A Quick Note on Why I Love Social Media

This week, I am sailing aboard the Viking Hemming through the Douro River in Portugal. I love river cruising - you can explode in your room for a week and everything is taken care of for you as you watch the world go by.

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

But today, I was reminded why the benefits of social media far outweigh the negative aspects. For the past several years, I've traveled the world, often alone. While I love it, managing loneliness on the road is something you deal with.

I always say the point of online is to go offline. Social media has changed my career, it's made me meet people that have become seriously good friends - some of my best friends even. It's made the world smaller in the best possible way. I have my "Little Black Book" for travel - friends that I've made all over the world that introduce me to their friends and friends of friends. It absolutely helps when I'm writing my stories, but it makes me feel at home in the world, especially when I'm missing my kitchen and my own bed.

We are in Porto, Portugal today which is a beautiful Old World European city on the river. I decided to take the morning to roam around myself. I had heard from a friend that I had to see The Yeatman Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux property that has an extensive wine program and spa. So I wandered over, ordered a cappuccino and read another 50 pages in The Goldfinch. And I also tweeted the incredible view from the hotel's terrace, mentioning their Twitter handle.

About 15 minutes later, the wonderful director of marketing, Richard Bowden, appeared and said "Are you Annie?" He had seen my tweet, and had come to find me and offered to give me a tour. How amazing is that? He even ended up driving me back to the ship. This hotel, which just so happens to be stunningly gorgeous, gets it. 

The point of online is to go offline.

Here are a few shots I snapped at The Yeatman today - Click the photo to scroll through the gallery!

New Design and Hi From Berlin!

Hi from Berlin! I'm in the middle of a five-week jaunt through Europe and I was most excited to be back in Berlin. I fell madly in love back in April and wanted to come back as soon as I could. This weekend was the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall so it felt really wonderful to be back for this major celebration and to be so close to the stage at Brandenburg Gate for the concert and release of thousands of balloons that lined the former border of the wall.

At Berlin's former Tempelhof Airport, now a gorgeous city park

We just started to switch everything over to the new design! My favorite section are the Guides, which drops down for guides to Europe, South & Latin America and more. I took all the photos that are on the thumbnails and working on finding all of them, plus importing all the content which will take awhile. And I know there will be kinks to work out. Big thanks to Kelly Christine Studio for the design - I wanted the color scheme to reflect my home state of Arizona and the relaxing feel of the West Coast and I love it!

Here's the view from on stage tonight at Berlin's Fall of the Wall celebration. Mikhail Gorbachev released one of the balloons on stage. Everything was in German, of course, but I got the general gist, which was "We're very happy the wall came down. It was a terrible thing. We can't let something like that happen again. Go humanity!" Two million people lined the streets. Oh, what a night. I love you Berlin.

Dublin's Coffee Boom

In Dublin, most conversations turned to coffee. I don't know how it happened. I love coffee (though I didn't used to) and didn't mind these chats.

So my media mind raced: it's a TREND.

Coffee is a THING now in Dublin. This could be a story, or part of the larger food story I was writing!

But, as I came to find out, unlike some trends that are...ahem...made up in the media, coffee culture really is booming here.

There are premium coffee shops popping up and Dublin has the "potential to be the next Melbourne!" when it comes to coffee, as one barista told me.

I wrote about Roasted Brown here and thought 3FE was super cool but I wanted to give a shout out to another one of the coffee shops and cafes I loved: Brother Hubbard. In fact, they work with the 3FE team on sourcing and making the best possible coffee.

It feels like such a friendly neighborhood joint, one that you'd love to stumble upon in a foreign city.

Located on Capel Street just outside the busy center, there is a take-away section loaded with treats and a sit-down cafe. Both are fantastic.

Brother Hubbard: 153 Capel Street, Dublin, Ireland

My Dublin: The Fumbally

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Oh how I love The Fumbally in Dublin. It's off the beaten track in a Dublin kind of way, which means a ten-minute walk out of the center. Dublin is small and so walkable that everything feels close.

At first, you think "What a cool, casual coffee shop." The ceilings are high and it feels like an old warehouse turned hipster passion project.

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But then you see the sacks of organic grains, produce piled high, an enormous bowl of oranges, the communal tables, the delicious menu, and the happy cooks turning out truly fantastic food from the open kitchen near the register. There is no head chef - just people that can cook really, REALLY well.

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And you notice the people - friends meeting, families with kids, people solo reading books and typing on their computers. They had to have all been local Dubliners except for me.

Avocado toast and a San Pellegrino for lunch? Yes, please.

The Fumbally is open for breakfast and lunch.

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The Pretty Market Town of Adare, Ireland

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Adare is such a pretty little market down in the west of Ireland, south of Limerick. I met my parents here and we wandered around for a few hours but I definitely could have stayed a night or two, either at the gorgeous Adare Manor ($$$$$) or the quaint little Dunraven Arms (less $$$). 

First up - we walked to Adare Manor. The photo opps here are Irish countryside perfection. I'd recommend eating lunch at The Carriage House which overlooks the golf course but you most definitely should stalk the main building, which is STUNNING.

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Can you just sink into these chairs in the Adare Manor library? Dreamy.

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I pretty much love everything about this gorgeous pink room.

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And the indoor pool is fantastic (I'm such a pro hotel stalker - I march around like I own the place).

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Once you've had your fill of Irish manor life, the cute town has some worthy distractions, like tiny shops....

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And very relaxing parks....

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And finally, Aunty Lena's, which was our favorite pub in town. Great food, great prices, and good Irish craic.

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