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Making Swiss Raclette Dinners Your New Winter Tradition!


During our years spent living abroad, many of our European friends would enjoy the Swiss tradition of a Raclette dinner during the cold winter months.  This past holiday season we decided to make it our new Christmas Eve tradition. 

What is Raclette, you’re thinking? Raclette refers to an electric grill used to melt Raclette cheese and grill meats and veggies.  Some traditional grilling options are fish, poultry, vegetables and bread.  Think of it as a cross between hibachi and fondue.  While your food is cooking on the surface of the grill, there are individual trays for each guest to melt their own cheese.  After the cheese has bubbled, you then scrape the cheese off onto your plate over the food.  The name Raclette is from the French word “Racker” which means “to scrape.”  This dish is commonly served with boiled potatoes and pickles. 
How it Began
This Swiss tradition dates as far back as 1291 where farmers and herdsmen would make a meal of cheese melted by the open fire.  As the cheese melted they would scrape it off the wheel, and serve with potatoes and pickles. 

Pairing Options
It is said that no other beverage other than wine should ever be served with Raclette.   So who am I to argue with a 700-year-old tradition?  Most Europeans looking to pair a wine with Raclette will choose a wine from their own particular region, so there isn’t necessarily any one perfect pairing option.  The broader recommendation is to choose a dry French wine or a mild red depending on your menu choices.  Many suggest a Pinot Noir if your dinner dictates a red wine as it’s considered a good fit with the cheese. 

What Makes it so Great?
Raclette is a great way to entertain guests and enjoy the company of friends and family.  My particular Raclette serves 8 people as it comes with 8 individualized cheese melting trays, but other sizes are available as well.  Guests can choose their favorites among your food choices, and place them on the grill themselves while waiting for their cheese to melt to perfection. 

If you really want to experience living like the Swiss, I not only suggest making Raclette your new winter tradition but suggest you book a home exchange in one of International Vacation Home Exchange’s luxury homes.  Their properties are located in 70 countries around the world including Switzerland!  You can choose this Swiss chalet or this Ski house,  just to name a few.    As delicious as our Raclette dinner was it could only be better enhanced by enjoying it after a day of skiing the Alps, sitting by a crackling fire and, of course, pairing it with a wine purchased from a local vineyard. 



Thank you to Travel Writer Lisa Medeiros (www.lisamedeiros.com).  Follow her on twitter @lisamedeiros_

Touring LA: A Teen Approved Itinerary


There aren’t many family trips I can take my teenage boys on where they aren’t rolling their eyes or in a boredom induced coma.  In fairness to them, we have dragged them through places like the Hermitage Museum in Russia, a three hour Vatican Tour and a weekend in Bruges, Belgium, which they refer to as “the most boring city in the world.”  I guess I can see where I may have lost some travel planning credibility through the years.  It certainly came as no surprise when I announced I was booking a trip to LA this summer that the reply was, “We’ve done enough family vacations” and, “We’re not sightseeing are we?”  Luckily for them, they have a mom who is super cool (they’ve never confirmed that) and managed to plan a trip that in their words “didn’t suck.”  This is the highest praise a teenage boy’s mom can receive.  Here are some of their top picks:

Up Close to the Hollywood Sign
Cool, right?  We hired a driver to take us on a little known route that only the locals know about.  We parked the car and took a short walk to a spot with a perfect view of this LA icon.  There was limited complaining, they considered it cool enough to even take their phones out to Instagram/Snapchat it, and I think I even heard one mumble “cool,” but I could be wrong.
Warner Brother’s Studio Tour
Even though this would come under the category of “sightseeing” my kids really enjoyed seeing all the behind the scenes stuff from their favorite movies and TV shows.  We saw the Friends actual set and learned a lot about the film industry.  This one was a real crowd pleaser. 

Peterson Museum
Peterson Museum is one of the world’s largest automotive museums.  The museum has over 100 vehicles on display.  We recognized many of them from movies and television.  One of my sons even said this was his favorite excursion we did in LA. 

Fairfax Avenue
If you’re not a teenage boy, then this won’t mean much to you but think teen boy’s version of Rodeo Drive.  This street contains pop up shops featuring all their favorite brands like Huff, Supreme (Okay, I only know two).  My boys loved being there in person and being able to buy a few things from what many consider to be the coolest street in LA.  The only thing they found uncool about being on Fairfax was that they had to walk up and down this hip street with their parents in tow.  As cool as we claim to be, a few of these edgy shops felt the need to alter the music selection when they saw my husband and I walk in.  Most appeared to have a hard time finding a song that would meet parental approval, and one shop owner seemed to go through his entire playlist.  Whatever last bits of street credit my husband and I were clinging to were left there on Fairfax that day. 

My kids also enjoyed Santa Monica Pier (what’s not to love).  They also enjoyed our quick stop on trendy Venice Beach, though by that time it was late in the day and we were reminded that they are moody teenagers by them asking, “Are we leaving soon?” as if I had brought them to a flea market.  Along with these teen friendly sites, there’s always the usual standbys to entertain teens like bikini clad girls, endless sunshine and if all else fails, Pok√©mon Go.

You can get the full Hollywood starlet experience by booking a home exchange through International Vacation Home Exchange.  IVHE offers many luxury homes throughout the Los Angeles area.  Who knows, you might even end up next door to Pharrell making it the ultimate teen friendly trip and maybe even restoring a little street credit along the way. 




Thank you to travel writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_


Country Focus: England


Thatched roofed homes, a picturesque countryside, ancient castles and a bustling capital city are all things visitors to England can be sure to enjoy.  There is so much to see and do throughout England while you take in all the character and charm that this country has to offer. 
London is said to be the most visited city in the world and is considered one of the cleanest and safest cities to visit.  The Tube, the underground public transportation system, is easy to navigate and very user friendly.  It’s a convenient way to get to all the top attractions London has on tap.  On most visitor’s list is a trip to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard, which usually takes place at 11:30am weekday mornings (though the time can vary).  Big Ben, Parliament and the London Eye are iconic landmarks to visit, as well as, Tower of London where the Crown Jewels exhibit is located.  These are just a few of the many sites more than 17 million London visitors enjoy each year.  London is also home to many well-known museums to explore and, as an added bonus, most London museums do not charge an entrance fee. 

Venturing outside of the city and exploring the English countryside with all its alluring character is a must-do for any visitor to this country.  If you head to South Central England, you’ll find an area referred to as the Cotswolds.  This is true quintessential England at its very best.  Known for its rolling hills and meadows, quaint villages and cozy pubs, it holds all the charm that comes to mind when people think of England.  Just outside the Cotswolds is the historic city of Bath.  Bath is best known for its Roman built baths and Bath Abbey.  You can stroll the cobblestone streets where you’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants.  Not too far from Bath you can take a self-guided tour of Stonehenge which is not to be missed on any trip to England. 
Head to the Southernmost part of the country to explore the sleepy seaside towns in the Cornwall area.  If you are a surfing enthusiast, you can “hang ten” in Newquay or any of the surrounding towns known for their impressive waves.  Head north of London to visit the Lake District with its many outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery. 

The Southeastern coastline is home to the White Cliffs of Dover.   It’s here that you will find the iconic chalk cliffs that face the English Channel towards Continental Europe.  On your travels, be sure not to miss any of the famous castles that are dotted around the countryside.  Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and Leeds Castle are among the most famous castles located outside of London.

With so much rich history and breathtaking countryside to explore, you’ll want to put England on the top of your travel list.  Gather up your mates and start making plans for your unforgettable trip to “Old Blighty.”



Thank you travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros

Christmastime in Northern Utah


I have lived in several American states, and I have never seen a place take to the holidays more than Utah.  In the cities, Christmas decor abounds and in the mountains, both locals and foreign sophisticates take to the slopes to enjoy “the greatest snow on earth” (I’m told this is because there is an unusual amount of “powder” snow which falls because of a somewhat dry climate.  I, myself gave up skiing in junior high when I broke the rope tow by getting my glove caught in the pulley which then propelled me to land on the tip of my ski that then broke.  The crowning insult was when a cute high school boy came to help me up and all turned to see who brought the whole operation down).

Park City
World-famous because of the Sundance Film Festival in January, Park City offers holiday delights as well.    Rocky Mountain Christmas “Where Every Day’s a Holiday” sells Christmas decorations year-round on Park City’s Main Street and most of the shops offer unique, alpine-themed gifts. 

Read for a sleigh ride and dinner?  Snowed Inn Sleigh Company provides sleigh rides pulled by two draft horses to a cozy restaurant.

Santa is right at home in the cold temperatures, and keeps hours at the Park City Center during December.   Also adding to the fun is the yearly Snowfest with the l tree-lighting ceremony, live entertainment, and s’mores.  Take a break from skiing to enjoy the cheer.

Midway and Surrounding Area
Midway, first settled by Swiss immigrants, still celebrates its heritage with a European-style Christmas. 

Maintaining its old character and charm, Midway is a winter wonderland complete with artistic Ice Castles.  These fairy-tale fortresses are worthy of The Snow Queen or Father Christmas himself.

Nearby Soldier Hollow, where the 2002 Olympic cross country championships were held, offers cross country skiing and other festivities.

The Nutcracker
An annual tradition in Salt Lake City, Ballet West’s, “The Nutcracker” ceaselessly delights.  Entrancing and dreamlike, the dancers never disappoint.

Lights on Temple Square
I have traveled more than most, and have never seen a more spectacular Christmas light display than on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  Particular and detailed care is given to lighting each branch in a tree; the effective is stunning and artistic.  This year, several trees were lighted with both white and yellow bulbs creating a result I have never seen before.

Festival of Trees
Founded for charitable contributions to Primary Children’s Medical Center, this festival features elaborately decorated Christmas trees.  The locals are very creative, and the result of hundreds of fully decorated Christmas trees is happy and festive. Also available are holiday decorations by local crafts folk.  There are few places “craftier” than Utah.

Cathedral of the Madeleine
The Cathedral of the Madeleine has a long and venerated Christmas tradition in Salt Lake.  The cathedral itself is stunning, and free Christmas concerts are offered to the public.  Midnight Mass is worth the wait in any weather.

FM 100
The radio station, FM 100, is also a Utah holiday tradition.  The station plays non-stop Christmas music with an apex of the 100 hours of Christmas (commercial free).  I, having spent most of my life in Salt Lake City, thought every city had such a tradition.  When I moved to sophisticated Manhattan and spent my first holiday season there, I kept asking, “Where is the Christmas music on the radio? Where are the Christmas sweaters?” It took me a while to realize that no stylish Manhattanite would be caught dead in a holiday sweater, and it was considered the duty of those other than the radio stations to provide Christmas music. Try as I might, I just couldn’t find it in myself to toss my somewhat tacky Christmas sweater.

This is the Place Heritage Park
When the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, you can imagine it was a momentous occasion. This is where Mormon prophet Brigham Young reportedly said after a long journey, “This is the place . . .”  (where the Mormon pioneers would settle).  Not only is there a This Is the Place Monument, but an entire pioneer village with nineteenth-century, enchanting pleasures.

At the park, enjoy a “Candlelight Christmas” complete with carolers, a village decorated like a Currier & Ives card, and shopping.

Ready to visit Northern Utah for a quintessential Christmas?  See IVHE’s luxury home exchanges in Utah, and see how this works.











Thanks to travel writer Sona Schmidt-Harris – You can follow her on Twitter @Sonag2000

New England: A Year-Round Destination


Having grown up in New England, summer vacations always consisted of road trips to see all the natural beauty that was offered right in our own backyard.  I remember piling in the station wagon, AAA Trip-Tik maps at hand, a quick stop to pick up a few canisters of film and extra flash cubes, and off we were to enjoy the beauty of one of our bordering states. On a road trip in that part of America you would barely finish your first article in Tiger Beat Magazine and you’d already be crossing state line.

Since then I’ve not only married and had a family of my own but have lived abroad for a number of years.  My family and I have traveled across several continents and I was always amazed at how many people around the world have New England on their Bucket List.  I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised, but to me it’s always just been home.  We were traveling in Tallinn, Estonia a few years back and I started chatting with a woman sitting next to me at lunch.  She mentioned that she has always dreamed of visiting Vermont to see the fall foliage and hoped to vacation on Cape Cod one summer.  “Now, is Boston a city or is that a state?”  I would get asked that a lot.  Not only in foreign countries but I was asked that a few times while living in the Midwest.  That’s actually not a joke.

If New England isn’t on your Bucket List you’ll definitely want to include it after reading all the splendor that exists there.  Search the luxury homes offered through International Vacation Home Exchange and plan to spend your next home swap exploring New England.

Maine
Maine offers so much to see and do especially for the outdoor enthusiast.  Acadia National Park is a breathtaking national treasure on the coast of Maine.  Throughout the state there are so many quaint towns and lighthouse attractions to visit.  Offering both great skiing, hiking/biking trails and shoreline communities, there is always plenty to enjoy no matter the season.  We all know Maine is known for having “wicked” good lobster, but did you know that Portland has been making quite a name for itself for all types of cuisine?  The Food Network recently named Portland as one of the top 3 culinary destinations in the entire US.  That might be reason enough to plan a visit.

Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is home to beautiful Cape Cod, probably my favorite place on Earth.  Each Cape Cod town offers its own unique charm.  Whether you walk, bike or relax on the beach, it will be a vacation you won’t forget.  Be sure to add a ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to your itinerary.  Visiting the historic sights of Boston is only a short drive away.  Venture a few hours west and you’ll be enjoying all the charm that the Berkshires have to offer.

Connecticut
Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium are top attractions in this New England state.  There you can learn about maritime history and visit the whales, sea lions and penguins on display.  Connecticut offers a few casino options with Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods as well as museums and shoreline attractions.  This small state is packed with something for everyone.

New Hampshire
There’s a mere 18 miles of shoreline offered in this state but you’ll find it full of rich, natural beauty.  Mount Washington offers every outdoor activity imaginable for you to enjoy.  The 71 square miles of Lake Winnipesaukee, located at the foothills of the White Mountains, offer something year round for everyone to enjoy.

Rhode Island
Tour the mansions to see how the other half lives, visit the beaches or take a walk around Newport. Don’t miss a ferry ride to spend the day exploring Block Island.  There are so many attractions offered in the Ocean State.

Vermont
Last but certainly not least of the New England States is Vermont.  Home to the amazing slopes of Killington, Sugarbush and Stowe, among others.  It’s of course, known for its beyond breathtaking leaf peeping opportunities, and there are numerous lakes to enjoy.  There is no such thing as “off-season” in Vermont.  It doesn’t matter when you visit this beautiful state there is always something magical to experience. 

Well, that’s my “How I Spent My Summer Vacation, circa 1976” story.  That reminds me, I need to call my Mom.  Book one of IVHE’s luxury properties today and start making your own unforgettable New England memories.


Thank you travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

Top 5 Day Trips from London



While it’s no easy task to pry yourself away from all the excitement that UK’s capital city has to offer, you won’t want to miss out on experiencing the charm and character of the English countryside.  With so much to see and do just a few miles outside of the city, you’ll have a difficult time deciding which you like better…city or country. 
Cornwall
Located Southwest of London are the picturesque seaside villages that make up the area known as Cornwall.  This area is a popular surfing destination even though the water is always a bit chilly.  Don’t let that stop you from booking a surf lesson where wet suits are always provided.  If you’re a photography buff, then you’ll enjoy snapping away at the breathtaking harbor views in this popular tourist destination. 
Stonehenge
Don’t listen to the folks who think it’s just a bunch of rocks.  Stonehenge is an amazing ancient Wonder of the World that is not to be missed.  Take the self-guided tour and stare in awe as you attempt to figure out for yourself exactly how and why it was built.  It’s located about 90 miles from central London.  It’s also a short distance to Bath, so while you’re out that way tack on a trip to see the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. 
Shere, Surrey
While out touring the English countryside it’s nice to take a break from the touristy spots and stop into one of the many quaint villages to see what I like to call “real England.”  Shere is a little village located in Surrey.  I used to live a short drive from Shere and found its duck-filled stream and cozy shops an enjoyable retreat.  If you’re a movie buff, then you’ll recognize this village from the movie Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Jack Black.  Diaz’s character is a LA executive who decides to do a home swap with Kate Winslet’s character who has a home in Shere.  You can have your own “Holiday” experience with a luxury home exchange in one of these quintessential  English homes offered by International Vacation Home Exchange and experience “real England” first hand. 
Dover
Located on the East Coast of England and at the closest point to continental Europe, Dover is a must-see attraction for any history buff.  You can see for yourself the beauty of the well-known White Cliffs of Dover.  Take a tour of medieval Dover Castle which houses the wartime tunnels and learn about this area’s integral part in history.
Lake District
Enjoy the English countryside at its best in this Northwest area of England.  There are endless ways to enjoy the outdoors.  Whether it’s hiking, biking or just taking a scenic drive and stopping off to enjoy a pint at one of the local pubs.  This area is not only known for its majestic lakes and rugged mountain terrain but also for its historic literary association.  This area has been an inspiration to authors and poets such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter to name a few. 

These are just a few of the sites that are packed into this tiny island.   There is so much rich history and breathtaking charm scattered throughout the countryside that you could return time and time again and never run out of sites to see. 


Thank you Travel Writer Lisa Medeiros.  Check out lisamedeiros.com and follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_



Visiting Florida After Hurricane Matthew


My lovely home state of Florida (the “Sunshine” state) was recently hit hard by a severe hurricane. My local area, which is a very popular travel destination, was among the hardest hit. There will no doubt be a huge cost to repair the roads, beaches, and local businesses which suffered catastrophic losses due to the tidal surges and strong winds. There is no doubt that Florida took a hit this hurricane season, but don’t let that put you off of our state as a potential vacation spot in the months to come.
                
I’ve written before about the wonders that Florida has to offer vacationers. One thing I might not have made sufficiently clear though is that we Floridians are a very resilient bunch! Personally, I have been through Hurricanes Andrew, Ivan, Wilma, Charley, and Matthew (and that’s only counting the really severe named storms) and have lived to tell the tale. Our communities have done a great job of coming together, with local restaurants providing free food to those without power, volunteers helping to clear the debris, and neighbors watching out for each other during the rough weather. Many from outside of the impacted areas have asked how they can help in the wake of the storm. While donating money and time is certainly much appreciated, there are also other ways you can help; namely, come visit us!
The areas of the east coast which were impacted the most include St. Augustine and Flagler Beach – both known for their popular tourist attractions. The economy of these places is highly dependent on the money brought in from tourism, so the far-reaching impacts of this storm may be much costlier than even the steep price tags to rebuild. We lost a few treasured restaurants to flood waters and the scenic A1A roadway has been heavily eroded and remains closed in some places, but our local restaurateurs and government have already started plans to rebuild.  Many of the impacted businesses are reopened along the historic St. Augustine Bayfront. All up and down the coast, small business owners are reopening their doors and are counting on your visits to recoup some of their losses. It may be some time before all of the beaches are cleared and reopened to the public, but I would urge you not to write off Florida’s first coast when you’re considering your next vacation destination.

We Floridians count on you coming to visit us to see the world renowned Nights of Lights in St. Augustine during the holidays. We depend on the long rows of bikers who ride A1A every October on their pilgrimage to Daytona Beach. Our communities are what they are largely because you bring your families to our beaches each summer to make memories that will last a lifetime. While your first instinct may be to head to areas which were not hard-hit by Hurricane Matthew, I would urge you to consider visiting us instead. The best way you can help the local communities get back to normal is to plan a vacation! IVHE has no shortage of lovely homes along the east coast of Florida which will help make your stay just perfect. Disney is still standing strong, our beaches will soon be as serene as ever, and our unique local businesses will open their doors to serve you. Pardon our dust!



Thank you travel blogger Emma Sledge. 

One of the Most Visited Countries in the World!


There are so many great reasons to visit Italy.  From the world famous attractions, detailed architecture, historic ruins and breathtaking coastline to the amazing food and wine, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most visited countries in the world.  There’s so much to see and do in this amazing country you could spend a lifetime exploring it. 

Italy is home to some of the most vibrant cities around.  The capital city of Rome offers so many sites all within close proximity to one another.  Home to such iconic attractions as the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and, of course, the Vatican.  The piazzas are always filled with the aroma of amazing Italian cuisine where you could sit and enjoy a meal alfresco while sipping on a glass of their fine wine.  Head north to enjoy the center of Italian renaissance with a visit to Florence.  Its top attraction is the ironic tiled roof of the Duomo.  Walk the cobblestone streets to take in all the beauty this city has to offer.  Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy.  This region is known for its wineries, extraordinary landscape and medieval villages. It’s the Italian experience at its best.  Further north is Pisa, with its famous leaning tower and charming town.  Venice is just a bit further North and is a must-do on any trip to Italy.  Be sure to take a gondola ride, see the sites and allow time to “get lost in Venice.”

Along with its exciting cites, Italy also offers many seaside attractions in the Mediterranean.  Explore the wondering coastline of the Amalfi Coast, which stretches from Sorrento to Salerno, and experience the dramatic coastal mountains as they plunge into the sea.  Visit the beautiful beaches of Italy’s two largest islands, Sardinia and Sicily for their breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy. 

Italy also offers its share of winter fun and recreation.  Italy boasts more than 300 ski areas.  For beautiful scenery and a variety of terrain, enjoy skiing the Dolomites in the Italian Alps.  Skiing in Italy is known to have excellent value for money and, of course, great food and wine. 

You’ll not only want to plan a holiday to Italy but you’ll want to return again and again.  Make it easy, and stay in one of IVHE’s luxury homes located in a number of different locations in Italy! No matter what season you visit, you’ll find a warmth and hospitality that will have you feeling like you’re one of the family.


Thank you travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros


An Overview of Los Angeles from a First Time Visitor


The vibe of LA was summed up in a few words of wisdom from a bartender shortly after we landed.  He said, “LA is a lifestyle, not a city.  Think about it.”  I not only thought about it as I sipped my Cosmo but decided to make that our mantra as we set out to explore our new surroundings. 

I love exploring new cities and while I’ve been to most major cities around the world this was my first time visiting LA.  I can certainly see what all the hype is about, why everyone wants to live there and why those who move there never leave.  The thing I love the most about visiting new cities is that each one takes on a personality all its own and while LA was pretty much what I had envisioned there were a few things that I didn’t expect.  Here’s my take on the city through the eyes of a newbie.

It’s Very Spread Out
The areas you want to see as a tourist are very spread out.  Much more spread out than other cites I’ve visited, so you really need to rent a car or hire a driver to ensure you see all the sights. 

 Yes, the Sun Always Shines
I chatted with a man who was from the East Coast originally who told me that the weather is so sunny that he actually misses the rain.  I guess it’s true what they say about too much of a good thing.

The Oscar Night Red Carpet is Actually the Road
Adobe Theatre is actually located on a very busy main street.  When Oscar time rolls around, the intersection just before the Adobe Theater is closed off and the famous red carpet is put down in the road leading up to the theater.  The cars and limos drop off at the intersection while the stars get out and walk the red carpet lined with paparazzi.  It was interesting to see exactly where all the Hollywood magic happens on that night.

No One Visits Downtown
I guess living near NYC I just assumed all the action was in downtown LA so I was surprised to find out that’s not the case.  No one actually goes downtown and there’s not much to do there.  I’ve heard they are revitalizing the area so that may change if you plan to visit in the coming years.

You Won’t See Any Familiar Faces on Rodeo Drive
I always imagined Rodeo Drive packed with the Hollywood famed and since I love a good celebrity sighting this came as a bit of a disappointment.  It’s too touristy for them I was told but I did learn that if you want to shop with the rich and famous your best bet is Melrose Avenue.  I had no luck with a sighting there either though I have to admit I’m not the best at identifying them. 

If LA has always been on your Bucket List, then you can live among the stars by booking a luxury home swap through International Vacation Home Exchange.  They offer properties in 70 countries around the world so if you don’t spot a celebrity in LA you might try catching one in London, Paris or one of the many other cities IVHE offers properties.  I just hope your star spotting abilities are much better than mine. 


Thank you travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_



Shopping & Eating Your Way Through Boston


I had the pleasure of taking two weekend trips to Boston recently. One was to visit one of my favorite gal pals and the other was college touring with our teenage sons. Since I don’t have daughters, I relish my shopping trip with girlfriends. When I’m out with my husband and boys I barely even window shop and when I do it’s at a blurred pace. So needless to say, one trip was quite relaxing and included lots of shopping with discussions over chardonnay on what’s “coming back in style” while my other trip to Boston was centered around where the next meal was coming from. Both were enjoyable, of course, as Boston has always been one of my favorite cities.

My friend and I enjoyed a relaxing day browsing around Newbury Street and popping into the quaint shops on this tree-lined historic section of the city’s Back Bay.  You’ll find a selection of international shops and local boutiques as well as world class dining.  When I revisited this area with my sons we cruised right past these shops to grab a hamburger at Abe & Louie’s on Boylston Street.  Don’t miss a stop at this sophisticated steakhouse which is truly a throwback to a past era and the clam chowder was amazing. 

A short walk from Newbury Street is The Shops at Prudential Center where you’ll find a variety national chain stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.  Prudential Center also offers a unique mix of dining options.  Located not far from these shops is Copley Place which offers more of an upscale shopping experience with stores such as Tiffany & Co, Jimmy Choo, and Louis Vuitton, to name a few.

No trip to Bean Town is complete without a visit to Faneuil Hall.  It’s a must-see for both a gal pal getaway or a teens-in-tow weekend.  The teens will still roll their eyes in boredom but will later admit it was a pretty cool area.  Faneuil Hall Marketplace Shopping Center offers some interesting shops and boutiques.  It’s a great location to dine, shop or just people watch.  You will usually find some type of event or street entertainment taking place.  A must-do dining experience when in this part of town is dinner at the Union Oyster House.  It is considered one of the oldest operating restaurants in the US and has continuously operated since it’s opening in 1826.  There’s good reason for that as the seafood was certainly everything you would expect it to be and it even managed to put a smile on the face of a couple of teenage boys. 

A great way to experience the city and live like a local is through a home swap.  International Vacation Home Exchange offers this city center apartment.  You’re sure to find it a “wicked” good place to stay while you explore this exciting capital city.  


Thank you Travel Writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_


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