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8 Broadway Musicals to Catch this Winter

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As the temperature drops in NYC over the next few months, it’s a good time to venture to Broadway to sit in a warm theater and take in a play.

There are musicals out there that will rock your world. We have a list of eight to catch this winter, all of which I’ve seen with at least one member of my family, from sister to mom to child or a good friend. After all, every play requires a different kind of companion.

Hamilton

I feel extremely lucky to have seen Hamilton off-Broadway before the real craze following its move to Broadway ensued. My sister and I saw it at the Public Theater when tickets for members were a mere $60. Now people are paying upwards of $177 per ticket. Following in the footsteps of plays like Rent, which took the same route from Off-Broadway to Broadway in the 1990’s, Hamilton is a dose of innovative, edgy history and I loved it for this very reason. From the moment the cast starts bringing Founding Father history to life using hip-hop, rapping, and exquisitely composed songs and dialogue, you will be transfixed. This is the play of the decade, but tickets are scarce. Be sure to check out the #Ham4Ham daily lottery which offers 21 front-row tickets for $10 each.

Musical Hamilton

 

Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof, a musical by Joseph Stein, was the first play I ever acted in. I played every song on the piano and watched the film over and over again. So, it was only natural that my mother accompany me to the new Broadway play. I played a Yeshiva boy and yenta, by the way, and I was happy to see females playing males in this version. The show is about tradition and a Jewish village grappling with change, revolving around a milkman and his wife and five daughters at the turn of the century.  The combination of stage greats Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht, a first rate cast and a faithful retelling of this famous story makes it more relevant than ever.  There’s a direct parallel going on between the story of the Jews of Anatevka and the story of the Syrian refugees today which makes the last scene particularly haunting.  

Musical Fiddler

 

Spring Awakening

I took my best friend to see Spring Awakening, having heard amazing reviews from its run a few years ago with Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff (now a star of Hamilton). It’s a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. Based on the play Spring Awakening (1891) by Frank Wedekind, it’s set in late-19th Century Germany and tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of teenage sexuality. Alternative rock is employed as part of the folk-infused rock score and the show incorporates sign language into the performance, making it both innovative and haunting. Perfect show for a girls’ night out, right?

Musical Spring Awakening

 

Beautiful

Beautiful is a play coined by the legendary songwriter and singer, Carole King, and her ex-husband and writing partner, Gerry Goffin, about their life together, and then apart. The pair met in college, fell in love and became a professional duo, writing songs for the likes of the Drifters and the Shirelles. My mom had to be my date for this show, given her history with the music from this era. King and Goffin’s first famous song was “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” at age 17, and when she heard it, I saw the sides of her mouth curl up in a brilliant smile. As the play travels through their extraordinary career, an uber talented cast sings each hit song. The show will make you sing –  and it may well make you cry. It will easily make you dance in your seat, and you’ll no doubt go home and download everything King ever wrote, particularly her first solo album, Tapestry.

Musical Beautiful

 

School of Rock

If you or your child loved the movie, School of Rock, starring Jack Black, there’s no question you’ll love the Broadway show, penned by famous composer Andrew Lloyd Weber and Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes. It follows Dewey Finn, a slightly edgy, scruffy musician who takes a class of elementary students and turns them into rock stars. School of Rock is inspiring and the cast of kids who play the future stars are wonderful. For my special needs son, who is a hard sell, to have enjoyed a show this much on Broadway, you know it’s pretty spectacular. He’s also been listening to the soundtrack ever since.

Musical School of Rock

 

Fun Home
Fun Home is a Broadway play based on a book by Alison Bechdel (yes, of the famous Bechdel Test), and directed by the wonderful Sam Gold, is pure magic. Based on the best-selling graphic memoir, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” by lesbian writer/cartoonist Alison Bechdel about her dysfunctional family and childhood in rural Pennsylvania, it’s also about the power of memory and how our childhoods shape our entire lives. It made sense that my mom was my companion for this show – she happens to be from Pennsylvania and pretty much shaped my entire existence. The play certainly makes you stop to think and the songs are infectious to boot. Lisa Kron’s adaptation, Jeanine Tesori’s score, and the stupendous cast of actors makes Tony Award-winning Fun Home a memorable one.
Musical Fun Home

 

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland is a refreshing reminder for adults to step away from the seriousness that surrounds us and join a band of pirates, chase a fairy, or just let our imaginations soar. It centers on the author behind the tale of the boy who never wanted to grow up, Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie finds himself a celebrated playwright in London with all the trappings, yet none of the joy. Matthew Morrison’s (J.M Barrie) mere entrance on stage in the opening scene is enough to cause more than half the audience to applaud wildly, and it certainly got my Glee obsessed tween daughter excited. Fortunately, Morrison deserves the applause, he’s just that good. Bring on the Fairy dust.

Musical Finding Neverland

 

The King and I

Lincoln Center Theater has done it again with their Tony Award-winning revival of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical classic, The King and I. This production, with its spectacular set and lavish costumes, immediately transports the audience to 19th Century Siam. Under the direction of Bartlett Sher, the familiar story seems fresh and exciting. And then there’s the cast. Broadway veteran Kelli O’Hara and movie star Ken Watanabe were perfectly cast as Anna and the King. It’s a joy to watch them act and sing their hearts out on the stage. This is definitely a show that leaves the audience whistling a happy tune. I saw it with my sisters, and I have to say, this was definitely the right show to see with them. The music is swoon-worthy and we grew up with the film and were easily transported.

Musical The King and I

 

So, clearly, you shouldn’t fret if you can’t score tickets to Hamilton – there are some really good musical options on Broadway right now. If your heart is set on seeing that show, check out the #Ham4Ham, the free bi-weekly pre-lottery show that takes place outdoors except during the wintertime (when you can find it online). But whatever you end up seeing, I’m sure you’ll be happy – after all, there’s nothing as good as a day – or night – spent at the theater at the perfect Broadway musical.

This post was written by Holly Rosen Fink of The Culture Mom. Discover more of her travel notes on Findery

Wavefarmer’s finds: Craft Beer, Pre-Columbian Hiking Trails

Wavefarmer‘s note is the featured note today, pointing us to a ‘farm-to-table’ vendor in Baja. His notes are full of wine and beer recommendations, and some real gems such as this Pre-Columbian hiking trail in the middle of what seems to be nowhere–exactly the kind of thing you would never know was there, but for Findery, as Minister of Culture points out in the comments.

Sometimes in the middle of what seem to be great deserts of nothingness, somethingness–a very particular and necessary something.

Have a look through Wavefarmer’s notes, and give him a follow!

Ski Resort Vacations for Non-Skiers

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While some may consider the constant snowfall lately to be a source of frustration, skiers and snowboarders have been smiling from ear-to-ear over the fresh pow, especially after a slow start to the season.

Colorado too has been getting some love from Mother Nature lately, making it a great time to hit the slopes. Even those of us who don’t find the sport of sliding off hilltops something to be desired, are finding lots of reasons to head for the hills. The key to making everyone happy is in finding a mountain that can cater to all.

Two great and very different destinations to consider are Copper Mountain and Steamboat Ski Resort, especially if traveling with kids in tow.

The Copper Mountain experience

Located 75 miles from Denver, the village and trails of the Copper Mountain resort cover about 2,465 acres and is an official U.S. Ski team training venue. The base elevation is 9,712 feet, so make sure to give yourself a day to acclimate before taking on the slopes.

Steamboat

Image courtesy of Girl Gone Travel

Although there are plenty of out-of-towners who frequent this area, Copper is a local’s mountain. Talk to almost any Colorado native and they will tell you stories about learning to ski here and spending a good portion of their childhood here. The affection so many have for Copper is contagious.

A lot of it has to do with accessibility and the down-to-earth vibe. Ski lift prices aren’t astronomical and skiers love the diversity of the 126 runs and the overall size of this more intimate mountain.

With over three villages to cover, there is a lot to do, so much so that a non-skier will find many ways to spend their time, whether at the spa, tubing, ziplining, snowshoeing, or improving on your aerial freestyle moves at Woodward Copper.

Jump

Everybody jump! (Image courtesy of Girl Gone Travel)

The Steamboat Ski Resort experience

People will say that those who visit Steamboat really, really want to be there because of the time it takes to get there. As far as ski resorts go, Steamboat is off the beaten path, but as flights into Hayden Airport are added regularly, more people are finding it easier to plan their trips there.

This larger-scale ski resort area, with 165 runs and covering over 2,900 acres, makes for great fun-filled vacations. People in the surrounding farm area call it the city and it offers as much as any great city would.

The outdoor activities seem endless, though non-skiers will delight in the shopping, restaurants, gondola rides (especially at night) and the jaw-dropping views while snowshoeing.

Families will enjoy the ski school, the tubing, the family-friendly events, and spacious lodging options, while couples will enjoy the luxury dining options, romantic sleigh rides, and scenic helicopter tours.

There's no shame in riding the gondola just for the thrill of it. (Image courtesy of Girl Gone Travel)

There’s no shame in riding the gondola just for the thrill of it. (Image courtesy of Girl Gone Travel)

There are great places to discover off-resort as well. Try horseback riding through the beautiful trails in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness with my guide Ray, the owner of Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch, a true-to-the-bone cowboy and wonderful storyteller.

Horses in Steamboat

Image courtesy of Girl Gone Travel

Dinner at Laundry is an experience worth sharing, with tapas-style dishes and creative drink creations that make a perfect ending to a fun mountain day. I recommend you pair their Fiery Margarita with the Chicken and Dumplings dish. It’s like a warm hug from the culinary gods.

This post was written by Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel  on behalf of Findery. Follow more of her travel adventures on Findery

2015: A Year in Travel Stories

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2015 has been an amazing year for travel! Findery users have spread their wings and traveled the globe and shared some amazing stories along the way. Here are just a few of our favorites:

1) @275days took us on an incredible journey from Italy to Vietnam. We got to experience the world through his lens and the eyes of his family. Truly a once in a lifetime experience!

 

2) We explored the Dinaric Alps With @HouseofAnais. We got to vicariously enjoy some bird watching, kiteboarding, and even some white river rafting!

 

3) @Skimbaco showed us lots of amazing and fun finds between Finland and Sweden as she took us along on a family road trip.

 

4) For a slightly more exotic experience, we tagged along with @PointsandTravel as she explored the Galapagos Islands and got to know some blue footed boobies and other local friends. 

 

5) @Michaelturtle took us on a whirlwind tour of the World Heritage Sites of Morocco, filling our hearts with even more wanderlust than we thought even possible.

 

6) @Kristen_Edwards also went on a year long adventure that took her from the UK all the way to Thailand. Her stories and photos enchanted her and brought everything she discovered to life for us. This photo is just one of our favorites from her year long adventure.

 

7)  @Tawannab showed us the beauty of taking a restorative vacation in the magic that is Costa Rica.

 

8) @TheholidayPlace gave us some amazing insights into places many of us have yet to see for ourselves.

 

9) Thanks to @Wanderlustliving our travel bucket list is longer than it’s ever been before. Granda Nicaragua anyone?

 

10) And last, but not least, @fk took us on a year long tour of humanity, showing us the unique faces of people around the world.  

 

Those were just a few of our favorite travel stories shared on the site! Read on for the five notes most viewed and shared by the Findery community.

1) Not so surprisingly, this note by @GirlGoneTravel was the most viewed note this year. Because adorable!

Boys in the cloud
2) These little guys captured by @Stefanie stole our hearts too. Or maybe it was the rainbow. Either way. Priceless note!

Rainbow Penguins

3) @LeslieWong always has a fun story or two to share. This one is clearly everyone’s fave.

Leslie Wong

4) We have @fordsbasement to thank for this stunning shot of a place not too many visitors stumble onto.  

Gate of the Dead

5) And then there was this note, the perfect capture of long enduring past and oh-so-fleeting present shared by @rustedreverie.

National Capitol

So many amazing finds have been shared over the last twelve months that we really struggled to pick the ones to showcase here! We’re sure we missed some that you loved! Let us know what we missed and we’ll share them on Facebook this week!

In the meantime, we wish you all a very Happy New Year! And we hope that many of your travel dreams will be fulfilled in 2016!

A Winter’s Tale in Photos

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From un-seasonally cold icy mornings in unexpected parts of the world, to balmy December mornings in places that are usually covered in snow by now, it feels a bit like the seasons have gone all topsy turvy around the world. But, bizarre temperatures notwithstanding, according to the calendar, winter is just around the corner and is making itself known all around the Northern Hemisphere. Take a look at some of our favorite wintery notes as we all gear up for the season.

In Norway they’re building ice hotels

If the Philadelphians ever get tired of wearing shorts in December, they could just pop over the ocean and enjoy a fun, but rather chilly stay at this place. The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is located in Alta, Norway and is entirely built using local materials – aka ice and snow.

Ice hotel

In Russia the ice marvels build themselves

This glorious display of what winter has to offer occur entirely naturally on Lake Baikal, located in the southern part of eastern Siberia in Russia. It’s definitely something that deserves a place on everyone’s travel bucket-list.

Sibera

In California, you do what you have to do

Winter? Cold? Nothing keeps a true Californian from a sandy beach. Though sometimes you do have to trade in your swimsuit for something a little more climate appropriate. The question is, do you then have to call them sand boots?

boots in the snow

Thank goodness the Colorado snow never disappoints

This state knows a thing or two about embracing the snow and relaxing and warming up after. They should, they spend quite a bit of the winter covered in their cold white blanket. It’s an amazing destination if you’re looking for a bit of a white winter!

Colorado

How about enjoying winter in a place called Glacier Park

Montana isn’t just known for its horses. It’s also the home for this glittering gem of a destination. It’s not a warm place to visit, but it’ll warm your soul with its beauty.

Glacier Park

Even in the rain, New York is magical in December

Just because the snow is taking its sweet time in arriving in some parts of the world, the moisture sure isn’t late to the game. New York is perfect no matter what’s coming down from the sky, and really, umbrellas just make it better. Right?

New York Rain

And then there’s Australia

As we’re dusting off our mittens and looking for some ways to de-ice windshields, our friends down-under are shaking the creases out of their bathing suits and getting ready to throw some shrimp on the barbie for their Christmas dinners.

They’ll get to enjoy their winter in just a few months. We think they’ll be ok waiting.

Australia winter

Looking for more signs of winter? We’ve got you covered! Check out this notemap for some gorgeous winter notes or this Flipboard magazine.

What does winter look like near you this year?

New Design for Embedded Notes and Notemaps

We have redesigned our embedded notes, eliminated the map, enlarged the photo, and added some teaser text to tempt your readers. You may have already noticed them around the web! As soon as we launched the new embeds for both notes and notemaps today, the ones already posted on blogs were transformed to the new ones. Here is a note from fk:

The notemap embeds have also been upgraded. Gone are the maps, replaced by big engaging images. You can see them here in a notemap from skimbaco:

For your notemaps to look their best embedded on another site, they should have at least four notes in them, otherwise you’ll have blank spots.

We think they are beautiful and hope you do too! As always, we welcome your feedback at help@findery.com. We look forward to finding your notes!

We’ve flipped for Flipboard

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When you have amazing members who create incredible notes about their travels both around the world and around their neighborhood, you go out of your way to find ways to show their finds to the whole world.

That’s why, if you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest you’ll often see us share the notes that we just can’t help but show to as many people as possible.

And if you follow us on Flipboard you see them curated into gorgeous magazines.

For instance there’s the magazine of unique stays. If you’re finding your current surroundings somewhat humdrum, you might like to flip through its pages and escape for a moment.

Giraffes

 

The Culinary Adventures magazine, that promises to take your virtual taste buds on an adventure they’ll never forget.

Pasta

 

Or, how about the magazine that brings together all of Findery’s favorite four legged friends? The Dogs of Findery Magazine is the ideal pick-me-up in the middle of a long afternoon.

Dog

 

And if you just want to come with us to dream of all the traveling you’ll one day enjoy, we have a magazine for that too. The Dreaming of Travel magazine has a little bit of everything and will satisfy the even the most avid armchair traveler among us.

Jordan

 

But you won’t see Findery content just on the Flipboard magazines we’ve created. If you’re an avid user, you’ve probably seen Findery Notes pop up all over the place. What can we say, our users’ notes are just that shareable!

This holiday season we’re especially tickled to be featured in the Gift of Flipboard section and in the Travel section. Look around, we bet you’ll start to notice more and more Notes show up in your stream.

 

Going Beyond Amsterdam – An Insider’s Guide to Holland

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Whenever people say how much they like Holland, but then admit they’ve only been to Amsterdam, I cringe a little inside. Amsterdam is only one city in the whole country and, though it definitely boasts a few nice areas, it hardly represents what the Netherlands is all about. Having lived in the country for four years and having been married to a Dutch native for over 15 years, I have strong opinions on what constitutes some of the country’s highlights.

Must visit areas near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Very close to the airport you’ll find one of my favorite places to visit. Sure, it’s a bit of a tourist destination, but the area is so large that it won’t feel overly crowded. The Zaanse Schans offers guests a peek into cheese-making, clog-making, and the inner workings of some still-functioning windmills. The mustard produced on site is amazing and often found its way into my luggage to take back to my family whenever I went home for a visit. There are quaint shops gifts, silver pieces, grocery items, souvenirs, and more. Oh, and you can of course also pick up some clogs of various sizes and styles to bring home.

Cligs

Photos by TerriAnn van Gosliga of Cookies and Clogs

If you’re visiting between early- to mid-spring, you must take some time to visit Keukenhof. The annual flower park is amazing and has tulips the size of your head (well, almost)! There’s nothing else quite like it anywhere in the world and I guarantee you can easily spend a full day enjoying all of the displays.

Must-Visit Areas 1 Hour Away or Less

If you only have a few days to tour the area, then you’ll probably want to stick close to the airport. Don’t worry, you still have several options.

North of the Airport

If you head north, you’ll find culture steeped in the past with costume-clad docents in Volendam, traditional cheese displays in Alkmaar, houses built on stilts in Marken, and history that reaches way back in Hoorn, to a time when the Dutch were a major global trading power.

The Hague

Going south will bring you to my husband’s childhood home of The Hague (Den Haag). The king’s palace is here as is the seat of the Dutch government and the United Nations’ International Court of Justice. However, I’m fond of The Hague because of the lovely canals that run through the city and the various types of shopping and dining the city offers. The Noten Koning has the plumpest and most tasty chocolate raisins ever while Dungelmann has amazing “kroketten” (deep-fried ragou) that’s even served to royalty. Plus, it’s where my in-laws still live, so clearly I’m a bit biased. Any children traveling with you might get a kick out of the miniature version of the Netherlands that can be found at Madurodam.

Museum

Scheviningen

If you want to visit the beach, head over to Scheviningen. There you can enjoy a leisurely walk along the spacious path that lines the beach, do some shopping, or grab some kibbeling (deep-fried pieces of fish) to dip in a creamy garlic sauce.

Delft

I also highly recommend treating yourself to a half-day trip to Delft via the city tram. You’ll find more canals there, but they’re special as they’re lined with flowers and bicycles. The city center has an old weight center turned restaurant called De Waag where you absolutely must order hot chocolate and a slice of apple pie (appelgebak). There are also a few places near the city hall where you can enjoy some poffertjes (small pancakes) with bananas, rum, whipped cream, etc.

Canals

Kinderdijk

Just a bit further south and little more than an hour from the airport, get some postcard-perfect photos during a stroll or boat ride at Kinderdijk, a UNESCO world heritage site. That’s where you’ll finally see the famous view of windmills in a row.

Rotterdam

Also nearby is Rotterdam. This port city has great dining and shopping, including the indoor shopping area known as Markthal. You can enjoy a gooey, freshly-made stroopwafel (flat waffle with syrup), or delicious fries with sweet mayonnaise or peanut sauce, as well as other fried goodness (common Dutch fast food). If you’re a gluten free traveler, I’ve got you covered. Check out my Findery notemap for a few treats you can enjoy.

Windmills

And Beyond, where there’s even more to explore

About two hours from the airport, you’ll find even more places to explore. To the north is Emmen, with its amazing zoo, laid out in a way that allows you to truly enjoy all the animals. Your view is never obstructed by chain-link fences, but clever design still keeps you and the wild animals at a safe distance from each other. To the south is Maastricht, which dates back to the time of the Romans and is full of cobblestone-lined streets and castle-like structures.

 

As you can see, there’s much more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. I only touched on a few places to give you a sense of why visitors could never tire of exploring the other parts of the country. From Groningen in the far north with their different dialect, to the geographically confused Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau, and again to just over the border into Belgium or Germany, there’s a ton to see and even more to do. So next time you visit the Netherlands, stay a few days and find out what’s really like to “go Dutch.”

This post was written by TerriAnn Gosliga of Cookies & Clogs on behalf of Findery. See more of her travel adventures around the bay and beyond on Findery.

Traveling Through Moments in Ireland

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Ireland is a place that demands exploration. Its beauty goes beyond description and to see it – to really see it – you need to come equipped.

For one thing, you need time. At least a week, so you can really take in the scenery and visit some of its best attractions. But you must also make time to meet the people, experience its culinary side, and hear stories about the country’s rich history.

Of course, if you’re there that long, you may well find yourself in need of rain gear and necessary warm clothing to brave the ever-changing Irish temperatures. However, I hope you’re blessed with good Irish weather – it will enable you to take better photos and experience the country’s greenery and sea views in its finest hour.

Now that you have time and some appropriate weather gear, you need a good tour guide.  Native tour guides make the experience unique, offering stories and anecdotes about a country that only insiders know, all while directing you to the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions in a coach that features both leg space and free Wifi. Insight Vacations has some great options.

Here are five moments in time you must capture while traveling through southern Ireland – as memories to store away in your mental vault. Take notes while you are there and many, many photos.

Moment #1: The Book of Kells at Trinity College

If you only have a short time in Dublin and want to experience its 1,000 year history, be sure to head to Trinity College to see some grand architecture and the famed library which contains the 9th century book of Kells. It’s the largest library in the world and is quite a spectacle with its row and rows of books of all sizes, from classics to children’s literature. Sculptures line the walkway, giving the room an academic yet historical feel. When you’re done, walk the cobbled walkways of the beautiful campus and stop to see the world’s oldest harp, dated back to 1300.

 

Moment #2: Killarney National Park

On your way south, be sure to stop in the village of Killarney in County Kerry and spend time in Killarney National Park. This park, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, demands exploration with its beautiful views and is best experienced by either walking or taking a horse and buggy ride, which are available from March until November. It was the first national park established in Ireland, created in 1932 when Muckross Estate was donated. Its has 25,000 glorious acres which include the Lakes of Killarney, hiking trails, woodlands, mountain peaks and many native animals. You can also visit Muckross Abbey, Ross Castle or pass by Torc Waterfall.

Killarney National Park

 

Moment #3: Rock of Cashel

St. Patrick’s Rock of Cashel is a stop that you’ll find between Kilkenny and Killarney. It’s one of the noblest groups of medieval monuments in Ireland and hosts medieval monasteries, tombstones, and a Georgian cathedral. The Rock of Cashel is a group of medieval buildings set on limestone that includes the 12th Century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th Century Gothic cathedral, 15th Century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral.  The experience is eerie and it’s impossible to not feel the years of history that took place on this important landmark.

Rock of Cashell

 

Moment #4: Dingle Peninsula

Dingle is one of those places that once you’ve been, you will never forget. You’ll find it located on Ireland’s southwestern Atlantic coast near the Ring of Kerry, where you’ll be exposed to the most dynamic scenery, from rolling landscapes to Christian monuments to Iron Age fortifications to the Bay which is as blue as blue comes. Be prepared for walks on sandy beaches and cliffs, authentic Irish meals in pubs run by natives, strolls around village shops with cascading rivers, and conversations with Dingle locals.

Ring of Kerry

 

Moment #5: Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle, located in Cong, was recently voted the best hotel in the world by Virtuoso, and after a stay, it’s easy to see why. Overlooking Lough Corrib (lake), on 350 acres of parkland, this luxury hotel occupies a 13th Century castle that has been thoroughly renovated. Its décor is lush and reminiscent of another time. Whilst there, you can catch falcons at the Falconry School, watch The Quiet Man in the newly built cinema (the film was shot in the area and is still widely celebrated in Cong), enjoy high tea in the beautiful Victorian-era drawing room, or get a treatment in the gorgeous spa. The grounds are equally divine and deserve a boat ride, stroll, bike ride, or some kind of method of exploration. And don’t miss dinner in the George V Dining Room. If they don’t’ have a Michelin star now, they soon will.

Ashford Castle

Of course, a country as old and rich as Ireland has many more highlights to offer than these mere 5 that I enjoyed on my stay. Stop by Findery to discover more amazing sites and experiences you should be sure not to miss.  

This post was written by Holly Fink of The Culture Mom on behalf of Findery. Follow more of her travel adventures on Findery here.

 

5 Things to Love about Costa Rica

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It’s difficult to imagine that a country as rich in cultural and natural experiences as Costa Rica could be limited to a short list of only 5 things to love. There are definitely more than just 5 things about the country that stand out, but when I think about my trip there, these are the 5 highlights of our experience.

Exploring CR

There are so many reasons to fall in love with Costa Rica. Photo by Girl Gone Travel.

1- The resorts

There are enough lodging options in Costa Rica to accommodate any budget and travel style. But for me, the luxury resort experience just can’t be beat. The spa treatments, the food, which is often typical Costa Rican food, and the rooms, which are often unique in the way they work with the environment. You could end up staying in a resort in the rain forest! Even in a resort setting, chances are that your room could be no more than a wall of nets separating you from nature.

One thing to note is that many Costa Rican resorts are environmentally conscious and only offer fans instead of air-conditioning. One my favorite resorts in Costa Rica is the Lapa Rios Ecolodge in the area of Puntarenas. The views from our private cabana were breathtaking and, the service, as well as the tours included with the stay, was top-notch.

CR Resort

View from my room in Lapa Rios. Photo by Girl Gone Travel.

2 – The beaches

Whether you like to snorkel, whale watch, surf, or just relax on the sand, there is a beach for you in Costa Rica. The list of options is endless: Puerto Viejo, Montezuma, Cahuita, Tortuguero…on and on it goes.

CR Beaches

We spent most of our time just enjoying the views. Photo by Girl Gone Travel.

You can easily build an entire vacation around touring Costa Rican beaches, or just pick your favorite, settle in, and enjoy.

3 – The adventures

Adventure travel to Costa Rica isn’t anything new, but what few realize is that even travelers with small kids can find it easy to take on all the fun Costa Rica has to offer. My family of 5 and I went on night hikes, where we were surrounded by snakes and all things creepy-crawly just to get a feel for what nocturnal life in the jungle was like. We took on a two-hour hike through the rainforest in search of waterfalls and of course, there was no way we were going to miss ziplining through the Cloud Forest. It’s really a great place for anyone with a sense of adventure to visit, no matter how old they may be.

CR Zipline Together

A family that ziplines together, never gets bored together. Photo by Girl Gone Travel. 

4 – The environmentalism

In 2010 Costa Rica was recognized for its efforts in biodiversity protection. To date it is known as a global leader in sustainability, even in the area of tourism, not always an easy task. You might find tour guides asking you to use environmentally-friendly insect repellent so as to not harm or affect the ecosystem. You might also find that even some of the most luxurious resorts don’t have air-conditioning and limit the number of times they replace the towels in your room. You will find that many tours incorporate lesson on sustainability, leaving you with more awareness than you came in with.

CR Nature

Nature first. Photo by Girl Gone Travel.

All of these small efforts are designed to protect everything we have grown to love about the country so that others can enjoy it just as much in years to come. This stance is something I not only respect, but really love about Costa Rica.

5 – The wildlife, but especially the howler monkeys

People always ask me what Costa Rica is like. I always tell them there is a lot of wildlife. I mean, a lot of wildlife. If you are sensitive to critters and things, it might take some getting used to. On one of our first nights in the country, my husband had a hard time falling asleep because the jungle was so loud, and, at the time, we lived in the heart of New York City!

But you quickly get used to it, and even find yourself searching for it and wanting to learn more about it. My favorite part of the wildlife in Costa Rica was the howler monkeys. To those not familiar with their call, they sound like dogs howling. When you finally see them face to face, it’s a pretty exciting moment. They don’t bother you if you don’t bother them, though they always keep a close eye on you.

CR Howler Monkey

If you hear a howling dog, look up and be surprised! Photo by Girl Gone Travel.

The people, the food, the sights, all of it is amazing. There’s a larger expat community now than there was years before, so at times it might feel like you are visiting an extension of the United States or some other English speaking nation. But, there are plenty of smaller towns and villages that still provide that real Latin-culture feel, and I encourage you to seek those out. If you don’t know where to start, ask a Tico (Costa Rican native) where they hang out. The fact that they’re often more than happy to show you is just another reason to love Costa Rica.

This post was written by Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel on behalf of Findery. Go along with her on more of her travel adventures on Findery!

 

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