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Okay, so Christmas is over. Did you manage to resist the tables of temptation? If you’re anything like me you put that calorie counter away and said “hell yes” to all things cheese-filled and meat-topped. Good for the lips, not so good for the hips. Thankfully, Lonely Planet is to the rescue once again. Well, if you have the time and money, that is. Take a look at Lonely Planet’s list of the top 10 best treks in the world – a fun (and adventurous) way to get back into shape for 2012.

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No travel on the foreseeable horizon, folks, but definitely a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Let’s make it light today with one of my favorite pictures. This is a salt field high in the Andes in Peru. I spent four days hiking the Andes from Cuzco to Machu Picchu back in 2005. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life: camping in the mountains up in the clouds, meeting like-minded hikers from around the world, and, my favorite, rounding a corner at the end of the trail to be smacked in the face with a perfect view of Machu Picchu. Interested in your own Peruvian adventure? Check out Adventure Life, which specializes is customizable South American tours.

In addition to world jetsetter, cultural connoisseur, luxe lush and perhaps some other slightly less flattering descriptions, I have also been known to know a hiking trail or two in the Hudson Valley. (My father was a boy scout for something like 20 years, so I’m better versed than many on good nature spots between Westchester County and the Catskills.)

The other day my good friend asked me about possible day trips out of the city for hiking. I referred him to www.trails.com, a site that I often use when looking for a good hiking trail. It’s pretty easy to follow. You plug in your destination and the site generates a list of possible hiking trails nearby. It’s a handy little tool.

Tip: I’m a big fan of Harriman State Park near Bear Mountain.

Enjoy the weekend and happy trippin to you!

I love my city but believe it or not, one can tire of the 3 a.m. nights, constant noise and and endless interaction. I am a firm believer that getting out of the city at least once a month is necessary to maintaining sanity. My go-to city? A nice visit to my family in Woodstock, New York.

A little hike up to Dancing Rock in Shokan, New York.

Okay, we are all thinking the same thing. Woodstock is only good for relaxing because of one “herbal” remedy, and I’m not going to lie to you. The air is ripe with it. But hippie jokes aside, this is actually a pretty cool town. Of course, you can’t walk more than three blocks without seeing a grizzled man in a tie-dye headband and flannel, tapping his feet to some Dead song, but that’s part of the charm. (Note: The Woodstock festival in 1969 took place around two hours from the actual town of Woodstock, in Bethel, New York. A little insider’s tip for you.)

 

I just got back from my monthly hiatus. A nice weekend of hiking, barbecuing and sitting outside, where the only sound is crickets. Now, my family lives a stone’s throw from Woodstock in less-touristy Shokan, but Woodstock and the surrounding area is a great place to go for a day-trip or an entire weekend.

Getting there: If you have a car, Woodstock is exit 19 off the New York State Thruway. If not, and you are coming from NYC, head to Port Authority and take Adirondack Trailways bus service. The bus ride is around two and a half hours and a round-trip ticket costs $50.

My top picks:

Sweet Sue’s Restaurant – If you stay on the bus for a few more stops you’ll wind up in the hunting town of Phoenicia. The main drag (aptly named Main Street) is just a couple blocks but you’ll find some of the best eats. My top breakfast spot is Sweet Sue’s restaurant (try the breakfast burrito – a mammoth-sized roll-up of eggs, bacon, cheese and avocado served with a side of salsa). I’m not a pancake person, but if you are this is your stop. Sue serves up a selection of around 20 different styles of pancakes.
I wasn’t kidding about the pancakes.

Brio’s, also in Phoenicia, is great for pizza, and this is coming from a New Yorker. This thin-crust beauty tastes good with just about any topping. My favorite? Goat cheese and onions.

Saturdays head to Woodstock for the flea market. Peruse old records, toys, clothes and jewelry while some kid tries his luck singing Bob Dylan tunes in the background. I found Led Zeppelin I and Paul Simon‘s Graceland on vinyl for $3 each. Great bargain.

And of course, you can’t beat the hiking. For some of the top-rated trails, click here.

I guarantee you’ll come back to the city feeling relaxed and refreshed. And if you happen to dip into the town’s favorite crop, I won’t tell.