I’ll never forget the night I exited the plane in Mexico, back in the pre-jetway days, when we had to climb down a flight of stairs to the tarmac.  I stepped out of the chilly airplane cabin and onto the metal landing.  It was around 10 o’clock at night, and the heat smacked me in the face and clung about my arms.  It was springtime, and my family had come from New England, and I’d never known such heat so early in the year or so late in the day.

What else was different?  Pretty much everything, as it turned out — the food, the language, the scenery, the aromas, and experiencing it in the moment was different from knowing it ahead of time.

We stayed at the Acapulco Princess, and I fell in love with the theatrical grandeur of luxury hotels.  We explored the Aztec pyramids, and it was fascinating to see that something so old was also so sturdy and so sophisticated.

My parents bought me silver and turquoise earrings; I still treasure them, along with the memories of that journey.

I was nine years old, and I’ve loved travel ever since.

Over the years, some of my favorite memories are of travelling with family — the journey through Italy with my mother, our annual we-four fall-foliage trips, the time my grandmother took 26 of us to Disney World for a week.

Leslie Carbone
I went off to college in Washington, D.C.  I graduated and worked at political jobs — executive director of a non-profit, chief-of-staff to a California legislator,  speechwriter to a Cabinet secretary.  I lectured on college campuses, and at conferences, and on Capitol Hill.  I wrote a book.  I started my first blog.  I met a Russian princess, Michael Jackson’s chimp Bubbles, and Ronald Reagan, who winked at me.

I moved out to California, then home to Massachusetts, and back to Washington and Virginia.

Then my parents got sick, and I went back to Massachusetts to help care for them, and they died, fourteen weeks apart, in their late 60s.  And I decided that life is too dear, and too uncertain, to fritter away in political offices.

I fought back the sorrow with travel, road-tripping across America, playing in Monte Carlo, and feeling alive again in Athens as I climbed the hill under the warm sun up to the ancient Acropolis.

I moved back to Virginia.  I didn’t go back to political jobs.  I started blogging again.

My goals for this blog are:

    1.  to introduce you to places, foods, and experiences you might like,
    2.  to provide practical information to help you plan and make the most of your time, and
    3.  to share things I’ve discovered so that you can come along with me and feel enriched by something even if you choose not to experience it personally.

Passions are more fun when you share them with others, and my hope is to share my passions for travel and culture with you through this blog.

I’ve travelled the globe from Israel to El Salvador.  I’ve skied the Swiss Alps and hiked national parks like Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, and Virgin Islands.  I’ve marvelled at masterpieces in the Prado, the Uffizi, the Huntington, and the National Gallery of Art.  I’ve stayed in a cabin on a mountaintop in Norway and on a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee, and been kicked out of the Ritz at the Place Vendôme.  I’ve taken cooking classes from New England to the Caribbean, and watched a chef prepare traditional shakshuka in the kitchen of his restaurant in Tel Aviv.  

No matter how far I travel, one place I always want to blog about is Virginia’s own Colonial Williamsburg.  Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time knows that I’m in love with the world’s largest living-history museum and the way it brings the Revolutionary era to life.  One of my ancestors was a Brigadier General in the Continental Army, so I guess the spirit of American independence is in my blood.

Leslie Carbone

I believe that we enjoy everything more when we know its story.  Food nourishes our souls, as well as our bodies, when it is part of a tradition that links us to our forebears.  The places we visit resonate with us, inspire us, and stay with us after we’ve come home, once we’ve learned the hopes and heartaches of the people who shaped them.

My hope is to share with you the stories behind places and foods, so that you will enjoy them more.

Imagine —

The rush of excitement you feel when you’re going someplace new.  

Connecting with people from a different culture. 

Absorbing parts of their history. 

Marvelling at natural wonders. 

Savoring new foods and flavors. 

Feeling at peace as you sip a local wine. 

And then coming home renewed, awakened, looking at your own world with fresh eyes, inspired to excel, with great stories to share, and maybe a new favorite meal to make.  

If that’s what you want, you’re in the right place.

The opinions on this blog are necessarily informed by my own tastes, interests, and expectations.  My taste is classic; I prefer what is elegant, traditional, and always in style.  My interests are broad, but I veer heavily toward history, culturally significant foods, pre-contemporary art, and natural wonders.  My expectations include high-quality goods and courteous and helpful service.  If you share these perspectives, I hope you will find this blog helpful.

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