Category Archive: Europe

20 Best Beaches in Fuerteventura Spain

With 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, and winter temperatures averaging in the low 70’s,  Fuerteventura beaches lure travelers to their shores. Offering beautiful stretches of white and black sand, terrific year-round surfing, sailing, diving, sport fishing, and all sorts of adventure both on land and water. Fuerteventura is one of the Canary Islands (but owned by Spain), located about 63 miles off the coast of Africa.  Flights to Fuerteventura Spain go into the airport at El Mattoral, from dozens of cities across Europe, making it an easy and affordable destination for a beach vacation. So Which Fuerteventura Beach is For You? There are over 150 beaches on the island ranging from fine, white sand to black volcanic rock formed from volcanic activity, dating back thousands of years. Generally speaking, the beaches on the north part of the island have […]

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Competitours: Adventure Travel for Real People

Long before I adopted the phrase “value luxury” I intuitively knew what it meant. It sums up my travel ethos completely – learning when to splurge and when to save – and over the years I’ve refined it a bit more by saying it’s luxury for real people, not people with private yachts and celebrity friends. Travelers define luxury in different ways. For some, it’s a hotel room with a view and for others, it’s dinner at a Michelin-star restaurant. For some, it’s a trip to a hard to get to country and for others, it’s lying on a beach and reading a good book. For some, it’s a cruise and for others, it’s getting to one more country on an itinerary. What’s important to one traveler is not the same as what’s important to another. That’s why it’s often […]

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Visiting the Ruins of Pompeii: From Tragedy to Tourism

The ruins of Pompeii have become one of Italy’s most visited sites. On August 24th, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted in a violent two-day display that destroyed the city of Pompeii, Italy, and the surrounding area. It is one of history’s largest recorded volcanic eruptions, and a tragedy by any measure. The city was buried under ash and pumice for nearly 1700 years and was presumed lost until its accidental rediscovery in the mid-1700s.   The subsequent excavation of the ruins of Pompeii provided a peek at what life was like during the height of the Roman Empire. Rising out of the ash and lava over a thousand years later, the ruins of Pompeii turned a horrible tragedy into a tourism opportunity. Millions of visitors a year now visit this UNESCO World Heritage site located not far from Naples, along with […]

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Viva le Tower: The 127th Anniversary of the Eiffel Tower

March 31st is the 127th anniversary of the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower, and boy dho I wish I was there to celebrate! Located beside the River Seine in Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in the city.  Following its completion in 1889, it was the tallest structure in the world, and remained so until the Chrysler Building in New York City displaced it from that top spot. The Eiffel Tower was originally built as the entrance arch for the Paris World’s Fair.  That  also marked the 100-year commemoration of the French Revolution. When it was first built, many considered it to be an eyesore, part of the reason why originally the tower was to be torn down 20 years after it was erected.  Fortunately, some practical uses came of the tower (including the role it played in helping […]

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Lisbon: Looking Back, Looking Forward

A little over four years ago, we were planning a trip to Portugal. The plan was to stay in the Lisbon area for a week, before continuing on with another week in Tuscany. It was our first trip to Portugal, and in my Type-A way, I researched and found a place to stay in Cascais near the beach, figured out public transportation, and was charting a list of things to see and do. We were traveling with a friend and every few days we shared something new and exciting that we learned. Tickets were purchased, accommodations booked, lists were made. We were ready. BUT – as we were about to be reminded – travel plans don’t always turn out the way we want. Or that we would hope for. Sixteen hours before we were to board our flight for Lisbon, my father-in-law […]

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Visiting the Ruins of Pompeii: From Tragedy to Tourism

On August 24th, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted in a violent two day display that destroyed the city of Pompeii, Italy, and the surrounding area. It is one of history’s largest recorded volcanic eruptions, and a tragedy any measure. The city was buried under ash and pumice for nearly 1700 years, and was presumed lost until its accidental re-discovery in the mid-1700s.   The subsequent excavation of the site provided a peek at what life was like during the height of the Roman Empire. Rising out of the ash and lava over a thousand years later, Pompeii turned a horrible tragedy into a tourism opportunity. Millions of visitors a year now visit this UNESCO World Heritage site located not far from Naples, along with its sister city Herculaneum. The site is stable and safe to visit, but there have been some […]

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Is a River Cruise Right for You?

Earlier this year, I was the enthusiastic guest of Viking River Cruises onboard their longship Eistla cruising the Rhine. We started in Frankfurt and ended in Amsterdam, the trip is also offered in reverse, and, I’m told, this was a fairly typical first river cruise itinerary. River cruising is generating a lot of buzz lately, with gorgeous print ads, television sponsorships (Viking sponsors [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DRWEO6S’ text=’Downton Abbey’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’travelingwithmj-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0d60fa0e-6e6d-11e8-a9b2-7b82edb24d11′] on PBS), and blogger campaigns. But when you strip away all that glitzy advertising, the decision to take a river cruise is a big one – one that needs to be made out of the spotlight and made with an eye toward your personal vacation preferences. Here’s my take on Viking’s Legends of the Rhine cruise. I hope it will help you decide if a river cruise is right for […]

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Changing of the Guard at Presidential Mansion in Athens

The Presidential Mansion is located across the street from Athens’ National Gardens, and I happened upon it at the changing of the guard. Called the Evzoni, the guard is an elite ceremonial unit drawn from the Greek Army, and members are usually identified early in the military career while in basic training. The Evzoni are responsible for guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Presidential Mansion, and the gates of the guard’s camp. The Evzoni are easily recognized by and are a bit famous for, their traditional uniform which dates back to the Ottoman occupation of [amazon_textlink asin=’1631213075′ text=’Greece’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’travelingwithmj-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b1671088-382f-11e8-8f33-63e11b78ba21′]. the everyday uniform is a Farion (a scarlet fex with a black tassel), Doulamas (a navy blue tunic), and Periskelides (white woolen stockings, two pairs are worn) with Anapastos (a type of garter to hold the stockings in […]

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Talking About Belfast on The Amateur Traveler

I love talking about travel with friends, and recently Chris Christensen gave me the opportunity to talk about my trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a lot of people as a guest on his podcast, Amateur Traveler. Take a listen. Amateur Traveler Episode 396 – Travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland Now, head on over to subscribe to the Amateur Traveler so you won’t miss any of the great guests and topics Chris features on his show. I subscribe by iTunes and get automatic updates of new shows, but there are plenty of options for you to choose from.

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