Melissa's Travels

On the Road with Melissa: April

The first installment of Indagare's newest monthly column, this issue of On the Road with Melissa covers the Indagare founder's exciting travels from the past month, including time on three continents. Below (and every month from now on), Melissa reflects on industry news, tips she gathered while on the road and a transformative moment that reinforced her love of travel.

Where I've Been:

Loire Valley, Courtesy Chenonceau

Loire Valley, Courtesy Chenonceau

Grenada, Paris, the Loire Valley, Madrid, Lisbon, Nashville

Favorite Finds:

Musée Rodin, Courtesy Jérôme Manoukian

Musée Rodin, Courtesy Jérôme Manoukian

  • In Paris: The newly reopened Musée Rodin is even more amazing now and should be visited after watching Camille Claudel, the Oscar-nominated movie with Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani. The redone Les Halles is not completely done but Champeaux, a brasserie overseen by Alain Ducasse and designed by groovy-cool firm Ciguë is open and already adding buzz to the neighborhood.
  • In the Loire: Le Saint Honoré, a special garden-to-table restaurant in Tours. For tips on the how to navigate the region, read my Five Questions with… Loire Insider Nicholas Tomlan, Botanical Director at Chenonceau.
  • In Spain: A lovely day trip from Madrid to Segovia is even better with a meal at Villena, a one-star Michelin restaurant that is set in a former church; the food is heavenly.
  • In Iceland: Who knew that I would love reindeer Carpaccio at Hotel Ranga or that the best Bloody Mary in the world (according to The Guardian) is served at the greenhouse Fridheimar, where the tomatoes are grown throughout the year, thanks to geothermal waters? Other highlights included descending into an ice tunnel; climbing a glacier with an extraordinary guide; seeing the Northern Lights and swimming up to the mud-facial bar at the Blue Lagoon. Read my Seven to Know: Iceland.
  • In Lisbon: I love the palaces turned concept shops on Principe Real. The fabulous historic buildings house trendy pop-up shops, providing a visual feast of grand frescoes and moldings and funky fashion and housewares. I recommend stopping into Embaixada (Praça do Príncipe Real 26), 21pr Concept (Praça do Príncipe Real 21) and Entre Tanto (Rua da Escola Politécnica 42) and then going for incredible ceviche lunch across the way at A Cevicheria (R. Dom Pedro V 129) where the best seats are at the bar under the giant octopus. Just down the street is an antiques treasure trove called AR-PAB (Rua D. Pedro V, 69). Coming soon: Shopping Lisbon with Michael S. Smith.

Transformative Travel Moment:

The week after my family and I returned from our Indagare Voluntourism trip to Grenada, an article titled "The Voluntourist's Dilemma" appeared in The New York Times, taking a dim view of Americans traveling to volunteer. We had spent our spring break with another family on a trip designed by the non-profit organization Reach Within. Started by Indagare member Karen Lawson, who wanted to make a difference in the Caribbean island nation where her husband had been an ambassador, Reach Within focuses on improving the quality of life in shelters for orphans on the island. We got to visit the care homes and learn about the issues facing the disabled and the children who inhabit them. While I agree that we need to be careful about the kind of voluntouring that we do, I believe that engaging with the world and using our trips to seek out beauty, but also complexity and difficulty, is not just a privilege of travel but an opportunity for the best kind of change in us and in the world. Read my article: The Importance (and Privilege) of Voluntourism.

Top Travel Tips:

Mac makeup wipes

are perfect for removing makeup when on the plane. I also discovered SkyRoam, a portable hot spot that you preload with 24-hour data blocks. It costs just $10 a day and provides WiFi to a whole carload or hotel room full of devices. And I realize I'm a bit late to this book club, but I absolutely adored The Paris Wife, a historical novel by Paula McLain about Hemingway’s first wife and their life in Paris. (Incidentally, McLain's follow-up book, Circling the Sun, about Beryl Markham, should be on the list for anyone heading to or dreaming of East Africa).

Up Next:

More Inspiration

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