Blog Archives

Review: The Doctors House, Fort Casey Inn

When visitors head to Whidbey Island, they typically think of Langley (at the south end) or Oak Harbor (the naval air station at the north end), but tucked away in the middle part of the island is Coupeville. Coupeville is the county seat, and with a population under 2,000 is a historic district within the federal Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. The reserve includes farmlands, Fort Ebey State Park, Fort Casey State Park, beaches and shorelines, parks, trails, and 91 locations on the National Register of Historic Places. For a place to stay in keeping with the town’s historic significance, the Fort Casey Inn provides a modern take on officer housing from pre-World War I. The row of historic cottages date back to around 1909 when they served as Non-Commissioned Officers’ Quarters for the neighboring defense installation. They have been modernized […]

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Getaway to Nara, Japan

Nara, located in the Kansai region of Japan, was formerly known as Heijo and in 710 was established as Japan’s first permanent capital. The capital was moved in 784, in large part due to the growing power and ambition of the many Buddhist monasteries located there. The historical treasures of the area remain, however, including some of the oldest and largest temples in Japan. Like most other cities in Japan, there is folklore around the name of Nara. A variety of theories exist, but the most widely accepted one says that the name came from words and phrases that meant “flat land” or “gentle slope” which described the area’s topography. Today Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture and is an active center of both government and commerce. Like Awaji, It makes an easy getaway destination from Kyoto and […]

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UNESCO Site: Visiting Malbork Castle, Poland

A visit to Malbork Castle Museum will feature both the historical and artistic aspects. There are also some archaeological activities and research, always looking for ways to add depth to the layers of history of the Teutonic Order and the Castle. The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, usually referred to as the Teutonic Order, is a Catholic religious order dating back to the 12th century. Although it was originally founded as a German military brotherhood, it’s purpose has changed over the years and since 1929 it has been strictly a religious order, although it harkens back to those early years with the conference of honorary knighthoods. Today the Catholic branch of the Order has about 1,000 members, and while originally no women were permitted, members today include a couple hundred nuns. The Castle of the […]

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Weekend Getaway: Gig Harbor, Washington

The Pacific Northwest town of Gig Harbor, Washington, is located across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Tacoma and is about a 45-minute drive from Sea-Tac Airport. The town has taken its rich history of commercial fishing and boat building and turned its downtown area into a historic waterfront community that attracts visitors with its galleries, parks, public and private docks and marinas, shopping, and dining. It is also one of the many small towns that promote itself as the gateway to Olympic Peninsula. It’s easy to think of Gig Harbor as a summer destination, and it is a great one, but don’t overlook the value that can be found in the shoulder or offseason. Fall is a beautiful time in the area, sunny and crisp days, but the rainy season means fewer people and lower prices. Things to Do Enjoy a […]

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Hotel Review: Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando

Address:  Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando is located at 5601 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida. Value Luxury Rating:  (out of three hearts) Features:  Located on the grounds of Universal Orlando Resort, and a short complimentary water taxi away from CityWalk and the theme parks (and through November first from Halloween Horror Nights), the hotel location is popular with guests wanting the extra benefits that come with staying on property. Those theme park benefits are substantial, adding up to real dollar and cents savings, and include:  Express Pass (skip the lines) valued at up to $89/per day, priority seating at many theme park restaurants and first available seating at others, first available seating at CityWalk restaurants, complimentary water taxi to both theme parks (avoid driving and parking), complimentary shuttle to Wet ‘n Wild water park, SeaWorld, and Aquatica, and one hour early […]

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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 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 you. River cruising attracts an “older” demographic I […]

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Hiking in Sedona is Seeing Red (Rocks)

There are plenty of reasons to make hiking part of a daily activity routine – it’s a perfect way to jump-start a healthy routine. Hiking in promises a healthy experience and more. There are a few off-the-beaten-path trails that are not only breathtaking but also range in difficulty suitable for someone just starting out, or experienced pros looking for the next great challenge. These trails offer options ranging from biking and trail running to horseback riding and climbing and much more. With Sedona as the backdrop, visitors will rush to the illustrious trails spanning the red rock terrain, with jaw-dropping views of Sedona’s landscape and topography. Taking advantage of the backdrop, mountain-goers can bask in the sunshine while keeping their resolutions to be fit in the new year. A local favorite, “The Crack,” can be found at the end of […]

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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 . 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 place). The shoes they wore we […]

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UNESCO World Heritage Site: Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

  Tongariro National Park, the oldest national park in , is a , listed for it mix of cultural and natural importance. The park, located on the North Island, is home to three active volcanos:  Mt. Tongariro (for which the park was named, Mt. Ruapehu, and Mt. Ngauruhoe. Visiting is relatively easy, with decent roads providing access, and while some visitors are attracted by the UNESCO designation alone, there is much more to hold the attention of visitors. Here are just a few reasons to visit Tongariro National Park.   Skiing and snow sports – Mt. Ruapehu is home to two ski areas, Whakapapa on the northern side and Turoa on the southwestern side. Whakapapa has 15 ski lifts and also offers accommodations. Turoa has 9 lifts with accommodation offered in nearby Ohakune. Skiing and snowboarding are popular in winter, […]

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Flavors of Peru

Food, glorious food — It’s one of the many things that I enjoy about traveling!  Visiting a new country or region often means discovering a new food, spice, or other dishes.  Sometimes those discoveries are not something I’d want to try again, but fortunately, more often it’s a tasty delight that I long for once I’ve returned home. If you’ve discovered food that you love while on your Peru holidays, take some time to look around your neighborhood – you may be surprised to find a Peruvian restaurant or store located nearby.  While you may not be able to re-create the experience at home, you can rekindle your love affair with the cuisine of this South American country.  Fair warning – If you fell in love with the food while visiting Peru, this post may have you drooling to go […]

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