calligraphy suzhou

Calligraphy in Suzhou & Trip Giveaway to Suzhou, China!

Garden of Cultivation Suzhou I only returned from exploring Suzhou, China two weeks ago and still am reeling from such an eye-opening, visually stimulating and immersive trip!

Suzhou is just what you expect traditional China to be.

Though there are high-rises and busy modern center, the old town is basically in a time warp. As you walk the cobbled street or cruise down the canals on a wooden boat helmed by a singing local, you will truly feel that you are 2500 years in the past.

I was exploring Suzhou to shoot a series on the ancient arts and traditions. My cameraman, translator, guide and other team members joined me in what would be a jam-packed 4 days of Suzhou culture. Each episode in our series included working with a local artisan or master craftsman.

These are my favorite types of stories to tell–the real stories of the local people.

Through meeting these masters, learning their skills and understanding their stories, I was able to understand what is Suzhou today by understanding its history.

You will be seeing 4 Master Class videos from this culture series: Calligraphy, Bonsai, Dumplings & Silk. These four elements are woven in the fabric of daily life yet have been important in Suzhou’s culture for centuries.

My first episode is released today (!) and it is focused on Calligraphy. We went visited the Garden of Cultivation, an ornate garden with rock formations, caves and a lovely central pond with lily pads. There was also a popular teahouse in this garden and we had a private room inside to conduct our calligraphy lesson. Our master, Fanwu Zheng, didn’t speak any English so he and I used a translator to communicate. But quickly, we were able to understand each other through laughs, gestures and brushstrokes.

Calligraphy in Suzhou

Suzhou was one of the premier places for calligraphy, being home to the Wu School of professional artists and some of the country’s most skilled calligraphers. Calligraphy was considered one of the highest forms of visual art, along with poetry and painting. It is much more than just writing, it is the creation of moving pieces of artwork.

The best way to understand Suzhou, our experience and the significance of calligraphy is through our first episode. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Now the travel giveaway! 

The contest is on Twitter only.


  • Roundtrip airfare from the US or Canada to Suzhou, China (You fly into Shanghai then transfer)
  • 4 Nights Accommdations in Suzhou (hotels are nice!)
  • All meals included (YUM!)
  • The 4 Cultural Opportunities that I experienced with Calligraphy, Bonsai, Dumplings & Silk!

How to Enter:

  1. Follow @VisitSuzhou on Twitter.
  2. Retweet: All you have to do to enter is to Retweet my video launch tweet here OR Retweet the launch tweet from @VisitSuzhou.
  3. Enter by October 4th!

My tweet:

One lucky winner will be selected from there. I cannot wait to see who wins because this trip was so special to me and I want others to share it! GOOD LUCK!

24 Hours in Basel, Switzerland

Art. Culture. History. Food. Luxury. The Rhine River. Basel has a lot going on and I had limited time to see it so I took in the highlights as fast as I could. My homebase was the Hotel Nomad, a trendy boutique with easy access to top sites like the Altstadt, or old city, the Marktplatz which has a farmer’s market, Johann Wanner Christmas shop, the Kunstmuseum Basel, Fondation Beyeler and the Rhine River. We took river ferries to cross to Klein Basel, a funky neighborhood with a lot of great shops, cafes and of course, the notable Ueli Brewery.

Check out this travel guide for how to see some of Basel’s hotspots, in just 24 hours!

Food Guide: Basel, Switzerland

Fondue, pretzels, flammkuchen, leckerli, beer… there is no shortage of deliciousness in Basel! Along with Swiss specialties like fondue, there’s also great international food in this diverse culinary hotspot. Of course, you’ll taste influences from nearby Germany and France, but the result is a unique type of quality Swiss food that you can only find in Basel.

I ate my way around this city, from breakfast, to lunch to dinner, to many sweets, pretzels, cocktails and beer in between. Trust me–bring your appetite and check out this video for suggestions of Basel’s best, before you go.
Featured: Confiserie Bachmann, Berower Park, Kunsthalle Basel, Walliser Kanne, Ueli Brewery

travel guide to switzerland

My Travel Guide to Switzerland

This is my ultimate guide to an incredible country: Switzerland! I spend two weeks on a road trip, and I take you with me–showing you where to eat, stay, what to drink and see and how to experience the best of the best!
Starting in the posh Geneva where I visited markets, ate amazing Michelin cuisine, took a steamship cruise and river ferry and saw the UN. Next we cruised along the coast of Lake Geneva, stopping at adorable villages like Saint Saphorin, sampling wines of Lavaux, staying over in fun cities of Vevey and Lausanne and heading into the hills on a vintage train to make cheese and roam the alps in Chateaux D’Oex.

24 hour travel guide to geneva switzerland

24 Hours in Geneva, Switzerland

    A mix of culture, history, luxury, great food, iconic sites and lakeside views–it’s not too hard to have a perfect day ins Geneva. I toured through this charming city, which feels more like a village, in order to share my favorite spots with you. The Old Town, or Vieille Ville, the Carouge neighborhood, […]

A Priceless Night with Andy Grammer

“Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

Ever since I was a little girl, my focus has been on seeing the world. I’ve dedicated my life to this passion, turning it into not only a career but a way of life. I believe that each trip that I’ve taken–no matter if it was to an exotic international locale or a neighboring town–has taught me something. Even the trips that were difficult–getting lost in Japan, food poisoning on my honeymoon in Thailand, rain every single day in Germany– All of those situations, though not desirable, did teach me about the kindness of strangers, communicating with language barriers, finding creative alternatives and about myself. However, for all those tough travel mishaps, I’ve had 10 times the amount of unexpected good come out of my trips.


I don’t have all the money in the world, but I never, EVER regret the money I spend on travel. Whether it’s a beach getaway, a surprise trip home to see my parents, or an impromptu friends weekend away–every single trip has brings memories I’ll never be able to forget. That’s why the Priceless Experiences campaign with IHG Rewards Club really resonated with me. Though you technically can put a price on travel, you can’t put a price on those special moments that your travel creates.

Practicing my beats

On a quiet Tuesday night in December, I experienced a priceless night with IHG and Mastercard, just down the road from my home. My husband Dave and I were invited to an intimate concert and a meet-and-greet with musical artist Andy Grammer. We were given the VIP treatment with a black car pick up door to door, from our home in Santa Monica over to the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel, just next to airport. The evening only got better from there.

IHG Rewards Club Priceless Experiences Event with Andy Grammer on Tues., Nov. 29, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for InterContinental Hotels Group/AP Images)

IHG Rewards Club Priceless Experiences Event with Andy Grammer on Tues., Nov. 29, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for InterContinental Hotels Group/AP Images)

We started off with a bang with getting to meet Andy and chat briefly. He generously said I looked familiar, which I joked must have been because he watches all my youtube videos (lol). We took a photo with him before he had to go prepare for his concert for our small group.

Dave was starving so straight to the food we went. We sampled hand rolled sushi, made to order tacos, fresh pizzas and more.

Delicious sushi

I was very impressed by the handcrafted cocktails created by famed mixologist Alex Ott. I seek out unique cocktails and I really enjoyed the combinations of the unusual ingredients he used, like tea, superfruits and rose. I even had the chance to get behind the bar and “make” some of these cocktails myself!

Creative Cocktails

Creative Cocktails

The night continued with more of these memorable moments. We made our own custom printed t-shirts, posed in front of a step & repeat for a glamor shots and tasted scoops of my favorite ice cream from the Salt & Straw cart! Note: If you haven’t had Salt & Straw, look them up now and go as soon as you can.

This ice cream deserves the attention!

This ice cream deserves the attention!

Of course, the main event was Andy’s performance. We sat front row and were in the thick of the energy of the music. Andy’s enthusiasm was infectious and I turned around to see the whole room rocking out to his happy beats. He also told us the stories behind the lyrics between songs and he shared a lot of personal anecdotes about life and his start in music which I found to be really humanizing. I knew a few of his hits and liked their positive sounds and catchy choruses. However, I was surprised by how much I liked some of his songs that I’d never heard before.

Front row of Andy Grammer's show

Front row of Andy Grammer’s show

A Tuesday in my hometown was transformed into such an unforgettable evening, filled with surprising, hilarious and tasty moments that I shared with my husband. I think what IHG and Mastercard successfully showed us was that these types of travel experiences, even local ones, can make life richer. Thanks for giving us a #PricelessExperience!

This post was sponsored by IHG Rewards Club Priceless Experiences.

Papua New Guinea: A Country Profile

Explore this remote part of the world with me as I go from Papua New Guinea’s mountainous Highlands to the Karawari River and Sepik in the Lowlands. With few roads, we took a charter plane between locations on the most remote experience of my life!


Sponsors: United States Tour Operators Association

Custom tour itinerary provided by Swain Destinations.

Behind the Scenes: On set with CNN in Tohoku, Japan


Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Japan, a country that has been on my bucket list ever since I could remember. I worked with CNN crew in Japan where we filmed a 60 second travel feature on an incredible region of Japan: Tohoku. Tohoku is located in the Northern part of Japan and consists of 6 prefectures: Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi & Yamagata.

We spent one week exploring the rugged landscape, tasting the traditional foods, admiring the local samurai culture at Kakunodate, and marveling at the cherry blossoms. We even had the chance to meet talented artisans perpetuating traditional Tohoku crafts such as Japanese ironware (Nanbu-Tekki) and Kokeshi Dolls.


This one minute video captures the spirit of the place, but know that it just touches the surface of all the beauty, history and culture in this “treasure land” of a region. I can’t wait to go back. Watch it now. 

Thanks to Japan National Tourist Organization and the CNN crew for such an incredible shoot & video!

Millennials Talk about Modern China today

Just as China is so ancient, it is very futuristic and advanced. In Shanghai, Xi’an & Beijing, the three cities that I visited on my experience with Wendy Wu Tours, I met up with many young locals and learned a lot about what it was like to live in modern China. From head sprouts, children laws to street dancing–I was able to get a real look at the country today through these honest, Chinese millennials.

Show: Live like a Local in China with Kelley Ferro: USTOA Travel Together Series featuring Wendy Wu Tours & Visit China Now

Exploring Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is as beautiful as it is cultural, and on our tour, we explored its peaks, beaches, historic neighborhoods, favelas and everything in between.


Show: Live Like a Local in Brazil with Kelley Ferro USTOA Travel Together