It’s My Blog Anniversary!

On March 17, 2006, I wrote my first blog post ever on my travel blog then named Flyaway Cafe. You can read that first post here. And for those who don’t know my “why story” you can find that here. I knew nothing about blogging or the technology involved. Social media was practically non-existent – the first tweet was sent four days later and Facebook wouldn’t be available to everyone for another six months. Those colleagues who I started blogging with back then were looking for a way to turn a love of their subject matter into a paying gig, and it wasn’t always clear that it could be done. I look back on those wild west days of blogging and often shake my head and the things we did. Travel blogging has changed a lot. I’ve learned enough about […]

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Visiting the Ruins of Pompeii: From Tragedy to Tourism

  The ruins of Pompeii have become one of Italy’s most visited sites. On August 24th, 79 A.D., erupted in a violent two-day display that destroyed the city of Pompeii, Italy, and the surrounding area. It is one of history’s largest recorded volcanic eruptions, and a tragedy by any measure. The city was buried under ash and pumice for nearly 1700 years and was presumed lost until its accidental rediscovery in the mid-1700s.   The subsequent excavation of the ruins of Pompeii provided a peek at what life was like during the height of the Roman Empire. Rising out of the ash and lava over a thousand years later, the ruins of Pompeii turned a horrible tragedy into a tourism opportunity. Millions of visitors a year now visit this UNESCO World Heritage site located not far from Naples, along with its […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Hilton Union Square, San Francisco

It seems like everyone thinks about romance in February, but once Valentine’s Day passes, romance gets short shrift. One way to celebrate romantic memories all year long is to re-visit places that have a special meaning for you, that have played a starring role in your life together, and that makes you smile when you think about past visits. For us, that destination is San Francisco, California. San Francisco was the first place we vacationed in when we were dating. We spent some time there on our honeymoon. We’ve flown there for baseball games, conferences, getaway weekends, and other special events. We “get” San Francisco because San Francisco “gets” us. For a celebratory getaway, we wanted to stay downtown in the Union Square area – it’s the area of the city where we stayed on our first visit – and […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Pantai Inn, La Jolla

For much of the northern hemisphere, January is winter and with it, the cold – often brutally cold – rain, snow, and ice. January is also the time when, no matter where you live, people make plans for the new year. Whether it’s finding enough motivation to stick to resolutions, making a commitment to new habits, or re-setting your business or personal goals, January is a great time to burrow in. That’s what we did at the Pantai Inn in La Jolla, California, and we didn’t want to leave. This is the first of a year of monthly themed features talking about places we’ve stayed and never wanted to leave. This post, and the ones to follow each month, may contain affiliate links, sponsored travel, or paid product placement. We’ve hand-picked these destinations and products because we like them and we […]

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Join the Travel Reading List Challenge

Today I’m excited to announce the first of a couple of new projects that I’m launching for 2018 – the travel reading list. I’ve always been an avid reader, going back to childhood days where I’d read under the covers at night. My love for reading was fostered by my grandparents, who took me to our local public library when I was barely able to walk, and parents, who bought me books and encouraged my patronage of the library. When I was older and started traveling, I used to pack around two or three books at a time. I’d never want to finish one and not have another one to start. You can imagine how it must have been traveling for three weeks in Europe – I lugged around way too many books, leaving them behind as I finished, and […]

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2017: A Year of Travel in Review

While 2016 was a big year for international travel, 2017 represented a year spent enjoying destinations and activities closer to home. Part of the was because my role as an ambassador for Universal Orlando Resorts gave me lots of opportunities to enjoy the theme parks and resorts in Orlando, and partially in preparation for Tony’s retirement and joining me in blogging and business activities. Another theme this past year has been reorganization. From developing new projects (a new restaurant review site called The Yums that publicly launched in April) to working through a new site design (look for that to launch shortly after the first of the year), to creating some new internal systems to creating some new features that will debut in January 2018, it’s been a good time to take stock of where I am and where I […]

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A Most Wonderful Time of the Year at Universal Orlando Resort

Holiday magic is a real thing. A feeling deep in your soul. A feeling that brightens your smile, lights up your eyes and has you humming along with the Christmas music. At Universal Orlando Resort, there’s a little extra special magic thrown in, thanks to the powers of Harry Potter and his friends along with the imagination of thousands of creative minds. As an ambassador for Universal Orlando Resort (that’s a photo of all of us above in our ugly Christmas sweaters), I was invited to a media preview for their holiday events and, boy, was I impressed. I think you will be as well – and while it’s not too late to make your plans, you’d better get hopping. Holiday festivities run through January 6th, 2018. Here are my five favorite magical holiday experiences at Universal Orlando Resort. Everybody […]

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5 Tuscan Towns for a Perfect Day Trip

It’s been awhile since we’ve traveled to Italy and it’s time to start making plans for a return visit. Our travel preference is to travel with friends and rent a home in Italy to use as a home base. Having a home base lets us set up a combination of days at leisure to relax and soak up the Italian way of life along with busy days of day trips seeing the countryside. There are many things that we love about Italy, especially the hill towns in Tuscany. Here are a few of our favorites, perfect as a home base, day trip, or weekend getaway. Castiglione d’Orcia Where it is: In the Siena province in Tuscany. Population around 3,000. What to do: Visit the Castle of Tentennano and the Santi Stefano and Degna to see art. Relax in the baths. […]

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Gift Guide for Travelers: 2017 Holiday Edition

It’s a most wonderful time of the year! Although I much prefer experiences to just buying stuff, there’s no getting around the fact that some stuff makes traveling easier. That’s the reason for my holiday gift guide for travelers, and while this is holiday season-focused, you can file this away for gift buying all year round. I’ve divided my gift guide for travelers into six sections below, highlighting some of the products that I use (or have used) and enjoy. We all have too much stuff to bother buying things that don’t work, or don’t do what they’re supposed to do, so consider these personal recommendations. Note: Links are provided to help you get more information and do a price comparison. Some of those links may be affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission if you […]

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Plan Your Fall Reading

I’ve been working on my 2017 Holiday Gift Guide (it’ll be out right before Thanksgiving to allow you to maximize all the sales), and since a is always top of my list (I have the , but there are numerous versions available) it seemed like a good time to share some of my reading recommendations. Here are some recommendations for your fall reading – perfect for that time spent on flights or lounging on the beach – using the 2017 Pop Sugar Ultimate Reading Challenge as a guide. Territory Author:  Emma Bull Synopsis:  Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday. Ike Clanton. You think you know the story. You don’t. Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 is the site of one of the richest mineral strikes in American history, where veins of silver run like ley lines under the earth, a network of power that belongs to anyone […]

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