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17 December 2014

48 Hours in Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island is one of those “up and coming” cities that offers historic charm, arts, culture and amazing food with a number of James Beard Award nominated chefs. Providence has been named one of America’s Favorite Cities by Travel & Leisure, Most Exciting Mid-sized City by real estate company Movoto, a Top 10 Most Walkable City by the Huffington Post, and one of the best small cities in the world for restaurants and dining by Saveur Magazine.

The best time to visit is during a Waterfire weekend, which happen from late May through October (be sure to check the schedule in advance.) Waterfire is an award-winning open-air art installation and sculpture created by Barnaby Evans and installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence. This powerful work of art features over eighty bonfires lining the rivers and river basin. What can’t be captured in a photo is the fragrant scent of burning wood, the mysterious feel to the candlelit chandeliers under the arched bridges, the gondolas and boats traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world. A bounty for the senses, Waterfire has enraptured millions from around the globe and is a must-see for Providence visitors.

Explored - Sharknado!, Waterfire, Providence, Rhode Island

You will have trouble fitting it all in during just 48 hours, but you can try!

Day One

9:00am Start off with breakfast at Succotash (373 Richmond Street), featuring southern-inspired cuisine in a cozy and charming atmosphere. You might enjoy sitting on the patio or one of the hightop family-size wood tables inside. In addition to delicious brunch options and entrees like chicken and waffles, you might like one of the “build-your-own” mimosas or bloody marys to kick off your getaway.

10:30am Next, spend some time exploring Providence’s College Hill (home to Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design) with a visit to the RISD Museum. Don’t be fooled by thinking this is just some small college museum, it is actually the 20th largest art museum in the United States! The RISD museum houses over 86,000 works of art, including pieces from famous artists such as Picasso, Monet, Manet and Andy Warhol. A major attraction is the important 12th-century wooden Buddha Dainich Nyorai, the largest historic Japanese wooden sculpture in the United States, located in its own (very Zen-like) gallery.

Peter Haas at RISD Museum

12:30pm After visiting the museum, head over to Harry’s Burger Bar (121 North Main Street) for lunch to chow down on some delicious mini burgers (think White Castle but much, much better) and salt and pepper fries. If you want to indulge, try either the bacon bloody mary (with bacon infused vodka) or the chocolate crack dessert, depending on your poison.

2:00pm Cross the river to Providence’s Downcity by way of the Waterplace River Basin, and be sure to check out the Wall of Hope in Waterplace Park, featuring tiles painted by RI schoolchildren after September 11th. Spend some time shopping in Downcity along Westminster, Weybosset and Washington Streets. Along the way, you might want to pop into the recently reopened Arcade (between Westminster and Weybosset Streets), the nation’s oldest indoor shopping mall built in 1828 featuring Greek Revival columns, granite walls and classic facades.

Crowd at WaterFire

7:30pm When you get hungry stop for some authentic Spanish tapas at Flan y Ajo at 225A Westminster. This place is tiny but you can either get a spot at the bar or stand at the outside tables and enjoy the weather. This place is BYOB but no worries, ENO is a great wine shop right next door. Everything is good so just keep ordering until you are full. If you think you will be too tired to stand while you are eating, plan ahead and make a reservation at Bacaro (262 South Water Street), an Italian restaurant and salumeria. You can choose a selection of charcuterie, hot and cold small plates to share, the decadent pasta con i funghi (fresh tagliatelle with truffle-scented egg) but you absolutely MUST try the amazing grilled margherita pizza.

9:30pm After dinner, stroll along the river to take in all the sights, sounds, and smells that Waterfire has to offer. You can enjoy mimes performing in Memorial Park, watch the Waterfire volunteers silently gliding up the river to replenish the wood for the fires, take in a jazz performance on Steeple Street, participate in ballroom dancing in front of the draped and uplit TD Bank building on Westminster St, or watch the street performers or by the basin in front of the Providence Place Mall. If you really want to splurge, plan ahead and book a gondola ride with La Gondola for an experience to remember. Your heads will hit the pillow with the scent of wood smoke in the air and the enchanting music lingering in your ears.

Luxury Accomodations at WaterFire, Providence, RI

11:00pm Stop for a late night drink at The Dorrance (60 Dorrance Street). The high, decorative ceilings call back to yesteryear but don’t be fooled, their drink menu is cutting edge. If you can’t find room at the gorgeous long bar, you will probably find a table in the balcony overlooking the main room.

Day Two

11:00am After a busy day and a late night, you’ll want to sleep in a bit before heading over to Providence’s Westside for brunch at hipster joint Julian’s (318 Broadway). You can’t really go wrong but I’d put my money on the egg dishes above the pancakes...plus it gives you a chance to try their homemade ketchup. 

12:30pm After you stroll down Broadway to walk off your brunch, make a right to cut over to Atwells Avenue to explore Providence’s Federal Hill section. This area is known as Providence’s Little Italy, but the neighborhood dynamic has changed in the recent years to be a mix of traditional “red sauce” Italian restaurants, newer, more upscale venues, and hookah bars that attract the younger crowd. Spend some time hanging out by the fountain in DePasquale Square. Then stop into Venda Ravioli to look at all their Italian specialities and perhaps pick up some of their famous ravioli to bring home. For something sweet, stop into Pastiche Fine Desserts (92 Spruce Street) or the famous Scialo Bros. Bakery (257 Atwells Avenue).

DePasquale Square

2:00pm Next it is time to experience Providence’s historic parts on a 2.5 mile walking loop on Providence’s Independence Trail. This self-guided tour covers four centuries of history, architecture, culture and folklore. At stops along the way, you can dial 401-441-6401 to learn more about where you are standing. For something more formal, you can take a walking tour from the RI Historical Society. You might also want to explore Providence’s historic and charming Benefit Street, check out H.P Lovecraft’s house on a literary tour, see the First Baptist Church (the oldest Baptist church in America), walk through the Brown campus, or pay a visit to the historic Providence Athenaeum library.

first baptist church in america

(If you get hungry, you might want to check Twitter and see where the local food trucks are hanging out because Providence has a very vibrant gourmet food truck scene.)

4:00pm On your walk, be sure to check out the Rhode Island State House and look all the way up to the top of the world’s fourth largest self-supported dome to see Independent Man, the 11-foot tall, gold-covered statue that represents freedom and independence — values on which Rhode Island was founded. [Fun fact: the RI state house is made of Georgia marble and the Georgia state house is made out of RI granite!]

Rhode Island State House

7:00pm For dinner, it is time to try some RI seafood at Hemenway’s (121 South Main Street). Start off with some RI-style calamari, which is sauteed (vs breaded) with garlic and hot cherry peppers (no marinara sauce), or sample some local oysters. Then try the Baked Stuffed Shrimp or splurge on a lobster (just ask the market price first!)

9:00pm Later, check out Providence’s nightlife with some live music at Lupos Heartbreak Hotel, some of the nightclubs in the Jewelry District or Waterfront area such as Hot Club, or have some fun with dueling pianos at the Point Street Piano Bar.

This post was written by:

Tamara is a family travel blogger at We3Travel.com writing about her family’s travel adventures and tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way. When not traveling, she calls RI home.

Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+.

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15 December 2014

My Ultimate South East Asia Bucket List

Ever since I moved to San Francisco a few months ago, I've had my heart set on flying over the Pacific to South East Asia. Therefore, it's no surprise that I was able to compile this list in a mere hour or so. It's also no surprise that I'm planning my dream trip to South East Asia a few years too soon.

I'm a planner, what can I say?! Are there any other experiences I should add to my list?!

  • Angkor Wat at sunrise

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

  • Battambang and ride the Bamboo Train.
  • Visit Siem Reap
  • Visit Royal Palace
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh  - 029
  • See the beautiful Silver Pagoda
  • Take a Tuk-Tuk to Downtown Siem Reap
  • Pub Street and Siem Reap Night Market
  • Eat a spider
  • Witness The Killing Fields
Killing Fields - Silent Witnesses
  • Take A Boat to the Floating Villages
  • See Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island 
  • Witness Kelimutu Lakes
Kelimutu Sunrise
  • Go volcano trekking
  • Trek in natural rainforest in search of Orangutan
  • Gili Islands in Lombok
Gili Lawa
  • Surf in style at Mentawai or Panaitan
  • Swim in one of the world’s largest crater lake - Lake Toba, also known as Danau Toba
  • Ride a motorbike around Nusa Lembongan
  • Go diving with manta rays
  • Be at Uluwatu for sunset

  • Bolavean Plateau and Tad Fane Waterfall
  • 4000 islands
  • Hmong Village
entrance to hmong village
  • Luang Prabang 
  • That Luang, or the Great Stupa
  • Bokeo Nature Reserve
Bokeo Nature Reserve
  • That Ing Hang Stupa
  • The Plain Of Jars
  • Vientiane
  • Go tubing down the Mekong River
Tubing Down The Mekong


  • Penang
  • Batu Caves
  • Mt Kinabalu
  • World’s tallest twin towers – Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Twin Towers | Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia
  • Entertainment that never stops – Genting Highlands
  • Afternoon tea and scones – Cameron Highlands
Tea Plantations, Cameron Highlands
  • Tioman Island, Pahang
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah
Pulau Gaya - Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo DSCF9417
  • River safari – Kinabatangan River
  • Langkawi, Kedah

  • Shwedagon Pagoda'
  • Inle Lake
  • Take a hot air balloon ride in Bagan
Birmania (Myanmar) 2014. Bagan al atardecer. Sunset in Bagan. (Explore, septiembre1, 2014)
  • Ngapali Beach
  • U Bein Bridge
  • Mrauk U Ruins
  • Ngwesaung Beach
  • Golden Rock Pagoda
Monk and the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda - Kyaiktiyo, Myanmar
  • Pindaya Caves
  • Spot elephants and water buffalos at the Irrawaddy river

  • Palawan Island (El Nido or Coron)
El Nido, Palawan
  • Diniwid Beach and White Beach, Boracay
  • Mayon and Taal Volcano
  • Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills
  • Manila
  • Banaue Rice Terraces
Rice Terraces near Banaue.
  • Rizal Park
  • Go snorkeling in Cebu
  • Apo Reef National Park
  • Malapascua Island

  • Take a Thai cooking class in Bangkok
  • Volunteer With Elephants
  • Get scuba certified in Koh Tao
  • Fight Muy Tahi
  • Songran water balloon and fight festival
  • floating raft houses on Cheow Laan Lake in Khao Sok National Park
  • Grand Palace, Bangkok
Grand Palace Bangkok
  • Phang Nga Bay
  • Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Ayutthaya
  • Railay Beach, Krabi
  • Phi Phi Islands

  • Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
  • Halong Bay Cruise
  • floating markets in Mekong
  • Sapa
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • see the ancient town of Hoi An
Silk Lanterns of Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum
  • Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
  • The Sand Dunes of Mui Ne
Mui Ne sand dunes
  • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Hoàn Kiếm Lake
  • Have some drinks at Chill Skybar

Have you been to this part of the world?! 
I would love to hear about your experience!

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3 Top European Countries for a Walking and Cycling Holiday

There are a lot of great things about experiencing a walking and cycling holiday. From exploring nature, to getting fit, to experiencing things on your own terms, the list of benefits is seemingly endless. Perhaps the biggest drawback of taking a trip of this kind is actually deciding on where you want to go. With so many options available to you, and so many regions offering great facilities for walkers and cyclists alike, it can be tough to make any kind of decision.

Here we take a look at three European destinations then, in the hope that these suggestions help deliver some much needed assistance.


Experiencing a walking and cycling tour in France is definitely something every holidaymaker should try and do once in their life. From the rolling countryside of Normandy and the north to the beaches and forests of Biarritz, this country is as diverse as it gets. With plenty of trails, routes and roads dedicated to cycling and walking, France makes for even more of a classic trip when you combine the quaint villages you'll pass through, the cuisine on offer and the number of accommodation options you have at your disposal. Camping is another great advantage of planning an outdoor adventure in France, as the country is home to thousands of sites all with top of the range facilities.


United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is another amazing pick for a walking and cycling tour in Europe. From the seaside towns and villages of Devon and Cornwall, to the peaks and lakes of the Lake District and Peak District, it's hard to find a richer walking and cycling experience anywhere else on Earth. Perhaps not as cheap as other European destinations, there are still many pull factors held by the United Kingdom, not least its cultural and historical attractions (many of which are free) as well as its range of accommodation, cafes and restaurants.


Spain is perhaps home to one of the most famous walking and cycling trails in the world; the camino. With routes starting as far afield as France and the southern tip of Spain, all roads lead to Santiago de Compostela with the way being amazingly signposted and catered for. Elsewhere in Spain however you also have excellent cycling and walking right outside of the capital Madrid, thanks to the routes in Cercedilla, not to mention urban walking and cycling tours in cities like Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga and beyond.

Spain Bike Trip_85

Europe has many amazing destinations to experience a walking and cycling trip like no other. Whether you pip for one of these three options or decide to explore somewhere entirely new, you won't be hard pressed to find a country on this continent that doesn't welcome you or your preferred holiday pastime. Just remember to check your tires or walking boots beforehand.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please consider sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or via Email. Also, I’d love to keep sending you updates about my adventures around the world, so please subscribe to A Passion and A Passport via RSS or by email!

07 December 2014

Travel Movies to Inspire Wanderlust [Part 1]

Can't get away right now?!  Trying to decide where to jet off to next?  Have a few hours to spare? A travel movie might be your short-term solution!

When we watch movies, our mind is instantly transported to another place, whether it be a different planet, different country, or different time period.  We get to experience things we never thought possible, all through the eyes and body of another.  Sure, I'd rather be gallivanting around a new city or literally stuffing my face instead of watching someone on my TV take in all my gluttonous pleasures.

But hey, sometimes it's just not possible to take those extra days off from work and physically get away.

However, movies are a great way to find inspiration for future trips, to trick our minds into being away (a two hour 'trip' is better than no trip at all, right?), and to lay off social media for a short period of time.  Something we all could use every now and them, myself included.

So start poppin' that corn (or opt for the microwave kind-guilty), throw on some comfy sweats, and claim your spot on the couch.  It's movie time!

1) Frozen - Norway

photo provided by andreyserdyuk // Flickr CC
2) The Great Beauty, or La Grande Bellezza - Rome, Italy

This Oscar winner (best foreign film) from 2013 makes me crazy to get back to Rome. I've been to the city a few times before but have always concentrated on seeing the Rome of the past, a Rome of ghosts and historical sights. Fascinating as that Rome is, this glimpse into the city's highlife, its literary circles and flawed searching-for-meaning-in-life intellectuals has made a different Rome come alive for me - a world of individuals, of glamour and decadence, art and emptiness, but also of hope. - Wandering Carol

photo provided by jamckay // Flickr CC

3) A Map For Saturday - The World

A map for Saturday followed 25 year old Brook who left a highly paid tv producers job in New York to travel alone for a year recording as he went. From saying bye to family and friends at the airport to the reality of life in hostels, interviewing other guests as he went along, quickly falling in and out of love with Sabine from Germany. Brook tells how quickly you make friends and also how quickly the time to bid farewell comes along.

Even though there are downsides, they are greatly outnumbered by the amazing places, sights and people Brook met along the way, the film's title is due to every day being a Saturday whilst traveling, with no work to go to you are free to go out and see beautiful places, meet amazing people then go to sleep, wake up and start all over again. - Addictive Backpacking

4) One Week - Canada

The movie One Week is about a young man named Ben Taylor who learns he has terminal cancer and decides to go on a motorcycle ride across Canada (well from Toronto to Tofino). One Week has Canadian icons, amazing landscapes, quirky sites, and shows how travel, even if it’s just for a week, can change your perspective on life. Last year I drove from Calgary to Toronto and saw many of the locations featured in One Week. I loved exploring areas of my country I’d never seen before, and I hope to do another road trip across Canada again. - Take Me to the World

photo provided by VancityAllie // Flickr CC

5) Happy Feet - Antarctica
photo provided by cmichel67 // Flickr CC

6) Under the Tuscan Sun - Tuscany, Italy

When I saw the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun," I knew I had to get to Italy. I loved the town portrayed in the movie, I loved the landscape, and I loved the people. When I finally made it to Europe, I made sure to spend three weeks in Italy alone, and I finally got to experience what it was like to be in Tuscany. Still, my time spent in Firenze and Pisa wasn't enough. Someday I want to go back and bask in the Tuscan sun again. - Solitary Wanderer

photo provided by anutkak43 // Flickr CC

7) Last Stop for Paul - Thailand

One of my favorite independent "wanderlust" movies is “Last Stop for Paul” by director, actor and traveler Neil Mandt. Anytime I watch this I immediately want to hit the road. Neil films in the moment, unscripted with no cast and the results are quite entertaining. In the movie, two friends bored with life in Los Angeles decide to go to a Full Moon Party in Thailand as part of their budget trip around the world to scatter a friend's ashes who recently died. Memorable scenes are from Thailand but there are plenty of other countries represented. - Dave's Travel Corner

photo provided by dazjohnson // Flickr CC

8) Made of Honor - Scotland

The movie Made of Honor is about a girl from the States who is going to marry a Scotsman. The second part of the movie is set in Scotland and the scenery is absolutely amazing. They're getting married at the beautiful Eilean Donan castle and you see some of the Scottish decor throughout the castle. In addition, they show some traditions in Scotland and traditional clothing. I have yet to make it over to that part of the world and have always been fascinated by Scottish history and culture, and to see glimpses of the gorgeous scenery makes me want to hope on a plane over there! The Scottish culture is one unlike any I've ever experienced but can't wait to one day. - My Tan Feet

Photo provided by Digital Temi // Flickr CC

9) The Sound of Music - Salzburg, Austria

Growing up, I looked forward to watching "The Sound of Music" that one time a year it was broadcast on tv. Whether it was the beautiful scenery of Salzburg, the harmonic voices of Julia Andrews and Christopher Plummer or the family-oriented theme that got me, I'm not sure, but I absolutely loved every moment of it and still do to this very day. Hence, when I was 19, my friend Emily and I decided it was time to "see the world" and scouted out our top places to visit. After some research and lots of narrowing down, we settled on the country of Austria, and the rest is history.

I have traveled quite a bit now, but I can still say, hands down, Salzburg is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The rolling mountains are so inviting with their lush, deep green exterior and the streets are as maintained as one can expect. The stunning architecture isn't too bad either. In fact, this city hasn't changed a bit. I felt like I was "in" The Sound of Music, just with a little updated clothing and transportation. It's definitely on my "return to" list. - Eat Sleep Live Ecuador

Photo provided by mdid // Flickr CC
10) Cold Fever - Iceland

I’ve been captivated by Iceland since I saw Friðrik Þór Friðriksson’s film Cold Fever in 1996. This film completely captures the sense of place as we journey through the heart of Iceland (in the winter!) with a Japanese businessman. We join him as he struggles to understand the culture while enjoying the raw beauty of the island. And so, motivated by the film, we were finally able to visit Iceland in 2010, drive the Ring Road, soak in hot springs and experience the mysticism of the island. Iceland does not disappoint – and it was all inspired by Cold Fever. - Travel Addicts

Photo provided by greenlandtravel // Flickr CC

11) Midnight in Paris - Paris

One movie that absolutely intrigues the wanderlust within me is… A Midnight in Paris. I was not born during the 1920’s, of course, yet this movie gives me a longing to have lived back then to experience life as it was in the ‘Golden Age’. After watching this movie my heart yearned to visit Paris, learn more about its history and fall in love with its beauty. - Life, Love and Adventure

12) Blue Crush 2 - South Africa

13) Midnight Express - Istanbul

When I was just a kid, I remember seeing Oliver Stone’s brutal portrayal of an American incarcerated in a Turkish prison, and it had a lasting effect. Istanbul just seemed so mystical and exotic and foreign and bustling and everything that my hometown was not. I knew I would get there one day. It was everything I ever imagined and so much more. It’s still one of my favourite cities on the planet. The only disappointment -- the prison depicted in the movie has been converted into a Four Seasons hotel. - Man on the Lam

Istanbul photo provided by Greenwich Photography // Flickr CC

14) Jurassic Park - Kauai, Hawaii
15) Notting Hill - London, England

I love that movie. I saw it in London at Leicester Square and immediately made a bee-line for Notting Hill. At the time, I liked that it was relatively unknown at least to Americans. I especially enjoyed the little cafes and the flea market, where I bought some lovely dangle earrings that I still treasure. L20 but probably worth about L10. I’ve viewed it several times since and am realizing it is time to watch it again. - Berkeley and Beyond

London photo provided by timmorris // Flickr CC

Any other inspirational travel movies you 
would add to the list?

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please consider sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or via Email. Also, I’d love to keep sending you updates about my adventures around the world, so please subscribe to A Passion and A Passport via RSS or by email!

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