The world of vacation rentals

Flipkey vacation rentals
My mom and I arrive to Cinque Terre hours after we were supposed to, thanks to the Italian train strikes taking place on the day we hike it from photogenic Venice to Milan to La Spezia to Vernazza (whew).

Exhausted, moderately grumpy and ready to take in the beauty of the Ligurian region, we exit the train station and begin our search for our Flipkey vacation rental and the woman who owns it.

We wander past the rock archway leading to the beach and down the car-free lane lined with tiny shops and restaurants, craning our necks to find our host.

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Gifts that give back: The feel good gift guide for travelers

Gift Guide for Travelers
‘Tis the season! This year, I did some research and dug up some of my favorite picks for the traveler in your life (or you!) with this handy gift guide. What makes this one different? This is a travel guide featuring sustainable gifts and ones that give back to local communities and foundations, perfect for the traveler or travel lover in your life. Every gift in this guide has sustainability and giving back in mind, so you can shop and know your money is going to a good cause. From jewelry to accessories, to home goods to travel necessities, this is your feel-good gift guide. Even better, you have a chance to either save money on items in this guide or win a gift for yourself!

Looking to give that perfect gift to a travel-lover and do good at the same time? Here. You. Go.

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Things to do in Venice: Alone in St. Marks Basilica Tour

Alone in St Marks
The thick doors of St. Mark’s Basilica close behind us, shutting us off to the whir and clamor of the throngs of people in Venice and we step into the entryway of the historical and iconic St. Mark’s. Located in Piazzo San Marco and connected to the Doge’s Palace, in the most recognizable city in the world (according to moi), tonight our visit to Venice’s St. Mark’s is blessedly quiet. Being one of the most popular things to do in Venice, the tourists which flock to this well-known attraction by the thousands during the day, are not standing here with us tonight. In fact, it is only a handful of us in this building, which dates back to the 800s. I’m really not one for visiting churches, but this opportunity is different; this is a Walks of Italy guided tour with an art historian through this massive, guide-book-recommended must in Venice … at night.

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Group tours: are they worth it?

Are group tours worth it?

I’ve been on a few group tours in my day. During this most recent little jaunt from Thailand to Europe I went on three of these outings.

The first was with Abraham Tours in Israel where we experienced Hebron and learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The second and third were with Roundabout Tours in Slovenia where, on two separate tours, we explored the Karst region (including the magnificent Škocjan Cave) and Piran on the Adriatic, and then the other a tiny slice of the Alpine region which included the beautiful Vintgar Gorge and stops at Lakes Bled and Bohinj.

Here’s my thing about group tours: I love them. And I don’t. At the same time.

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In Earth’s belly: the Škocjan Cave

Škocjan cave in Slovenia

The droplets of water plunk down from the damp ceiling, ploink. Ploink. It sounds like a dripping faucet in a vacuum of silence as we all stand, meters below the surface of the earth, eyes adjusting to the nearly black surroundings.

Ploink. Ploink. Ploink.

It’s cold down here. Far colder than the day I envisioned when I quickly threw on a dress and flips for my day exploring the Karst region and Slovenian coastline that morning when I was picked up from Hostel Celica in Ljubljana.

Down here, the dampness, the dark only magnify my senses. They swirl around me, reminding me where I am …

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Behind bars in Ljubljana: Hostel Celica review

Ljubljana Hostel Celica

You’d think sleeping inside a former military prison would be creepy. I even ask the manager of the property as she guides me down the dark, damp stairs to where solitary confinement used to be, a stone cave-like basement, if it is haunted. She chuckles and responds with a simple “no.”

In fact, other than the darkness of that solitary confinement area, Hostel Celica, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is anything but creepy. It is perhaps the most vibrant and energetic hostel I’ve ever rested my head.

Seriously.

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Confessions of a Croc Addict

My name is Diana and I have a dirty little secret: I wear Crocs. Nay, I am obsessed with Crocs. They are my favorite shoes. On the planet.

Maya Shopping Mall

Maya Shopping Mall: home to one of the many Croc stores in town.

Sometimes, when I have nothing to do, I will take a songthaew up to one of the shopping malls and find the Crocs store and just stare, drooling, at the plethora of the rubbery cushions of bliss hanging from the wall.

There was a time, not long ago, when I swore up and down and sideways and backwards and any other direction possible I would never, ever, ever wear those hole-y, vile-looking clog things. Not at home. And most certainly not in public.

Then, Thailand happened.

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