Today we are dreaming of wandering around the fascinating streets of Tokyo from sun up until way past sun down. The possibilities for things to do in this metropolitan prefecture are pretty much endless.
Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia are European countries I wholeheartedly recommend as travel destinations. Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and former capital of Yugoslavia, has been the site of over a hundred wars. It has changed hands over and over again, offering visitors a rich history to discover.
The vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Belgrade is the place for nightlife and a culture that centres around food. Hospitality takes on new meaning when visiting Serbia, and just about everything is made from scratch.
Expect to be offered food and drink everywhere you go, no matter what time of day. Breakfast may be followed by dessert, and will almost certainly be accompanied by a shot of slivovitz. The floating bars, restaurants and nightclubs on the Danube river should not be missed.
Belgrade and its surroundings are ideally explored with locals, but can certainly be managed without. For a day trip spend the morning at a monastery, and the afternoon sipping and eating at a vineyard. Taking a taxi outside of the city centre and up the river can land you at a rural waterside restaurant. Take a dip, and of course, feast.
Are you getting tired of a winter that never seems to want to let up? Head south! Sunny Puerto Vallarta is the perfect spot for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. You won’t need much more than a swimsuit, some sunscreen, a few outfits that can transition from day to night, and some shades. Get packing…
PV, as locals know it, has so much to offer. This charming part of Mexico is notorious for glorious beaches, verdant mountains, and an abundance of coastline. If the natural beauty isn’t enough to tempt you, then the world-class restaurants, outstanding accommodations and upscale shopping will.
Puerto Vallarta is a charming, historical city with modern amenities. Charter a sailboat for a day of snorkeling and whale watching, enjoy a sunset walk down the Malecón promenade, and spend your evening enjoying some of PV’s vibrant nightlife. The Wednesday night 'Art Walk' allows you to peruse the local galleries while sipping on a glass of wine.
The weekends are a great time to browse the farmer’s markets where you can pick up unique gifts and sample delicious food. The ocean side ‘Mercado Del Mar’ market is a bit of a drive but has tons of vendors and is the place for fresh seafood. A day trip to the nearby surf town of Sayulita is highly recommended. Walk the vibrant streets and grab a margarita for the ideal laid back afternoon.
There is no reason to stay in Nuevo Vallarta, the new part of town. Instead opt for a hotel or rented apartment in the ‘South Side’ or ‘Zona Romantica’. For an upscale dinner in a perfect setting try the contemporary Blanca Blue with its impressive wine selection and breathtaking views. Hacienda San Angel is a must for a sunset meal. A full mariachi band will serenade you as you enjoy the historic property, look out at the ocean, and take in a view of the mountainside. ¡Buen viaje!
If you are seeking a gritty destination for live music, street art, and a city that never sleeps, Berlin will tick all the boxes and more. This historied city is sure to keep you on your toes. When deciding on attractions to visit the possibilities may seem endless. There are lots of walking tours to choose from that will allow you to easily hit the main attractions like Checkpoint Charlie, Alexanderplatz, the Brandenburg Gate, and the remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall.
Public Park and Houses
Segment of Berlin Wall
Berliner Dom with Berlin TV Tower in Distance
Alternative walking tours will take you to interesting sights and give you a glimpse into the famed underground sub-cultures in the city. Be prepared to see incredible examples of street art and lots of amazing graffiti. World-renowed artists and unknowns alike have covered buldings, walls, and just about everything else in colourful artwork.
Astronaut/Cosmonaut by Victor Ash
ROA's Rabbit Mural
Part of the 'Go Forth' campaign by Vhils and Levi's
With food choices ranging from traditional to contemporary with everything in between, food lovers will have lots to sample. It would be impossible to leave the city without trying the currywurst, steamed then fried pork sausage, cut into slices, and slathered in curry ketchup. Markthalle is a great restaurant to devour some schnitzel and enjoy a beer in a more classic setting before heading out for a night of music and fun in the Kreuzburg neighbourhood.
Kjosk Convenience Store
Wall Art in Kreuzberg
For some summer fun and reggae beats hit up YAAM, a beach bar next to the river, or spend a Tuesday or Friday checking out the sights and smells at the Turkish market. Famed nightclubs pepper the city so there is no shortage of things to do when the sun goes down. Berlin is a fascinating juxtaposition between old and new. Summer is an obvious time to visit, but the Christmas markets and rowdy New Year’s celebrations make Berlin the place to be for fun year round. Just don’t forget to hit the hay at some point.
It is time to travel to Venice. Once you arrive there is so much to do and even more to see, from the winding canals to artistic masterpieces. The best way to see the city is through a combination of walking the streets and cruising on gondolas along the extensive waterways. When you take off on foot make a plan of where to go, but expect to get a little lost. The streets are so charming that you will inevitably be drawn in unanticipated directions.
When your tummy rumbles take your pick: the selection of seafood is amazing and there are many tasty Venetian treats to choose from. Try to avoid the main tourist areas when eating. They tend to be overpriced and mediocre (a menu translated into multiple languages will be your clue). Find a charming location, sip on some wine, and get swept up in the romantic atmosphere. If a formal sit-down meal does not appeal to you then you are in luck! There are so many little shops where you can buy Italian specialties and a reasonably priced beer for next to nothing.
In Venice there are hordes of designer stores and lovely boutiques. If glass is your thing then be sure to grab some colourful Murano glass by boat just off the shore. The artists creating carnival masks in the city are true craftsmen, so don't forget to pick up one of your own. You never know when you'll have a masquerade ball to attend.
Go to Chicago for a weekend. Trust me. Eat delicious food, take in the Art Institute, listen to Chicago blues, gawk at statuesque skyscrapers, cheer at historic Wrigley Field, and survey the beautiful buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright. This is a place that deserves a visit!
When deciding on a place to stay look to be in the heart of downtown. The Swissotel on Wacker Drive is a fantastic option. The rooms have great views of Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline. Flying in and out of Midway Airport is a no-brainer. It is much smaller than the ever-insane O'Hare, and for a few bucks you can hop on the train and be right in the thick of things swiftly. Oh, and you'll need a relevant book to take with you. The Devil in the White City is a non-fiction novel about architecture and murder during the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. It is a great read and will give you insight into the history of the city.
Boat tours are very touristy but a great way to admire the gravity-defying architecture.
In such an enormous city there are almost too many food options. If you have your heart set on getting some deep dish pizza then try Pizzeria Uno's on East Ohio (or nearby Due's). Hot Doug's has become quite the destination for Chicago hot dogs, but be prepared to wait for an hour or more to get in. Italian beef with giardiniera is great, Frontera Grill's Mexican food is highly recommended, and being obsessed with barbecue led me to Smoque BBQ. It is hard to go wrong with ribs, brisket, mac and cheese, baked beans, slaw and sweet tea.
Take in a baseball game at the historic Wrigley Field. It is in its 99th season hosting major league baseball, and the 97th season for the Cubs. With so many bars and pubs near the stadium this destination easily becomes a day-to-night event.
Walk around Oak Park where you can see many of Frank Lloyd Wright's creations.
Make sure to experience some of the great neighbourhoods outside of the centre of town as well.
The unique corncob shape of the Marina City complex is one example of the various architectural styles that you will see towering over the city.
The Sears Tower (actually now called the Willis Tower) was the tallest building the world for 25 years after construction was completed in 1973. There is an observation deck on the 103rd floor with glass balconies if you dare.
Canadian beer aficionados will enjoy the selection of beers that are unattainable in our home and native land.
Sitting precariously in the Rif Mountains you will find Chaouen, a blue washed wonderland of narrow streets weaving up and down the mountainside. It is a curvy and scenic ride up with lots to observe en route. Hop on a bus in Tetouan, or better yet hire a grand taxi. For a reasonable price you will find yourself riding luxuriously in an old Mecedes with the windows down and the breeze through your hair. There are numerous accommodation options, but you will want to be sure to have access to an air-conditioner and/or a heater in case of sweltering Moroccan days or cold mountain nights. This place is otherworldly and charming at once. Hike to the nearby waterfall, watch women commonly scrub laundry on the edge of town, or merely meander and dream in blue.