Back now from our recent trip to Colombia, I’ve already shared details of our experience in Bogota — a vibrant if still complicated gem of a city. That we loved Bogota so much was a bit of a surprise to us, given that Cartagena is much more my speed when it comes to my typical vacation preferences. It’s got that Caribbean heat and humidity, plus beaches and islands. It’s charming, lively, and picturesque beyond words. So rather than droning on too much, I want to simply show you scenes from our three days in Cartagena through snapshots. I hope they both gesture at the city’s beauty and culture, as well as suggest a reasonably paced sample itinerary for would-be visitors. And off we go!
On our connecting flights into Colombia earlier this month, we encountered a horrible person. This is not unusual on a plane, but the encounter was so pronounced that it left a prolonged bad taste that colored the beginning of our trip.
We were flying into Cartagena, where we began our Colombian adventure. The guy on the plane, an American, had long ago fallen in love with the city and had visited there 78 times, he said (but who’s counting?) — and had bought property and established some kind of nonprofit. He was in love with Cartagena, obviously, and told us we’d love it.
Then when we told him we were heading to Bogota as our next stop, he said this, actually out loud and not in his head: “You’re going to absolutely hate it. First of all, you’ll probably get kidnapped. And then of course, you’ll be sick from the altitude, which would ruin your whole trip even if you weren’t kidnapped. Also it’s freezing. I wish you had my email address so you could tell me afterward how much you hated it and I was right.”
Legit, this monologue happened. At one point I told him, “OK, stop talking now.” Neighboring passengers rolled eyes. It got awkward.
Much as we wanted to, we found that we couldn’t immediately brush it off. While in Cartagena, David and I asked several people (Colombians) how we might expect to find Bogota when we got there. And, frankly, we were not comforted by their answers. Many people underscored the danger of assault and also the altitude and weather challenges.
So several days later, by the time we took off from Cartagena on our way to Bogota, and someone sitting next to me on the plane made the sign of the cross, I felt a sense of dread.
But spoiler: In the end? We absolutely loved Bogota. Maybe even more than we did Cartagena, though that city is more of the seaside Caribbean vibe that is typically more my vacation speed. Here are all the reasons Bogota ranks high on our list of experiences:
In our relationship, I’m more the one who’s like, “Cool, let’s totally fly to Australia tomorrow with newborn twins! I mean you never know unless you try, amiright?!” type of deal. David is more of the realist/pragmatist. I’m sure it’s very good to have this internal family system of checks and balances, but it is also the reason it took us 15 months to get on a plane with the babes.
At last, we did it! And in the end, the trip was both chaotic (duh) and absolutely doable — especially with nuanced preparation — some of which I’d done, and some of which I’ll know for next time.
Despite the fact that I already published the absolute, comprehensive best advice for flying with babies available on the Internet, turns out I had a few more things to figure out. Here’s what I wish I knew ahead of time (that might help you too!):
Last year, the twins were just three months old on Halloween; it was, of course, their first. I think I thought I was lucid, but upon reflection I now realize I was moving through life as a zombie impersonating a live human who knew WTF was actually going on. That’s why back then, I managed just enough brain power to buy Jordan an off-the-rack skeleton costume from Old Navy on approximately October 31. Inspired! (I was a bit more thoughtful, and emotional, when it came to Maya’s outfit.)
Well this year, I have my wits about me. When fall hit, the crafty spirit started swirling all around me — never mind the fact that it’s still 100 degrees where I live in Los Angeles — and I got in the mood for my first real DIY.
As a travel lover, I came up with the idea to dress my 15-month-old twins in pilot costumes. And, inspired by this blogger’s easy-to-recreate post, I would be their flight attendant. (The babes did have a travel-themed first birthday party, after all, so why not keep this motif going!)
I figured I could use cheap, navy blue onesies as the base for their “uniforms,” and it wouldn’t take much to make them official- and important-looking: just add some gold finishing touches.
I was nervous to say the least. But sure enough, with some buttons, a spool of ribbon, and a hot glue gun, I easily crafted costumes that make me so proud. I can’t wait to show them off! And with what I learned this time around, I might even become a DIY convert!
Here are a few takeaways from my first successful DIY project.
Through my work writing about events and travel and all sorts of lifestyle topics, I’ve had the chance to try many epic experiences. (And we well know from research that experiences are the true path to happiness — not material things.) Through work, I’ve had opportunities to visit many new cities and countries, flown a blimp over New York, ridden in a hot air balloon over Southern California, and in a race car on the German Porsche race track, for instance. These experiences — and memories — are my absolute favorite parts about my job in media.
Well, there are still plenty of things I have yet to try. And just this week, I checked another “first” off my bucket list: I rode in a helicopter over Las Vegas Strip!
In town for business, I was invited by the sightseeing outfit Sundance Helicopters to come for a nighttime ride over the Las Vegas Strip. And they would be sending a limo. So far, so good.
The ride was shortly after dinner time, but I neither ate nor drank beforehand. I get motion sick (not to mention anxious!) and I pictured open doors, intense noise, jerky movements, and wild banking. So I figured it would be better to have an empty stomach and be safe than sorry.
I recently had the chance to pitch and write a story for Bravo TV’s The Daily Dish called “13 Islands You Have to See Before You Die.” Of course, this was also a chance for me to sit at my desk wanderlusting madly.
In the piece, I included a mix of some of my favorite islands on earth… as well as an approximately equal number of places that I haven’t yet seen with my own two eyes — but have on my bucket list for sure.
From natural landscapes plucked from fantasies to all-night European party destinations, behold the picks I culled together (as the list originally appeared on The Daily Dish) so that we can all start making our plans — or at least building our dreams — to cross off every last one of these beauties.
If you, like us, are devouring the new Netflix series Narcos, Colombia may not be super-high on your list of travel destinations. But the country now is far from what it was in those drug cartel-controlled years. And it is courting tourists to come check out its warmth and culture and natural beauty.
I got the idea to visit Colombia when we were in Tulum earlier in the summer with a big group of friends celebrating a wedding. On the day following the nuptials, several of us took a hungover walk from the beach to shop for souvenirs (for instance, the shirt Jordan wore to his travel-theme first-birthday party, and the one Maya wore in this fierce smizing pic — werk). On that slow saunter, a friend who had recently returned from a super-fun vacation in Colombia during which she danced the nights away with her husband (romantico!) told us we had to go and we’d love it.
I am excitable and impressionable when it comes to holiday ideas. And I also love certain serendipities that make a visit to a place seem fated, like an enthusiastic convo about one place while in another fabulous place amid warm and wonderful people.
Plus, I won’t lie: Wherever there is a new Four Seasons hotel opening, that’s where I want to be. So the chips fell into place, the grandparents got on board to babysit, and we booked some flights. Woo!
Just like how little kids dream they could possibly count every grain of sand on every beach on earth, I like to dream I could visit every single one of the most epic destination spas on earth one day. That’s a reasonable goal, right?
With input from well-traveled friends, I rounded up of some of the world’s greatest destination spas for a recent travel story. Turns out I’ve only personally been to two out of the 11 I ended up including in the piece, so I’ll be adding the rest to my bucket list!
Here in Los Angeles, we had fall for two days earlier this week. Temps hovered in the 70s, and clouds made pretty sunsets. Now it’s the dog days of summer again — it’s supposed to be 99 degrees today and tomorrow.
Even if we don’t have consistent autumn around here when it comes to weather, I have my own special way of marking the change of season (and it has nothing to do with Starbucks’ menu): I know it’s that special time of year by the glut of writing assignments on my calendar, all centered around fun seasonal food and decorating ideas. Writing these pieces is my equivalent of the pumpkin spice latte. It signals: Fall is here and it’s fun!
David and I like to keep moving. We try to seize each opportunity to travel as a chance to visit a new country (or two, or three), ideally something we can both see together for the first time. I can’t think of a trip we’ve taken abroad that we didn’t love enough to repeat a million times — but there are so many other places we’d like to see first!
But in between the big trips, we do have some go-to minibreak destinations we visit frequently enough that they feel like home away from home for us. Specifically — as any regular reader of this blog will know — we love the Palm Springs region and travel frequently to the desert. It’s got all of the ingredients that make up a perfect little holiday: easy striking distance by car, luxe hotels, perfect pools, sunshine that won’t quit… and proximity to the world’s best outlet shopping.
I’ve stayed all over Palm Springs over the years, for all kinds of occasions and getaways. Korakia Pensione, the Avalon (nee Viceroy), and the Parker are among my favorite properties.