Stairway to heaven: day hike to Lac Blanc

  My best friend Laura was in town, and I wanted to plan a weekend adventure befitting of nearly 20 years exploring the world together. Hiking around Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe, seemed the obvious choice. Sitting at over 15,770 feet with magnificent valleys stretching into France, Italy, and Switzerland, the Mont Blanc…

Life in the Alps: a weekend in the Swiss National Park

Switzerland’s remarkable landscapes demand immediate action – grab your boots, jump on a train, and hit the trails. And perhaps nowhere deserves a visit more than the Swiss National Park, a relatively off-the-grid destination that bundles everything the country has to offer into a compact 170 sq km pocket of nature. With a three-day weekend ahead of us, we packed…

A week in Provence

The Provence painted by Van Gogh and Cézanne is a dazzling palette of richly colored scenes. More than a century later, nothing has changed. A region famous for its pastis and pétanque, rolling fields of purple lavender, storybook hilltop villages, and picturesque markets, Provence offers so many enchanting landscapes and experiences that it would take a lifetime to uncover them all. We had a week. On…

Castles and wine: roadtripping along the Rhine and Mosel, Germany

To me, there is nothing more exciting than being in a new place, surrounded by a state of complete unknown. On the edge of a frontier tempting exploration. Like listening to a Bo Diddley song: you’re legs just have to move. To my dad, there is nothing more overwhelming; yet, almost the day I moved to Europe he…

At the edge of civilization: Torla and the Pyrenees

Rick Steves missed this one on his best of Europe list. The tiny Pyrenean-style stone village of Torla, Spain has quickly become one of my favorite places in the world.  Torla is tucked away from civilization in a glacial valley in the Spanish province of Aragón and was quite appropriately chosen as one of Europe’s 10 Coziest Mountain Villages, managing to retain its…

Food and wine adventures in Spain: The Mugaritz and Rioja experience

Summoned by the allure of the culinary experience of a lifetime, Mugaritz, named one of the world’s 17 restaurants worth planning a trip around by Travel and Leisure, coaxed me back to San Sebastian‘s  enchanting beaches and tapas-laden streets for the second time in a year. We had tried to make a reservation at Mugaritz last September, but despite booking 5 months in advance there were no tables available. As…

Between the cows: painting a picture of Switzerland

This was destined to be an epic journey. One of my dearest friends and travel companions for the past 19 years, Katie, was coming to visit and we had planned a train trip across the country. From Geneva we would stop in the dazzling and fabled towns of Montreux, Gruyere, Lucerne, and Appenzell before arriving at our ultimate destination: Berggasthaus Aescher, the current…

Tulip Time in The Netherlands

I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw the pictures of rainbow-colored stripes stretching endlessly into the distance but since that moment, Tulip Time in the Netherlands has been on my bucket list. And this year, I decided to see if I could check it off. We had to plan far in advance to find…

Zermatt and the Matterhorn, Switzerland

This region is legendary amongst mountaineers: for many years the Matterhorn was considered “unclimbable”, during which time Zermatt was just a humble farming community. Then, in the 1830’s to 50’s, intense competition developed to conquer the Matterhorn and the first ascent was finally made by English climber Edward Whymper, but four of his climbing partners died along the way….

A train to fall in love with: The Glacier and Bernina Express

Touted as “the slowest express train in the world”, the 7 hour trip on the Glacier Express (GEX) still flies by, keeping the majority of its passengers in rapt attention as the mesmerizing landscapes drift past the window.  According to Rick Steves, this is the most scenic train ride in all of  Europe, and it doesn’t take long to agree with…

Montreux and Vevey, Switzerland: Chemin Fleuri

Palm trees and Swiss Alps should not co-exist. This combination is something that should defy the realms of nature…but yet, there it was in dazzling green, blue and white splendor. Travel and Leisure lists the Chemin Fleuri as one of the world’s most scenic walks, and it only takes one glance to understand why. Glorious scenery, top-quality jazz and…

Regensburg, Germany

Regensburg’s character is strongly defined by its 11th to 13th century architecture. Lying quietly along the banks of the Danube River, the Old Town of Regensburg survived the Second World War in exceptionally good shape and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful town serves as a supreme example of a central-European medieval trading centre,…