Mangia! Arthur Avenue – NY’s Other Little Italy

If your summer plans include a family trip to the New York Botanical Gardens or Bronx Zoo, take a detour to Arthur Avenue before heading home or back to your hotel. Insiders consider it the real “Little Italy”. Authentic or not, the food was delicious and it’s a worthwhile detour if you’re visiting attractions in the Bronx. Continue reading

Help! I Need Travel Ideas for the New Year

The Open Suitcase needs travel ideas for the new year. Where’d you go in 2016? What did you love? Or hate? Leave your suggestions for places to visit, foods to eat, and things to do, or not do, in the comments section for a chance to win some travel inspiration.

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The calendar flips in a few days and I need travel ideas for the new year. It’s how I survive winter.

I’m inviting you to play a round of show and tell. Continue reading

Visiting Grand Rapids: Beer, Art, Beer, Repeat

Tell people you’re visiting Grand Rapids and you’re likely to get a confused look. This city of 200,000, located in Western Michigan, is still an under the radar travel destination, but it won’t be for long. It’s easy to navigate, features a premier art destination, and has a lively craft beer scene. It’s easy to sample during a quick weekend getaway, but, once you get a taste, you’ll want to return for a second helping.

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The dominant sculpture in the garden is American Horse by Nina Akamu. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

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Nun for a Weekend: Quebec City’s Le Monastere des Augustines

Looking for a hotel in Quebec City for a weekend getaway? Traditional options abound but if you want a unique experience, consider a stay at Le Monastere des Augustines, a renovated historical monastery with a wellness mission. I embraced its quiet elegance, artfully designed to soothe the mind and ignite the soul.

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The renovation of Le Monastere thoughtfully combined the old with the new. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

Fear of the Unknown

I didn’t know what to expect when I checked into a monastery for a weekend getaway in Quebec City. Would a gaggle of nuns circle me in the lobby and start singing, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Cathy?” as in the Sound of Music. Or, worse, would I be stripped naked and escorted to my room in a shameful walk of atonement like Cersei in Game of Thrones? Continue reading

Hudson Valley Spotlight: Kingston, New York

Al Smith Election Poster Hudson Valley Kingston brick wallTurn a corner in Kingston and you’ll find a surprise. For example, walking down Fair Street, I saw a campaign poster for Al Smith, Prohibition opponent, and 4-time governor of New York State. It was unusual because Mr. Smith died in 1944. Was this an omen? Will the Republican Party try to posthumously nominate Richard Nixon? The one thing to remember about surprises is that they come at you in two ways – good and bad. Continue reading