Rye

One of the prettiest and best-preserved medieval market towns in the United Kingdom, Rye is a few hours east of London in Sussex. This former port town is mere miles from the seaside and picture postcard perfect. Rye has it all with a nearby nature reserve and beach, charming cobble-stoned streets, antique boutiques and adorable pubs. A trip to Rye is a lovely way to spend a weekend.

Take a Southeastern train line from London St. Pancras Station to Rye Station in 1 to 2 hours, depending on the service. If you are coming from London and have a bike, bring it! Biking is the perfect way to traverse the three miles from the town to the nature reserve and coast.

EAT

Marino’s Fish Bar Classic fish and chips in a humble establishment.

The Mermaid Inn This restaurant, pub and inn dates back to the 12th century (though the current building was built in the 15th). It’s on the prettiest street in Rye, and maybe the United Kingdom, wethinks.

DRINK

Rye Waterworks Micropub This 300 year old former water-pump is now a teensy craft brewery. Super friendly local vibe.

The Ship Inn A 16th-century inn and pub just a block from the River Brede. Apparently it used to be a halfway house for smugglers.

Ye Olde Bell Inn It calls itself the oldest pub in Rye!

PLAY

Camber Sands This beach and dune area is three miles away but an easy bus ride from Rye. Recommended by a friend.

Mermaid Street Perhaps the most charming street in England, it is lined with medieval, Shakespearean style buildings.

Rye Harbour Natural Reserve This local nature reserve is over 1000 acres and was an important historic fortification in the 14th, 16th and 20th centuries. Buses travel regularly from Rye Station to Rye Harbour village and Winchelsea Beach near the Reserve.

St Mary’s Church A church has stood on this site for more than 900 years. Climb the bell tower for a gorgeous view of the town and sea and explore the ancient graveyard.

Strand Quay Great vintage, knick knack and homeware shopping.

Ypres Tower and Rye Castle This 13th century castle is now a quaint little museum. There is also a pretty view from the top of the tower of the coast.

STAY

Rye is an easy day trip from London but we’d recommend an overnight stay. Choose a quaint Airbnb within walking distance of the tiny town or the nature reserve. Alternatively, Rye Windmill is a historical bed and breakfast just a short walk from the town center. Recommended by a friend.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Maasai Mara

Lion King lovers rejoice! The Maasai Mara is celebrated for its stunning grassland landscapes, the Big Five animals that traverse its more than 1500 kilometers, and its annual Great Migration of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles traveling from Tanzania’s Serengeti in the south. The Mara makes for an excellent safari holiday because it is fairly compact (as compared to the Serengeti’s 30,000 kilometers) and biodiverse, meaning you can generally see a lot of different animals within a few days. The Mara has all of the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and water buffalo), giraffe, zebra, various species of gazelle, crocodile, hippo, baboon, cheetah, hyena, wildebeest and more.

The best time to visit the Mara is during the Great Migration, which takes places between July and October. Note that July and August are winter in Kenya, and while the days will be warm (20s Celcius) the nights and early mornings will be cool. Also, be prepared to book in advance and pay high season rates!

Most safari camps and resorts will organize flights from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to the nearest airstrip in the Maasai Mara. Flights run back and forth daily between the Nairobi and the Mara, and should be included in a full board accommodation package.

The Maasai safari guides are amazing, and a good guide will make all the difference in a great and truly fantastic experience. Make sure to tip your guides well, this is their livelihood and most of them are sending money home.

Bring cash for tips! There are no money machines and it will likely be difficult for most camps to exchange foreign money. You may also have to pay a daily reserve fee per person in cash.

EAT

Full board will be included in most safari camp and resort packages, and will provide for three meals a day. Traditional Kenyan food has many Indian influences, and is fresh and healthy. A few things to definitely try:

Chapati Fried bread influenced by the Indian subcontinent. Eat it with everything.

Mandazi Another fried bread, this Kenyan treat is most similar to a doughnut.

Sukuma Wiki Delicious boiled greens. Similar to collards in the United States.

Ugali This starchy staple is common across Kenya and often the side dish to richer stews and curries. It is a mixture of finely-ground cornmeal and water.

DRINK

Try the local Kenyan beers. Our favorites are Tusker Lager (the most popular across East Africa) and White Cap Lager. Nothing beats an ice cold Tusker at the end of a long, dusty safari run.

PLAY

Safari This is the real reason for a trip to the Maasai Mara, and take advantage of the 2-3 safari trips that your camp will plan daily. Most will start off in the morning very early, from 5:30 or 6:00am, have breakfast on the road, and head back to camp by 11:00am for guests to have lunch and relax by the pool or in the shade during the midday heat. Go out again late afternoon for a magical experience at dusk, as the animals are generally most active during the cooler parts of the day.

Shopping The Maasai people create truly stunning handicrafts. Larger resorts and camps may have items for sale, but if not you can swing by the Maasai Market in Nairobi once back in town. Keep an eye out for beaded jewellery and wall hangings, the plaid and striped traditional shuka blankets, and woven baskets and wall hangings.

STAY

Our advice is to choose a camp that has a few amenities (pool, common area, etc.) to keep you busy during the quiet afternoon time between safari. We loved the four star Mara Intrepids camp, run by the Kenya Heritage Hotels group. Tent accommodations were luxurious, we enjoyed the pool during the day, and the staff were fantastic. We have also stayed at Virgin’s Mahali Mzuri camp, which was stunning and a true glamping experience, though it will cost you a pretty penny!

Friends have also recommended Kicheche Mara North, Mara Plains and Porini Lion camp.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Porto

Clinging to the steep banks of the Douro River, Portugal’s second largest city is filled with medieval intrigue, historic bridges, beautiful views, delicious seafood and port wine! Portugal’s famous port takes its namesake from the city itself, as the wine passed from the hands of its Dourvo Valley producers on its way to England and beyond. Both the Porto and the Douro Valley are UNESCO World Heritage sites in their own right.

Fall is lovely time to travel to Porto. The sun is shining, the days are warm and the Douro Valley wineries are wrapping up harvest!

Uber and taxis are widely available in Porto and its an easy 20-25 minute drive to the city center. It is also possible to take the Metro do Porto light-rail system from the Airport station into the city where it makes various stops.

The Douro River Valley is a one to two hour drive from the city and a very easy day trip.

EAT

Cafe Progresso Great brunch spot just north of the Universidade do Porto and Livaria Lello bookstore.

Fábrica da Nata This bakery serves up this most exquisite pasteis de nata, delicious Portuguese custard tarts.

Jimão Tapas e Vinhos Small tapas-style restaurant and wine bar in Riberia.

The Wine Box Hip, bustling restaurant just a few blocks north from the Riberia. The sommelier is incredibly friendly and happy to make recommendations.

Vintage Theory This boutique port winery in the Douro River Valley has a lovely restaurant with a stunning view.

DRINK

Bar Ponte Pensil A small cafe at the base of the Luís I Bridge on the north bank. Go at sunset for a glass of vinho verde to admire the stunning views of the city and river.

Douro Valley Wine Tour No trip to Porto would be complete without a visit to this world renowned wine-making region. We especially loved this full day tour with eFun Tours which included lunch and wine (and port!) tastings at three different wineries.

Quinta do Beijo Small, family owned winery in the Douro with many vintage ports. The winemaker gives tours himself.

La Boheme entre Amis Bright and airy bar near the Universidade do Porto. Stand at the bar and sip a glass of port.

Letraria Craft Beer Garden This hole in the wall craft beer garden has a large outdoor area and decent selection of craft beers and lunch foods. Pop by before dinner or on Sunday before heading to the airport.

Majestic Cafe This art deco cafe, just down the street from Fábrica da Nata, was a favorite haunt of JK Rowling’s when she taught at the Universidade.

Xico Queijo Hip bar and restaurant near the Universidade. Great spot after hours and the surrounding bars and restaurants will all be busy well into the night.

PLAY

Cedofeita One of Porto’s trendiest neighborhoods. Take a stroll down the Rua de Cedofeita and pop into cute boutiques, restaurants and bars.

Livraria Lello The historic book store that inspired JK Rowling’s Hogwarts. Purchase entry tickets from the Armazéns do Castelo or in advance online.

Luís I Bridge Walk across the Douro River and admire the splendid view.

Muralha Fernandina A medieval castle in the center of the city whose ancient walls, staircases and watch towers remain intact today.

Porto Cathedral

Ribiera Walk along the river and winding streets of Porto’s medieval Old Town.

South bank wineries There are tons of wineries and port tasting rooms on the south bank side of the city and around the Castelo area.

STAY

Stay within walking distance of the Ribiera or Universidade to be close to all the sites. We enjoyed this AirBnb near Bolhão, which was a 15 minute walk from the riverfront.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

San Francisco

The sparkling jewel of northern California, SF has wine, food, beautiful architecture and world-class parks. While there is much to do in the city itself, we highly recommend tacking on a day or two to visit the surrounding areas.

Depending on time of day and traffic, take a cab or Uber from the Airport to the city, or the local BART train (30 minutes).

EAT


Akiko's Sushi (Bush St.) Unassuming from the outside, this small Japanese restaurant serves excellent, fresh sushi sourced daily from local purveyors or directly from Japan.

Bar Bocce Great food, wine and outdoor seating with a fire-pit on the waterside in Sausalito.

Brenda`s French Soul Food hearty brunch spot near the Tenderloin. Unpredictable wait times so plan accordingly.

Ferry Building Marketplace Stalls, gourmet food stuffs and a farmers market are all inside this historic building.

Good Mong Kok Cantonese bakery and dim sum in Chinatown.

Leo’s Oyster Bar Old school vibes, cool cocktails and oysters. Recommended by a friend.

Murray Circle Restaurant Admire the view from across the Golden Gate Bridge at this restaurant on Cavallo Point. Go for brunch, sit on the deck and order the pastry basket (a friend’s brother is the pastry chef!)

Taqueria El Buen Sabor An unassuming taqueria in the Mission District.

DRINK

Mikkeller Bar industrial craft beer bar in the Tenderloin district.

Napa Valley and Sonoma Just an hour north of the city, it is worth exploring California’s most famous wine regions. We love Patz & Hall and Three Sticks in Sonoma.

The Pour House Wine bar and tasting room in Nob Hill.

Vertigo Bar Cash-only dive with dancing on Polk Street.

PLAY

Alcatraz Island Tour the island’s old military and federal prison. Book tickets in advance!

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Make a day trip to visit these gentle giants two hours south of the city.

Golden Gate Park This urban park offers stunning views of the world’s most famous bridge.

Fisherman’s Wharf While touristy, it does offer a great vantage of the bridge and Alcatraz. Pick up a few homegrown chocolates from Ghirardelli Square.

Mission District “The Mission” is a vibrant, eclectic neighborhood with Latino roots, street art and no short supply of tacos and hipsters. Spend an hour people watching in Mission Dolores Park or take a stroll down Valencia Street.

The Painted Ladies For children of the 80s and 90s, these Victorian houses were made famous by the Full House sitcom.

Presidio This former military post is a large park at the tip top of the peninsula with beautiful views of the bay and bridge.

Sausalito This cute, artsy town overlooking the water lies directly across the bay. Bikee from Golden Gate Park and take the ferry back, or take the ferry both directions from the Ferry Terminal in the Embarcadero.

STAY

If you are just in town for a long weekend, choose an AirBnb in Pacific Heights or Russian Hill to be near the sights, restaurants and nightlife.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Western Sicily (San Vito lo Capo, Trapani, Marsala)

Western Sicily is, simply put, stunning. It’s clear, calm water, rugged Mediterranean landscapes, medieval towns, delicious seafood and rich red wines are deserving of a four to five day road trip. Best of all, this region hasn’t quite yet been found by international tourists. Enjoy the sleepy beaches and towns of San Vito lo Capo, Trapani and Marsala.

Fly into Palermo and then head west two hours along the coast by rental car to San Vito lo Capo.

EAT

Morsi e Sorsi Dinner in San Vito lo Capo. Try the seafood busiate pasta.

Caffè Savoia Ice cream and sweets overlooking the Santuario di San Vito Catholic church in San Vito lo Capo.

Pasticceria Maria Grammatico Pastry and sweet shop in Erice.

DRINK

Donnafugata A family owned winery and historic cellar in Marsala. A tasting includes several traditional Sicilian foods. Try the nero d’avola red blends.

Ni Mia Beer bar a block from the beach in San Vito lo Capo.

Cantine Pellegrino A family-owned winery known for its sweet Marsala wine production. They also produce dry reds and whites.

PLAY

Catamarano Alien Boat Tours A daylong boat trip off the coast of Trapani and around Favignana Island. The water, views, quiet coves and cliffs are incredible. Hosts Isa and Ale are incredibly generous and serve homemade, traditional meals and snacks.

Erice A well-preserved, hill-top medieval town overlooking the Mediterranean and Trapani. Take a cable car from Trapani or drive.

Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro A national reserve with seaside walks and hikes. Bring water and food!

San Vito lo Capo Do not miss this sleepy beach town. It has a truly world class beach.

Scopello A small village and beach town down the east side of the peninsula from San Vito lo Capo.

Trapani Tours A daylong tour of the region, including two wine tastings, tours of Trapani and Marsala, and a local salt flat. Guide and owner Aldo is incredibly knowledgeable of Sicily.

STAY

A few suggestions by area:

San Vito lo Capo The town is small and anything near the beach will be close to restaurants and night life. We loved Poseidon Residence.

Trapani Stay in Old Town. Secret B&B is a boutique hotel with beautiful touches in an old, traditional Sicilian building.