Skimbaco Lifestyle | online magazine » SKIMBACO TRAVEL Skimbaco Lifestyle, online magazine inspiring you to live life to the fullest. Travel, home, food, fashion, family. Tue, 03 Nov 2015 21:37:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Ultimate Travel Guide with a Dog: 22 Tips for Traveling with a Dog Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:54:04 +0000 Traveling lifestyle AND owning a dog is possible!! If you want to travel, and have a dog, you really have two options: travel with a dog or leave the dog home. It is also possible…]]>
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Tips how to travel with a dog

Traveling lifestyle AND owning a dog is possible!!

If you want to travel, and have a dog, you really have two options: travel with a dog or leave the dog home. It is also possible to teach a dog to love traveling and be at ease in changing environments (read about our experience of traveling with a dog, and how our first dog traveled in more countries than many humans do, and how our nine month old puppy has already traveled thousands of miles and weeks of hotel nights.). However, traveling is not for all dogs, and some are happier when left at home. This post gives you tips for traveling with your dog, and what to consider way before you even start planning your first big trip with your dog!

On this post I give several simple tips how we have trained our dogs to love to travel, tips how to make it easier and what to consider before booking a trip with your dog. I didn’t dive deep into different kind of traveling, so whether you are flying with your dog, going on road trips or staying in hotels or at vacation rentals, you might want to look up more specific information as well. I am not “a dog expert”, only a dog-loving dog-mama with lots of experience on traveling with a dog in several countries in Europe and around the USA. Our first dog lived in several countries with us. It is always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian before traveling with your dog. There are also several great options for those who choose to leave their pet home from kennels to having a family member to take care of the dog or hiring a house/pet sitter to live in your home while traveling.

The Ultimate pet travel guide! 22 tips for traveling with a dog! Via travel experts at @skimbaco

Before you even travel with your dog.

1. Breed and size matters. Before you even get a dog, it is good to consider a few things. Are you aware of some breed restriction some airlines, hotels or even countries and regions can have? Some of these might not just apply to large breeds, but also to some smaller breeds (for example short-nosed dogs such as pugs). If you already have a dog, this is still important to check. Often the restrictions also apply to the size of the dog – or amount of the dogs, if you travel with multiple dogs. Traveling with one small dog can be very different than traveling with two Rottweilers.

Dog park in West Palm Beach, Florida

2. Start training when your dog is a puppy. They say it’s difficult to teach old dogs new tricks, and in our experience teaching older dogs to love traveling can be challenging (might have breed too: we could never travel with a beagle we had). I recommend starting to travel when your dog is a puppy so it will become normal to him, and he will learn to love it (hopefully).

3. Do a practice trip. Or two. Even if your dog isn’t a puppy anymore, and you want to take him for the first trip, you can try to train him. Start with practice trips like local day trips, trips to friend’s house for one night, shorter road trips or simply driving to a new dog park and eating out in a restaurant patio afterwards. All of this training is important for puppies anyways, but imperative if you want your dog to become a traveler. If you have an older dog, changes are you have already done a lot of “travel training” without even thinking about it.

Eating in restaurants with a dog...

4. Crate training is pretty important as well. It is important that your dog will love his crate, whether the crate it for home, for car rides or for flights. The crate should be his safe nest, where he feels comfortable and happy. We made a mistake with our first dog that we barely ever used the crate at home, but only when he flew, and while first about 6-8 flights when fine, he eventually started hating the crate and it became very difficult to even get him in when he was older.

5. Destination matters and start planning early. If you plan on traveling in your country, destination might not mean as much, but it might. It does depend on your dog’s breed, for example some providences in Canada have breed restrictions. Some counties, and cities in other countries can have local restrictions as well. Some countries can have very difficult animal importing rules, and also age restrictions (no dogs under one year old). If you plan of traveling out of the country, don’t just check the animal import laws to that country – but also back to your own. For traveling to USA, check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Inspection Service, Veterinary Services or 800-545-USDA (8732). If you have layovers, you plan on driving through countries/regions — don’t forget to check those either. You can find this information often from a consulate website.

6. Health check! Like said earlier, it is always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian before traveling with your dog. Some things to also consider: vaccinations must be up to date. There are certain vaccination requirements when you import a dog to certain countries, and sometimes they have requirements that have very specific time restrictions, for example rabies shot has been given more than five days, but less than 14 days.

7. Safety measures like name tag! Collar. Name tag with your phone number. Leash. All basics that you most likely have all squared away. But consider having your dog microchipped in case your dog gets lost. When the microchip is registered with your current contact information, including a cell phone number, you can be reached even on your travels if your dog gets lost.

How to find places where to stay?

Dogs in hotels....

8. Check out Bring Fido or get the app. Bring Fido is absolutely the greatest thing that has happened to traveling with dogs pretty much ever. The website and the app are an endless resource of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and activities in most popular travel destinations. We have only used this in the USA (in several states), and so far have been very happy as a resource. Also, one late evening we had hard time finding a hotel on our road trip, and my husband called Bring Fido and they were able to book us a hotel. We had already called several different hotel chains with no luck. The only bad thing about booking with Bring Fido (or most third party booking services) that we were not able to collect hotel points for the chain we stayed with.

9. Check out dog-friendly hotel chains. It might be easier to stick to certain hotel chains that you know will always allow dogs. The list of dog-friendly hotels nowadays is longer than you’d expect! For example in the USA there are several chains that allow dogs in most, or all of their locations. Notice that while there are several chains that offer free stays for pets, some have one time fee AND/or a daily fee per each pet. Also size restrictions apply in many, and the amount of pets you can bring.

We like the Hyatt Place hotels for reasonably priced stays with a dog, and often without a pet fee. Many other Hyatt hotels also offer dog-friendly stays. Several Marriott hotels with their brands like Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn typically allow dogs, also their Renaissance Hotels. Several Hilton brand hotels also allow dogs, like DoubleTree by Hilton and Home2 by Hilton. La Quinta Inns & Suites is a good budget hotel brand during road trips in the USA, for those times when you only need one night’s stay and want to continue driving the next day.

Kimpton hotels Directors of Pet Relations

Photo: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Alexandria

10. Luxury hotels actually like dogs too. You don’t have to be a budget travelers to travel with a dog. There are also several comfortable luxury or luxury hotels that allow dogs. In fact, they don’t just allow dogs, but treat them like royalty, like the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, where dogs have their own afternoon tea. Several of the following hotel chains allow dogs, but check individual locations and their pet fees and restrictions: Kimpton Hotels, Loews Hotels and Resorts, Ascend Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Kimpton Hotels goes as far that they have Directors of Pet Relations in several of their locations, working dogs who “eagerly greet guests in our lobbies, quality test our pet amenities, and lord over the nightly wine hours.” Oh, what a dog’s life!

11. Other hotel stay limitations. Note that some hotels don’t allow you leaving the dog in the room without supervision, but some (luxury) hotels offer pet sitting services, or their concierge can help you to find one locally, or to find you a day kennel for your dog if needed. If you plan on doing activities without your dog during your travels, take this in consideration already when booking your travel and where to stay.

What to bring?

12. Dog bed and/or crate. Crate is needed for flying, and it is also safest for your dog to travel inside a crate in a car. It is not always possible to bring a crate with you, but I highly recommend bringing your dog’s own bed.

13. Food & water. Pretty common sense, but it is also good to have a travel food and water bowls so you can easily feed your dog on the go. Extra water is also important, we typically carry a reusable water bottle that is easy to refill. Training snacks are also very important. You will run into many situations when you want to praise and reward your dog for good behavior and encourage him to continue it.

14. Medicine and pet care products. If your dog in on medication, remember to bring it! For natural pet care products I recommend Young Living’s products, they are great for your dog’s wellness at home and when traveling. They are especially good to take along traveling because of their small size.

15. Poop bags. Another self-evident for many, but if you live in a rural area where you don’t have to worry about pet waste, remember that picking up after your dog is a law in cities and many neighborhoods. Accidents can also happen when your dog is nervous about new situations. Pack plenty of poop bags.

16. Cleaning supplies. Related to the accidents… I always bring some basic cleaning supplies with me to deal with motion sickness in a car or other accidents. I usually bring a travel sized Thieves Spray and an empty spray bottle and Purification Essential Oil and other essential oils. The travel sized cleaning detergent is good for cleaning, but I like to spray non-toxic scent to eliminate the stink as well!

Purification essential oils helps eliminating dog smells! Great to bring for travels with a cheap water spray bottle. Just add 5-8 drops in the spray bottle of water and spray in your hotel room. Via @skimbaco @enjoylifeoils

17. Non-toxic air refresher. The air refreshers like Febreeze are full of chemicals that can be harmful for you and especially for your dog, and many hotels use similar products in their rooms. You can easily ask the room service not to spray them in your room while you are staying there. I always carry my own air refresher with me in a form of essential oils and an empty spray bottle. 5-8 drops of essential oil like Purification in the entire spray bottle of water, and it’s good for spraying the car, or dog bed, or even hotel room to eliminate the bad smells. If you stay in a small hotel room with a dog and a family the spray bottle + essential oils is a MUST!

18. Toys! Bring toys for entertainment, they might be needed in social situations like when you are trying to eat dinner, or if you leave him alone in the hotel room.

Random tips!

Lavender Essential Oil works calming dogs.

19. Lavender to calm nerves. Dog training expert Cesar Millan does not recommend medicating the dog for travels to calm nerves, but “for a little extra calm, try rubbing a little Lavender essential oil between your hands and give your pet a little aromatherapy or deep tissue massage at the beginning of your dog‚Äôs spine or base of her head.” We have been using the Young Living’s Lavender essential oil for our dog with good results!

20. Give your dog enough exercise. Whether you are traveling by plane or car, make sure your dog gets enough exercise before the trip and during the trip (if possible). When your dog has gotten enough exercise before a flight, he will be more likely to be calm and rest the trip. Also, remember to schedule enough stops on your road trips to exercise your dog.

21. Go easy on food. Our dogs have never eaten much during travel days, and that’s actually good because it helps to avoid motion sickness. We also have made a mistake buying different kind of new snacks or food during our travels and it is better to stick to foods your dog is already used to, and notice: you can even order them to wait for you in the destination. Don’t even think of asking my husband what happens when you feed some restaurant food scarps to a puppy on a road trip… (go back to tips #15 and #16).

22. Think ice… This might be an odd tip, but ice can be very useful in many travel situations with a dog. I always freeze a big chunk of ice before flights, so our dog will have water supply that lasts most of the flight, even if water in bowl might tip over at some point. When we dine in outdoor patios, we also fill our dog’s bowl with ice. He likes crunching the ice and it is more interesting than water and keeps him occupied. Sometimes I also freeze dog biscuits and carrots inside an ice chunk for long term licking and chewing fun. Put these “DIY ice chunks” inside a ziplock bag and inside your cooler bag to stay cool and also as useful ice to keep everything else cold. These are great on road trips. Well, not in the car — but on the breaks!

Life isn't about where you travel. It's who you travel with.

These are just a few tips I have learned while traveling around Europe and the USA with our dogs.
What else? Add your own traveling tip with a dog in the comments!

Post by Katja Presnal

“My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own “skimbaco,” how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter that I send out sometimes on Fridays.” Katja Presnal, editor-in-chief and the owner of Skimbaco Lifestyle.

Let’s connect!

Visit Skimbaco Lifestyle (’s profile on Pinterest.


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Dogs and Travel Lifestyle: Here is how we make it work. Mon, 02 Nov 2015 18:27:01 +0000 Can a dog be part of your traveling lifestyle? So, you like to travel, and you like dogs, but how to mix these two? I am not going to lie, it is not always easy,…]]>
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Dogs and Travel Lifestyle: Is it possible to make it work?

Can a dog be part of your traveling lifestyle?

So, you like to travel, and you like dogs, but how to mix these two? I am not going to lie, it is not always easy, it can be costly and sometimes just plain old pain in the butt. But with a few adjustments, and ability to be flexible, you can totally still keep your adventurous traveling lifestyle and have a dog too.

And like you needed another reason to have a dog… watch this video.

Short answer: yes, dogs can travel too!

Stay tuned for my post with common sense tips how to train your dog to love traveling, but the short answer is: yes, traveling lifestyle with a dog is possible. And with “traveling lifestyle” I mean traveling more than once a year is possible, and in fact, the less you plan on traveling, the more difficult it can be to travel with your dog! It is all about making traveling as a normal part of your lifestyle, and then it isn’t really a big deal. Not to you, or your dog. If we have been able to do this with kids and pit bull mixes… so can you! Here is our story.

The ultimate travel guide with a dog: 22 expert tips!

Read my 22 tips for traveling with a dog.

Dog and three babies. No problem.

Our first dog, Frank, was a mutt. Our friend made up a special breed, Alabama Red Nose Hound, for him and we used to tell people that’s his very rare breed, because to us he was rare, such a goofy loving dog. In reality, he was a “terrier mix,” that’s all his papers said when we adopted him from the Humane Society, and yes, maybe he was some kind of pit bull mix, he had many of the pit bull characteristics. Frank was our first baby.

Dog on a boat in Finland

Frank traveled everywhere with us. He was only a few months old on his first trip, and he ended up living in three countries and five different states in the USA, and visiting much more. A few times family members watched him while we traveled, and a handful of trips he stayed in a kennel, but most of the time he came with us. We never really thought much of it – he was a family member, so of course he came everywhere with us, and we’d make adjustments accordingly.

When we had Frank, our three children were also born. They were born in 2000, 2001 and 2003, and all of them were born in different countries. Now looking back, I don’t know what we were thinking; having three kids in three years while traveling and moving around, AND a dog too! But somehow, we managed all of those moves from country to another, fitting the strollers and the dog in the cars, boats and planes, and finding big enough vans to take us to the airport with all that stuff. It was all logistics, and arm muscle too to be able to carry and move our circus around. Leaving Frank behind was never an option. Some of it has changed, but some of traveling with the dog has remained the same.

We lost our Frank in 2008, but he for sure, was one traveling dog.

Dogs and Travel Lifestyle: Is it possible to make it work?

Running into some problems after adopting a pit bull mix.

When we moved back to USA from Sweden, we knew we were ready for another dog. We adopted Hugo from a local shelter earlier this year. This time, he does look more like a “pit bull terrier,” even though his papers say the same “terrier mix.” I admit, we didn’t really do any kind of research about traveling with a dog that could be labeled as a pit bull. We never really had any problems traveling with Frank.

Pit bull mix puppy

Imagine my shock when I am trying to book flights from New York to Florida and try to take the dog with us, and I find out several airlines, including Delta, don’t allow pit bulls at all. Jet Blue doesn’t allow any larger dogs, and United only allows pit bulls in a IATA approved special crate that is made out of steel or wood (sample here), and that type of crates cost over $500 instead of around $80 what the plastic crates we are used to using cost. Imagine even a bigger shock, when we realized that there are countries where we can not now move or travel to because our dog looks like a pit bull. Yes, there are places where any pit bull-looking dog is illegal.

We ended up not flying from New York to Florida, but driving instead. It added several days to our trip, but it ended up being a fun trip, with several stops, and I doubt we would have had as much fun flying. Was it a huge change in our travel plans because we had a dog? Yes, absolutely. Could we have left the dog in a kennel for two weeks? Yes, absolutely. But to us having a dog means that we try to do everything we can to incorporate our pet in our lifestyle, and make the changes needed to accommodate that. It was inconvenient sometimes to travel with babies too — but we didn’t leave our babies home!

When we were in the process of adopting a dog, some people recommended getting an older dog, so we could “stay put for a while” and then continue traveling after he was gone. What a horrible thought. Both to plan on a short life together with a pet, and not traveling for a few years! We also thought of a smaller breed – more convenient for traveling. I did think about getting one of those cute carrier bags, and carrying a dog with me for trips, but then I remembered, we really like bigger dogs. And we really like what the actual breed description of American Pit Bull Terrier says. These are some of the best dogs with the kids, loving, pretty easy to train and over all fun loving dogs. In fact, pit bulls were used to called the nanny dog, because they are so loving and good with the kids. And adopting a rescue dog was just something we all felt the most comfortable doing.

When we found Hugo from a local shelter as a six weeks old puppy, we knew he was for us. We wanted to have a puppy so we could train him to get used to our lifestyle. Adjusting to new places and traveling can be much more difficult for older dogs who are not used to it, so starting to train a dog since it’s a puppy is in my opinion the smartest thing to do.

Hugo is now nine months old, and he has stayed in a kennel three times during our trips, and loves going there. He has also done four long road trips with us, and has sat in the car for good couple hundred hours, and has slept around twenty nights in hotels.

The truth about traveling with a pit bull.

Does traveling with a dog work out? Dangers of traveling with a dog: they might not want to go back home!

Of course we had read about the horror stories of attacking pit bulls, even though we did not recognize this dog type to be the same as what our personal experience or many of our friends experiences on pit bulls were. While Hugo isn’t a pure breed pit bull, he has some pit bull characteristics. Frankly, I was a little worried about traveling with him. And not that I am afraid what he would do, but how people would react to him. Is there really a culture of pit bull haters out there? How would they treat our dog?

The truth is that traveling with a pit bull is much easier than I thought of, and in fact, on our road trip from New York to Florida we realized that it is a very loved dog breed.

In several places we were stopped with questions

Is that a pit bull? Can I pet him? Pit bulls are the best dogs!”

In fact, I think his pit bullness gave him status and extra love from several people we’ve met in our travels. All of this made me even more sure that we had made a great choice picking a dog that fits our family, regardless of all of the “horror stories” that mislead people thinking what all pit bulls are.


Hugo is only nine months old, but for his age we were surprised how easy it was to travel with him. Of course, there were instances were we was overly excited seeing other dogs, and we couldn’t sit in a restaurant patio with him a few times, and had to take him out for a walk. But the fact we were able to eat out in restaurants with a pit bull puppy is remarkable, and surely gives us hope that the more Hugo gets used to interacting with people, other dogs and traveling, the better he will behave. During all of our trips, we saw no aggression in him whatsoever, and even though he was a little afraid of the elevators at first, and quite don’t get the concept why you can’t get off the elevator when everyone else is, but he got used to even riding an elevator while we stayed in Hyatt Place in West Palm Beach.

"They see me Rollin' … They hatin'……"ūüėé

A photo posted by Hugo (@hugopress) on

We had really only two instances where Hugo scared people. Once in an elevator, I think this poor old lady was praying for her life the entire time she was standing in the elevator with us and our dog. She never said anything, but her relief after she got downstairs alive (and Hugo was behaving well the entire time) was extremely visible.

While in Florida, I also met our lovely team member Brooke, and we were sitting in the lobby restaurant talking. My husband walked in the hotel lobby with Hugo, and once Hugo saw me, he immediately had this big dog smile (read: mouth open!!! Teeth showing!!!), wagging tail, and he started happily pulling towards me. There was another older lady sitting nearby, and she absolutely insisted that Hugo was coming towards her to attack her. I don’t think Hugo even saw this lady, he was so happy to see me, but the lady immediately made a complaint about the dog in the lobby to the hotel management. There was nothing aggressive in Hugo’s behavior, and he didn’t do anything wrong, but it was a good reminder to us that there are people who see our beloved pet in completely different eyes, and we have to remember that.

One of the pure joys in life is letting your dog to show you the world.

Post by Katja Presnal

“My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own “skimbaco,” how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter that I send out sometimes on Fridays.” Katja Presnal, editor-in-chief and the owner of Skimbaco Lifestyle.

Let’s connect!

Visit Skimbaco Lifestyle (’s profile on Pinterest.


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The Comfiest Travel Shoes Giveaway (from Earth Brands shoes) Sat, 24 Oct 2015 03:51:40 +0000 Travel shoes that look and feel good I admit, my days of packing a suitcase full of shoes for each trip are over. Shoes take so much space in the luggage, and I’ve come to…]]>
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Travel shoes that look and feel good

I admit, my days of packing a suitcase full of shoes for each trip are over. Shoes take so much space in the luggage, and I’ve come to love a few multi-tasking tyles of shoes and I tend to stick with them. One of my favorite travel shoe brands is Earth Brands, and I also just recently recommended them for a pregnant friend for their comfort. When I still worked often in New York City, their high heels were also a savior for their walking comfort.

Finding cute shoes is easier, but finding shoes that you can walk all day long with is not as easy. Earth Brands have several different brands and they all have one thing in common: comfort – and cute looks too! I never pack sneakers for trips unless it is a fitness trip, but I pack shoes that I can climb a mountain or go to a dinner party if needed. As a travel blogger I get invited to press trips that often can include nature walk, fitness activity, wine tasting, fancy dinner party and museum visit – all in one day. Sometimes I feel silly climbing mountains in other shoes than sneakers, but I sure am happy I am not wearing sneakers once we hit the fancy vineyards and wine tasting on the afternoon, especially in Europe.

Earth Brands story began over 40 years ago when a young Danish yoga instructor developed a shoe that was among the first with a true whole-body wellness experience ‚Äď footwear with a slight sole incline that re-positioned the wearer‚Äôs body more naturally over their frame. Earth Brands’ newest line of stylish and comfortable shoes known simply as Earth¬ģ and it compliments their original wellness shoes brand Kalso Earth¬ģ Shoes and Earthies¬ģ, the fashion and comfort shoe collection. Earth¬ģ styles include dress shoes for work, casual shoes for after work, and just about everything in between. I personally prefer their shoes for traveling, and the Earthies-brand high heels are my favorite because I can actually walk with them the entire day in a conference or even sightseeing if I want to.

Fun fall shoes!


Earth Brands sent me a fun red Clover boots, and both of my daughters immediately wanted to have them. Now with two teenager daughters whom both share the same size of shoe with me, shoe shopping has become much more fun (read: we buy more because more users!) but also more frustrating (read: we all have to share).



Earth Brands Fall Favorites

Here are a couple of Earth Brands fall favorite models. Stay tuned for my pick by following me on Instagram, where I will post pictures of the shoes I got later next week! Leave a comment with your favorite style and enter to win a pair. Remember to use the Rafflecopter entry widget to enter the giveaway.

Modern in every way, with motorcycle influenced styling inspired by the latest runway shows, but made
perfectly right for everyday.

earth shoes boots

The bootie that stands out from the pack with beautiful pleated leather details and wrap around straps
featuring laser cut details.

earth shoes booties

The classic mary jane gets a modern lift with curving leather layers and petite metallic studs
that bring style to new heights.

earth shoes travel shoes

The essential update to the timeless mary jane with rich burnishing, laser cut strap details and a petite metal accent for an extra dash of style.

travel shoes slip on

What about you? Which style do you like best? Enter below for your chance to win (U.S. residents only) a pair of Earth Brand shoes. Note: winner is asked to submit two possible shoe models they’d like to have and the prize is subject to availability. Giveaway ends 10/31/2015 12 AM.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Best of Windy City and our Stay at Chicago’s New Hyatt Centric Hotel Wed, 14 Oct 2015 17:18:28 +0000 Exploring Chicago with Hyatt Centric Our stay with Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago was absolutely fabulous. We explored and we rested, we ate and we drank, we learned and we laughed. If you have never…]]>
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Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric

Exploring Chicago with Hyatt Centric

Our stay with Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago was absolutely fabulous. We explored and we rested, we ate and we drank, we learned and we laughed. If you have never visited Chicago, exploring the city with Hyatt Centric is a great way to do it… in fact, if you’ve been to Chicago in the past, this is a particularly great way to do it for a change of pace! Here’s a recap of our wonderful weekend in the Windy City of Chicago!

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric

Our infatuation with the hotel begins in the lobby – This space speaks to my heart and soul… From the moment we spin¬†through the revolving door we’re surrounded by what is clearly an¬†appreciation of authentic art as we lay our eyes on the¬†incredibly evocative Francine Turk pieces that hang casually behind the reception desk and seating area. They fit in, but they certainly don’t blend in – They¬†beg us to ask what the colors, the moods, the symbols and the words represent…¬†

Exploring Chicago
Even more welcoming¬†than those remarkable paintings, is the energy exuded from the friendly staff! Hyatt Centric staff are more than just neighborly smiles though¬†– each member of the team is well versed in all things Chicago!¬†From the doorman to the GM, they’re all in the know – and any one will take the time to stop and chat, always ready to give you a great recommendation on a local gem.

Dragging ourselves from the chic comfort of the lobby, we swipe our key card, take a peek at our weekend digs, ooh and ahh over the¬†simple-but-cozy decor, and drop our luggage…

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
…before recalling the plaque we noticed in the lift that indicated AIRE¬†(the rooftop bar, boasting artisan cocktails and locally sourced small bite appetizers) was waiting just a short ride away! So, we head up to catch the¬†sunset – champagne in one hand and a fistful of truffle fries in the other…
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
After experiencing the chic rooftop space and taking in the panoramic city views, we head back to our room… We’ve barely kicked off our boots,¬†flopped onto the¬†crisp white, fluffy bed and gobbled up a little Garrett gourmet popcorn¬†when…
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Our minds start to wander back to that decadent smell we encountered when approaching the hotel entrance. We soon find ourselves answering the call of the French-food Siren that is Cochon Volant bakery, brasserie, & bar!

The wine selection is great, the filet is perfect, the escargot is buttery and indulgent… but, if you want something simply delectable? Something surprisingly unforgettable? Do not miss the croque madame eggrolls. Just trust me. I ate 10 (give or take).

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric

After an evening full of great food and drinks, we’re finally off to bed. We end the night¬†by laying our heads on the charming¬†monogrammed pillows Hyatt Centric designed and has waiting atop the bed for us.¬†(We are particularly amused by this thoughtful¬†touch – thus the selfie!)

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
After sweet dreams and great rest, we start the day off right: fueling up on scrumptious room service (lox and bagels, indulgent farm fresh egg and sausage sandwiches, OJ and coffee) before hitting the town.
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric

We begin our adventure with a tour of Chicago’s public art – which is wonderfully abundant! A town that enforces a “percent for art ordinance” (a rule stipulating that 1.33% of the cost of constructing/renovating city buildings is to go toward adding original art to the location), is our kind of place!

From city icons like Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavillion (which holds over 10,000, most of the seating being free), and Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”), to temporary exhibits like Jaume Plensa’s 1004 Portraits, there is incredible¬†art around every corner, available to all!

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
We make a pass through Daley Plaza’s farmers market (right in the middle of the city – so charming!) to get a look at Chicago’s Picasso!

Based on the¬†model¬†designed for¬†the city by Pablo Picasso in the 1960’s, “The Picasso” is¬†a¬†50ft steel sculpture¬†and a great example of the artist’s penchant¬†for Cubism… Wilhelm believes it looks like a fox, while our guide’s opinion is that it’s meant to be the form of a woman! The¬†piece is untitled, so I suppose we’ll never know.

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Maureen, our public art guide from Chicago Greeter (pictured below) is a little British bundle of energy and a complete genius when it comes to the art and history of her beloved Chicago!

As we hustle to keep up and stay tuned in, so as not to miss even one of her anecdotes about the pieces we’re viewing, she never breaks stride, always moving and always spouting little known facts and interesting details about what she deems Chicago’s great gem – their collection of over 700 pieces of public art. She speaks about each piece as a living, breathing being – she even gets a bit emotional explaining that Plensa’s “Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda,” (and the other three of her four “ladies”, as she affectionately calls them), will be leaving the city within the year.

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
A welcome stop for rest warmth and sustenance – we pop into Howells & Hood:¬†a Modern American restaurant in the Tribune Tower,¬†with the largest draft beer selection in Chicago and something for everyone on the menu! To our absolute delight, Francine Turk (creator of those amazing paintings in Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago’s lobby) joins us for lunch!

We’re in for tales¬†almost too good to be true.. At the request of the table, she tells us of her once in a lifetime moments working with¬†Bob Dylan (she called him “Bob” and I couldn’t help but think, “I know someone who calls one of the greatest artists of all time by his first name. No bid deal.”) and of the project currently in the works: a series of events showcasing art by Miles Davis,¬†alongside her one of a kind pieces, with additions from local artists in each city the exhibition travels to! It’s news to me that Davis was a painter, and I’m fascinated to see how the collaboration unfolds – I now¬†follow Francine¬†on Instagram, and eagerly await each sneak peek she shares!

We’re in awe of her work, her life, her stories and (hanging on every compelling word she speaks) we chat so long we nearly miss our next adventure: Chicago’s River Cruise Architecture Tour!

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
We’re ushered onto the boat as the deck hands undo the ropes that keep it ashore, and soon we’re whisked off, down the Chicago River! Now the reality of the Windy City’s name is oh-so-apparent, and we’re glad we’ve bundled up for the crisp fall weather! Our guide is enthusiastic and bright, she’s forgotten more about architectural styles that we’ve ever known!
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Modern, Post-Modern, Art Deco, Neo-Gothic ….. – we get a sample of it all along the shores of the river. Our favorite fun fact from the tour: The the Carbide & Carbon Building (now home to the Hard Rock Hotel) was designed to look like a skyline-sized champagne bottle!

The views are stunning, the information interesting, and the ride absolutely relaxing and fun! The boat even has a beautiful indoor salon with great windows for catching the views and two full service bars.

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
After our river cruise we wander about the city as the sun begins to dip in the sky. We are now feeling much more “in-the-know” about Chicago, thanks to our new education on the art and architecture that surrounds us!
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
It’s getting downright chilly as the evening approaches and we’re dragging a bit from our day of exploring – the caffeinated scent of Intelligentsia Coffee beckons us to warm up with a cup of joe (or a phenomenal chai latte, in my case)!
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
After fun conversation and some warm beverages, we head back to the hotel where we’re surprised with an entirely different sort of drink…

Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago offers a cool package, called the Like a Local“.¬†Included is¬†four craft beers from¬†Revolution Brewery along with two souvenir pint glasses to take home! The package also comes with two 24 hour Divvy passes – which means we can snag bicycles from any of the bike-share stations around the city and enjoy them for the day!

Afternoon brews and bike rides, if this is what it feels like to be a local in Chicago – you can count us in!

Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Before heading out for supper we head to¬†“The Corner” – it’s a communal space, perfect for hanging out, working in peace, or grabbing a beverage. If we were here for a few more days I’d catch up on some writing and photo editing beside a view of¬†the sparkling¬†city!
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
It’s not a complete visit to Chicago without indulging in some deep dish pizza. So, for our final meal here, we¬†stuff ourselves at the iconic Lou Malnati’s!
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
If we had just one more day, we would top our visit off with another round of breakfast in bed whilst overlooking the city, then take advantage of our 24 hour¬†Divvy passes for a tour around the Windy City by bicycle, before grabbing a nightcap at¬†Andy’s Jazz Club!
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
We’ll save those adventures (and surely a few more) for next time we make a weekend of it with Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago – two days simply wasn’t enough for a great find like this!
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric
Explore Chicago Hyatt Centric

Post by Brooke and Wilhelm Genn

Sailing Charleston Nomadic Newlyweds

We are storytellers & photographers, owners of Nomadic Newlyweds РLovers of love, travel and art! We’ve been searching for and creating adventure since the moment we met РThis thirst for life plays a key role not only in our relationship but in our business. While, between the two of us, we’ve once been involved in everything from economics and psychology, to design and culinary arts, our passion for living full lives through creatively sharing the world with others is what truly drives us. Telling a story that inspires you to embrace each moment is our ultimate goal.

Let’s connect!

Visit Nomadic Newlyweds’s profile on Pinterest.

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Vinegard Valise – Wine-lover’s Perfect Luggage Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:44:08 +0000 The Cellars, Veuve Clicquot Wine & travels For me, good wine has always been associated with my travels. From Italian reds in Milan, to sparkling champagne in France, I enjoy experiencing good wine firsthand at…]]>
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veuve cellars

The Cellars, Veuve Clicquot

Wine & travels

For me, good wine has always been associated with my travels. From Italian reds in Milan, to sparkling champagne in France, I enjoy experiencing good wine firsthand at the source. Often, vineyards offer unbeatable deals when it comes to purchasing a bottle of your favorite wine onsite, however, the problem becomes how to haul your findings safely home.

I experienced a Paris Day Trip that was like no other: touring the champagne region in Reims, France, and visiting the Veuve Clicquot vineyards. At the end of my visit, I could not help but purchase of few bottles of one of my favorite champagnes…there is something special about purchasing it right at the source! When the time came to pack my bag and head to Charles de Gaulle, I was not so pleased with my purchases as the weighed down my suitcase, taking up the majority of the space.


PORTMANTOS, an online travel boutique offering white glove service, has launched a new product that will become your best friend for travels ranging from Napa Valley to Bordeaux and South Africa, the Vinegarde Valise. The Vinegard Valise will make transporting that precious Cabernet Sauvignon a lot easier and safer with its padded inserts that cradle the bottles. With room for up to 12 bottles, you are sure to be able to bring your favorites home with you to enjoy even when the trip has come to an end. The silhouette is modern and stylish, and can hold both wine and clothing and accessories simultaneously. The suitcase offers flexibility as when you are not planning on bring home wine from your travels, the inserts can be fully removed and utilized as a normal suitcase for clothes and accessories. This is the travel product that wine lovers cannot live without!


I enjoyed my experience with PORTMANTOS prior to a trip to the South of France, and, now, they are making the process of getting all your travel essentials even easier with the launch of the Baggage REclaim Program. Now through New Year’s Eve, anyone who has lost their luggage purchased at PORTMANTOS during their travels will receive an identical replacement bag compliments of PORTMANTOS.

How what do you say…how does a trip to Burgundy, France sound?

Burgundy wine

Post by Wes Holland

Monsieur Curations - Men's Lifestyle at Skimbaco Lifestyle, feature by Wes Holland

“I dream of being a business leader in the fashion world. Whether that be creating and running my own luxury retail consulting firm, or heading a department for a renowned fashion house, I want to mix the intellectually stimulating side of business with the creativity that the fashion world offers. Make sure to subscribe to Skimbaco Fashion weekly feed.” Wes Holland of Life Through Preppy Glasses.

Let’s connect!

Follow Skimbaco Lifestyle’s board Monsieur Curations for MEN on Pinterest.

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6 Must Follow Traveling Moms on Instagram Thu, 01 Oct 2015 17:27:26 +0000 I’ve started featuring more family pictures My love for Instagram truly developed four years ago when we moved to Sweden and I wanted to share every bit of it with my friends. Now I can…]]>
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Follow @skimbaco on Instagram

I’ve started featuring more family pictures

My love for Instagram truly developed four years ago when we moved to Sweden and I wanted to share every bit of it with my friends. Now I can not stand where we live, and truthfully just feel like a failure for ever even moving to this place. It’s been me, not you.

I haven’t been traveling this year as much as before, and frankly I could tell you several other lame excuses why I haven’t done much with Instagram, but the truth is that I really just didn’t even want to think about Instagram for a while. I decided that I will at least start posting more pictures on my personal account KatjaPresnal, to share pictures of our family life and even home.

I didn’t post as often for a while, but I have loved following the adventures from our community. The people I have gotten to know on Instagram, and the people who loyally have been using #IGtravelThursday and #skimbaco hashtags – even when I haven’t. Connecting with others is really the main reason why I love Instagram, but like in any relationship, when you feel bad about yourself, it is difficult to connect. I have just gotten back to my normal Instagram routine on my Skimbaco account, and am planning on getting more active again. This big news significantly affects this decision: we are moving to one of the most scenic and beautiful places I have ever visited. Stay tuned for the big announcement, but now… follow some of these Instagram friends.

Must follow traveling moms on Instagram, featured by @skimbaco

I wanted to highlight some of my traveling friends, who are also moms. These amazing women all show that world travels doesn’t have to stop when you have kids, but in fact they all embrace the global lifestyle, and educate their children about the world.


Follow @Gia_matkakuume on Instagram

Gia_matkakuume, Gia, is a Finnish travel blogger on an around the world trip with her husband and young daughter. I admit, I don’t know Gia as well as I would like to, but damn, she has so much fun with her family, that I want to travel with them!


Follow @marocmama on Instagram

MarocMama, Amanda, owns the Marrakech food tours, and she also blogs about her family’s travel around Africa, Europe and more. Amanda is an American living in Morocco, and I love how much I have been able to learn about Moroccan culture from her.


Follow @dipaolamomma on Instagram

Dipaolamomma, Lara, gives awesome chicken nuggets of wisdom, literally, that is her blog’s name! Our family met the entire DiPaola family just recently on a trip to Universal Studios, and we immediately felt like we had known each others for a long time. Well, in theory we have – online! Meeting Lara this summer finally in person was one of my highlights of the Orlando trip!


Follow WildJunket on Instagram

Wildjunket, Nellie, was traveling around the world, doing amazing adventures in the most scenic places on exotic locations, and then she had her first baby last year…. and nothing changed. Nellie is the newest mom on my list, but her baby has already been traveling that much that she is one of my favorite traveling moms right now, and a great role model for those who are right now thinking about having a baby, and how it might affect travels.


Follow on Instagram

Viaggideirospi, Alessandra, is an Italian family travel blogger, who takes her family on adventures near and far. I love that she even visited my home country Finland this summer! Her stunning images of outdoor adventures in Italy also make me see Italy in a completely new way beyond historic sites and pasta!


Follow @activekidsclub on Instagram

ActiveKidsClub, Kari, is a Norwegian mom living in Canada, and she is a huge advocate for outdoor play for kids. Kari takes kids out to enjoy the nature around Toronto as much as she can, and takes kids back to Norway, and on epic trips cross the Europe on summers.

Join us!

Read more Instagram Travel posts from these new blog posts this month and add your own blog post. Linky closes on the last day of the month.

Link up, but read the rules first!


Instagram Travel Thursday

Join us every Thursday on Instagram by sharing your travel photos with #IGTravelThursday hashtag.
Follow @skimbaco and @IGtravelThursday and we will feature the best photos on Instagram and on our Facebook page.

Instagram Travel Thursday is a fun community project to connect travelers on Instagram, read more.

Bloggers! Join the Instagram Travel Thursday and Host the Linky!

Bloggers, join us! Get email sent to you when the Instagram Travel Thursday linky post is up (subscribe it here).


Also get my ebook Instagram as your Guide to the World – How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World FOR FREE when you subscribe to my newsletter.

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Add Iceland as One of Your Family’s Bucket List Destinations Wed, 09 Sep 2015 01:39:53 +0000 Iceland as a top family destination If you ask my son his favorite travel destination, Iceland comes up on the top of the list. I agree with my son, Iceland has special kind of magic.…]]>
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Iceland as a top family destination

If you ask my son his favorite travel destination, Iceland comes up on the top of the list. I agree with my son, Iceland has special kind of magic. Keith Bellows, the author of 100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life, also recommends Iceland as one of the best family travel destinations.

I recently found an excellent Iceland travel guide, and yet again was reminded: we have only scratched the surface when it comes to traveling to Iceland, and there are so many things I still would like to see and do in Iceland. I’ve written about Iceland multiple times, but it is worth repeating: add Iceland in your family’s travel bucket list.


Bucket List trip: Road trip across Iceland

We have rented a car in Iceland before, but since there was so much to see in the close range of Reykjavik, we unfortunately didn’t adventure far on our short trips (we blame jet lag, so longer trips are highly recommended!). What I really would like to do is an Iceland road trip, and luckily there are several self-guided tours making it very easy to do so. On our trips, we loved stopping by the lave fields and just to soak in the beauty and the serenity of it.


Iceland is known as the country of ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’. That is because it has both glaciers and volcanoes can be found all around the island. Iceland contains about 200 volcanoes, and more than 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers.


Bucket list: swim in the hot springs

Swimming in the hot springs is what got us hooked on traveling to Iceland. There is quite nothing like painfully cold weather (pain: snow and ice blowing from the Atlantic ocean feels like needles on your body), and then dipping in the hot water. If you are lucky, it will snow too, if you are luckier, you will see the Northern Lights.


The Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous spas in the world, and the most famous hot springs in Iceland. But of course, Blue Lagoon is only one of the hot springs (and one of the most expensive ones to visit). There are so many other hot springs on the island, and I that’s why I would love to do a road trip around Iceland to visit others as well.

natural pool waters of a geothermal spa, in the lava fields coupled with jaw-dropping views of the grand Lake Myvatn.

Picture: Guide to Iceland

Where to stay

I admit, I only have stayed in two hotels in Iceland, and I would recommend both of them.


Icelandair Hotels Reykjavik Marina is probably one of my all time favorite family-friendly hotels. Our room had a huge loft bed, which kids loved, and I really liked the nautical decor of the room.

Icelandair Hotels Reykjavik Marina

Despite being a family-friendly hotel, the hotel restaurant and lobby bar are popular hot spots for cocktails and dinner for locals and travelers alike. The Icelandair Reykjavik Marina Hotel is located right at the Reykjavik harbor making it very easy to walk to whale watching cruises, and to the other tour boats from the marina. It is an easy walk ways even with the kids from downtown area where you can find restaurants, shops and museums.


Blue Lagoon Clinic is right next to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, and the hotel price includes the day at the spa. Only bad thing about the Blue Lagoon Clinic hotel was that they only have rooms that accommodate max four people, and our family of five can not fit in one room. That’s why this is my hotel of choice only when I travel alone with the kids.

The rooms are modern with wooden floors and the highlight really is the large glass wall, providing a view of the lava fields. Imagine modern architecture surrounded by hundreds of years old lava field covered in moss, and a walking distance to the most famous hot springs of the world. Also private lagoon access, and breakfast buffet are included in the price.

Blue Lagoon spa

For my next visit, I would like to rent a house of an apartment instead and stay for longer. Hlidsnes Holiday Home looks like something our family would love.


Picture: Guide to Iceland

Getting to Iceland

For us, Iceland has been the perfect stopover place between North America and Europe, both while living in New York and when we lived in Sweden. We used to book Icelandair flights and stay a few days in Iceland to help with jet lag and relax by swimming at Blue Lagoon. The flights to Iceland from New York or Boston are only around 5-6 hours (less than flying to California!), and Iceland is around 3 hours away from most European cities making it the perfect weekend getaway destination for Europeans or a long weekend destination for those flying from East Coast USA, or as a stopover place on your cross-Atlantic flights.

We have always been very happy with the Icelandair economy class flights (read: they are cheap, so your expectations can’t be high to begin with and they have always surpassed our economy class expectations). However, we’ve flown in their Saga Class, the Icelandair business class, and the experiences have been everything but positive.

I think the next time we will try the WOWair, an even lower cost airline of Iceland. They fly from Washington D.C. and Boston to Iceland, and from many major European cities. They also fly from Reykjavik to Billund, Denmark, the birthplace of LEGO. If you have kids, this sounds like an amazing trip; combining Iceland with a trip to the original LEGOland, also my son’s favorite.


Follow Skimbaco Lifestyle’s board Iceland on Pinterest.

Dreaming of traveling to Iceland

This video makes me really want to book a trip to Iceland!Found from

Posted by Skimbaco Lifestyle on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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My Husband Asked if I Wanted to Go on a Road Trip.. and We Ended Up Reliving our Past Mon, 17 Aug 2015 17:26:33 +0000 When is the last time you felt like going on a little trip, and then just… left? We went for a vacation to Texas a few weeks ago. It was a mixed business trip with…]]>
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When is the last time you felt like going on a little trip, and then just... left?

When is the last time you felt like going on a little trip, and then just… left?

We went for a vacation to Texas a few weeks ago. It was a mixed business trip with a family visit, as Matt and I attended the Young Living convention, and then visited family. It was a great trip, but it didn’t feel any easier to wake up last Monday morning to go to work.

In fact, we both felt like we needed a vacation after the vacation!

Vacations don't always look like this.

The week back to work felt longer than ever, and Matt’s work days stretched late, but he surprised us on Friday by coming home earlier. I was still in a haze trying to get work done and hang out with the kids, and watch the puppy. Then this conversation happened.

Matt: Do you want to go for a road trip?

Me: Yes! When? Where?

Matt: Now. But I’m tired from this week, so max six hour drive.

Me: What about all of the food we bought for the weekend yesterday? Hm, I will just chop all of the veggies and we will take them with us. We will have picnics and veggies and hummus all weekend.

Matt: OK. We need a cooler bag.

And just like that, we decided to go on a road trip.

We packed, we made dinner, we chopped vegetables, and went to buy a cooler bag, and two hours later, we were on the road.

While Matt wanted to drive all the way to Atlantic coast to take us to the beach, I didn’t want to arrive back home again tired from the trip, so I suggested driving a few hours North, to Watertown, NY, where we used to live. Now when kids are older, we have been trying to take them to places that hold family memories. We have been moving around for 18 years, so “home” is a relative expression. Our memories and homes are scattered around the world, and we lived in Watertown in 2002-2005. We moved there from Schweinfurt, Germany, and we moved from there to Lakewood, Ohio.

All American Victoria house in upstate New York

Oh, the memory lane

Watertown is where we purchased our first house together, and where our son Kristian was born. It wasn’t the perfect town, but it was a safe town to raise kids, and I loved how close to Canada we were for weekend trips to Montreal and Ottawa. With the Lake Ontario, the 1000 Island area and the Adirondacks close by, we were surrounded by beauty.

Kids were young, all three under five while we lived there. The years before Watertown had been busy too. Isabella was born in Finland while Matt was deployed in Kosovo, and Gabriella was born in Germany, just six weeks before we moved back to United States. We also spent three months traveling in the US before moving to Watertown. Yes, we had been traveling a lot, and in many ways I thought our travel days were over, and it was our time to settle down, especially because I had just found out I was pregnant again, before we even got to Watertown.

I loved our Victorian house, and I saw our family there for a long time. Matt was always busy working as a helicopter test pilot, and I kept busy at home. I always forced him to help me with the multiple house-projects I had. My parents flew in from Finland, and my dad helped to rewire the electricity in the house, and built the white picket fence. There was an abandoned old church close to us, and I dreamed of buying it and turning it into a coffee shop. I know I had dreams just staying there, although I knew Matt’s career dreams were somewhere else. And life did have more adventures for us, and we left Watertown in fall 2005, and never returned until this weekend.

In many ways, it was better than we remembered.

Our house was still there, but so much of its character was gone. In a way it made me sad, but at the same time it was easy not to miss the beautiful home we once had, this house didn’t look nearly as cozy as when we lived in it. The old church was there too, and to my disappointment the roof was caving in, and nothing had been done to it in ten years, and now it was too late for the over hundred year old building to be saved.


Watertown had grown a lot, and in very odd way after ten years, and after seeing so many other run down New York towns, I was expecting Watertown to look more run down too. I thought maybe my vision of the beautiful streets (Paddock and Flower, where we lived) were altered in my memories, and maybe the rows of Victorian and Colonial houses were not as amazing as I remembered them to be. We drove around the town, and sighed, even Watertown is much more beautiful than the town where we live now.

I had felt the same way of Lakewood, Ohio, after visiting there this winter and summer. A small sting in my heart saying that maybe if we had just stayed in Watertown (or in Lakewood), our life would be somehow better right now, and maybe we could have prevented some of the hard things we have gone through. But what would our lives be without all of the adventures? We had lived life to the fullest, that’s for sure.

Today the Sackets Harbor Battlefield is interpreted to the public by exhibits, outdoor signs, guided and self-guided tours, and a restored 1850's Navy Yard and Commandant's House. During the summer months, guides dressed in military clothing of 1813 reenact the camp life of the common soldier.

We drove to Sackets Harbor, cute little town by Lake Ontario. Sacrets Harbor was the historic battlefield of the war 1812, and it and we headed for the Sackets Harbor Battlefield for a picnic. After letting Hugo, our dog, to run in the water, and walking around the park, we pulled out the veggies and hummus of the cooler bag and set up a picnic on the lawn. Afterwards, we took naps and read books and I just gazed the lake view. It was the best thing ever.

summer time picnic

We continued the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and stopped in towns like Clayton, and visited the Tibbitts Point Lighthouse in Cape Vincent.

Great Lakes Seaway Trail upstate New York

We told stories to kids about the time we lived in Watertown, and showed the places we had liked going. We had been out the entire day, and we were all getting tired, and we considering just calling it a night. We were just driving around and at sevenish on the evening we happened to drive by the Watertown Fairgrounds and saw people parking their cars for an event. We could tell that the parking lot was really filling up just by driving by, and then we saw the sign what was going on… A Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

Matt and I just looked at each others and we both got teary eyed. This extempore road trip was sending us a message bigger than we expected. See, on our third date, we went to Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. It was in Germany in 1997, and while we were not big fans, when an All-American band plays in Germany close to an American military base, there is no other option but go! Ironically we listened to Sweet Home Alabama in the concert then, and a year later we were living in Alabama, married.

What are the odds that we return to Watertown ten years later only to drive by the concert at the moment it is starting?

We knew we had to go to the concert, and just figure it out, with three kids and a dog and all.

We ended the night… with serendipitous Lynyrd Skynyrd concert tailgating

I had never been tailgating before.

We got a huge take-out pizza from our old favorite pizza place, and parked behind the fairgrounds to listen to the concert. Kids didn’t really like (or believe) our music taste, but for us it wasn’t just about rock’n’roll. It was about memories of the past 18 years.

We remembered how we knew on that day in 1997 that we wanted to be together forever. All what we knew back then that we were from the opposite sides of the world, but the only home we ever wanted again was with each others. Several countries, states and addresses later, we had returned to one of our “homes” only to remember what truly mattered to us: being together in this crazy world.

Tailgating at the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert

Some old photos…

I had to take pictures of some of our old photos from that time.

This is my father – handling baby sitting a year old Gaby and building a fence at the same time.

Ukki and Gaby

Mother’s Day 2003.


Summer 2003 in Sackets Harbor.


Matt and Me in summer 2004 in Sackets Harbor.


Post by Katja Presnal

“My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own “skimbaco,” how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter that I send out sometimes on Fridays.” Katja Presnal, editor-in-chief and the owner of Skimbaco Lifestyle.

Let’s connect!

Visit Skimbaco Lifestyle (’s profile on Pinterest.


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Taste the Goodness of the Moravian Cookie Trail in Winston-Salem, N.C. Tue, 11 Aug 2015 14:44:26 +0000 With more than a million pounds baked each year, Winston-Salem, N.C. is famous for its production of the world’s thinnest cookie. It’s called a Moravian cookie. Known for its simple, but rich flavor, the Moravian…]]>
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Moravian cookie one

With more than a million pounds baked each year, Winston-Salem, N.C. is famous for its production of the world’s thinnest cookie. It’s called a Moravian cookie. Known for its simple, but rich flavor, the Moravian cookie is a holiday staple in many households. Here, in North Carolina, we munch on this cookie year-round and trust me, ¬†it is delicious with tea. When you visit historic Old Salem, you will want to venture into Winkler Bakery, which is more than 200 years old.

Winkler Bakery in Winston-Salem, N.C. is more than 200 years. Its famous for producing Moravian baked goods.

The bakery, with bakers in period costume, features the original wood-fired dome oven that has baked bread, cakes, and confections since it was built in 1807. The Moravian sugar cake is traditionally served during Easter sunrise services in the Moravian faith, and it was being made during my visit to Winkler Bakery this summer. All the proceeds of baked goods bought at Winkler go to help preserve the Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

Moravian cakes.  These cakes are popular for Easter Sunrise Services in the Moravian faith.

To get a better understanding of what makes this little thin cookie so special to North Carolina, is to understand its history. In 1766, the Moravians, a devout, religious group from Eastern Europe, established a thriving community of Salem.

Old Salem in Winston-Salem is now a historic museum.

Their pioneer work as fine craftsmen and artisans of pottery, tannery, and furniture making, established the city as a sought after trade center. The Moravian cookie is one of Salem’s greatest accomplishments. The Moravians referred to these cookies as “cakes” and traditionally baked them for family and friends during the Christmas holidays. Today, there are a lot of varieties of Moravian cookies, but the original cookies combined the flavors of molasses, ginger, and aromatic cloves.

At  Winkler  Bakery in Old Salem, bakers  still bake in the original wood-fired dome oven.

These ingredients were chosen because they were readily available during this time period, and they could be stored for long periods of time. Salem was a very isolated part of North Carolina in the eighteenth century. It took people awhile to get here, and during the winter months, the area was just too hard to get to safely. On a Southern tour, President George Washington spent two nights in the town and we can only assume that he munched on this cookie in the tavern.

The Moravian cookie as we enjoy it today in the U.S. was born in Salem. The history of the cookie has been passed down from generation to generation. It’s thin for practical reasons. The thinner the dough, there would be more cookies to produce. Thinner cookies also bake more quickly allowing more time for other baking and daily chores.

Three food companies are now headquartered in Winston-Salem and specialize in Moravian baked goods. These businesses are part of the Moravian Cookie Trail. Dewey’s Bakery, Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies, and Winkler Bakery in Old Salem are where you can see the baking in action. Old Salem is a historic area near downtown Winston-Salem. Most buildings are ticketed admission, but Winkler Bakery is open to the public without a ticket, and you can buy a wide variety of Moravian baked goods here.

Salem Baking Company brings the Moravian cookie tradition on a national level. The company bakes and distributes more than a million pounds a year. They also are responsible for thinking “outside the box” and now Moravian cookies have found new life in the world of hors d’oeuvres. Pairings such as ginger and bleu cheese and lemon and mascarpone present a sweet and savory taste to a dinner party.

Original Moravian Cookie Recipe

(It’s recommended to cut the recipe in half)

3/4 cup butter and lard or shortening, mixed
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons ground ginger
1-pint black molasses
1 teaspoon salt
7 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon soda
4 tablespoons ground cloves
1/4 cup boiling water

To make cookies:
Cream butter and lard with sugar. Add molasses. Sift flour with spices and salt. Add soda to boiling water. Add flour mixture and soda water to creamed mixture.

Work well with the hands. Cover and store in a cold place overnight, preferably longer. Roll to infinite thinness on board.
Bake on greased cookie sheets at 375 degrees, for a very few minutes or just until they begin to brown.

Recipe from North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery (Published in 1955)

All the proceeds from the baked goods sold in Winkler Bakery go to Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

Plan your trip to Winston-Salem, N.C and taste the Moravian Cookie Trail. The city can also be credited for establishing Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and it is home to the beautiful Wake Forest University, The North Carolina School of the Arts, and Salem College, the first women’s college in the U.S. ¬†Winston-Salem is also the gateway to the NC Wine Region in Yadkin Valley.¬†We recommend dining on Moravian inspired cuisine at The Tavern in Old Salem. Reservations are suggested.

This story was made possible by a media visit. 

Post by Leigh Hines

Leigh Hines, hotel and family travel expert | Skimbaco Lifestyle

“I live like a tourist in my hometown and my dream is to travel the world one luxury hotel at the time. If you love traveling as much as I do, subscribe to Skimbaco Travel, and never miss any travel content from our site.” Leigh Hines of Hines Sight Blog

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Alabama: Top 5 Road Trip Highlights Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:00:41 +0000 We are always up for a new destination, especially when we can find a state-side road trip¬†with great views and award-winning food! If you are heading to Alabama for some Southern hospitality, you can use…]]>
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Alabama Adventures

We are always up for a new destination, especially when we can find a state-side road trip with great views and award-winning food! If you are heading to Alabama for some Southern hospitality, you can use our top 5 spots to plan your own Alabama adventure!

1. Food Festivals
Live music, phenomenal food (think gumbo and handmade ice cream) and free admission РAlabama food festivals are a no-brainer to add to the road trip list! If you’re planning to head out on your Alabama adventure soon, be sure to check out the upcoming events. We’re thinking Lobsterfest and the Peanut Boil Festival both sound like tasty ideas!
Food Festival Alabama
2. Saw’s BBQ
Smoked Chicken and White Barbecue Sauce РNeed we say more? This dreamy dish is served up at Saw’s BBQ, a humble spot in Birmingham, Alabama. If you’re a BBQ traditionalist, though, don’t fret Рthey’ve got something for everyone. Ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, stuffed taters Рyou name it, they’ve got it, and we want it all!

If all that wasn‚Äôt enough to put Saw‚Äôs on your Alabama road trip itinerary; Paula Deen just dished out her ‚Äú10 Best BBQ Places in America‚ÄĚ, and this soul-food-centric restaurant took the number 1 spot!

Alabama BBQ
3. Orange Beach
You had us at “sugar-white sand beaches”! This might be a spot where we each spend a day doing our own thing – the golfer heads to the course and the beach lover dips her toes into the sea while indulging in a good book and a dose of Vitamin D! Our ideal visit to Orange Beach? Well, after a day of relaxation, we would top it off with some of Alabama’s extraordinary¬†seafood and then head out for a sunset sail! (Chartering a boat is easy¬†–¬†Don’t worry, they come with a captain!)
Orange Beach Alabama
4. SpringHouse
We believe road trips can be luxurious and even deserve a white tablecloth restaurant from time to time! An impressive stone-clad building overlooking Lake Martin, with cozy fireplaces and a relaxing atmosphere, SpringHouse, in Alexander City, Alabama, is a road trip splurge we’d like to make. If the exposed rustic beams, stunning open kitchen and water views aren’t enough to sway you Рthe impressively artistic and locally sourced fare certainly should. Save room for SpringHouses signature s’mores dessert and be sure to try something from their ever-evolving cocktail menu!
Fine Dining Alabama
5. Coastal Connection National Scenic Byway
Boasting stunning views, beautiful beaches, historic sites and much more Рthe Coastal Connection is a great way to sample Alabama’s rich culture. Watch the dolphins play in the gulf, do a bit of bird watching, head out to sea or simply take in the views from your spot in the sand! We’re ready get planning so we can hit the road and start embracing the sights and flavors of this incredible region!
Scenic Byway Alabama
Barbecue, beaches and southern hospitality is winning combination, and Sweet Home Alabama has it all! We’re ready to hit the open road, stopping along the way to savor the flavors of Alabama, marvel at the sparkling water of the Gulf and take in the rich, Southern culture any chance we get! Whether you’re still stitching together last minute summer plans, or you’re looking¬†ahead for your next adventure¬†– consider an Alabama road trip, maybe we’ll¬†bump into you at a BBQ joint!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Alabama Tourism. The opinions and text are all mine.

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