Sunday, February 24, 2019

Takayama, Japan

Japan, my mother's homeland, brings to mind so many wonderful memories.
Today, I would like to share one of my favorite places to visit in Japan.

Takayama (means High Mountains) is a city in Japan's beautiful mountainous Gifu Prefecture (Hida Region). Tip: There are other places named Takayama, so check your map!

It is around five hours by shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. Enjoy nice views and a chance to try wonderful train food like a bento box!

There is much to see and do. Here are my top recommendations:

Visit Shirakawago and Hida no Sato. Both have wonderfully preserved historic areas with traditionally built houses. Remarkably, they were built without using any nails.

There is a bus station right outside the Takayama train station. It takes about an hr. by bus to reach the town of Shirakawago (recognized as an Unesco site).  Ogimachi, an section located in Shirakawgo, has the highest concentration of the farmhouses.

A closer alternative is Hida no Sato. There are over 30 traditional houses and is an open air museum. It is located right in Takayama.

Another great thing about visiting Takayama is its historic Old Town. Quaint streets lined with buildings that date back to the 1600s, you can experience what Japan was like in the Edo period. Visit the shops and take a break with some delicious matcha tea snacks.

Lastly, another once-in-a-lifetime experience is to spend the night in a Buddhist temple.
Zenkoji temple offers overnight stays to guests from around the World. Sleeping on tatami mats in traditional Japanese style immerses you in the culture and history.

A stroll around Takayama offers a peaceful journey into Japan's past. It is a must-see on a trip to Japan.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Palm Beach, Florida

The town of Palm Beach is located in South Florida. Noted for being a glitzy locale with luxury estates and beautiful beaches, it is also a perfect weekend getaway.

Separated by West Palm by bridges, Palm Beach is easily accessed by I-95. Aside from the beaches, below are two notable must-see stops.

The Breakers Hotel was founded in 1896 and is a landmark in Palm Beach.
This opulent luxury hotel is well worth a visit. If the room rate isn't in your budget, no worries. You can book a reservation at some of their restaurants (see their website
/ as some restaurants are only for resort members and hotel guests).

Tip: Be sure to let the valet service know that you are dining at one of the restaurants.
Take your ticket with you and have the waiter validate. You will receive free parking. Tip well, as the valet service is excellent.

75 artisans from Italy were brought in 1926 for reconstruction, after a fire in 1925. The European influence and opulence is evident in the grand design.

Guests loved the hotel's location at "the breakers" because of the proximity to the water and crashing waves.

I highly recommend the Italian Restaurant at the Breakers. Their food is delicious and service is world class.

I would dine here just for the bread service.

Of course, there is much more to see, eat and do in Palm Beach.

Worth Ave. is also a must-see stop on your tour of the Town. Enjoy shopping and a gelato while you stroll the Ave. Tip: There are non-dairy and adult only alcohol infused options, as well as traditional gelato.

My personal favorite stop is at Jennifer Tattanelli's shop. Luxury Italian leather goods, shoes, and clothing are divine.

Oh My!

There are numerous boutiques to explore.

And, don't be surprised if you are treated to an impromtu fashion show while you dine al fresco.

Go enjoy the sunny weather, beautiful surroundings, and some pretty serious luxury car watching!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Lake Como, Bellagio & Varenna

The Lake Como Area is in the Lombardy region of Italy. It is a must-see if you travel to Northern Italy. It is easily reachable from the Milan Malpensa airport, about an hour by car. With steep hills, I would not suggest traveling by bus or train, unless you only have a backpack or small amount of luggage. Another advantage to traveling by car is the amazing views. You also get to stay in quaint nearby towns like Lezzeno. Our B&B there afforded the below view out of our windows.   


There is no shortage of lake view restaurants, boutiques, and villas to visit. I would suggest September or later in the year, if you want to avoid the crowds.

Be prepared for stairs in a few areas, but nothing too strenuous.

My favorite village is Varenna. Definitely visit the Villa Monastero gardens.  The views are spectacular.

This area is a perfectly tranquil start or ending to your visit to the Boot. Add it to your list today!