New Orleans, there is no other city in the world quite like it. A mix of French, Spanish and Afro-Caribbean influences; some of the world's best food, and a lively music scene have helped create one of the most distinct cities in the US. While one can never fully know New Orleans, you can certainly get a taste of this vibrant city over the course of a weekend. New Orleans is the kind of place that stays with you, once you've experienced her joie de vive you'll be longing to return again. Now as they say "laissez les bon temps rouler!", or let the good times roll!

One Great Weekend: What to do in New Orleans

New Orleans, there is no other city in the world quite like it. A mix of French, Spanish and Afro-Caribbean influences; some of the world’s best food, and a lively music scene have helped create one of the most distinct cities in the US. While one can never fully know New Orleans, you can certainly get a taste of this vibrant city over the course of a weekend. New Orleans is the kind of place that stays with you, once you’ve experienced her joie de vive you’ll be longing to return again. Now as they say “laissez les bon temps rouler!”, or let the good times roll!

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What it's like to eat at Noma, Copenhagen www.casualtravelist.com

Noma- What it’s Like to Eat at One of the Best Restaurants in the World.

Copenhagen in recent years has become one of the world’s hottest food destinations. New Nordic cuisine, with its emphasis on fresh Scandinavian flavors, simplicity and eating seasonally was catapulted into the world’s culinary spotlight by pioneering chef Rene Redzepi and his groundbreaking restaurant Noma. Currently located in a renovated warehouse along the waterfront in the Christanhaven neighborhood, Noma has earned two Michelin stars and the title of the World’s Best Restaurant 4 times since 2010 (the title went to Spain’s El Cellar de Can Roca in 2013 and again in 2015). With over 100,000 reservation requests per month and two seatings a day getting a table at this lauded 45-seat restaurant requires a great deal of luck. As it turns out fate was on our side and on a sunny June afternoon Steve and I found ourselves waiting at Noma’s unassuming entrance wondering about the culinary experience that awaited us inside.

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Exploring the locations that inspired Mercy Street in Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

Exploring the locations that inspired Mercy Street in Alexandria, Virginia

Visitors these days come to Virginia’s Alexandria to enjoy the historic cobblestone streets, shop among the city’s independent boutiques and savor a meal at some of the country’s best restaurants. A century and half ago, the scene in Alexandria was much different. May 24, 1861, the day after Virginia seceded, Union troops took control of the city and seized Mansion House Hotel (a luxury hotel owned by wealthy furniture maker James Green) for use as a hospital. A Confederate city controlled by Union troops and home to a growing number of former slaves seeking freedom; Alexandria was the axis of Civil War America and the world PBS‘s drama Mercy Street seeks to explore.

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16 Places to travel in 2016 www.casualtravelist.com

16 places on my radar for 2016

The start of a new year always has me dreaming of possibilities, namely the possibility of where to go. Do I want to experience the Scandinavian charm of Stockholm, go gorilla trekking in Rwanda or live la dolce vita on Italy’s Amalfi coast? (In case you were wondering the answers are yes, yes, and yes). There is a whole wide world out there to explore and it can be hard to narrow down where I’d like to go, but each of the following destinations has caught my eye. These are the 16 places on my radar for 2016.

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The Casual Travelist Turns 2, Another Year of Adventures Near and Far. www.casualtravelist.com

The Casual Travelist Turns 2, Another Year of Adventures Near and Far

 

My favorite photos of 2015 www.casualtravelist.com

My favorite photos from 2015

2015 has certainly been good to me. My travels have brought me a richness of new experiences and destinations as well as return trips to some of my favorite places.  Frequent weekends throughout Virginia and the mid-Atlantic, a first (but certainly not last) trip to New Orleans; tasting the fresh, bright flavors of Copenhagen and exploring the natural wonder that is Iceland. Going through my pictures from the last year let me relive the memories from each place; each image bring with it the sounds, smells, feelings and emotions from each place. Some recurring themes kept popping up, Apparently I have a thing for taking pictures of flags (a surprise to me), and I’m that person who is always taking a picture of their meal (not a surprise to anyone who has ever dined with me). Other times I just keep snapping away trying to capture the sense of place of wherever I happen to be. These are some of my favorite photos from 2015.

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Welcoming Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia; how this thoroughly American city welcomes the holidays in European style. www.casualtravelist.com

Welcoming Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia

Brick paved streets lined with eighteenth century buildings, shop doors graced with Christmas greenery and scores of Scottish gents and lasses clad in tartan kilts bustling around town. Was I in Scotland? No, I found a bit of European holiday tradition a little closer to home in Alexandria, Virginia; where on the first weekend in December you’re as likely to hear a Scottish brogue as a southern drawl.

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Happy

The Best Cities to Visit for Christmas

Something magical happens during the Christmas season; streets are adorned with lights and garland, carolers joyfully share their melodies and the scents of cinnamon and sugar grace the air. Festivities fill city squares from Scandinavia to Mexico and if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of Santa as he prepares for his big night. Whether you’re looking for Old World tradition or big city splendor, I teamed up with Expedia.com to bring you these ten cities that know how to celebrate the holidays.

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The holiday season is upon us and it can be tricky figuring out what to get your travel savvy friends. I’ve picked out some great items to make travel a little easier or inspire wanderlust for the traveler in your life. Here are my gift recommendations for the jet-setter on your list.

10 Gifts for the Traveler on your List- and a Giveaway for You!

It’s the holiday season again and it can be tricky figuring out what to get your travel savvy friends. I’ve picked out some great items to make travel a little easier or inspire wanderlust for the jet-setter in your life. Here are my gift recommendations for the traveler on your list.

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A Solo Afternoon in Texas Hill Country.

Normally when I’m travelling I have an entourage in tow; my husband, family, friends or coworkers. I love having the company, sharing my enthusiasm for exploring and giving experiences for those closest to me; but with each person comes new needs, wishes and perspectives. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, having arrived a day earlier than a coworker for some training in Austin, I found myself with four wheels and a half a day to do whatever I wanted.Being in Austin I was spoiled for choice; I could explore the city, have an impromptu spa day, or check out the live music scene. But I had a car and an itch to go exploring, Texas Hill Country it would be.

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