In Giverny, France, Claude Monet's home and gardens are an absolute delight in autumn. Gorgeous colours and smaller crowds create a special seasonal magic.
Claude Monet's home, studio, and gardens in Giverny, just outside Paris, are one of the city's most popular attractions in summer and for good reason. The famous water lily pond, the Japanese-style bridge covered with lavender wisteria, and the flower beds studded with vibrant pastel blooms are the stuff of travel legend, the subjects of a million photos. But those who are truly lucky will bypass Giverny's famous summer scenes (and crowds) and discover a different kind of magic altogether if they visit in late October.
As soon as we visited Volterra, we knew we had found one of the best villages in Tuscany. Here's why we love it.
See those happy, happy grins!? That's us, minutes after checking into our Volterra hotel room and discovering we had our own secret terrace. Swoon! We were fresh off the bus but we already knew that Volterra was one of the best villages in Tuscany.
Tuscany is a region in central Italy. It's famous for its spectacular regional capital city, Florence, as well as having one of the best food scenes in the world. Some of the world's finest olive oil, wine, cheese, cured meats, and pasta are produced here. And much of it is produced in and around small hill top villages which were once mighty fortress cities - that is, until the Florentines starting throwing their weight around!
With plenty of time and no real travel restrictions, we were spoiled with choice about where to go in Tuscany. We didn't want to spread ourselves too thin and decided to concentrate on just a couple villages. On paper, Volterra checked many of our travel boxes. It was picturesque, affordable, and small enough to explore on foot. And it didn't hurt that Volterra was renowned for its alabaster art. But until we arrived, we hadn't known that we not only made the right choice - we made the perfect choice! Arriving in Volterra was one of those take-your-breath-away moments, giving us absolutely everything we could have ever dreamed of for a sweet Tuscan getaway.
But what exactly about it made us declare Voterra to be one of the best villages in Tuscany? Here are some of the many reasons we fell in love, along with some practical tips for planning your own trip.
In 2013, we created the most incredible reward trip with Aeroplan, circling the globe with Star Alliance. And in 2018 we're doing it again!
TurnipseedTravel debuted nearly six years ago (and does anyone else remember our very first green and grey template?). Nearly 18 months later, that debut became a fully fledged launch when Ryan and I took our readers along for the journey of a lifetime.
We cashed in all our points for what was technically a trip to Australia but instead embarked on an amazing round-the-world trip fueled entirely by Aeroplan. See, we had learned about all the reward flight loopholes needed to "hack" our travel plans and create a mini round the world trip with Star Alliance partners. With stops in Europe, Asia, North America (and, of course, Australia), we had 9 flight segments on Star Alliance flights (and visited about 15 different locations) and paid about $300 each for taxes and fees. As you can tell from our nostalgic photos, thanks to Aeroplan, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Or so we thought....
Updated for 2022! Luxury travel in Budapest comes at a very low price when you're touring the Hungarian State Opera House.
Who doesn't want to add a little bit of luxury to their lives? Budapest may just be the perfect destination for opulence, romance, and grandeur, all on an affordable budget. During our visit, we discovered a destination that loves chocolate, wine, and fine living as much as paprika and goulash, and all at a much more economical price point than Western Europe. I'll count that as a travel win any day! There's so much in Budapest that will sweep you off your feet but the touring the Hungarian State Opera House may just be the finest embodiment of luxurious living. Here are three bargain priced ways to elevate your travels that will have you singing a sweet song!
Updated in 2022! Discover the secrets of the centuries-old Charles Bridge in the timeless city of Prague.
We've adapted a new mantra when we're asked for travel advice these days and it goes something like this. When people say that they want to visit Paris, we always pause and ask if they're sure they don't mean Prague. It's no slight against Paris, but I think when it comes to European beauty, charm, romance, and cobblestones, most would-be visitors are craving Prague (and they don't even know it!)
The city is home to fine bakeries, delightful public squares, and, of course, is no stranger to beautiful bridges. Plan your trip to Paris all the same. Just consider adding Prague onto that itinerary! We were fortunate to spend 4 days in the heart of the city, next to the legendary Charles Bridge, and we found reason after reason to starting recommending "The Golden City" along with "The City of Lights".
On Hawaii's Big Island, you won't find a 'hotter' hangout than Pahoa and Lava Tree State Monument.
If I told you that Pahoa, Hawaii, was one of the hottest spots on earth, you'd probably think I was exaggerating or that I was describing a spot with a lot of buzz. But Pahoa, on Hawaii's Big Island, is indeed one of the world's hottest spots and it's all thanks to its neighbour, Kilauea Volcano.
Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and, as recently as 2014-2015, lava flows threatened to destroy part of the town of Pahoa and surrounding communities. Fortunately, the lava stopped just in the nick of time, but local residents were right to be wary. This region bears the scars - and the beauty - of centuries of volcanic power. From delicate wildflowers to the toughest "trees" you've ever seen, nearby Lava Tree State Monument (sometimes called Lava Tree State Park) is a captivating tribute to the prowess of mother nature.
Updated in 2022! Step inside Ryan's trip to the Southeast Turkish cities of Urfa and Mardin
It's unlikely that you're familiar with the southeastern Turkish cities of Urfa and Mardin. I'm ashamed to admit that we hadn't heard of them ourselves until a few weeks before Ryan visited the region. But like most of our readers, we had seen these cities dozens of time before on the news without really realizing it, for this part of Turkey is within a stone's throw of the Syrian and Iraqi borders.
The tragic circumstances of its war torn neighbours have thrust Urfa and Mardin into the spotlight and it was with some trepidation that Ryan went to see the area for himself. What he discovered was a region that prides itself on old fashioned hospitality and tolerance, and extends a hand of welcome and generosity to all its guests.
And to say the hospitality is old fashioned isn't just a cliche. This is one of the oldest inhabited regions on earth, the birthplace of agriculture. Once the home to Abraham and virtually every religious and ethnic group in history, it's now home to thousands and thousands of refugees seeking safety and sanctuary.
So what was it like to step into a real life news story? Here's an insider's look at Ryan's visit.
The Pursuit of Imperfect Pictures
Here's why you should make memories, not manufactured moments.
Have you heard about this new editing mode from Adobe that helps you digitally erase other tourists from your vacation photos? "Monument Mode" can distinguish moving items, like cars and people, from static ones like monuments and lets you adjust your image accordingly.
My first thought was “Great!” After all, who wants to remember crowds of selfie-stick wielding travelers when you can grab that classic shot? But the more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea. You don't need editing programs to get great photos. And, in fact, you might be much happier with some not-so-great photos. Here’s why:
Culture and community come together in one of Canada's most colourful festivals.
Where would you go if you wanted a spicy travel destination? I'm guessing London, Ontario isn't on your list, and it wasn't on mine either at first. But London has a large Mexican and Latin American community, whose culture, traditions, talents, and delicious flavors come together each year for Fiesta London, an amazing event. So if you're looking to spice up your travels, look no further! I think you'd love the experience as much as I did. Here's what made my Fiesta experience so memorable.
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