Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Favorite Car-Free Islands in Europe

Who doesn't love islands? But I'm quite particular, favoring those that harken to an earlier time, when cars didn't exist as the primary means of transportation. Yes, I search out car-free islands because it's these landscapes where I can feel free to explore in a pollution free environment, without the squealing of brakes or the honking of horns, where I can depend on human-powered locomotion to visit historic sites or just peacefully prowl around coves, hamlets and green spaces. You never know what you'll discover when you're not in a rush.

I recently wrote an article for National Geographic Traveler - Intelligent Traveler  on my favorite car-free islands in Europe.

Comino Island - Photo by Bill Kasman, Flickr

These are some of my finds on my top five:

Buyukada, Turkey Grand villas, some with gingerbread detailing, line the lanes that weave down to the south end of the island, which is largely draped in emerald hues from dense pine forests.
•  Hydra, Greece - A two-hour climb brings hikers to the Monastery of Prophet Elias that hovers above the capital. A much shorter jaunt is the coastal walk to Vlychos Beach, an ideal destination for families.

•  Veliki Brijun, Brijuni National Park, Croatia - Dinosaur footprints, such as the imprint of large carnivores similar to Theropodshave been discovered all over the island.

•  Ile d'aix, France - The northeast portion is especially lovely, blanketed with thick pinewoods and rimmed with two jewels: Baby Beach and Yellow Sands Beach. 

•  Comino Island, Malta - Hiking through the wildflower-speckled landscape, a path courses to an isolated, rubble-ridden area, a perfect setting for the 17th century St. Mary's Tower that withstood sieges far beyond what the archipelago's other towers tolerated.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Curacao in Pictures

The Curacao most people see is the one with glorious sandy beaches. The one I preferred to visit is lush with pockets of forest land and salt pans where flamingos flock, decked out with bold art objects, and dotted with dramatic sea scapes. Plus, you have the charming pastel-hued old quarter of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My YouTube video slideshow provides a window into my Curacao. 

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Gear Review: Toasty Warm + Stylish Winter Wear

Another day, another snowstorm. That's the way this winter is working out in New York City. When I received the women's Stio Skycrest Pullover to review, I initiallly thought I'd wait until I took my cross-country ski adventure in Maine in a month. Instead,  I've been relying on this warm, ultra thin and soft piece of clothing for the frigid weather in Manhattan. The garment is insulated with a non-bulky synthetic fill, Thermo Ecodown. (Bye, bye layering with bulky sweaters.) And the kangaroo zipped pocket is ideal for stashing valuables. (There are also two side pockets to keep my hands warm.) Plus, when I need to stow it away in my bag, it rolls into a tiny bundle. The garment doesn't skimp on aesthetics either. The fabric itself has a luxurious silk-like feel. The gunmetal color and trim fit  looked casually stylish no matter whether I paired it with a long-sleeve t-shirt plus black leggings, a sweater dress, merino wool skirt, or a pair of slim black pants. With a blizzard expected this week, this pullover will not be far away from me. And, of course, I'll be packing it in my tiny backpack for my lodge-to-lodge ski trip next month. I'm sure it'll perform well on the trail, and then look great when I sit down in the lodge for a warm meal and a glass of wine at night. 

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