Four of the Coolest Hotels in Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, Windy city, architecture, skyline, travel, photography

View of Chicago Skyline & Buckingham Fountain.    Photo credit: TpsDave

Are you looking for hip and cool hotels in the Windy City?

Establishments designed with the latest technology along with great views and entertainment features?

Chill out in one of the following four top trendy & fabulous hotels.

The Acme Hotel in Downtown Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, Windy city, architecture, skyline, travel, photography

View of downtown. Photo credit: acmehotelcompany.com

Each room at the Acme Hotel is geared up with the latest technology to impress any geek. Load and view your own content on Internet ready smart TVs and tune in or tune out with the latest audio gadgets. Do you only use an Apple? There are also Apple-friendly hook-ups.

Choose from king, queen, and double-suite rooms equipped with groovy ottomans that you can pull out for entertaining. Relax in ergonomically correct desk chairs and spa-inspired bathrooms with large backlit mirrors and fun night lights. Of course, there are mini-fridges and microwaves for those late night munchies.

The Trump International Hotel

Trump International Hotel Chicago, Trump Tower, Chicago, Illinois, hotel, travel, photography

Trump Tower. Photo credit: Basil D Soufi

The Trump International Hotel is chockfull of cool factor with iridescent-tinted glass and polished steel exterior.  Its 10-foot floor-to-ceiling windows offer jaw-dropping views of the city, rivers, and lakes.

All of the rooms and suites are designed with hip urban-style kitchen areas enhanced with granite countertops, Sub-Zero appliances, and chic Italian wood cabinets.

Stay connected with Wi-Fi and enjoy entertainment on large LCD TVs. Savor sophisticated cocktails and trendy neo-Japanese fare at its world-class Sixteen restaurant.

Need some to cool down & work out all at once? Step into its 75-foot long indoor pool. Now, that’s cool!

The James Chicago Hotel

This highly reviewed and acclaimed boutique hotel nestles along the Magnificent Mile just steps from Millennium Park and popular museums.

With its perfect mélange of state-of-the-art technology, residential style, and cozy rooms, it’s a much favored hotel for travelers. Its inviting rotating artwork is a definite expression of chic.

Get a real workout with Jim Karas personal training and then relax in the 7,000 square foot spa. What else makes the James Chicago Hotel so cool? How about its Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin mini-iPod speakers in suites, shoe-shine service, triple-filtered water, and a warm towel with lemongrass oil to welcome guests at check-in?  The list goes on and on.

The Chicago Waldorf Astoria

Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Chicago, Windy city, Illinois, hotel, travel, photography

View of the Waldorf Astoria. Photo credit: Laura Moore

Enjoy expansive rooms with upscale amenities like terraces for city views and fireplaces at the Chicago Waldorf Astoria. Each room includes all the cool technology you would expect from a luxury, boutique hotel, including complimentary Wi-Fi access. Bowers and Wilkins virtual surround system with iPod integration, and two 42-inch LCD HD TVs with DVR. Its lap pool features thousands of mosaic tiles that deliver a unique flair.

Indulge in tranquil spa treatments and get a workout with the Gyrotonic and Pilates classes. Treat yourself to a culinary delight at the on site European bistro. Foods are prepared by artisan purveyors, and ingredients are from local farms. With its velvet banquettes and rich suede walls, this hotel sports a Coco Chanel-inspired look.

These four cool Chicago hotels reflect the culture, style, and character of the city. They also reflect hip Midwestern amenities. Whether for business or leisure travel, guests will get a hotel experience that is in tune with the times while feeling right at home.

Have you been to Chicago?

What are your favorite places there &

what are your recommendations?

Tell us all about it :)

Holidays in Florida for the adventurous at heart

Charlotte Harbor, Sw Florida, waterfront, Florida, travel, photography, TS76

View of Charlotte Harbor

If you are considering spending your next holidays in the sun, then make sure to go off the beaten path and explore Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands, a unique, unspoiled and protected eco-tourism destination.

Located half-way between Sarasota and Naples, along the Gulf coast in Southwest Florida, the area is perfect for adventure and nature lovers. You will feel right at home from the moment you set foot.

Amidst beautiful coastal communities, island barriers, discover the real Florida and experience great southern hospitality!

 

So what is there to see and do?

 

The Sunshine State has so much to offer and there is an array of activities to choose from!

 

Soak up the sun

Englewood Beach, Beach, SwFL, Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands, Florida, travel, photography

Englewood Beach Photo credit: CharlotteHarborTravel.com

If you are looking to rest, relax and recharge your batteries, you can definitely do so.

Imagine swimming in warm turquoise waters, walking on soft white sand,  uncrowded beaches, combing for colorful shells, soaking up the sun under a radiant blue sky, swaying palms and feel a gentle breeze caressing your face.  Add a cold tropical drink or cocktail and you have the perfect day at the beach! Don’t forget to watch the sunset disappear over the horizon at the end of the day. Your doctor would certainly approve of this in a heartbeat :)

 

Paddle away

Phoenix Rising, Kayak, Kayaking, sports, outdoors, Charlotte Harbor and the GFu

Connect with Nature, go kayaking!

 

Nature was very generous. In fact, there are close to 200 miles of Blueway Trails in the area which were mapped for Kayak or Canoe lovers.

Each of the 53 trails has been rated for their access, difficulty and for the beautiful scenery. Thanks to expert guides, one can see a variety of birds, animals in their natural habitat.

Sea Kayaking? It sure is possible for those who are bold, fearless and possess the skills.

Stand up paddling? Absolutely, if you’re up for a challenge and try something new!

Not only is paddling a great exercise to tone your arms and legs but it also requires balance at all times. It is a collaboration and coordination between your mind, heart and soul. Connecting with Mother Nature, truly listening and moving to her rhythm is an experience you will never forget!

 

Adventure on two wheels

bike, bicycle, Boca Grande, Boca Grande Bike Path, Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands, SwFL, Florida, travel, photography

Cycling in Boca Grande

Cross beautiful Gasparilla Island from north to south thanks to the 6.5 miles/ 10 km long Boca Grande Bike Path while admiring the flora, sounds of nature, stunning waterfront homes, charming and historical downtown.

End your trip by reaching the very tip of the island where the Boca Grande lighthouse (which dates back to 1890) still stands until this day.

There is no greater satisfaction than completing a mission and in this case your workout for the day is done!

 

Small town living

Gilchrist Park, Punta Gorda, SwFL, Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands, Florida, travel, photography

Sunset at Gilchrist Park Photo credit: Jerry Jones

Finalist in the Most beautiful Small Towns in America by Rand McNally in 2013, Punta Gorda is the art and cultural center of Charlotte County. It is also a vibrant, dynamic and historical waterfront community.

What makes it so charming upon visiting, is the laid-back, old-town feeling with its antique street lamps, colorful homes and towering palm trees.

There is a place where everyone gets together for a drink or a meal with a view and that is at Fishermen’s Village. It is a mall, resort and marina where boats of all sizes dock or set out to explore the harbor, rivers or the Gulf!

 

Waterfront dining

Peace River Seafood Restaurant, dining, Crabs, SwFl, Florida, travel, photography, food

Diner is served!

When it comes to dining, there is no shortage of options in and around Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands.

From fine dining, to cafés, to popular & corporate restaurants, you will never go hungry.

The specialty of the area is fresh seafood of course. Many restaurants will offer their catch of the day and some even cook it just the way you like it.

On the other hand there are shacks like the Peace River Seafood who offers all you can eat crabs which are to be shared between a group of friends and/or family members.

It is such a fun experience and the servers will even show you how to break a crab open with your hands and a small wooden hammer on the table covered with paper. Talk about going old school. As they say, simple does it right? It’s good old comfort food.

As you can see, leaving the crowds behind, getting off the beaten path and  spending your holidays in Florida is definitely worth traveling for!

You will love it so much that you will want to return and explore some more. Trust me on that one.

Now over to you.

Tell me,

 

Have you been to Florida?

If so where did you go?

If you haven’t, would you go to the place I recommend?

I can’t wait to read from you!

 

Until next time and happy travels :)

 

All the best,

 

Kay

 

 

Top 10 Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Paris

 “Paris is always a good idea”

- Audrey Hepburn

view, Paris, France, travel, photography

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower.    Photo credit: Timmz

 

Ah Paris! The city of love, lights, food, fashion and art. Millions of tourists every year are drawn by its appeal, culture, romance and style.

You can fall in love with Paris even more by visiting its Top 10 most beautiful places.

 

The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower, Tour Eiffel, Paris, France, travel, photography

La Tour Eiffel. Photo credit: Belen Silva

The Eiffel Tower is the signature monument of Paris and attracts almost seven million visitors each year. It stands 324 meters high and has three different floors spread over multiple levels in which you can take in the beauty of Paris from different altitudes.

 

The Louvre Museum

Louvre, Louvre museum, musée du Louvre, Paris, France, travel, photography

Musée du Louvre. Photo credit: Edi Nugraha

Home of the Mona Lisa and one of the most famous and visited museums in the world – the Louvre. It houses thousands of masterpieces and is over 210,000 square meters. It was during the French Revolution that the National Assembly decided the Louvre would be used to expose the Nation’s masterworks.

 

The Palace of Versailles

Versailles, Palais de Versailles, Versailles Palace, Palace, Paris, France, travel, photography

Palais de Versailles. Photo credit: Charlemagne

Versailles, Palais de Versailles, architecture, Paris, France, travel, photography

Intricate details on gate at Versailles. Photo credit: PDP

The largest castle in France, Le Palais de Versailles is the epitome of royalty, luxury and ostentatious furnishings that are beyond your wildest dreams. While there, ensure you take your time to visit the breath-taking gardens.

 

The Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs bring a haunting to Paris with the over six million skeletons that are housed in an underground burial complex. This burial dates back to the eighteenth century and brings a fascinating, intriguing and stunning sense of beauty to the darker side of Paris.

 

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge, Cabaret, Paris, France, travel, photography

Moulin Rouge at night. Photo credit: Hochspannung

The Cabaret known as the Moulin Rouge may have countless imitators and borrowed themes, but none can match up to the original. The club’s décor is still full of rich romance and is a heavy-hitting tourist attraction that offers musical dance entertainment.

 

Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris

Notre-Dame, cathedral, texture, architecture, Paris, France, travel, photography

Details of the façade. Photo credit: Alex Van

Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic, the completion of the Notre Dame Cathedral was in 1345 and to this day it remains slightly over-glorified in the eyes of some but astonishingly impressive. With sculptures, high ceilings, gargoyles and stained glass, the Notre Dame Cathedral is in a class of its own.

 

Arc De Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe, arch, architecture, Paris, France, travel, photography

Night time view of the Arch. Photo credit: Herryway

Another symbol of Paris is the Arc De Triomphe; a giant and iconic landmark situated at the centre of a roundabout that you hit upon entering the city. It also holds excellent views of Paris from above.

 

Crypte Archéologique – Paris

Few consider the Roman ruins within Paris, but Crypte Archeologique is an underground museum of Roman Paris. The Notre Dame Cathedral situated directly above the museum has thousands of visitors where only dozens make the journey to the Crypte.

 

The River Seine

Musée d'Orsay, River Seine, la Seine, Paris, France, travel, photography

View of the River Seine from Musée d’Orsay. Photo credit: TpsDave

A 776 kilometer long river that makes for the centerpiece of Paris is the River Seine. You can enjoy a cruise on the Seine and even include dinner, all the while watching the monuments illuminating at night. Imagine the panoramic view of what Paris has to offer.

 

La Conciergerie

In the heart of the city, you can find the famous former prison that held Marie Antoinette. Even now, you can still view the cell that she was kept in. The place is known for its impressive exhibits and history.

 

Where to Stay

Are you ready to visit Paris? There are thousands of places to stay, but accommodation in the city centre does not come cheap. Expedia is probably the best site to find a good deal on hotels and serviced apartments. You have a lot of choice, with everything from the cheaper budget friendly options right the way up to some of the most prestigious hotels in the world. One word of advice from personal experience: Parisian room sizes are notoriously small. If you are expecting a plush, spacious room with lots of natural daylight for the same amount of money you would pay in other cities, then you should re-calibrate your expectations.

 

 

Have you been to Paris?

What are YOUR favorite places? 

Tell us all about it in the comments below!

À la prochaine :)

Touring Suchitoto in El Salvador

In honor of the National Hispanic Heritage Month, which coincides with Independence Day of Central American Nations on September 15th, I decided to write a post of a charming, historical and quaint colonial town in my country of origin, El Salvador.

As you know, it has been and still is often overlooked, feared and very often avoided by tourists because of what is shown on television on a daily basis which is not always very positive but also because of its turbulent past (civil war).

After 5 or 6 trips, solo and with my family, I can personally attest that it really does not deserve all that bad press. The smallest country of the Americas definitely deserves more credit, attention and is well worth a visit.  It has a lot to offer to both locals & visitors from all over the world. Salvadorans are kind, helpful even if you don’t speak Spanish well and they welcome you with a warm smile!

As I have previously shown you, El Salvador is a land blessed with mountains and national parks, splendid beaches, mysterious and ancient Mayan Ruins, active and impressive volcanoes, pristine lakes, art centers, pilgrimage sites, fantastic food and drinks, lively music (Cumbia) and so much more!

map, mapa, El Salvador, Centro America, Central America, Relief map

The town I would like to take you on a tour is called Suchitoto and it is located approximately 50 km north-east of the capital city, San Salvador. If you look at the photo above, you will see the arrow pointing towards it.

As soon as you arrive, you can’t help but feel as if you have gone back in time, as far back as the 16th century thanks to the cobble-stone streets, red-tiled roofs and most importantly,

Iglesia Santa Lucia

Iglesia Santa Lucia, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Façade, Iglesia Santa Lucia, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Iglesia Santa Lucia,  Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

This building has withstood the test of time, the civil war and a few earthquakes! It is still standing tall and is the focal point as well as a reference landmark of the town. The church faces Parque Central where the fountain will simply stop in your tracks and will make you stare back!

Parque Central, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Life runs at a different pace in Suchitoto. Merchants slowly open their art galleries, tiendas (small stores), and family-run restaurants without a rush. Even the tourist center where I dropped in to get a map opens after 8 a.m.

The staff on site is friendly, willing to answer any question you may have, they can prepare a route plan, suggest activities or places to visit. They are also curious to know where you’re from J

After having a great cup of coffee (mountain-grown & freshly roasted of course) and a slice of sweet bread straight out of the oven at a coffee shop, it was time to explore the area with la familia!

Allow me to take you on a visual tour of Suchitoto.

Enjoy!

Puerto San Juan, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Entrance to the port / Turicentro Puerto San Juan

 

Restaurant, Puerto San Juan, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Traditional restaurant at the port

 

Mural decor, decor, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Wall décor inside the restaurant

 

Art, painting, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

 Painting of the cobble-stoned streets around town

 

wall decor, clay pot, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

wall decor, clay pots, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Decorative clay pots on the wall

 

decorations, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Relics of the past

 

view, bench, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Bench with a beautiful view

 

Puerto San Juan, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Port of / Puerto San Juan

Lake, lago, Suchitlan, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Gateway to Lake / Lago Suchitlán

 

lake, lago, Suchitlan, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Lake shore

Lake, Lago de Suchitlan, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

We decided to go on a tour of the lake, so we had to wait for our transportation to arrive. Boat tours are offered to tourists from all over the world.

The boat you see on the photo was carrying passengers from France and they were happy to hear me speak French oui :)

After they had left, my family and went on board and we marveled at everything before our eyes. I just took a few photos before putting my camera down to truly enjoy the moment and the ride. I’m actually glad I did!

 

Lake, Lago de Suchitlan, Suchitoto, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

Close up view of mountains in Cabañas

 

View, Lake Suchitlan, El Salvador, travel, photography, TS76

It was an amazing day, in great company in a spectacular location. I am happy I got to visit this town and finally understood why a lot of people say that El Salvador is truly impressive and it sure is!

If you are ever in Central America and if you are unsure whether or not you should go or skip it, I definitely recommend including it into any itinerary!  As usual, take the normal precautions and go with reliable transportation, relax and just go with the flow.

After all some of the best adventures are those that come spontaneously like I did! The great memories will stay with you…forever ;)

 

Until next time,

 

Felices viajes, happy travels!

 

Karla :)

My top 5 travel shows

I’ll admit something to you. Well, actually I think it will not come as a surprise. I am happily addicted to travel shows and I have absolutely no shame in saying that!

Ever since I was a young child, I remember watching them religiously every week-end and they sure struck a chord in me.

Who among you watched Globe Trekker and Lonely Planet? I’m pretty sure you did :)

I always curious to see where the host was headed and what amazing adventures they would embark upon! It sure left me daydreaming and told myself that one day I would be right there as well.

Just recently I was flipping the channels and happened to stumble upon 2 back to back travel shows! It must have been my lucky day and it happened at that precise moment. You think I was happy? You bet! Now only did it made my day, it also made me feel grateful for having discovered them!

I decided to compile my Top 5 Travel Shows and here there in no particular order:

 

Art Wolfe: Travels to the Edge

 

I discovered Travels to the Edge by pure luck. What really captivated me from the first moment is the amazing, vivid & spectacular scenery showcased.

Art Wolfe is an amazing photographer goes to some of the most fascinating places on earth & captures them with his professional Canon camera.

What I truly love about the show is that he shows you so many things in a short time!

From capturing the beauty of the landscape or people, to the right angle or lighting to some impressive tricks we’d never think of!

Watching it is pure pleasure and I love learning more about travel photography :)

 

http://www.travelstotheedge.com

https://twitter.com/artwolfe

 

Rudy Maxa’s World

 

Soft-spoken, knowledgeable & trustworthy travel journalist Rudy Maxa makes me want to join him on one of his adventures!

Travelling in style & enjoying the finer things in life? Yes please!

His style is unique and he caters to an older audience, however we learn quite a bit about the fascinating history, culture, food and drinks from any destination he visits and it stays with you long after the show is over!

 

http://rudymaxasworld.com/

https://twitter.com/rudymaxa

 

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

 

What else can be said about the Emmy winner & host of CNN’s original series Parts Unknown?

He is simply a force of nature. The man is a star in his own right!

Eating his way through markets, whole in the wall restaurants, trying out exotic culinary delicacies in the middle of nowhere, immersing himself deep in the culture? He does that and so much more!

As you know I am already a big fan of inspiring Travel Quotes and one of my favorites from Anthony Bourdain is the following:

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

 

http://www.cnn.com/video/shows/anthony-bourdain-parts-unknown

https://twitter.com/Bourdain

 

 

1001 places to see before you die

 

Have you read the book 1001 places to see before you die by Patricia Shultz? If you haven’t well, it is a must if you’re a traveler and wanderer.

It is the ultimate dream list that will inspire you, fuel your wanderlust, make your Bucket List even longer and leave you wanting to pack your bags in a heartbeat!

The TV show stars a young couple, Albin and Melanie Ulle who leave everything behind and embark on an amazing adventure to the four corners of the world and take us along for the ride!

 

Samantha Brown: Passport to Europe

 

Last but not least, my absolute favorite TV personality from the Travel Channel.

Samantha Brown has the best travel job anyone could possibly dream of! Her fun, witty, adventurous personality just shines through the screen.

I have never watched any other TV show so religiously and every one of them is just as exciting and educating.

In the Passport to Europe series, Sam goes to some classic European cities like London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and she finds new things and places in each one of them!

What I love about the show is that she is not scared to go to blend in and speak to the locals at a local bar or restaurant, is an inquisitive traveler and partakes in celebrations, like dancing at a square in the Gothic Quarter!

She is so much fun, passionate and truly loves what she does for a living and who wouldn’t right?

 

http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/samantha-brown

https://twitter.com/SamanthaBrown

 

Now those are my Top 5 Travel Shows.

 

Now over to you!

 

What are your favorite travel shows?

Which ones should we look for and watch?

 

Tell us all about it!

 

Until next time,

All the best

Kay :)