I love big doors and I cannot lie! Doors make such a great first impression and tell a lot about the architectural history and character of a building.
While in Italy, I loved observing the doors up close. They ranged from modern to classical to just plain weird! One door was made of pennies! All were big and bold.
Check out my fav #doorsofitaly from my trip to Stresa, Lake Como and Milan! Pick your favorite and comment below!
Day 3: City Tours, Cobblestones & More Cruising
Today we visited the cities of Cernobbio, Bellagio (not to be confused with the luxury Vegas hotel) & Como while cruising the beautiful Lake Como.
Como is home to silk in Italy and is considered their most important product. All the major designers use silk from Como.
Cobblestones in the city center reminds us of Italy’s past.
(Travel Tip: Don't forget your sneaks! Cobblestones were not made for flat shoes!)
Our awesome hosts surprised us with a luxury speedboat cruise around the lake and then we later indulged in true Italian cuisine: pizza, cappuccinos and gelato, of course!
Day 2: Cruising Through Lake Orta and Touring a Winery in Boca
Today we visited Saint Giulio island and toured the Basilica and the ancient houses along the shore of LakeOrta.
We had lunch by the water of course and ended our day with a winery tour in Boca! The ambiance of today was simple elegance and tranquility. Even the waters seemed at peace.
I also got a chance to talk to our amazing travel hosts Federica and Alberto about customizing my future group trip to this region. Y’all should see what I’m cooking up! If Italy is on your bucketlist then look no further than moi to plan it! I got you!
Day 1: Island Hopping &
That Villa Life
History, culture, architecture and nature’s beauty are just some of my favorite things about travel. Cruising through the Borromean Gulf in Northern Italy was breathtaking and even getting a glimpse of the Swiss Alps was everything.
Today we visited the islands: Isola Madre, Isola Dei Pescatori and Isola Bella! I’m so grateful for this experience.
Travel Tip: Layer up! Italy had beautiful fall weather in October. However, it felt like winter when we were cruising down the lake! Bring a sweater or light jacket.
Arrival: Regina Palace Hotel, Stresa, Italy
Buongiorno! Ahh...What a wonderful view to wake up to!
I arrived safely to Italy and was picked up by our wonderful hosts! Checked in to the beautiful Regina Palace Hotel in Stresa. This gorgeous luxury property is a must-stay for any Northern Italy trip.
Honored to be invited to attend this educational food and wine tour in Italy with my fellow travelpreneurs! I love that my business trips look like vacations! Somebody’s gotta do this hard work. Only the best for my clients! This is the diary of a fab traveling woman!
Travel Tip: Arriving a day early before the educational tour got underway was such a great treat. I love group experiences, but having some me-time helped me to unwind a bit before I met up with my group, take in some of the sights nearby, and just indulge in the hotel's amenities. Hello, Turkish bath and spaaaaaaahhhhh!
I just got back from a wonderful #SoloRoyale trip to London – one of my favorite international cities. I spent most of my time catching up with friends, visiting food festivals and markets, going to plays and oh yeah, traveling to Windsor to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle! Yes I did! There are just some events you have to experience in person, so let me explain to you this amazing #YOLO moment of mine.
A few months leading up to my trip, I realized I was going to be in town for the wedding of the season – as in the Royal Wedding!! As in the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – a celebrity couple I didn’t mind hearing about in the news. Whoa. Talk about great timing. So my first thought in planning around this occasion was to seek out recommendations for the best watch party in town!
But then I learned Windsor Castle, where the wedding was being held, was actually in Winsdor - almost an hour outside of London by train. Eek. So I asked some of my local friends if they were down for a road trip to Windsor on Saturday. And they promptly said no, nope, and nah. Most wished me well on this adventure and hoped the lines weren't too long. Others tried to convince me to stay in town and watch the perfectly produced event on television. (After all, I did watch the royal nuptials of Prince William and Kate back in 2011. But I was in DC and well, I wasn't one-hour away from the festivities like I was this time!) Decisions. Decisions.
Well since London was a solo trip for me anyway, I did what any solo traveler would do – I traveled solo to Windsor! I’d convinced myself that even though it would be much easier to enjoy the wedding from the comfort of a London pub or a friend's home, where there were no lines mind you --traveling to Windsor was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I knew that I wouldn’t forgive myself for staying put. I mean, YOLO, right?!
I arrived in good time. The train ride was smooth and easy to figure out. I even sat next to a young woman, about my age, who was from DC! And once we got off at the Eton and Riverside stop the lines were definitely long. But that was to be expected. You have to manage your expectations in situations like this you know! It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I was here. I embraced the crowds and even the long waiting time to get to the castle. More than 100,000 people braved the crowds that morning. Some spent the night. Others left their homes at the crack of dawn. I was the person in the middle. Left early, but not too early.
Windsor is a beautiful city that I hope to return to someday. Charming stores and restaurants lined the streets leading up to the castle. Seeing a castle up close was somewhat surreal. For about five minutes, I felt like I was going to see my prince come charging down on his white horse...okay, I know! But you can't help thinking these thoughts in a city that had this whole “once upon a time” feel to it!
After about a 90-minute walk and wait, I finally found a good spot and immediately made new friends. I half expected to run into a bunch of visitors and tourists. But everyone around me had a British accent. Everybody wanted in on this event.
The coolest part about the whole experience was being able to witness in person some of the scenes leading up to the actual ceremony that millions saw on television. Sidenote: I was so glad to be tall that day too! The first glimpse of Meghan as she rolled by in her vintage car to the castle was definitely a highlight. The carriage ride at the end, just wow! We all watched the magic and diversity of the wedding on the big screens and later agreed how lucky we were to experience this in person.
That's what travel is all about. Experiencing the moments all around the world. Meeting new people. Eating new foods. Learning new things. Creating new bucketlist adventures. So here’s to climbing that mountain, crossing that ocean, ziplining through that forest or attending that event of the year! Whatever your #YOLO adventure is, build an amazing experience around it and then enjoy every moment of it. Travel is an adventure. It sometimes forces you to feel outside of your comfort zone. But the rewards and possibilities are endless. And the best thing about travel is that it takes you right to the action.
Travel to Windsor for the Royal Wedding. CHECK. #YOLO
We are a nation obsessed with vacation pics! Don't believe me? Scroll through your Instagram and Facebook feeds right now and you'll see dozens of posts from your friends' vacations! No seriously, stop reading this post and go check your timelines. What do you see? Fabulous, eye-catching, filtered pics from all corners of the world!
Photos are just as crucial to any vacay as an excursion or museum stop. It's what helps us capture the moment in the moment. And it's so freaking easy to do these days with just your smartphone and a good photo app (insert the *side eyes* of all my photographer friends with expensive professional cameras!). I mean this is how Instagram got started and became the go to spot for sharing photos in all of its filtered glory.
There are a few types of pics that always seem to make its way to social media feeds. I'll admit I'm soooo guilty of taking these kinds of pictures myself. Here are the top five vacation pics we love to take:
The Selfie Pic
Once smartphones added the selfie feature on cameras, it was on! This is one of the most popular ways to capture yourself and your dope location in the same pic. There are many think pieces about how selfies are ruining our lives. This won't be one of the posts. But It's fascinating to watch and observe how selfies have become the must have photo for any vacation.
The "Formation" Pic
There's the group pic and then there's the group photoshoot aka "get in formation" pic. Typically staged and filtered with beautiful people.
The Deep Thought Pic
Someone else is typically taking this picture of you in deep thought or reflection with the backgroup of a majestic location.
The Black and White Pic
This is the pic that makes you feel like a professional photographer. It's so serious and provocative. On every vacation, there's at least one pic you decide to give some black and white love.
The #NoFilter Pic
There are some moments we capture where the beauty of the world needs no filter. And so we make no changes. We add no filters. We don't manipulate the color or saturation of the pic. We just let it be and post. Then we add #NoFilter so everyone knows it's for real.
Public Service Announcement: Okay, so I'm sure this list could have been a Top 10! or 20! I love taking fun pics while on vacation. (As a travelpreneur, it's also a must for promoting travel!) But we all have to remind ourselves sometimes that while taking pics are fun, taking in the beauty of the moment is much more fulfilling in the long run. There is NOTHING like watching the sunset in real time. Or sitting in silence as we appreciate the magic of the highest mountain. Or listening to the sounds of waves crashing at beach. Or admiring the unbelievable talent of some artist whose work is now housed in a famous museum.
Let's not forget the reason why we booked our vacation in the first place. For many, it's to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the every day. For others, it's to fall in love with a culture, a cuisine, a group of people outside of your own. Travel is an amazing adventure and it's absolutely worth capturing both on our smartphones and in our memories forever.
New Year's Day 2018. I woke up in one of the most amazing cities in the world: Dubai! I concluded my year of adventure with a bucketlist experience to one of the most exciting cities in the world. I took 16 other people with me too as part of my annual signature group trip! We had a blast. Too much fun. There was dune bashing, and camel riding, and riding all the way to the top of the Burj Khalifia, still the tallest building in the world.
After spending a week in Dubai, I realized this was a city of many firsts. Every where you turned, there was a sign saying it was biggest, tallest, widest, longest, etc...in the world. You see, it's hard to be in Dubai and not think I'm in the land of the biggest and the best. The whole city is dominated by new development and expansive projects. And so of course I started dreaming big and it was all Dubai's fault!!
Back to New Year's Day...I woke up and counted my blessings and started to think about the year ahead. How was 2018 going to be different than 2017? I thought about it long and hard. I wanted a new theme to help me stay on track for the new year. (I gave up on resolutions a few years ago and instead opted for a more holistic goal-setting approach with a theme). And then it hit me that EXPANSION was the word that I wanted to take on in 2018. Being in Dubai really helped me to visualize that word. Everything was expanding in Dubai and I wanted a year of growth and expansion. I wanted to widen my circle, broaden my influence, expand my mindset and my businesses.
My year of expansion will include even more stamps on my passport and modern luxury trip opportunities for my friends and family. I can't wait to visit South Africa for the first time this year and go on my first safari! Travel is a perfect "expansion" project because there's so much world to see! I'm so excited about what's next for DS Traveler. Follow me on this wonderful year of expansion in travel!
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