Venice in Winter: Misty, Magical—and Manageable

venicegondolasMost people I know who have been to Venice, Italy, are ambivalent about it. Sure, it’s nice, they say. It stinks, though. Or: Ugh, it’s so crowded. And smelly. Or: It’s super-expensive. Oh, and it smells like low tide.

What can I say? It may all be true in July and August—but nothing could have been further from our experience. That’s because Nicole and I visited Venice in winter (mid-January to be exact). And this special city has become one of my new favorite places on earth. I liken it to a wrinkled old woman wearing rouge and lipstick: aging, a little decrepit, but still unabashedly glamorous.

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Falling for Flagstaff

Flagstaff Arizona in OctoberIf you’ve never been to Arizona, you probably have some preconceived notions about the so-called Copper State: It’s full of sweeping deserts, saguaro cacti, and red rock formations. And while that’s certainly true for some parts of the state—Tucson, for example, which I’ve visited previously—there’s so much more to Arizona. Continue reading

There’s Nothing Scary about the Petrified Forest

petrified forestAs a kid, I was fascinated by the concept of the Petrified Forest. After all, who can resist the idea of trees, seemingly magically turned into rocks? Of course, there’s nothing magical about it: The colorful fossilized trunks were formed millions of years ago when silica from volcanic ash formed quartz crystals in fallen redwood trees.

The science is intriguing, but the actual “forest”—a span of desert off Route 66 in Arizona—is even more so. Words really don’t do it justice, so instead I’ll give you want you really want: photos. Nicole and I spent a few hours walking and driving past the logs and taking in the sweeping views of the Painted Desert, but you could spend much longer here. I hope my three nephews will find the box of petrified wood I picked up for them just as fascinating as I did.

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Don’t Miss: A Medieval Castle In Massachusetts

When you think medieval castle, Massachusetts is not a location that quickly pops to mind. Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Belgium? Sure. Massachusetts? Not so much. But much to my surprise, Gloucester, MA has an interesting facsimile of a medieval castle – Hammond Castle. Continue reading

On the Road in Bavaria Day Eight: A Somber Day at Dachau

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial SiteThis is Part Eight in a multi-post series about the first roadtrip Nicole and I took together. We’ll be heading out for a Southwest roadtrip in less than a month, and will be chronicling our adventures from the road!

As our Bavarian roadtrip neared its end, we had a few boxes left to check. When we’d started planning this excursion, I had one “must-see” near Munich, but I hesitated to tell Nicole. Would she think I was weird? Then, during one planning dinner, she said, “It might sound weird, but there’s someplace I really want to see.” We both simultaneously blurted out “Dachau.”

To some, the idea of visiting a concentration camp on vacation might seem dark, depressing, grisly, or just plain tacky. For us, though, visiting Dachau wasn’t about witnessing the site of an atrocity, but about honoring its victims.

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No Jersey Shore: Sand Sculptures and Snooki at Revere Beach

Sand sculpture of Fenway ParkWhen I was growing up in northwestern Connecticut, my access to the ocean was limited. My mom didn’t drive on highways, making our lovely local pond the closest thing I got the beach. (This didn’t, however, stop me from developing a temporary but deep fear of sharks one summer after reading Jaws.) So when my sister and I would visit my father in Boston every August, I remained hopeful that we would have a chance hit the “real” beach.

No such luck. Not only did we spend most of our time at my grandparents’ idyllic lakeside cottage in New Hampshire, but the nearest beach to my dad’s place was—well, you just didn’t want to go there. Continue reading