Blog Archives

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., 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 its […]

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5 Tuscan Towns for a Perfect Day Trip

It’s been awhile since we’ve traveled to Italy and it’s time to start making plans for a return visit. Our travel preference is to travel with friends and rent a home in Italy to use as a home base. Having a home base lets us set up a combination of days at leisure to relax and soak up the Italian way of life along with busy days of day trips seeing the countryside. There are many things that we love about Italy, especially the hill towns in Tuscany. Here are a few of our favorites, perfect as a home base, day trip, or weekend getaway. Castiglione d’Orcia Where it is: In the Siena province in Tuscany. Population around 3,000. What to do: Visit the Castle of Tentennano and the Santi Stefano and Degna to see art. Relax in the baths. […]

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Sail off on a Viking Homelands Cruise

I know that lots of you still haven’t made your big vacation plans for the year, or maybe you’re ahead of the game and making plans for next year. I took a 15-day summer cruise on the Viking Sea and recommend both the ship and the itinerary highly. The itinerary is called Viking Homelands, and it’s a cruise through Scandinavia and the Baltic stopping in historic city centers and cruising majestic Norwegian fjords. It’s full of value luxury destinations and experiences. Viking Ocean provides great value for your cruise dollar. It’s an all-inclusive experience – something that seems to have fallen by the wayside on other cruise experiences – with many tours included at each port, soft drinks, beer and wine complimentary at meals, and specialty restaurants that don’t require an additional charge. It was nice to relax and enjoy […]

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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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Talking About Viking Homeland Cruise on Amateur Traveler.

It’s only been a couple of weeks since we’ve returned from my 15-day, 8 country, Viking Homelands cruise on the Viking Sea. This is one of the top highlights of my year of travel (if not the very top).  and it was my pleasure to talk about the ship, the itinerary, and why I’m impressed with the cruise product delivered by Viking (both River and Ocean cruising). In this episode of the Amateur Traveler, Chris Christensen (blogger, podcaster, friend) and I talk about the ship, the itinerary, and why we’re impressed with the cruise product delivered by Viking (both River and Ocean cruising). You might also be interested in my review of the Viking Sea. Press the green arrow below to listen to the episode.   Amateur Traveler Episode 525 – Baltic Cruise with Viking Ocean    

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Where Else to Go Podcast Features Venice

Venice might not seem like a “where else to go” destination, but if you’ve heard people complain about the city being crowded, smelly, or hot, maybe you’re just not seeing the right side of Venice. In episode #8 of my podcast, Jennifer Dombrowski talks about the island of Venice. Some that she recommends include: Burano: famous for its fisherman and lacemakers. Jennifer wrote a guide to Burano that’s worth checking out. Mazzorbo: connected to Burano by a small wooden footbridge, most visitors never set foot on the sleep island home to the only winery and vineyard in the Venetian Lagoon Murano: famous for its glassblowers Lido: home to the only beach in the Venetian Lagoon and perfect for exploring on a bicycle Poveglia: the haunted and abandoned island Giudecca: once home to grand palaces, its now mostly residential but has great […]

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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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7 Places to Sip Wine in France

When I think about traveling in France, food and wine are at the top of my list of things to enjoy. From simple peasant fare to exquisite fine dining, my mouth waters thinking about the choices. It’s been awhile since I visited France for longer than making a connection at the airport, but I still have fond memories of delightful combinations of food and wine. You can enjoy this experience with minimal effort. Arm yourself with some basic wine information, hone in on a destination or two, maybe even limit your “research” to one or two types of grapes. For your consideration, I suggest seven places to sip wine while you’re in France: Toast a special occasion with champagne in Champagne. Champagne is not just a delicious sparkling wine, it’s a legal term that can only be used for wine made with […]

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