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Follow The Roaming Gnome as he Heats up Winter in Miami

The best way to recover from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving vacation, is to take another vacation; preferably somewhere with palm trees and white sand beaches.  And this week the Roaming Gnome is doing just that. He’s flying down to Miami to soak up some sun, check out 2013 Art Basel Miami Beach and get into as much mischief as he can manage in five short days. Miamiandbeaches.com has helped him put together one killer to-do list for his trip. Here’s a taste of what’s on his agenda:

1. Art Basel Miami Beach

Painting by Jonas Gerard at Jonas Gerard Fine Art
Painting by Jonas Gerard at Jonas Gerard Fine Art

Now in it’s 13th year, the Art Basel Miami Beach art show is taking over the city from December 5 through 8. The show hosts more than 250 of the world’s leading galleries, so the Roaming Gnome will have the chance to peruse collections from up-and-coming artists and proven masters. And it wouldn’t be an art show without a few parties, so he’ll be hitting the South Beach scene (and hopefully not making too much of an exhibition of himself in the process).

2. Miami’s Hotel Hot Spots

Hotels are a destination in and of themselves in Miami, and the Roaming Gnome will be checking in to several South Beach hot spots like the Delano, the Shore Club and The Mondrian South Beach to check out their pool bars, pamper himself with their spa treatments and cool down with a few cocktails in their cabanas.

3. Little Havana

He’s only in town for a few days, but the Roaming Gnome is hoping to absorb as much of the sights, tastes, and sounds of Miami’s Cuban culture as possible. He’ll watch how they make cigars in shops on Calle Ocho, learn how to play dominoes in Maximo Gomez Park, and perhaps do a little prep for a night on the town with a few (dozen) cups of Cuban coffee.

4. Miami’s Best Restaurants

Miami Food and Wine

With the help of Miami native and fearless food-blogger Jackie Gutierrez-Jones, the Roaming Gnome will be eating his way through Miami’s best restaurants. Whether it’s chic upscale cuisine in Miami Beach, farm-to-table flavors with an indie flair in the Design District, or just a casual bite in an open-air café in Coconut Grove, no morsel will be spared.

5. Miami’s Great Outdoors

You simply can’t go to Miami without sunning your bum on the beach, and the Roaming Gnome will be doing just that. But he’ll also be exploring more unexpected methods of getting his wintertime dose of Vitamin D, like air boating through the everglades, feeding alligators, or perhaps taking a slightly tamer—yet no less invigorating—stroll through the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.

To keep up with the Roaming Gnome’s Miami adventure, or give him advice on where to go while he’s in town, follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare.

The Side of Ireland You’ve Always Dreamed Of

One of my favorite parts of studying abroad when I was in college was being able to buy a cheap ticket and hop on a flight to various parts of Europe. One of the first places on my list to go to was Ireland. Of course, one of the most popular destinations within Ireland is the capital, Dublin. And yes, I did go to U2′s stomping grounds and drink the mandatory pint of Guinness, but I also wanted to see the green pastures, the side of Ireland everyone dreams of.

5 Things to Do in London that Don’t Involve Wedding Cake

With the world gearing up for Friday’s Royal Wedding, “London” is the name on everyone’s lips. But even if you don’t dream of wedding cakes and yards of tulle, you can still find plenty to do in England’s worldly capital.

1. Take time out for afternoon tea.
Today’s Londoners don’t usually have time for leisurely tea breaks–they’re more likely to settle for a quick cup between emails–but that hasn’t stopped the tradition of afternoon tea from thriving. Stop in to one of the city’s many tea houses for “cream tea”, a small meal consisting of fresh-brewed tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam. Or, if you prefer something savory, opt for cucumber sandwiches and smoked salmon with your cuppa.

Easter Markets in Central Europe: Egg-Ceptional Europe Vacation Deals

This Sunday marks my least favorite day of the year: Daylight Saving Time. Losing a precious hour of shut-eye is painful, but springing forward does mark the dawn of spring–and to me, spring means one thing: travel season!

eggs

(Source)

eggsAnd what better way to kick off the return of long, sunny days than a trip to Central Europe to see the colorful Easter markets? While most Americans have heard of the Christmas markets, the Easter markets are less widely known. However, they are an egg-ceptional way to experience the local culture. Here are the top cities to visit and even our best Central Europe vacation deals.

The Return of the Native: A Vacation in Books

There are a thousand ways to approach a place. Some travelers pore through guidebooks as if studying for a test. Others dive in blind, equipped with nothing but a toothbrush. Some arrive ready to settle in. Others arrive ready to leave. And still others never arrive at all. They return.

For me, return is a desert word. It invokes the sere, scrub-strewn wasteland of the western Mojave where I grew up. The yip of coyotes in midnight congress. The lip-splitting heat of the Santa Ana winds. Return is the union of a thousand frozen frames of memory, each linked to that single returned-to place, and each uniquely warped by distance. Because you can’t return if you’ve never left. Right?

G.K. Chesterson once said: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”