Planning an Oxford Day Trip: A Perfect Day Trip from London

Exeter College chapel Oxford day trip from London England UK

Oxford is a university city situated about 60 miles from London, making a Oxford day trip an ideal way to get out of the bustling capital for a day or weekend to explore this compact historical city. Nicknamed the City of Dreaming Spires, Oxford is best known as the home of England’s oldest university, the University of Oxford, which is still one of the most respected in the country. However, while a trip to Oxford wouldn’t be complete without touring a couple of university buildings, Oxford has much else to offer. A visitor might go on a walking tour of the downtown, browse for souvenirs at the Covered Market, go punting on the River Cherwell, take a tour of a medieval castle, stroll in a pretty garden, enjoy a drink in a historical tavern, or even take a short drive to visit one of England’s most beautiful and famous country Read the Rest…

A High Quality Wireless Router: Netgear Nighthawk X4 Review

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

As an ambassador for Netgear, I recently was sent the Netgear Nighthawk X4 wireless router to review. It was perfect timing as Laurence and I had just moved into our new apartment in Scotland and just had the previous owners’ very basic wireless router that was not designed for multiple devices or working for home on a daily basis as we do as travel bloggers. The Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 WiFi Router is a 1.4GHz dual core processor router designed for people who want to use their wireless connections for high-speed gaming, streaming videos and music, and/or connecting multiple devices, as well as those who want to maximize their Wi-Fi signal in large homes. It is also well-designed for those who want simple access to their network storage. This high-end wireless router also comes with features such as security protection, Dynamic QoS, and USB ports. Also, the device has a Read the Rest…

Exploring the Art at the Borghese Gallery in Rome

Apollo and Daphne Bernini Borghese Gallery Galleria Borghese Rome Italy

The Borghese Gallery is the perfect place for art lovers to admire art in a beautiful space without big crowds in Rome. While the Vatican Museums are filled with treasures and are a must visit site in the Eternal City, it is also one of the largest and most crowded museums on the planet! But luckily Rome is full of art, some contained inside museums, some tucked away in churches, and some weathering in its piazzas. The Galleria Borghese, or Borghese Gallery, features one of the world’s greatest private art collections assembled by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century in his Roman garden villa. The collection is particularly rich in ancient Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art, with major works by Bernini, Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael, Correggio, Rubens, and Canova. A great thing about the Borghese Gallery is that it has a timed reservation system that keeps the crowds to a minimum; however, Read the Rest…

Discovering the Romantic Poets on our Grand Tour in Rome

Romantic Poets Grand Tour in Rome

During our modern-day Grand Tour in Rome this past October, we had the opportunity to learn more about the English Romantic poets and their history within the Eternal City on a tour with Context Travel. From the 16th century until the mid 19th century, many wealthy young English men would travel to Italy on a Grand Tour in order to finish off their education and gain a better understanding of art, culture, and history. However, many used it as an excuse to gamble, drink, party, and visit prostitutes. Three of the most famous English Romantic poets: George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron), Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats, would all visit Italy and the city of Rome would serve as a backdrop for significant personal events in the poets’ lives and as an inspiration for their poetry. The guided tour includes a visit to the last residence of John Keats, a wander through a Read the Rest…

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Train: A Luxury Train Journey from London to Venice

Belmond Venice Simplon Orient Express

This past October we had the pleasure of riding the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train from London to Venice where we held our wedding ceremony. The original Orient Express train service ran from 1883 to 2009, and its name became associated with glamour, luxury, intrigue, and even murder! In its heyday, it was the most luxurious train in Europe and today this tradition lives on with Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE). The VSOE makes regular luxury train journeys across Europe, offering gourmet meals, private overnight cabins, and attentive staff within its wonderfully restored historical train carriages. The signature trip is the 36-hour luxury train journey from London to Venice which has to be one of the most elegant ways to arrive in Venice! We’ll share all you need to know to decide if this trip is a good fit for you, from the historical background of the Orient Express to how to book Read the Rest…

French Tea Time: A Guide to Afternoon Tea in Paris

Four Seasons Hotel George V La Galerie luxury afternoon tea in Paris

After many cups of tea, we’ve put together a guide to afternoon tea in Paris. People often associate Paris with outdoor cafés and coffee and wine culture, so you may be surprised to know that there are a number of great spots for savoring tea in Paris. The act of drinking tea in France dates back to the 17th century and it was long associated with being a pastime of the aristocracy. Whether you are looking for an indulgent afternoon tea served with a silver tiered tray of sandwiches and pastries at a grand luxury hotel or simply a cup of tea and a madeleine at a more casual spot, you are sure to find something that fits your taste and budget. We’ll also share some of our favorite French tea brands for those wanting to buy and savor tea at home. We are still exploring all the afternoon tea spots in Paris, Read the Rest…

How to Visit the Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica Without the Crowds

saint marks basilica st. mark's basilica without the crowds

Visit the Doge’s Place and St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds? St. Marks’ Basilica and the Doge’s Palace are two of the most popular places to visit in Venice, and although they are must-see stops for travelers, they also tend to be very crowded. It can be hard to enjoy these historical sites as you are standing in lines, jostling elbows with fellow travelers, and trying to see around selfie sticks and flag-waving tour guides. Walks of Italy, an American-based walking tour company, has come up with an eloquent solution for this dilemma. They have designed a tour that allows late entry into the Doge’s Palace which is a time that the palace is typically quiet, and most importantly they have received permission to run exclusive after-hours tours inside St. Marks’ Basilica. So you get to experience St. Mark’s Basilica as very few people do, alone with only your tour Read the Rest…

Casanova’s Venice: Discovering 18th Century Venice with Context Travel

Rio dei Mendicanti Canaletto Ca' Rezzonico Context Travel

During our trip to Venice, we did a Context Travel walking tour themed around Casanova’s 18th century Venice. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was an Italian adventurer, author, and womanizer who was born and lived in Venice during the gilded and decadent eighteenth century. Perhaps best known for his daring and amorous exploits, Casanova’s autobiography is considered one of the best sources of European lifestyles and customs of the 18th century. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, Venice had amassed significant power and wealth through trade although its power was rapidly fading by the 18th century as the republic was no longer a major center of international trade. In the 1700’s, or Settecento, Venice became known as a place for leisure and pleasure, with the 18th century being considered the most hedonistic period in Venetian history. This period is often symbolized by gilded palazzos along the Grand Canal, lavish fashions, elaborate parties, elegant cafes, mask-wearing Read the Rest…

Guide to Planning a Route 66 Road Trip

Route 66 road trip

A Route 66 road trip is a driving adventure along what is probably the most famous road in the world. Historic Route 66 spans over 2,400 miles and crosses 8 states, starting in Chicago, Illinois and terminating at the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California. Given its “66” designation in 1926, it became a well-traveled highway, bringing together people from all walks of life. John Steinbeck would refer to Route 66 as “the mother road, the road of flight” for those trying to escape the Dust Bowl and ravages of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Later it would support a countless number of vacationing families from the Midwest heading to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. As more Americans took to the highway, a roadside culture would spring up along Route 66—motels, diners, gas stations, tourist attractions—to cater to a population that was increasingly mobile. Today it is that classic road Read the Rest…

Wedding at Sea: Our Cunard Queen Mary 2 Wedding

Cunard Queen Mary 2 wedding at sea cruise

I have been wanting to write a post about our Queen Mary 2 wedding at sea for a few months. In August, Laurence and I got married at sea aboard the Cunard Queen Mary 2 ship as we sailed from New York City to England. We had struggled for a few months to decide on a wedding location given that we have different nationalities, residences, and family and friends spread out across the world. We already wanted to do a transatlantic cruise aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2 as a way to get to the UK and once we booked this, we decided to also hold our wedding here. We were married by the ship’s captain, Captain Kevin Oprey, about halfway between the United States and England while sailing on the high seas of the Atlantic Ocean. It was a wonderful experience for us, but a wedding at sea is not for Read the Rest…

10 Places to Experience the World of Salvador Dalí in Costa Brava Spain

Salvador Dalí in Costa Brava Spain

Most fans of Salvador Dalí are familiar with the fact that the surrealist artist was born in the Costa Brava region of Catalonia Spain, but not everyone knows that this region is the best place to experience the inspirational world of Dalí. The Costa Brava region of Catalonia is situated in the northeast corner of Spain and is best known for its sunny beaches, all-inclusive resorts, rugged landscapes, hiking and biking trails, fine dining, and for being the birthplace of Salvador Dalí. It is in this area of Spain that Dalí drew inspiration for many of his surrealist works and it is here that fans of his work can best get a sense of the artist’s life and actually visit the places that inspired him. The three most famous places which form the so-called Dalian Triangle are the much-visited Dalí Theatre-Museum in Dalí’s hometown of Figueres, his adulthood home in Portlligat, Read the Rest…

Planning a California Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

JUCY RV campervan California Pacific Coast Highway 1 road trip

Driving along the California Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is perhaps one of the greatest road trips in the world. Over the past five years, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit many of the towns and city’s along the Golden Coast. But it was not until this past summer that we did the full road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles following Highway 1 coastal route the whole way. We did the road trip in style, driving a bright green-and-purple JUCY campervan! Along this famous route, you’ll drive through big metropolitan cities and tiny coastal towns, gliding by redwood forests, classic California beach towns, lighthouses, major wine regions, marine wildlife, Spanish colonial sights, outdoor adventure opportunities, state parks, and even Hearst Castle. Not to mention the wonderful scenic views that will have you pulling off for impromptu ogling and photo ops all along the Pacific Coast Highway! Read the Rest…

Porvoo Finland: An Easy Day Trip From Helsinki

day trip to Porvoo Finland from Helsink

Last winter Laurence and I stayed in Helsinki for several days and took a day trip to Porvoo Finland. Settled in the Middle Ages, Porvoo is the second oldest town in Finland and is well-known for its historic Old Town and colorful riverside warehouses. The town is also notable for its local artists, including Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg whose home can still be visited today. It is also a popular destination for shopping, dining, river cruises, cycling, and pleasant scenic strolls along the river. You can also easily explore the Pellinki archipelago from Porvoo. It is a perfect Helsinki day trip as it is located about an hour away and is a town that is easy to explore on foot. We’ll share tips on how you can also visit Porvoo on a day trip from Helsinki as well as some of our favorite things to do in this historical Read the Rest…

The Most Fashionable Afternoon Tea in London: Prêt-à-Portea Tea at The Berkeley

Prêt-à-Portea Tea at The Berkeley London

Afternoon tea in London is one of those quintessential travel experiences and I was very excited to try the Prêt-à-Portea tea at The Berkeley. The name for this fashion-inspired tea is a clever play on the phrase prêt-à-porter which refers to ready-to-wear clothing (a.k.a. off-the-rack) within the fashion industry. There are of course hundreds of places serving afternoon tea in London, from the traditional to the quirky, but for fashionistas looking for something different, I’d suggest booking an afternoon tea at The Berkeley. First served in 2005, Prêt-à-Portea brings a creative twist to the traditional English afternoon tea with cakes and pastries resembling the latest catwalk designs from the collections of the world’s top fashion houses and designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab, Valentino, Alexander McQueen, and Chanel. Feel like eating a Oscar de la Renta princess gown sponge cake, a Alexander McQueen hat vanilla shortbread, or Manolo Blahnik Read the Rest…

12 Ways to Find Ernest Hemingway in Key West Florida

Dry Tortugas Hemingway in Key West Florida

One of the most notable people to live in Key West was writer and avid traveler Ernest Hemingway, and as a visitor you can still find many traces of Hemingway in Key West. In April 1928, Hemingway and his wife Pauline Pfeiffer would come to Key West to pick up a car and while waiting for the delayed car to be delivered, Hemingway would explore the city and eventually fall in love and make Key West one of his homes. It would be during this time that Hemingway would fall in love with deep sea fishing, write several novels, welcome the birth of his sons Patrick (1928) and Gregory (1931), meet his third wife, and make many life long friends. Of course, it is impossible to recreate the Key West of Hemingway’s time, a much smaller and more isolated city during the Great Depression, but one can trace and recreate a bit of Read the Rest…