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Monday, September 30, 2019

Visiting Malmö, Sweden

While relaxing in the outdoor seating area at our hotel in downtown Copenhagen, I started to look at a map of this pretty little southern section of Scandinavia.  I soon noticed that the neighboring country Sweden had a big city just a short train ride away.  While I love to plan, there's something about looking at a map, shrugging your shoulders and heading in that direction.  For the sake of wandering, why not spend an unplanned half a day in a country I had never been to? 

After a little bit of time researching Sweden's third-largest city, I headed to Copenhagens Central Station to catch a train to Malmö, Sweden. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Visitor's Guide - Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is a gem.  It is a beautiful, pristine, modern, friendly and generally cool city.  Step off the train and into the center of Copenhagen and you will be instantly amazed by the impressive bike lanes, the beautiful canal system, and how clean everything is. 

If you are thinking of visiting, know that you can see a lot of Denmark's capital city in just a few days if you plan it right.  From amusement parks and boat tours to the best swim spots along the canal... this is how we spent 3 and 1/2 days in the city; biking, boating, and eating our way around the canals of Copenhagen. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

First Day of Fall - Hiking Guide Round Up!

I love summer, I do, I do.  But Fall is the best season in New England.  Hands Down.  

It is everything you could want in a season.  It's short and sweet and the perfect mix of warm days and cool nights, amazing foliage and the best activities.  This weekend it hit 80 during the day and 50 at night and I am thanking the weather gods for this mix of everything lovely.  The bugs are gone, the AC is away, and you don't need to turn on the heat just yet.  Heck, its the cheaper season where the weather is so perfect you only need a sweater in the morning, sunscreen in the afternoon, and can sleep blissfully with the windows open. 

Here in New England, fall is especially special.  It's fair season and we flock to our local fairs for tractor pulls and fried dough.  We pick apples, bake pies and make our way through corn mazes.  We grab our flannel and throw on a Patagucci vest.  We head to haunted houses, craft festivals, and hayrides.  We go on "foliage drives" through New Hampshire, cross covered bridges in Vermont, hiking mountainsides that turn into shades of fiery reds, deep oranges, and bright yellows.  I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. 

To celebrate the First Day of Fall, I am sharing my Everything Autumn Guide to New England (foliage prediction maps, how to tell the leaves apart, best trees for color, etc) and some of my favorite fall hikes.  If you are outside the northeast, you can see the peak foliage in your neck of the woods on this Fall Foliage Map. I almost always carry "The Bible" (Fodor's Guide to New England with the best fall foliage guides and scenic road trips) during any road trip up north and this is especially true for the fall.  There is an entire section devoted to the foliage, the best scenic drives, and primo New England destinations.  Don't worry, you can Amazon Prime is and have your very own New England Bible in 2 days.  

For everyone in the Northeast, prime foliage is the last weekend of September/first week of October for the northern elevations of New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York and the second to the third week of October for Connecticut.  If you are like me, you start your hikes up north and make your way south, catching the prime foliage from Maine to Rhode Island.  

F e a t u r e d   i n   t h e   f a l l 

Stowe Pinnacle - Vermont
3.2-miles round trip, 1,520 ft elevation gain, dog and kid-friendly - Trail Guide

Kingdom Trails - Vermont
A network of trails (over 100 miles) popular mountain biking destination Guide

Lantern Hill - Connecticut
2.5-miles round trip, 400 ' elevation gained, dog and kid-friendly - Trail Guide

Mount Mansfield - Vermont
7-miles round trip, 2,600 ' elevation gained, dog and kid-friendly Trail Guide

Devil's Hopyard - Connecticut
4.5-miles, 870' elevation gained, kid and dog-friendly Trail Guide

Burke Mountain - Vermont
6-miles, 2,100' elevation gained, Dog-Friendly Trail Guide

a n d  m o r e . . . 

I did not hike these actual trails IN fall (so you will notice the trees are still green in all my photos) but I do know that these hikes offer some amazing fall foliage. 

Indian Head 

H i k e  N e w  Y o r k 

Overlook Mountain 
(Easy to Moderate Hike to hotel ruins and the fire tower with views)

Indian Head 
(Moderate Hike gorgeous views off the cliffs, will be STUNNING when the leaves change)

Carter Moriah Traverse

H i k e   N e w   H a m p s h i r e 

Carter Moriah Traverse 
(Moderate to Difficult Backpacking loop in the whites)

Mount Monadnock 
(Moderate Hike, elevation and stunning views)

Franconia Ridge 
(Challenging  Hike but voted the best day hike in New England)

Mount Washington 
(Challenging, short window to hike, highest point in New England with gorgeous views on Tuckerman's Ravine)

Ragged Mountain Hike

H i k e  C o n n e c t i c u t 

Lake Zoar 
(Easy to Moderate Loop Hike along the Lake with gorgeous views)

Ragged Mountain 
(Easy Loop Hike with changes in elevation and pretty vistas)

Mount Tom

H i k e  M a s s a c h u s e t t s

Mount Tom 
(Easy Hike with vistas and overlook)

(Moderate Hike along pretty trail, summit views with a cabin)


H i k e  M a i n e

Katahdin, Baxter 
(Challenge hike, the tallest peak in ME, stunning views all along, and a short window to hike)


H i k e  V e r m o n t

Hunger Mountain 
(Moderate to Hard, great views above the treeline) 

Bingham Falls, Stowe 
(Easy, short hike, swim in the waterfall)

Deer Leap Overlook, Killington 
(Easy hike, short, scenic, cool viewpoint at the end)

Friday, September 20, 2019

Nyhavn | Copenhagen, Denmark

n y h a v n 

Every city has it's "famous" spot.  You know the spot - the one displayed on postcards, made into ornaments or magnets, or found on artwork all over the world.  In Copenhagen, it's Nyhavn.  It's a part of the city that is all waterfront and sunshine, colored houses and old sailing ships creating a floating museum.  Its a mecca of outdoor dining and cozy bars. So if you find yourself in Denmark, a trip to Nyhavn cannot be missed.  Spend some time in one of the most photographed spots in Copenhagen and stay for a drink in "The Longest Bar in Scandinavia".  

v i s i t 

It's no wonder this little canal is so famous and quickly became one of the most visited historical places in the city.  The brightly colored 17th and 18th-century houses beg to be photographed and the vibe is everything you could ever want.  It looks like you are stepped right into a watercolor painting. 

The atmosphere in the quay (the area/structure built parallel to the bank of a waterway for use as a landing place) is slow evenings, cold drinks, live music and a mix of hustle and relaxation.  

Trust me, it's not up for discussion.  If you find yourself in Denmark, you have to carve out some time to head to Nyhavn for a canal tour before, spend the evening dangling your legs over the bulkhead (drink in hand ) lounge long enough for one hell of a sunset, and walk your wine logged legs over to one of the restaurants outside tables for a seafood dinner.  

h i s t o r y 

Nyhavn was constructed by King Christian V from 1670 to 1675.  The canal itself was dug by Swedish prisoners from the Dano-Swedish War.  The canal served as a gateway from the sea to the old inner city to transport cargo and fish.  This area was historically notorious for your typical port haunts:  beer, sailors, and prostitution.  

The oldest house, (No. 9) dates as far back as1681.  Nyhavn was also home to Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote Princess and the Pea right here and called this area home for 18 years. 

Today the old houses have been updated and renovated and restaurants run along the canal.  The waterfront is the mecca for canal tour boats and it is now a place to find locals and tourists alike listening to music, sharing a meal, or just sipping wine along the canal. 

You will also find old ships in the harbor as the Nyhavn Veteran Ship and Museum Harbour occupies the inner section of Nyhavn.  From the foundation of the heritage harbor in 1977, the south side of the canal has been reserved for museum ships owned by the Danish National Museum.  

w i n e  &  d i n e 

This area is loved by tourists and locals alike.  It is the spot to hang out and relax on the water, unwind and imbibe and soak in a sunset.  You can't help but smile as you walk along the quay, watching everyone enjoy a perfect summer day in this splendid little city.  We passed through here several times during our stay in Denmark, and one evening made it a point to sit along the canal, sip wine and slow down with a sunset.  It was the perfect way to end our stay in Copenhagen.  After the sun slipped below the horizon, we made our way to dinner at one o the many restaurants lined up along the sidewalk, followed by ice cream in freshly made waffle cones at Vaffelbageren.  We loved hopping on our bikes and escaping to this little canal to enjoy some of the spoils of Denmark.  

Thanks for the memories Copenhagen, you are so dang cool. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tivoli Gardens - The Park That Inspired Disney World

There is something so special about Tivoli Gardens.  

It has that old world charm, a mix of an amusement park and a garden, a lot of history, so much beauty and it's thrown right into the middle of the city.  If you are wondering why you would spend your time visiting an amusement park while traveling abroad, know that Tivoli is not your average park and you should get the images of a junky Six Flags out of your head.  

This is Europe baby, and there is something for everyone behind these gates.  You walk through beautiful gardens by day and stroll under the thousands of beautiful lights reflecting off the pond by night.  You walk by castles and roller coasters, flume rides, and ornate stages, expansive lawns, intricate gardens and restaurants on boats.  It's really like the rest of Copenhagen, clean and orderly, beautifully manicured, well thought out and constructed.  It's an ambiance and experience that is hard to describe and really has to be felt for yourself.  It's no wonder that Tivoli was the inspiration behind Walt Disney's famous park. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Why You Should Rent a Bike in Copenhagen

There's something about just jumping into the culture of a new place, surrendering what you know and what you are used to to do things a little differently.  That's the beauty of travel, isn't it?  

Traveling in Europe opens your eyes to slower meals, a decent amount of wine, a lot of walking, a ton of second-hand smoke and a completely different culture across the pond.  Various European countries follow this similar pattern, each with their own little flair and Copenhagen is no exception. There are slow meals and wine and still a lot of smokers, but to me, there were two things that really set Copenhagen apart.  First off, this city was so damn clean but even more noticeable - 

There are so many bikes.   

So in Copenhagen, if you want to do as the Danes do, you need to jump on a bike.  
Here are all the reasons why you should. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Trials of Traveling - New York City to Copenhagen

Journey’s to JFK on a Friday night are tough.

Journey’s to JFK on a Friday night when you park at a random fried chicken joint in the ghetto of New York City makes for an interesting one.

Adam was coming from Ocean City, New Jersey and I was coming from work in Old Lyme, Connecticut.  We left at 3pm to make a 10pm flight for one big reason…. Interstate 95 to New York City on a Friday evening.  It's a two lane highway backed up with traffic for miles on end.  All it takes is one fender bender and you are missing your flight.  Living off 95 in Connecticut, we are all too familiar with this gave of bumper cars and knew we had to allow time for traffic and accidents.  We also needed extra time for parking and shuttling, long baggage check-in and security lines and finding our gate in a big airport.  Good thing we did because we hit a lot of traffic and ended up parking at the sketchiest parking lot I have ever seen.  

I gave Adam the address, advertised as a discount parking lot just outside the airport.  As we drove through a less than desirable neighborhood, I got my first call from Adam who cannot find said parking lot.  What he did find was a few guys sitting at a picnic table outside a fried chicken joint with a small makeshift sign that said “Park”.  

Now read this closely: You stop in the middle of a busy street where you leave your blinkers on and your car will sit for 15-20 minutes until someone takes it away to an unknown location.  It isn’t a parking lot, just some guys working out of a restaurant which I couldn't tell was even open for business.  We were told 20 minutes for a shuttle which turned out to be a mini van that could not fit us all.  After much complaining, we finally got in an unmarked van (1 hour later) and made the 10-minute drive to the airport. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Story of Katie Smile - teeth whitening review and giveaway

I know you are all patiently waiting to hear about my last trip across the pond, a trip I had been looking forward to all summer long.  It was absolutely wonderful, as beautiful as I expected, and all my guides will be up soon.  But before we talk about the trip, I wanted to talk a bit about preparing for a big trip.  Because let's face it, getting ready for a trip to some of Europe's most beautiful cities involves a lot of little steps.  From buying things you need, getting documents in order, all that trip planning, and then the final steps of packing, charging devices, putting travel alerts on your cards and so on.  This trip was a little different than most of my trips where I am hiking somewhere outdoors and taking a lot of pictures of the scenery.  

A confident smile on the bridges of Paris
This trip, I was actually packing nice clothes - no hiking boots and gym shorts in my suitcase.  I planned on taking a lot of pictures on this trip (with me in the frame) and so, there were a few things I knew I needed to do before my countdown hit the single digits. 

      1)  I really needed some fun dresses that would stand out in the city

     2)  I needed to test out some good walking shoes, and

     3) I really needed to make sure this smile was as white as it could be for the 456 photos 
     I was planning on taking.  ** Spoiler: Thanks to Smile Brilliant, I did 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Best of the Boardwalk - Ocean City, New Jersey

There is something so innocent and youthful about a weekend in Ocean City, New Jersey.  This "Beach Resort Town" has been rated the #1 family beach community in the country by the Travel Channel and let's face it, you can't help but feel like a kid again as you stroll down the boardwalk and play in the surf. 

For starters, it's a dry county meaning no alcohol is served within the county.  No package stores/liquor stores here and the restaurants do not serve alcohol either.  By default, this sort of keeps a lot of the riff-raff out as you will not see spring breakers or bachelor parties roaming the boardwalk at night.  This part of Dry Jersey helps keep the town cleaner, safer, and family-friendly.