Many BV readers have expressed sincere enjoyment in reading my husband's occasional food features called "Chris' Corner of Culinary Delights." Yet with just seven and a half installments, he has left readers craving more. Below is a recap of his food adventures from our trip around the world, just in case you haven't read all of his posts. Here's hoping there are more Culinary Delights in the near future!
While there are many things to love about autumn here in the northeast - apple picking, football, foliage - it is also the perfect time to travel abroad. Fall usually means fewer crowds, more comfortable temperatures and stellar weather for exploring outdoors in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Here are five of my favorite fall destinations:
1. Eastern China
I spent about three weeks in China last October and almost every day was perfection. Beijing, known for its relentless smog, is supposed to be clearest and cleanest in October and it did not disappoint. Autumn brings colorful foliage in the northern countryside resulting in spectacular views from the Great Wall. It is warmer farther south, but not oppressively hot. Shanghai's weather was incredibly comfortable requiring a tank top by day and light jacket at night. My favorite place in China - Yangshuo - offered 70 degree F days, perfect for biking through the karst mountains. While October is a great month to explore China, be sure to avoid the first week as it's a national holiday called "Golden Week", when prices and crowds skyrocket across the country. Read more about my adventures in China here.
2. Paris, France
While Paris is beautiful any time of year, I especially love autumn. The crowds are significantly reduced since all the students are back in school, and while the temperature can sometimes be a bit chilly, it's usually great for long walks around the city. We walked and biked all over Paris and Versailles and the cool air gave us plenty of motivation to continue moving! Autumn is also the perfect time to enjoy a warm drink at an outdoor cafe. Nothing goes better with a glass of Bordeaux than a cozy sweater. Read more about Paris here.
3. Koh Lanta, Thailand
The high season for Koh Lanta - and the rest of the islands along the Andaman Sea in Thailand- is November through April. We were there in late October/early November which is technically "shoulder season" - the end of the low season and beginning of the high season. This meant great deals and fewer crowds. For example, we had no problem booking hotel rooms or scuba dives a day in advance. We only had one weather woe - a rain downpour that lasted about an hour. The rest of the week brought sunshine, warm breezes and spectacular sunsets. Interested in visiting Koh Lanta? Check out our guide to Koh Lanta.
4. Ireland's West Coast
While it's been almost ten years since we've been to Ireland, we still talk about that vacation. The weather was marvelous for hiking and pub crawls - two of Ireland's best pastimes. The cooler temps meant we could hike without getting too hot and also suited the cozy cavernous pubs scattered throughout the countryside. Like the northern US, mid-October is the height of colorful foliage which looks extra beautiful surrounding Ireland's castles, stone walls and green hills. Definitely check out Galway, the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula this time of year. If you like stunning views, friendly locals and pub food you will not be disappointed!
5. Eastern Australia
Since Australia is in the southern hemisphere, their seasons mirror ours in the north. Therefore, Australia experiences spring during the months of late September, October and November. Queensland summers are hot & humid and monsoon season begins in late November through April. I think we visited during the best time of year - late September/early October. With the exception of a freak wind storm in Airlie Beach, the weather was beautiful and the water visibility was incredibly clear which made for phenomenal scuba diving. While the water in New South Wales required a wet suit, the crisp, sunny days were perfect for hiking and walking around Sydney. Considering a visit to Australia? Read our tips for driving up Australia's east coast and for more general Australia information see our Australia information page.
Late summer brings fast, but mighty storms to New England. Sometimes, these storms result in spectacular light, especially during the magic hours around sunset. A recent summer storm cast vibrant colors across our family farm and the Vermont countryside. Here are some of my favorite shots of this stormy Saturday afternoon:
The next day turned out to be a perfect day, weather wise:
A small reminder that winter is coming:
Despite what many may think, Vermont can get really HOT in the summer. What better way to cool off than a swim? While Vermont has its share of refreshing lakes, many locals chill out in nearby quarry pools. One of said pools is located in Dorset, VT and after many years of passing by this swimming hole on our way to the family farm, we finally stopped to check it out. Why we have never stopped here before is beyond me! We love a unique adventure and as you may recall from our recent Costa Rica trip, Chris enjoys a good cliff jump.
The Dorset quarry is located on Route 30 close to the town of Manchester, VT - a good spot for shopping and dining. The quarry is easy to see from the road because there are swimmers mulling about and cars in the parking lot nearby.
This quarry was created in 1785 making it the oldest marble quarry in the United States. In fact, the marble from this quarry was used to build the New York Public Library. Now an underground spring fills the quarry with clear water making it a popular destination for scuba divers and swimmers. The smooth marble slabs that surround the pool offer several jumping points ranging from 2 feet to 25 feet high. The water is cold, but refreshing, especially on a hot, sunny day.
Kids love the quarry and since they tend to be completely immune to cold water, they can probably spend the entire day jumping into the water. I overheard one little boy say to his mother - "Mom this is way better than the lake!". Keep in mind that the water is deep and there are no lifeguards here so kids should be monitored at all times and those that are not strong swimmers should wear life vests.
These brave gents attempted one of the higher jumps:
The most courageous visitors jump from the highest point - about 25 feet above the water:
After cooling off in the water, we quickly warmed up by sitting on the dry marble in the sun. Visitors usually pack full picnics comprised of goodies from the local VT farmers markets. We snacked on baby cucumbers and juicy peaches from a nearby farm stand.
Swimming Holes Guide
We did a little research after our swimming adventure in Dorset and turns out there are a lot of swimming holes in Vermont! The website Swimmingholes.org is a great resource to finding these hidden gems. Needless to say, we have a lot more exploring to do in Vermont!
Serendipity Strikes Again!
If you have been reading this blog a while, you might remember when I serendipitously ran into two people I knew in Barcelona. Well it happened again! This time during our visit to the Dorset quarry.
When I was a tot back in the early 80's, I lived in a small apartment complex on a road called Blachley. My parents were close with all the neighbors and we became a tight-knit community where the kids spent endless days at the playground while the parents BBQ'ed to the tunes of the latest Bill Joel soundtrack. We were so tight that we branded ourselves the "Blachlely Buddies"with yellow t-shirts (which were also tight because it was early 80s).
[Pictured Above] The Blachely Buddies. Ahhhh the 80s! [Pictured Below] Me in my yellow T.
Two of said Buddies, were teenaged sisters named Regina & Eileen, who often looked after us younger kids. As time passed we all moved and lost touch, until a few years ago where we reconnected via Facebook. The Friday before our trip up to VT, Regina posted an old picture of us on Facebook. Fast forward a day to my arrival at Dorset quarry. I heard someone call my name and thought "who in the world knows me HERE?" Sure enough it was Regina and her sister Eileen who were vacationing in Southern VT that week. They had heard about this swimming hole and decided to check it out with their family for the day . What are the odds that, after 30 years, we see each other again in Dorset, of all places? Anyway, we captured our reunion with this photo. All that was missing was our yellow t-shirts!
Eva has been traveling for 15+ years, including an 8 month journey around the world.