All posts filed under: Weekend Unexplored

Weekend Unexplored: Catskill, NY

Catskill Mountains are located in the southeastern part of New York State. This area includes the ski area at Hunter Mountain and Bellayre Mountain. There are many outdoor activities in the region for any season. I had the opportunity to join some friends for a weekend getaway to see the fall foliage in the middle of October. This is my weekend unexplored in the Catskills. There are plenty of options for lodging in the Catskills as it is a popular weekend getaway for NYC dwellers. I decided to book an AirBnB for this trip and was able to find one near Phoenicia, NY.  As with most house rentals, the actual rental can be a hit or miss. Luckily our rental was more of a hit than a miss with only the stove giving us a lot of trouble. My friend and I headed out on a beautiful Friday morning and arrived at the Phoenicia Diner just in time for lunch. There are few good food options in this particular area. The Phoenicia Diner is a “farm …

Weekend Unexplored: Ometepe, Nicaragua

“Mono! Mono!” We rolled down our windows, peering up at the trees to see a whole family of howler monkeys climbing from branch to branch.  They are found all over Ometepe, the majestic twin-peaked, volcanic island, and we could hear them early in the mornings, awaking us from sleep.  My friend J.G, her sister, her mother, and I were on our way to see the land that they had purchased years ago near San Ramon, on the southeast side of the island.  That morning we took a ferry from San Jorge, loading our car on the bottom level and then situating ourselves at the top to catch the cool breezes coming off Lake Cocibolca, one of the great fresh water lakes of Nicaragua.  Straight ahead, we could see Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Maderas.  Photographing these volcanoes would only increase as we drove between and around them on the island. Long after passing through the port town of Moyogalpa, the paved road soon turned to dirt as we traveled further southeast of the island, closer to …

Weekend Unexplored: Portland, Maine and surrounding area

Portland, Maine, is a quick 2 hour drive north of Boston, making it a perfect weekend trip.  My husband and I fell in love with Maine few years ago, especially Portland and its surrounding areas.  You can find beautiful scenic sights, plenty of outdoor activities, antiquing, great food scene and, of course, lobster rolls.  After so many years, we have perfected our weekend trip itinerary and where to take our “out of town” guests.  Here are some of our favorites and make sure to also scroll all the way to the end for our sample weekend itinerary. HOTELS The Press Hotel (119 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101) Website Source: Instyle *If you are a history buff, then Press Hotel is a must stay.  The hotel used to be the Gannett Building that housed the offices and printing plant of the Portland Press Herald.  The building was converted to a hotel after the newspaper shut down in 2010.  The hotel has vintage-styled furniture juxtaposed against contemporary interiors and playful newsroom references making it my favorite hotel in Portland. …

Weekend Unexplored: 4 Days in Southern France (Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, Lourmarin, Bonnieux and Cassis)

Provence has always been on my list of places to visit in Europe. I had an opportunity to visit Europe again this year and made it a priority to visit this charming region. My sister and I choose to visit the region in early May before the tourist crowds descend onto the area. Luckily my good friend grew up in the region and planned my trip for me. There is nothing better than having a local show you the best of their home region! Friday-Saturday: Provence/ Marseilles Sunday: Aix-en-Provence, Lourmarin and Bonnieux Monday: Cassis Arrived Friday My sister and I flew into the Marseilles International Airport Friday morning to uncharacteristically rainy and windy weather. Marseilles Airport is very small and the car rental lot is right next to the airport. We rented a small automatic car from Hertz prior to arriving in Provence and the whole process to pick up the car took over an hour and a half. Things move very slowly in southern France. We were advised to book our car months in …

Weekend Unexplored: Sintra, Portugal

During our stay in Lisbon, locals insisted that we must visit Sintra before we left Portugal. Since we were staying in Cascai, we added Sintra to our itinerary. Both locations are within one hour drive from Lisbon and have a completely different taste of Portugal from what we’ve experienced in Lisbon. In this post, we will recount our experience  and the recommendations that we received from the locals. Sintra is a small town on the Estoril Coast of Portugal and located only 28km away from Lisbon. Sintra is a 25 minute drive from the airport and 45 minutes train ride from Lisbon. This small town could easily fit into a fantasy land with its palaces dotting along the hills and peeping out under the thick forest. There are many fantastic castles and estates located within this small town that are listed below: Pena Palace – This palace is a cross between Gaudi’s creation in Barcelona and Disneyland. It was built in the mid-19th century on the site of the former monastery by the king consort, Dom …

Weekend Unexplored: Lisbon, Portugal

I recently had an opportunity to visit Portugal for a long weekend this past May. Portugal, over the years, has steadily become a travel destination for those that have visited other major parts of Europe and are open to explore smaller capitals. Lisbon is an easy destination to get to, especially with the increase in low cost carriers that service it. I had the weekend planned for good weather; unfortunately, I arrived into Lisbon on Saturday morning to torrential rain. I rearranged my schedule accordingly and had a good first visit to Lisbon despite the weather. These are the highlights of my 1.5 days in Lisbon. Day 1 (Saturday): Arrived in Lisbon to pouring rain Lisbon International Airport is a small international airport so it was not difficult to get out of the arrival terminal. My sister met me there and found a Starbucks right at Arrivals  (outside of customs) with free Wi-Fi to wait for me. This is also a great spot if you need to meet up with other folks flying in from other …

Weekend Unexplored: Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

Big Corn Island, situated off the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua on the Caribbean Sea, has historically been influenced more by the English than the Spanish.  The locals are descendants from Miskito Indians, European pirates, British settlers, and freed slaves.  Over the years, Nicaraguans from the mainland have moved to the island as well.  My friends and I spent a couple of days there in March, hoping to explore the local beaches and dive sites.  Listening to people speak Creole upon arrival was interesting; the language slides so easily in and out of English and Spanish with blends of words and phrases.  Of course, everyone on the island understands both English and Spanish perfectly.  Most have earned their income from lobster fishing, but now many are turning to tourism to bring new job opportunities. Approximately six square miles, the island has a paved road that runs along its entire perimeter.  For only 20 cordobas, or $0.70, we explored the full length of Big Corn Island by taxi cooperatives, sharing the fare with other passengers going the …

A Layover in Narita, Japan

On a recent trip to Asia, I decided to have a 12 hours layover in Narita to explore the city. Narita Airport is at least 40 minutes on a train from Tokyo while Narita city is only a 10 minutes train ride away. Narita city is not about the sights as there are few things to see. However the city boast an abundance of charm and a good way to observe everyday Japanese’s lives for a short duration. Narita is known for grilled eel or unagi and that is where my senses led me. I was fortunate to have a friend residing in Japan meet me in Narita for a short sight seeing break. This is the breakdown of my  adventure in Narita. I had Japan Airlines’ Sakura Lounge access so I was able to freshen up after a red eye flight and grab a quick bite in the lounge. I stored my luggage at the lounge but there are locker options at the arrival hall as well. You can inquire about the locker option at the information …

3.5 Days in Siem Reap, Cambodia (Part 2)

In part 2 of my article on Siem Reap, I will explore the attractions outside of the city. A private car is necessary to get to the attractions as tut tut will not make the trek outside of the city area. It is also a wonderful way to see the Cambodian countryside and the locals’ daily lives. For the trip to Koulen Mountain, you will need to pack your swimsuit and a towel so you can swim under a waterfall. Surrounding Area of Siem Reap Day 3: Banteay Srei, Koulen Mountain, Banteay Samre and sunset at Phnom Bakheng Start the day at 9:00 am and head to Banteay Srei. This temple complex is also known as the “Citadel of Women” or “Citadel of Beauty”, presumably referring to its size and delicate carvings. Unlike the major sites of Angkor, Banteay Srei was not a royal temple. It was built not by kings, but by Brahmin priests. The temple is significantly smaller than the temples at Angkor, but the decorations on the outside are much more detailed. …

Three and a Half Days in Siem Reap, Cambodia (Part 1)

Siem Reap, Cambodia, was my first solo trip to a non-western country. I was nervous about traveling as a girl in a country that had limited English. To ensure that I would have a good time and be safe, I had a guide and/or a driver with me at all time. I was not bothered by the locals peddling goods. Additionally, the guide/driver also provided translations and enjoyable conversations to learn more about local life in Cambodia. Siem Reap and Angkor Wat Tips: A.  I recommend getting a tour guide for Angkor Wat on Day 2 (approximately $45 + tip) and hiring your own driver for Day 2 to Day 4 to make the most of your time there. I hired a private car which was approximately $45 for Day 2, $80 for Day 3 and $100 for Day 4. The rates depend on your distance. It was very hot and dusty in Siem Reap in November so I was happy to splurge on an air conditioned car. B. I would also recommend visiting Siem Reap …