Check Out My HipStop: St. Lucia Piece in the New Summer 2014 #HOT Issue of SNAP Magazine

A honeymooner going coconuts in St. Lucia

The summer 2014 #HOT issue of Snap Magazine is live and available for free in iTunes here. It’s filled with stunning images, recipes (chorizo breakfast tacos, anyone?), a hot summer playlist and my HipStop: St. Lucia piece.

The cover of the Summer 2014 #HOT issue of Snap Magazine

Left: Sugar Beach does umbrellas right  Right: squirtguns on the table at Dasheene

I love shooting assignments for Snap. The hard part is picking which images to send in the final edit. In this post I’ve included a few of my favorite images that did not wind up in Snap.

I met this fruit and vegetable vendor at the market in Soufriere.

Left: Diamond Falls Right: The Rain Forest Walk at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort

All the images in Snap are shot using the apps created by Hipstamatic. I shot all of my St. Lucia images for Snap using Hipstamatic’s Oggl app, which allows you to changes the film and lens after you’ve captured the image.

Palm Frond Sunset at Sugar Beach in St. Lucia

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Rome is Under Rehab

Part of Rome’s Famed Colosseum is currently under scaffolding

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and apparently it won’t be renovated in one either. On my recent trip to Rome, I was surprised to find the cities most famous fountains closed for renovations and restoration during the height of summer tourist season.  Apparently even the Eternal City needs a nip & tuck once in a while. Italian Fashion House Fendi is financing the Trevi Fountain’s $2.9 million dollar renovation project (which is expected to last 20 months).

The Trevi Fountain gets a facelift

My heart breaks a little for first time visitors to Rome wanting to have their own Roman Holiday moment. The restoration project is expected to be finished in 2015. Tod’s, the footwear company, is footing the bill for the $34 renovation of Rome’s Colosseum. The Colosseum project seems to be being done in phases and those visiting this summer will still find the sight awe-inspiring, especially when it’s lit up at night.

Determined tourists want their Roman Holiday moment, scaffolding or not

Landmark viewing letdowns are a reality of travel– I don’t know anyone who has waiting to see the Mona Lisa that has come away saying, “wow, that was hugely impressive” and totally worth the mosh pit reality of the Louvre during the summer. And there is plenty in Rome to see to more than make up for the currently underwhelming Trevi Fountain (known as the Fontana di Trevi in Italian).

Fontana della Barcaccia

The fountain of the Ugly boat, or Fontana della Barcaccia, located at the base of the Spanish Steps is also getting some work done. It has been under scaffolding since 2013. Rome’s famous sites need to last for the ages. That’s just a bummer for those visiting this summer.

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Because Futebol: 50,000 Club Carlson Points World Cup Giveaway!

Blame it on Rio… or FIFA

I should be staying at the Radisson Hotel São Paulo Faria Lima right now, after watching the Netherlands vs. Argentina World Cup Semi-Final. Unfortunately, thanks to FIFA’s self-serving World Cup e-visa rules, I couldn’t get my Brazilian visa processed in time and had to cancel the trip.

Brazil’s loss is your gain. In honor of the World Cup, I’m giving away 50,000 Club Carlson points, redeemable for a night (or nights) at almost any RadissonBlu, RadissonPark Plaza, Park Inn, or Country Inns & Suites property.

Here’s how to be eligible to win the 50,000 Club Carlson Points:

Simply write which team you think will win the World Cup Final on Sunday– Germany or Argentina, in the comments thread of this blog post.

Everyone who selects the winning team will be entered in a random drawing after the there is a winner in the World Cup Final match on Sunday. You can only pick one team, and you can only enter once. You must enter your pick before the final match starts at Estádio Maracanã (that’s 12 pm Pacific time on July 13th).

The winner will be chosen via random number generator and announced on Monday, July 14th.

Good luck!

Flag made of Havianas flip-flops in Sao Paulo

By entering the My Life’s A Trip Giveaway, you agree that you have read the rules and consent to the terms and conditions contained therein.

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San Gimignano: Visiting Tuscany’s “Medieval Manhattan”

Blue skies and medieval architecture

If you’re looking for things to do in Florence, Italy, consider a day trip to the town of San Gimignano, which is known as Tuscany’s “Medieval Manhattan.” Perched on the top of hill in the province of Siena, San Gimignano’s historic center has an impressive skyline of ancient stone towers that has earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Doors and windows in San Gimignano

The city has a quaint feel, and quite a bit of charm. Get there on a summer day when the streets are packed with tourists, and there is a strange EPCOT-y feel that is hard to escape.

Blue skies over “the Town of Fine Towers”

San Gimignano also has a Museo della Tortura (a medieval torture museum) and several Gelaterias claiming to serve the “World’s Best Gelato.” I can definitely recommend a scoop or three from Gelateria Dondoli.

Gelato hits the spot on a hot summer day

Left: strolling through San Gimignano Right: Great clouds in Tuscany

The town has plenty of shops offering local specialties like the locally made wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and olive oil.

Olive Oil in a Boot

Tuscany is known for all things  porcine– so you can also purchase pork products like prosciutto, salami, and head cheese.

There was quite  bit of boar taxidermy in San Gmignano

Located 59 kilometers from Florence, San Gimignano is an easy drive if you have access to a car. It is also easily reached by bus. You can find directions on the San Gimignano’s informational website. Many tour companies offer tours of this scenic and charming town.

The gates to San Gimignano’s historic center

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Where to Eat in Florence on a Budget: Trattoria La Casalinga

The bar at Trattoria Casalinga

Eating well in Florence often comes with a hefty price tag. So discovering the budget-friendly  Trattoria La Casalinga was a nice find. Located near Piazza Santo Spirito, it was a nice walk from Piazza Della Repubblica, where I was staying.  La Casalinga means “the housewife” in Italian and focus on local Tuscan specialties. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and caters to a nice blend of both locals and tourists.

The salumi plate was reasonably priced and tasty

La Casalinga fills up and the tables are close a bit uncomfortably close together. Portions of pasta are large enough to split and we preferred the spaghetti pomodoro ( € 7) to the bolognese version. Wine was also reasonably priced and quite drinkable if not especially memorable.

Insalata Misto and Spaghetti Pomodoro

Our waitress was salty in an amusing way and service was fine overall. Since the tables are so close together, you’ll wind up chatting with your neighbors. Many raved about the steaks, although we did not try one. It’s important to not Trattoria La Casalinga serves tripe, pigs feet and some other types of local Tuscan cuts that might not appeal to all guests. Be sure to ask your server if you have any questions about the menu items.

The antipasti plate included Tuscan white beans

There were plenty of options for vegetarians on the menu as well.

Pasta Bolognese

Trattoria La Casalinga is a great option for a low key and budget friendly meal in Florence, and comes with some genuine Tuscan touches.

Reasonable prices at Trattoria La Casalinga

TIP: Reservations are essential for dinner during the summer. Book ahead.

Trattoria La Casalinga

Via dei Michelozzi, 9r (near Piazza Santo Sprito)

50125 Firenze

055 218624

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