Our Fabulous European Holiday

September 28, 2008

florence with musicianWe arrive in Milan, Italy on the 28th of September where we are staying at the Four Points by Sheraton for 2 nights; it is in an ideal location - situated in the heart of the business district near the Central Railway Station and steps from the city’s main attractions, including the Duomo, Teatro alla Scala and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

Milan highlights - we are looking forward to visiting Milan’s Duomo Cathedral - Very few churches in Italy took such a long time to build as Milan’s towering Gothic Cathedral. To complete the magnificent “Duomo” took more than five centuries and necessitated resolving many vicissitudes.

Also, Leonardo’s Last Supper, Santa Maria delle Grazie - The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the most striking monuments of Lombard Renaissance. The Church was built between 1466 and 1490 under the direction of Guiniforte Solari, only subsequently in 1492 the apsidal part was added by Bramante. In the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, ancient premises of the Court of the Inquisition, one of the absolute masterpieces of history is kept: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

We also understand there is a fabulous Museum that features Ferragamo Shoes in Milan so we will alsoAssis be in search of the Museum as well as a new pair of shoes!

30/Sept - We have 1st class train reservations from Milan to Perugia, arriving in Perugia (in the Umbria area of Italy) at 4:19pm. 1st class is the only way to go on the train as you will then have reserved seating and its not much more then 2nd class seating. We will then be taking a taxi approx 5 miles to a small bed & breakfast - www.cooking in umbria.com where we will be enjoying a cooking class, dinner, wine and an overnight in their farmhouse. NOTE - A great read is “Living in a Foreign Language” by Michael Tucker (formerly of L.A. Law) - I am searching out his recommendations in the area.

1/Oct - We have a car and English speaking driver reserved to tour us around the area, specifically to visit the town of Assisi (St. Francis of Assisi) and then deliver us to our villa in the country where we are living for the next 5 nights - www.casabetti.com.

Casa Betti is a 2 bedroom country villa with all the amenities of home. It is centrally located to many nearby towns and villages. I understand we are closest to the town of Todi where we will be able to find a vespa for rent as well as access to high speed internet. The town of Orvieto is located approximately 30 minutes away and is a charming old hill top town known for its Duomo (church) and its pottery. We plan on catching the train on the 3rd of October to Florence for a day of shopping and visiting the Ufizzi Museaum.

6/Oct - Today we head out on another adventure to the quaint hillside town of Lettomanoppello - population 3,000. Lettomanoppello is located near the larger town of Pescara, located on the Eastern coast of Italy near the Adriatic Sea. We have decided to visit this town as Barbara - one of my traveling companions - family originates from this town. We have scheduled this visit to coincide with a yearly festival. We will be staying in a Monastary nearby - it will be an adventure!

7/Oct - We will be taking the train to Rome where we will be staying in a cute little B & B www.evasroom.com very well priced and located near the Spanish steps. I am looking forward to staying here as it looks incredibly charming.

8/Oct Tour the Vatican - we have heard the Pope welcomes visitors on Wednesday mornings so are heading to the Vatican in hopes of having an audience with him.

italian balconeyAfter visiting the Vatican, we will return to our hotel, pack an overnight bag and will head south to Pompeii! We have a car and English speaking driver reserved to pick us up and drive south to the town of Benevento where we will stay the night. www.provincia_benevento.it

9/0ct We are meeting Nicoletta di Rubbio from the Society of Stregheventum which is a cooperative between various businesses within the region that will be providing our private tour and a nights’ stay at The Grand Hotel Italiano http://www.hotel-italiano.it/.

We will then be driven to PompeiI where we will be guided to all the sites that Pompeii has to offer its visitors which includes the famous archaeological site where the town became frozen in time. We are looking forward to this excursion!

9/Oct Later in the day we head back to Evas Room in Rome

10/Oct We have scheduled a private walking tour with Ms. Love of www.love4adventure.com
You’ll see the best of Rome in this all-inclusive, small group tour of the city. Join us as we admire some of the most important archaeological ruins on the planet and discuss what life was really like for the emperors, senators and gladiators of ancient Rome.

After our visit to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, we’ll show you how modern day life mixes with the ancient world here in Rome, as we explore the historic city center. When we’ve finished our morning explorations we’ll sit down to lunch at our favourite neighborhood restaurant where you can sample Roman cuisine at its best.

Last, but definitely not least, we’ll bring you to Vatican City where you will see the beauty of Bernini’s Baldacchino, Michelangelo’s Pietà and of course, his Sistine Chapel.

10/Oct Our last night in Rome at Evas Room and off to Spain to catch our Windstar cruise
Oct 11 IB Air 5814 Rome - Barcelona dept. 12:40pm arrive 2:25pm

I must make a note here and state alot of these little excursions we have reserved are due to the hard work of Toni O with www.navi360.com; he is absolutely fabulous! He worked on my itinerary while in the middle of the last hurricane in Houston!

Stay tuned - this is just the itinerary for the first 2 weeks - after touring the country we will be relaxing aboard the Windstar Sailing ship - arrividerci! Gotta go catch my plane!

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The TravelGal is heading to Europe!

September 27, 2008

italian vineyardBuon Guerno! I’m outta here! I am currently sitting in Chicago awaiting my Air One flight to Milan, Italy. Yes I specialize in travel to the South Pacific but its time to expand my horizons. I am also conducting an experiment - how easy is it to really work and travel? I may need to build a site called The Business Hobo! I have the laptop, Iphone, Skype setup and international converter so I should be good to go!

I am on a month long tour, spending the first 2 weeks in the countryside of Italy, with some of the highlights including a small town festival and an overnight in a Monestary on the Adriatic Sea, a tour with the Archeological Society of Pompeii, walking tour of Rome, day in Florence and a cooking class in Umbria.

I will be spending the last 2 weeks cruising the Western Mediterranean aboard a Windstar cruise. The Wind Surf is cruising as it was meant to be - with only 314 passengers, gourmet meals, no formal nights, just casual elegance at its best. I will be posting the full itinerary shortly and will be updating the site as I find time and wireless internet service. I hope you follow along….feel free to email me as I should have access in most areas of the country - Teresa@Luxuryhideaways.net - Arrivederci!

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Vatulele Island Resort, Fiji Islands

September 24, 2008

The Point at VatuleleVatulele Island Resort is located on a spectacular island of the Fiji Island group located in the heart of the South Pacific. There are 19 bures (cottages) set back from a stunning stretch of white sand beach providing generous personal space together with natural architecture to present a new standard of luxury in the region.

The Point is “The Premier” bure not only at Vatulele Island but in all of Fiji! It is a premium bure providing a commanding view of the idyllic lagoon and the entire stretch of beach. Check out the private pool carved into the side of the cliff!  The Point boasts two levels, with air conditioning and two private fresh water plunge pools. Additionally the villa is attended by a personal butler who is trained to anticipate every need. The Point is in high demand with honeymooners and high profile guests seeking total privacy.

For more information, call Luxury Hideaways at 800-644-6659

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American Safari Cruises is the only way to cruise!

September 24, 2008

American Safari Cruises

Luxury in the Pursuit of Adventure!

Last week I was invited to preview and experience a new yacht that will be sailing around the Hawaiian Islands beginning this December 19th. The Safari Explorer, a 145-foot luxury yacht, carries 36 passengers and has a crew of 18 to cater to their every whim! The yacht has been cruising the waters in Alaska and is owned by American Safari Cruises.

We boarded the ship in Bellingham, Washington and headed for the San Juan Islands with our final destination of Seattle in 3 days. The excitement of pulling anchor and cruising out into the sunset is a heady feeling! We were greeting onboard by the friendly staff, cocktails and pupus (snacks). As the staff escorted us to our outside staterooms (no inside cabins here) and deposited our luggage, we headed to the bar to grab a quick cocktail and headed to the upper deck to waive goodbye to the City of Bellingham.

The concept of cruising with American Safari Cruises allows the average person to experience small yacht cruising without the burden of owning their own yacht.

American Safari Cruises guests are passionate about nature, seeing it as up-close as imaginable from the bow and decks of their expedition yachts or being active in the outdoors on guided hikes, kayaking and skiff excursions. American Safari Cruises are now translating the realization of these passionate pursuits from their explorations in Alaska’s Inside Passage and Mexico’s Sea of Cortés (and in 2009) to the Hawaiian Islands.

I cannot imagine a better way to experience Hawaii and look forward to traveling with them on their other yachts to Mexico, the Columbia River in Washington State and as far as I am concerned - this is the only way to see Alaska!! Please stay posted for our updates.

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The Great Barrier Reef is the only living organism that can be seen from space…

September 19, 2008

float planeThe Great Barrier Reef is the only living organism that can be seen from space - astronauts have described it as a ‘thin white line in the blue ocean’. The reef is made up of about 2,900 unconnected reefs and 900 islands.

The Great Barrier Reef area abounds with marine and bird life. It is home to 400 species of coral, more than 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 types of molluscs, and more than 200 species of birdlife.

Other wildlife species include the dugong, varieties of dolphins and whales. Six of the world’s seven marine turtles can be found at the Great Barrier Reef.

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Molokai Mo Bettah!

September 18, 2008

kalaupapaIt is amazing how we can live in Hawai’i for so many years and find there is still plenty to learn about our neighboring islands. Last June I had the pleasure of staying as a Guest and attending the Grand Re-Opening of The Hotel Moloka’i. It is essential Hawaiiana, a beautiful location and quite frankly, the epitome of what many if not most people are looking for when they are seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.

Hotel Molokai features open-air, oceanfront bungalows that are positioned east to west, allowing prevailing trade winds and the soothing sound of the surf to gently lull you to sleep each night.

Especially informative was the trek to Kalaupapa! I had absolutely no idea exactly how strenuous a trek it is. I am an avid hand over fist hiker with a good deal of stamina, and just going to the 15th switchback challenged me. The leader of the pack is Clare, the owner of Molokai Outdoors. She is absolutely amazing! The combination of her passion for the island and it’s history, as well as her infectious personality made our experience all the more enjoyable. I’ll hike with her anytime!

Oh my, what can I say about that bread run!! Now That was quite an experience! You will have to give me a call to hear the fabulous details!

About Molokai
Known as the “most Hawaiian” of the main islands, Molokai is a rural, relaxed paradise boasting the highest sea cliffs in the world and tallest waterfall in Hawaii. Molokai, the “Friendly Isle,” is for travelers looking to explore natural wonders and the desire to experience the ultimate in authentic Hawaiian adventures.

Molokai’s population of less than 7,000 is a tight-knit community that enjoys the peaceful life of their laid-back island. Small businesses like the Big Wind Kite Factory thrive on the island of Molokai. Here, you will find coffee plantations, macadamia nut farms, mango groves and a variety of gardens on the island. Downtown Kaunakakai has a general store, restaurants, a post office, a library, and a courthouse in a former church. Few people pass through town without stopping at Kanemitsu Bakery, a Molokai institution. Get there early before the best goodies are snapped up. Deep-sea fishing boats leave from nearby Kaunakakai Wharf, which is often piled with watermelons, honey and other goods ready for export.

According to legend, Laka, goddess of the Hula, gave birth to the Hula dance on Molokai, at a sacred place in Ka’ana. The birth of Hula is celebrated each May at the Ka Hula Piko, one of the more popular island celebrations.

Today, the trail from topside Molokai to Kalaupapa is traveled by mules, leisure hikers, and on foot by some of the workers at the settlement. Hugging the nearly perpendicular cliffs, the trail is more than three miles (5km) long and descends 1,600 feet (488m) to the peninsula. Along its course are 26 switchbacks that corkscrew in and out of breathtaking canyons and ravines.

Life on Molokai moves at a slower pace, but island adventures abound. Hike Kamakou Nature Conservatory to explore a protected rainforest alive with colorful native birds and wildlife. Wander Papohaku Beach’s three miles of sugary sand and hypnotic surf. Join a mule train down to the rugged shore of Kalaupapa Peninsula, at the base of 3,000-foot high Pali Cliffs. Experience the incredible majesty of the humpback whales you will encounter on a whale watching excursion. Molokai has it all!

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New Zealand is a great destination for your family vacation

September 16, 2008

nz lambsNew Zealand is clean, safe, adventurous, educational and affordable - everything you need for a great family holiday.

You can be confident that New Zealand has a wide range of activities to keep your children happy. New Zealand’s parks and large areas of unspoilt wilderness are ideal places to expand your children’s appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors. Horse riding, snow activities, whale watching, fruit picking and wildlife centres and zoos are just some of the choices available.

If you are visiting the larger centres, you will find a range of themed attractions including Rainbow’s End (Auckland), Splash Planet (Hastings), Marine Land (Napier) and the International Antarctic Centre (Christchurch). Te Papa, New Zealand’s interactive national museum, has a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including Story Place, a haven for small children.

Most family restaurants have childrens’ menus and high chairs. Many cafes also have high chairs, and a toy basket to amuse babies and toddlers is becoming increasingly common in both cafes and shops. Most public gardens have well equipped play areas for young children, as do many holiday parks. Adventure playlands such as Chipmunks or Lollipop’s Playland are always popular with the very young - these can be found in most main centres.

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Hawaii - What is the difference between the islands?

September 14, 2008

Iolani PalaceOahu: is home to Honolulu and the world-famous Waikiki Beach. 95% of the people that live in Hawaii, live on Oahu. Famous Waikiki has a lively nightlife and great shopping. Days can be spent either relaxing on the beach or surfing the huge waves on Oahu’s North Shore.

Visitors may like to take the opportunity to visit the Iolani Palace - A Hawaiian national treasure and the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, `Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs–King Kalakaua, who built the Palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili`uokalani. During the monarchy period, the Palace was the center of social and political activity in the Kingdom of Hawai`i.

Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial - the final resting place for many of the battleship’s 1,177 crew members who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. The Memorial commemorates the site where World War II began for the United States. Experience history through the national memorial’s program tour, museum, and wayside exhibits.

LahainaMaui: is the Valley Isle of white-sand beaches and breathtaking vistas. Maui is the island to visit for the vacation of your dreams. On Maui you can experience the “real” Hawaii, go on a heart pounding adventure, or simply relax on the beach.

Our favorite time of year to visit is between November and March when the Humpback whales make their way to Maui to birth their calves and are frequently sighted offshore enjoying the warm Maui waters.

big islandHawaii: is referred to as the Big Island to distinguish it from the state of Hawaii. As its name suggests, it is the largest of Hawaii’s islands - in fact, it’s twice the size of all the other islands put together. The Big Island has it all - fiery volcanoes and sparkling waterfalls, black-lava deserts and snow-capped mountain peaks, tropical rainforests and miles of golden, black and even green sand beaches. This tranquil island is renowned for its beautiful exotic flowers, especially orchids. Its been described as looking like the inside of a barbeque pit on one side and a tropical rainforest on the other side.

conch shell blowingKauai: is known as the Garden Island and offers a landscape of luscious shades of green. Formed by one central volcano, the sheer height of the mountain means that the peak experiences excellent rainfall and the island has a number of picturesque rivers.

On any list of the world’s most spectacular islands, Kauai ranks right up there with Bora Bora, Huahine, and Rarotonga, you don’t just go to Kauai, you absorb it with every sense. Kauai may get more than its fair share of tropical downpours, but that’s what makes it so lush and green, and creates an abundance of rainbows.

molokaiMolokai: More secluded and less developed than Hawaii’s other islands, Molokai calls itself “the friendly isle.” It’s best known for its former lepers’ colony, now Kalaupapa National Historical Park. The remote park can be reached by hiking, on muleback, or in a small plane.

Those who drive Molokai’s coastal highway encounter St. Joseph’s church and tropical gardens, ancient temples and fishponds, a rainforest, and scenic waterfalls.

lanaiLanai: Get away from it all on Lanai. There’s no public transport on this tiny island, but you can rent a four-wheeler and drive 100 miles of paved and unpaved roads, past uncrowded beaches and pastoral terrain. Despite its size, Lanai offers a large variety of activities, including hiking through ancient ruins, horseback riding, shooting clays, golf, sampling traditional Hawaiian fare, and snorkeling in waters where spinner dolphins frolic. The island is a multifaceted place that’s so much more than a luxury resort. The traveler who comes to discover the island’s natural wonders, local lifestyle, and other inherent joys is bound to have the most genuine island experience.

Kahoolawe: Is an island that was used as bombing practice until recently. At this time there are local volunteer groups traveling to the island to plant vegetation and restore plant life to the island.

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Why Travel to Australia?

September 13, 2008

ayers rock1. Australia is a safe and comfortable destination
2. No foreign language, no weird money, no worries - just wonders!
3. Stable political environment
4. From LA to G’Day in a day -By the time you enjoy your in-flight movies, your meals and a nap you’ll be Down Under!
5. Favorable exchange rate
6. Australian’s are friendly! People want to meet us
7. Australia is an Adventurer’s Playground.
8. 50,000 years of ancient culture
9. Roll out your swag- absorb the flavor of rural Australia
10. Wine & Dine - sample the exotic flavors of Australian cuisine from Barramundi to Balmain Bugs!

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