October 30, 2014

Visiting Florence With Children...A Guest Post from Pretty Pink Tulips

I am so pleased to have my friend, Elizabeth, from Pretty Pink Tulips, guest posting today! She is sharing a post on traveling to Florence with her family last summer. I was fortunate enough to help her plan the trip - it was a pleasure to work with her from start to finish. Her photos will have you booking a flight to Italy immediately! Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your trip with all of us!!

And, if this post whets your appetite for Italy, check out Elizabeth's other posts from her trip here, here and here.

Without further ado...I will hand you over to Elizabeth and her adorable family for a taste of Florentine beauty...

Traveling to any foreign country can be exciting, yet a bit stressful. 

Where should you stay? What should you do? Add children to the mix and you need to consider things from their viewpoint, as well. When we began planning our trip to Italy, I knew I wanted my sons to experience the beauty, architecture and art, but a 9 and 12 year old can only take so much of that. So, how to make it fun for them?

First, I enlisted the help of Sandy Grodsky, the voice behind the travel blog, You May Be Wandering who has turned her love of travel into a career as a travel advisor. I am fortunate in that Sandy lives fairly nearby to me and we were able to meet in person. I knew I could trust her and that she would guide me well. She started by asking me how our family liked to travel and what we'd like to do and then gave me an edited list of hotels and tour agendas. We tweaked and tweaked until we had an itinerary that gave us a variety of activities and a pace we could handle.

This was our 3rd trip to Europe with our boys, so I knew a few things that worked for us. 

1. We will fly coach using miles in order to stay in a nicer hotel
2. We wanted to stay right in the heart of Florence and prefer a smaller hotel
3. We like private tour guides and only wanted to have formal plans for half of our days
4. Expensive restaurants were not important to us

We toured inside and above Florence. Learned the difference between 12th and 14th century frescos. Visited artisans practicing centuries-old crafts, such as creating mosaics, leather goods and paper. Made gelato from scratch. Got up close to some amazing art by Botticelli & Michelangelo. Tasted wine in Tuscany and learned what makes a Chianti Classico. Climbed Giotto's Bell Tower for the best view of the Duomo. And, savored the Italian cooking.
Yes, this beauty came home with me from the Scuola del Cuoio (the leather school inside the monastery of Santa Croce)! After they stamped my initials inside in gold.
Home of the Medici family...Pitti Palace next to the Boboli Gardens.
We adored our boutique hotel in the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, J.K. Place Firenze, which served as our home base. 
And, one of the best things we did in Florence, was spend an hour at sunset with our new friend and photographer, Alberto, of Flytographer. I'm thrilled that I have photos of the entire family to remember this special trip. I HIGHLY recommend them! Not only was it fun, but I had my photos before I got home. They are in over 100 cities around the world, so book them for your next vacation. 
Florence is a magical city! And, we made the most of it, thanks to the help and guidance of Sandy. She gave us a daily itinerary, including all of our transportation details. Recommendations for things to see that were not included in our tours. And, checked in along the way. If you are thinking of planning a special trip and would like some assistance, I can't recommend her highly enough. 

I'm happy to answer specific questions about our trip.....just ask. I'm already dreaming of going back.

October 28, 2014

A Bon Voyage Guest Post from PvE!

I am so fortunate to have a bevy of amazing bloggers stepping in for me while I am traveling. 

My first guest post is a special treat courtesy of the supremely talented artist and blogger, Patricia Van Essche, of PvE Design, who prepared an amazing bon voyage for me along with some helpful travel tips. When I saw the artwork she included in her guest post I couldn't help but smile from ear to ear...they are quite simply PERFECT! Thank you, Patricia, for the gorgeous original artwork, your words of wisdom and, most of all, for your friendship! 

 While Sandy is wandering to Asia, I thought I would offer to be a guest here so that she could enjoy her time away from her duties of posting.  Whenever I travel, I seem to keep my eyes focused on landing and always love to have bright matching luggage to greet me on the other side.  A fun happy color like red or orange is easy to find in a sea of dark drab luggage.

Travel Gear for the flight there is so important

Tickets or a copy
Travel notebook & Pen
Handi-sanitary wipes in a lovely lemony scent
Fresh breath mints
Eyemask for shut-eye
Reading material, a book or device of choice
Tech gear, head phones, adapter
Clean socks for plane
Shawl for warmth

Clothing is always personal but for travel, simple pieces that are knit seem to work best and then a jacket for layering and always a trusty trench in case of rain.

Taste of  Asia

It is so important to taste new cuisine when one travels and I am in hopes that Sandy and her family are tasting some dim sum, pork buns, tea, crispy duck and congee.  I loved congee for breakfast when I traveled to Hong Kong.  Taste new things!

I hope Sandy is enjoying her trip and time away and will come back with lots of inspiration to share.
Bon Voyage!

October 24, 2014

On My Radar Screen...

Happy Friday!!! We are leaving tomorrow for our Asian odyssey (and no, our transportation will not at any time resemble the above photo!) Visiting some of the biggest and most modern cities in the world may not seem very adventurous for many people, but when you consider a total of nearly fifty hours of flying time, seven different hotels in six cities and a language (and alphabet) barrier, I think this trip will adequately fill MY adventure quota for the year. 

Today, I am packing...definitely NOT my favorite part of travel. Feel free to share any and all tips, but send them fast because by tomorrow morning, the suitcase will be zipped and ready to go!

While I am away, I have several special guest posts set up for your reading pleasure...you won't want to miss a single one of these posts as the best and the brightest bloggers around will be pinch hitting for me. 
Even though I have handed over the blog to these lovely ladies, I will be posting photos on Instagram. I do hope you will follow along with me! 

In the meantime, here are a few things on my radar screen this week:

 This isn't photoshop...and here is the ad they created when the photos were taken.

Delicacies from around the world delivered to your doorstep...

 This video of marble being extracted from a quarry in the Apuan Alps of Italy is fascinating. 

If you are in NYC today and see a bunch of people wandering around with suitcases and wishful looks on their faces this is why...

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends...wherever YOU may be wandering...


October 22, 2014

Wednesday Wanderlust ~ Tortuga Bay by Oscar de la Renta

As the world remembers fashion icon Oscar de la Renta, I thought it would be a good time to feature the stunning resort in Punta Cana, which he designed - Tortuga Bay. Nobody loved the Dominican Republic more than its native son, Oscar de la Renta...the two are practically synonymous. As a major investor in the development of Punta Cana, he also helped to restore the airport, where visitors of Tortuga Bay are afforded VIP treatment. Not only was he a fashion genius, he was a philanthropist who left an indelible mark on his beloved Dominican Republic. Enjoy this virtual escape...and thank Mr. de la Renta for making it possible.

(All above photos via Tortuga Bay Hotel)

Even the airport has style...thanks to Oscar de la Renta...