This is a new stop for me — I had never heard about this part of the mainland, but it is an important area of the Peloponnesian Peninsula. The postcard entry for boats is seeing the Bouts island fortress — young by Greek standards, old by mine. The little island was built in the fifteenth century and has seen a lot of conflict in its day. Now it looks charming — a description I am sure would insult it’s builders. I gather that it was converted into a hotel for a while and then abandoned. It would make a fabulous place to stay.
We had coffee on our balcony and as far as romance goes — I would say do anything you can to get a balcony — and use it. Just sitting out there in the morning — taking in the view and taking time to get rid of the morning fuzzies — is centering. It helps that the coffee on the Quest is dark and delicious. Continue reading »
The ship that will take us around to the mainland of Greece and Turkey and to the islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes carries about 700 lucky people. It’s a new line but loading went smoothly and we were delivered to our cabin with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of nice touches. There was the cold towel, and the cold champagne when we entered and the assurance that our luggage would magically appear in our room. (It did.)
The ship looks a lot like a Four Seasons inside — elegant dark wood, curving staircases — it’s easy to forget this is a boat. The cabin itself was lovely but somewhat narrow and the shower did not speak romance to me. Happily, we were upgraded to a suite (low on the hierarchy of suites that Azmara has but a huge improvement over our previous cabin). The suite has everything I want in a cruise room — a private balcony with room enough to eat and lounge and a bathroom that two people can use without elbowing each other in a territorial power grab for sink space. Most important to me: there is a tub and a shower two people could use together if they were inclined to do so. Continue reading »
The boat will board in Athens, so we came a day early to see a bit more of the city than I’d ever allotted time for. I’m glad I did. Many people are told to skip Athens, and while I understand that the city is gritty and the traffic can be horrendous, that advice is wrong. (I say this even though we had a tough time getting to our hotel because several streets were blocked off because of a one-day strike).
Still, Athens not only has the Acropolis and Parthenon dominating the skyline of the old city, but the old city itself is a worthy destination for romantic moments. Continue reading »
My grandparents golfed, cruised and often traveled in tour groups. They would bring things home for me from their travels, such as a Norwegian sweater, a Scottish blanket (I still use it after all these years) and a turquoise ring from a Native America Reservation they loved to visit in Arizona — wonderfully traditional stuff.
My parents are way more adventurous, but it still would probably stress them out to travel the way I often do: informed, well read, but ready to alter my plans at any moment. I have to hand it to them though, for folks in their 70s, they are pretty inspirational.
Just like a concerned parent, I fretted when my father traveled to Myanmar on his own and when my mom and her best friend took a whirlwind trip to Greece and Turkey. They are young at heart and never wanted to follow a travel formula, which is in part why I love to travel so much. Continue reading »
My friend’s birthday fell on Inauguration Day so she really wanted to celebrate this year for many reasons. The weather was so glorious and we were headed to this resort called Seascape in Aptos, California. Just a few minutes south of Santa Cruz, this lovely spot is a great respite from the frantic city life I call my existence.
Five moms were headed to this condo to celebrate our good friend’s momentous birthday. The trip started out like some AbFab meets Sex in the City moment with three of us in a Volvo in heels, driving down Highway 1 at 10 p.m. It was pitch black and we were jabbering away about the economy when I thought I heard a plane crashing (the USAIR flight crash landing on the Hudson River fresh in my mind). Turns out, the front tire blew. It was terrifying…. Continue reading »
2009 has only just begun and few feel capable of predicting how the struggling economy will affect travel, beyond deep discounts. The landscape has changed and we all need to be on our toes to get the best deals. I came across an article on the Baltimore Sun website which offered five helpful New Year’s resolutions for the savvy vacationer:
I will beware of bankruptcies.
I will figure on fees.
I will get an edge through e-mail.
I will diligently monitor the U.S. dollar.
I will plan ahead to get a passport.
Did you know you might be charged for more legroom on flights? Another obvious, but often overlooked issue, the fact that the fluctuating dollar could drastically raise or reduce the cost of a hotel room abroad. Or, that on June 1, tighter border rules take effect. Most Americans returning by sea or land from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean will need a passport, a passport card or other secure document. Check out the article: Vow to make the most of your 2009 travel dollar to find out more about this list of travel tips for 2009.
Without running a Google search or checking a current almanac, most of us probably wouldn’t know that our Earth contains 757 countries, territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups, and major states and provinces. Certainly most of us wouldn’t consider it possible to visit them all. Most of us would be wowed if we made it to 100 countries. Even 50 is pretty darn good. But all of them?
Sometime in the 1980s the QE2 came to San Francisco and I remember thinking she was a marvel among marvels. After all, at 963 feet and 70,000 tons she was the world’s largest cruise ship and dwarfed the other vessels I’d seen over the years docking at the piers beneath my home on Telegraph Hill. Not long after, or maybe before, my memory is fuzzy, the ship was commandeered by Margaret Thatcher to serve as a troop ship during the 1982 Falklands War.
In January 2007 she returned to San Francisco, diminished in size by the behemoths that followed her. The current “world’s largest cruise liner” is Freedom of the Seas at a staggering 1,112 feet and 160,000 tons. That’s more than twice the weight of the QE2, which is almost beyond comprehension, literally holding a small town of 4,300 passengers and 1,300 crew on 15 passenger decks. Continue reading »
The water below barely rippled, a sheet of blue reflecting star sapphire or lapis lazuli, brilliant in the morning sun. From my spot on the bowspirt it looked impossibly distant. For more than two years I’d dreamed of being in this place, high above the Aegean Sea with the sun on my shoulders and that deep blue bleeding into indigo like a memory long forgotten.
I took a deep breath, gazed at the horizon, looked down once more, then dove toward that memory. Down, down, arms reaching, chin tucked, feet pointed, down to the sea, slicing without impact into that lapis pool, cool silk caressing my skin. Down, down, into that radiant mystical sapphire that dazzles like a sunrise, like a shooting star, like a full moon glimpsed through autumn trees. Down into that blue that is so blue it feels like it’s reaching into the cosmos. Continue reading »
In Turkey, the ritual of tea colors everyday life in ways not seen in many cultures. Sit down in a carpet shop with little likelihood of buying anything and tea will be served as long as you remain. Make a modest purchase in a shop—as I did in Bodrum when I bought three skirts for my wife and two daughters—and the owner will send out for tea, apple or black, your choice.
But I’d never seen or tasted “yellow tea,” served to us in a café seldom visited by tourists in the village of Bozalan. The men of the town had congregated there, as they no doubt do every day, and welcomed us to their fraternity. Continue reading »