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  • 48 hours in Quebec City

    Last month Hubby and I took a 3 night trip to Quebec City, Canada in order to stay one night in the ice hotel just outside the city. The other two nights we stayed deep in the heart of Old Quebec at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. It’s easy to see why Old Quebec City is a UNESCO world heritage site complete with city walls, a citadel, and a funicular.

     

    What it’s really like to stay in an ice hotel

    Staying in an ice hotel seems to be fascinating to a lot of people, but what’s it really like?

     

    Front entrance at night…

     

    After several years of wondering, Hubby and I finally tried it out at the Hotel Glace just outside of Quebec City, Canada. It is the only ice hotel in North America,

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    New York City Restaurants on our girls trip

    On recent girls trip to New York City, we had a list a mile long of restaurants we wanted to hit. Most of them were outstanding, so I wanted to share them with you!

    My bags are on the left.. just sayin.

     

    After a 3 hour flight delay and missing the broadway show we had tickets to on Thursday night, we settled in

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    A girl’s trip to New York City

    I’ve been to New York City many times, but I have a really close friend, that has never been! And to top it all off, we share the same birthday! Same day, same year, everything. So when I had two free nights at any Hyatt that might expire without use, I knew we had to use them in New York City for a girl’s trip!

     

    Since I have

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    The faces of India

    The common thread throughout all of my posts about India, was the hospitality and sincerity of the Indian people. I thought there was no better way to represent the feeling, than through their many faces. Enjoy.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    A few things you should know about India

    Before I visited India myself, I hadn’t really talked to anyone personally about their experience. Sure, I had friends of friends that had been, but that’s about it. I’m thankful that we used a travel company that specializes in India, and I know their service made the trip phenomenal. But after spending 10 days in India, there were things I’d wish I’d known about India and visiting there before I

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    Shopping in India…good grief!!

    Shopping in India was so different for me, that I find it hard to explain. At home, I’m not a big shopper. As for clothes, I follow the fit, not trends. As for home accessories, less is more. I tend to do more online shopping than anything else. Which helps earn points to travel more, of course. However, by our 4th day in India, I needed to buy another suitcase to

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    Eating in India

    Thinking about eating in India was something that made me really nervous before our trip. Stories of Delhi belly are infamous. It doesn’t help that when you live in the heartland of America, there aren’t a lot of Indian restaurants to frequent. Let’s just say that my exposure to Indian food was limited. I like spicy food a lot more than Gabi (my traveling companion this trip), so at least

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    Hotels in India

    Several friends that had already traveled to India, said do not pinch pennies on hotels. It will be worth it. We had no idea how true that really was until we experienced it for ourselves.

     

    Hotel grounds like you’ve never seen…in Udaipur.

     

    Choosing hotels in India was a different process than usual for me. I almost always try to earn or

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    Visiting Udaipur

    Visiting Udaipur in India was a great choice for us. Udaipur is one of the most picturesque cities in Rajasthan with beautiful lakes, hills, and of course, palaces. The famous Lake Palace sits on man made Lake Pichola, which sets it apart from the many other palaces that we had seen so far in India. So we spent an afternoon wandering yet another palace.

     

     

    One other thing that

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    Jaipur and the Amber Fort

    The Amber Fort is one of the iconic structures in India just outside of Jaipur. The Amber Fort was built in the 16th century and served as the capital before they moved it to Jaipur in the 1750’s. During the drive, the highway opens up to Maota Lake with the Amber Fort looming high above it.

     

    One day in Jaipur

    The city of Jaipur is also known as the Pink City. Pink is the color of hospitality. So when the Queen of England came to town in 1876, the Maharaja of Jaipur had the city painted pink to welcome her. The tradition stuck and eventually became law. I have to say that Jaipur was my favorite city on this trip. It seemed to all come together brilliantly. Our city guide

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    The abandoned capital of Fatehpur Sikri

    I promised you a little soap opera style story when it came to the abandoned capital of Fatehpur Sikri. This is a city easily accessible by those driving from Agra to Jaipur, whether on your own, or with a driver.

     

    Intricate carvings for the palace kitchen…

     

    The city of Fatehpur Sikri was built by Akbar, one of the Mughal Emperors. Also

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    Visiting the Taj Mahal

    While planning our trip to India, I read very little about the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, about a 4 hour drive from New Delhi. As an iconic structure, the Taj Mahal is on many people’s bucket lists. Others call it a tourist trap. After traveling all that way to India, and being so close, there was no way we were going to miss it.

     

    A day in New Delhi

    New Delhi was the first city we explored on our trip to India. We booked a privately guided trip in India with a company called India Beat, that I found on Wendy Perrin’s Wow List. I followed Wendy Perrin while she was with Travel and Leisure magazine all those years, and continue to follow

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    Traveling to India

    I knew that traveling to India this year was going to be full of surprises. A new country, culture, religions, transportation and people. I was setting off on a trip with a unique and dear friend. My friend Gabi, is quite a bit older than me and came into my life over 20 years ago, just as my mother’s chronic illness was slowly causing my mom to fade

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    Eating at Atlantis

    The biggest thing you need to do while preparing to eat at Atlantis during your visit is this:

    Lower your expectations.

    As a blogger that researches my own upcoming travels on other blogs, I was forewarned that the food was expensive and not fabulous. Therefore, we decided that casual and poolside dining would suffice for our visit.

     

     

    Poolside food: Poolside food is actually one of the decent values

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    Atlantis Activities

    The reason people stay at Atlantis if for all of the activities that are on their property, right? I had purposefully not planned any “excursions” for our trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas. For some odd reason, I felt like we had paid enough money to stay at the resort, so all of our fun could be had “on property”. I didn’t mind paying a small fee for some activities,

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    Atlantis hotels review

    Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas is a huge sprawling resort with at least 6 different hotel choices. It’s important to note that families of 5+ will are required to get 2 rooms at the hotels. Unlike hotels at Disney, they claim fire code will not allow rollaway beds in any rooms that have 2 queens. Unless you stay for a week at the Villas complete with a kitchen, but the

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    A weekend in Del Mar, California

    This summer I found myself spending a weekend in Del Mar, California to attend a wedding. My amazing weekend had a lot to do with the company. Two rooms full of girlfriends from college make any destination fun. It’s humbling to know we’ve all remained friends for over 20 years. I’m grateful we’ve stayed close through marriages, distance, kids, and everything else. I have to admit, I’ve been to San

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    Travel hacking Iceland

    Travel hacking Iceland this summer was the only way the trip was going to happen. We only had so many days that our kids were going to all be out of town (without us) and didn’t want to break the bank. But who really does, ever? It actually all started with a new low cost carrier flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Reykjavik and offering $99 one way flights. We found

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    5 things to know before heading to Iceland

    I tend to get a lot of different responses when friends find out that we visited Iceland this summer. At a party last night I had a man say, “I’ve always wanted to go there! But my wife has absolutely no interest in visiting Iceland.” Hopefully my recent blog posts will help inspire her, and a little preparation goes a long way. Here are 5 things I think you should

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    Recommended restaurants in Iceland

    We stumbled across two restaurants in Iceland that we’d highly recommend. Although I’m not a foodie, I did research a few places before our trip. Our sources included a tour guide, a local photographer, and an Icelandic blog. So here’s what made the top of our list:

     

     

    Harbor view from downstairs at Kopar…

     

    Kopar – This restaurant’s location on the harbor in Reykjavik made

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    Dining out in Iceland

    Dining out in Iceland can be an expensive proposition. The island environment means that a lot of food items are imported at great expense. Icelanders also have an affinity for American foods like hotdogs, hamburgers and sandwiches. I don’t know about you, but I was trying to avoid those things for the most part. I’ll cover our overall plan for meals, as well as a few favorite places along the

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    Visiting the Blue Lagoon

    Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland was an interesting experience for a lot of reasons. Travel purists will eschew the lagoon for it’s commercialized and touristy experience. Hubby and I had visited the Seljavallaug pool at the base of the Eyatfoyujokull volcano already, during our week in Iceland. It was the exact opposite experience. But it didn’t make the Blue Lagoon a bad experience, or one I would want to

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    Snorkeling the Silfra fissure

    Snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Iceland is a crazy idea. But we were not alone. We snorkeled in 38 degree Fahrenheit water with 5 strangers under the midnight sun in the middle of Thinvellir National Park. Our small golden circle group tour ended at Thingvellir so that we could suit up and snorkel in the Silfra fissure. The Silfra fissure is the only place in the

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    Golden Circle Tour in Iceland

    One of the most popular excursions from Reykjavik in is the Golden Circle Tour. The classic tour makes stops at Gulfoss, Geyser, and Thingvellir. There are lots of options for taking in the Golden Circle. A giant tour bus, renting a car, private 4×4 tour, or a small tour. Although we really enjoyed our road trip along the southern coast of Iceland, we just couldn’t stomach (about $200/day) renting a

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    Southern Iceland road trip (day 2 of 2)

    Our southern Iceland road trip seemed to get even better on day 2. If you haven’t read about day one, you can check it out here. After spending the night at Hotel Katla, and enjoying the included breakfast, it was time to hit the road again. Our second day of driving would begin just west of Vik with amazing sights to see on our way back

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    Southern Iceland road trip (day 1 of 2)

    Our second morning in Iceland, we hit the road at 7am to begin our 2 day Southern Iceland road trip. Our idea was to drive to the furthest point East all in one shot and spend the next 2 days driving the southern coast road back to Reykjavik. We drove straight to the east side of the island without stopping. It took us 4 1/2 hours to get to our

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    Places to stay in Iceland

    After taking advantage of cheap round trip flights, we knew the next step would be figuring out places to stay in Iceland. Iceland is notoriously expensive for everything from hotels to food. Which makes sense since it’s an island. My first step was to see what hotels we could utilize with points. Looking at awardmapper, I could find two hotels that I

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    Inside the Volcano in Iceland

    Since we were arriving in Iceland at 5am (thank you Wow Airlines) we had the entire day for adventure travel in Iceland. Although I really wanted to see lava in action, the idea of spending almost $3000 for a helicopter flight was giving me heart palpitations. Especially since our flights to Iceland cost a little over $800 for the two of us. When I stumbled upon the

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    Travel to Iceland

    Last fall, I was surprised to find myself planning to travel to Iceland for June of 2015. The country of Iceland was placed on our travel bucket list several years before. I have this fascination with volcanoes. I had seen several adventurous articles or photos about Iceland and it went on the list. A fun trip to Costa Rica four years earlier to see erupting volcanoes was a bust. The

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    Top five places to eat on South Padre Island

    I’ve already visited South Padre Island twice this year, and have at least one more trip planned this summer. My frequent visits have allowed me to explore most of the restaurants on the Island. So here are my top five places to eat on South Padre Island:

     

     

     

    5) Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill – This restaurant didn’t make the list

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    A late spring visit to South Padre Island

    Last weekend I found myself making a late spring visit to South Padre Island. After a particularly rough April at home, a long weekend on the Island with a friend seemed like the best medicine.

     

    Rent your very own beach house…

     

    We lucked out on accommodations by staying at the vacation home of a friend of ours at no cost. It

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    Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

    I was lucky enough to take two ski trips to Beaver Creek, Colorado this year. I don’t regularly partake in spa services at home, so I decided to pamper myself at the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. I happened to be staying at the Park Hyatt during both visits, so it was convenient for me, although I

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    A Winter visit to South Padre Island, Texas

    A work commitment treated me to a winter visit to South Padre Island, Texas. It seems like winter has hit hard for most of the country. So I was excited about getting out of the snow, but wasn’t sure what South Padre Island held for me in the middle of February.

    Unimpeded beach walk…

    On the whole, I’d say winter on South Padre

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    Le Meridien Chiang Mai Review

    I saved a lot of money on hotels by staying with a friend in Bangkok on my recent trip to Thailand. However, we traveled as a group of four people up north to the city of Chiang Mai. Here is my Le Meridien Chiang Mai review.

     

    The suite

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    A day trip to Ayutthaya

    My last day in Bangkok, I decided to take a day trip to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya (ee-you-tea-ya) is an entire province and a world heritage site that was the capital of Siam for 417 years. Up until 1946, Thailand was still called Siam. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The King and I”, you’ll recognize some of the names of the Kings that lived and reigned in this area. Believe it

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    The Fish Spa Experience

    Ahhhh, the fish spa experience. Most of us have heard of this crazy idea. You let fish gnaw at your feet to eat off the dead skin. I think it all started in Asia, but who knows. I live in the heartland of America, we don’t have that crazy stuff where I live. So when I went to Thailand with a friend last month, we had it in the back of

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    Restaurant Favorites in Thailand

    On my recent trip to Thailand I was lucky enough to stay with a friend, so we didn’t eat out as much as I normally might on a trip. Although when we did go out, she definitely knew the places for great food and atmosphere. In most restaurants, the food is brought out when it is ready. No matter how many people are in your party, so it’s not considered

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    Patara Elephant Farm

    From the minute I found out that I would be visiting Thailand, I wanted to plan something with Asian Elephants. After a lot of research and recommendations, I decided on a day as an elephant owner with Patara Elephant Farm just outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    I’ll try to explain the good, bad, and controversial conversations that are

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    Traveling within Thailand

    Traveling within Thailand was something I barely thought about before I got there. For the first part of my trip, I was lucky enough to be staying with a friend in Bangkok that had her own car and driver. If you have the funds for this luxury, I’d highly recommend it. Being able to call our driver to ferry us between sights or when we were just too hot and

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    The temples of Chiang Mai

    On my recent trip to Thailand, we spent a couple of days up north in Chiang Mai. One afternoon we visited some of the temples of Chiang Mai. There are over 2,000 temples (Wat) in the Chiang Mai province. Obviously you have to pick some that you want to see and stick with it.

     

    One temple window of many…

     

     

     

    We chose to walk

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    Cooking with Poo

    Before my recent trip to Thailand, lots of people recommended that I take part in a Thai cooking class. Since I was staying with a friend that lives in Bangkok, she enrolled us in Cooking with Poo. First, let me clarify that Poo, is the name of the chef, not the ingredients you cook with. In Thai, her name is

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    Sightseeing in Downtown Bangkok

    Sightseeing in downtown Bangkok is a definite must for any visitor. Crowds are plentiful, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings. Also, be sure not to believe any person that tries to tell you that a certain temple or palace is closed. We had one person on the street try to tell us that the Grand Palace wasn’t open until 11:30am that day. We decided to press on,

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    Traveling to Thailand

    I was so excited to be traveling to Thailand this month, that I sort of blocked out how long it takes to get there. Southeast Asia is really far away, especially when you live in the middle of the United States. While my air travel to Thailand was alone, I was meeting up with two friends (sisters) from college. One of them has been living in Bangkok for the last

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    Charming Colorado Springs

    In the middle of the winter it seems like everyone focuses on the ski towns west of Denver. After visiting charming Colorado Springs and the surrounding area almost every summer, I can tell you it is well worth the trip.

    The view from Pikes Peak…

     

    The town is sprawling, with great suburbs you don’t want to miss. So renting a car is a

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    Dining out in Beaver Creek

    Since we chose to stay in a hotel instead of a condo this trip, we did our fair share of dining out in Beaver Creek, Colorado. I have to say I’m not used to staying in a hotel room without a kitchen. But since I was going for a long weekend with only one kid and a friend, it was more manageable than if I was traveling with the whole

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    My latest restaurant visits in New York City

    My latest restaurant visits in New York City varied a lot in level of service and even location this time. Here are the stops we made, and what I thought.

    No visit can be complete without some New York Style Pizza. Thin crust is my favorite kind, so I was in heaven. Since we had our kids with us, we tried two different places.

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    A family visit to the Statue of Liberty

    A family visit to the Statue of Liberty can be done many different ways. Your type of visit depends on how much time you have, how far in advance you are willing to plan, as well as what your level of interest is. We have visited Lady Liberty in the summer and winter, as a family (with 1 or 3 kids), and as a couple.

     

    Here are my top tips for

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    My first visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum

    During the Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I made our first visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

    I had visited the outside memorial on a previous visit to New York City before the museum was open. The website suggests that the museum might be too much for children under the age of 10. My boys range in age

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    Things to do in Dallas/Fort Worth

    There are plenty of things to do in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to make a visit worth your while.

    They do everything bigger in Texas, and this urban area is no different. The two major airports that service this area are DFW and DAL. DAL is the old Love Field that is located within Dallas and is currently being upgraded. Southwest and Virgin America both use DAL and it is starting

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    traveling toolkit – dirty laundry

    Dirty laundry takes over every aspect of a trip.

    You also have to make sure none of the clothes you want to take on your upcoming trip are in the dirty laundry.

    And there is always a ton of dirty laundry to attend to when you get home. Especially when you have 3 boys, not including your husband.

    But dirty laundry needs a place to pile

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    Dining in Washington DC

    After spending two consecutive weekends in DC, I did my fair share of dining around town.

    Let me say that I am not a foodie, by any stretch of the imagination. Although I love food, my travel is really to get out and see the place. In a long weekend, I might make a reservation for one night, but for the rest go by local recommendations, concierge

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    Washington DC vacation reruns again!

    I just got back from a girlfriend getaway in DC, which you can read about here.

    And 6 days later I was back there again accompanying Hubby on a work trip. The good news was that it was a performance reward trip so there weren’t a lot of meetings he had to attend. It was a quick

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    Washington DC vacation reruns

    Washington DC is a great destination. The museums, history and transportation are fabulous. But when you have visited a city 5 times in the last 7 years, it can feel like your ipod is stuck on repeat.

    However, when a friend got press club event tickets featuring Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander book series, and now a series on Starz, I jumped at the chance! We

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    Why I want to go on an 8-day Emerald Waterways River Cruise through Europe…

     

    We’ve all heard people say, “I’m not a cruise person.”

    I’m pretty sure they aren’t talking about a river cruise.

    I haven’t been on a river cruise, but I have to say, the boat alone intrigues me.

     

     

    I like that the professional photos make the boat look a little squatty and stealthy.  It’s almost as though it could sneak up on the cities you

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    Luggage 101

    I hesitate to offer packing and luggage advice because I think it is a really personal thing.  What works for some, might not work for others.  But I’ve gotten some great ideas from friends over the years, so I’m hoping you find something useful.

     

    Roller Bag or Backpack??

    Adults: Depending on the reason for travel, most adults are pretty good

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    The Big Apple without kids…let’s play!

    Since we’ve already covered the stay, move, and eat portion of New York City for couples, let’s get to all the fun things to do.

    Sleeping a little later, visiting the hotel gym, and maybe the spa are the easy no brainer ideas for couples to do on any trip without the kids.  But New York City has so many amazing things to offer, so let me

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    The Big Apple without children…sleep, move, and eat

    Hubby and I have been lucky enough to get to NYC without kids 3 or 4 times.  Here’s a few items on my eat, stay, and play list when traveling there as a couple.  From the middle of the country, it takes at least half a day to get to NYC.  So, here’s what we did on a recent long weekend visit in November.

    Where we rested

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