All posts tagged: Weekend Unexplored

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 …

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. …

Weekend Unexplored: Gatsby Afternoon

Held annually on the second Sunday of September, the Gatsby Afternoon picnic attracts hundreds of American 1920 and 1930 enthusiasts to the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland, California.  From approximately 1 pm until 5 pm, revelers can immerse themselves back to the time of flapper dresses, the foxtrot, and fashionable hats.  New York may have its own version of this event on Governors Island but it pales in comparison to the event hosted by the Art Deco Society of California and its East Bay residents. All guests must be in vintage-style attire.  It’s required, meaning there are no spectators.  Only participants are allowed on the grounds.  Maintaining the vintage atmosphere is indeed enforced:  no jeans, shorts, sneakers, polo/tee-shirts, baseball hats, pantsuits.  If an attendee arrives without appropriate attire, he or she is directed to the Costume Closet, a vintage rental/sale station on-site.   I arrived early before the gates opened to grab one of the front spots in line at the entrance.  Wearing a printed vintage style dress, I dressed it up with white …