Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa, Florida

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Tampa, the third largest city in Florida, is cozily located on the shores of Tampa Bay. According to one version, the city got its name from the Indian word “tampa,” which meant “fiery sticks” – “lightning” to the Indians. Indeed, this natural phenomenon occurs here very often during summer storms.

Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa. Tampa, Florida, USA

Photo: stock.adobe.com

Tampa has its own international airport along with the largest sea port in Florida. Lowry Park Zoo is in town with a large aviary where birds live in a natural habitat; there are also places here where visitors can pet the animals and even feed them.

“Tampa means “fiery sticks” – “lightning” to the Indians”

The reptile exhibit and terrarium are especially popular, too. While touring Tampa, you can ride on a very old tram that rolled the city’s streets about 50 years ago. Incidentally, several main servers of Wikipedia are located in Tampa, and one of the four Salvador Dali museums of the world is here – this one known eponymously.

The oldest district of Tampa is called Ybor City; it once had a large diaspora of Hispanics and was famous for its cigar factories – which produced some of the best cigars outside of Latin America.

Now the district is a tourist resort area, and there are a lot of museums dedicated to the city’s history. Among them is an excellent cigar museum where you can trace the complete history and process of making the one-time best cigars in all of Florida – possibly of the whole U.S.

Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa. Tampa, Florida, USA downtown city skyline over the Hillsborough Riv

Photo: stock.adobe.com

Another favorite spot is “Adventure Island” water park. On this 30-acre territory there are all kinds of water slides and activities. If you love adrenaline rushes, there are several high-speed slides – one a 25-meter plunge named “Water Typhoon.”

For kids, there is an entertainment paradise called “Splash Attack.” This place has plenty of carousels, swings, water slides, and other exciting rides.

Tampa is a fun city

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival, the most anticipated of the year, takes place at the end of January. According to legend, a pirate named José Gaspare (Gasparilla) once sailed in the waters of Tampa Bay.

This event was organized in honor of his brave and grandiose adventures. In 2015, the parade was the third largest in the United States, and the celebration had a $23 million impact on Tampa’s economy.

One of the largest architectural/engineering sites here is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge: at a length of nearly 7 kilometers, it is one of the longest continuous bridge spans in the Western Hemisphere. It connects St. Petersburg (yes, there is a city in the USA named St. Petersburg) with Terra Ceia on the southern shore of Tampa Bay.

This bridge was opened in 1987 to replace an old one of the same name, which collapsed in 1980 when a freighter collided with a support column.

Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa. Tampa, Florida, USA

Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge looks fantastic from any angle. Its pylons are painted yellow, a symbol of sunlight – since Florida is called the “Sunshine State.” At night, the pylons are backlit in gold, emphasizing their graceful shape.

The bridge connects the main resorts along the Gulf Coast of Florida and is a spectacular sight from both land and sea.

Because of the excellent climate, this nice sunny town attracts a large number of tourists every year. If you get tired of wandering and sightseeing, you can just loll on the white sand beach and enjoy the emerald waters of Tampa Bay.

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Top Vacation Destinations in Spain, 2017

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The official slogan of Spain’s national tourism bureau TURESPAÑA is “Spain is what you want. Spain is what you need.” Enough said! We propose the following as the best sites to visit in this sunny, cheerful country:

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Alhambra de Granada.

Alhambra de Granada. Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Alhambra

L’Alhambra – the Moorish citadel in Granada formed by a complex of palaces, gardens and forts – is a place where you can plunge into several different cultures simultaneously. When most Spanish territory was conquered by Islam in the early 13th century, Granada became its cultural center, and Muslims decided to build a “paradise on earth” here.

Perhaps the world’s most refined examples of Islamic art are in The Alhambra. The mysterious red palace of is not only the most popular tourist monument in Spain but also in all of Europe. To preserve its historical beauty, the number of visitors is limited, and you must buy tickets in advance.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia

Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia. Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Sagrada Familia

This amazing temple is one of the greatest attractions in Spain, the creation of Antonio Gaudi. It was built in the Spanish modernism style. This bizarre and magnificent temple of Barcelona has become a symbol of the city.

Antonio Gaudi gave 43 years of his life to this creation, but only one-third of the design was built in his lifetime. The building was designed in the form of a Latin cross, and only this makes The Sagrada Familia similar to usual Catalan churches.

The decoration of the building strikes the imagination with many details. At the same time it has modern, Gothic, and Christian traditions.

For the moment, temple construction continues; completion is expected by 2030.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Panorámica de Sevilla

Photo: stock.adobe.com

Flamenco in Andalusia

The homeland of flamenco is Andalusia. This dance began its triumphal march through Barcelona in the 18th century.

A passion dance, a rhythmic guitar sound, girls in long beautiful frilly dresses, and real Spanish macho – all this is more than just a dance. It’s a virtuosic and unforgettable art combining different musical and dance styles. Flamenco performances are very colorful and stay in your memory for a long time.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Panorama of the Aragonese Pyrenees.

Panorama of the Aragonese Pyrenees. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Walking through the Aragonese Pyrenees

Spain offers a pedestrian traveler a lot of places for walking. The Aragonese Pyrenees are especially famous for being an ideal place for hiking. The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is one of the most outstanding places in the Pyrenees. The highest point of this mountain chain is the peak of Monte Perdido (3348 meters). Here you can climb the majestic rocks and ice fields, where sometimes you can meet chamois.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Zafra, patio del Castillo

Paradores

You can get a royal overnight stay in the Spanish state network of paradores. This word means a former castle, palace or monastery – luxurious and always comfortable. There are 86 such paradores throughout the country. They constitute the golden fund of European real estate service, and many are also located on the territory of historical complexes (for example, the Alhambra). Prices are not jaw-dropping, especially if you book the room online in advance.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Mitjaneta beach

View of Mitjaneta beach, Menorca island, Spain. Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Beaches of Menorca

Menorca, which means “less” in Spanish, is the second largest island (after Mallorca – major) in the Balearic archipelago.

This island of Menorca is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and has a 216 kilometer coastline with many beaches that all deserve their own individual descriptions.

Menorca, despite its proximity to Mallorca, is a lot different. On the one hand, the island is considered one of the most expensive and luxurious resorts in Spain. On the other – you will not find any of the usual Mediterranean coast hotel complexes since construction of tall buildings is prohibited here. The regulations are that hotels should not be above three floors, their roofs must harmonize with the color of the soil, and the walls must always be painted white.

To Book Your Trip
Contact our Travel Advisors: 1.877.999.4768 

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The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn

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Many people like to travel to Korea in the summer. However, the best time to visit this country is autumn, and there are a lot of reasons why!

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn

Gyeongbokgung palace with Maple leaves, Seoul, South Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Pleasant weather

Autumn in Korea is called the “chhongomabi” season – “the time when the sky is higher and horses are gaining weight.” Fall is the most beautiful season here as the weather is ideal: not hot – not cold, perfectly suited for outdoor recreation.

In September, the air temperature is 20 – 22°С; in October, 15 – 17°С.  During the day, everything is warmed by a gentle sun, so this is the best time of year for touring.

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. autumn red leaves Seoul, Korea

Bongeunsa Temple in autumn red leaves Seoul, Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Stunning nature

Autumn in Seoul is, without exaggeration, magical. Leaves are all varieties of color, from the usual yellow to bright red and even purple. You can admire this splendor without leaving Seoul – just go to Pukhansan.

One of the few national parks in the world that is located within a city, the park is surrounded by urbanized territory of the capital and its suburbs and referred to as the city’s lungs. Imagine how colorful this park becomes in autumn when the foliage is painted in various shades from light green to maroon. It also has numerous waterfalls, cultural monuments, and overlooks.  

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. Seoul tower in Seoul city

Seoul tower in Seoul city , Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Festivals

Korea is internationally famous for its festivals, and Koreans have great respect for festivity days, celebrating them colorfully and boisterously. Do not miss the chance to see these bright and fantastic holidays of life:

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. Seoul Korea

Spectacular fireworks at han River Seoul Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

International Fireworks Festival in Seoul

This annual festival on the Khangan River is one of the most spectacular events of autumn where thousands of firework masters from around the world are invited. It is interesting that each team presents a show concerning a unique national theme.

You can also see a truly amazing light and laser show here, as well as festive music performances. The entire pyrotechnic show is accompanied by music of various genres including rock, pop, and classical. Overall, more than 50,000 fireworks are launched throughout the festival.

Seoul Festival of Lanterns (03 – 19 November 2017)

The bright and mesmerizing Seoul Festival of Lanterns is held annually in November along approximately 1.2 kilometers of Cheonggye Stream. This festival first took place here in 2009, and in 2014 it officially changed its name.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang” – meaning the event is being conducted to support the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. fish market, Seoul Korea

Sea shell at fish market, Seoul Korea.
Photo: stock.adobe.com

Korea Grand Sale

The Korea Grand Sale is an annual shopping festival. It was originally held in winter, but in 2017 it will be countrywide and last all through October. Approximately 20,000 shops from hundreds of business types are going to participate in the Korea Grand Sale.

What can you get there? A lot of significant discounts including 50% off admission to Everland amusement park, about 70% off at duty-free shops, and a free 24-hour stay at the Ibis Ambassador Hotel.

The Korea Grand Sale offers astonishing discounts on almost everything – food, entertainment, fashion, accommodations, beauty, and more.

Don’t miss these fantastic opportunities to enjoy everything South Korea has to offer!

To Book Your Trip
Contact our Travel Advisors: 1.877.999.4768 

 

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The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos

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The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos
A bison at Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch (All photos: Jen Judge).

How to Get the Shot

Photographer Jen Judge recently shot Virtuoso Life’s story about wildlife tours and photo workshops on Ted Turner’s 920-square-mile Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico. “The biggest challenge of wildlife photography is finding the animals,” Judge says. “With elk, you need to understand their behavior, terrain preferences, what they eat, and their mating patterns – and a little luck never hurts.” Whether you’re chasing the “big five” in Botswana or a Western version – say elk, black bears, bighorn sheep, bison, and wolves on Turner’s range – when it all aligns, here are her tips to make the most of the moment.

1. “Have patience: Wildlife photography happens on the animals’ schedule, so prepare to sit for long stretches, sometimes in uncomfortable positions.”

2. “Frame up simple backgrounds to set your subjects apart, then wait.”

3. “The best shot can happen quickly, so be ready: Set the appropriate focal length, shutter speed, ISO, and aperture long before you need to press the shutter.”

The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos
Mule deer in the early fall.

4. “I’ve seen wildlife photographers miss incredible photos because they only had a 400mm lens and the animal came too close. Be ready with a shorter lens on a spare body.”

5. “A UV filter and lens hood will protect your glass from damage in the field, but more important, they’ll minimize reflections that might give away your presence.”

6. “Leave the tripod at home and use a higher ISO. Animals move, and trying to shoot from a tripod often means missing a photo.”

The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos
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Tahiti’s Best Beaches

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With over 118 islands in French Polynesia, there are a plethora of incredible beaches to explore. The island of Tahiti itself has some of the best black sand beaches in the Pacific, as well as some stunning paradisaical stretches of white sand to feed your desire for variety. Here’s a guide to some of my favourite beaches on the island of Tahiti.

Tahiti’s Best Beaches. Beaches of Tahiti

LA PLAGE DE MAUI

Travelling from Australia where white sand beaches are the norm, it’s strange to discover that on Tahiti they are in the minority… and the locals love them! La Plage de Maui on Tahiti Iti has to be up there with the best of them, a palm-backed beach falling away into calm, clear water perfect for relaxing and taking in the Polynesian way of life on the shores of the Bay of Tapueraha.


 

Tahiti’s Best Beaches. Beaches of Tahiti

TAHARUU

Plage de Taharuu is a long black sand surf beach on Tahiti Nui’s South Coast perfect for families, tourists and surfers alike. The beach is fairly protected with good swimming conditions and plenty of space on the sand for all those who visit to find their own spot in paradise. It’s also one of the safest beach breaks on the island, providing the perfect spot for young groms to learn to surf. Taharuu offers easy parking, a little eatery with snacks and refreshments, and a playground for the kids.


 

Tahiti’s Best Beaches. Beaches of Tahiti

PLAGE DE VAIAVA

On the West Coast of the island lies the ever-popular Plage de Vaiava, or PK18. With calm, shallow water and a long stretch of sand looking out over the ocean to Moorea, it’s not hard to see why this pristine patch of sand is one of the most popular spots on the island. On weekends it can fill up quickly, but that’s just a sign of its local popularity as the perfect sun-baking location. PK18 was one of my personal favourite spots in Tahiti… I just couldn’t resist jumping in the sparkling water for a swim!


 

Tahiti’s Best Beaches. Beaches of Tahiti

L’EMBOUCHERE

The Papeno’o River Mouth, L’Embouchere, is a black sand surf beach on Tahiti’s North Shore known for its consistently favourable surf conditions. Due to seasonal wind and swell directions, L’Embouchere works its best during the summer months, the opposite of its Southern cousins, and can get busy during its peak and around competition time. Definitely not a spot for those wishing to relax in Tahitian bliss, L’Embouchere sits hidden down a narrow road off the highway, exposed to the elements and waiting for the keenest of surfers and surf-appreciators.


 

Tahiti’s Best Beaches. Beaches of Tahiti

LE TROU DE SOUFFLEUR

Arahoho blowhole is one of Tahiti’s most popular natural phenomenons and roadside stops. A narrow lava tube leads from the lookout to the sea and visitors standing in the right spot can enjoy a dramatic explosion of sea spray as the water from incoming waves rushes up the tube and shoots out through a hole in the rocks. Next to the car park also lies a small black sand cove with some interesting wave action that can produce fun conditions for body-boarders and onlookers alike.


 

Tahiti’s Best Beaches. Beaches of Tahiti

PAPENO’O BEACH

Papeno’o Beach, also known as Chinaman’s Bay, is an exposed surf break on Tahiti’s north coast. Offering both left and right-hand waves, Papeno’o is consistently popular with the surfers on the island, particularly when the swell is up and its waves are some of the biggest you can find on Tahiti Nui. The best view for onlookers is the little headland park at the Eastern end of the beach where those who opt to watch can witness the action with a stunning backdrop of green volcanic cliffs and a palm-lined shoreline.

Adapted from: www.jamesvodicka.com

To Book Your Trip
Contact our Travel Advisors:1.877.999.4768

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Beyond Rome, Florence, Venice: Try Southern Italy

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There are few rivals to the antiquities of Rome, the Renaissance heritage of Florence, and the fairy-tale setting of Venice, the three cities comprising Italy’s popular tourism triangle. But the south of Italy is a different animale.

“The south’s hospitality is exceptional,” says Andrew De Angelis, an Italian native and YYZ travel advisor based in Calgary, Canada. “Locals don’t see you as a walking wallet, as they often can in Rome, Florence, and Venice. They see tourists as people to share their heritage with.”

Until Italy was unified in the mid-nineteenth century, the south was an independent region, which accounts for its differences, such as Puglia’s trulli (conical-roofed stone huts); the couscous that replaces pasta in Sicily, reflecting its proximity to North Africa; and the lemon orchards terracing the Amalfi Coast. Greek ruins and ancient Roman cities abound, while Neapolitan pizza and Sicilian wine “are expressions of the region: simple and beautiful,” says De Angelis.

Beyond Rome, Florence, Venice: Try Southern Italy
Traditional conical-roofed stone huts in Puglia.

“It’s not as tidy or as organized as the north, but the south of Italy is a trip you won’t forget,” he adds. “It’s the old Italy, the motherland.”

Travel to Southern Italy

Hydrofoil to the chic isle of Capri, let your chauffeur navigate the cliffside S curves of the Amalfi Coast, explore Pompeii’s ruins and Palermo’s markets, and taste the vintages of Sicily, all on a 17-day private tour with Artisans of Leisure.

Must-Stay Hotel

Perched atop a cliff on the Amalfi Coast, the 67-room Hotel Santa Caterina features modern Mediterranean dishes and panoramic ocean views at its two restaurants, regionally inspired spa treatments (think massages with local lemon balm), and a heated seawater pool at its coastal Beach Club.

 

Adapted from: www.blog.virtuoso.com

To Book Your Trip
Contact our Travel Advisors:1.877.999.4768

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Yummy Cuban Dishes You Must Try

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Cuba is extremely famous not only for its sparkling beaches, beautiful people and colorful nature, but also for its food. When you visit this country, the quality of food will surprise you a lot. The prices are affordable enough, around $7 in average. However, the prices can be much more expensive especially in such popular travel locations as Trinidad.

Cuban food was originally brought from Africa, Spain, Native American Taino population and Caribbean cuisines.

Yummy Cuban Dishes You Must Try. Medianoche sandwich

Photo:depositphotos.com

(more…)

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Favorite Ideas For Healthy Eating On The Road

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What products to take with you while traveling on the road so that your travel will be not only informative, but also tasty and healthy?

Favorite Ideas For Healthy Eating On The Road. Fitness food. Weight loss nutrition diet. Take away of healthy food. Eat right concept, diet, clean food take away in aluminium boxes, vegetable salads and meat at white wood. Healthy lunch

Photo: depositphotos.com

Food on the road has to be convenient: when we say that we mean that it should be convenient to eat, convenient to transport and, of course, convenient to store. Therefore, first of all, we will define the main qualities of road products.

Products shouldn’t be bulky and too heavy.

Otherwise, while on a road you will be connected not with pleasant impressions of a travel, but with the cares that nothing from products has fallen anywhere and has soiled something of your stuff.

Favorite Ideas For Healthy Eating On The Road. Restaurant food delivery in foil box. Poached egg with runny yolk closeup on veil steak medium rare with fresh vegetable salad and couscous cushion. Dish take away closeup, healthy meal.

Photo: depositphotos.com

Food shouldn’t be perishable

Perfect meal on the road has to be of such quality that it would be possible to store it long time without refrigerator. Food shouldn’t thaw in the sun. Plus, it has to be simple in cooking, with no additional preparation required. Try to prepare everything in advance.

Principle of two “no”

“No” – to pungent smells, “no” – to garbage. You shouldn’t stock up to the road with food with strong smells even if you like them a lot. Approximately in two hours all smells will start irritating you. Besides, you shouldn’t also forget about fellow travelers.

Food that leaves a lot of crumbs and additional packing, is not the most successful option while traveling on the road, especially if you travel by car.

It seems that there is no food which would meet all these requirements. But this is not like this. Almost all products can be taken on the road, all you need to need to know is how they should be preparing to take on the road.

Favorite Ideas For Healthy Eating On The Road. Lunch box with vegetable and fruits on wooden table. Kids take away food box. Top view

Photo: depositphotos.com

Vegetables and fruits

Vegetables is an ideal option not only for a main course to the road, but also for having a snack. The cut carrots, apples, sweet pepper straws are very useful and serve as a perfect alternative to all snacks in the form of chips, sunflower seeds and crackers. It is better not to take fruit entirely because they very heavy – it’s better to cut them up and take with you as an afternoon snack. It diversifies your road diet.

It is better to cut various vegetable and salads and put them into tight containers. To make a road crude vegetables lunch tastier, prepare some simple sauces which will be very convenient for taking with you in small plastic sauce boats. Vegetables are good not only in the form of salads – vegetable fritters and zucchini, pumpkin, carrots and potatoes cutlets are perfect when even not warmed.

Favorite Ideas For Healthy Eating On The Road. Rye bread sandwiches with ham, cheese and vegetables in a craft paper bag. Take away food. Selective focus

Photo: depositphotos.com

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are, perhaps, the most popular meals on the road. It is possible to prepare them using vegetables, or meat, fish and , of course, cheeses. Sauces, seasonings, any greens –you can add anything according to your imagination. It is better to use brown bread, with bran – it less high-calorie also not so strongly differs in taste from white, than, say, rye.

For those who are who categorically against high-calorie bread, we recommend thin flat cakes (for example, a lavash) which you can use for wrapping stuffing. Beaters by the way very convenient – they are not less nourishing, than the same sandwiches, but they are much more commode in consumption.

To Book Your Trip
Contact our Travel Advisors:1.877.999.4768

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13 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING

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Getting sick is even worse if you’re away from the comforts of home. We asked Virtuoso experts for their tips on how to stay healthy while traveling.

13 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING

 

  1. “My pre-travel routine is all about boosting my immune system. A few days before my trip, I drink fresh juices to boost my intake of vitamins, ginger, Echinacea, and more. – Charles Wolfe, Virtuoso travel advisor
  2. “Check the CDC traveler’s website for destination specific guidance, recommended vaccines, and health notices.” – Jason Detar, Virtuoso travel advisor
  3. “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We all know to drink lots of water in flight, but I also make a point of swinging by a corner store – or even an airport newsstand – once I arrive at my destination to buy a couple bottles of water for my hotel room.” – Marika Cain, managing editor, Virtuoso Life
  4. “I always throw a handful of Emergen-C packets in my carry-on when packing. I down the first one with water on the plane, then I aim to take at least one a day while I’m on the road. I’m convinced the vitamin C boost helps strengthen my immune system, plus, the packets are easy to travel with. My other pro tip: Wash your hands all the time. It’s obvious, I know, but it’s important!” – Amy Cassell, associate editor, Virtuoso Life. Note: Similar supplements on the market include Airborne, Wellness Formula, EBOOST, and Wellness Fizz.
  5. “I’m a big believer in probiotics – good bacteria that help your digestive system. I start taking the supplements a week before traveling abroad, and I continue to take them throughout the trip. They are also found in some yogurts, so I try to include that in my daily breakfast.” – Melanie Fowler, design director, Virtuoso
  6. “Never touch the seat backs on an airplane, and whatever you do, DON’T put anything in the seat back pockets. Studies have repeatedly shown this is the dirtiest place on an airplane where sick bags are left, diapers, you name it. It is not a good place for your iPad, book, or anything you come in close contact with.” Shelby Donley, Virtuoso travel agency owner. Note: Combat germs with travel-size packs of disinfecting wipes in your carry-on bag.
  7. “Water quality varies across the globe. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your destination’s tap water conditions. Research the water situation before you go, and if you don’t, make sure to ask about it when you arrive.” – Elisabeth Brown, VP of sales, Virtuoso travel agency
  8. “At the end of the day, sleep is crucial to your body fighting off viruses and bacteria. When your body gets run down, it’s far more susceptible to attack. Have a sleep plan when traveling in different time zones.” Shelby Donley
  9. “I always try to eat a vegetable soup or grilled vegetables on the day I arrive. After plane food, it seems to work to keep me healthy.” – Annie Fitzsimmons, digital editor, Virtuoso
  10. “Try to limit your alcohol intake. Happy hour at a new bar in Paris may sound fine until you wake up with a head-splitting hangover the next day. Plus, excessive drinking impedes your immune system’s ability to keep you up and running.” – Rebecca Ratterman, assistant editor, Virtuoso
  11. “Get outside as much as possible and breath in fresh air, not air-conditioning! Vitamin D does wonders for the body.” – Traci Miller, account manager, Virtuoso marketing
  12. “Work out, wherever you are. I try to climb to the highest point in a city on the first or second day. It’s great exercise, gives you the best view of a city, and helps you get over jet lag. When I was in Florence a few weeks ago, I climbed more than 400 steps to the top of the bell tower next to the Duomo.” Annie Fitzsimmons, digital editor, Virtuoso
  13. “When you vacation, try to truly unplug from the stresses of your job (that is why you work – to be able to enjoy life). I believe excessive stress will make anyone sick.” Traci Miller, account manager, Virtuoso marketing
13 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING
Photo by: Georgeijevic/Getty Images

If you do end up getting sick while traveling, here are some pointers from John Gobbels, the VP & COO of MedjetAssist, which offers travel protection plans for medical emergencies around the world.

Pack Your Own Over-The-Counter Medications.

Some countries just don’t have the same medications we have available to us without a prescription from a local doctor. I usually plan for the basics: allergies, cold and cough, and the unfortunate traveler’s diarrhea.

Ask the Concierge.

We receive calls almost daily from members traveling abroad looking for hospital or physician recommendations. Our first response is always, “Have you asked the concierge?” This is in no way an attempt to shirk our duty, but the concierge usually has a direct line to preferred physicians and facilities, including some who will make “hotel calls.”

Buy Travel Insurance.

Purchase travel insurance that specifically covers direct medical costs while traveling outside your home country. Most domestic health insurance plans do not cover these costs.

Sign Up Before You Travel.

If you are diagnosed and admitted to a medical facility, call Medjet so we can begin the process of obtaining an initial medical assessment with your treating physician and start making arrangements to get you back to your home hospital, doctors, family, and friends. This peace of mind is priceless for our members.

 

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A Perfect Fall Weekend In Hayes Valley, San Francisco

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A Perfect Fall Weekend In Hayes Valley, San Francisco. San Francisco skyline

Photo: depositphotos.com

Today, a walk around San Francisco’s Hayes Valley is bound to lead to a sidewalk café, a hidden coffee shop, or a buzzing new pop-up restaurant. The neighborhood is beloved by discerning city dwellers who come here to shop and sup, while visitors who make it to Hayes often look like they’ve just stumbled in on a secret.

In the phoenix that is Hayes Valley, atmospheric hangouts and hip boutiques rose from the ashes of the destructive 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The quake damaged a 40-foot-tall section of the Central Freeway above Hayes Valley, which, at the time, skewed far more seedy than trendy. After the bridge languished amid a city-planning tug-of-war, it was torn down in 2003, freeing up space for redevelopment and paving the way for one of SF’s most beguiling neighborhoods, a centrally located stretch north of the Mission District and west of SoMa that just keeps getting better. Visitors can’t walk a block without encountering a “Now Open” sign beckoning them into a new space.

“Hayes has a small-town feel in the middle of the city,” says Charles Bililies, the restaurateur behind Souvla, a chic, Hayes Valley Greek space with a cult following. “When I was planning Souvla, I looked at many neighborhoods [before choosing Hayes]; I even moved here nine months before Souvla opened in 2014.”

A Perfect Fall Weekend In Hayes Valley, San Francisco.
Cocktails on Hayes Street.

Here’s where to start your exploration of Hayes Valley:

Where to Eat and Drink

For about a six-block stretch, Hayes Valley is a bastion of global culinary ambition, where restaurants (much like residents) live in historic homes and new condo developments clustered on or around Hayes Street, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare. Dining out is a globe-spinning exercise: Go Greek at Souvla, get your schnitzel fix at the Bavarian Suppenküche, dive into Italian comfort food at recently opened a Mano, dabble with French fare at slick Monsieur Benjamin, or stay local with elevated California prix fixe at Nightbird.

A Perfect Fall Weekend In Hayes Valley, San Francisco. souvla hayes valley
Souvla in Hayes Valley.

A couple of blocks east at Cala, a modern restaurant in a former sound studio with skylights, a fiddle-leaf fig tree, and a wall of kangaroo vines, chef Gabriela Cámara brings the flavors that helped her grow a following in Mexico City to a vast seafood-focused menu. After dinner, trip it to the tropics with a stop at Smuggler’s Cove, a tiki bar tucked behind a nondescript door, where bartenders whip up rum-centric concoctions such as the Millionaire Cocktail (No. 1) – rum, sloe gin, lime, house-made grenadine, and apricot liqueur. If umbrella drinks aren’t your thing, there’s Biergarten, where picnic tables let locals flirt with collective alfresco-drinking fantasies, but the staff doling out blankets acknowledges the reality of San Francisco’s frequent fog and chill.

A Perfect Fall Weekend In Hayes Valley, San Francisco. smuggler's cove hayes valley
Smuggler’s Cove in Hayes Valley.

Where To Shop 

Fiercely protective of its village vibe, Hayes Valley has developed a shopping district that’s practically free of chain stores. Instead, a welcoming array of shops bring a strong eye for style and appealing offerings to the neighborhood. While the selection is wide ranging – from sake boutique True Sake to the Mexican folk-art talismans of Polanco – clothing, home decor, shoes, and sweets are the mainstays here.

Begin your spree at vintage-focused Ver Unica, one of the original Hayes Valley stores, where you’ll likely run into owner Cindy Spade, a muse with Joni Mitchell cheekbones and effortlessly inspiring personal style. Impossibly hip Acrimony stocks cool-girl and -guy pieces, while Welcome Stranger is solely dedicated to the sharp-dressed man. The contemporary design collective Minimal and artisan-focused Maker & Moss are like candy stores for designophiles, but when it’s time to satisfy a literal sweet tooth, head to Miette for cupcakes, cookies, and tarts; and Chantal Guillon for macarons.

A Perfect Fall Weekend In Hayes Valley, San Francisco. maker moss hayes valley
Maker & Moss in Hayes Valley.

See & Do 

San Francisco possesses plenty of landmarks (hello, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz), but mostly due to its size, Hayes trades monuments for cozy public spaces. At Patricia’s Green park, created after the freeway was torn down, locals commandeer tables for meetups and chess matches, dogs carouse on the lovely lawn, and street fairs and public art make frequent appearances. Adjacent is Proxy, an ever-evolving open-air space that throws alfresco movie nights and block parties, and hosts coffee, ice cream, and beer pop-ups. Just around the corner is the sophisticated SFJazz Center, where, at sleek new restaurant B-Side, charred chive blossoms, hominy posole, and piquant cocktails play like crowd-pleasing openers to the night’s jazz-heavyweight headliner.

For larger-scale sightseeing, head to the neighboring Civic Center, home to the War Memorial Opera House (where the city’s opera and ballet companies split stage time), the San Francisco Symphony, and Herbst Theatre. A 15-minute stroll west leads to Alamo Square Park, bordered on the east by the Painted Ladies (aka Postcard Row), seven pastel-hued sister houses made famous by the opening credits of Full House, now one of the city’s most photographed scenes. Instagram-op scored, return to Hayes Valley to soak in the village scene – a glass of rosé in hand.

Advisor Tip

“Before dinner, grab a glass of wine at Hotel Biron, a secret wine bar tucked away on a dark alley off Market Street – trust me!” – Courtney Regan, Virtuoso advisor, San Francisco

Where To Sleep

Ever since it survived the city’s 1906 earthquake, the Fairmont San Francisco on Nob Hill has been a classic SF institution, with its marble-wrapped lobby and 592 sumptuous guest rooms. Don’t miss a visit to the Tonga Room – the 72-year-old holdover from the tropical-tinged days of Hawaii-mania is one of the country’s original tiki bars, complete with dangerous drinks, pupu platters, and waiters in festive shirts.

The Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel houses one of the city’s most breathtaking spaces, The Garden Court dining room and atrium, where Saturday afternoon tea is a San Francisco rite of passage. Beyond the restaurant, 556 revamped rooms feature 11-foot ceilings and marble baths, and swimmers can log laps beneath a glass dome in the indoor pool.

Downtown’s Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, a quick walk from Union Square, feels more like an urban residence than a big-city hotel, with 277 modern rooms, coastal fare at MKT Restaurant – Bar, and complimentary guest access to the adjacent Equinox Sports Club.

BY KELLY LACK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANGELA DECENZO

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