travel

A Whimsical Treehouse in Atlanta

Speaking of wooden houses—aВ few months ago, while browsing Airbnb, I came across a listing that I haven’t been able to get out of my head:В In Atlanta, a couple createdВ a suite of three treehouses, connected by wooden bridges.

I know. Treehouses sound likeВ a travel cliche. How many top 10 stories have you read listing quirky places to stay? (Treehouses! Castles! Old railroad cars!) And I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve written about plenty of said places, both hereВ and elsewhere! 😉

But this place looks so amazing that it won me over at first glance.

treehouse4

I love how the lights createВ such a whimsical feel.

treehouse2

Plus, how awesome that the bed is halfway outdoors! After trudging through this longest of long slogs, I’d give anything to sleep comfortably in open air—in a comfy bed, not just a sleeping bag.

treehouse1

One of myВ favorite features is how the couple incorporated the trees into the space—it really melds the outdoors and indoors.

treehouse3

No joke, I’m seriously considering a weekend trip down to Atlanta, just to stay there! Check out more pics of the place here.

(Images via Airbnb)

Cat Cafes

This morning, I awoke to a link in my inbox, from Mal, that made my day: “8 Purrfect Destinations For Any Cat Lover.” (From Buzzfeed, of course!)

It mentions Cat Island; Cat City, Borneo (duly added to my list of places to visit); Belgium’s Kattenstoet Cat Festival (who knew?!) and others.

All those cat-centric places reminded me of Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London’s new cat cafe, which opened earlier this month.

cat cafe 5

I’m thrilled to see cat cafes, which started in Japan more than 10 years ago, opening in more countries.

cat cafe 1

Um, why couldn’t Lady Dinah’s have opened a few months earlier when I was in London?

cat cafe 2

So how long until NYC gets a cat cafe?

cat cafe 4

Have a wonderful weekend!

cat cafe 3

(Images via Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium)

A Cure for Winter

This sounds like hyperbole, but I’m convinced it’s true: I don’t think there’s a single New Yorker who’s not over this winter.

Seriously, I can’t remember a season this cold, snowy and endless since I was living in Boston.

Whenever the weather comes up in conversation—with friends, family, co-workers, people in my neighborhood, strangers in stores—everyone has the same reaction: They shake their head in weary resignation and say something to the effect of, “I’m so over it!”

My mind has been returning to these Sunlight PillsВ that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago. I’ll take one of each, please!

BoraBora01

BoraBora03

(Images byВ Vaulot&DyГЁvre; found via Swissmiss)

Modern World Map

Speaking of fernweh, fewer things stoke mine more than maps of the world. (Last week, I went to LA for work. I spent half of the 6.5 hour ride there zooming in on different places on the map on my seatback screen.)

Recently, I stumbled upon this Modern World Map.

modern-world-map_01_1024x1024

Though not all the countries are labled, just looking at it is enough to get theВ fernweh flowing.

modern-world-map_06_1024x1024

I especially love the gold and aqua color scheme—so cheery, yet soothing, especially in the midst of thisВ endlessВ winter!

modern-world-map_04_1024x1024

(Images via These Are Things)

Fernweh

One of my best friends shared this with me today, and I couldn’t help but smile:

fernwehIt’s been crazy cold and snowy for weeks, here in NYC!

Even though the long slog doesn’t officially start until next Tuesday, I’m already feeling tons of fernweh. Escaping to somewhere warm and sunny would be amazing, though chilly and cozy would be pretty sweet, too. I just need a little break from my ice-crusted city!

(Image from Discover Outdoors, via Duh)

A Private Island in Georgia

Maybe because it’s freezing in NYC and winter seems endless—but I’ve been finding my mind wandering to warmer places.

Everyone I know seems to have winter escapes on the brain, as well. Yesterday, a friend sent me this link—and I was immediately intrigued!

She and her fiance had stumbled across Private Islands of Georgia via HGTV.

When I think of private islands, I envision poshy enclaves way out in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. (i.e. places I’d love to visit but are just a tad out of reach, monetarily, at the moment!)

But these islands look way more accessible.

And affordable.

And perfect for a long weekend with a big group of friends.

These snapshots of Eagle Island sold me:

eagle island aerial

eagle island lodge

entry

8246779743_89225fb954_b

61410_519274064763730_918886110_n

227128_519274221430381_911899146_n
The flat, watery landscape is so different from NYC. I find it gorgeous, yet mysteriously romantic. And the lodge looks like the perfect mix of rustic and modern.

One other huge selling point: You can catch blue crabs there! My fave!

Who’s up for a trip to Georgia?

(Photos via Private Islands of Georgia)

A Quick Trip to the Iguazu Falls

It’s cold and snowy in NYC and I’m seriously missing the warm days of summer.

…or at least any day when the temperature topped 90 degrees.

The last place I was in, that fit that criteria, was Iguazu, Argentina, in early November. After several days in Buenos Aires, I headed there before returning to the States.

The Iguazu Falls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. They’re located in northwestern Argentina, along the border it shares with Brazil. In fact, the falls belong to both countries, as part of National Parks Iguazu (Argentina) and Iguacu (Brazil). Some people view the falls from both sides. Due to time constraints—and not wanting to pay an additional reciprocity fee for Brazil—I only went to the Argentine side of the park.

In and around the town of Iguazu, Argentina, there are a wide range of accommodations: hostels, generic western-style hotels, rustic-lite places. I opted for the latter.

Yvy Hotel de Selva had just opened in September. It’s a ways off the main road, in the same woodsy area as similar nature-minded lodgings. Yvy is comprised of a lodge-like, airy reception/restaurant building…

hotel yvy

…and several wooden cabins equipped with all the creature comforts: AC, hot water, king beds.

hotel yvy room

I arrived on a late afternoon flight from BA. After checking in, I spent a few hours lounging by the pool, then ate dinner in the restaurant. The place was quiet—just me and a few other diners—and my fish and veggies were pretty tasty.

On the way back to my cabin, I realized I’d forgotten one important thing: I’m afraid to be alone in woodsy areas! The trail was, admittedly, well-lit, but I still booked it back to my cabin, locked myself in and turned on all the lights. I went to bed soon after, in hopes that morning would come quickly.

It did, and the day was sunny and warm. I ate breakfast from Yvy’s generous, complimentary spread, then cabbed into the town of Iguazu to use an ATM. (The people at my front desk warned me that the ATM at the park is usually out of service.) I wasn’t thrilled to make the detour, but was glad to see what downtown Iguazu looked like. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed. There were some generic touristy shops and restaurants—nothing picturesque or noteworthy. To get to the park from there, I hopped on a coach at the main bus stop.

I haven’t been to many national parks, but I’ve yet to visit one, in the U.S. or abroad, that’s easier to navigate than Iguazu. There are only a few trails and they’re all paved or platformed and very clearly marked. You definitely don’t need a guide unless you’re looking to learn about the falls in detail.

From the park entrance, I walked to the Green Trail…

green trail sign

…which led me to take either the Upper or Lower Trail.

trail sign

I opted to start with the Lower.

lower trail 1

Since it was pretty early, around 10 a.m., I had parts of the trail to myself.

lower trail 2

I walked along the metal paths, admiring the greenery, until I caught my first glimpse of the falls in the distance.

first view of falls

As I walked closer, I passed smaller falls along the trail.

small falls

After a short walk, I came to a spot where I could see the full falls—and was astounded.

iguazu falls 1

Never before had I seen so many in one place.

While gaping at the view, I noticed speed boats zipping through the river, ferrying tourists right up to the cascading water. During my cab ride to Iguazu, the driver kept urging me to take a boat ride and tried to hand me a pamphlet about it. At the time, I’d politely declined, thinking that I wouldn’t be caught dead doing something so touristy. But after seeing it in person, I had a change of heart.

iguazu falls 2

I walked right up to the Iguazu JungleВ stand on the Lower Trail—conveniently located so people like me can buy tickets for the boat on a whim, after seeing them in action. The guy behind the counter fielded a few of my questions. (No, your stuff won’t get wet—we’ll give you a dry bag. Yes, it’s safe—the boat is the size of a bus. You won’t capsize and drown.) Then heВ gave me my ticket (AR$180) and pointed me down to the dock. I placed my stuff in a dry bag, put on a life vest and climbed on board.

iguazu jungle boat 1

The boat makes two trips to the falls.

iguazu jungle boat 2

On the first, they stay far enough away so you can take photos.

iguazu falls 3

On the second, they tell you to put your cameras away—because you get drenched! Within a few seconds of speeding towards the falls, I was completely soaked.

iguazu falls 4

Luckily, it was sunny and hot, so I didn’t mind walking the rest of the Lower Trail in saturated clothing. The end had some of the best views.

iguazu falls 5

iguazu falls  6

I went to the Upper Trail, afterwards.

upper trail sign

By that time, it was noon, and the park was crowded—wall-to-wall people on the walkway crowded. Admittedly, I wanted to finish the trail as soon as possible.

Some of the aerial views from the Upper Trail were pretty spectacular—when I could actually get through the crowds to see them!

view from the upper trail 1

view from the upper trail 2

I thought it was especially cool to look down upon this viewing platform on the Lower Trail.

viewing platform

I’d saved Iguazu’s most iconic fall for last: La Garganta del Diablo. (Translation: the Devil’s Throat.) To get there, I hopped the little train that takes visitors to the trail.

iguazu train

Once we arrived, I took an empanada snack break near the train station. I wouldn’t be able to escape people completely, but at least I wouldn’t have to walk along the trail with the hordes of other people who’d just disembarked from the same train. A few minutes later, I embarked on the trail.

garganta del diablo sign

The water beneath the walkway is so calm that you’d never guess there was a massive waterfall nearby.

walkway to garganta del diablo 1

After a few minutes, an Argentinean flag came into view—along with mist billowing in the air.

walkway to garganta del diablo 2

La Garganta del Diablo was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The sheer volume and power of the water astounded me. I couldn’t see—or even fathom—how far the bottom of the falls were.

garganta del diablo

Brazil, just across the way, seemed so close, yet far. Maybe one day I’ll see the falls from that side.

garganta del diablo 2

garganta del diablo 3

After admiring the falls from every angle, I walked back to the train station and rode the train to the stop near the exit. While waiting for a bus back to my hotel, I was struck by how exhausted I was. Walking around a park all day, in 90 degree heat, among crowds, had finally caught up to me. Luckily, the bus ride wasn’t too long, and the driver dropped me at the side of the road, near my hotel. I walked along the path, for about 15 minutes, before finally reaching it. I immediately changed into my bathing suit, went to the pool—and feel asleep for an hour.

hotel yvy pool
That evening, I was too tired to go into town, so I ate dinner at the hotel restaurant, again. I had a steak and Malbec—a fitting meal for my last night in Argentina.