Travel Love Letter

I Got on a Plane for a Cocktail & It Changed My Life — Europe on a Bite-Sized Budget

It was midweek when I found myself staring outside the plexiglass window of my landing plane, worrying my lip as the typical Dublin rain blurred the lights of the airport.

What am I doing? I asked myself as the "unbuckle seat belts" sign dinged overhead.

This is not what a rational, put-together adult would do, I lectured as I wrestled my carry-on out of the overhead bin.

I can't believe I'm doing this, I murmured as I rolled it towards Customs, a little sweaty from the spontaneity of the whole thing.

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I Went on a River Cruise & This Is How It Went — Cruises for Food-Lovers

I've always had old-soul predilections. As a kid, instead of frolicking in the park, I preferred watching The Lawrence Welk Show and Murder, She Wrote with my grandparents. As a teenager, I hummed Perry Como songs as frequently as those from Pearl Jam's Ten. I sought out Shredded Wheat, not Cocoa Puffs, for breakfast.

So it makes sense that after years of bingeing on The Love Boat re-runs I would be drawn to cruising, a mode of travel long cherished by retirees gripped with wanderlust.

That said, it took me years — 38, to be exact — to actually take a cruise. Other than a quick, on-assignment romp around Miami's waterways to scope out a then-new Celebrity Cruises vessel five years ago, I was a novice to the world of Ports and Starboards when, at the end of July, my boyfriend, Aaron, and I embarked on the eight-day Danube Waltz with Viking Cruises.

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Food Writer Sarah Copeland Shares Her Delicious Life in Upstate New York — Bite-Sized Guide: Upstate New York

Welcome to our Bite-Sized Guides, your guide to destinations near and far for cooks who love food and love to explore the world. Your companion for our first guide to upstate New York is Sarah Copeland, cookbook author and mama to two little ones. Here's why she and her family love their life in the Catskills, and why we think you may enjoy a visit too.

I first came to the Catskills in 2001. I'll never forget the effect of the landscape as we sped up the Hudson on the Metro North: Everyone seemed to shed their city agenda for a warmer, more relaxed stance.

I was a brand-new New Yorker and, as it was Thanksgiving and I was far from home, I had been invited to spend the holidays with a friend, near his family home in Rhinebeck. We stayed in a big open barn, in a bed laid thick with pillows and quilts. Where I come from, barns were for hay and animals; here, they housed art, treasures, holiday feasts — and me.

That weekend, we gathered and cleaned dozens of wild mushrooms, sweated them with butter and shallots, and tossed them with simmering stock and breadcrumbs (the kind that didn't come from a bag). We sat by the fire. We played games. We told stories.

There were stories connected to most of the foods we ate, the bowls we ate out of, the land we hiked, the people we met. And there was space, the feeling of room above, beside, and beyond in all directions. Here, there was room to grow, the possibility of new.

For years after, I longed for this feeling, this simple, but magical life. And I wondered, Why weren't more people living it?

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Mexico City Is the Most Unsung Food Vacation — Bite-Sized Guide: Mexico City

For most of U.S. history, Paris reigned as the food-vacation Mecca. To get your gourmet cred, to validate your thoughts on bread and fine dining, you had to have spent time at the bistros of Saint Germain and wandered the alleys of the Marais.

But it's high time to put that myth to rest, chuck the Euro-centric view of food, and realize that the best food vacation destination is closer and cheaper than France.

I'm talking about Mexico City.

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I Love Food, Wine & Portland, Maine (I’m Even Getting Married There) — Bite-Sized Guide: Portland, Maine

Conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and strangers have followed a pretty tight script for the past two years that my fiancé, Joe, and I have been engaged. It usually starts with: "You're engaged! Congrats! When is the wedding?" Once that's out of the way, it's: "Where are planning to have it?" When we say Portland, Maine, like clockwork, we get: "Oh ... why Maine?"

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How Louisville Turned a New Yorker Into a Top Chef — Meet the Locals: Louisville

When the now-familiar Ed Lee — telegenic presence on several cooking shows (Top Chef season 9, Mind of a Chef) and perennial James Beard Award nominee — landed in Louisville in 2003, he was searching for life outside his native New York and a sense of post-traumatic meaning.

"After 9/11, I had to get out of the city and clear my head. I sold my restaurant and started traveling around the country, discovering what America meant to me."

On an extended road trip, he hit Louisville in the midst of the city's excessive signature equestrian event — the Kentucky Derby — and decided to stay.

"Everybody had a glass of bourbon to give me, all the people were pretty. I came thinking I'd work here for a year or two and then resume my life. Instead, Louisville became my life."

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