Topsail Beach

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My dear friend Misty always told me that Topsail was her happy place. Huh? Where? What? Topsail? Turns out it's in North Carolina, south of the more "famous" Outer Banks.

This year, she and her family invited us down to spend a long weekend with them. Despite the forecast of 100% gross rain, we had a beautiful weekend.  

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I've spent a lot of time on Kiawah Island in South Carolina but this was a totally different feel - undiscovered, relaxing, not a single ounce of pretension. The days felt long in the best kind of way. Of course, I woke up early on Saturday to watch as much Royal Wedding coverage as possible. 

We flew into Raleigh, drove to New Bern (because it has Swiss roots and was the birthplace of Pepsi, even though obviously Coke is better), and then to Topsail. If you drive straight there, it's almost three hours. One of the reasons it has maintained its hidden gem status is that it's not easy to get to. 

We did spend a few hours in Wilmington (an hour from Topsail) because Dawson's Creek was filmed there and my high school self wanted to freak out a bit. It had that beautiful southern college town feel (complete with weird tattoo and incense shops). 

 

 

 

Updated Rome Guide

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Alex and I recently went to Rome on a last-minute trip. From Switzerland, we took the high-speed train down to Italy – something I will never STOP feeling giddy about. It's just so glamorous for someone who dreamed endlessly of Europe, especially when I was in high school. 

Though I wanted to tack on a day trip to Orvieto or the beach, we decided to just stay in Rome for five full nights and really get to know the city again. 

Rome is another one of those cities, like Paris, where it took me some time to fall in love with it. Again, like Paris, I was broke and overheated the first time I went. It's not enough that you're "in Italy" – visiting the Colosseum in July can be miserable. 

My best tip is to go in the off-season. You'll still be surrounded by tourists, because it's Rome, but it feels so much better. 

Guide to Italy and Rome (including places I didn't like!) 

The Lucerne Carnival

I can't escape Donald Trump anywhere I go. He's everywhere, including the Lucerne Carnival in Switzerland, flailing around, looking orange. He's on that stage in the picture below, hiding behind Kermit the Frog.

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We happened to be in Lucerne this year during Carnival for (very sad) family reasons, but I am happy I got to experience something that meant a lot to Alex - and most locals in Lucerne - growing up. There is a long history, and today families spend months getting ready, making their costumes, planning their Carnival look. Think Halloween, but calmer and nicer, on the whole. Think dad and kid as matching giraffes. 

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For all the costumes and merriment, my favorite discovery was Fasnachtschüechli, which is the typical Swiss carnival snack - bites of lightly fried dough topped with crunchy bits of sugar. 

But us non-Swiss, non-German speaking folk can't really say it. 

Here, Alex tells you how to say it. 

So there you go. Practice a few times, and you'll be ready to pick up a few little boxes at the local Migros or Coop grocery stores. 

 Fasnachtschüechli 

Fasnachtschüechli 

 Beautiful, wintry Lucerne

Beautiful, wintry Lucerne

Next year's carnival is Feb 28-March 5, 2019.

Hello from London: a Vlog with Aspiring Kennedy

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On a crisp, sunny, beautiful London day last December, I wandered around Kensington Palace and gardens with Lauren Bryan Knight, otherwise known as Aspiring Kennedy. We had lunch at The Orangery at Kensington Palace and ended with tea and scones at Candella. Pretty much the perfect day. And my sister, who now lives in London, joined us at the end! 

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I first met Lauren in London a few years ago, and she's one of those people that you instantly connect with. She also happens to be really funny, a mom to three adorable kids, and wife to her great husband Tyler. Lauren also really gets travel, and she takes her kids all over Europe. She's also what I consider to be a real influencer (#overusedannoyingword), because people trust her. I work in travel and media, and know hundreds of travel journalists and agents - and while many of them are awesome, I'd take Lauren's recommendations first. (If you're going to London, use her guide! I always do. And here's my England/London guide, just in case.) 

We went on a lovely walk and talked travel tips, with and without kids. Here is the full 14-minute chat! 

2017 End-of-Year Photo DUMP

What joy it brings to look back on a year in (iPhone) photos. This clump of a zillion photos is basically just for me, to look back on the truly awesome and unforgettable, from Cairo and the great Pyramids on New Year's Day 2017 to spending Christmas in Scottsdale with my family before ringing in 2018. It makes it look like nothing bad, sad, or challenging happened the entire year, which of course, is complete hogwash (but wouldn't that be wonderful). I think this is going to be a big year of change. Taking one, two, three deep breaths...

Past years: 201120122013201420152016