Author: Kathy Ayer

Canal St. Martin: A Break from the Ordinary Sights of Paris

Visiting the 10th Arrondissement's Canal St. Martin neighborhood in Paris Can a place be both tranquil and bustling at the same time?  If it’s the Canal St. Martin neighborhood in Paris, the answer is yes. I’ve spent many afternoons and evenings whiling away the hours…

Travel to Puglia: Tip of Italy’s Heel

Great places to travel: If you're traveling to Puglia , Salento may be one of the best regions of Italy you've never heard of Serene is the term I would use to describe Salento, what I consider one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Part of…
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Turin: An Italian Chocolate Primer

Giddier than a teenager going to a Justin Bieber concert, with chocolate guidebooks in hand, I set out to visit the hundreds of chocolate shops in the city. Although I didn’t get anywhere close to all of them, I’m sure I made a serious dent in Turin’s chocolate supply. Death by chocolate was a strong possibility. Via visits to six chocolatiers, I give you a glimpse of my chocolate binge in Turin.

Divas, Stars and Jokers at the Carnival in Venice

A time of fun and folly in Venice, and we revelers played our parts. Young and old participated. Stars, divas, jokers, and a cast of minor players filled Saint Mark’s Square and the calle (small streets and alleyways) of Venice day and night to participate in the festivities.

Island Hopping in Italy’s Aeolian Islands

We paused our three-week boat trip around Sicily to visit other islands, the Aeolian Islands. Named after the Greek wind god Aeolus, these seven islands are just a short ferry ride from the northeastern tip of Sicily. Sprinkled like glitter in the Tyrrhenian Sea forming a Y-shaped cluster, these islands, also known as the Lipari Islands, are all a result of volcanic activity and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Munich Day Trip to Neuschwanstein Castle

“I want to see Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. You know, the one built by the crazy king.” I told my friend. “You say that like there was only one crazy king in history,” was her reply. She had a point. Not knowing how to get remotely close to correctly pronouncing Neuschwanstein Castle, I thought I could explain it in Disney terms and references to mad kings to get my friend to understand me.
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How to Make Tamales

In California we are fortunate to have an abundance of ethnic restaurants, especially Mexican ones. When you have friends from Mexico who cook, or when their moms cook for you, it’s even better. Around Christmas, I’ve been known to hang around these friends’ houses just a bit more because I know it’s the season for tamales. During the holidays in a Mexican household, you’ll see bags filled with cornhusk-wrapped packages being passed around like presents
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We’ll Take The Cologne (Germany), The Chocolate And The Beer Bike

I could say that I came to Cologne to see the Cathedral, the most popular sight in the city. I could say I came to see the Medieval Old Town or the remains from the city’s Roman Empire era. I’d be lying. No, I came for chocolate, the chocolate museum. While I was there, however, I found chocolate and much more.
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Visions of Barneys, Gumps and Macys Danced in their Heads

Remember when you were little, and that Christmas catalog or the toy store’s Christmas ad came out (you know the one, with more than 20 pages of TOYS)? Did you circle everything you wanted and dog-eared your favorite pages for Santa, like I did? Imagine doing that now, in person. That’s what our Christmas outing in San Francisco is like. Like children on a new playground, we wonder in amazement at everything around us.

Napa Valley Girlfriend Getaway

Sometimes a girl just has to get away. Our girls’ weekend is an escape from all our daily duties and responsibilities and an opportunity to partake in a few of the things we ladies like best. At least once a year my friends and I take a long weekend in the Napa Valley and indulge some in wining, dining, relaxing, and pampering. Sometimes the weekend resembles a teenage slumber party, and at other times it can feel like life of the rich and famous. These escapes are always about reconnecting with each other and having fun.