Category Archives: Family Adventures

Nature finds for weekend fun in New Jersey

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This is one of the first years we have been home all summer. We have loved it though at first it was hard.

For my kids the start was bumpy because they suddenly found themselves with not much to do (I also didn’t sign them up for all-summer camp!) and most of their friends had gone away somewhere. The start was a bit bumpy for me too, home all day with two restless boys and tons of work to do. 2 months in we are learning to balance it all and find ways to make the most of summer here in our New Jersey home, which I still feel we take for granted far too often.

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A Visit to Acadia National Park

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These past few months have weighed heavy on many of our hearts and minds. It’s difficult for me, as a woman, as a person of color, child of immigrants, and mother to biracial children, to process it without feeling overwhelmed with the gravity of it all. Though I don’t recommend travel as an escape to our problems and reality – as they will always be there when you get back – I do think that a little retreat is needed for healing, for soothing of our souls, calming of our minds, and some perspective in our lives. For inspiration in finding those things worth fighting for and speaking up for.

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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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Cruising with Fathom Travel & Volunteering in the Dominican Republic

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It’s taking me a bit to share my experiences while cruising to and volunteering in the Dominican Republic with Fathom Travel because it was such an overwhelming experience on so many levels. First, it was the very first time my youngest boys had visited the country. Yes, I lived there for many years (from 9 to 18) and yes, my father and other family still live there, and though I have been back a few times, taking my kids is just something we have never done. Second, it was a trip that involved getting into the communities, at times even into someone’s home and offer a service, through volunteerism.

Volunteerism through travel, or voluntourism, has been covered by many often highlighting the good and mostly bad in the efforts (and profiting) of companies who organize these types of experiences for travelers looking to do something more meaningful and a bit more impactful with their vacation time. I grew up spending a lot of time in hotels and resorts on the island because of my dad’s work in hospitality and so I learned a lot about tourists and their expectations and behaviors from a very early age. Though I have been critical of the Dominican Republic’s politics, I am also very proud and protective of my heritage and people. So, it was with a strong sense of curiosity and emotions that I embarked on the journey.

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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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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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What my family vacation in Italy helped me remember

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I am back! I planned on only taking two weeks off from blogging, but that turned more into three. After my beautiful sister’s wedding and our road trip through Italy (thanks to those who followed us on social media!), my sister came into town for a few days more after her honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. We played tourists together through NYC and as every day went by I felt more and more relaxed with a lighter, more easy-going outlook on what I wanted to do for the rest of the year.

I have a bunch of posts and photos I want to share with you; where to go, what to do, where to stay…but first, I wanted to write about how significant the time away was for us.

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