Santiago is the perfect place for wine lovers to visit due to the proximity of so many wine regions to the city. Just an hour and a half west of Santiago toward the coast lie the Casablanca and San Antonio Valley wine regions. In October, I had the chance to visit both regions. Two wineries stood out not only with the quality of their wine and their idyllic settings but also because they proved convention wrong when it comes to cool climate wines.
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While I loved exploring Bangkok, my favorite part of any overseas trip is always venturing beyond the city limits. Thailand was no different. We spent one day of our recent trip to Thailand out in Kanchanaburi Province, with a few stops along the way. Our ultimate destination was an elephant sanctuary on the River Kwai, where we bareback rode elephants through the forest and into the river where we bathed and played with them. It was an experience I’ll never forget!
Bangkok is a city of contrasts. Modern restaurants beside street food carts; cars at complete halts while motorbikes and people whiz by on sidewalks; English on all of the signs and menus but little spoken; expensive high-rise apartments rising over poverty-filled slums. It was one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever visited.
Many people only see Bangkok through the windows of the airport on the way to Chiang Mai or Phuket, but it’s worth stopping for a couple days to explore this sprawling capital city.
So what’s the best way to experience Bangkok?
While there is plenty to see in Tokyo, the largest city in the world can be overwhelming at times. An escape is essential. Luckily for visitors, thanks to Japan’s extensive rail network, day trips from Tokyo are easy and most are affordable. When my husband and I visited Tokyo this summer, I knew I wanted to spend at least one day outside of the bustling city in order to get a more authentic feel for Japan. I considered going to Kamakura, a seaside town so full of temples that some call it a mini-Kyoto, or Hakone for a close-up view of Mt. Fuji and day in the mountains and onsens. But, ultimately, my love for visiting wine regions all over the world won out and I chose to visit Katsunuma.
The Katsunuma wine region is only a 90-minute train ride from Tokyo but feels worlds away. About halfway into the train ride the buildings suddenly disappear as you enter the gorgeous countryside full of lush green hills and mountains. When you arrive at the train station, you’ll immediately see vineyards ahead and will be in awe of the landscape.
Burgundy is a mecca for foodies. It’s tough to describe how rich and flavorful the dishes are. The secret ingredients in most of the famous dishes? Wine and butter. What could be better than that?
The only problem with dining out in Burgundy is that three-course meals (and sometimes four!) are the norm for both lunch and dinner. While you generally have the option of ordering “a la carte,” it’s often only a few more euros to order from the three-course menu. Our meals progressed like this:
First course: Every bite was eaten. Delicious!
Second course: This is so good. But so rich. Must. Finish.
Third course: I almost forgot we had dessert coming. I can make room…
Food coma. How do people eat like this twice a day every day? And sometimes add a cheese course before dessert?!
And that was twice a day. Plus a baguette and cheese plate for breakfast each morning. It’s safe to say we ended each day in Burgundy satiated and full!
While all of the food we ate was delicious, I wanted to highlight a few stellar restaurants with incredibly memorable meals.
These are the best dishes I had in Burgundy.
The breathtaking village of Reine, Norway is located on the island of Moskenesøya, part of northern Norway’s Lofoten archipelago. When visiting Norway to see the famous arctic fjords, many people opt to do a fjord cruise out of the city of Bergen (which is also insanely gorgeous and deserves a separate post), but venturing to Reine in the northern fjords will reward you with an authentic taste of traditional Nordic fishing culture coupled with unparalleled natural beauty.
It’s impossible to have a bad trip to the magical island of Santorini.
Even if all you do is sit cliffside and soak in the views, you’ll have an amazing trip. Just being there, Santorini is breathtaking and will most certainly capture your heart. (You can find out why it’s my favorite place in the world here).
That said, there is plenty to do in Santorini. Here are some ways to make any trip to Santorini unforgettable.
I’ve mentioned before that visiting a wine region is the best way to see Europe. Not only will you experience amazing wine and food, but staying in a countryside wine town will also give you a true taste of the country’s culture and history.
While there are hundreds of European wine regions to visit and even more beautiful towns, below I’ve picked four towns in the top four wine-producing countries in Europe that are sure to capture any wine lover’s heart.
One of the most striking characteristics of the wine villages in Burgundy is that practically every other building in town is a domaine or a vigneron -- a winery in U.S. terms. In Meursault, where I stayed, there are over 50 wine producers in the tiny village alone. When you add to that all of the wineries from the neighboring villages, the choice of where to visit can be overwhelming.
My family and I visited in early March, which is considered the “off season” in Burgundy. Some wineries were not open when we visited. However, the silver lining to traveling then was that most of our winery visits ended up being private tours. Having the winemaker give you a tour and tasting of his or her domaine is an incredible experience.
The wineries that I am highlighting below are all smaller, mostly family domaines in the Côte de Beaune, one of the five wine growing areas in Burgundy. While we did drop by a few of the larger wineries, I highly recommend the small wineries as they give a more personal and rewarding tour and tasting experience.
Below are my personal favorite winery visits from my time in Burgundy.
Imagine biking smack in the middle of fields upon fields of vineyards. In the distance lies a picture-perfect fairytale town with a church steeple perched high above the houses. The path behind you leads to an equally charming town taken from the pages of a storybook. The hillside on your right is filled with the grand cru vines, which bear some of the most expensive grapes in the world. To your left are the village grapes that create surprisingly different wines as you move from one village's plot to the next.
I just returned from a fabulous week in the Burgundy wine region with my husband and parents. We ate delicious three-course meals for lunch and dinner (plus tons of cheese & baguettes!), explored centuries-old wine caves, biked through the vineyards from one tiny town to the next, and drank glasses upon glasses of the best wine in the world.
We stayed in the most amazing VRBO house rental in the village of Meursault. We were surrounded by vineyards on all sides, had a huge patio with a hot tub overlooking the vines, and could stroll into town in minutes. It was perfect.
While I am sorting through the unforgettable memories we made, here is a little glimpse into some of my favorite moments and the quaint French town that captured my heart.
My husband, a self-proclaimed foodie, calls San Sebastian his favorite European city. Situated at the northeast edge of the Basque region in Spain, the Basque influence on the city makes San Sebastian a unique gem in Europe. The culture has an interesting mix of both Spanish and Basque traditions.
The appeal of the city is expansive, but it may be most well-known for its food. Below are five reasons why San Sebastian is a food lover’s paradise.
While the South has been having spurts of warmth this winter, most people across the country are still bundled up and dreaming of the first signs of spring. If you’re wanderlusting of some place warm and beautiful to visit this spring, Savannah, Georgia should be at the top of your list.
Savannah is your quintessential Southern city with a small town feel. You won’t see skyscrapers, but you can walk almost anywhere. Romantic Spanish moss drapes the tree lined streets and parks are as numerous as the cute shops and cafes downtown.