Travel memories…

By Caitlin Kelly

As readers here know, travel is usually my greatest joy in life.

I took my first international road trip — in my playpen in the back of my parents’ car — from Vancouver to Mexico. I took my first flight, at seven or eight, to Antigua from Toronto. I always know exactly where my passport is and my Canadian currency and my leftover euros.

Being confined to the disease-riddled political madhouse of the United States right now is, for some of us, really frustrating.

So here are some of my favorite travel memories:


My last taste of elegant hospitality, Middleburg, Virginia, March 2020 — just as the pandemic shut everything down.

I was on my way to D.C. to attend and speak at an annual conference, and added two extra days in this town to play and relax and enjoy some solo time. I loved it. I also had breakfast there with a local friend, an extra pleasure.



I do love a great hotel bar. This is the freshly and beautifully renovated Royal York, in my hometown of Toronto; September 2019.


When you’re traveling and need to meet people for business or pleasure, an elegant hotel bar (if not too noisy!) can be a good option. I interviewed a psychiatrist for my healthcare story here, while sitting on those stools, and later enjoyed a cocktail with a young pal from Twitter.




I had never seen elk — or a sign like this! New Mexico, June 2019.


This was a great day — Valles Caldera is a national preserve where we spent a day enjoying nature and silence during our week’s vacation. My husband Jose is from Santa Fe, so we love returning to his home city and state, where we have friends and he once more revels in being home.



Caitlin Skating-01

Lacing up my skates for some ice-work at Beaver Pond, Mount Royal, Montreal. Winter 2019.


It’s a really Canadian joy to skate without a fee and in public. I really miss all the free public rinks I took for granted in Toronto —- and in New York, I generally only skate on an indoor rink and have to pay for it, a wholly different experience. This was a lot of fun and the rink, very sensibly, even has benches in the middle, so you can plop down whenever pooped.




I love funky vintage diners. I meandered happily along Route 25 on Long Island’s North Shore and loved every minute; June 2018.


I love to meander! It’s such a pleasure to find a winding country road and savor all the sights — farm-stands, diners, little shops, old houses. This road terminates at the eastern end in Orient, where there’s a wide pebbled beach. It was a great day spent solo while Jose was working locally for the week and we were given a hotel room.





Georgetown, DC is such a beautiful neighborhood. Fall 2017.


I’ve been back to D.C. over the years many times — attending awards dinners, on a fellowship, visiting friends, on my way heading further south. It feels so very different from New York in every way, and Georgetown’s narrow cobbled streets and early 19th century homes are a lovely escape.



Love the Atwater Market, Montreal.


I loved coming here to shop for food when I lived in Montreal for 18 months as a reporter at the Montreal Gazette. I didn’t stay long as a resident; the winter was brutal and the newspaper not a great fit for me. But, a six hour drive from our New York home, Montreal makes for a terrific break for us now. I get to speak and hear French, catch up with old friends and colleagues, shop for the kinds of clothes I really like (much more European!) and always visit our favorite restaurants.


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Pies! Pumpkin, apple, blueberry, sugar, maple syrup; Atwater Market


Maple syrup pie! Sugar pie!



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I love these ghost meringues! Atwater Market, Montreal


These were on display just before Hallowe’en. Love them!




Dublin. So much beautiful weaving!




Jose went to the local barber, ex-boxer Patrick Quinn. His haircut was 5 euros. Ireland, June 2015.


I’ve been to Ireland five times so far and could easily return many times more. It’s so small you can easily see a lot, even in a week or two. People are so warm and welcoming. The landscapes are astounding. Filled with history. I actually cry when I leave.



Not the loveliest image, but definitely Venice, July 2017


I’ve been to Venice three times so far: I spent my 21st birthday there, alone, and enjoyed it, went back on my European fellowship year at 25 and hadn’t been back for decades — and made the crucial error of doing so in July when it was brutally hot and massively crowded. I am glad I went again, though, for all of three days, and remain determined to visit in cooler, quieter late fall or even winter next time!

I loved Giudecca, a mostly residential neighborhood and even found a small playground surrounded by low-level apartments. I sat on a bench in the shade there for a while and just savored the silence.



One of the great pleasures of travel is…sitting still! Taking it all in. July 2017


I really loved my first-ever visit to Berlin, a city I’d only seen in films. I took the train from Paris and stayed at a terrific old hotel, the Savoy, on Fasanenstrasse, in Charlottenburg. I loved everything about our hotel — the white tablecloths in the gracious, spacious dining room, a quiet, small back garden, an adjacent cigar bar!, even a hair salon next door. I visited the Pergamon museum and enjoyed the Biergarten and biked around and spent a fantastic day swimming at Schachtensee, one of the many lakes surrounding the city and easily reached by public transit.

I stayed in Berlin 10 days and just got to know it a little. I’m eager to return.




Since 2001, we have been visiting a gorgeous resort, Manoir Hovey, on Lake Massawippi, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. This is their dock, in fall. Oh, we miss it!


After 9/11 Jose and I were pretty shell-shocked as we both covered the truly grim details of its aftermath, I as a journalist and he as a New York Times photo editor. We fled north right afterward to this terrific small resort and have been back since then every two to three years, in every season — named Canada’s number two best resort hotel for 2020 by Travel & Leisure magazine.




Must have tea in London! This was the Ritz


OK, so it’s touristy. But fun!





I love the details that are so spectacular — not just the official “sights” but the memorable specifics like this Paris cafe


I’m wild about all aspects of design. I loved this detail.



This is so French! That gorgeous, polished, oversize doorknob and the deep viridian and the gloss. Ooooohh, Paris!


Tell me about some of the places you miss!

22 thoughts on “Travel memories…

  1. In my most recent story, I got to relive some of my memories of traveling to England by setting the story in London. Unintentional side effect, I assure you (though I am planning on revisiting England in a couple of years). And the story I plan to start today is directly inspired by the trip to South Carolina I took last month, so that should be fun.

      1. hahahahahah. Nice try. Have been to Maine many times before, so I know it’s a nice spot. Trying to find somewhere not riddled with virus that won’t demand quarantine.

  2. I’ve been to all (except a couple of the hotels/resorts) the places you mention here (I used to live in Germany and also spent a lot of time in Europe outside of that). I always thought I would be going back to many of these spots, but now I’m questioning it. Last trip I took was to Dominican Republic just before the pandemic. We got back just under the wire. Pearson was practically dead – we walked right into security as we were the only ones going through. Toronto was a ghost town. So weird and eerie.

  3. you always travel to such interesting places, and hopefully before long, you’ll be heading out into the world once again. I love to travel, and love the homecoming as well. like you, I miss Ireland, one of my favorite places in have ever been. I also have many places I’ve yet to go that I’d like to see firsthand –

    1. The elements of our home represent places we have been. Each object has a story such that they are our madeleines to another world, another time. This is how we have been sublimating our challenges during the pandemic.
      I’ve been missing good French baguettes so have taken advantage of this disruption to learn how to make them.
      We subscribe to William Morris’ sensibilities about beauty and practicality.
      While I’d rather be in the Dordogne or Charlevoix région or Burano or Flåm or Barcelona’s Mercado Boqueria they all reside within.
      Thanks for your writing.

      1. Thanks….this is lovely and so true!

        We really savor these choices, many of them made while traveling — or by others abroad. One of my favorite images is very small, a black and white photo by Finnish photographer Pentti Sammallahti. I love his work; it’s of a field in Japan.

        I am very impressed you are making baguettes!!!

      2. Oddly enough, a former photo assistant of mine asked me to help him choose a Pentti Sammallahti print for a gift. This is the second time in a week that his name has come up. I’m intrigued by the lyricism of his work.

      3. How unlikely!

        I really really like his work.

        I discovered it during the Winter Antiques Show in NYC at Peter Fetterman’s booth. My husband is former NYT photographer so we personally know some of the greats and have a nice collection — I own a Steichen and Lartigue and he has the original George Tames of JFK….

        But I had never heard of Pentti. I’ve started working for a Finnish client so now I really want to meet him!

        And there are a few more of his images I would love to own as well.

  4. Thank you for letting us virtually tag along. Just what I needed! Just before the pandemic hit, I was going to book a trip to Indonesia–the mountains. Truly gorgeous. I cannot wait now to take that trip!

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