WHERE TO NEXT?

Hi,

Why plan a trip to Iceland or Norway to see the Northern Lights when you can see them from Mississippi and Portland, ME?!

The photos below were taken by a colleague and friend at their homes. So beautiful!

My kids stayed up late to see the Lights, and although it was quite cloudy in Hanover, they were excited to get a glimpse. I look forward to one day taking them to Northern Europe mid-winter in the hopes of a more vibrant display.

As a mom, I had a great weekend – we had all 3 of our kids home for 4 days, including over Mother’s Day! We spent the day playing pickleball, hitting balls at the driving range, going to brunch at our favorite local spot, I read in the afternoon and then we co-hosted a bbq for a group of Dartmouth football players. It was a perfect day! I hope yours was as well!

I learned many years ago to not leave the day to chance. I am the one who decides what we do so it’s always exactly what I want. I highly recommend this strategy.

This week I have been given homework. But not for the Dartmouth course I’m auditing on Middle Eastern Studies. I’ve been given homework to learn the lyrics to more Taylor Swift songs before I go to her concert in a couple of weeks.

It’s bringing back the feeling you get when cramming for a final.

Do you remember that feeling? It’s stressful!

But I’m also getting schooled on the stories (and ex-boyfriends) behind the songs, which does make them more interesting.


Our clients visited Cuba last month for a 4 day adventure. They loved it! Check out this week’s Highlight below for some of their photos, experiences and feedback.


Last week’s most popular article was WSJ’s Skip the Summer Crowds in Europe. Try These Underrated Destinations Instead. In case you don’t have a subscription, I’ve pasted in a few of the ideas below.
Swap…

  • Lake Orta, Italy for Lake Como
  • Šibenik for Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Avebury, England for London
  • Athens Riviera, Greece for crowded Greek islands
  • Riga, Latvia for Paris

This week’s articles include summer hotspots in cooler destinations (like Norway – where I’m headed in July), 6 sumptuous European hotels and 5 big travel lessons from an accomplished conservationist.

A few interesting informational articles include taking the world’s first smart binoculars on safari, the gap between the price you see and what you pay is getting worse, a solution for working parents who want to travel and luxury hotels adding more and more experiences.

Happy almost summer!

Warmly,

 

Below:

  • Client feedback – Cuba
  • This week’s highlight – Cuba
  • Where to Next? Auberge Saint-Antoine
  • Articles to Inspire+Inform

“Our guide was amazing. Seeing the fabric of Cuba was the goal and she nailed it. The roof top bar she pulled together on the fly was probably my favorite thing. The singer was a famous Cuban singer (none of us knew him of course) but she was so excited to hear him. She sang every song…Was a truly joyous moment for all of us.

The timeframe we were there (4 days) was a perfect amount. What we did was perfect.

What is your favorite memory of the trip?
“Lots – the car photo shoot, dance troop, humidor factory, cigar rolling factory (our guide there was really fun), our hotel room was way better than what I expected.”

The rooftop bar owned by the couple who runs the hotel where we stayed was the best meal of the trip. Amazing atmosphere eating at a lovely restaurant surrounded by city scape really makes for stunning views.”

CUBA

What is it like to visit a place seemingly caught in a 1950s time-warp?

It is like stepping into a vintage postcard brought to life. Picture yourself strolling down cobblestone streets lined with colorful colonial buildings and classic American cars from decades past.

Everywhere you look, there’s a sense of nostalgia mixed with the energy of modern-day Havana. From the lively rhythms of salsa music echoing through the streets to the aroma of freshly brewed Cuban coffee wafting from cafes, every moment is a feast for the senses. Even the parts of the city that are crumbling add to the complex picture.

Beyond the surface, Cuba’s time-warp allure offers a deeper glimpse into its rich history and resilient spirit. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, yet every corner holds a story waiting to be discovered.

If you are curious what a long weekend in Cuba is like, here is a glimpse…

Each trip I plan to Cuba starts with a VIP meet and greet on arrival at Havana Airport to escort you through immigration and customs. You don’t have to think about anything.

You are taken to your driver who will be with you for your entire trip. He brings you to your charming boutique hotel owned and run by a local Cuban.

After you’ve taken a few minutes to refresh, let the fun and cultural immersion begin. Your very own personal guide will be with you every day to take you to the most unique and special places during the day and be your nightlife concierge in the evening.

This afternoon walk through Habana Vieja, Havana’s center of commerce, industry and entertainment. Visit a boutique with the first independent fashion brand in Cuba.

Enjoy tonight’s dinner in a local paladar with delicious fresh seafood and sea to table fare. After dinner choose from an array of options – many not known until that moment, taking advantage of the spontaneity that Cubans live by. A few ideas…

  • private rum tasting and a cigar pairing with a master sommelier
  • a daiquiri at El Floridita, the hangout spot of Hemingway and other Hollywood celebrities in the ’40s and ’50s and the birthplace of the daiquiri
  • live music at Bodeguita del Medio, the birthplace of the mojito

The next day after a leisurely breakfast, enjoy a conversation with Cuba’s former Press and Cultural Attaché, a popular and dynamic political science professor, who is knowledgeable about current affairs between Cuba and the U.S. and will provide unique insights into general aspects of Cuban life.

This afternoon take salsa dancing lessons at the oldest school of salsa in the Americas! Get ready for tonight where you can try out your new skills at a local salsa club.

Visit the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba for the Hall of Fame and the site of a significant mafia gathering in 1946, depicted in The Godfather II.

Tonight enjoy dinner in Havana’s most famous restaurant, a former tenement house where the acclaimed 1994 Cuban movie Strawberry and Chocolate was filmed. After dinner, absorb the incredible nighttime views from the rooftop bar.

The night is still young? Your guide will happily take you out for more live music.

After another good night’s sleep, visit the UNESCO site of Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway’s estate. His home is preserved exactly as he left it and his 38-foot fishing boat, The Pilar, is also on the property.

At lunch today, learn the art of mojito mixology.

This afternoon wander the streets looking at vibrant street art, visit a women’s clothing design collective and tour a fortress to see old weaponry and aircraft used to defend the island during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

If you are interested in art and music, continue on to…

  • a spot overlooking Havana’s sea wall for more live music
  • view galleries to see the work of talented emerging and established contemporary Cuban artists
  • visit the village of the Gaudi-inspired neighborhood mosaic tile art project
  • enjoy a one-of-a-kind in-studio performance by Habana Compas Dance where the powerful percussionists use chairs, castanets, and bata drums in their live performances

And of course, have professional photos taken in a classic 50’s convertible!

As your whirlwind trip to Cuba comes to an end your guide will escort you back to the airport. You leave with memories of fascinating people (and a few mementos and perhaps a piece of art), feeling enriched by all the people you met and what you learned.

FAQs
Is it legal for Americans to go to Cuba?
Yes! Your trip just must be planned in a specific way, with the correct forms filled out and visas obtained. I will help you with all of that so it’s super easy.

How much time do I need?
Cuba is an ideal long weekend getaway – 4 days and nights are perfect.

I’ve heard Cuba has amazing fishing. Can that be added on to my trip?
Yes! There are some coveted fishing spots off of Cuba that can be added on to a cultural trip.

Is Cuba a good destination for a relaxing beach vacation?
Not for Americans because it does not fit into the current US laws for approved visits.

 

 

 

📷 Visit Quebec City

🌟 Our clients recently had a midweek adventure to Quebec City to see Noah Kahan in concert. They stayed at the Auberge Saint-Antoine and came home with rave reviews of the hotel, city and show!

Some of their feedback…
“The Quebecois do not mess around with food – all meals were so good! We had many miles of neighborhood jogs and walks.

The front desk was very helpful. They tipped us off to a diner-type restaurant in the “lower town” (the neighborhood where St Antoine is, and just below the official old city which is touristy) called Buffet Delantiquaire, which was very local-y and a good example of true regional food. For a nice dinner that is hyper local, L’Orygine, also recommended by the hotel.

My pro tip: The Museum of Civilization, right next door, was such a great resource. They have a huge lobby with a big interactive kiosk that tells you about each neighborhood and recommends sites and restaurants and gives a QR code with a google map. It was nice to understand arts vs trendy vs family neighborhoods. We are folks who like to figure out a place, and we do that by seeing where people live, eat, recreate, and work.”

(I love it when clients share such helpful feedback!)

Why is Auberge Saint-Antoine so special?

  • Located in the heart of the historical district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the hotel is adorned in French and English relics discovered while the hotel was being built. Choose a room with a fireplace if you are traveling in winter or a room with a balcony in warmer months.
  • The farm to fork restaurant, Chez Muffy, is located in a maritime warehouse built in 1822. The farm is 12 miles away and harvests over 10 months of the year for dishes at Chez Muffy. Our clients said of the fantastic breakfast, “The best buckwheat pancakes I have ever had and I know my buckwheat pancakes!”
  • Bar Artefact serves tapas, signature cocktails and light meals.  On weekends enjoy afternoon tea with sweet and savory bites.

Do as much or as little as you like:

  • The wellness center offers yoga classes, massage therapists and a Finnish sauna. There is also a 24-hour gym.
  • Explore the city on foot. The Auberge Saint-Antoine is steps way from Place Royale, the St. Lawrence River and Musée de la civilization. You’ll find antique shops, quaint alleyways, galleries and cafés.

‼️ Don’t miss…. a walking food tour in Old Quebec. You will walk the cobblestone streets, learn the history of the area and sample food at places only the locals know.

📷 Auberge Saint-Antoine

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