Blog Archives

Paris Pantheon: Finding Where the Bodies Are Buried

Paris is known for its charming architectural attractions, rich history, bold romantic overtones, exquisite food, and more. On my first visit to France, I visited the Paris Pantheon, a neoclassical church in the Latin Quarter of Paris, and it quickly became one of my favorite places in the city. The Pantheon in Paris was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome and has a domed top similar to the one on Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. Although the Pantheon was originally an abbey, it now primarily serves as a burial place for famous French heroes, leaders, artists, and writers. The imposing structure is made of stone and marble supported by 22 Corinthian-inspired pillars. The building’s entrance is headlined by the inscription “AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE” (To great men, the grateful homeland). The interior of the building is decorated with sculptures […]

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Planning Your Perfect Trip to Ireland: Easy Tips & Tricks

Start planning your perfect trip to Ireland with these easy tips and tricks. These tried and true recommendations will help make your Ireland vacation full of adventure and memories. While our thoughts to turn Ireland in March because of St. Patrick’s Day, the Emerald Isle is a terrific vacation spot throughout the year. Whether you define Ireland as the Republic (an independent country) or as Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.), we have some tips and recommendations for planning your perfect trip to Ireland. So pour a cuppa (Irish Breakfast Tea, of course), grab some of those delicious shortbread cookies and start planning your perfect Ireland vacation. Are you excited to plan your Ireland vacation? Here are a few other things to keep in mind: The Republic of Ireland uses Euros as its currency, Northern Ireland uses British Pounds. There […]

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78 Movies Set in Italy You’ll Love (or Hate)

We can’t travel to Italy right now, so get your Italian culture fix with these 78 movies set in Italy. This list represents films set in Italy, not necessarily filmed in Italy – we all know that set designers can make a studio backlot look like the meandering streets of Venice or a Tuscany hill town. While most of these movies are in English, no Italy movie list can ignore the many fine sub-titled Italian movies, so I’ve included some of those. I’ve tried to include the memorable, historical, and romantic movies set in Italy, while acknowledging there are a few that are, perhaps, better forgotten. And if you’re planning a first trip to Italy, this is a great list of movies to watch before you go. Any list is subjective. If your favorite movie set in Italy didn’t make […]

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5 Tuscan Towns for a Perfect Day Trip

It’s been a while 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 to see 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 […]

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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 of hundred nuns. The Castle of […]

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Enjoy Barge Cruising in Burgundy with European Waterways

We are big cruise fans. We enjoy ocean cruising, river cruising, and earlier this summer we fell in love with barge cruising. We cruised the Burgundy canals, drank fabulous wines, met wonderful people, and enjoyed the history, culture, and cuisine of the area. Burgundy (Bourgogne in French) is located about three and a half hours southeast of Paris and is probably best known for its pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. This was a wine region we wanted to learn more about and the reason we selected the Classic Northern Burgundy itinerary. We were also familiar with the food from this region of France (delicious cheeses, beef bourguignon, coq au vin) and some of the history. This was a perfect itinerary for first-time barge cruisers who are food, wine, and history lovers! We’re excited to review our hotel barge, the itinerary, […]

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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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You’ll Love These 9 Art Masterpieces in Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy, attracts millions of visitors each year and is well known for its art – art museums and galleries housing many of the world’s great art masterpieces. It has long been considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is just one of the many reasons that I love Italy. Since the 15th Century, Florence has been an economically prosperous city due to an Italian banking family known as the Medicis. Cosimo de’ Medici became a patron of art, science, philosophy, and architecture, which helped the city to become known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. The Historic Center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with significant architecture, monuments, and cultural history combined with its art history.  Artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Botticelli, and Ghiberti created masterpieces thanks to his patronage. […]

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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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