During our recent visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, where our daughter, Lia, lives and works, my wife, Catharine, and I had the chance to leave the city a bit and explore the attractions of the nearby region.
Since it was our third visit to Charlottesville, we had already toured Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and the Jefferson-designed University of Virginia campus, sporting some of the country’s finest architecture. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Now it was time to see some of the nearby cities, take some scenic drives, negotiate some hiking trails, absorb some additional culture, visit some wineries, and even make a pilgrimage to the factory that produces my favorite potato chips. (Special thanks to Lia, her boyfriend, Mike, and their trusty Prius for chauffeuring us around.)
So here are my top… Continue reading
Although I’d been to Greece twice before, I wasn’t familiar with the town of Nafplio (also spelled Nafplion) until four members of my family and I spent several days there recently to attend a baptismal ceremony and celebration for the baby daughter of some friends. (More on that in my next post.)
Nafplio is about a two-hour drive from the airport in Athens, and is located at the northern end of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, where the Peloponnesian War pitted the Athenians versus the Spartans in the 5th century BC.
The militaristic Spartans prevailed over the once-dominant but philosophically minded Athenians, dealing a fatal blow to the golden age of ancient Greek democracy.
It was kind of like the Michigan State Spartans football team taking on the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Ouch.
Nafplio,… Continue reading
Ah, Rio. One of my favorite cities on earth, and certainly one of the most beautiful.
Sugar Loaf Mountain… the golden beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema…the panoramic views from Corcovado (site of Christ the Redeemer statue)…Carnival…samba…churrascaria retaurants (all the meat you can eat!)….caipirinhas (Brazil’s delicious national cocktail, made of cachaca, sugar and lime)…the Cariocas (Rio natives) themselves, some of the world’s most sensuous people.
These are all images that will become familiar during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, which run August 5 to 21.
Perhaps less publicized will be the images of Rio’s sprawling slums (favelas), of toxic polluted waterways (including some Olympic venues), of shoddy workmanship in the Olympic Village (the accommodations for the Australian team have already caught fire due to faulty… Continue reading
Fourth in a Series:
During my week on the Greek island of Milos, I saw no Mexican restaurants, no sushi bars, no French bistros, or even a Chinese take-out joint.
Yes, there were casual cafes that served pizza, burgers, or crepes as part of their offerings, but no dedicated ethnic eateries or American fast-food places.
All this was fine with me. My family and I ate Greek food three times a day — more if you count the occasional snack — and never got tired of it.
Not only was it almost invariably fresh and delicious, but the variety in selection and preparation far surpassed what you might expect to find in a Greek restaurant in the United States. Our diet went way beyond the familiar gyros,… Continue reading
Third in a Series:
During my recent week’s stay on Milos, one of the most beautiful of Greece’s Cyclades islands, I sampled several different beaches. And when I say different, I don’t mean merely separate — I mean distinctly different from each other.
Along with notable history, scenery, whitewashed villages, and food, Milos excels in its beaches.
Dozens of them are scattered around the island, some of them accessible only by boat, others by rough road, still others easy to reach by any vehicle, including bicycles. One long stretch of sand, along the inner harbor, is close to the island’s largest town, Adamas, and features calm waters, a beach bar, and even a touch of thermal warmth left over from Milos’ volcanic past.
Second in a Series:
Driving on a Greek island is easy — if you let your spouse take the wheel.
I’m fortunate, in a way, that my wife, Catharine, gets a bit nauseous if she tries to read anything — such as a map — in a moving car. That means that in unfamiliar territory without a GPS, I get to navigate, and she has to drive.
Getting to our house on Milos — which we had rented for a week’s vacation with our son, daughter-in-law and six-month-old grandson — was something of an adventure.
Driving up from Adamas, the largest town in Milos and site of the ferry terminal and waterfront marina, required following a winding road up through the hills while cars zipped around us, passing on blind curves. Catharine stuck… Continue reading
Milos — one of Greece’s sun-soaked Cycladic islands that include the better known Mykonos and Santorini — had not been on my radar until a Greek-American friend of ours suggested it might be the perfect place for a three-generation vacation.
The three generations? My wife, Catharine, and I — first-time grandparents as of six months ago — our son, Grael; daughter-in-law, Nona; and our young grandson, Conrad, making his first trip abroad, brand new passport in hand. (Well, not in his hands — though he would have liked to have gotten hold of it, along with anything dangling and shiny.)
Because we’d all be traveling with a baby, we didn’t want anything too hectic and crowded — that eliminated Mykonos and Santorini — but we did want a good choice of lodgings, restaurants, cafes, and beaches, as… Continue reading
Auto Europe, one of my affiliate partners, is giving away a 7 Night Italian Road Trip Escape, valued at over $3,200.
The winner will receive seven nights accommodations at three prestigious Italian resorts, a $250 credit toward a rental car, a food tour in Rome or Florence, some handy travel accessories, and expertly written Italian travel guides.
The contest ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday, August 6th, 2016.
You can enter the contest by going here.
Learn more about Auto Europe, an international company that rents cars all over the world (including, of course, Europe).
I just returned from an idyllic two-week stay with three generations of my family in Greece, which I’ll be writing about at length in coming days.
What was not so idyllic were the flights to get there and back.
Torturous flights: hardly a news flash. Most flyers these days just grit their teeth and put up as best they can with the crowding; delays; security hassles; extra fees for checked baggage, “premium” seats, food, etc.; lost luggage; and often chaotic airport scenes.
After all, flying does (usually ) get us to where we want to go faster than other forms of transportation. But that doesn’t make it a pleasant experience.
Some Things to Try
Since I fly quite often, I try to alleviate the pain as much as possible:
I check-in online within 24 hours of… Continue reading
One of the best perks for turning 62 — if you’re a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident — is the “Senior Pass” that allows those aged 62 and over to enter any of the U.S. national parks, monuments, and recreation areas for all of ten bucks. Let me repeat that. That’s a “ten” with one zero.
And that’s not all, fellow baby boomers! The pass is good for life. It never expires until you do (and if you never expire, so much the better!).
And wait, there’s more! You can get your pass as you drive into many of those same parks and recreation areas. Just ask the attendant at the gate, show some proof of age (driver’s license is good), and you can usually get your pass on the spot. For $10.
Those under 62… Continue reading