A Sweet Argentine Dog

We had one day free during Virtuoso (read the travel trends I discovered during the conference on my National Geographic blog here) in Buenos Aires and got to choose a daytime activity ranging from a city tour, to cooking classes, or sports tour. But I immediately knew which one I wanted to do - visit an estancia, or a large ranch-style estate, outside the city. The place we went, La Bamba de Areco, was truly a South American dream retreat. While others did horseback riding or a carriage ride, I chose to take one of their bikes and go for a ride. The roads were bumpy but I started following the path that made me feel happiest. With the autumn sun shining down and a slight breeze, this beautiful, sweet dog seemed to appear from nowhere. I could see nothing else except for horses and cows. He just wanted a lot of loving and I was happy to give it to him! After about 30 minutes, he had enough and ran away to play. It was a little bit of home so many thousands of miles away from my own dog.

Landmarks of Buenos Aires

A full week in one of the world's greatest cities, Buenos Aires, allowed me to visit all the landmark neighborhoods and monuments, as well as off-the-beaten-path gems. Yet even at the more famous places, like Sunday's bustling San Telmo Market, I felt like one of few visitors. It was bittersweet to leave this free-spirited, beautiful city.

Buenos Aires - Virtuoso Symposium 2013

I'm down in Buenos Aires for the annual Virtuoso Symposium, the gathering of the top luxury travel advisors, tour operators, and hotels in the world, and they are putting on quite a show. Last night's dinner was hosted beneath the famous pink Presidential Palace, which is normally only used for heads of state and royal visits. Our first night was a tango, horse show, and barbecue. But the best part is meeting so many truly amazing people in travel. I am obsessed with this industry. My wonderful friend Kelly is flying down for the weekend, and we'll have extra nights to explore the city before flying to Brazil to relax on the beach.

Things I Love About Cusco

On my second day in Cusco, I was adjusted to the altitude and ready to go at 8 a.m. The opening party for Palacio Nazarenas was that night, but I had a full day planned beforehand. In the morning, my wonderful guide took me to the oft-called Sexy Woman Ruins (really Saqsaywaman - they have nothing to do with sexy women) with not only fascinating ruins but also the best view of the city. We went into the stunning main cathedral and laughed about The Last Supper painting where Jesus and the disciples are eating guinea pig.

At the Sexy Woman RuinsSexy Woman Ruins

View from Saqsaywaman

The main square from SaqsaywamanThen I was on my own and had lunch at Pacha Papa, a MUST in Cusco in San Blas Square. My server, Ever, was hilarious, kind and gave me the inside scoop on his city as I sat in the courtyard. He also did his best to convince me to try guinea pig, but it wasn't going to happen. I explored the neighborhood of San Blas, known for its tiny art galleries, jewelry and clothing stores. I bought a beautiful throw for our apartment at Sol Alpaca and visited the Museo de Plantas del Cusco, where I spent 45 minutes reading about the magical healing powers and uses of Peru's herbs and plants. There was a great exhibit on coca and how it was/is used in cocaine, Coca-Cola and more. You cannot go to Cusco and miss the ChocoMuseo or CHOCOLATE MUSEUM!! They have chocolate classes and a cute little cafe where you can order a drink and sit outside on the patio. It was one of my favorite stops in Cusco and THE BEST smelling museum ever. And then I was officially knackered and had to get ready for the party.

Lunch at Pacha Papa in San BlasThe courtyard of Pacha PapaSan Blas SquareSol Alpaca

Chocolate classes at ChocoMuseoPerfect view from the ChocoMuseoOne of the MANY dogs of CuscoCusco

Sneak Peek: Palacio Nazarenas and a new interview

I'm in Peru! Overnight flight to Lima, connection to Cusco, and my first stamp in my renewed passport. I was warned of potential problems with altitude sickness, as Cusco sits at 11,000+ feet. I walked around for 5 hours today and just took it very slow - every step was noticeably harder and I had to catch my breath especially going uphill. I didn't get a massive headache until after the walk, but spent 10 minutes using one of the hotel's oxygen tanks and felt much better.

View from my balconySpeaking of the hotel, I am completely blown away by the new Orient-Express property here, Palacio Nazarenas and wanted to give a sneak peek - the view from my balcony. Orient-Express also owns Hotel Monasterio in Cusco right next door, generally considered to be the best property in Peru. They feel completely different, but are both culturally signficant buildings turned luxury hotels. The official opening party is tomorrow night, with 250 folks from all over the world celebrating.

Also, here's a recent interview I did if you're interested. I've loved their interviews with travel experts like Christopher Elliott, Valarie D'Elia, Seth Kugel and Matt Gross.

Where does your love of hotels come from?
I grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., a mecca for beautiful resorts like The Sanctuary and Four Seasons Troon North, and that’s often where groups of us would go and hang out. But really, I just love that checking into a hotel room for even a night allows you to become someone else. I write about hotels and the world around them, so I love what the story of a hotel means to a place. I love the way I feel when I’m there.

And 9 more questions/answers here!