretch from Monterey to Morro Bay. If you drive north to south, your views of the coast — characterized by jagged mountains plunging into a wild surf, as well as wind-sculpted trees on rocky outcrops washed by jade-colored waves — will be unobstructed. Plus, just south ofMonterey, you can set a dreamy California tone right from the get-go with a meal at Casanova, which is billed as Carmel’s most romantic restaurant.
Watch: Take a Road Trip Up the Pacific Coast Highway
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the perfect place to wander hand in hand, especially from December through April, when gray whales migrate past.
The orange, red, purple and pink colors of a Big Sur sunset will take your breath away as surely as any first kiss. But do make an effort to breathe here as deeply and often as possible, as a heady sage/redwood/salt air scents perfume the canyons of this jewel in the crown that is the central California coast.
For an overnight stay, the FogCatcher Inn is an aptly named romantic getaway in Cambria, located just steps from Moonstone Beach.
Morro Bay is at the terminus of this journey, and it is here that serendipity strikes, California style: Just when your road-refreshed relationship has attained peak strength — I mean, at the very moment when the passenger-driver connection goes positively granite — you’ll encounter Morro Rock, also known as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific.” 
Route 100, Vermont
Here, under the cover of yellow leaves and red bridges, are picture-perfect trysting places. Vermont’s Route 100 skirts quintessential Yankee towns whose claims to fame involve copious covered bridges: the handsome Big Eddy Bridge in Waitsfield and the Lincoln Gap Bridge over the Mad River in Warren, to name a couple. In Moretown, after driving through the Upper Cox Brook Bridge, you’ll reach the only spot in Vermont where you can still see one covered bridge from another: the view through the Newell Bridge to the Station Bridge.
The journey along Route 100 runs through the state for 200 miles from tip to tail. Roughly midway down this bumpy backbone, Romance Mountain rises from ancient groves of northern hardwoods along a remote section of the Long Trail that winds its way along the ridgeline of the Green Mountains. Here, you’ll want to park the car and stretch your legs a bit to bag the peak of Romance in time to watch the stars come out.
Love never tasted so good as it does along Vermont’s Route 100; don’t miss a lick of the erotically charged Karamel Sutra ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s factory, of course.
Golden Isles, Georgia
Although an amphibious vehicle might come in handy here, it’s not necessary for negotiating the barrier islands or marshes, rivers and estuaries that define the Low Country coastal region of Georgia between Jekyll Island and Savannah. The intoxicatingly slow and scenic routes 520, 99 and 17 drape around the Golden Isles like Spanish moss on an old oak: St. Simons and Jekyll islands are bridged to the mainland at Brunswick, and Sea Island is bridged to St. Simons Island. The only thing that flows more abundantly than water in this region is romance. Sea Island’s Cloister Hotel alone has hosted nearly 37,000 newlywed couples since 1940. (Each couple receives a card indicating what number they are; for instance, honeymoon couple No. 1,768 was George and Barbara Bush, who visited in January 1945 and again in 1995 to celebrate their 50th anniversary.) The Cloister is, hands down, the most highfalutin place around, but it’s hardly the only high point of this Low Country tour.
In the quiet village of Shellman Bluff, all the dirt roads lead to an overlook of the Broro and Julienton rivers. Winding along the edge of the bluff is a sandy road that offers an unsurpassed sunrise view of the marsh from behind Harris Neck. On its menu, Speed’s Kitchen aptly describes the locale for out-of-towners: “Shellman Bluff. Not a place for fast lane folks. Ain’t got no red lights. No 4-lanes. We move slow here. Try it — good for your health.”
Beartooth Highway, Wyoming/Montana
Love is not for the fainthearted. Neither are the zigzagging switchbacks of theBeartooth Highway, aka US Route 212. Since 1882, the courageous, the adventurous and the strong have recorded travel across Beartooth Pass. One of the most rugged and pristine terrains in the Lower 48, the Beartooth area is punctuated by 20 glaciated peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation.
Here, there are blizzards in the winter. And spring. And fall.
Despite — or perhaps because of — its white-knuckled rigors, this 64-mile road trip from Red Lodge to Cooke City, MT, is all the sweeter as it winds through lush forests and alpine tundras. Traffic on and around the Beartooth comes (when and if it comes) in the form of mountain goats, moose, elk, marmots, mule deer, black bears, grizzly bears and wolves.
For intrepid couples, the historic Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge offers packages that include suite accommodations and a half-day white-water rafting trip.
Heart Mountain is an 8,123-foot peak just north of Cody, WY; composed of limestone and dolomite that dates back 500 million years, this ancient site holds mysteries of the geologic variety.
Beartooth Highway ends at the eastern gateway of Yellowstone National Park, which houses one of the most romantic natural wonders in the world: Old Faithful.
North Shore Drive, Minnesota
It bodes well for a road trip when even the map puts you in a romantic mood, if only poetically speaking. This drive along Minnesota Route 61, which hugs the north shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake, skirts places whose names tease the tongue: Tettegouche. Gitche Gumee. Nanijoubou.
Gitche Gumee is Lake Superior in local American Indian dialect. Route 61 is an as-the-crow-flies byway from Duluth to the Canadian border. It allows road-tripping landlubbers to stay safe and dry on terra firma (surely you recall the sinking of the Big Fitz?) while getting up close and personal with this greatest of all the Great Lakes. (Split Rock Lighthouse annually marks the anniversary of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald ship with a reading of the names of the 29 men who lost their lives on Nov. 10, 1975, and a lighting of the beacon at dusk.)
Not that you want to stay stowed away in your car for the whole trip. The Superior Hiking Trail is a spectacular, well-marked, 310-mile-long footpath that follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior. There are trailheads with parking lots every 5 to 10 miles, making it ideal for both day hikes and backpacking.
While boating causes some to lose their appetites (for food, for love, etc.), walking, as well as driving, for any distance usually has the opposite effect. That’s why Betty’s Piesin Two Harbors, MN, sells countless world-famous handmade pies, as well sa (get this!) something called a pie shake. No wordplay involved here; a pie shake is exactly what it says. Betty slices a hunk of your favorite pie and drops it into a blender full of ice cream and milk.

You know you’re in love if you can bear to share (no matter how grudgingly) a sip of your cherry pie shake or a bite of Betty’s signature 5-layer pie: a flaky crust is layered with dark chocolate, cinnamon meringue, whipped cream and chocolate whipped cream.

UberBot is actually something that could possibly be a modifier of how your vacation is

Considering my paycheque pretty much goes on food and Ubers (on top of the obvious, of course), I was keen to try out the new UberBoat service, now available across Croatia, while holidaying in Split.

Now, it’s worth noting that my designated role on said holiday was booker and organiser so not knowing how the hell it would work gave me some serious anxiety. Especially when my two friends kept asking me what I was expecting because honestly, I had no idea.

Upon opening the app and browsing over the UberBoat option, I get a WhatsApp message from UberBoat asking if I had any questions which brought me some reassurance because it’s like having customer service on tap so I showed my pals that and it put them at ease.

I then got up the ad and shared the promotional photos, which showed a small, open speedboat zooming around the waters with happy, relaxed – and most alarmingly – non-sweaty models, and we all winced.

We were in over 30 degree heat after all and none of us looked that composed after 20 minutes in the open sun. So, we packed loads of SPF, hats, cover-ups and retired to the fact that we were probably going to get sunstroke or at least sunburn.

But, we needn’t have worried as when I opened the app, ordered my UberBoat and followed the directions to a five-minute harbour nearby, we were greeted by our skipper Zoran who showed us to his boat, complete with shelter (AKA shade.)

Like Uber car rides, each boat is from an individual so none will look the same but judging from the quality on the harbour, they seem to all be similar to the one I had – which even had its own toilet, stove and fridge box (filled with beer, juice and water no less). And, knowing that there would be a record of who I was with and where I was amid the Adriatic sea definitely comforted me.

Asking us where we wanted to go, I gave him an idea of the roundabout price range I was looking at (around £600 split between us) and where I definitely wanted to go which was the Blue Cave. That might seem like a lot but considering the boats can fit up to eight people, it’ll be cheaper the more of you there are.

So, we left Split harbour and started our journey towards Bisevo Island where we were dropped off to get onto the Blue Cave tour.

Then, we got back on the boat towards Stiniva Beach in Vis where we jumped off and swam to the cove. Naturally, after a swim, we headed towards Seta Nedilja in Hvar to sample some of the bottles from the Zlatan Otok winery.

By this point, we’d been on the boat from around 11.30AM and it was now 6PM (because yes, we also stopped for some pizza, k) so our driver called head office and found out how much our ride was costing us so far (taking in mind fuel and time) and decided to take us home.

Now, on reflection, the less time you spend off the actual boat, leaving it stationery, the more you get to do with on it – but then again, I never regret wine or pizza. And, if you ask really nicely, your Uber boat driver might just let you steer the boat (at least for a little bit.)

5 Beautiful and Comfortable Hotels

 When it comes to hotel lobbies, gone are the days when almost every hotel out there provided grand arrivals through soaring entryways. Your stay used to start as soon as you walked through the doors, transported by glistening chandeliers, over-the-top flower arrangements, and, depending on the kind of property you’ve booked, sweeping staircases. But these days, the hospitality industry seems to be favoring a more boutique look, which means that there just isn’t as much space available for all that extravagance. But just because acreage is limited doesn’t mean that style is, too. Here, five hotels that deliver on the old adage that good things come in small packages with tiny lobbies decorated with ambitious design personalities.

 

Maison Souquet, Paris, France

In the Belle Époque era, Maison Souquet used to be a pleasure house, which typically decorated its salons in exotic motifs to create a far-flung fantasy for patrons. Today, the hotel’s Moorish-themed 1,001 lobby lounge is an homage to that design practice. Fun fact: The ostentatious interiors of this room (the ornate precious enamel panels, gilded wood adorned with leather from Córdoba) were transported to Paris from its original location in a 19th century private home in Brussels.

Valverde Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

This 25-room boutique hotel on Lisbon’s ritziest avenida is also easily the city’s sexiest. It’s one of the darkest hotels around, which Valverde embraces in order to deliver the private club vibe it excels in. Design-wise, there are strong midcentury inflections, which is all the more obvious in its petite lobby/library, which combines stout wood chairs upholstered in rich velvet, striped walls, 1950s marble-top tables from Italy, and funny decorative finishes like porcelain turkey lamps.

Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá, Bogotá, Colombia

Colombian architect Santiago Medina Mejía built this neo-colonial building back 1946, when he used structural and decorative details like stained-glass windows, exposed beams, and massive stone columns to reinforce his old world design vision. The Four Seasons’ tiny lobby here is all about the desk counter, which is a meticulously carved table with a matching headboard that wraps from the wall up to the ceiling directly over the desk. Both were salvaged from Spanish era convents. 

Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The standalone lobby and lounge at this Mexican resort boast both natural and cultural references, thanks to architect Ronald Zürcher who often combine the two to great effect. The building has wood walls, stone floors, and a cane ceiling ensuring there’s plenty of texture everywhere. There’s also an oculus directly over a central water feature, which is inspired by the region’s ancient cenotes, or underground water reservoirs, which locals believe to be mystical.

Hotel Paradox, Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz might be most known for surf breaks and its bustling boardwalk, but beyond the beach are stunning redwood forests, which serve as design inspiration for this Autograph Collection hotel. Its small lobby only has space for a few white chairs around tree-stump tables, a wall made up of glass panels embedded with a photo of a local redwood forest, and the pièce de résistance, a reception desk that is in fact a salvaged 100-year-old eucalyptus tree.

5 Place photo spots In North America for

Dreaming of a scenic drive across America? These seven parks are must-see stops on a cross-country RV camping tour (and one across the northern border, too!). From “glampsites” (glamorous campsites) with hot tubs to primitive spots off the beaten path with incredible views of the Grand Canyon, these campgrounds are ideal inspiration for you to start planning to hit the road this summer.

New to the RV scene and need some tips? Tune into Big Time RV on Travel Channel on Sundays at 9|8c.

Durango RV Resort; Red Bluff, California

This is a must-visit park for glampers looking to lounge in Northern California, with on-site jacuzzi tubs, fire pits and even massage services to treat yourselves after a long drive. Campers can hit the recreational fields for a pickup game of basketball, tennis or bocce ball, or cool off and enjoy themselves with a dip in the pool. Additionally, there are dog-friendly areas where pups can run free and play near the campsites, so feel free to bring the pets.

Long Key State Park; Layton, Florida

Get ready for sparkling ocean views as you drive across Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys and stop in the middle at Long Key, mile marker 67.5. Originally the site of Miami founder Henry Flagler’s luxury fishing camp, Long Key State Park now offers seaside campgrounds with nearly any recreational activity on the water at your fingertips. Birdwatchers flock to this area to glimpse rare birds who visit the area, and families can snorkel, rent kayaks or boats and see the vibrant flora and fauna by taking a walk through the mangrove boardwalk.

North Rim; Grand Canyon, Arizona

Just a half-mile hike from this campground lies the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. If you have a small enough camper and happen to grab one of the three primitive sites in the oft-overlooked Indian Hollow campground, your party can soak up a front-and-center view as the sun rises and sets over the canyon. Hikers also have their pick of trails through the forest but will need a permit to hike into the Grand Canyon, which can be obtained online or at the Grand Canyon Visitors Center.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

After eating incredible Tex-Mex food in southwest Texas on the way to Big Bend National Park, you’ll want to camp out in the popular Rio Grande Village and see the table mountains, carved-out canyons and desert wildlife in the national park. With the campgrounds right on the banks of the Rio Grande River, campers can easily take a kayak or canoe on the water, especially in time to see the fiery sunsets on the awe-inspiring Sierra del Carmen Mountains.

Starved Rock State Park; Oglesby, Illinois

With breathtaking glacial melt waterfalls that cut through its steep, sloping sandstone canyons, Starving Rock is one of the most unique natural parks in the Midwest. Outdoorsy folks have a huge pick of activities, including hunting, fishing, boating and hiking through the miles of tree-lined trails and rivers. Nature buffs will enjoy springtime in the park, when wildflowers bloom for miles.

Banff National Park; Alberta, Canada

Every U.S. National Parks lover should know that Canada also has a hugely diverse range of beautiful parks, the oldest and most famous park being Banff. Located in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Banff boasts breathtaking views of mountains all around. Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court campground is first-come, first-served, so it’s best to arrive at the 11 a.m. checkout to snag one of the 320 full-service campsites in peak season. After you get set up, snap a few photos of the expansive view of the valley below, roast some s’mores on the fire pit after dark and hop on the trolley to downtown Banff in the morning for breakfast.

Elk Meadow Lodge; Estes Park, Colorado

Considered the basecamp for Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Estes Park is a dream nature getaway in the mountains. Elk Meadow Lodge offers 169 full-service campsites, cabins, teepees, swimming pools and Wi-Fi for campers to take advantage of before heading out for the day. Go fly fishing on half-day or daylong excursions, strap into a safety vest and raft down the rushing rivers or head over to horseback riding to explore the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountain National Park’s endless trails and activities. Downtown Estes Park is a short drive away, where you can find antique shops, restaurants and art galleries.