With more than 130 islands grouped into four archipelagos, the southern Thailand beach town of Krabi is a terrific base for exploring all this spectacular province has to offer. From the main pier in Krabi, countless day trips are available out to idyllic islands via ferry or longtail boat. Often the ride is as incredible as the destination, passing lush jungle regions and 200 million-year-old limestone cliffs soaring up to 400 feet high. Two of my favorite day trip islands are the Phi Phi Islands and Hong Island. Made famous in the movie, “The Beach” a visit to Phi Phi Ley’s spectacular Maya Bay is a highlight of any trip to Thailand. And superbly-scenic Hong Island, just a 30 minute longtail boat ride away, is the largest of 4 islands making up the National Marine Park. This uninhabited island features soaring limestone cliffs and a vast interior lagoon (the “chamber” from whence its Thai name, “Hong” originates). You could spend weeks in Krabi visiting a new paradise every day.Read More
While visiting Germany last week, I decided to take a drive down to check out the alpine ski resort town of Innsbruck, Austria.
The provincial capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck is Austria’s 5th largest city and the biggest ski resort in the Alps. In the 15th century, Innsbruck was a center of European politics and many of the late-medieval style buildings still remain in the heart of the city’s picturesque old town.
As an internationally-renowned winter sports center, Innsbruck has played host to both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games. To explore everything the city has to offer, book a room at the centrally-located Penz Hotel. The city’s first design hotel, this modern and luxurious property is situated in the heart of Old Town.
From the alpine views to the pastel-colored buildings lining the River Inn – a tributary of the Danube – Innsbruck Austria’s city center is well worth a visit before hitting the slopes.Read More
Spanning a length of nearly 600 feet, Dunn’s River Falls is one of the Caribbean’s top attractions and a must-see for any visitor to Jamaica. From its summit at 180 feet, tiers of cascading limestone meander down to the Caribbean Sea forming a natural staircase. The falls plunge in some places and plateau in others creating natural pools shaded by lush green vegetation on all sides. At its base, Dunn’s River Falls flows across a beautiful beach and straight into the sea. Climbing the falls is a popular activity for visitors to Jamaica. Guides instruct groups of climbers to hold hands for balance and several human chains at a time make the ascent from the beach all the way to the top. While proper footwear is essential on the often slippery rocks, the climb itself is easily manageable for most visitors and takes about 90 minutes assuming a few stops for photos. But for those not up to the task of scaling the waterfall, there are numerous paths alongside it that allow anyone to enjoy the view.Read More
Located in the shallow waters off Grand Cayman’s North Sound, Stingray City is a string of sandbars that passes through a natural channel just inside the island’s barrier reef. As the story goes, the area became popular with the rays decades ago when local fisherman would stop in the calm, shallow waters to clean their day’s catch. When they tossed the fish guts and squid into the water it attracted the stingrays who eventually began to associate the sound of a boat engine with a free meal. Over the years, divers realized the stingrays could be fed by hand and today a variety of boats ferry visitors to the area to let them feed the stingrays and get a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. It’s the rare chance to interact one-on-one with the friendly rays that makes Stingray City Grand Cayman’s most popular attraction. If you’re staying a few days on Grand Cayman, definitely try to visit when there are no cruise ships in port. Of course, if you’re visiting the island on a cruise ship like I was, well, you’ll likely have to suffer the crowds. But even with the throng of fellow tourists, I still felt Stingray City was well worth a visit.Read More
Built in 1851 in the Spanish colonial style, Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his greatest novels while living in this Key West home in the 1930’s and 40’s. Today, the Hemingway house is a Registered National Historic Landmark and still contains his study, furnishings and other items collected by Hemingway and his wife, Pauline, in their travels to Spain, Africa and Cuba. But the home is perhaps best known as the habitat to dozens of six-toed cats, the descendants of the author’s white six-toed cat given to him by a ship’s captain. More than 40 cats still roam the estate today and approximately half exhibit the six-toed trait, though all carry the gene in their DNA. Due to the estate’s large number of visitors, the cats are friendly and outgoing and likely to come right up and say hello when you arrive (as the one in this photo is doing to me!). A stop by the Hemingway home is a must for any visitor to Key West.Read More
Just 90 miles from Cuba, the island of Key West is the southernmost point of the continental United States and the most-populated island in the Florida Keys. Once a base of operations against pirates, Key West later rose to fame as an enclave for artists and writers including Robert Frost, Winslow Homer, Tennessee Williams and perhaps its most famous resident, Ernest Hemingway. The Keys became linked with the mainland in 1912 with the completion of the short-lived Henry Flagler’s railroad which was abandoned after a hurricane in 1935. The railroad was replaced a few years later with the 123-mile overseas highway that still stands today. The island’s small size makes it easy to explore on foot, especially for those just passing through for a day on a cruise ship (as I was recently). But the Conch Republic’s relaxed charm and fascinating history are likely to have you wishing you could stay much longer.Read More
During our visit to Amsterdam for my photography exhibition at the Sheraton AMS last week, my husband and I decided to venture a little further out of the city and spend one night in The Hague.
We were drawn partly by Starwood’s luxurious Hotel Des Indes but also by the desire to experience something more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam.
It turned out to be a fantastic decision as we soon discovered both a beautifully-historic hotel and a charming and unique destination, just a short train ride from the bustling city center of Amsterdam.Read More