Category Archives: Editorials

When you are a nature-lover, and of color, in America

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Recently, I decided to take my boys out for a day of hiking. There are some short hikes around the reservation near our home here in  New Jersey, but I wanted something a bit more challenging, so we headed an hour away to Pennsylvania to explore the trails along the Delaware Water Gap.

It was a gorgeous day, a nice break from the humidity and intense heat we have felt so regularly this summer. The kids and I were in high spirits and we were excited to explore nature. The radio kept playing all our favorite songs and we cracked jokes. There was no traffic and the drive was easy.

Then I spotted it. A pick-up truck had merged in front of me and across its back cabin window was a large sticker that took up almost the entire glass. It was the confederate flag. I felt my body get tense. I honestly don’t know if we had crossed the border into PA yet, it really didn’t matter. I was heading into rural America, alone, with my kids.

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My Kids’ First Trip to the Dominican Republic: Heritage, Race, and Breaking the Cycle

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We were on a bus on our way to do some volunteer work with other travelers from the Fathom cruise. Our project leader, a local employed by the organization heading the activity, was pointing out highlights of Sosua, the beach town we were entering and where we would do our work.

“And here is one of the first synagogues established in the Dominican Republic,” she exclaimed proudly. The group immediately looked out the window, surprised to learn that there was a Jewish community on the island, let alone a historic synagogue. “I didn’t realize there was a Jewish community here. When did they arrive?” asked a group member.

“Well, in the 1930s Rafael Trujillo who was a dictator here at the time, took in the Jewish refugees looking to escape the Nazis. He did this when no one else would and they came and settled here,” she replied.

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Highlights of Dijon, France

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It was a beautiful summer day when I arrived to Dijon, France. I quickly dropped off my bags in my hotel room at the trendy, Michelin rated Le Chapeau Rouge, slipped into some comfortable walking shoes and headed out. I hadn’t been to this beautiful city in two years but I remembered how much I enjoyed walking through it. I also noticed how much it had changed during that time.

Trams were now operating across the city and more areas had been renovated and designated as pedestrian-only. It felt airy and open.

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Two beautiful days at Lake Como, Italy

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One of the highlights of our road trip through northern Italy was our stay in Lake Como. Most of our stops were in the Lombardy region, where there are lakes galore. Lake Como, the third largest lake in Italy and one of the deepest, is heavily visited by locals and tourists alike, especially during the summer months. Finding a place to stay can be difficult, and though parking is difficult, finding a home rental – our choice for this stay – was even more so.

We lucked out because we arrived just before the travel season had really kicked-off. We also arrived on a weekend, finding a parking spot just down the hill from our apartment rental that didn’t need us having to pay or move our car during our entire stay.

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The Best of Steamboat, CO Summers – A Photo Tour

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I have enjoyed visiting Colorado in the winter in the past but it is no secret that summers are my favorite and when it comes to finding fun things to do, Steamboat Springs delivers.

And the word is out.

It used to be that the energy of the town and even that of the Steamboat Resort was limited to the colder months. Though it still is, when compared to the bustle of skiers and snow lovers the visit the mountain town annually, it is by no means sleepy. Here are some of the fun things to do, in photos!

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Taking on a new adventure!

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We were in the middle of an ocean cliffs ranger-led tour in Acadia national park, when my 9-year-old chimed in to add to the discussion that baleen whales, attracted to the shores of Bar Harbor each breeding season, can’t eat more than a balloon size amount of food which is why they mostly prefer to eat small fish, plankton, and krill. The ranger replied in delight that he would not only share this correct fact, but do so confidently. I was left in awe that he even knew that.

Later on, he would go on to also share that it was the Wabanake people, not the European settlers, who were the first to settle Mount Desert Island, where the park is located. He had only learned this the day before during a museum visit.

This wouldn’t be the first time I have seen my boys enthusiastically share information with tour guides and others whom we meet in our travels. Yet it was during our time in Italy, and again during our recent trip to Acadia, that I was left convinced that we were ready for homeschooling.

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The Best of Venice, Italy’s Floating City

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The first time I went to Venice was in the middle of summer and it was awful.

The humidity was debilitating, the heat at the turn at every corner seemed like a punch in the stomach. Though I appreciated its uniqueness, and enjoyed being there with my son, I did not really appreciate it for all it was.

My second trip, in early Spring, was a completely different experience. Days were a comfortable warmth, with a cool chill wave every so often. The skies were clear and though there are always tourists in Venice, there were pockets where we could totally avoid them and enjoy the scene.

Last time I visited, I was in and out in 24 hours. This time we stayed around for a few days. The combination of weather, slow pace, and low tourist season made it fun to explore and understand why so many people walk away completely in love.

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A day in The City of Love, Verona, Italy

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Two hours from Milan and Venice, and only a little more than an hour from Brescia, where we were staying, is the city of Verona, best known for being the home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Juliet’s House will be the place you will want to visit first upon arrival (though doors to the museum don’t typically open till mid-morning). Even when we arrived to the city early on a weekday morning, a mop of tourists had already gathered in the courtyard of where the real-life Cappello family once lived. There’s a statue of Juliet at the foreground where people wait in line to grab her bronze breast because supposedly it makes the one doing so lucky in love. My husband and I passed on this chance, confident that we were going to be OK either way. Watching people anxiously line up to do so, with women as well as men happily posing for photos with the boob of a statue in their hand was, however, the comical introduction to our day in Italy’s City of Love.

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Three beautiful days in Brescia, Italy

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One of the greatest gifts I received as a young traveler to Italy was the opportunity to learn about Brescia. Brescia is about an hour and a half from Milan, in the region of Lombardy. Not many people I have spoken to about my time there as a young adult know where Brescia is, much less even heard of it. It has always been for me, especially as my intro to Italy, a secret paradise, my own little haven. Though the distance from Milan is short, it feels like it is worlds away. Brescia, considered one of the most ancient cities in Italy, is a favorite just as Northern Italy remains my favorite area of the entire country to visit.

I also have family there, which might influence it all a bit too, and it was a wonderful experience for me to return to such a special place in my heart with a husband and kids in tow. I spent the first few hours in complete awe of the fact that this was a moment when my past and present were coming together in the most beautiful way possible. 

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Weekend Getaway to Los Cabos, Mexico

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After several trips to really cold destinations, I needed an escape to somewhere warm. I didn’t realize how much I needed this escape until I arrived to the warmth of Los Cabos, Mexico. When I arrived to San José del Cabo airport I felt the weight of winter, or maybe it was the many layers of clothing, lifted off my shoulders. The beautiful sound of Spanish filled the air, sprinkled with the English of the many tourists that visit here regularly. In a weekend’s time, I would get to enjoy two very different hotel experiences and lots of sunshine.

The airport is a direct 5-hour flight from New York and Newark airports, though the area is mostly visited by residents in the nearby Arizona and California states. The airport is easy to navigate – though it’s important to remember to stay clear of the aggressive vendors right outside the security doors before you exit the airport. I really can’t stress this enough. It’s best to book your car service/shuttle through your hotel reservation, all of which will be waiting for you outside of the airport, not before (regardless of what any vendor there will say). Avoid being tricked into sitting through a timeshare presentation and you should be OK to start your vacation.

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