After the Earthquakes-Why you Should Travel to Ecuador Right Now. www.casualtravelist.com

After the Earthquakes-Why you Should Travel to Ecuador Right Now.

As you may already know the evening of April 16 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Ecuador with over 135 aftershocks in the following days. Coastal cities of Manta, Guyaquil, Pedernales and many smaller communities were devastated with over 500 confirmed dead and over 2,500 injured. I was in Quito the day of the earthquake, my first time in Ecuador and my first visit to South America.

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Should you visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland? www.casualtravelist.com

Should you visit the Blue Lagoon?

Chances are if you’ve thought at all about going to Iceland the Blue Lagoon is at the top of your list. Steam rising from ethereal blue waters surrounded by an otherworldly volcanic landscape the setting is certainly enticing and there is a reason National Geographic included the Blue Lagoon on a list of 25 Wonders of the World. Searching the internet you’ll find a wide range of reviews from travelers;  ranging from glowing accounts of a mystical experience in the turquoise geothermal waters to an overpriced, overcrowded tourist trap. It can be hard to decide if you want to include the Blue Lagoon on your trip to Iceland.Like any other travel attraction or vacation activity knowing what to expect goes a long way with having a good experience. We’ve all likely had a travel experience where the reality just didn’t meet up to our expectation and its definitely frustrating.

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The Fairmont Washington DC offers a peaceful retreat in the nation's capital. www.casualtravelist.com

Capital Elegance at the Fairmont Washington DC

I travel to Washington DC often and I’m always on the lookout for the right hotel for the right trip. DC is a large city full of diverse and unique neighborhoods and I’ve spent some time exploring a number of them; Dupont Circle’s lively vibe,the politico airs of downtown, Capitol Hill’s classic meets funky charm and the quiet appeal of Woodley Park. One place I haven’t been was Georgetown and it was high time I explore one of Washington’s most alluring neighborhoods along with one of DC’s most alluring hotels, the Fairmont Washington DC.

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Tips for enjoying cherry blossoms in Washington DC. www.casualtravelist.com

Tips for Enjoying the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

While Washington DC is great destination any time of year, it is particularly magical in the springtime when the cherry blossoms bloom in a burst of pinks and whites highlighting the beauty of our nation’s capital. One of my favorite cities, I try to get to Washington DC as often as I can but I always try to plan a springtime trip in hopes of seeing the cherry blossoms in all of their glory. A gift of friendship from Japan to the American people in 1912, the pastel blooms that line the Tidal Basin explode with color and signal that spring has arrived to the Capitol. Planning a trip during cherry blossom season can be a bit tricky, here are a few tips for enjoying the cherry blossoms in Washington DC.

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The Random Way a Czech Pastry Landed me an Interview on NPR www.casualtravelist.com.

How a Czech Pastry Landed Me an Interview on NPR

There’s little doubt you haven’t heard about the doughnut ice cream cone, in recent weeks this  latest food trend has been breaking the internet. Images of this sweet pastry has been blowing up Instagram, filling up your Facebook feed and has been featured everywhere from Buzzfeed to USA today. Based on the traditional Czech pastry known as the trdelnik, baker Vladimir Novak started filling the tube-shaped pastries with ice cream at his Prague cafe Good Food Prague. Frankly, I think its a brilliant idea and it seems like the world agrees.

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Get the world delivered to your door with Hole in Wall Box. www.casualtravelist.com

Hole in Wall Box: A Taste of the World at your Door- Plus a Giveaway!

When I travel it’s not the touristy areas lined with the big brand chain stores that make my trip memorable; rather its the neighborhoods that are slightly off the beaten track, the places where people work and live that really are the soul of the city. I look for the farmers markets, artisans and independent shops; these are the people that love where they live and love what they do. In my opinion one of the best ways to to explore a destination is through its flavors. My pantry is lined with edible souvenirs I’ve brought back from my travels; the smoked paprika from Sevilla that adds the right kick to my paella, the eiderflower vinegar from Copenhagen that gives a floral note to my homemade balsamic vinaigrette; and the wild blueberry jam that transports me right back to the coast of Maine.

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From food trucks and barbecue to creative fine dining, Austin has a little something for everyone. Here's where to eat in Austin. www.casualtravelist.com

3 Meals: Where to eat in Austin, Texas

Austin has long been known for brisket and burritos but the same creative spirit that drives Austin’s music scene and tech boom is also putting out some of the best food in the country. Whether you’re on the lookout for boozy brunches, hip food truck fare or fine dining with a side of Top Chef star power Austin has you covered. Here are my recommendations of where to eat in Austin, Texas.

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When the winter months roll around most cities bundle up inside waiting for the warmer weather and bright blooms of spring, but Quebec City celebrates winter with a joie de vivre that can be found nowhere else. Here are 10 reasons to make Quebec City your next winter destination. www.casualtravelist.com

10 Reasons to make Quebec City your Next Winter Destination

When the winter months roll around most cities bundle up inside waiting for the warmer weather and bright blooms of spring, but Quebec City celebrates winter with a joie de vivre that can be found nowhere else. Here are 10 reasons to make Quebec City your next winter destination.

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Visiting the Hotel de Glace, Ice Hotel in Quebec. www.casualtravelist.com

Cooler than Cool- Visiting the Hotel de Glace, Ice Hotel in Quebec

Quebec’s Hotel de Glace, or Ice Hotel, is located just 10 minutes from Quebec City and is the only hotel in North America to be made of ice and snow. Over the past 16 years, the Ice Hotel has welcomed over one million visitors with nearly 50,000 braving a frosty overnight stay. Each year the hotel is newly constructed with over 500 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of man-made snow. Once temperatures are cold enough (usually when the thermometer dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a week straight) it takes crews  about 6 weeks of working 24/7 to fully construct the hotel from the ground up. Most years the hotel is open from early January through the end of March, but exact dates vary year to year based on the weather.

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For much of the world the months of January and February are a chance to recovery from the the holiday festivities of December, but for some cities the party is just getting started.New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Rio has Carnivale and Quebec City? Well Quebec City has its Winter Carnival and it may be the most fun you can have in the snow. www.casualtravelist.com

Frosty Fun at Quebec’s Winter Carnival

For much of the world the months of January and February are a chance to recover from the the holiday festivities of December, but for some cities the party is just getting started.New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Rio has Carnivale and Quebec City? Well Quebec City has its Winter Carnival and it may be the most fun you can have in the snow.

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