Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer
Europe, Food + Wine, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Italy
Check instagram for a look into just how popular this Italian city and its distinct glamour are with the world. Of course, a visit will quickly show you its popularity with American college-age students, eager to gobble up first-person experiences of studying abroad and all that entails. However, despite all its popularity, the city and its Medici-enthused antiquities and art objects remain a sight to behold, somehow eschewing total Disney-esque status and allowing the city to continue its far-reaching appeal to almost any traveler. Of course, when something is as beautiful as Florence truly is, not even mass tourism can make her ugly. That said, here are a few tips from my most recent visit to ensure the beauty is the majority of what you see:
1. Do make the trek up the hills into Fiesole, just 20 minutes outside the city. The views are spectacular and offer a rare look into what it might have looked centuries ago (albeit with less structures, but still red roofs and cypress trees) I recommend indulging at the Belmond Villa San Michele (pictured below) whether it be for meal or a stay, as it does set quite an exclamation point behind the look and feel of a regal villa in the hills.
2. Do consider hiring a touring company to get you a bit more behind the scenes. As mentioned above, the crowds are no joke and thus paying a bit more to go behind the vaulted palace doors and up to a private terrace (pictured below) can take your visit from wonderful to magical.
3. Walk, walk and walk some more – until your feet beg for a cafe chair and a spritz. The city is extremely walkable and some of its best-kept gems are just beyond the center. Not to mention bolthole views like the one below, which are only spied by crossing the Arno and heading upward.
4. Stop and marvel as often as possible. You’ll be surprised to find that some of the most precious and historic elements of the city’s history are not behind museum walls. Of course below is a replica of the famous statue, but the Palazzo behind it allows visitors and inside are treasure to behold and open to all.
Caribbean, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Saint Barth's
I am so thrilled to be able to tell you that despite the devastating winds of Hurricane Irma, the beloved isle of St. Barths is alive and well – thriving even, in shockingly green glory. It was such a joy to land and see how much the island has recovered from those hideous pictures post storm. Praise the fertile temperatures of the Caribbean. It was also a sincere pleasure to be down there and appreciate the beauty of the island in a way I had never before. My weekend was filled with early morning hikes through the woods and even hunting using the best used compound bows for sale, also yoga followed by afternoons lazing by the beach with personalized picnics to boot. It was truly heaven.
The views from Petite Saline
Hiking at Le Toiny with the lovely Aminata
Of course, it’s not all roses. The damage is still evident, particularly near Pelican Beach, Grand Cul-de-Sac and behind Le Toiny, and the majority of the five-star hotel properties are shuttered until the end of the year with the exception of Hotel Christopher and Villa Marie opening in late February and early March. Some of my favorite restaurants (Maya’s, Bonito) remain closed though I finally went to Blue Ginger this year and wow. Yum. In good news, the villa product remains stronger than ever, the people are as upbeat and charming as always and the operating businesses are showcasing their innovative and service-oriented characters to the n’th degree – particularly Eden Rock Villas, whose pop up beach club (photo below) is a marvel, executed flawlessly, and WIMCO, whose catered beach picnic set up at the beach of your choosing (also pictured below) was a true highlight of my weekend.
Eden Rock’s Popup Beach Club on Lorient Beach
WIMCO Beach Picnic at Gouveneur Beach
Given the predominance of villas for this next year, I was able to tour a few spectacular ones with the affable and knowledgable, Guillaume of WIMCO. He took me to three top villas distinguished by their views, design and setting. Below is the view from the appropriately named, VILLA VUE. To say that setting on that deck is nothing short of vacation perfection is merely stating the obvious. For more details on specific villas, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am so happy to be able to confidently promote the island and help aid in its recovery with the support of tourism.
The view at Villa VUE
Hard not to have a big grin when you’re in St. Barths, and at Eden Rock Pop Up Beach Club to boot!
Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Travel Tips
Happy New Year!
Having combed the travel mags and their lists of “where to travel to in 2017”, I’ve made my own travel goals and for the first time, they’re not rooted in destination, one of the things I want to do is going fishing, I found this site about it http://www.bigrivertaxidermy.net/. Sure, I still really want to get to Japan this year, as well as Ankor Wat in Cambodia and Australia’s Gold Coast, but I also really want to acquire skills. Yes, skills. I want to improve, clearly and I want to grow and though travel provides the ideal backdrop to both those endeavors, I want to make more of a concerted effort this year to be more mindful about why, where and what I’m seeking to learn and improve.
Surfing in India
Perhaps this ambition is coming from my recent wine studies (WSET Advanced), but I’m thirsty not just for traveling to new places, but for specific experiences in such places that will teach me something new, something everlasting and moreover, something I can continue to pursue far after I’ve returned home.
So, whether its physical (surfing) or academic (winemaking), I’m eager to expand these interests and skills and allow travel to be the linchpin that promotes and enhances them. Cheers to 2017!
Portugal’s Duoro Valley
The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.