Shakespeare and More in London

Pains aux chocolats

Rivaled only by New York for the title of “world’s best theater city,” London is an ideal place to see a stage play.

Shakespeare’s Globe

For starters, go to Shakespeare’s Globe, a meticulously designed replica of the venue where the world’s most-produced playwright premiered many of his works. Shakespeare’s Globe sits along the River Thames, near the Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge. Traditional construction materials — including a thatch roof — create a space so reminiscent of the 17th century, you’ll exit conversing in iambic pentameter.

Stratford-upon-Avon

To delve deeper into William Shakespeare’s work and life, we recommend a day trip to his hometown. In Stratford-upon-Avon, visit several homes in which Shakespeare and his family members lived, and Holy Trinity Church, where the playwright and his wife are buried. The lovely countryside setting is also ideal for a peaceful stroll or a leisurely excursion in a rented gondola or rowboat. Catch a local performance by the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company, as well.

London’s Theaters

Back in the big city — especially in the West End — theatrical fare ranges from crowd-pleasing comedies to intimate, psychological dramas. Fabled stages include those of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (London’s oldest theater) and the Old Vic, which has hosted such high-caliber talents as Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith and Kevin Spacey. Arrive early to appreciate the showplaces’ resplendent interiors, decked out in gold leaf, rich woodwork and shimmering chandeliers. Here’s a tip: If you want to see a sold-out show, ask the box office about “day seats.” Many theaters release a block of tickets on the day of each performance. Often, they’re sold at a discounted price and put you in the front row!

Post-Play at the Pubs

After the final curtain, there’s no better place for a post-play discussion than a public house (yes, that’s “pub” for short). I’m partial to those that have stood the test of time, serving up pints for several centuries. Among the city’s oldest are the Lamb & Flag, the Olde Cheshire Cheese, and the George Inn.

Finally, if you’re also drawn to political theater, why not pop in at Parliament? From public galleries, you can watch the famously combative governing body square off over issues of the day. The debates can be as contentious and arresting as anything Shakespeare concocted.

Paris with Kids: Left Bank

When planning a trip to Paris, most people think of romantic couples escapes, but there are plenty of places to visit in Paris with kids! Take the family to one or more of the below places on the left bank and you’ll discover Paris as a family destination:

Rue Mouffetard

Go in the early morning to see the colorful produce market.  Stop in a café for hot chocolate or coffee and a chocolate croissant.

Arènes de Lutèce

This Roman amphitheater of Lutetia was used for burials in the fourth century. Between Rue Monge and Rue de Navarre. The kids can pretend they are Roman gladiators!

Musée de la Poupée (Doll Museum)

A charming museum filled with handmade dolls from the mid-nineteenth century. See French dolls as well as dolls from around the world. It’s a dream come true for the little doll(s) in your life.

Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens)

Visit this lush 60 acres of greenery. Anchored by the Luxembourg Palace  (now home to the French Senate) on one end, there are formal gardens, wide avenues and a large octagonal pool where the kids can float rented toy boats. There are also tennis courts, a horseback riding school and an open air café for refreshments.

Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens)

Here you will find beautiful gardens accompanied by a zoo. Find a natural history museum here as well.

Grevin Museum (Waxwork Museum)

Like Madame Tussaud’s in London, here you will see historical settings, Louis XIV at Versailles, distorting mirrors, shows by live magicians and wax figures of famous celebrities.

Musée de la Monnaie (Money Museum)

Here the kids will see all kinds of coins, displayed in vertical glass cases to see both sides.  This was a former mint until 1973.  There is workshop where you can now see medallions being created.

Costa Rica’s Cloud Forest

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve spans six ecological zones, rests 4,662 ft above sea level and features an abundance of biodiversity.
While you can do self-guided tours, I’d definitely recommend one guided by a professional.  The forest is just too large and has too many species for you to experience on your own. Your guides will actively encourage you to interact with nature by either listening or touching; and because they’re more familiar with the forest, they will be able to point things out that you’d miss on your own.

There are a few ways tour the forest.  You can rent mountain bikes, take tours via horseback, hike, take canopy tours via zip lines and even take night tours.

Wine Time in Paris

WineBoasting some of the best grape-growing and wine-making regions in the world—from Burgundy to Bordeaux—France feels like heaven to serious oenophiles. Even if you’re not a wine aficionado, no trip to Paris is complete without a sampling of the grapes. That’s why a wine tasting is the perfect Paris activity. O Chateau (68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau) offers wine courses with a bilingual master sommelier. If you’d prefer to sample wine flights on your own, Paris is full of many excellent wine bars. We like Verjus (47, rue Montpensier, 1st arrondissement) as it boasts a cozy interior, an international clientele, and delicious food to accompany the extensive wine list. Lavinia (1, Blvd. Madeleine, 7th arrondissement) is another great wine shop with a bar and restaurant. It has three stories of wine.
Learn about the history of French wine, how to read a wine label, and the different wine-making regions in France. You can also purchase any of your favorite wines at the end of your tasting.

Key West’s Sunset Celebration

Key West #1

Every night in Key West there is a gathering of people that has been taking place since the 1960’s.  About two hours before sunset, people flock to Mallory Square for what is known as the “Sunset Celebration”.

Beginning in the late afternoon, kiosks, stands and performers start setting up their goods to hawk for the locals and tourists that come by the hundreds and sometimes even thousands to see the fun interesting people here.  If a cruise ship is in town at the dock, it can be very crowded, so we try and stay away if a ship is in and go when it’s a little less chaotic.

Though it’s the sunset that’s supposed to be the reason people come to Mallory Square, it’s the entertainment that has made it so popular.  Where else can you see a man with trained house cats, jugglers, magicians and musicians all for free (well, they do accept tips).  If you want to know your future, sit down and have your palm read or visit at psychic.  There are clowns and banjo players, knife throwers and Cleo the tightrope walking Golden Retriever.  Many of these performers have made Key West their home and have been around for years, becoming staples of the Sunset Celebration entertainment.

So if you’re in Key West before sunset, head over to Mallory Square and get in on the fun!