A D.C. Rooftop Pool With a View

Wednesday brought the opening of the Embassy Row Hotel‘s rooftop pool and lounge. Located a block away from Dupont Circle’s metro stop, the hotel offers a beautiful sight of Washington, D.C. Whether you are visiting for a dip in the pool or to enjoy a cold beverage, this rooftop provided a breezy atmosphere to relax and enjoy the city. The roof is complimentary to guests of hotel, but seasonal memberships are available (Capped at 20, members have unlimited access to the rooftop, plus one free guest per visit and exclusive discounts for hotel rooms. Membership is $500 for the season.). Additionally, day passes can be purchased for $25 at the front desk. But entrance is free for those who can wait until 5pm or later.

The rooftop hours of operation
Everyday: 7am – 10pm

Drink & food hours of operation
Monday – Tuesday: closed
Wednesday: 11am – 8pm
Thursday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm
Sunday: 11am – 8pm

Below are snapshots of what you can expect. Feel free to click any of the images for a full-sized view.

 

Photos not exciting enough? Here’s a tilt shift video taken that night as well:

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Coachella Camping Hacks

Camping at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival in Indio, California is often labeled a rite of passage for first-year festival attendees. The party does not end the second the last band leaves the main stage every night; there is something kinetic about the rowdy crowd. Campsite dance floors blast music hours after the venue locks its gates for the night, and other campers who are too wired to sleep re-cap their day and plot a schedule for the next one. This either sounds like a very good time, or a turnoff to those who only go to Coachella to see their favorite bands live.

Entering the venue

Entering the venue

So why, for five years (going on six) have I camped out rather than get a hotel? The answer is pretty simple: the camping community is welcoming and the benefits of not having to take a shuttle or drive to the venue every day makes the choice a no-brainer. Camping allows you to roll out of bed when you want, catch an afternoon nap, grab snacks or drinks of your choosing and it grants you the ability to slap a burger on the grill whenever you want. To me, camping at Coachella is not just a rite of passage, but also a way to improve your festival experience. Read on to help get the most out of your camping experience, and so you don’t spend your days waiting in line to take the shuttle into town to buy the essentials you forgot to bring. Continue reading

Visiting Kerala and the Periyar Wildlife Reserve

One of our most popular YouTube videos is of Tara and I riding and bathing an elephant at Elephant Junction in Thekkady, India. The whole experience was extremely memorable, and it was just a puzzle piece in our month-long exploration of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. It ended up being one of our favorite regions we visited during the two and a half months we traveled around the country.

Tara and Bina share a bath together.

Tara and Bina share a bath together.

Most tourists who visit Kerala choose to sightsee in four cities: Kochi, Alleppey, Thekkady, and Munnar. These are the region’s golden circle of must-visit cities for those visiting the area. We ended up visiting three of the four, skipping out on Munnar simply because it offered mainly the same activities as Thekkady but with higher accommodation costs.

Tara and I started our month-plus visit to Kerala in Kochi. More specifically, we spent about a week relaxing north of Kochi at a remote homestay on Kuzhupilly Beach. We spent our days reading, writing, jogging along the beach and enjoying each other’s company. It was a period of relaxation after a month of quick travel through the north. Continue reading

A Guide to Buying Couture Clothing in Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

A street in Hoi An, Vietnam.

The skillful tailors of Hoi An are well-known throughout the world. Many of them can trace the trade through several generations of their family, and it’s not only women who are pulling a needle and thread. With deft fingers and a keen eye, they’re known by many as master craftsmen, able to copy any design they see. If you show them a picture of a coat, suit or dress, you can expect a nearly exact replica to be produced within 24-48 hours. The best tailor shops in Hoi An are well-known, and they are the reason that Vietnamese from all parts of the country will encourage you to visit this central city.

Unfortunately, not every business operates honestly. The city has seen an increased number of tailor shops over the years because of those eager to capitalize on the influx of tourists looking for custom-made clothing. A larger variety of shops isn’t a bad thing, but the fallout of this explosion is that many of these tailors produce shoddy work. The supply has yet to exceed the demand and, as a result, some of these shops have less-qualified employees using lower-quality materials. Worse, the demand for quickly assembled clothes has led to the creation of overworked sweatshops. If you aren’t interested in giving your money to a questionable operation, read on for our tips on finding a great Hoi An tailor and how to handle the process of buying custom-made clothes. Continue reading

Self-Diagnosing on the Road

Tara Putting on a Bandage

Tara putting on a bandage after a minor motorbike mishap in Laos.

When you take a short vacation from work, you typically wouldn’t visit a doctor during your trip unless a serious matter had to be addressed. Long-term travelers, however, can’t wait months until their return to seek treatment or a doctor’s opinion. They have to find care on the road or risk that a small issue might turn into a larger one. But even if they have health coverage, the hassle of navigating through their plan’s fine print coupled with trying to find a trustworthy physician in a foreign country discourages some from seeking help.

If you recall, when Mike and I were planning our trip, we divided tasks according to our individual strengths. It was my responsibility to find travel insurance that would also provide us with good medical coverage, and I took this job very seriously. We ended up buying 13 months of insurance through STA Travel, with coverage administered by CSA Travel Protection. There were a variety of reasons this insurance won out against our second choice, but one very nice inclusion was that a one-time payment of up to $1,000 could be applied toward your first in-network physician visit during your coverage period. Naturally, we didn’t want to waste that $1,000 by going to the doctor for the common cold or something that would only use a small portion of that monetary offer. But we’ve also never been the type to run to the doctor for every ache and pain anyway. It would be better, we thought, to put the $1,000 toward what would be a more expensive doctor visit, like to treat a broken ankle or – heaven forbid – something major. Continue reading

5 Gifts for the Travelaholic in Your Life

The holidays are here, and if you haven’t already thought about gifts for the travelaholic(s) in your life, we have you covered! These items are bound to fuel their travel addiction and help make any aspect of their away-from-home adventures more enjoyable. If you have other interesting gift ideas to share with your fellow travelers, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Safe travels and happy holidays!

1. Hooded Travel Pillow

This is the product we would have invented had we not seen it online first. It eliminates the need for an uncomfortable eye mask and is therefore the perfect neck pillow for travelers who want a little shut-eye in transit.

Hooded Travel Pillow

Hooded travel pillow in action. Photo courtesy of BustedTees.com.

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Vietnamese Recipe: Sugarcane Shrimp (Chao Tom) Spring Roll

Of the many cuisines I encountered around the world, this is one of the rare recipes that I enjoy making as much as I enjoy eating. It is a fun process and a very interactive dish. The end product is a fresh spring roll with shrimp. It takes a bit of work – about an hour – but it is totally worth it! The real recipe calls for pork fat, but since we don’t eat meat we used an egg instead.

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