After spending a year living in Italy working as a nanny, it was strange to return home. I had heard a lot about “reverse culture shock”, but to me it was a foreign concept that I couldn’t quite grasp. It took me less than one week of living back in the land of the free before I had a pretty full understanding of exactly what it meant. Walking around town, I had seen people I had not seen in months, people I had not seen in years, and people I was hoping I would not ever actually have to see again. I distinctly recall every single person asking me two questions, the first being “Did you learn any Italian?” to which I replied “Un poco” (meaning a little), and the second question was “What’s it like being back home?”
At that point, I did not know how to respond. I didn’t have any particular feelings. I clearly remember feeling a disconnect between my body and soul. I knew that my physical body was at home, but I felt my soul was drifting somewhere through time and space, somewhere I couldn’t quite locate in my head or on a map. I was having a difficult time processing the weight of what I had gone through in such a short period of time, within one week leaving behind the friends and family I had in Italy to reunite with friends and family back home. It didn’t feel real, it felt like the whole year hadn’t really happened to me, as if I was watching a television show about someone else’s life. I blinked and suddenly this huge chapter of my life was finished, and I had to pick up the pen and start writing a new one. My book currently has all of these chapters and all of these bits and disjointed pieces, but the genre is more of a work in progress.
I found that the easiest way to cope with the reverse culture shock that will inevitably come with returning home from any long trip abroad is to take things in strides. Try to fit in seeing as many people as you can, and make that that time actually matter. Try to have conversations that have meaning to them, because what’s the point of small talk? It’s a waste of time. I don’t know about you, but I want to spend my life having meaningful experiences with people who want to share these moments with me. Try not to dwell too much on the past, and to live for the present and the future. Try to make sure that at the end of your life, you can smile and say that you did all that you could to make it a good one. Try to make an impact on other people’s lives, to make sure that you influence others to be objectively good people and make objectively good decisions. Try to lead a good life that you can feel proud of.
The cool thing about writing the book of life (like with most writing) you have the option to get writers block and take a break from it if you don’t like the way that it’s going. Try out a lot of different paths to see which ones you find smoother and which ones have too many mosquitoes for your liking.
Think ski resorts are only for winter? Think again! During the summer months, many ski resorts continue to operate full-time, with summer outdoor activities taking the place of downhill skiing and tubing. Lodging rates tend to be lower at ski resorts during the summer, and activities are less expensive as well. Often, families can time their visit with local resort-hosted festivals and music concerts. (Keep in mind that not all dining and retail shops will be open during the ski off-season.)
The following three ski resorts are our favorite summer haunts for outdoor fun at lower costs (and no crowds!):
1. Northstar California, Lake Tahoe, CA: Tucked into the Sierras at the shore of Lake Tahoe, Nortstar is a summer playground. Stay at a vacation home or condo and use your short commute for more time golfing, mountain biking, and kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding on the lake. Northstar’s gravity-based downhill mountain biking utilizes the resort’s ski slopes and lift system for an adrenaline-filled activity. Bikes and protective gear can be rented on-site! In the evenings, enjoy a meal at Rubicon Pizza then catch the Tahoe Star Tours experience on-mountain for expert-led star gazing.
2. The Canyons, Park City Utah: An easy commute from Salt Lake City, The Canyons is located just outside Park City, Utah. Known for its farm-to-table cuisine (namely at The Farm, located on site) and outdoorsy atmosphere, The Canyons in summer boast thrilling zip-line courses and easy family hikes, while Park City offers shopping and nightlife that doesn’t slow down for summer. Stay at your pick of the luxury resort properties lining the base of the ski resort for convenience to outdoor activities, or opt for a vacation home mid-way up the slopes for a sense of seclusion.
3. Mt. Bachelor, Bend Oregon: Bend is well-known for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and cave spelunking, due it its volcanic landscape. Families will want to stay at Sunriver Resort, about 20 minutes from the ski resort, and make the drive past the slopes to the Cascade Lakes for kayaking and fishing (not to mention bird watching). Kids will love the Paulina Plunge, a thrilling guided downhill bike ride complete with dunks under waterfalls. In the evenings, enjoy twilight golf at Sunriver or fine dining and art galleries in Bend. Nearby Sisters, Oregon offers up a cowboy vibe with a rodeo and small-town hospitality with an artsy feel.
Maids of honor, take note: bachelorette getaways are the new bachelorette party. Take your bestie bride-to-be and the gaggle of girls on a weekend trip to bond before the big day. Choose a classic Bridesmaids type vacation to a party town like Las Vegas or a sunny beach. Even better, opt for a lesser-known wine country with the great outdoors nearby.
Every state has its own “girlcation” hot spots. In Colorado the place for bachelorettes is Palisade, the wine region on the western slope. Here are a few tips for planning a perfect weekend with the girls:
1) Find a vacation rental
Hotels are the obvious option for getaway lodging. But for groups of four or more, check out your favorite vacation rental site like Vacationroost.com to book or an entire vacation home. Split enough ways, this can actually save money over a hotel (not to mention extra benefits like more space and the use of a kitchen). In small-town Palisade, there are a handful of properties in the quaint main street area. Anywhere in town, you’ll be in walking distance from the local nightlife scene at Peach Street Distillers and Palisade Brewery.
2) Scout out a hike
Nothing boosts moods like upping your heart rate outside in the sun. On the way to rural Palisade from Colorado’s populous Front Range is the classic Hanging Lake trail. It’s about a mile of incline through a canyon to a stunning waterfall and turquoise lagoon at the top. Rated “easy”, this is a hike that almost anyone can manage. When you reach the top, let the photo shoot begin. It’s not too early to pull out the faux veil and “bachelorette” sash for props.
3) Do a wine tasting
This is a bachelorette celebration, so don’t be caught without a beverage in hand. The classiest way to day-drink is in small sips of wine while visiting wineries, vineyards and orchards. Palisade has set itself up for wine touring with its official Fruit and Wine Byway. It’s like a treasure hunt – you follow a map from spot to spot, where free wine samples and handcrafted goodies await. Just remember to pace yourselves and drink plenty of water too.
4) Rent cruiser bicycles
For a whimsical ride (and to ease the logistics of moving from one winery to the next) rent cruiser bicycles for the day. Test out the bike bell while you cruise down the road to the next stop on the map. The photos turn out awesome. Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade has a special deal for bachelorettes called the Wine Wench tour. It includes cruiser rentals for a self-guided tour in the morning, and a guided float down the Colorado float on a raft stocked with cocktails in the afternoon. Just ask for Rondo.
5) Indulge at a natural hot springs spa
After an active weekend, reward yourselves with some soaking and pampering at a spa. On the drive back to the Front Range from Palisade, you’ll pass through Glenwood Springs, a natural geothermal hot spot. Here you’ll find Yampah Spa & Salon, home of Glenwood’s vapor caves and private mineral pools. Of course, there’s also a full menu of traditional spa treatments like facials and massage. By the time you walk out, each bachelorette will feel like a whole new woman.
When you rent a vacation home in Europe — usually called a villa or apartment — you take an additional step into the culture of your destination. Traveling abroad is full of exotic sights, smells, sounds and everyday differences that tell you that you are away from home. Renting a home in a foreign country provides not only a home base where you can gather with family and friends to recount the adventures of the day, but also an invitation to live as the locals do.
There is something about walking to the local village food stores to gather the ingredients for a fresh meal that makes you think that this is how things have been done here for several hundred years. A stop at the fish store, the cheese store, the butcher, and of course the bakery! (Everyone in France seems to be walking around with a 2–3 foot baguette sticking out of their hand bag.) What a culinary delight to prepare a meal from fresh local ingredients procured from these specialists.
When in Spain — how about closing the big wooden shutters outside the windows to prepare a cool and dark environment for an afternoon siesta! Or standing on the balcony to watch the activity on the beach or village as if you lived there. I even got a kick out of hanging the laundry from the clotheslines to dry in the wind.
A vacation overseas is a wonderful opportunity to explore different cultures and different ways of life. Make the most of it by renting a vacation home abroad. VacationRoost offers over 35,000 European homes, villas, apartments and chalets all available to make your vacation a perfect one. Call one of our destination experts at 1-888-33ROOST, or visit www.vacationroost.com.
I awoke this morning to the beautiful bubbling of the San Miguel River. The river laps against the shore just feet away from my window at the Telluride Mountain Side Inn. My legs are a bit sore from yesterday’s hike up Bear Creek Falls, but I’m still very excited to explore Coronet Falls this afternoon. After the hike I will journey to Emilio’s Mexican Restaruant to enjoy the best margaritas in town! The complimentary wireless internet and coffee here at the Mountain Side Inn have made my working vacation seemless and easy. The location of the hotel has allowed me a short walk to every activity in town. Whether it be enjoying a festival at Town Park or just enjoying the scenery of the river from the town trail my lodgings have provided easy access to everything. Telluride is a beautiful place that I look forward to seeing every year, and with blue sky’s, peaking rivers and a green landscape this year has been one of the best!
Cam Nash, Destination Expert
When most travelers think of Park City, Utah, the image of snowy slopes comes to mind. While Park City is considered a winter destination for good reason, don’t discount the region for summer recreation. In fact, Park City is just as much fun for families in the sunshine. The following three activities top our list of things to do with kids while visiting Park City in summer:
1. Tour the Utah Olympic Park: The Utah Olympic Park offers a full museum of Olympic artifacts and photos from the Salt Lake City games, but that’s not what draws families: head outside to view the impressive ski jumps and take a tour to see the bobsled start hut. Look down and imagine flying down the course, or better yet, try it out. Those 16 and older can ride behind a professional driver on the only full-length bobsled track in the U.S. This invigorating ride isn’t for everyone, but will be memorable! Kids can ride the gondola or try the high ropes course on-site.
2. Live the cowboy life at Blue Sky Adventures: This working ranch just outside of Park City offers horseback rides, overnight stays, and hiking to suit any family. We enjoyed touring their barn and watching their wranglers at work as much as we loved our ride through the Wasatch Mountains.
3. Go mountain biking or zip-lining at The Canyons: Our favorite Park City ski resort is just as fun for families to visit in summer! The Canyons offers gravity-based (lift-served) mountain biking in their bike park, with rentals available in the village. If mountain biking sounds a bit intense, try the Canyons’ zip-line. Kids and parents get the thrill of three lines, all from the mid-mountain lodge area, so no need to worry about strenuous hiking or long commutes to the action.
Plan for a least a week’s worth of outdoor fun in Park City in summer! Stay at a local resort or in a vacation home through a week-long vacation rental to save on lodging, and dine in Park City’s beautiful downtown for farm-to-table, local fare.
Gorgeous mountains? Check. Great local food? Check. Slopeside condominiums? Check. Sugarbush Resort has all of these things, making it perfect for a family ski vacation. But in the summer months those mountains turn from white to glorious verdant green, the Mad River thaws from an icy stream to the perfect place for a dip, and the farmers’ market and ice cream stands open up. Sugarbush makes a dream destination for a relaxing family summer vacation. So just what is there to do with kids at Sugarbush in the summer?
Play disc golf. You may not be able to ski down the mountain in July, but you can still explore some of the Sugarbush trails, disc in hand, on one of two courses. Or, if that’s not your thing, try the zipline, trampoline, bike terrain park, or just take a relaxing lift ride to enjoy the views at the top. Sugarbush also offers week-long day camps for kids.
Go for a hike or a walk. Got little kids? The Common Road in Waitsfield is the perfect place for a stroll. Not only are spectacular mountain views, but if you start on the north end you’ll quickly pass a farm with sheep, chickens, and cows. If your kids are up for a more strenuous mountain hike, try driving to the top of the Lincoln Gap in Warren and climbing up to Sunset Rock – it’s just steep and long enough for kids to feel like they’ve accomplished something and on clear days you can see all the way to the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain in the distance.
Eat a maple creemee. The soft serve in Vermont comes in more flavors than just chocolate and vanilla. Everyone has their own personal favorite creemee stand; in Waitsfield, check out Maynard’s Snack Bar on Route 100B. Not only are the maple creemees to die for, you can get a delicious burger or lobster roll. Another treat that’s available in season is a fresh raspberry sundae.
Take a dip in the river. Snaking through the valley with its crazy twists and turns that earned its name, the Mad River offers numerous places for a refreshing swim on a hot day. A popular spot for families is Lareau’s swimming hole on Route 100 South. There’s a small beach as well as a huge glacial rock that makes a great spot to lie in the sun or jump off.
Meet a farmer. The Waitsfield Farmer’s Market is one of the biggest in the state. Check out produce, flowers, meat, cheese, breads and honey from a number of local producers. There’s always live music and plenty of samples. The market takes place every Saturday morning from mid-May to mid-October
Get artistic. Every summer, the Vermont Festival of the Arts offers numerous opportunities for both looking at and creating art. This year the entire month of August will be dedicated to exhibits, demonstrations, concerts, performances, and even cooking demonstrations and a food festival. Past activities for children have included a fairy house workshop where kids use found materials to make homes for magical visitors.