Sandra’s top travel tips — planning and packing

by Sandra Hutchinson

I’m constantly getting notified of posts on blogs and on Pinterest that list writers’ travel tips and hacks. They tend to be repetitive, in my opinion, so I’ve decided to share my own.

Apps and websites for booking airline tickets and planning your trip (these are just a few of my favorites):

Seat guru: check this site — seatguru.com —before you purchase your airline tickets — enter the flight number and airline, and you can find detailed seat maps of your particular aircraft. What looks like a great seat on the chart when you book online through your booking site, may in fact be less than optimal. It may be lacking a window, for example, be next to a bathroom, or not recline for some reason. On the seat guru site, hover your cursor over a particular seat, and a description pops up telling you whether there are any issues. Just make sure you have the correct seat map for your particular aircraft. This image is a portion of a seat map for a large aircraft.

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Virginia Historic Garden Week runs April 27 through May 4

by Sandra Hutchinson

One of my favorite events anywhere, Virginia Historic Garden Week, the oldest house and garden tour in the United States, takes place this year from April 27 through May 4, throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Multiple private homes and gardens are open to visitors, with the purchase of tickets. The 31 tours are organized and hosted by 47 member clubs of the Garden Club of Virginia. Click here to access a PDF of this year’s tour book.

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In and around San Miguel de Allende, Mexico — highlights!

by Sandra Hutchinson

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The symbol of San Miguel de Allende — La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the church in the center of the historic district.

I was fortunate to spend a week in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, in Guanajuato, Mexico, during February, 2019. My best friend from childhood, along with members of her family (from the United States), reside for part of the winter in San Miguel. It is known as a cultural center for artists and writers, and many Americans and Canadians either live there for part of the year, or retire and relocate there (“ex-pats”).

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Nine days in Colombia: part 3 — Bogota

by Sandra Hutchinson

For the last three days of our family’s trip to Colombia in January, 2019, we headed to Bogota, the capital. At approximately 8600 feet, Bogota is the third highest altitude capital city in the world.

The plaza in front of La Catedral Primada, Bolivar Square, Bogota, Colombia.

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Nine days in Colombia: part 2— Medellin

Mural in the neighborhood Comuna 13, in Medellin, Colombia, sums up what has happened in this city since the decades of violence and civil war have largely ended.

By Sandra Hutchinson

After our family had spent several days in Cartagena, on the northern coast of Colombia, we flew with Avianca, the national airline of Colombia, to Medellin. It was an easy, less-than-an hour flight.

Known as the “city of eternal spring” because of its year-round temperate climate, this city of about 2 1/2 million people was also formerly known as the “murder capital of the world,” as the home of notorious drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar. But with Escobar’s death, and a peace accord between the guerrillas and the democratically-elected president,  Medellin has evolved, and it’s now considered a relatively safe place to visit.

I’ll mention the highlights of our two days in Medellin. Continue reading

Nine days in Colombia: first stop — Cartagena

by Sandra Hutchinson

When our family told friends and acquaintances that we had decided to travel over the New Year’s holiday to Colombia, most looked at us in wide-eyed disbelief. “Why on earth would you go there?” was the most frequent reply. A few even asked us if we meant Columbia, South Carolina, not South America.

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We whiled away some time at this cafe in Getsemani, a Cartagena neighborhood outside the walled colonial city.

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Food tour in Bogota’s La Candelaria neighborhood

by Sandra Hutchinson

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A popular souvenir from Colombia is a miniature house that incorporates symbols of the country. Even though many parts of the country are now safe to visit, this little house still sports a tiny rifle!

During the first week of January, 2019, my family spent several days in Bogota, Colombia, as part of a nine-day adventure in Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota. One of my sons had made the travel arrangements for us, and he had booked us into a walking/food tour in Bogota’s La Candelaria.

Typical street scene in La Candelaria.

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