If the falling leaves, shorter days and the return of traffic jams on the JFX have you pining for those lost, 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 (Maryland 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 this past summer.
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
How long: 5 days
Why: For the annual MAD Symposium, curated and hosted by chef Rene Redzepi of Noma restaurant, the internationally renowned Michelin two-star restaurant. MAD is a food festival in Copenhagen designed to inspire the sharing of expertise, knowledge and ideas on the history and future of all things food-related among the world's most celebrated culinary professionals. "This year's symposium was [themed] GUTS, selected by Rene Redzepi and the co-curators for this year — David Chang and the editorial team from Lucky Peach magazine," Voltaggio said. "It was about showing no restraints and becoming agents of change — taking risks and action." The symposium features some of the world's most prominent chefs for an open-forum discussion where they present life stories, business models and food concepts to an audience of chefs, sommeliers, baristas and journalists.
First time visit? No. "This August was my third time in Copenhagen over the past two years."
Travel companions: "I traveled with my chef de cuisine at Volt, Graeme Ritchie, and also my brother, chef Michael Voltaggio [co-founder of Volt and now owner of the eateries ink and ink.sack in Hollywood, Calif]."
Where he stayed: "For lodging, we opted for Airbnb and stayed in an apartment close to where Noma and where the MAD circus tents were on Refshaleøen in Copenhagen.
What he ate: "My most memorable meals were at Noma, Geranium and the new AMASS. This was my third time dining at Noma over the past two years, and I was again blown away by the experience. It is really exciting to see a restaurant that has hit the highest levels and continues to create new ones. At Geranium, this was my first dining experience from a chef who has won the Bocuse D'Or Competition [an international cooking competition] and also placed for silver and bronze two other years. No other chef has done that. The expected precision came through — I recognized it quickly with the very innovative canapes on arrival. AMASS [was] just opened this summer by the former chef de cuisine at Noma and someone who I had the pleasure to work with early in my career at Aureole. Chef Matt Orlando's cuisine is some of the most exciting I have had this year. Every serving was very thoughtful, exciting and, most importantly, delicious. The night ended with a bonfire — they set one up nightly out in the restaurant's garden. What a great night."
If you go: Expect to smile a lot. According to the World Happiness Report published by Columbia University's Earth Institute, the Danes are the happiest people in the world. Go to visitcopenhagen.com. Bryan Voltaggio flew SAS Airlines nonstop from Dulles. For lodging, Voltaggio rented an apartment through the website Airbnb.com, which offers travelers the opportunity to interact with owners to get details about the digs, the area and more.
How long: One week
Alone? No. "My husband and I traveled to Europe for our summer vacation. We took an interesting approach to it — a road trip. It was my first time going to Europe."
Why: "We've been dying to do something big and extravagant," Marie said. "We both had started new jobs around the time that we got married, so this was like a long overdue honeymoon and celebrated our second anniversary on the trip."
Getting there: "I would recommend if you take an international flight, don't sit in the exit row. We found that out the hard way — the exit rows [seats] do not recline — we spent eight hours sitting straight up."