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5 Reasons to Visit Sedona Now

Top 5 Experiences in Sedona

Late fall and winter can be a great time to visit Sedona, with crisp blue skies, stunning fall foliage into November, and reduced crowds and rates at resorts.

Why Visit?

1) Great Weather
Cool, clear weather is ideal for hiking, photography, and observing the night sky. Sedona has a lighting ordinance limiting nighttime commercial lighting which enables viewing of at least as many planets, stars, galaxies, even satellites can be seen unaided!

2) Top local restaurants
Two of my favorite restaurants in Sedona are The Hudson, with creative cuisine, a sparkling, airy interior and generous food portions (I suggest sharing). There was a young French couple there when we were visiting, and the petite wife looked bewildered by the size of the meatball “appetizer” which she had ordered in addition to her entrée.

Also, worth a visit is the Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill – for the redrock backdrop alone, and dramatic outside torches. The cuisine offers a twist on Southwest cuisine.

best sedona restaurants

Chicken Pot Pie at the Hudson Grille

3) Enchantment Resort
This hotel is a self-contained paradise located in the Coconino National Forest, at the foot of the Boynton Canyon which contains two vortexes the Kachina Woman which provides (feminine energy), and the Knoll (masculine energy).

The bucolic surrounding contains a wealth of outdoor activity options as well as native wildlife. The wildlife we observed which includeddeer and a family of javelina(which look like wild boars) barely looked up from grazing when we passed by them.

The hotel offers a range of restaurants, including a formal restaurant,and a spa experience dining with healthier options. Also, onsite are several swimming pools and Jacuzzis. The outdoor pools are heated, so can still be enjoyed in the cooler seasons.

The resort fee ACTUALLY provides added value by offering included experiences all day and into the evening, including: meditation sessions, exercise classes and presentations on a variety of new age topics, including aura readings, observing signs in nature, vortexes, and more contingent upon the day and season.

4) Top Destination Spa
The MiAmo spa which is contained within the resort offers both traditional massages and other services which span Native American and energetic healing modalities, and has been named a top destination spa in USA!

Sunset in Sedona

So people ask, can you feel the energy of the vortexes? Personally, I could feel the energy when all was quiet, it invoked a dizzy feeling. Also I experienced more vivid and memorable dreams while close to the vortex. You can often tell if you are nearing the proximity of a vortex as the energy emitted will twist the branches on any nearby trees.

Travel

Electric Desert

Psychedelic Wonderland in the Desert

Before heading to Phoenix, I asked a friend in the area what he recommended to see and do. He suggested the ‘Electric Desert’ art installation at the Desert Botanical Gardens. I love gardens and have always been fascinated by the majestic Saguaro cactus that punctuate the barren landscape of the Southwest. Though I was a bit skeptical about how enjoyable a light show in the desert would be. Though he heartedly recommended it, so I decided to check it out.

We visited during midday around Thanksgiving, the sun was brilliant, and the temperature was a perfect 75 degrees. Upon entering the garden gates, there is a Dale Chihuly sculpture, and following admission, the gardens meanders into numerous paths to explore. We decided to purchase our tickets for Electric Desert while buying our day-passes, which was a good idea, because when we returned after dusk, a sign flanked the entry way announcing that tickets were SOLD OUT.

We returned for the show after dark. Besides being incredibly cold – despite a sweater and down vest, it was an amazing experience. I was first struck by the otherworldly music that accompanies the exhibits. The installation is divided into zones – so that the garden is illuminated in different colors and patterns with accompanying music. The overall effect was mesmerizing. The designers incorporated the magnificent scale of the landscape by using the mountainside in a strobe display.

The experience was designed for the Desert Botanical Gardens by the Klip Collective, an experiential video shop that uses virtual reality, projection mapping, storytelling and soundscapes to create captivating, immersive sensory experiences around the world. The exhibit extends through – May 12, 2019 – DON’T MISS IT!

Travel

The Venice of Italy

How to experience the romantic Venice of your dreams

It seems wherever you travel in Europe you will find an area –that bills itself as the Venice of fill in blank, “Little Venice” in London, “Of the North” in the Nyhavn area of Copenhagen, the “Venice of Poland” Wroclaw etc.  The reason these destinations were named as such, was to convey the romantic beauty and waterfront locations of their “Venice”.

On a recent trip to Italy in late June, I wanted to have the mythical perfect Venice trip experience with my husband.  Late June is not the best time to visit Venice, as it can be quite hot, and crowded. However, summer is the best time of year for us to travel for a 2-week trip, so I thought this would be a great way for us to end our Italian vacation.

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Travel

Explore the Pacific Northwest

Day:1

Non-stop Flight JFK to Seattle

Visit Pike’s Place Market, where you can see the legendary fish tossing, and enjoy a fresh croissant and café au lait to rival the best in Paris. Travel across town to cobblestoned Pioneer Park Place to learn about the history of Seattle on Bill Speidel’s Underground tour.
Hotel: Inn at the Market, Seattle

Day:2

Day trip to Bainbridge Island

Take the ferry from the downtown Seattle pier to Bainbridge Island. On a clear day the ferry ride offers a panoramic view of Seattle’s skyline. Visit Eagle Harbor for the unique shops, galleries, and restaurants, including Blackbird Bakery, a delicious bakery/coffee shop. On the north side of the island, you’ll find the peaceful and naturalistic gardens at the Bloedel Reserve, which includes a formal Japanese tea garden.
Hotel: Inn at the Market, Seattle

Day:3

Seattle Art & Space Needle/Chihuly Gardens

Visit the Seattle Art Museum with an impressive collection of contemporary art, glass, and First Nations artifacts. The museum shop offers local artisan created jewelry, blown glass and more. Also affiliated with this museum is the Asian Art museum located on trendy Capitol Hill, admission is free with admission to the Seattle Art Museum.
Hotel: Inn at the Market, Seattle

Day:4

Seaplane to San Juan Islands

Board a seaplane from downtown Seattle to San Juan Island’s Roche Harbor. The San Juan Islands are located northwest of Seattle and offer pristine vistas,wildlife, quaint harbors, with unique stores and gourmet restaurants.
Hotel: Friday Harbor House, Friday Harbor

Day:5

4th of July on San Juan Island – Sites & Vistas

Set up a chair on Main Street to enjoy the 4th of July parade. Following the parade, join the community picnic where you can enjoy music, a pie-eating content, and the best barbeque in town!

Visit the historic American and English Camps that were occupied by the respective military forces when the territorial ownership of the island was being contested in 1859. Lime Kiln Point State Park is considered one of the best places in the world to view Orca whales. Dinner at the Friday Harbor House, on a scenic bluff overlooking Friday Harbor, provides a perfect vantage for the fireworks display.

Hotel: Friday Harbor House, Friday Harbor

Day:6

Explore the island or Orcas or Lopez Islands

San Juan island offers a range of activities, including tours of San Juan Vineyard that produces red & white varietals.Pelindaba Lavender Farm is a great place to relax and sample lavender ice cream, pick your own lavender, or shop in the onsite store which offers a wide array of lavender products. At Krystal Acres Alpaca farm you can visit the herd, and browse products made from Alpaca wool.

Visit Lopez Island to cycle on flat roads, take to the sea on a whale watch, or visit Orcas Island where you can hike Mt Constitution and savor the views as well as visit the historic downtown with a selection of bespoke shops and fine restaurants.

Hotel: Friday Harbor House, Friday Harbor

Day:7

Vancouver – Mountains meet the water

Take a short flight from Seattle to Vancouver, BC to experience one of the most beautiful and dramatic
cities in North America, with a rich history.

Scenic Stanley Park, is a perfect place to explore by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. The Vancouver Art
Gallery, contains the best collection of British Columbia based visual arts. Atmospheric cobblestoned Gastown, offers a range of contemporary restaurants and shops.

Also, the Museum of Anthropology displays a collection of traditional and contemporary art from Northwest Coast First Nations people, including totem poles, Haida houses, other artisan created displays.Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in North America and offers a rich history, which you can browse or arrange for a historical or food walking tour. Nearby Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens offers a glimpse of a classic Chinese formal garden.

Hotel: Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver

Day:8

Vancouver – Cultural Heritage

Overlooking the sea, the dramatic Museum of Anthropology displays a collection of traditional and contemporary art of the region, including totem poles, Haida houses, and artisan displays. The soaring glass building itself is an architectural gem, inspired by the post-and-beam architecture of northern Northwest Coast First Nations people. Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in North America and offers a rich history, which you can browse or arrange for a historical or food walking tour. Nearby Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens offers a glimpse of a classic
Chinese formal garden.

Hotel: Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver

Day:9

Vancouver – Home

Flight from Vancouver international airport.

Travel

In the footsteps of the Etruscans, discover Tuscany beyone Florence in Fiesole

Globally, Italy is one of the most popular international tourist destinations. Vacationers are lured to visit by expectations of beautiful scenery, a wealth of well preserved historic sites and museums, delicious regional Italian food prepared simply with excellent ingredients (often served alfresco), long sunny days and romantic hill towns. For the most part, Italy does not disappoint. However, during peak season – from June – September, oftentimes the crush of other visitors can spoil the dream of discovering Italy as one had hoped.

On my first trip to Florence in September, I was drawn in by the sweeping vistas as you approach the city, that lies at the basin of several hills. We shopped in the small streets of Florence close to the Bapistery of San Giovani (which is famous for its Door of Paradise that depicts biblical stories) visiting many appealing stores including a kitchen supply stores, with an array of chic cookware and accessories, stationery stores with hand printed paper, frame makers, and other artisans. On a return visit, the glare of the sun, the cacophony of horns, and the crowds surrounding many of the major attractions in Florence, inspired us to head for the hills.

Fiesole, is a beautiful, romantic town, perched on a hill above Florence. It has a long history spanning back to the 9th Century BC, and believed to be inhabited first by the Etruscans, who were known to be a peaceful people with an advanced civilization including fine handcrafts and jewelry. And then later conquered by the Romans, which is evidenced by the amphitheatre and other remains that overlook the valley.

You can reach Fiesole from the Florence train station via Bus #7 which will bring you to Fiesole’s main square in approximately 20 minutes. There are many cafes where you can while away the afternoon with a coffee while taking in the sweeping vistas of the skyline of Florence.

Other worthwhile activities include a visit to the Museo Archeologico. The museum showcases archaeological artifacts found both onsite and from the surrounding area from the Etruscan and Roman eras, including intricately crafted jewelry, and other personal items, as well as vessels used in cooking and other decorative items.

Surrounding the museum you will see the Roman baths and well preserved Roman amphitheatre. On the day we visited the fields that surrounded the museum were filled with poppies and other wildflower, and you could hear crickets, birds and the hum of summer.

Sites:
Archaeological Museum
Via Portigiani, 1 – Fiesole
Open: 9,30am- 7pm (summer) and 9.30am-5pm (winter). Closed on Tuesdays only during the winter.

Travel

Top 3 Considerations Before Booking a Cruise

Here’s a few observations to help you select a cruise that will be both memorable and enjoyable.

1. Work with a Travel Agent
When evaluating cruise options it’s best to work with a travel agent, who can help you assess your options at the same price as working directly with the cruise line. Typically the agency will also provide you with a booking credit which can be used on the ship for shore-excursions, spa services, etc. Additionally the agency can provide guidance based upon their experience with a particular cruise line, as well as arrange any custom shore excursions you may require. Travel agents can assist you in selecting pre- and post- cruise hotels, often at a discounted rate, and unlike discounted online services, afford you free room upgrades when available.

2. Intinerary
Ports
After selecting the country or region you’d like to visit, carefully study the ports of call – particularly if you plan to explore the area on your own, and if shore excursions are not included in the cruise price. Oftentimes they’ll be a dual reference for example for Le Verdon/Bordeaux, (some smaller ships actually go up the river so you are in the port of the actual city, while larger ships may dock in Le Verdon, which is approximately 1 – ½ hours away and will require a bus transfer to get to the city).

Departure Point/Destination
Cruises itineraries can be from point a to b, or a to a. Neither is necessarily better or worse, but you may be able to see more with an a to b cruise. However if flights are not included in your cruise package flights will likely be more expensive to fly into one city and out of another (aka open-jaw).

Sea Days
Sea days (i.e. days onboard with no port stops), are appreciated by cruisers as a respite between busy days of visiting on shore. However the enjoyment of these days will be contingent upon the entertainment options onboard the ship, where you’re located – i.e. they’ll be less basking by the pool in Alaska, as well as your general desire for a fast versus slow paced vacation.

3. Cruise Lines
Evaluating Cruise Classes and Pricing
Cruise costs vary substantially across cruise lines, and are ranked from Luxury to Budget with several classes in between. The pricing of the cruise will be based upon a multitude of factors including the size of the ship, the passenger density (luxury cruises offer more space per passenger), the quality of service and the ratio of staff members to guests, in addition the size and modernity of the rooms and vessel, quality of the food, entertainment and shore excursions.

When assessing the true cost of a specific cruise, it is imperative that you carefully examine what costs are included. Often even deluxe cruises have many additional costs, some that may not be apparent including payment for soda and alcoholic drinks (typically about 1-1/2 times or more than you’d pay on land), tips for dinners, drinks, room attendant etc. Also when traveling during peak season, flight costs should be factored in as well, as I noticed flight costs to Europe closer to $2000 from NYC vs. $1000 or so as they were in recent past (for direct flights booked 6 months in advance).

Cruise lines often offer good discounts 9 or more months in advance of the cruise. Even better rates are available last minute for cruises that are not sold out.

Ship Demographics
Many cruise lines offer children’s activities which are convenient for Carribean and other cruises suitable for parents accompanied by children and multi-generational vacations. However, on some of the more densely populated cruise lines, this may also mean that Jacuzzis will be rarely available for a relaxing visit. Typically the cruise line, cruise length and destination will influence the cruise demographics. It is best to verify this information in advance of your booking to ensure you will feel comfortable on the cruise.

Smoking Policies
If you are not a smoker, after years of inhabiting smoke-free restaurants, bars, hotel rooms and other public spaces, you may find yourself hypersensitive to second hand smoke fumes. Many cruise lines have tried to balance the requirement of both smokers and non-smokers by setting rules to ensure that all have an enjoyable experience. The policies have become progressively more restrictive to locations where smokers may light-up, though the Italian cruise lines, Costa etc. still have fairly open rules.

What’s important to you?
Cruises provide an opportunity to unpack once, and visit sites in one or more countries, which may have been logistically challenging on your own. Additionally the cruise experience and opportunity for camaraderie with other passengers is unique.