Napa Valley

While enjoying my coffee on our balcony over the river, I waited for the knock on the door that would announce our custom breakfast had arrived. Such is life at the Milliken Creek Inn and Spa in Napa, CA where we recently spent three nights. The previous evening we sipped local wine and ate cheese in the garden, compliments of the Inn as well. And when we arrived, there were cold beverages and warm cookies available in the lobby. So far, so good.8C6B3823-2186-4693-8100-0817760A4C3DIMG_3048Despite leaving Palo Alto in bright sunshine to head north for Napa, our excitement for the photo opportunities as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge were quickly squelched as the fog rolled in.CFB69B33-BB59-477F-99BC-4BFFCAA2AB47Lunch at FISH on the harbor in Sausalito was delicious but we were freezing. Since it wasn’t really strolling around weather we got back in the car and watched the temperature soar as we headed to Napa.

By the time we made our first vineyard stop at Domaine Carneros, it was a beautiful, sunny, dry day! The chateau at the winery is incredibly picturesque and we stopped just because we saw it from the highway. Despite requiring reservations, we were able to squeeze in and wisely chose to split one wine tasting. We still had a few miles to drive and didn’t want to risk any damage to our rental car. IMG_31735CBDF64D-D424-4667-8975-0DE7378508F8

Speaking of rental cars…we rented a Porsche through Turo, a car-sharing business — something like airbnb for cars. We rented from a woman named Janet and her husband met us at the Turo lot near SFO. On our return trip, he met us at the airport terminal. We pulled up, unloaded our small bags (not much trunk space in a Porsche!) and were in the terminal in less than two minutes. It was easy and fun…except when I was yelling at Ron to slow down!JPEG image-EB59CEA6DD77-1.jpegSince we had been so well fed by our machatunim (a Yiddish word for our son’s in-law’s) over the weekend, we decided to skip dinner and share a late afternoon soft serve espresso ice cream with toasted coconut from Miminashi and then relax and enjoy the complimentary wine and cheese provided by our Inn.D89ADB34-7495-40A9-B279-C612C734EF17With over 500 wineries in Napa Valley, it can be overwhelming trying to plan your day. We ruled out wineries that required advance appointments and decided to start at Robert Mondavi Winery since they provide a tour as well as tastings. 6BA821E1-14C0-415B-9F12-6D53C7295A85Our guide led us through the vineyard, to the cellar and then to the tasting room, providing basic information to our small group. His talk was fairly scripted and superficial but still worthwhile. As we finished tasting our 5th glass, our guide asked a woman in the group if she liked the wine. She replied in a southern accent…“I don’t really like wine, I only drink it when I am getting my hair coloured…” I thought that was the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time!DA35605F-924D-4A1F-ACE6-9A0527A616687251BBB1-069C-402B-8181-2BB1205F7DD9We had lunch at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. It was just what we needed after a morning of wine tasting! Great food and a fun place to wander with tractors and vegetable gardens and a general store.IMG_3174Our plan was a second winery visit after lunch but we just couldn’t muster the interest in more wine! All the wineries charge for tasting so we decided to spend our money on gelato instead at Kollar Chocolates in Yountville and bought a baguette from Bouchon Bakery to augment the daily wine and cheese at Milliken Creek Inn.

Day two, and breakfast was once again delivered to our door so after enjoying it on our riverside balcony we set off for more daydrinking!IMG_3138This time we chose HALL wineries, they didn’t require an appointment, the Inn gave us a 2 for 1 card and recommended their sculptures. From Hwy 29, the thirty-five foot tall Bunny Foo Foo designed by Lawrence Argent was easy to spot. IMG_3177We really enjoyed HALL. The wine was delicious and they encouraged you to wander around the playful grounds, with your glass and enjoy the winery!

IMG_3175By the time we finished tasting 5 reds at HALL, we were ready for lunch! We decided on Gott’s Roadside in St Helena and enjoyed their burger and citrus & avocado chop.

By now we knew we couldn’t do two wineries in a day so we continued on Hwy 29 to wander around the town of Calistoga. It felt like an old Western town with lots of charm and character. We found some interesting shops and our afternoon ice cream at Calistoga Creamery.IMG_3181One evening we walked the riverfront in Napa and found this sculpture Moonrise catching the early evening light. IMG_3153On our last evening, we found our way to the grape crusher statue who sits atop a hill at the southern end of Napa. A 16 foot bronze statue by Gino Miles was installed in 1988 as a tribute to vineyard workers. The features were incredibly realistic, particularly as the sun set and highlighted the ash in the air from the recent fires in Northern Napa county.IMG_3168I had a list of places that we didn’t get to which is always an indication to me that I’d like to return to a place. We did a quick walk through the gift shop at the  CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and wished we had time for a meal at  The Boon Fly Cafe. We stopped at the Oakville Grocery but we had just finished lunch so we had no room for their fantastic looking sandwiches. We only visited 3 of the 500 wineries in Napa and didn’t do any hiking… I guess we will have to return!

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The Azores

The nine islands of the Azores Archipelago are volcanic in origin and are located in the North Atlantic, 890 miles from Portugal. They are also wild and largely unknown to most people. When I mentioned where we were going, I typically received a blank stare and a mumble about where they might be…so to save people the embarrassment I would say “we are going to the Azores, islands in the North Atlantic that are part of Portugal. It’s a non-stop flight from Boston.” Oh. Non-stop? Hmmm. And the conversation usually ended there.JPEG image-6DD0EB0D12AE-1After visiting the island of Sao Miguel, I think people should start taking notice! We just spent a week there with our sons and their partners and thoroughly enjoyed the stunning vistas, hikes, fresh fish, good inexpensive wine and the unpretentious charm of the island. You knew you were in Europe, with a bit of Hawaii and Ireland thrown in!JPEG image-02D350DD514E-1We made use of the Azores Tourism Board website and the Bradt Azores guidebook to determine which hikes we wanted to do and then google maps to help us find the trail heads. Some of them were not easy to find! Once we found the start of a trail, there was always a large sign with directions and landmarks to look for. We had a rough idea of which hikes we wanted to do but had to be flexible since the weather changes rapidly. Apparently the locals say you can experience four seasons in one day and we definitely experienced that and had to be ready to change our plans accordingly. We relied heavily on SpotAzores, a series of webcams around the island to get an idea of the weather.

On the drive to our first hike, we figured out that the road signs with binoculars meant it was worth stopping! The view below was at Miradouro de Santa Iria on our way to the Faial de Terra where we did the Salto do Prego hike to a waterfall. JPEG image-CBADA64618C7-1JPEG image-F09FDF7162A9-1The big decision after a hike was where to have lunch! We stumbled upon Jardim in Povoacao on Sunday, found Cafe Com Sopas in Ribiera Grande on Monday after hiking at the Gorreana Tea Plantation, ate lakeside at Green Love Restaurant after hiking Sete Cidades on Wednesday and discovered the local cakes at O Jaime in Vila Franca do Campo after hiking Lagoa do Fogo on Friday.

But back to the hikes!

On our way to the trail head for Sete Cidades we stopped at the viewpoint Vista do Rei. The sun was out, the clouds were puffy and the view was incredible!IMG_2637JPEG image-80A6A085BA7A-1We drove a little farther to find the trail head and off we went for more amazing views of the lake and island.JPEG image-E1A69D855E92-1JPEG image-7CF0B1F93E31-1JPEG image-147334DE7C06-1The weather cooperated about 60% of the time! We had a rainy day on Tuesday so we visited the Augusto Arruda pineapple plantation where pineapples are grown in glass-washed greenhouses. They were introduced as a replacement crop for oranges around 1850 and became so successful that they started exporting them to northern Europe. The Azores are not warm enough for outdoor cultivation so they are grown in greenhouses using the warm beds method to speed up the process.

JPEG image-D178E382D699-1On the walk back we came upon a random outdoor art installation on a stone wall. The colour was a welcome contrast to the grey day!JPEG image-7C24940DB434-1From the pineapple plantation, we visited Ceramica Viera pottery, a family business in its fifth generation,  for some distinctive, Azorean tiles and bowls.

After our rainy Tuesday, the weather cooperated for the rest of the week.

Tea is grown on the island so we visited the Gorreana Tea Plantation, walked around the factory, sampled some tea and then enjoyed a very windy hike through the rows of tea. Apparently this is the only place that tea is grown in Europe and it’s all handpicked, pesticide free and free from the industrial pollution of mainland Europe. JPEG image-DA1B9F19F847-1JPEG image-07DEEEB357F7-1Our guide book detailed a walking tour of the main city, Ponta Delgada, so we followed some of the walk one morning before our whale watch. Our walk began in the square, Praca Goncalo Velho Cabral with the three distinctive arches of the original gates to the city.IMG_2622Next stop was the tiled murals of the Cafe Mascote that depicted an earlier version of the city…IMG_2609Then to this eye-catching blue building facing the garden Jardim Padre Senas Freitas…IMG_2615And to this green former Franciscan monastery.IMG_2618We completed our walking tour in time for our afternoon whale watch with Futurismo. We were out on the boat for several hours and saw several Rissos dolphins, great views of the island Sao Miguel, but no whales.

Our fourth and final hike was to Lagoa do Fogo. We navigated to the viewpoint Miradouro da Barrosa before hiking. We started out in sunshine and as the road wound up it felt like we were in the clouds. There was a little snow on the ground and the wind was fierce!IMG_2583IMG_2586The actual hike followed a water channel for several kilometers and then opened into a seagull nesting area. The trail map advised that the seagulls could be aggressive so we were very polite to them as they swooped over us! The actual view of the lake up close was slightly disappointing but it was cold and overcast and we had been spoiled by the views of Sete Cidades.

All the hiking gave us hearty appetites and we had some really great dinners. Our first night, we ate at Cais 20. Our airbnb host recommended the restaurant, made the reservation for us and informed us that the restaurant would pick us up, free of charge!

One evening we ate at Restaurante da Associaco Agricola, famous for their steak. The dining room was a large, open room that was packed with diners. The portions were generous and came smothered in sauce…and with french fries! Every meal we ate either had boiled potatoes or french fries served with it.

On our way to dinner at Bar Caloura in Villa de Agua de Pau, we noticed the binocular sign on the highway and pulled over for another beautiful vista.JPEG image-99A0581B599A-1JPEG image-758478C6FE1D-1JPEG image-7BCFADD8D50C-1The restaurant itself was at the end of the road in a little harbour and a rainbow appeared as we arrived! The meal was great, the restaurant was really busy and the the rain ended just as we were leaving!JPEG image-0769071C0862-1JPEG image-5388E88DB5D5-1We had two great dinners in Ponta Delgada, one at BIG 21 and the other at A Tasca. Both of these restaurants felt a little more sophisticated than some of the other places we ate. Big 21 served a creative risotto and delicious sea bream. A Tasca had a terrific selection of small plates and hearty soup. People warned us that we needed a reservation but we didn’t seem to have any trouble walking in with our group of 6 and getting seated. Our waiters were friendly and happy to explain the menu and smiled when we attempted to speak a word or two of Portuguese.

Before we knew it, the week was over. There were still plenty of things we wanted to see and do…we didn’t get to Termas da Ferraria, thermally heated natural pools and we only drove through Furnas but didn’t get to experience the hot springs or Terra Nostra garden. We didn’t see any whales and the far northeast town of Nordeste sounded like a beautiful place to visit but it would have taken us most of the day to get there and back. Between the windy roads and the need to rent two cars it felt like too much to squeeze in…next time!

At the end of every trip I take, I ask myself whether I would ever return to the place I just left. There are plenty of places in the world I haven’t been to, yet I could totally see myself returning to the Azores. It is accessible, relatively inexpensive, unspoilt and beautiful! Azores Air flies non-stop from Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Providence and Oakland. And starting very soon, Delta will offer non-stop from JFK to Ponta Delgada. Hurry up and visit before everyone discovers this little slice of paradise in the North Atlantic!JPEG image-DC0D10A12FA3-1Contact me to help plan your trip to the Azores…




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Nevis is 36 square miles of paradise. A leeward island in the Caribbean that along with St Kitts forms the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. It’s southeast of Puerto Rico, west of Antigua and just small enough to make it challenging to get to! That is also what makes it special…no casinos, no cruise ships, no worries…The only traffic jams are usually because some goats or donkeys are crossing the road! It’s been a favorite winter escape of ours for over thirty years and it never fails to charm.IMG_1467Mornings in Nevis begin with a short stroll from our rental house to the beach by Nisbet Plantation. Every morning the sky is different depending on the clouds, the wind and the rain, and every morning I am left speechless by the sunrise.P1030410JPEG image-E4E736B15828-1JPEG image-4ECAA7D07818-1After coffee it’s time for some exercise. We found a route that includes a long slow climb to the village of Fountain, passing goats and school buses and cows, then through a pasture with a view to die for, and got us back in time for a hearty breakfast.JPEG image-0A8F9EBE69E1-1JPEG image-84D3C81D9F57-1JPEG image-B68FBC6AD649-1JPEG image-C3F168E98C30-1The days follow a lazy routine of strolling the beach, reading, swimming and deciding where to eat the next meal.JPEG image-A193071B3EF3-1JPEG image-A0F9E187D5F8-1We had a delicious lunch at Bombay Bites, a newer addition to the restaurant scene in Nevis. The location is right on the beach near the airport. The day we were there we had the place to ourselves and enjoyed fantastic Indian food!

Another favourite lunch spot is Golden Rock Inn and their lobster salad. Meals are served in intimate corners of the gardens at an inn designed around a sugar mill from the 1800’s.JPEG image-BEA207618B85-1JPEG image-BF52BBB4B1F8-1Lunch at Nisbet is not only delicious but a very short walk from our rental and features live music on Sundays and a front row seat to some spectacular scenery of pelicans diving for fish and St. Kitts in the background.JPEG image-12CD5EC149F9-1 JPEG image-675C0B55B7C0-1Getting active is necessary after all the delicious food we eat and Reggie Douglas of Nevis Adventure Tours has been taking us on hikes in Nevis for many years. He always finds a different route for us and is a wealth of knowledge about the island.JPEG image-1930DB3E93F0-1This year we explored Saddle Hill and really enjoyed the view from the top, plus the visit to the gravestone of Philippa Prentis Phillips. Last year Reggie had told us some of the story of Philippa who left England for Nevis, arriving in 1634.  I bought a copy of the book Rivers of Time Why is everyone talking to Philippa? by June Goodfield at the Museum of Nevis History. It’s a fascinating historical story that traces Philippa’s life.

JPEG image-D6D94140C977-1From Saddle Hill we had a great view of Nevis Peak without the characteristic ‘snow’ cloud on top. JPEG image-21D23B754497-1We ate dinner twice at Sunshine’s and Double Deuce – both places serve delicious local food and drinks and are friendly and unpretentious.  Nevis is a charming, beautiful island that allows you to slow down, eat and drink well and recharge.JPEG image-3BB42ABEDB8C-1If this sounds appealing to you, contact me to help you plan a vacation to Nevis!

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Costa Rica & Panama

Unrushed. Uncrowded. Unbelievable.

That is how UnCruise Adventures describes their trips and I agree! We just spent a week on the Safari Voyager boat with 39 other passengers traveling from Costa Rica to Panama, ending with a trip through the Panama Canal. UnCruise brags about having small ships and big experiences. They’ve got that right!IMG_1947Our week began with an overnight in San Jose, Costa Rica, the land of pura vida! We squeezed in a coffee plantation tour at Britt Coffee before boarding the ship. The tour was informative and entertaining and they made it very easy to ship coffee home.

Our first full day began with a hike in the isolated, wild Osa Conservation Area, home to the country’s largest national park, Corcovado. The area is known for its diverse plant and animal species, 2.5% of the entire planet’s biodiversity is found on the Osa Peninsula.Attachment-1Attachment-1Attachment-1We saw spider monkeys swinging from the trees and numerous white-faced capuchin monkeys who were incredibly bold, grabbing food from our lunch plates.IMG_1921Attachment-1IMG_1922I joined the early morning yoga class on our second day on the Safari Yoyager and was rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise before heading out to kayak through the mangrove swamps of Golfo Dulce, the area that separates the Osa Peninsula from the mainland.IMG_1951Every excursion included a very knowledgeable UnCruise guide to identify birds, plants, wildlife and tell stories! Jenny took us kayaking, hiking and snorkeling.IMG_1919Golfo Dulce is a tropical botanical reserve exploding with colour, IMG_1961Attachment-1IMG_1923and a birder’s paradise.IMG_1960

We traveled from Costa Rica to Panama and explored Coiba National Park from a skiff where we saw herons, waterfalls and orchids, then headed to an empty beach and had the afternoon to snorkel and swim!IMG_1918

P1020324We watched the sunrise on the instagram-worthy Isla Granito de Oro from the boat and were informed we would be heading there after breakfast.IMG_1950I couldn’t decide which lighting I liked better on the uninhabited island…early morning or late afternoon…so I included both photos!P1020517The incredibly friendly UnCruise staff delivered kayaks, paddle boards, chairs and coolers filled with cold drinks to Granito de Oro so all we had to do was climb out of the skiff. We snorkeled around the island and watched thousands of fish and a few turtles swim. After a cold drink, we kayaked around the island and saw dolphins swimming. And then we were off to Bona Island, Panama, known for large quantities of brown pelicans and magnificent frigatebirds.IMG_1937P1020601

IMG_1940Pretty much the only signs of human life we saw during the week was the island of Taboga, situated in Panama Bay, right near the Panama Canal. The early morning light on the colourful houses was beautiful.Attachment-1Our activity on the island of Taboga was a fairly steep climp to a cross on the hill, Cerro La Cruz. A local guide from the town joined us to navigate the slippery path.Attachment-1The view was incredible, we could see the charming town, the skyline of Panama City and ships moving towards the canal.P1020699The island is also known as the island of flowers (and I would add the island of colours) and was delightful to stroll through. Attachment-1


Attachment-1We returned to our boat by skiff and moved towards the Bridge of the Americas and the Panama Canal for our estimated 8 hour passage. The Panama Canal opened in 1914, was chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 1994, and has been administered by Panama since 1999. The 48 mile waterway connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, providing a maritime shortcut for the transportation of goods. UnCruise provided a local guide to narrate the crossing providing us with canal history and information.Attachment-1Attachment-1We entered the canal at sunset and were spellbound by the operation. Running on steeply rising tracks along both sides of the locks, electric locomotives attach to the sides of the boats by cables to keep a ship from bumping into the sides of the canal. Attachment-1And then there are the actual locks, or water elevators. Three locks lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake at 85 feet above sea level and three locks lower the ships at the other end. It is an engineering marvel!Attachment-1Attachment-1The passage through the Panama Canal provided an excellent way to re-enter the world and leave behind the beauty of the isolated coast of Costa Rica and Panama. UnCruise Adventures was an excellent host for this week long journey. I’ve already started looking at their trips to Alaska and Hawaii! Contact me if you want to know more!



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Botswana & Victoria Falls

I am smitten with Botswana. A land locked, semi-arid country in Southern Africa, roughly the size of Texas. The incredible wildlife, friendly people and stable economy all contributed to an amazing trip with African Travel Inc  in mid-November.


There is no getting around a very long travel day to access this part of the world. I had a 6am flight from Boston to JFK and then a 15 hour flight to Johannesburg with South African Airways. Once in Johannesburg, we still had a 2 hour flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. By the time we arrived at the Victoria Falls Safari Club we had been in transit for more than 30 hours. That was the only challenging part of the trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat!


Our first full day included a guided hike at Victoria Falls in Victoria Falls National Park. The Falls are known locally as the smoke that thunders and are twice as high as Niagara Falls.  The rains were just starting so the volume was much less than during rainy season but it is still a very impressive site to see.


From Zimbabwe we drove to Botswana and on to our first safari camp, Leroo La Tau on the Boteti river. To call it a safari camp sounds like I was roughing it…I wasn’t! I had a fantastic view across the river from my balcony and from the bathroom! Plus great food and a very friendly staff.

One afternoon I looked across the river from my room and saw these three elephants drinking and playing. I watched them for at least half an hour. It was fascinating. I kept pinching myself all week, feeling like I was living in a PBS documentary!P1000529

The zebras showed up a little later for their afternoon drink and I continued to watch.


The day starts very early on safari, so that the game drives can happen at dawn and dusk when the animals are active and it’s not so hot. At Leroo La Tau, we took a boat across the river to access Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Our first afternoon was incredible, with sightings of elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions and a wildebeest!




P1000379Our guide spotted a leopard in a tree keeping an eye on the caracal he had killed and dragged up to a separate branch. The following morning we returned to the tree and found that the leopard had moved to the same branch as the caracal and was feasting on his kill!

P1000447We continued on and our skilled guide found four lions lazing in the sun. We sat very quietly in our open jeep watching…and taking pictures. It was unbelievable.




P1010021We left Leroo La Tau in a small airplane for Camp Okavango in the Okavango Delta, another property of Desert & Delta Safaris.

Raised boardwalks led you around this gorgeous property from your room, to the pool, to the lounge and dining room.

Camp Okavango is a water-based safari and we rode on a mokoro, a traditional canoe, at sunset through the reed-lined waterways.

We finished our canoe ride in time for sundowners, which is safari speak for the guides to set up a bar facing the sunset and serve cocktails! Our tireless guide Beth taught me to quit messing around and just order a ‘bush’ double G&T! Thanks Beth!

And then we were off to Chobe Game Lodge, a five-star, Ecotourism-certified safari lodge and the only property located inside Chobe National Park on the banks of the Chobe River. The Lodge was recently featured in the NYTimes Travel section highlighting the all-female safari guides. The lodge is also known for having hosted Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on one of their honeymoons! We arrived in time for lunch and a lively performance of music and dance.

Then we were off for an afternoon ride on the Chobe River in a solar-powered boat.


In our few hours on the river we saw hippos, buffalo, crocodiles, elephants and baboons! That evening, our guide opened the cooler and served sundowners as we watched another sun set! Incredible scenery, knowledge and hospitality!






The trip was amazing. It was a thrill to observe animals in their natural habitat and have such skilled guides explaining their behavior and keeping you safe. I highly recommend adding a safari to your bucket list and would be happy to tell you even more about my experience and help you plan your trip! Feel free to contact me!




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Where to begin? We just spent 8 days in Greece hiking on 3 different islands so I’ll start  in Athens at the Acropolis! To be up close to these magnificent structures is amazing—and to think about when and how they were built is unbelievable.




After a day in Athens, we took a ferry to the island of Tinos. The weather was unusually hot for mid September and we felt it. I wouldn’t normally be out hiking in the heat of the day with very little shade but that’s what we did!


The hills were barren, with the odd cow and many churches dotting the landscape. A recent article in Travel & Leisure states that Tinos has over 700 churches! The most famous is the Church of Panagia Evangelistia (Church of the Virgin Mary) which attracts pilgrims to the island who crawl on their hands and knees from the port to the church, a distance of about 800 metres – uphill!

IMG_7760In the village of Volax, we watched a man weave the traditional baskets of Tinos. I really wanted to get one but it just didn’t fit in my luggage.


In another village, there was a well-stocked cafe that operates on the honour system. Our amazing guide, Dafni, made Greek coffee for all and pulled a bag of marzipan cookies from her pack for our mid-morning break!

We hiked on footpaths that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and then a picturesque village would appear.They often seemed deserted. I think the locals knew to stay inside during the heat of the day!




The bold blue doors catch your eye after looking at so much white or dry hillsides.



We took a ferry from Tinos to Naxos, the largest and most fertile island in the Cyclades and started hiking. In the village of Chalki we poked in several shops with hand made woven goods and local honey. Dinner was at an amazing restaurant tucked down an alley and included BBQ and some of the best french fries we had ever tasted. Apparently the island of Naxos is known for their potatoes. Later in the week we saw Naxos french fries on a menu in Santorini and ordered them immediately!

IMG_9733IMG_9543Our most challenging hike was to the top of Mt Zeus on Naxos, the highest point in the Cyclades. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was raised in a cave on this mountain. It was extremely windy at the top, as you can see by my hair and the fact that I am holding on to the stone marker!

The hike ended in the village of Filoti where we tried caffe freddo, a cold coffee drink with whipped milk on top. The coffee we drank varied from place to place with many cafes serving instant coffee…it has a taste that is very recognizable and always disappointing to me.

IMG_9631IMG_9716The island of Naxos is home to a massive 2,500 year old marble doorway, the Portara, that was the entrance to the unfinished temple of Apollo. It provided a spectacular backdrop for the sunset. IMG_9693From Naxos we took a high speed ferry to Santorini. From the port, the road zig zags up the side of the volcanic cliffs for some stunning views into the caldera, the underwater crater left behind after a massive volcano in 2000 BC submerged the central part of the island.

IMG_9738The hike from the town of Fira to Oia in Santorini was amazingly beautiful the whole way. Hiking in Santorini seems to be popular, the day we flew to Greece the NYTimes had an article called In Search of the Authentic Santorini? Skip the Beach. Take a Hike.  Many of the places mentioned in the article were part of our hikes. We left Fira late afternoon and literally walked into the sunset, framed against the dazzling white buildings and blue domes of Oia, one of the most photographed towns in Greece, with good reason! After dinner we had some very delicious gelato at Lolita’s!





IMG_9907The only downside to Santorini was the number of tourists. On our last day on the island, we got up early and wandered the back alleys of Oia, took some photos and saw very few people. By 10am, the narrow alleys were clogged with people and we headed back to our hotel for the short walk to the nearby beach and taverna.

We flew from Santorini back to Athens, the flight took less time than the drive from the airport to our hotel in Athens. We enjoyed one more dinner in Athens at Gods’ Restaurant near the Acropolis Museum and left the next morning. Since our return I have been reading about other Greek islands and trying to figure out when we could go again and spend more time doing less! On my want-to-visit-list is the island of Folegandros after reading an article in the NYTimes a few years ago about a little hotel called Anemomilos Apartments. It is a little more challenging to access so it’s going to take more planning but it’s going on my list!

Yamas! (Cheers in Greek!)




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Quebec City

This has been a summer of driving to various provinces in Canada…NB, PEI, Ontario and, most recently, Quebec. We spent a night at Manoir Hovey, a charming Inn in North Hatley QC on our way to Quebec City a few weeks ago.

IMG_8814It was peaceful and beautiful, despite the fact that Hillary and Bill (and the very discreet secret service) were also staying there, as guests of the author Louise Penny.

The Inn is on the shores of Lake Massawippi, a clear, deep lake that was perfect for swimming and kayaking on the August day we visited.


We enjoyed lunch on the porch at Manoir Hovey before heading out for the 3 hour drive to Quebec City. After settling into our room at Hotel le Germaine, a boutique hotel in the Old Port, we headed up the hill to wander the streets. The Chateau Frontenac dominates the city and is the start of the Dufferin Terrace, a boardwalk with beautiful views of the St Lawrence River that links the hotel to the Citadelle, a national historic fortress.IMG_8866

The city is so charming, it almost feels unreal. Cobblestone streets, cafes, museums, history…and tourists! I did most of my exploring of the city in the early morning and escaped the busiest part of the day by heading back to the hotel or heading to a museum. The Musee de la Civilisation was a 5 minute walk from our hotel and was a perfect place to spend a few hours on a rainy day. The Plains of Abraham museum was another great place to spend a rainy morning.



The fresh produce at Le Marche du Vieux Port was amazing and I returned every day for strawberries and raspberries. On the map it looked like a long walk but it was really only 10 minutes from the hotel and included walking by this canoe art in front of a working grain elevator, which was lit up at night to look like the Northern Lights!IMG_8885




The staff at Le Hotel Germaine were incredibly helpful, providing us with a list of restaurants prior to our arrival and then responding to our requests to change our reservations when we changed our minds! Every meal we had was delicious. Il Matto was 2 minutes from the hotel and served great Italian. Le Clocher Penche was in the up and coming neighbourhood of Saint-Roch and served innovative, unpretentious cuisine. Chez Victor served really good gourmet burgers and La La was a rustic, cozy restaurant serving traditional Quebecois meals.


With the Quebec City Tourism website as my guide and my own two feet, I saw a great deal of the Old City and walked 34 miles in three days while my husband attended a conference. I had planned to spend a day driving around Ile d’Orleans, an agricultural island just 15 minutes from downtown Quebec City but between the traffic and the rain, I decided to save it for another visit!





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