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BRANTÔME–A GREAT BASE TO EXPLORE DORDOGNE FRANCE

Brantôme is a sleepy little village in Périgord. A gorgeous little town on a u-turn bend of the river, originally built on an island, surrounded on all sides by the calm rolling waters of the river Dronne — which is why it’s called “Venice of Périgord”. This would be a great fort. It’s a great central base to explore Dordogne. Here’s a giant related post I made on exploring Dordogne. It really is one of the cutest list villages in France, I loved it. There’s only about two thousand people that live here and the immediate surroundings. Walking into town in the morning to pick up the International Herald Tribune and a cafe au lait and sit by the river. It has all the water

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EXPLORE THE RIVERS, SCENIC VILLAGES AND PREHISTORIC CAVES OF DORDOGNE, FRANCE

[DORDOGNE & PERIGORD, FRANCE] — You don’t read much about Dordogne in the U.S. travel press. But the French & English know about it, almost keep it all to themselves. In fact, this was one of the great battlegrounds of the Hundred Year’s War between the nobles of France and England.  Now wealthy Brits have snapped up a lot of the incredible houses and chateaus. I spent a week there several years ago and these are what I found to be the best things to do in Dordogne. Are there other places? Certainly. But this what I found in a little less than a week in an early June. I just want to give you a taste of what it looks, feels and tastes like.  I

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STAY IN ALAIN DUCASSE´S GOURMET HIDEAWAY IN A FAIRYTALE VILLAGE IN PROVENCE

[MOUSTIERS-SAINTE-MARIE, FRANCE] — Moustiers in eastern Provence is the gateway to the great Gorges du Verdon, The Grand Canyon of France. (see my post on the Gorges du Verdon here). It’s an Adventureland of fun, with trekking, boating, canyoning, climbing and just plain gawking at all the natural beauty. Here’s my review of Alain Ducasse’s incredible gourmet Michelin-starred hideaway La Bastide de Moustiers in the beautiful town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, high in the  Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Bathe in Lavender on the Valensole Plateau Driving up from southern Provence, you first drive over the high and flat Valensole plateau, home to some of the largest and most stunning lavender fields in France.  Miles and miles of sweet purple flowers, as far as the eye can see. If you’re in Provence

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A LONG WEEKEND IN MILAN

[MILAN, ITALY] — When I was going to school in Rome, I was obsessed with Old Things. We zoomed all over Europe every weekend, compartments loaded up with beer, on our unlimited Eurail Pass looking for cool old stuff. The only thing I knew about Milan was our midnight stop at the train station, jolted awake from a drunk sleep each time by the same old man hawker each time, with a raspy smoker’s voice outside our drawn shades: “Birrrrrra. Acqua Mineraaaaale. Chocccolaaato. Orangiiiiiina. Aranciatttt-a. Coca Cooolaaaa.” repeated over and over until the train departed. Then again the next time we flew through. Anyone who passed by Milano Centrale in the 80s knew that voice. When someone would ask “Should we go to Milan?” “Why?

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YOU SHOULD GO HERE IN POSITANO

[AMALFI COAST, ITALY] — The whole Amalfi Coast is a string of towns south of Naples, roughly starting from Sorrento on down.  Each town has its own charm and personality. Not a big fan of Sorrento, more of a modern city that cruise ships and tour buses visit and it’s the last train stop, so that’s as far as most people go.  Keep going down farther, starting at Positano.  This is my guide to Positano and the Amalfi Coast and why you should go here in Positano and and all the best things to do in Positano. You Should Go Here In Positano — I consolidated several posts into one comprehensive guide in one place, so it’s a giant post and dense with information. I’ve

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LIVE LIKE A MOVIE STAR ON THE COAST OF TUSCANY

[PORTO ERCOLE, TUSCANY] — Driving through the hills and ravines of western Tuscany, you find yourself in the little known coastal area of wild and woolly Maremma. The road rolls down to the sea, you drive across a causeway and lagoon to Monte Argentario, a hump of an island and now basically a peninsula connected by two bridges. Looking out at fishing boats and people bobbing along the shore, you wind through tiny Porto Ercole, pop up and over a hill, see the tiny pelican logo and pull into an ivy covered parking area. As the bellman grabs your things you glide through the lobby and head towards the sun on the terrace. It’s the view that hits you in the gut. Gah! Down a tumbling

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YOU GOTTA GO TO VERONA

[VERONA, ITALY] — Verona was never on at the top of my list, I always heard it was just a place where bus tours stop to all stand under the Romeo and Juliet balcony. Boy was I wrong. When my buddies were flying out of the Verona airport we spent a day and a half checking it out. I loved it so much, I came back by myself the following week. I was blown away how gorgeous, clean and manageable this Italian city is. Here are all my best things to do in Verona. The city has so much history beyond Romeo & Juliet. From Dante to the big Veronese families to the football team. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the whole city,

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A QUICK OVERNIGHT IN ATHENS

This is from a trip I took several years ago for an overnight in Athens. My sisters and brother just went through Athens after a Greek Islands charter sailboat trip and I realized I never made a post so I could share my tips. So here it is, my tips for a quick trip to Athens, including when is the best time avoid the crowds at the Acropolis and a review of the New Hotel. Whether on purpose (smart) or randomness, most flights and ferries coming back from the the Greek Islands invariably end up with a forced overnight in Athens. On my last trip coming back from the beautiful island of Folegandros (my posts on that trip are here), this stop was shorter than

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SAN CASSIANO, THE PERFECT BASE TO EXPLORE VAL BADIA IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES.

[SAN CASSIANO IN ALTA BADIA, ITALY] — Wednesday nights are Festa Nights in San Cassiano in the summer. People come from kilometers away, tasting great foods from local restaurants, local craft beers (doesn’t everywhere have local craft beers nowadays?) and watching Ladin craftsman hone wood objects like they’ve done for centuries. (Cutting boards are big sellers.) And, perhaps appropriately, a country music band. Nothing like a little Hank Williams to make your strudel even more fun. Plus, you can waltz to it. You should have seen it. A girl in a cowboy hat introducing each song in Italian, old couples and waiters all beebopping all happy up and down the street. It was a little surreal, sitting outside on the terrace of the restaurant at

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THE PERFECT ADVENTURE HOTEL TO EXPLORE THE ATACAMA DESERT

[SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA, CHILE] — Chile is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, that few people know about. Dramatic, jaw-dropping landscapes and massive natural parks.  Chile has been the leader in preserving their amazing natural wonders and packaging them up with adventure tour packages, made easy with outstanding hotels like the Tierra, Explora, or totally luxe Awasi, which is more for millionaires.   All three brands have sister hotels in both the Atacama Desert, Patagonia and other regions (like the Lake District or Easter Island).  I chose the Tierra hotels for my trip in 2013. This is my review of Tierra Atacama, one of the easiest vacation I’ve ever booked, in the most remote locations on the planet. No matter which hotel

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THE WORLD’S BEST BEACH TOWN

[JOSE IGNACIO, URUGUAY]  — There. I said it. Jose Ignacio is it. Jose Ignacio is the World’s Best Beach Town.   This is my favorite place in this world. If you’ve followed me for some time or talk to me over Negronis, THIS is the place I always talk about. This is a huge post, combing multiple visits over ten years into a single comprehensive guide. Here is your guide to the best beaches in Jose Ignacio. The best restaurants in Jose Ignacio and the best hotels in Jose Ignacio. All the reasons that make this the world’s best beach town. Jose Ignacio is my favorite place on earth. A half hour north of the Miami-like Punta del Este is a small peninsula that juts just right

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THE PERFECT LONG WEEKEND IN CASCAIS, LISBON’S BEACHY SUBURB

[CASCAIS, PORTUGAL] — About a half-hour outside of Lisbon, Cascais is a great little beach town along the coast and the perfect long weekend base to explore the entire Lisbon coast. What to do in Cascais. Where to stay in Cascais. Where to eat in Cascais. It’s hard to picture such a cool little beach town as a suburb of Lisbon; it feels like a world away.  Where Lisbon opens onto the Targus river, Cascais is further out on the peninsula, just past the Monaco-like wealth enclave of Estoril. Out here, you are more open to the blue waters of the Atlantic. [Note:  a lot of people think that Portugal is a Mediterranean country, but it actually doesn’t even touch the Mediterranean Sea, it opens

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THIS IS THE COOLEST HOTEL IN THE UNITED STATES.

[CANYON POINT, ARIZONA] — About 30 minutes outside of Page, Arizona — home of the Lake Powell dam — is the second Aman Resorts property in the United States.  Amangiri. This is a review of the Amangiri hotel in Canyon Point, Utah, the best luxury hotel in the United States. Based in Asia, Aman is the best of the best hotel chains on the planet and they’ve been rapidly expanding to dream destinations all over the world, almost always in distant and spectacular locations like this one. Aman Resorts are known for their understated Zen architecture and vibe and this one fits right into that. The location and buildings are the heroes here. Amangiri isolated in its own valley, 600 acres set amid Utah’s most

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YOU SHOULD STAY HERE IN SALTA ARGENTINA

[SALTA, ARGENTINA] — There aren’t a ton of hotels in Salta province, it’s such a vast place, but there are several really cool ones.  I only stayed in three, but here are my favorites for best boutique hotels in Salta. You should stay here in Salta. The best luxury hotels in Salta. After doing lots of research, these are my choices for 3 best boutique hotels in Salta from a trip I took to Salta in March 2011. [Note: As I continue to improve my website, this is an updated and enhanced post from a trip I took in 2011, with better pictures and information from my previous lame posts, now consolidated into one comprehensive guide.] To be clear, there is the city of Salta and

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AN IDYLLIC RETREAT IN THE MOUNTAINS OF BAVARIA

[BAVARIAN ALPS, GERMANY] — On my last return trip from Verona to Munich, I remember flying over some killer mountains in Germany, just south of Munich. They were stupendous looking from the air as we headed in for final approach.  “Wow, wonder what those are called…” This year, I was headed back to the Italian Dolomites and realized that they were only a three hour drive from my Denver>Munich direct flight. I could save a day of travel, an extra flight and just drive directly there. Genius. But, passing through Bavaria, I thought I’d stop and see if I could find those mountains I saw before.  I did. Even better, I found this stunning hotel location. Schloss Elmau. I was researching cool places to stay

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HOW TO SPEND 36 HOURS IN MUNICH

[MÜNCHEN, GERMANY] — If you’re flying in/out of the ultra cool Munich airport — which looks more like an Apple store than airport — make sure you take a long overnight in Munich. Rated one of Europe’s most livable cities, you can see why when you walk around. Clean. Everything works. Nice Bavarian people. Gorgeous trees and parks all around. Here are some cool things to do if you have 36 hours in Munich. The last time I was in Munich was waaaay back in the early 80s when I was a backpacker making the wet slog to Oktoberfest. I don’t remember much besides the massive beer tents, sleeping in a down sleeping bag in the rain without a tent and spending the night cuddled

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A GORGEOUS, AFFORDABLE BOUTIQUE HOTEL IN LISBON

[LISBOA, PORTUGAL] — In planning for a trip to Portugal with a bunch of friends last month, I was in charge of looking for a cool boutique hotel. Some in the group I knew, others were going to be New Friends. Some I assumed were wanting somewhere special, others (cough cough) were a little more “I’ll just use my points.”-type.  The pressure was on… to find an affordable boutique hotel in Lisbon. Holy cow, it’s amazing how fast Lisbon changes. I remember the first time I went in 2013 and Baixa was mostly boarded up and there just wasn’t much to do down in that grid of slick stoned streets. Now you can’t swing a cat without hitting a spanking new hotel or IKEA-bedecked Airbnb.

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THE PERFECT BASE TO EXPLORE PORTUGAL’S DOURO VALLEY

[DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL] — After a harrowing Google Maps-led hair-brained shortcut through curvy mountains roads (umm guess who was Navigator ), we arrived with our seasick passengers… ready for a drink. We drove through a gated entrance to a wine estate, wound up the road straight into the vines. A teeny sign on the right said “Reception ↘︎”. We slammed on the brakes. (Groans from the back) “That can’t be it…”. What we couldn’t see was the building built into the side of the cliff below us. Unlike Google Maps, we trusted this little sign. We fell out of the rental van, stumbled down the flinty steps and KABOOM. The view we were looking for. Just as Ana has prescribed. We walk into the Reception

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STAY ON A PRIVATE RANCH IN THE NEW MEXICO DESERT

[RODEO, NEW MEXICO] — A coupla weekends ago, I went on a bird-watching road trip along the southern Arizona and New Mexico border with my best college buddies. Three were into birding, two of us were along for the beer. We flew into Tucson and headed straight south, stopping at popular birding spots along the way to Nogales and the Mexican border.  Then we dog-legged left and skirted the border the whole way until we crossed in New Mexico and the dusty town of Rodeo, with watchful Border Patrol hidden around every curve.  We stopped in Patagonia, Tombstone, Bixbee and finally crossed the border in New Mexico to stay at the Painted Pony Resort in the dusty town of Rodeo. This time of year, this part of southern

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WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO STAY IN NORMANDY

(Normandie, France) — You can spend a day, a week or a month in Normandie and never get enough. We only had a couple of days on our own to explore the province after taking a D-Day tour, so didn’t get to see a lot, but here are my favorite finds. Normandie is really really old. Certainly there were neolithic settlements, but it was settled by the Vikings long ago –“Northmen land” is basically what the name translates to — who in the 800s rowed up the Seine in their longboats all the way up to Paris — long before the Viking Longboats were even conceived — pillaging along the way and eventually seizing the province from France. Then the Celts, William the Conqueror, the

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