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Karen Smetana′s Wishlist
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Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Crowds may swarm upon it daily from sunrise onwards, but exposure hasn’t dulled the impact of the largest religious monument in the world. Commissioned by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century as the centerpiece of the mighty Khmer empire,...
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Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Situated among lotus ponds and palm gardens, the buildings at Angkor Village incorporate native Southeast Asian hardwoods and mimic traditional Khmer architectural styles. Ride on an elephant to Phnom Bakheng hill and watch the sunset or explore...
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Ko Phi Phi Don, Ao Nang, Mueang Krabi District, Krabi, Thailand
For about $13 you can jump on a long-tail boat leaving from the main beach of Phi Phi Don and spend the afternoon island hopping. There are multiple tour companies, most offering a visit to Monkey Island, Viking Caves, Pileh Bay, and Maya Island...
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24/2 Moo 5, Tambon Koh Yao, ตำบล เกาะยาวน้อย อำเภอ เกาะยาว พังงา 82160, Thailand
So many islands and too little time is your only dilemma while traveling in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand.
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James Bond Island, 82130, Thailand
This a breath-taking place, the James Bond Island in Phuket, Thailand. The island got its name from featuring in the James Bond movie "The Man with the Golden Gun". This is a must-go place part of the island-hopping activity in Phuket.
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Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
As easy as it would be to spend an entire trip to Zanzibar lazing around on soft-sand beaches, it’s well worth skipping an hour or two of sunbathing to see Stone Town, the ancient district of Zanzibar. With its narrow cobblestoned streets,...
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Matemwe Beach, Matemwe Beach Village, Matemwe 0000, Tanzania
I have heard the mysterious word, Zanzibar, my whole life. After Mt. Kilimanjaro and photo safari in the Serengeti, etc., my son and I kicked back a few days on the fabled Zanzibar Island. While there, we took a snorkeling trip to a small...
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Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
A persistent rumor has it that Mount Kilimanjaro actually belonged to Kenya until colonial times when Queen Victoria gave it to her grandson Kaiser Wilhelm, who governed what would become Tanzania, as a rather lavish birthday...
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The Center for Cuban Studies consults on creating custom travel experiences for US travelers interested in learning about Cuba through people-to-people exchanges. If you are interested in traveling on a licensed trip to Cuba please email...
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Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Nantou County, Taiwan
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan's largest fresh water lake. When I lived in Nantou County, central Taiwan, I would often ride my scooter to Sun Moon Lake for a bit of fresh air and reflection. One day I drove to the lake and traveled up a hill to the...
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24 Sukhumvit 53 Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand
Two of the cooks who worked with me at Nahm in London opened a dinner-only spot named Bo.lan. Bo and Dylan prepare traditional but often hard-to-find dishes, such as stir-fried chicken thighs with bamboo shoots, and red curry of pork hock. —David...
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San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis., Mexico
On the border of the state of Chiapas (Mexico) and Guatemala, there is a national park, Lagunas de Montebello. It contains numerous lakes and cenotes, mostly spring fed from waters deep in the mineral depths of the earth. Each body of water is...
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ຫຼວງພຣະບາງ, Laos
Relaxing in the cool, invigorating water at Kuang Si Waterfall is a great way to spend a day when staying in Luang Prabang, Laos. Photographed by Joel Collins
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Poon Hill Marga, Histan Mandali 33711, Nepal
On the second day of our trek to Poon Hill in the Annapurna Sanctuary, my friend Brill and I stumbled upon this absolutely gorgeous waterfall pulsing through a deep, green canyon. It was the early morning—about 7:30 when we first got to the river...
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55047 Malbacco LU, Italy
Halfway between tourist hot spots Cinque Terre and Pisa, Malbacco's freshwater ponds are Tuscany's best-kept secret. Shaded by towering pines and refreshed by cool mountain stream waters, this series of ponds is a welcome respite from the hottest...
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80 Quai de l'Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France
Did you know that only 25% of French people buy their cheese from a fromagerie? And of that 25, only 3-4% go to an affineur (cheese refiner). Both are the sad realities of a dying tradition in France of sourcing provisions from neighborhood...
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Cooking schools seems to be popping up everywhere in Hoi An – and most of them also include some sort of market tour that will familiarize you with the how the market operates as well as explain those many unique fruits and vegetables that baffle...
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Tanjung, Jl. Pratama, Benoa, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Give a man some pisang goreng (fried bananas) and you feed him for a day; teach a man to make pisang goreng and he comes home from Bali with skills for a lifetime! At Bumbu Bali Cooking School, classes introduce eager students to the island's...
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If you revel in gastro-travel, or perhaps you’re pondering how to make Ottoman and Turkish classics back home, then don an apron and broaden your culinary horizons at Cooking Alaturka in Sultanahmet. This innovative cooking school, for groups of...
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Lisbon, Portugal
The best thing about this place is the guy that imagined that his life mission was to transform the top level of a parking garage into a terrace bar. Well, let me say that he did it! Simply called Park, it proclaims itself the first suspended...
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15000 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95033, USA
Castle Rock state park has some absolutely gorgeous hikes (and climbs), rain or shine. I recently snapped this shot on a rainy hike, the greens vibrantly shone through the fog, each tree seeming to house some new species of moss.
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134 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041, USA
Spicy. VERY spicy. They do not have it on the menu. You need to ask for it. You might cry first time. You might become addicted to it after that.
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4001 Sand Hill Rd, Woodside, CA 94062, USA
Stanford University conducts some of the world's most compelling research and education on biotic diversity right here at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve (JRBP). This Preserve is a natural laboratory for Stanford students, an education point...
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1135 Lawrence Expy, Sunnyvale, CA 94089, USA
There will likely be a wait at Hong Kong Saigon Restaurant, but the dim sum is worth sticking around for. The Snowy Mountain buns and the chive dumplings are two of my favorites. The restaurant also does top-notch purple taro bao, which are hard...
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175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
I'm not sure any other city epitomizes the California dream as well as the surf-centric college town of Santa Cruz. The Dream Inn is the perfect base for exploring and has affordable rooms, a retro-chic design, and a beachfront location within...
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167 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301, USA
For a dining experience that emphasizes healthy eating from local, sustainable and organic sources, look no further than Lyfe Kitchen. Customers can often see sous-chefs running out from the kitchen to pick fresh herbs from their garden stationed...
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Warkworth, New Zealand
Redwood Treehouse, Warkworth, New Zealand: They only allow reservations for major functions like weddings and receptions, but simply paying the tree-houses a visit outside of Auckland is surely worth it. They operate purely on an ask-and-receive...
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71895 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
For such a remote region, Big Sur has more than its share of amazing places to stay. One of the most unique is Treebones Resort, nestled high in the foothills of South Big Sur overlooking the Pacific. The off-the-grid property offers 16 signature...
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Playa Maderas Maderas, Nicaragua
We had an unforgettable experience staying at Buena Vista Surf Club, while visiting San Juan del Sur. The eco-lodge is set into a hill overlooking the jungle and Playa Maderas with a giant sundeck where guests could enjoy the view. It was a great...
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Faro District, Portugal
Few people think of Portugal as a surf destination, but the tiny country has miles of coast for surfers to explore. I visited the Algarve, Portugal's southern most region, and based myself at Aldeia da Pedralva. The owner, António Ferreira, has a...
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29400 Ronda, Málaga, Spain
The town of Ronda is small but beautiful. It is set on top of a ravine giving it beautiful views of the nearby country side, and a very unique bridge connecting the town across this rocky divide.While Ronda's fame may have been connected to...
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Overtoom 160-162, 1054 HP Amsterdam, Netherlands
We had been to Gollem for a drink and a snack (note: the meat platter is hearty) the evening before, but when we found ourselves on Overtoom after visiting Vondelpark, with Gollem just opening for lunch, we went for it again. After all, it was our...
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Southern Europe
Ponza is an island destination mostly frequented by Italians (especially Romans and Neapolitans, as it's just a hop, skip, and a jump away by boat) that is largely undiscovered by foreign tourists. A must-do in Ponza: rent a motorboat on your own,...
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14, 29 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Toei Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand
Sukhumvit Road is one of the busiest, most central, and most internationally oriented thoroughfares in Bangkok, so it’s a dream to find this colonial boutique oasis right in the heart of it all. The Cabochon's elegant façade is the...
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2727 Indian Creek Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33140, USA
When Freehand launched in Miami at the end of 2012, it became a welcome alternative to the city’s glitzy hotel scene. The retro-inspired, summer-camp-style hotel is housed in a 1930s building outfitted with vintage furnishings and wood...
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The Miami outpost of a hotel brand well known for its Los Angeles and New York properties, The Standard Spa, Miami Beach is less a hotel in the traditional sense, and more a spa with guest rooms set amid tropical gardens. The concept extends to...
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Skúlagata 28, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
we didnt stay at KEX hostel but we went there twice for burgers and coffee and cool people watching. The interior is an instagrammers dream and the abbreviated menu is a good mix of American heartiness (cheeseburgers) and delicious Scando fare...
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Warschauer Pl. 6, 10245 Berlin, Germany
As someone who appreciates "champagne taste on a beer budget," PLUS Hostel Berlin was right up my alley. The hostel boasts amenities like an indoor pool, sauna, laundry room, courtyard, art gallery, full bar and restaurant and location next to...
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Rechte Wienzeile 35, 1040 Wien, Austria
Wombats Hostels are one of the best chains in Europe with three locations in Vienna alone. The Naschmarkt location, however, is easily the best and newest, as it's right across the street from the city's famous local food market and dining...
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50 Blackfriars St, Edinburgh EH1 1NE, UK
Hostels - the word alone is strong enough to awaken the worst feelings in the world. Dirt. Noise. Horny frat boys. Communal bathrooms. EW. But over the last few years, a new trend emerged in Europe, and more recently over the world. Luxury...
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R. do Crucifixo 116, 2º, 04015-070 Lisboa, Portugal
This boutique hostel in Lisbon feels more like a design hotel and is a result of a collaboration between local artists, DJ’s & designers. They even offer up a nightly 3-course dinner including wine!
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Orcas Island, Washington, USA
We left Seattle twenty years ago for the emphatically non-greener pastures of Chicago. It took twenty years to go back. You can do things twenty years later you couldn't before. As newlyweds impoverished by graduate school, we never got around...
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Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Wonderful catamarans that you can rent right off the beach.
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Calle 34, Centro, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
This Playa del Carmen restaurant takes its name from a traditional Mexican dish known as aguachile: chili-marinated shrimp with lime juice, onion, and sometimes other ingredients that lend it a strong, spicy-citrus flavor. With its open-air...
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Playacar, 77717 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
It's hard to find a little bit of solace in Playa del Carmen's tourist mayhem, but if you leave Quinta Avenida behind and keep walking another 15 minutes or so south-west, you'll stumble across a small park with Mayan ruins. The scale is of course...