If you’re looking for a special, off-the-beaten-path destination in Mexico, then Mérida in the Yucatán might be it. With a beautiful historic town, stunning local art, unique cuisine, and magical caves for swimming, Mérida makes the perfect quiet getaway. You’ll be able to balance cultural exploration with lots of natural scenery, all in an area that feels both safe for foreigners and rich with local stories. This travel guide to Mérida, Mexico will share everything you need to know to plan a fun trip to the region.…Continue Reading
Do a little research on visiting Stockholm, Sweden, and you’re likely to find lots of recommendations for the summer. And it’s with good reason: the Swedish capital comes alive in the summer months when days are long and the weather is warmer.
But what about the fall? Is it as worthwhile to visit then?
We just returned from a beautiful long-weekend in Stockholm in October and it was absolutely stunning. In fact, I’m convinced it’s secretly the best time to be a tourist in Stockholm. Here’s why.…Continue Reading
We might have said “Mexico City restaurants are on the rise” ten years ago and not been entirely late to the game. But today, the culinary scene in this global capital is nothing less than a mature, full-blown bonanza. And there’s good news: you’re invited.
The fact is, food in La Ciudad has been excellent for decades, arguably for centuries. It’s just that international tourism to Mexico City has increased significantly over the last decade, thanks in part to the Netflix series Chef’s Table which has no doubt sent people on weekend jaunts to Pujol alone.…Continue Reading
I still can’t believe these places are real. The Canadian Rockies hold numerous dramatic mountain landscapes and turquoise lakes that explode with color. Unsurprisingly, Banff National Park is one of the most visited parks on earth. And for good reason.
The fame of the Canadian Rockies is due not only to photographs that have popularized the location. Because not only is the scenery jaw-droppingly beautiful, but a lot of it is accessible to non-intense hikers (that’s us). How accessible? Let’s just say that if you’re a decent driver and can walk uphill for 30 minutes, you can see most of what the area has to offer.
Not bad, right?…Continue Reading
Mountains that thunder, rivers that glow. Creaking glaciers that stretch for miles. Condors, guanacos, and flamingos that fill the sky, the earth, and the water. Patagonia is nothing short of magical.
And many people would be scandalized by a trip as short as 7 days in this massive region covering the most southern portions of Argentina and Chile. So why such a short itinerary? Because not everyone has multiple weeks to spend at the bottom of the world, but everyone should try to make it to Patagonia. At least once.…Continue Reading
Paris, city of light. Paris, city of love. Paris, home to the world’s favorite writers, designers and artists.
Paris, the city we promised each other to visit once every five years to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
We all (want to) have a Paris story. But visiting Paris is a privilege most of the world’s dreamers never have. So what does it mean to live that dream– even for just a short and sweet weekend?…Continue Reading
Mexico’s wine region, Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, is growing in popularity as it rises to the top of international lists for culinary and wine-tasting adventures.
But first, a story about what brought us there. We were nearing the end of our season in Southern California and preparing to move back east. And it was a sudden revelation: over the four years that we lived in Los Angeles, never did it occur to us to drive down to Baja California. We love Mexico, but going there always meant jumping on a $200 round trip flight from LAX to Mexico City. Obviously, we needed to do at least one border crossing before we left.
But enough about us and why we love Mexico. This is about your upcoming trip to Mexico’s ever-growing wine region. Decorated with farm-to-table restaurants, stunning nebbiolos, and hip new hotels, the Valle de Guadalupe is the perfect weekend getaway for foodies and wine lovers like you.…Continue Reading
“It’s like Europe!”
If you’ve heard someone say this about Buenos Aires, they’re not entirely wrong. There are beautiful buildings modeled after Paris. There are broad avenues, stunning gardens, and as colonial history would have it, many locals who can claim Italian, German and Spanish roots.
But Buenos Aires is decidedly Latin American, despite its relatively young history and tumultuous political past. As our Argentine journalist friend suggested, it’s a country whose identity is still in development.
Identity crisis or not, there’s a ton to enjoy about Buenos Aires. And given all the research we did— and what we learned while there— I wanted to share this little guide with you.…Continue Reading
Simple things make me happy.
But lately, I’ve discovered that an inundation of life changes can make us forget the simple things. Like a fall picnic on a crisp, admittedly colder-than-average day. It’s not that hard to pack a bag of cheese and goodies and go sit under a tree somewhere. But it took me two months of living in Connecticut to do this.
Fall is the perfect picnicking season. The dropping temperatures and dappled sunlight make for a refreshing stroll through the woods before plopping down and sipping on spiced apple cider. The dry rustling leaves add atmospherics that no restaurant can imitate. Carrying with you a bite to eat makes these magical moments last longer.
Since it had been a while since I’d picnicked, and I still consider myself new to Connecticut, it took me some time to find the perfect place for our explorations and plan out our food. And today I’m passing that “wisdom” over to you….Continue Reading
Our trip to China was six months ago. Yes, it’s taken me this long to write and publish something about it. Lately I’ve found myself searching for deeper meaning as I travel, not simply wandering for wandering’s sake, or for writing a useful guide. Trust me, I’m still all about useful. But this post isn’t a guide. It’s about finding roots in a place that has experienced more uprootedness than perhaps any other on the planet.
I wish I could sum up our winter trip to China in just a few words, but China has to be one of the most multifaceted countries I’ve traveled to. Every time I visit and learn a bit more, I realize how little I know — and perhaps how little is disclosed.
We prepared for our visit. I could have been more diligent, but I was short on time and also prepping for our trip to Rome (yes, same trip). We started with watching this very long and thoughtfully produced PBS docu-series. I also read The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan and am still working through Wild Swans by Jung Chang. The political documentary balanced nicely with passionate storytelling set in more recent Chinese history from female perspectives….Continue Reading
I love the Spanish Steps. And the Trevi Fountain. The Pantheon still takes my breath away. And the first time I sank my teeth into a delicate lasagna in the Piazza Navona, I thought I’d discovered culinary gold.
Rome is where I fell in love with travel. When I was 13, my mother and I did a whirlwind tour of Europe (both of our first times) and I took Italy home with me. Rome is what I like to describe as atmospheric: every sense tells your mind and body that you are now somewhere else. The Eternal City– a home that’s not your own.
This time when we went to Rome, I wanted to see more than its famed ruins, churches, and layers of history. Years ago I had the privilege of traveling to Rome with my Classics teachers, a complement to our reading of the Aeneid in Latin; a few years later I traveled there again with family and zipped around on an epic Segway tour.
This time, I wanted to see where modern Romans actually lived and to walk its streets rather than board a bus, with only our sense of direction to guide us. I wanted to open my eyes (and lungs) to the deep chaos of humanity breathing, consuming, creating and dying for multiple millennia, in the same space. That’s the Rome I’m sharing about in this post.…Continue Reading
Autumn in Kyoto is something else. Bursts of color occupy the stretch between earth and sky, spreading wide at the tops of trees, trickling down in fallen leaves, crunching beneath your feet.
Having lived in New England, my expectations weren’t low. But there was a fineness and delicateness to the fall foliage in Kyoto that I can’t describe as anything other than mystical.
Our suggested fall itinerary: temples and gardens galore
I fell in love with Kyoto in June of 2015. We were traveling through for just 3 days, but I was absolutely swept off my feet (excuse the cliche) by this gorgeous ancient city. Thousands of temples and gardens abound while visitors shuffle along in traditional Japanese attire as though there’s no other way. The cuisine is unique, impeccable just like all other Japanese cooking, and yet with a uniquely delicate flavor. Kyoto has long been a popular destination, and it deserves every last raving fan.
Last fall, we decided to park ourselves in Kyoto for almost a full week. We were catching the tail end of autumn along with many other Japanese nationals making the annual pilgrimage to see the old capital dressed in reds, yellows, greens and auburns. Everywhere we turned there were Japanese citizens (many of them elderly) paying homage to Kyoto in an iconic season: there’s nothing quite like hills of maple trees waving their brightly colored leaves like hands in the breeze.…Continue Reading
(Updated in 2020)
This is a guide to Oaxaca City, Mexico. It’s also a bit of a memoir. We spent a week there absorbing its magic, wandering its alleys, and tasting its impeccable food. I want to remember all of it.
And I want you to know about it– where to eat, stay, and play while there.…Continue Reading
Cambodia is a place I’ll never forget.
I grew up dreaming of visiting, and in April of this year, I finally did– with two of my best girl friends from college, one of whom just finished two years with Peace Corps there.
If you’ve ever to traveled to Southeast Asia, you’ll find a lot of similarities between Cambodia and neighboring countries. But you’ll also find flavors, stories, and challenges unique to Cambodia. Navigating the Khmer kingdom, still very much in recovery from the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, can be an adventure in and of itself.
I should preface this travel guide by saying that if seeing the world is important to you, I think you should visit Cambodia– and not just Siem Reap, where the famous temples are. But it might be a tougher trip than you imagine.
Cambodia is vibrant. In a single moment, it holds harrowing stories of human evil as well as glorious evidence of kindness, innocence, creativity and beauty. The Khmer people have lived in this region for centuries, and despite the destructive efforts of the Khmer Rouge, much of Khmer culture survives.
This guide will show you some of my favorite parts of Cambodia. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it’s also not just about typical tourist attractions. And ultimately, I hope you’ll go. Even if it’s a part of a multi-national trip to the entire region, I hope you’ll stay awhile.…Continue Reading
Today I’m on a flight to a childhood dream.
Before I imagined myself frolicking in the fields of Tuscany or strolling through the streets of Paris, I wanted to be in Cambodia. Predating my taste for perfect, elegant food was my taste for gritty, old, abandoned centers of life. So the day I learned about Angkor Wat (and other temples), I knew I wanted to see them in person.
I am also a huge proponent of local travel– experiencing not only tourist-centered establishments but also what life is really like wherever we travel. What I loved so much about Mexico City and Quito, Ecuador was the activity and everyday adventure that proliferated between cobblestones and under awnings and behind beautifully bright doors. The truth is that most travel– particularly tourist travel– is an entirely aesthetic pursuit. If we’re to allow it to change our perspectives significantly, we must be open to the beauty (and challenge) of how lifestyles vary across the globe.
So my 10-day excursion to Cambodia will include a variety of activities (locally driven and touristy), not least because I get to hang with an insider! My really good college friend has been living in a small town in rural Cambodia for almost 2 years, and she agreed to spend part of her only work break to chaperone me and another friend around. I am so excited to see not only the famous temples of Siem Reap, but also Jasmine’s little town where she lives with her host family and teaches at a local school. It’s been months that I’ve admired her photographs from afar, and now I get to follow her around to her favorite spots.
My 10-Day Cambodia Itinerary
Jasmine, our friend Courtney and I will start our adventure in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. We’ll visit the the Royal Palace and the Russian Market, dining in Jasmine’s favorite cafes and restaurants. But perhaps most importantly, we’ll visit the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum.
Heartbreaking but so very real, the Cambodian genocide was not that long ago. There is plenty of information about how a new regime effected massive destruction in a few short years, so I won’t share the details here– but it’s now a backstory that no visitor to Cambodia can ignore. In many ways, the road to recovery is still long.
After our brief stint in Phnom Penh, Jasmine will take us on a country road to her village, Phnom Kravanh, near the city of Pursat. In my mind, Jasmine’s village is a web of pristine dirt roads criss-crossing over endless miles of rice paddies. I’m expecting the reality to be a bit less picturesque, but I’m still (perhaps all the more) excited to experience a brief snapshot of Cambodian backcountry.
Jasmine has become quite the biker now that she has lived in Cambodia for a while, but I think we will be staying away from dirt biking during our visit.
After 2 days in Jasmine’s village– hopefully visiting her host family, her students and local community– we’ll be on our way to Siem Reap, where the Angkor temples are located.
According to a number of sources (and Jasmine herself), the most stunning moments at the temples are sunrise and sunset. We’ll take early morning photographs of the gorgeous landscape, crawl through nooks and duck under overhangs. My only challenge will be staying present enough and taking a few moments to lower my camera.
After Siem Reap, we’ll be boarding a plane to Sihanoukville. The Cambodian coast is less famous than that of Vietnam or Thailand, but Sihanoukville tends to be overrun by backpackers seeking a good time. My friends and I are the more quiet types when it comes to relaxation, so we’ll be going straight from the airport to the ferry dock, where we’ll take a short ride to Koh Rong Samloem.
This beautiful, completely undeveloped island is the quieter cousin of Koh Rong Island. I’m hoping everything Jasmine has heard, and that I’ve read online, is true about Samloem– that there’s little to no electricity, absolutely no bars or clubs, and that we snagged one of few bungalows that even has air conditioning.
I’m not going to lie– this photo looks a *little* over-saturated to me. But I know by the end of our trip we will be tired– and even if the beach is a little less cyan in color, we will definitely need the quiet respite.
I’ll try my best to be on Instagram (@simplicityrelished) throughout these adventures– but as always, I’ll bring home lots of stories and photographs to share in coming weeks.
(cover photo by Christian Moscoso)