Category: Culture

A trip to Spain with our teenage sons, to reconnect with long lost family in a small town in Valencia, meant a chance to visit Barcelona. I had been to this city as a student, but knew things had changed tremendously, and was eager to explore the Barcelona of 2018. We only had a few days, and luckily the apartment we rented was centrally located near the Passeig de Gràcia. It was a brutal heat wave in the middle of August — not the best time to visit — but we were pretty intrepid and refused to alter our plans too much. Europe in August is not optimal, if you want to to visit any popular sites, but there we were, accommodating two kids with varying summer job/ school schedules.

A drink with a mom friend, before we departed, enlightened me to a little Gaudi secret. She had been with her kids in June, and told me to make reservations to visit all the Gaudi spots in advance. I tend to like to wing it, but really didn’t want to to miss the Gaudi sites. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Barcelona, Culture, Europe, Family Travel, Museum, Spain, architecture, art

August is not the best time to visit Paris. This I know, but with two students in the family, both with summer jobs and vastly differing school start dates, it was the only time for us to make the pilgrimage to Spain. I also find it hard to schlep all the way to Europe and NOT visit France. So a few days in Paris to visit a close friend was a must. It was predictably hot, smelly and chock full o’ tourists. My friend asked what I wanted to do. I have all my favorite haunts, and I try to explore a few new spots each time I visit, but I said I really wanted to swim in public pools. I had read about some Art Deco renovations, and she was game. It was scorching hot, so it also was a really great midday pause between touring and a late afternoon siesta.

Jenny had researched a few pools and we settled on Piscine Pailleron, in the19th, an arrondissement I didn’t know that well. She chose this pool because it was hosting a public art exhibit called ‘Museum of the Moon’, an installation by Luke Jerram. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Culture, Family Travel, France, Paris, Sports, Swimming, health

I thought traveling to Paris — a city I know well and a language I speak fluently — would be easy compared to my trips to Bangkok and Guadalajara with my cousin’s twins. Surprisingly it was more challenging. The other two destinations were more affordable and, yes more foreign to me, so I had no expectations. The babies, toddlers now, are 22-months-old and each have a mind of their own, sleep less and are talking up a storm.

Jet lag horrors aside, it was a great trip, the weather in late September was glorious and our trip (a UN Climate Change conference my cousin was covering) coincided with Paris Fashion week. We quickly discovered the metro with a double stroller was a miserable option, so multiple days of hoofing it through the streets and occasional bus rides ensued. We were intrepid and covered a lot of ground, visiting classic spots like the Sacre Coeur, Jardin Luxembourg, Notre Dame, Centre Pompidou and the Eiffel Tower, as well as a quick tour of the Musée D’Orsay and my favorite small museum, the Musée Rodin. We spent time in the Marais District, walking the quays and sitting in cafes, but much of our time was spent discovering small playgrounds in the many manicured parks dotted around the city.

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Leave a Comment | Filed Under Cafe, Culture, Europe, Family Travel, Fashion, Food, France, Museum, Paris, Traveling with babies, Urban Parks

I’ve always loved the ring of the name “Guadalajara,” but I’ve never thought much about this teeming, second-largest Mexican city. When a conference in Chile fell through I agreed to accompany my cousin and her now 16-month old twins for another UN Climate Change Conference. Once again, I did very little research and just figured I’d wing it again in my Mary Poppins kinda way.

I speak some Spanish, although it is my third language, and I thought with jet lag as a minor issue, this would be easier than our wonderful Thailand trek last fall. I had no illusions of a restful getaway, and truth be told very few expectations beyond some sun, mezcal/tequila and mariachi music. I thought churches, parks and plazas would be my hangouts with the kids, while mom helped protect the earth. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Culture, Family Travel, Food, Guadalajara, Markets, Museums, Music, Traveling with babies, UNESCO World Heritage Site, aquarium, art, zoo

I recently returned from what I would call a mission, helping my cousin—a single mother of twin 11-month-olds—while she covered a UN Climate Change Conference in Bangkok.

Her initial request was for a conference in Slovenia—that sounded doable—l envisioned lovely stroller walks along the Adriatic. Then quickly the interest shifted to Bogota or Quito. I thought the altitude might be an issue, but was up for the adventure. Ultimately, my cousin’s passion lay in Climate Change, and she really wanted to cover the Bangkok conference, despite the distance and topsy turvy time change effects I warned her about.

Despite my many travels and confidence with babies, before leaving I was suddenly panicked that I wouldn’t have the stamina. What had I gotten myself into? Continue reading »

3 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Culture, Family Travel, temples

When you travel to the same place often, to visit family, it is important to have ritualized outings and to sprinkle in some new experiences each visit to keep things fresh. We are lucky, my in-laws live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and it is always fun to travel there.

We have our list of musts, which includes over-the-top breakfasts at the Oak Table, swims in Lake Crescent, visits to Lavender Farms, maybe a day trip to Victoria, British Columbia and walks on the Dungeness Spit to name a few. This summer we had a longer visit planned and decided to explore some spots farther from our home base in Sequim.

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Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, British Columbia, Budget Travel, Canada, Culture, Driving Trips, Family Travel, Hike/Backpack, Museum, Olympic Peninsula, Pacific Northwest, Sequim, Washington, art, wildlife

I saw the film Woman in Gold recently, a true story starring Helen Mirren as an octogenarian Austrian Holocaust survivor seeking to reclaim her aunt’s famous portrait. The title painting, called “Woman in Gold” for many years so as not to name her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer, and to obscure her Jewish heritage, is now so well-known it is featured on fridge magnets and mugs.

I visited this painting and other Gustav Klimt works in Vienna’s Belvedere Palace Museum many years ago, lingering in front of my favorite works for what seemed like hours. At the time, I was obsessed with his protégé Egon Schiele and his early, untimely death from the Spanish flu at the age of 28 in 1918. Besides the music, Freud’s house, coffee and cakes, these paintings were what I wanted to see in Vienna. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, Cafe, Culture, Europe, Films, Manhattan, Museum, New York, WWII, art

I packed silk long underwear, my warmest pants, boots, socks and other sundry cold weather gear for a last minute trip to NYC. It’s been years since I have visited my home town in February, and this year I was told the relentlessly arctic weather was unprecedented. Multiple images of the frozen Hudson River and moaning on Facebook made me truly ponder what to bring and how I was to survive the deep freeze.

Once there, I was pleasantly surprised that my California outdoor gear was fine, better than fine, I actually enjoyed the blistering cold. I gave up on the outdoor ice skating idea, but one day my sister and her kids and I went sledding in Central Park. For some reason sledding other places is never as fun, and after an hour or so on the slope behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I artfully entered the museum to thaw out, grab a cup of coffee and take in some art—a wonderful New York combo of winters sports and culture.

It was cold. It was a good day if the temperature hit 20 degrees Fahrenheit while I was there. I was lucky to be introduced to multiple cozy spots to warm up and enjoy the inside world of winter in the Big Apple. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Cafe, Culture, Food, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, Museum, Museums, New York, Nightlife, Pubs, Restaurants, Williamsburg, Yoga, art

The sharing economy seems to be changing how we manage fundamental parts of our lives. Companies like Uber, Airbnb and Zipcar are dramatically altering transportation, travel and our relationship to these services. It is not without controversy though, and it remains to be seen how we reconcile some of these very necessary services with other important factors such as insurance, safety, liveable wages and unionization, not to mention the housing cost crisis in many popular destinations here in the U.S. and abroad.

As 2014 comes to a close, and the U.S. economy strengthens, more and more “sharing” seems to be happening. Even in my little sleepy San Francisco neighborhood these free street libraries are popping up and the robust trading of garden harvests is bringing people together and making use of food that might just rot on the vine otherwise.

A recent article in the New York Times typified the small gestures of sharing that can make an impact on people’s lives. In Naples, and across Italy, the idea of paying something forward, albeit as minimal as a coffee, is  being revived and taking root. A simple anonymous gesture, paying for an extra cup of coffee for a future needy patron or simply as an act of kindness has a lovely aroma to it. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Cafe, Culture, Europe, Food, Italy, North America, Pubs, Restaurants, United States

Have you ever stumbled upon a cultural gem while traveling? It’s such a great feeling of discovery and often, some of the best vacation experiences happen without planning.

We drove from my in-laws in Sequim to Bainbridge Island, Washington this summer, to catch the ferry to Seattle. We have done this trip a number of times, and although Bainbridge Island is adorable and full of lovely shops and art galleries, we’ve never stopped, except to have lunch or grab some food at the chic local market.

This time, we had planned a lunch downtown, but were nervous about leaving our car too far out of sight, packed to the gills with travel gear. As we drove down the main drag, clogged with tourists, we saw a new eco-building with a Grand Opening sign saying it was the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. After much protest from my two boys and with the promise of a Mexican meal after, we decided to check it out. Brand spankin’ new, the pristine green building in itself had appeal with its recycled materials, solar power, denim insulation, Zero Waste, living wall and environmentally friendly carpets and paint. It was FREE, thanks to sponsorships, memberships, and donations! Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under Culture, Museum, Pacific Northwest, Photography, Washington