Lookup the definition of serenity and San Diego is likely to appear. You might also take a page from Frank Costanza’s playbook and repeat “serenity now” as you board your west coast bound flight to escape a New York winter.
Winter in Iceland, experiencing the darkness and chasing the Northern Lights felt like an adventure worth having. So, why not pack that adventure into a 48 hour excursion to the middle of the Atlantic in November? No reason not to, really. So a 4 hour and 45 minute red-eye flight later (basically the time it takes to fly across the US) I touched down in Keflavik International Airport.
And as I stepped out of the airport into 50 mph gusts of wind and driving rain, in that moment, I was happy.
Three hours, 30 euros and a direct train ride from Lisbon to Porto makes me a happy traveler. Sipping Port wine along the Rio Duoro as I watch the sunset over the Atlantic and the lights of this tiered city come up means I will be going to Porto again (and again.)
Do you like Harry Potter and Jesus? If so, put Coimbra on your travel itinerary.
Very much a college town, the city has the University of Coimbra (with early ties to the Jesuits.) Founded in 1290, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and has the Joanina Library with a collection of books dating back to the 1500s.
When you visit the campus, you’ll notice many of the students wearing their uniforms; including capes. It really does feel like you’re in a Harry Potter movie.
Lisbon is made up of distinct neighborhoods. I stayed in Alfama which is the oldest and located by a number of historic places such as the Sao Jorge Castle. The area is hilly and requires a special mention.
Imagine a place where you walk up a hill to get to your destination. You would think the reverse direction on the way back down would be easy, right? Wrong. Lisbon is seemingly uphill both ways. Not sure how this is possible but get ready for some strong calf muscles when you leave.
I tend to be a semi planner. I thought Lisbon in the south, Coimbra in the middle of the country and Porto in the north would provide a nice cross section of the country. There are also multiple trains running each day between all these cities so I wouldn’t have to worry about when to leave or travel wait times.
If you were living in New York and wealthy at the end of the 1800’s what did you do with that money? Build an estate or vast gardens along the Hudson River, obviously.
This wealth lives on and can be enjoyed by current New York City residents and visitors.
Untermyer Park and Gardens is one such example. Located approximately 20 miles north of midtown Manhattan, you can take the train, car service, bike or drive your way to this venue.
Cold Spring is a town of about 2,000 located right on the Hudson River and a 70 minute train ride from Manhattan. It is no secret to people in the Hudson Valley and NYC but if you haven’t made the time to visit, be sure to schedule a 3/4 day visit in the immediate future.
Ask for a restaurant recommendation in New York and get ready to start Google mapping locations. People in the city love to tell you their favorite haunts from brunch to borough for specific cultural dishes. They will tell you what to order, what to expect and what time to go. It’s quite impressive. My trip down south had many similarities to this NYC approach.
I decided to head down south to the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Flight times come in just under 2 hours (2 hours out and 1.5 hours back!) Having never been to Charleston, I chose to stay downtown in the historic district to be close to landmark locations on my list of places to see.
I learned a few things on my trip to the Palmetto City. First and foremost, Charleston is a city that forces you to make a lot of decisions. Shall I get another order of Shrimp and Grits? I already tried She Crab Soup, but should I get another bowl. Do I spend a day on a boat in the harbor or walking around taking pictures and visiting historical landmarks around town? An afternoon on the beach or marshland? Fishing or Kayaking?