Six Winter Escapes for all Travelistas

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As a globetrotting Travelista, I make it my mission to escape the cold winters of New York City to retreat to warm sunny places with sexy beaches, exciting culture, delectable cuisine, and global fashion.  There are a few places that I highly recommend for my fellow travelistas that will awaken your sense of adventure, expand your palate, give you a summer glow, and decorate your passport with more stamps.  From a long weekend in the Caribbean to a two-week excursion across the globe, here are some of my favorite destinations to make winter bearable and much more exhilarating.  Happy Travels! – Teri

Sydney, Australia

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When it’s winter in the US, it’s summer in Australia, which makes it the perfect time to pack your bags and vacation in the land down unda.  Sydney should be your first stop.  This striking Australian metropolis has a cool laid back vibe that reminds you of Southern California, but with interesting mix of culture, fashion, and food. It’s a shopping jewel that is strewn with boutiques by local Australian designers. An experience in Sydney can be relaxed and carefree or packed with experiences around the city.  People watch at Bondi Beach, visit the Opera House, and enjoy how the ethnic mosaic of Sydney ignites the food and nightlife scenes.  Be prepared to have a good time, and did I mention Australia is home to some of the world’s best-looking men?  Remember, this country bred Hugh Jackman, Simon Baker (Something New) and Eric Bana.

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Best time to go: December – March

Where to shop: Oxford Street in Paddington, Crown Street in Surry Hills, Queen Street in Woollahra, Hall Street and Campbell Parade at Bondi Beach, the Central Business District (aka the CBD), Pitt Street Mall, The Rocks Market, Chifley Plaza, Bondi Junction, and Potts Point/Darlinghurst Road.

Bocas del Toro, Panama

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For the nature loving fashionista, book a trip to Bocas del Toro, an archipelago of nine islands on the Caribbean coast of Panama. Bocas is a friendly, road-less town that became popular among backpackers and surfers, but has now become frequented by curious travelers who love nature, beaches, and an Afro-Caribbean vibe.  Here the locals speak Spanish, English and Guari-guari, a type of Creole that is native to Bocas del Toro.

On the main island of Colon, Bocas Town is an archetypical Caribbean village adorned with colorful rooftops, waterfront restaurants on stilts, and fishing boats that double as water taxis that transport you to the local beaches.  Visit the mangrove filled Red Frog Beach on the island of Bastimientos, a 20-minute ride from Bocas Town where you can zip line, swim, tour the rainforest, or just look sexy hanging out on the beach.

Best time to go: Year-round. January and March have the least amount of rain.

What to buy: Molas which are colorful reverse appliqué cloths designed with geometrical shapes made by the local Kuna Indians.

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Anguilla

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For my fellow jet-setting Travelistas, who love to enjoy the good life, the eastern Caribbean island of Anguilla is the place to be.  This St. Barts alternative is a gem with 33 powder-white beaches, azure water that sparkles, and a thriving culinary scene that keeps people’s appetites wet.  Anguilla is a go-with-the-flow kind of island where you can just chill or be fabulous.  Beaches are everywhere in Anguilla and beach restaurants have come to define Anguillan dining, so pack your best beach and resort wear for this tropical haven. To get to Anguilla, you can fly to St. Martin and take a ferry or you can take a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Where to eat: Dine at Scilly Cay (pronounced silly key) where ONLY fresh lobster, crawfish and chicken is served.  Open on Wednesdays and Sundays.  For fine dining, try Pimms restaurant at the Cap Juluca luxury resort.  For casual local fare, go to Lisa’s.

Where to stay: The Viceroy Anguilla

Where to party: In Sandy Ground. Check out Pumphouse and Elvis’ Beach bar.

South Africa

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As one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town, South Africa can trigger sensory overload.  It’s picturesque landscape, bright lights, diverse culture and complex history make Cape Town a fascinating city to begin your South African sojourn.  Taste the savory curry-influenced Malay cuisine, go to Table Mountain, and take a tour of Robben Island and go wine tasting in nearby Franschhoek or Stellenbosch. After your Cape Town jaunt, going on a safari in Kruger National Park is a must!  Spare no expense and book a luxury safari at Singita Lebombo or Sabi Sabi where skilled trackers take you on game drives to spot the big five, then they return you safely to paradise in the middle of the African bush.  If you have a few extra days in South Africa, spend time in Johannesburg, explore Soweto, and shop for gifts and eclectic finds in Rosebank.

Best time to go: Cape Town (November – March) Johannesburg (January – April) Safari (year-round) January – April (typically dry but hot months)

Where to party: Cape Town, check out 169 on Long and in Johannesburg, go to Cocoon, Taboo and Hush

Aruba

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 The Dutch island of Aruba has long been a tourist destination among Americans and for a good reason.  Aruba is wildly romantic, has turquoise blue water, possesses an incredibly unique landscape, and best of all, it’s easy breezy.  Aruba has hospitality down to a science. The food is excellent, but not particularly unique for a Caribbean island, the water sports are plentiful, and the activities on the island are endless.  Try stand-up paddle boarding, explore the arid landscape and the divi-divi trees in Arikok National Park, or go horseback riding on the beach at sunset. Don’t forget to tune into the locals as they speak the intrinsically rhythmic Papiamento. Be sure to smile and say thank you when you are greeted with a “Bon Bini”.

Best time to go: Year-round

Where to eat: Old Man & The Sea Restaurant, Flying Fishbone, Zeerover (for lunch, closed on Mondays)

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Where to stay: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino (check out the adults only infinity pool)

Salvador de Bahia Brazil

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As a predominately black state in Brazil, Salvador de Bahia is considered the “Land of Happiness” which is no surprise.  With African influenced cuisine, Yoruba-derived religious traditions of candomblé, the origin of capoeira, and the musical beats of axé and pagode, Salvador de Bahia exudes rich Afro-Brazilian culture.  It is on a 50-mile stretch of beach where the locals flock to daily making it a perfect place to vacation. During the day, visit Porto de Barra beach or Stella Maris beach, a favorite among the locals.  Come here bikini ready and pack the tiniest bikini you can find. Hang out in the bohemian neighborhood of Rio Vermelho where you can find the best acarajé (fried shrimp and black-eyed-pea snack). Spend your nights in Pelourinho, the old city center that hums with music, people, and parties. It would behoove you to learn some basic Portuguese to maximize your enjoyment of this enchanting city.

To get to Salvador, there are direct flights on American Airlines from Miami, or you can connect in Rio de Janeiro or San Paulo.

Where to eat: Dona Mariquita, Sorriso da Dadá, Yemanjá , Amado

When to go: December  – March. A trip in early February is ideal.  The Yemanjá holiday is February 2nd where locals and tourists party non-stop throughout the city.  Carnival is February 7th – 13th, 2013.

What to buy: The most popular place to shop for hand made crafts is the Mercado Modelo.  You can also find paintings, crafts and more in the Pelourinho area. Check out Afro-Brazilian fabrics by Didara Design as well

One Response to Six Winter Escapes for all Travelistas

  1. Tanya Harry says:

    So happy to see Salvador on this list:) I make my own mucqueca de peixe from time to time to stave off the saudade… Saving for World Cup 2014!

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