Celebrity travelers: How I spent my summer vacation [Pictures]
If the falling leaves and shorter days have you pining for those carefree days of summer, we commiserate - especially after we tried to drown our end-of-summer blues in a sunny strawberries-and-creme Frappuccino only to discover it had been replaced with a dead-leaf-colored, pumpkin-spiced concoction. But rather than get your Halloween witch-face on prematurely, perhaps it's better to take the make-lemonade approach and begin planning your travels for next summer. But where to go and what to do? For inspiration, we consulted with some local personalities about where they spent their summer vacations. Bryan Voltaggio (chef and recent finalist on "Top Chef Masters"), Ava Marie (WBAL meteorologist), Ray Mitchener (owner of Baltimore's Ruth Shaw boutique) and Patti Neumann (publisher of CityPeek Inc.) were only too happy to reminisce about their adventures. -Stephanie Citron, For The Baltimore Sun
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Ava Marie, WBAL meteorologist( Pascal Lachenaud, AFP/Getty Images / September 14, 2013 )
Highlights: "For me, the biggest thing was seeing all the castles. That's just not something we have here. Here in America, the buildings are all a few hundred years old, and over there, we're talking thousands of years old. It seems impossible that those buildings are still standing; they're just so beautifully constructed. To think that they did that all by hand - manual labor. [Also] I was very happy we saw the Eiffel Tower. I know it's a big tourist spot, but hitting up some of those big icons was really important."
Travel tips? "Wherever you go, it's important to learn just a few phrases by heart, like 'Do you speak English' and the common phrases of being polite, 'Hello,' 'goodbye' and 'thank you.' Those go a long way. As long as people can tell that you are making an effort, they will have a lot more respect for you and will be more helpful. I think that's the whole point of going to another country - being put in situations to remind you that you are no longer in the U.S. ...We brought a camera but chose not to take too many pictures because I really wanted to make certain I was living in the moment, not just sitting behind my camera lens. Sometimes you have to remember just to see it with your own eyes."
If you go: United and Air France fly nonstop from Dulles to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. If you choose, like Ava Marie, to drive around Europe, go to autoeurope.com/go/driving-information for country-by-country regulations and suggestions for trustworthy car rental agencies.