Category Archives: Europe

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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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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The road to Seville in photos

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I kicked off my road to Seville from the beautiful city of Lisbon and from where my journey through rich culture, colors, and food would continue.

On the day I headed out it was raining and it would rain throughout most of my Iberian road trip with Insight Vacations, but the chilly air, foggy mornings, and rainy days didn’t damper the beauty of all that I saw an experienced. Here is that journey in photo.

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Timeless Ireland at Ashford Castle

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I think back at the days I spent touring Ireland and I realize that the moments where I was happiest was when I felt the history of the place around me. There’s something to be revered about a place that has survived the test of time and the whims of humanity.

There would be many places in my Ireland road trip with Insight Vacations that would wow me, but none would be as awe-inspiring as the majestic Ashford Castle.

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Ireland road trip: a photo tour

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I am not really sure how many times one would have to visit Ireland before walking away with a sense of fulfillment. I have been there twice now and I am not yet fulfilled. I crave every ounce of experience even more since I left this beautiful country. Even memories of the misty weather makes my heart ache for a trip back.

This small country holds massive opportunities for discovery, no matter what kind of travel experience you seek. I love that my trips have all started in Dublin, a city I adore, but I am even more grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to venture outside of the city and see another side of the country.

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24 Wonderful Hours in Paris

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Last year, when I visited Paris on vacation with my family, it rained every single day we were here…except for the day we were heading home.

Despite this, my family and I had the best time. We visited the Louvre, climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Champs Élysées. We toured Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. We visited cafes and brasseries, stayed in a fabulous HomeAway apartment and sailed the Seine. It was magical and fun, rain and all.

I didn’t expect was that I would have the opportunity to return so soon.

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What to See, Eat, & Do in the Champagne Region of France

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There is a difference between simply drinking a glass of champagne at home and drinking a glass after having toured the champagne house from which it comes from. Not to say that it tastes bad, just that it seems to taste better – or so is my belief after having toured the Champagne region of France this past summer.

Of course, I say all of this jokingly but also in part to express my deeper appreciate for this delightful bubbly since my trip.

The region of Champagne, which was established long before the bubbly was even produced, located in the Northeast of France, a little over 2 hour drive from Paris. 

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Renting a Gite in France

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When my husband and I decided to vacation in France with the kids, we knew immediately that we would want to rent a house or large apartment.

As our family gets older and with all of us wanting more space, vacation home rentals are just the way to go. They are also huge money-savers from not having to eat out all the time, be entertained all the time just to get out of the hotel, and the needing an extra hotel room to accommodate the kids.

When it came to lodging during our week at the Midi-Pyrenees, we had several options: hotels, many of which would need more than one room to accommodate my large family, an apartment in the center of the city, or a gîte. I chose a gîte, which was the most costly upfront, but eventually balanced out in what we saved from not having to eat out every night, especially in Toulouse which is pricey.

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