Travel Tips Around The World

Apr 7 2017

Earthly delights: Shopping in Porto, Portugal

Set along the gorgeous Douro River, Porto, Portugal is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and a must-see for many reasons. Among the historic sites and museums, there is also magnificent shopping to be found, for everything from artisan chocolate to fine clothing. Portugal's second largest city is full of chain and specialty stores for any and every kind of product, but these are a few of our favorite spots for special souvenirs and exciting experiences.


                                             The grand staircase at Livraria Lello; photo via Portugal Resident.

Can there be any doubt that Livraria Lello is the most beautiful bookstore in the world? It draws people in such numbers that there is now a charge of a few euros to even enter the store—but the fee goes towards any books you may buy! This ornate shop stays packed; go early in the day, when it's less crowded. An absolute must-see in Porto.


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Oct 7 2016

The San Benedetto Market: A cornerstone of Sardinian life

Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and the city you're most likely to first visit on the island, since the airport and major port are there. The capital is the hub of many of the arts and culture of the island, and is more bustling than some of the slow-moving smaller towns. There's no place that fact is more in evidence that at the San Benedetto Market, the city's main market and the place where Sardinians buy all of their food. 

                   Fresh fish for sale at the San Benedetto Market; photo courtesy of the Sardinia Tourism Board.


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Sep 22 2016

Chicago Neighborhood Profile: Logan Square

Most visitors to Chicago only make it outside of the Loop (our name for downtown) to head to the Southside for the Museum of Science and Industry, or maybe to head a little bit north to Wrigley Field; and that's a real shame, because our city is vibrant, diverse and full of incredible experiences, many of the best of which are outside the tourist hubs. If you want to escape the endless hordes of people on Michigan Avenue, hop the CTA Blue Line for twenty minutes and get off at either the California or Logan Square stops, and you'll find yourself in Logan Square, the most up-and-coming area in the city, jam-packed with award-winning bars and restaurants. Here are some of my favorite dining, drinking and shopping spots in my neighborhood. 


                                     The signature dish at Logan Square's Fat Rice. Photo via Bon Appetit.

Dining. Some of the most exciting and unique dining experiences in the city reside in Logan Square. My favorite is Fat Rice, which serves Macau cuisine—Macau was a Portuguese trading outpost in China where many cultures blended, producing a one-of-a-kind fusion cuisine. You'll find dumplings and pork buns along with traditional Portuguese drinks such as caipirinhas, but the real star is the titular dish, the fat rice, which is a rice pot loaded with clams, prawns, a variety of sausages and porks, and hardboiled eggs (it'll feed two to four people). It's basically a treasure trove that you eat. Get a reservation, because I was once told on a Thursday evening that it was a two-and-a-half-hour wait for a party of two. (Tip: Fat Rice has a bakery next door where you can buy a wide variety of buns (they even have a Chicago-style hot dog bun, if you're feeling brave) and coffee and tea that's open during the day.)


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Apr 22 2015

Exploring Paris' Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter of Paris is known as the heart of bohemian intellectualism—this is the area where you could once find Sartre, de Beauvoir and Camus sipping Pernod and talking philosophy. Though it is now largely a tourist area, it still bustles with the activity of students and free spirits, and it should not be overlooked by serious travelers. It is best to explore this section of the city as a flaneur—wander the streets, see the people, stop into any cafe or bookstore that interests you. This is one of those areas that is meant to be seen without the heavy burden of sightseeing—though it is close to Notre Dame and the excellent Archaeological Crypt of Parvis of Notre Dame. Try to spend at least an afternoon in the Quartier Latin. To get you started, here are a few of our favorite spots.

The Cluny Museum. This museum focuses on all things medieval, and that goes for everything from its structure (it's a former cloister built in the 15th century atop the ruins of the former Roman baths) to its contents. A standout museum in Paris, it is the perfect spot for art and history lovers. There you can see The Lady and the Unicorn, perhaps the most famous tapestry ever created.


                                 The Lady and The Unicorn tapestry; photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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Oct 9 2014

Sao Paulo’s 3 design hotels that are sure to please

Category: Destinations | Hotels | Lists | On The Scene | ShoppingCindy @ 05:43

As the largest city in South America, Sao Paulo is a city of contrasts. It’s gigantic and bustling and can be intimidating. But it also has its charms: Its culture, dining, nightlife, shopping and arts scene are exciting and intriguing, unlike in any other place.

As for where to stay in Sampa, as the locals call it, there are the typical chains that Americans are often drawn to – Grand Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental, Radisson, Renaissance and Sheraton, and these are fine places to stay, if that’s what you’re into. But if you’re looking for something different, then Sao Paulo has that as well: three sparkling little gems – design hotels that stand out above the rest. More...

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Oct 4 2013

North Carolina, especially beautiful in the fall

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about the magnificent fall color spreading across the U.S. I recently saw one of those lists that tells you where you can supposedly find the best fall leaf color. All the usual places were there: Oregon, Washington, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, even some lesser-known ones such as Ohio. Notably absent was North Carolina, my home state. I was surprised. How could our beautiful state have been left out?! More...

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Sep 20 2013

Myrtle Beach, any time of year

Category: Destinations | Dining | Recreation | Shopping | SightseeingKaren @ 09:03

With temperatures beginning to drop and the official first day of autumn only a few days away, I'm already feeling a touch of the winter blues.  I love summer, and this year it was so abnormally cool and rainy here in North Carolina that I feel a little bit cheated. My legs are still as pasty white as they were back in March, and my vegetable garden was a dismal, waterlogged failure because of the excessive rain and consequential lack of sunshine. However, I did check the single most important summertime activity off my list. I made it to the beach. More...

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Feb 19 2013

A winter vacation in Oslo

Category: Destinations | Recreation | Shopping | SightseeingKaren @ 08:17

When I was growing up, we had a hill in our back yard that my brothers and I put to good use in winter as a sledding run. It wasn't a steep slopeMore...

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Dec 13 2012

A tour of East Central Ohio

Category: Destinations | Recreation | Shopping | SightseeingKaren @ 10:38

I was among the millions of travelers who hit the roads to go home and visit loved ones during the recent Thanksgiving holiday. As I've mentioned in the past, I grew up in a very small town. The village of Hanover, Ohio, doesn't even have its own postal code: That it shares with the nearby city of Newark, which is the place I generally think of (along with the surrounding area) when I talk about my hometown.

Although Newark (population roughly 47,500) is hardly a major metropolis, it still has some pretty cool sites to visit. Some of the highlights in Newark and the surrounding area include a rich history of Native American cultures, a beautiful arboretum, and a seven-story-tall office building shaped like a picnic basket. Yes, really. More...

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Oct 17 2012

Austin Calling

Category: Destinations | Dining | Nightlife | ShoppingKaren @ 06:18

After spending most of the summer vacation season in semi-confinement taking care of my newborn son, I find I've been afflicted with a touch of the wanderlust. And by "a touch" I really mean a full-out, get-me-the-heck-outta-Dodge compulsion for a change in scenery. More...

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