Santorini: Between the Sea and the Cosmos

Traditionally known in Greek as Thira (or Thera in Classic Greek), this island, which is part of a caldera born from a massive volcanic eruption 3600 years ago, didn’t get its more commonly known of Santorini until about eight centuries ago. Conquered and dominated over the millennia by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, the Latin Empire,…

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The Allure of the Ligurian Sea

The Ligurian Sea—the liquid azure arm of the Mediterranean caressing the northwestern rocky coastline of bella Italia. Its reach extends from the French/Italian border southeastward towards La Spezia, Pisa, and Livorno and forms a triangle to the northern tip of Corsica. Just north of La Spezia are a string of little towns collectively known as…

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Why Climb Every Mountain When You Can Take the Lift?

Oh, the Alps. Glorious. Majestic. Breathtaking. They’re the mountains of your dreams, every hiker’s delight, and a “must” destination for so many. For the past week and a half, Rick and I have been leading 26 tour members through the Alps from Austria to Italy to Germany and to Switzerland. And now we’ve arrived in…

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The Dynamite Dolomites: Easy to Access, Easy to Love

I’m not what one would call an outdoorsy kind of person, and no one ever mistook me for a Birkenstock-wearing “granola girl,” but I sure do love hiking in the Alps. Our outdoor-loving and nature-respecting European counterparts make getting there so easy. From well-groomed trails and mountain huts to clear signage and industrial-strength cable lifts,…

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12 Hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico Part 1: Welcome to the Jungle

Sunscreen: check. Bathing suit: check. Eager-beaver attitude: check. Our first port was calling our name, and I, for one, was ready to hit the beach and take in a year’s supply of Vitamin D in the form of Caribbean afternoon sunshine. As we packed our day bags with our necessary gear, a husky Italian voice…

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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

“Please don’t rain yet. Please don’t rain yet. Please don’t rain yet.” My mind looped this mantra, and I plastered an everything’s-alright smile, hoping my face wouldn’t betray my anxiety. Twenty-eight people were following me through the cobblestone streets of Paris, and I didn’t want their only two days with me in my favorite European…

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Best of Europe: There’s No Place Like Rome

For 21 days, Rick and I are tour members on one of his own tours: the Best of Europe. We’re trying to combine vacation with quality control and research. And it’s going great! Join us as we traipse from the Netherlands to Germany, Austria to Italy, and Switzerland to France with a terrific tour guide and…

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Best of Europe: Castle, Castle, Luge, Castle

For 21 days, Rick and I are tour members on one of his own tours: the Best of Europe. We’re trying to combine vacation with quality control and research. And it’s going great! Join us as we traipse from the Netherlands to Germany, Austria to Italy, and Switzerland to France with a terrific tour guide…

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