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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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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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COOL PLACES TO GO IN LANGUEDOC IN SOUTHWEST FRANCE

[LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLION | FRANCE] — I first came to the Aude region in Languedoc, never having heard of it before, nor that I was even going there! But realized I was in Aude during a four day stop at a cool friend’s place outside Carcassonne. I thought I was in greater Languedoc, but turns out Aude is the appropriate subregion in Languedoc. I spent most of my time hanging at my friend’s super cool gîte, so I didn’t get everywhere, nor get to spend great bits of time, but these are the coolest places I found in the southwest of France. And now that I have the lay of the land, I can’t wait to go back. The Aude Region This area used to be called

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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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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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A ROADTRIP THROUGH ARGENTINA’S SALTA PROVINCE AND THE NOTORIOUS RUTA 40

[SALTA, ARGENTINA] –You probably haven’t heard much about Salta, in the far northwest quadrant of Argentina and a roadtrip on its famed Ruta 40 highway, but word is starting to spread. This is one of the great roadtrips in the world. While everyone knows of Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Patagonia, it seems like Salta has just barely opened up. You take a two hour flight from Buenos Aires to the city of Salta which you can use as a base, driving around the region — there are a number of road tours you can take from there — driving north to Jujuy province and the salt flats of Bolivia or West into the mountains and high altitude altiplano, or South through the red canyons to the Salteño

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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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YOU SHOULD EAT HERE IN PARIS

[PARIS] — I was scared to death on my first trips to Paris — I started going to Paris B.I., Before the Internet — totally intimidated about finding the best cool restaurants. The mere thought of a) figuring out how to use a phone in France and b) people not understanding a single syllable of my Bad French just made the whole process unbearable. On top of that, I’d tried many times to ask some un-listening concierge — in those days of “Snooty France” — who would just shunt ALL Americans to some crappy brasserie around the corner with surly waiters and lame food. So I rarely trusted them…despite giving them big tips. So then I developed my default restaurant-picking technique:  Walking Until Finding Something

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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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AN ADVENTURE HOTEL HIDDEN IN COLORADO’S CANYON LANDS

[GATEWAY, COLORADO]  — Once the private ranch of the founder of the Discovery Channel, he has slowly built this from a small, in-the-know conference center with a handful of rooms into a full-on resort, adding chunks of rooms and facilities each year until it is now one of the best resorts I’ve been to in the U.S. This is Colorado?? I thought it was all about mountains and skiing?  Yup. But then there’s here. Western Colorado is a blurred line into the canyony parts of Utah. An hour south of ridgy Grand Junction — Colorado’s Orchard slope, also known as The Western Slope — sits the teeny town of Gateway, nestled in high-hipped canyon ridges that make 80’s Meg Ryan mom jeans look low-cut. And this resort

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STAY ON A RENOVATED FARMSTEAD IN PORTUGAL’S ALENTEJO REGION

[ALENTEJO, PORTUGAL] — Leaving the pine-canopied coastal lands of Comporta, you drive straight across the heart of Portugal’s beautiful Alentejo region. Covering 30% of the country, this is Portugal’s bread basket. 10,000+ square miles of endless fields of cork, olives, wine and wheat.  When you read any article on Alentejo, you will undoubtably see bright photos golden wheat and dark green cork trees, mine will be no different. I’m here to visit one of Alentejo’s best boutique hotels. It almost feels like a movie filter, everything all gold, dark green and brown. The pounding sun almost making everything a little fuzzy. The uniform bright white architecture of Portuguese house of buildings, starkly contrasting with the golden fields and green hills. Driving Across Alentejo Driving up

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A ROCKIN’ HOTEL IN LONDON YOU NEVER WANT TO LEAVE

[London] — You could feel the early Christmas season in the electric air. It was 4:30 on a Friday and the place was packed in every direction you turned, shoulder to shoulder in most places, everyone dressed up a little more festive than other weeks of the year, smiling, toasting success. It was dark in center of the great grand lobby, ninety four green marble columns rising thirty feet into the air, each with a top hat of shiny acanthus leaves, in a Corinthian way. The whole place felt Corinthian. The whole place was buzzing, swaying to the silky jazz singer. It felt like pre-war London. In the center of this laughing mass rose a band stage, 360 degrees round and trimmed in thick wood

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AN AIRY OASIS IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS OF MOROCCO

[OURIKA VALLEY, MOROCCO] — The road out of Marrakesh is a great unwinding. Leaving the crowded and bustling Medina behind, the criss-crossing crowded intersections and roundabouts, vehicles of every different size and shape. Donkey- and horse-drawn carts take their place alongside screaming mopeds, belching buses and trucks loaded with construction supplies and produce. Vendors selling everything out of their trunk on the side of the road or at a waiting stoplight. Well-dressed Moroccans and expats enjoying a coffee in the many outdoor cafes. It’s an insane cacophony.   Then you pass thru the suburban apartment blocks, women in full headdress walking their kids to school. Guys repairing cars on a wide sidewalk. Then the sprawling Palmeraie, a palm grove of several hundred thousand trees, huge

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THREE PERFECT DAYS IN ESSAOUIRA MOROCCO

[Essaouira, Morocco] — “Will we be able to see the goats in the trees?” I’d read about them for years, had seen picture and always wondered: “Why are the goats in trees?”   Now I wanted to see them. The drive from the Atlas Mountains was long and a little painful, you basically have to drive back through Marrakesh, then two and half hours driving across the barren plains to Essaouira on the coast. But as we were getting close to Essaouira, the driver quickly pulled over to the side of the road. GOATS! After the initial fun reaction, we soon realized this was a tourist sham. The reason why the goats were bleating was because they were put up there by the guys standing

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