The Berkshires Is The Weekend Trip You MUST Take This Summer

If you live in the northeastern United States, you can probably rattle off the region’s most popular summer weekend spots: There’s the Jersey Shore, Dewey Beach, the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Nantucket.
Besides being some of the most charming places on the planet, the above locations have another, fairly dreadful, summer vacation trait: crowds. Lots and lots of crowds. 

Some east coasters head to the Catskill mountains or the Poconos to get away, but you might just find yourself at a resort with, you guessed it ― more crowds. 
So where can you go to enjoy a quintessential East Coast summer without everyone else? The Berkshires. Situated in western Massachusetts, the towns of Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lee, Lenox, Pittsfield and more are just waiting for you to bring a book, grab a picnic blanket and simply take a break. Here’s why you need to visit.  

1. There’s barely any cell service. 
Despite what you’ve seen on some reality shows, the Berkshires is a calm, relaxing place. It’s no surprise that having zero cell service can make it somewhat easier to disconnect for the weekend, which allows you to be more mindful of where you are. Research has shown that unplugging from devices for a period of time can reduce stress and improve sleep. 
And since the Berkshires boasts some of the best scenery in the northeast and isn’t overrun with tourists, it’s the perfect place for low-stress living and restful nights. If you’re relying on your GPS to get around, you might want to pick up a physical map of the area to use instead.

2. The drive there is gorgeous. 
Whether you’re coming from New York City or Boston, skip the highway and take a scenic route: picture rolling green hills dotted with barns, cows, horses and hay barrels.

3. The apple cider doughnuts at Hilltop Orchards are heavenly.
In fact, you could go on an entire doughnut tour of the Berkshires and be a very happy camper. The area’s various farms set up stands and stores alongside the road, which makes it super easy to stop by. Grab a donut and a bottle of Berkshire’s local hard cider, Johnny Mash, and be on your way. Be sure to check out the area’s farmer’s markets, too. 

Apple cider doughnuts – a harvest tradition over here. I don't usually like doughnuts but I loved eating these warm, while strolling through the apple orchards. Oh and for all you Brits they don't mean the boozy cider unfortunately #newengland #appleciderdonuts #hilltoporchards #donuts A photo posted by anitapixlondon (@anitapixlondon) on Oct 18, 2015 at 3:49am PDT

4. You can enjoy nature any way you want!
A small 2012 study showed that spending time in nature device-free boosted scores on a creativity test. In the Berkshires you can ski in the winter ― hike, bike, walk, camp and swim in the summer. Stroll along the budding beauties at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, or cool off at Bash Bish Falls State Park where the area’s highest single-drop waterfall resides. You can also hike, swim and camp in Beartown State Forest. And if frolicking in nature is not your thing, you can take scenic drives instead.

5. A night at Tanglewood is summer at its finest.
As Boston Symphony Orchestra’s official summer home, Tanglewood hosts multiple concerts throughout the summer months. James Taylor typically plays over Fourth of July weekend, and other popular artist concerts are sprinkled throughout the season. On most other nights, you can grab a picnic blanket, sandwiches and a bottle of wine while taking in the incredible talents of Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.

6. There’s so much history.
Stay at The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, one of New England’s oldest and longest-operating inns. Visit the studio of Norman Rockwell, one of America’s greatest artists, and spend some time strolling through the museum housing his most famous work, including all the covers he illustrated for The Saturday Evening Post. Then head on over to The Mount, the summer estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton. On Saturday evenings, there’s live jazz on the main home’s patio. Pack a picnic and sit in the gardens.

7. Picnicking is the area’s unofficial official pastime. 
Pick up fresh produce and local wines and beers at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Great Barrington, then stop by Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers for some cheese and crackers. Grab a blanket, and you’re good to go.

 
Picnics, live music and stunning scenery? How could you say no? Happy travels! — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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The Romantic Past And Promising Future Of Lisbon, Portugal

Romantic Lisbon

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains and a rainbow on the wall
Blue, red, green, and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon

Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
And we’ll talk in present tenses

-Joni Mitchell, Chelsea Morning

I wasn’t in Chelsea when I awoke this morning but Lisbon.

My brain’s so foggy with jet-lag, though, that, when I opened my eyes, I wasn’t sure at first where I was.

On the wall across the room from where I lay, I saw a rainbow of light sneaking in from the crack between the big wooden window shutters, and Joni Mitchell’s song came to mind.

I stood up, remembered I was in Portugal, and pulled open the shutters to let the bright morning Lisbon sunshine fill the room.

Fortunately, without realizing it, we’ve booked ourselves into a hotel that’s just a half-block down the street from Joao’s office, a prime location in Lisbon.

We’re in the heart of Lisbon’s business and banking district, in a building that dates back 300 years at least. Other buildings up and down this tree-lined street are older. I’m at home here. I’m most comfortable in cities and structures with long pasts.

Lisbon’s past is long indeed. This city on the Tagus, one of the oldest in Western Europe, was originally settled as a Phoenician trading post. It was in the 15th and 16th centuries, though, that Lisbon flourished. Awe-inspiring landmarks were constructed during this Golden Age of Discovery — the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém, for example, and, on the waterfront, the Praca do Comercio.

Stepping through the triumphal arch onto this immense plaza, Lief and I paused without meaning to. The enormity of the space and the height and grandeur of the structures on three sides around you almost take your breath away when you face them for the first time.

“Imagine what it must have been like to be here, standing on this spot, 500 years ago,” Lief said, looking slowly up, then down the waterfront before us.

“Imagine the activity … the trade … the money …” he trailed off.

From that spot, 500 years ago, Lisbon carried its culture to the four corners of the globe, colonizing Asia, South America, Africa, and the Atlantic islands, and then it carried back from these far-flung territories great wealth, much of which was invested in the betterment of what became one of the most glorious cities of its age.

Lisbon became Lisbon thanks to its strategic geographic position at the mouth of the Tagus River. According to a popular fado, Lisbon has always been in love with her river … because the river is the city’s lifeline to the sea… and Portugal very much identifies herself with the sea.

“We have a word in Portuguese,” a new friend here, Miguel, told me today, “that doesn’t exist in any other language as far as I know.

“The word is saudade. It means a longing for, a missing or a yearning for something. It’s a noun, not a verb, and its meaning is born from the feeling of a young wife for her husband sailor long at sea.”

“Yes, and this is connected to another important word for us,” my attorney friend Joao interjected. “Saudade is connected to fado.

“Fado is our traditional music, but it is also our destiny. It is not good, it is not bad. It is simply the way it is… the way your life is because of the choices you have made.”

“Yes,” Miguel explained. “Saudade is the fado of the woman who has chosen to marry a sailor. It comes with the territory.

“Most of the world looks at Portugal as the edge of Europe,” Miguel continued. “We Portuguese look at the world map and see ourselves right at the center … at the heart.

“For us, the sea is part of our territory … a continuation of our domain … so, for us, Portugal is quite expansive …”

As I’m getting to know it better, I’m realizing that Portugal is a small country with a colorful history and a big romantic heart.

Lisbon, which I’m becoming acquainted with for the first time this trip, is a noble and elegant city whose centuries-old, pastel-colored stone structures are bordered by jacaranda trees and set off by formal gardens and parks with elaborate fountains. Roads, walkways, and pavements are laid with small cobblestones in contrasting colors to create elaborate patterns and sea scenes that are like works of art, almost mosaics.

From her early-morning rainbow on my bedroom wall to her winding patterned cobblestoned streets, Lisbon is getting under my skin. I feel an attachment starting.

Lisbon has a lot to offer the visitor but hasn’t historically been a major tourist destination compared with other European capitals. This appears to be changing. In 2015 Lisbon saw more than 3 million tourists.

With parks, gardens, museums, palaces, significant architectural landmarks, the river, the ocean, and all that history, Lisbon should be on everyone’s Grand Tour list. All those amenities also make this city a great option for living, which is why it is attracting more and more expats and retirees, not only from the U.K., whose pensioners have recognized the appeals for decades, but also from across Europe and increasingly from across the world, including China and, most recently, North America.

While I’ve been entranced by Lisbon’s romantic history, Lief has been focused on understanding the city’s present-day real estate market. Values are up 20 percent over the past year in certain districts … and they continue up.

“As a result,” Joao told us, “some sections of the city are over-priced in my opinion. These are the areas where everyone has been focused. There is only so much inventory, and now buyers are fighting over it. I say leave those areas alone for now.”

The opportunities for real estate investment in central Lisbon right now are many, varied, and compelling. This is a big area made up of many distinct neighborhoods.

The heart of downtown and a key tourist zone is the area inland from the Praça do Comércio. Just west of here is Chiado, a high-end neighborhood. Baixa is a commercial district with shop-lined streets.

Lief and I particularly enjoyed the area around Jardim do Principe Real, which we found charming, a place we could see ourselves spending time long-term.

Distinct neighborhoods, each with its own look, feel, and character, but all interesting as locations for investment, both short and long-term.

With so many areas of opportunity, your challenge as a property investor is narrowing your search zone. If you’re looking for a great value, focus on areas outside the “best” neighborhoods — though it is still possible to find a decent renovation project for a great-undervalued price, even in those top districts. I don’t think this will be true for too much longer. Real estate in Lisbon continues to build momentum.

“I know one section of the city, for example, on the river that has a great deal to offer but where values are still very low because so far no one has been paying any attention,” Joao asserts, “I’ll take you there tonight for drinks…”

Original feature: The Romantic Past And Promising Future Of Lisbon, Portugal

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A Wildlife Expert Made The Same Grave Mistake As Those Yellowstone Bison 'Rescuers'

Two months after well-meaning tourists were shamed for their misguided attempt to rescue a baby bison in Yellowstone National Park, a federal investigation shows that a government wildlife expert made the same mistake.
Both incidents ended in the death of a bison calf. Only one, however, drew national attention and ridicule.
In May, Yellowstone officials euthanized a baby bison after two international visitors showed up at a ranger station with the calf in the trunk of their SUV, saying they thought it was cold. Park officials said they were forced to put the calf to death after attempts to reunite it with its herd failed.
Morgan Warthin of the National Park Service later called on visitors to respect wildlife and park regulations. “Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival,” she said in a statement. 
As it turns out, mistaken attempts to help abandoned or sick wildlife are not above even the most informed of wildlife officials.

In May 2010, an unnamed Park Service supervisory natural resource specialist removed a sickly buffalo calf from Badlands National Park in South Dakota and brought it to his house, as detailed in an Interior Department report released this week. 
The calf reportedly died at the employee’s home. 
An investigation by the Office of Inspector General concluded that the calf’s removal was authorized by the park’s acting superintendent, but violated NPS policy as well as state and federal law. “The local police chief chose not to cite the supervisory natural resource specialist for the misdemeanor violation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined prosecution,” the report states.
Neither the park employee nor the superintendent is named in the report.
Christine Powell, an NPS spokeswoman, told The Washington Post in a statement Friday that the park is “reviewing the report” and appreciates the inspector general bringing the incident to light.
For their failed rescue attempt in Yellowstone, Shamash Kassam and his son received a hefty dose of what they felt was unfair criticism. Additionally, as part of his guilty plea for disturbing wildlife, Kassam was fined $235 and ordered to not “pick up any more bison.” He was also required to donate $500 to the park’s wildlife protection fund.

Yellowstone bison calf euthanized after father & son brought it in car, thinking it was cold https://t.co/JFZIIzF7fE pic.twitter.com/vNVQy5Yd30— CNN (@CNN) May 16, 2016

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At Europe's Rooftop, the Aiguille du Midi

The My Way Alpine Europe tour I’m leading continues to brave new heights. Here in France, the Aiguille du Midi caps a rock needle high above the alpine resort of Chamonix and just across from Mont Blanc. At 12,602 feet above sea level, the air is thin, people are giddy, and even though the sun’s out, it’s still bitter cold in July. This video clip takes you there. (And tomorrow’s clip takes us over the mountain by gondola into Italy.)

This is Day 63 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more on my travel blog. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Tour Member DJ Party Party

On the My Way Alpine Europe Tour I’m currently leading, my assistant, Trish Feaster, is sharing a few of her guiding tricks — like her (now famous among our guides) “Tour Member DJ Party Party.” During a particularly flat stretch of autobahn, volunteers from the group share their smartphones with their favorite tunes. Here, Dave — who’s the dad in a three-generation family of eight on our tour — plays the family favorite from Aladdin. (Daughter Anna clearly loves this tune.) Notice how comfy our tour buses are — 26 people sharing 54 seats; a high, smooth ride; a wonderful driver (Hilde); and great sound.

Trish also filmed and edited these clips. She’s blogging about our tour at her website, The Travelphile.

This is Day 62 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I lead tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Vienna, the Alps, the Low Countries, England, and beyond. Find more right here on my travel blog. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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4 Reasons To Visit Palma De Mallorca

Sunshine, sand, swimsuits, and salty tang in the air, Palma de Mallorca is a well-known spot for those looking for a good time. But beyond the famous nightlife and sunny days, what is there to do in Mallorca’s main city? Here are four reasons to make Palma de Mallorca a destination on your next holiday!

1. Travel Made Easy

The bustling Palma de Mallorca airport hosts flights from locations across Europe, making travel from mainland Europe quick and easy. If you are looking to escape the pensive, rainy hills of Germany or the stifling, rippling heat of major cities like Paris and Milan, Palma offers a sunny and carefree alternative.

2. Beautiful Beaches and Promenades

My favorite day on a recent trip to Mallorca was spent walking for miles and miles along the promenade past the centuries-old cathedral partially restored by Gaudí and into the outskirts of the city lining the Mediterranean. The deep sapphires and turquoises of the ocean blink and glint in the endless downpour of sunlight. Tourist and local alike stretch across the beach, soaking in the sun and relaxing in the sand, interspersed with bold umbrellas and boxlike restaurants offering ice creams and cool drinks. Walking the promenades proves a wonderful way to both study the architecture and the seaside of this unique Spanish island.

3. Vibrant Shopping District

Spanish style is world-renowned, and Mallorca does not fail to meet the standard. Venture down the main streets into boutiques or well-stocked Zara, Mango, H&M, Massimo Dutti, and many more. For perfect presents for loved ones back home or a treat for yourself, look at Mallorca’s famous pearls. These pearls are formed with an opal base and layered with a complex mixture to create a glossy and smooth surface in pale seashell pink, shining silver, creamy white, or glistening moody grey. The different classes and types of these man-made pearls offer everything from an affordable everyday piece to a luxurious splurge.

4. Booming Food Scene

When you picture Mallorca, what do you envision? Pristine sands, long horizons, steep undulations of blue dusky mountains and rolling hills? But beyond the natural beauty of this island, there is a blooming and booming food scene that makes Palma the perfect destination for foodies. For a delicious and hearty meal, check out Koa’s crisp and flavorful pizzas – the Flama featuring apricot compote, aubergine, and arugula was my favorite.

One of the best meals of my life – or rather two of the best, as we returned for a second meal on the last night of our trip – was eaten at Adrián Quetglas. Adrián, born in Argentina to Mallorcan parents, first made a name for himself in Moscow. Two years ago, he returned to Mallorca to found his namesake restaurant. Step into the warmly lit restaurant and be ushered to your table by one of the friendly staff members to enjoy a seven course meal of diversely mingling flavors and unparalleled richness of texture; to further perfect the meal, order the complementing wines for each course. If you are vegetarian or have unique dietary needs, email or call ahead and mention it in your message. Adrián prepares the exquisite courses and steps out into the dining room to ensure that his diners are enjoying their meals. His staff is kind and attentive – chatting away with diners in multiple languages as they juggle beautifully dressed dishes. Make this restaurant a part of your Mallorcan itinerary!

What are your favorite experiences in Palma de Mallorca?

Photos Courtesy of Author

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Cruising Through Time At The Bottom Of The World

The Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel look pretty much the same as they did when Ferdinand Magellan and Sir Charles Darwin sailed these waters hundreds of years ago. From the deck of the Stella Australis on the 3-day expedition cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina to Punta Arenas, Chile, I spent a lot of time gazing at snow-covered peaks, majestic glaciers, forested hills, and the cobalt waters with few signs of civilization aside from an occasional fishing boat.

Unlike many cruises, our days were filled with land-based activity. The first morning we rode in a Zodiac to windswept Cape Horn, once the bane of sailors navigating between the old and new worlds. We climbed a flight of stairs from the dock to a boardwalk at the top of the cliffs then walked for less than a mile to the highest point on the island. Back in the day Cape Horn was often referred to as “the end of the earth,” which is how I felt standing there looking out over the wild seas.

In the afternoon we trudged up a steep, muddy trail at Wulaia Bay for a breathtaking (in both a literal and figurative sense) view of islands, mountains and water. The somewhat strenuous hike on a steep trail through patches of snow was about 4-5 miles round trip with a 500 foot elevation gain. It was worth it. The only hint of civilization in the panorama spread out below us was our ship.

The highlight of the second day was an easy walk from a beach across the sound from the saw-toothed peaks of the Cordillera Darwin to a lagoon in front of the Aguila Glacier. We were close enough to make out the details of the deep blue fissures in the face of the glacier and hear the occasional tumbles of calving ice.

On our last day we visited Magdalena Island at sunrise to walk among thousands of Magellanic penguins. They ignored us as they trundled Charlie Chaplin-like from their hole-in-the-ground dens to the water and back. It was only about a two-mile hike from the dock up the hill to a lighthouse and back, but it was cold and windy, the most inclement day of our trip.

In general the weather was good, much better than I expected, ranging from somewhat windy and overcast to warm and sunny. I was prepared for much worse. In fact, my biggest problem was overdressing. The slightest exertion made me sweat and I waddled around with even less grace than the penguins. And the route through mostly protected waters is pretty calm. As far as I know, no one got seasick.

I also spent a night in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, before the cruise and in Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in Chile, at the end (the cruise also runs in the other direction, from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia). Ushuaia, sandwiched between mountains and water, is ruggedly beautiful and features the fascinating End of the World Museum and an historical prison. Punta Arenas was a bustling seaport on the shipping route between Europe and the east coast of the US and Asia and the west coast before the opening of the Panama Canal. Examples of classic European architecture dot the downtown and elaborate graves and mausoleums of the pioneers from the far corners of the earth who helped settle this remote outpost fill an old cemetery.

If we travel to vicariously experience other eras, as many think we do, then Patagonia, the Beagle Channel, and the Strait of Magellan evoke a magical time when exploration and commerce opened up the new world. The remote, wild landscape — that unexplored space on old maps marked, “here be dragons,” — has changed very little since then. The fact that it is stunningly beautiful is a bonus.

On this cruise it was easy to put myself back in time — without the scurvy, cramped quarters and questionable companions. For anyone interested in adventure, history, and scenic beauty and who wants to experience it in comfort, I can’t think of a better way to do it.

(for more information and photos see Don’s website and blog.) — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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I Left My Heart (And Phone/Wallet/Camera) In Barcelona

I’ve been going to Barcelona for more than 10 years, and every time I go the city gets more appealing. Public spaces look better, the beaches are cleaner, and the subways and public transportation keep getting more efficient. Not to mention that the collapse of the euro/U.S. dollar exchange rate has made for bargain dining and shopping.

There are more and more people coming to the same conclusion, and the city now can chalk up almost 15% of its local GDP to tourism. New flights from Asia and the Middle East, along with an expanding global middle class with more disposable income (and even Woody Allen), have put Barcelona squarely in the sights of millions of new visitors.

Some things don’t change, of course. The incredible weather, the perfect food, the parade of beautiful people and, sadly, the petty theft.

Now that I’ve become a source of recommendations and itinerary planning for the Catalan capital, I’ve become ever more aware that the city has developed a deserved and depressing reputation for opportunistic theft.

My sense of dread is made even more acute by the fact that I don’t even think about petty theft at home. In the not-so-small city where I live, for instance, the New York Police Department doesn’t even maintain statistics on pickpocketing, with the department saying officially “it’s hardly a problem anymore”.

But in Barcelona, it’s a real problem. This week alone, a coworker who otherwise was having a spectacular time in town, had her phone stolen right off the outdoor cafe table where she was sitting, while she was looking. There’s a certain irony that the city holding the world’s most important mobile phone event isn’t a super safe place to carry one around openly.

The week before, when I was in town myself, I walked into a store in the Raval neighborhood where a local woman had just had her wallet taken out of her purse in the shop, while she was trying on shoes less than a foot away.

When confronted with the question, Catalans are quick to point out that their city, and Spain more generally, is one of the safest places in Europe. And it is a fact that violent crime in Barcelona and the rest of Spain is uncommon, certainly less common than in many of the places where tourists come from (North and South America, the Middle East, and other parts of Europe). This rings true in other parts of Southern Europe, and statistics bear this out in Italy, Greece and Portugal (that’s, of course, if they’re not underreporting).

I remember being in the subway in Milan several years ago when I saw two teenagers, maybe 15 or 16, going down the escalators into the station and sticking their hands into women’s purses, some attempts more successful than others. I yelled across for the women to be careful, and was heartened to see two police officers standing outside the station. When I dutifully alerted police (in Italian, no less) that there were teenagers stealing bags on the escalators, they shrugged and said “we didn’t see anything” and went on their way.

More than anything, this American has a hard time swallowing a local (and Southern European) attitude I sense sometimes that paints this type of crime, particularly pickpocketing, as victimless and not really hurting anyone. There is even a certain folklore and literature that idealizes the lovable con artist: “pícaro” in Spanish culture or the “malandro” in Portuguese culture.

Tougher to digest though is the reality of crime and punishment, and the legacy attitude from the government that, any non-violent offender that absconds with less than 400 EUR / $450 USD (regardless of the number of repeat offenses) is only worthy of a small fine, and no jail time. The law has been modified in recent years to allow jail time after three offenses, but thieves either flee the country before they’re prosecuted, or just develop their skills so they’re not caught in flagrante or doing something violent (which is the only feasible way to be prosecuted). As Spaniards wistfully say, “hecha la ley, hecha la trampa”, or “laws are made to be broken”.

Police often know exactly who offenders are, where they live, and the fact that they are foreigners not in the country legally. But they have little recourse despite their best efforts, mainly unaided by the law or not confident that the justice system will do anything about it.

Sometimes I can’t shake the feeling that the city, fighting a Sisyphean open battle against tourism and its perceived negative effects on the city’s quality of life, turns a blind eye to the problem. In a similar vein, the local government has basically let counterfeit goods salesmen proliferate on the street while longstanding businesses suffer, and has enabled squatters with serious legal rights to remain in empty properties (all while evicting tourist rentals).

Would I compare the possibility of being pickpocketed with the violent crime endemic in many American cities? Absolutely not, and Catalans should be proud of the safe society they have created for themselves.

Still, Spain’s judicial and policy attitude towards petty theft presents real problems. It diverts police attention away from much more important pursuits; it hurts the reputation of Barcelona as a place to visit for business or pleasure; and it gives it an air of lawlessness that is undeserving and unwarranted for a city with an otherwise fantastic quality of life.

Most importantly it creates a sense of insecurity for locals, which in turn drives the resentment for tourism, one of the factors that helped propel the current administration to power.

Maybe it’s good for politics, but it’s bad for everyone else. Except the pickpockets, of course.

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My 2,500-Mile Journey

It was decided.

I was going on a road trip, and my parents weren’t going to hear about it. My mother would’ve freaked out anyway. I could hear her now, “You have Crohn’s disease, so why are you trying to travel across the country?”

The answer was because I needed to, and also because I could. My job allowed me to work remotely, so I figured why not?

I had reached a crazy impasse in my life where things just weren’t working anymore. My friends could see it, too. After moving down to Orlando I got this sort of glaze over my eyeballs and I wasn’t getting excited about things like I used to.

I felt doomed to the post-grad purgatory of nine-to-five office jobs for the next 40 years. How in the world could I be excited about anything with that looming in the back of my mind? What makes it worse is that I couldn’t even land a nine to five office job–I actually worked at Panera Bread for a little while.

Then something happened.

It was six in the morning on my first day of working the breakfast shift. I was alone. The tickets got backed up, I made the food wrong, and it was an overall cluster cuss.

It wouldn’t have been too bad if my manager didn’t decide to curse me out in the back–on my first day working breakfast. My break came and it was then that I started to stare out the window, up at the sky, wishing I was anywhere but there.

Then the universe aligned. I thought about leaving, then I realized I could leave, and then I exited that Panera Bread without a regret in the world. I was scheduled for the next day and I didn’t let them know where I was. As far as I’m concerned that’s what they get for yelling at a kid on his first day at a new position. They managed.

Looking back at it now, that’s where the road trip started. That decision was crucial for me to be able to do what I’m doing now. I’m writing this to you in Phoenix, AZ. Today I’ll be crossing over into California, the last state line on this incredible seven state, 2,500-mile journey I’ve taken.

If you want to travel for more than two weeks at a time, you’ll have to do the same thing I just wrote about. You’ll have to save up money and quit your job, or you’ll have to work at something on the side that allows you to be a digital nomad.

It was scary for me. My mother told me to keep at Panera Bread, but I just couldn’t anymore. Besides, I was allergic to wheat anyway.

The first person I called about doing a road trip out to San Francisco was my best friend who lived in San Francisco. We were roommates during an internship at Disney and we got extremely close. So close that the goodbye we shared was one of the hardest of my life. It was hard because I knew I wouldn’t get to see him much anymore.

But here was my chance to turn back time; he was all for it.

On the other hand, my Orlando friends didn’t want me to leave–but here’s the kicker, both of my parents were all for the trip. They asked me what cities I was going to and I told them New Orleans, Austin, LA, and San Francisco.

I didn’t do much planning, honestly. I just knew that these were the major cities along the way. I booked a combination of Hostels, Airbnb’s, Couchsurfing stays, and one-off crashes at the homes of my friends along the way.

It was an easier process than I thought. The hardest thing about it was saying goodbye to my friends in Orlando on my departure date.

That’s one thing I’ve learned: There’s always a goodbye that comes with an adventure. I thought the hardest goodbye of my life had already happened.

What surprised me as the miles rolled by was just how little time I had to do all that I wanted to. I saw everything I could, but to work while travelling while also trying to build a travel blog is difficult. The reason I’m writing this is because I finally have time to.

So, is it time for you to make your own jump?

My advice is to be courageous and recognize when you’re settling. I was clearly settling for Panera Bread and I didn’t want to recognize that for the longest time even though I always knew.

There is always a better life out there, all that it takes is the courage to jump for it.

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The Most Beautiful Lake Towns For Summer

Summertime is usually associated with ocean-front beaches, all-inclusive resorts, and laying on lounges by a pool with colorful cocktails. For many, this is an ideal way to spend a vacation which, however, overshadows an unconventional way to have fun and relax- in a lake town.

Click Here to see The Most Beautiful Lake Towns for Summer

Swimming in cool, clear blue waters can be more pleasant than dipping in the warm sea swamped with seaweed. Missing out on lake town holidays is equivalent to missing out on some of the best boating, sailing and paddling opportunities.

Lake towns are also less crowded and much cheaper than ocean retreats. Consider spending a week or two in a quintessential American lake town without breaking the bank and having even more fun because you can participate in adventurous activities such as hiking, zip lining, diving, and kayaking.

When it comes to outdoor recreation and even beachside relaxation, America’s lake towns have what you need. These charming locales – from Maine and Vermont to California and Alaska – boast some of the most stunningly scenic landscapes in the entire country.

Click Here to see the Original Story on The Active Times

– Hristina Byrnes The Active Times

More Content from The Active Times:
The Most Incredible Mountain Towns for Summer
The Most Incredible Mountain Towns for Summer
20 Surreal Places to See the Clearest, Bluest Water on Earth
Craziest Adventures to Check Off Before You Die
The Most Dangerous Camping Destinations

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— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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