California Poppy Flower Super Bloom

Close Up Wild Poppies

What an incredible display of California poppies at Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore! I arrived early in the morning with only a few people in sight and the poppies mostly closed. Scattered patches of tiny blue and purple wildflowers found their home among the poppies, which really made it feel like I had stepped into a Monet painting. With the sun bearing down as I made my way up into the hills, the poppies began opening before Read More

12 Unexpected Things About Kyoto, Japan


Sweets are their #1 souvenir, most of them originally created as a companion to tea. Almost every place you look you will find pastry and sweets shops but the Lawson convenience stores are an inexpensive way to try a variety of unusual treats.Even in fine hotels beds are nearly hard as wood. They will take some getting used to, but you might sleep better than usual.WiFi is hard to find though it's common for tourists to rent a Read More

Tuscany In A Day

Tuscany countryside rolling hills

The countryside of Tuscany needs no introduction, with its hilltop towns and medieval villages each having a special charm different from the last. While some suggest that it is best explored with your own car and a relaxed schedule, I opted to join a one-day tour with CiaoFlorence! in an effort to keep stress to a minimum and learn which area(s) I'd like to spend more time in. Departing from Florence, we ventured south to Read More

La Purisma Mission: Living History Museum

The La Purisma Mission is located in Lompoc, California 50 miles west of Santa Barbara, within the larger La Purisma Mission State Historic Park which spans nearly 2,000 acres. Almost a small city in itself, it is the only existing example in California of a complete Spanish Catholic mission and is thereby known as a "living history museum."

In Lompoc, California just 50 miles from downtown Santa Barbara is the La Purisma Mission State Historic Park which spans nearly 2,000 acres. Standing on a small fraction of that property and almost a small city in itself, is the La Purisma Mission. It is the only existing example in California of a Spanish Catholic mission and is thereby known as a living history Read More

Your 14th Century Apartment in Florence, Italy

Palazzo Belfiore Florence bedroom

I have finally experienced the city of Florence, Italy and there is no place like it anywhere. I want to learn from other cultures and by staying at Palazzo Belfiore I was able to live and breathe Florence like a local. I wish it could have lasted longer and I'm already thinking of when I will return. Your Home Away From Home: Palazzo Belfiore The seven fully restored apartments that make up Palazzo Belfiore were once the Read More

Which Bangkok Floating Market to Visit?

Damnoen Saudak monk

Why You Should Visit a Floating Market: Thailand's colorful floating markets remain a unique part of Thai culture and should not be missed on any first visit to Bangkok. While the tradition of merchants trading their goods in canoes along crowded canals began many years before roads existed, it remains today as a method of distributing produce and wares, not to mention a great choice for lunch and sampling Thai Read More

Making Venetian Masks in Venice, Italy

Venice masks-1-2

Mysterious and intriguing are the iconic face masks you'll see in Venetian culture. The tradition goes back hundreds of years to when some Venetians wore masks for several months of the year in order to live anonymously. Anything you can dream up for why this could be may be true, but today we can catch the best glimpse of the masks at the the Carnival of Venice each February. The Ca'Macana workshop in Venice is dedicated Read More

Morning Retreat at Kauai’s Hindu Monastery


One could say that visiting Kauai is a spiritual experience. Just being on the island really is a breath of fresh air for the mind, body and spirit. Among Kauai's abundant hidden gems is a (very) quietly tucked away Hindu Monastery and for me, no Kauai trip is complete without a morning there. While it's not a touristy place, all visitors are welcome to benefit from the peaceful and spiritual settings whether for reflection, Read More

The Iconic Griffith Observatory

Griffith_Observatory-south view

I practically grew up at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. I remember Earth Day celebrations in the park where I planted tree saplings with my Dad, walked the forest trails and became totally mesmerized by that giant swaying ball in the Griffith Observatory lobby. Seriously, I would watch it for hours trying to decide if it was swaying from the Earth's magnetic pull or rather some machine in the ceiling. While there is much to Read More

Authentic Old-Time Chicago: Vesecky’s Bakery

Veseckys Bakery Chicago

With my extended family hailing from the Chicago suburbs, I've come to appreciate one of the most thoughtful gifts you can send someone whom is from Chicago: edible treats from Vesecky's Bakery. If you're from Chicago and Vesecky's was not an institution in your family, it probably should have been and consider that hereby rectified. Vesecky's is a small, 100-years-old authentic Czech bakery in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn, Read More