Posts by: alison

A Dahabiya Nile Cruise to Discover Egypts Treasures

18
Mar 2024

Exploring ancient Egypt on a Dahabiya Nile cruise is an unique and sustainable way to explore the magnificence of ancient Egypt. This authentic and traditional mode of travel involves sailing on a small, authentic boat that harks back to the golden age of travel.

The word dahabiya is derived from the Arab word for “gold,” highlighting its ancient royal origins. The wooden sailboats, with only two decks and shallow bottoms, have been an option for travelers on the Nile since the 19th century and are based on designs that go back millennia.

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Top 20 Baby Boomer Travel Dream Destinations

29
Feb 2024

Editors Note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and updated February 29, 2024

Baby boomer travel destinations Tetiaroa

When I asked my favorite Baby Boomer travel writers to let me in on their dream destinations, I had to admit, the answers surprised me more than a little. This group knows their way around the globe, and if I did a tally, they’ve probably visited almost every one of the 195 countries on  earth. After all, this demographic has the means and desire to learn and broaden their horizons thru travel.

Photo of Tetiaroa via The Brando

According to AARP 2024 survey:

  • Boomers anticipate taking 4-5 leisure trips this year, for which they will spend~$6,688 across all trips.
  • Of the trips planned for the future, Bucket List destinations are mentioned most often among Boomers.
  • Experiential travel and  more authentic trips have them looking to local entrepreneurs for eating and touring.

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Nantucket Daffodil Festival Welcomes Spring

18
Feb 2024

When the sun is shining and blooms are bursting in New England, it’s a sure sign the annual Nantucket Daffodil Festival is not far away. Flower Power lives on as more than 3 million narcissus planted on the Grey Lady come alive in shades of sunshine for this harbinger of spring.

Nantucket Daffodil Festival car decorated with flowers

The 4th weekend in April heralds the season opener for the island in 2024. I can’t think of another place I’d rather be to welcome the end of winter.  Nantucket is found off the coast of Cape Cod, thirty miles out to sea. Rumor has it that Mother Nature is supposed to give New England the gift of beautiful skies in the days ahead, a perfect excuse to get Daffy and put on your yellow dancing shoes!

12 Best Beaches in Nantucket and Insider Tips

16
Feb 2024

The best beaches in Nantucket are found on an strip of nirvana 30 miles off the shores of Cape Cod. This island paradise is one of the most unique destinations in the world. Generations of families have written their summer stories on the Grey Lady, so named for the fog that often mysteriously rolls about the dunes and grey weathered cottages.

aerial view of beaches in Nantucket

Originally founded in the 1600’s as a fishing village and whaling capital, the island today is a three season tourist destination. Along with the magnificent beaches in Nantucket, visitors will find world class restaurants, shopping and museums. With a strong historic foundation, Nantucket has retained much of its original late 18th and early 19th century charm. The town of the same name is designated a National Historic Landmark District, its grey shingled cottages covered with fragrant roses intoxicating even the most jaded traveler.

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The Road to Wine in Myanmar

13
Feb 2024

The road to wine in Myanmar all started with a smile. Relationships often begin this way, progressing slowly to adventures and new discoveries down the road.

The road to wine in Myanmar

24 hours before the smile appeared, I had been on an extra-long travel road from hell. Three packed economy class flights later, my arrival in Yangon was immediately followed by a full day of touring.

Sadly, my guide was preoccupied with her phone and had little interest in sharing this fascinating country with an exhausted and curious traveler. And, she coughed. Constantly. Spraying all who were within earshot. I hoped it wasn’t an indication of things to come.

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Atlanta’s Porsche Driving Experience – Yes I Did!

06
Feb 2024

If someone had told me I’d be singing the praises of a Porsche driving experience, I might just have called them crazy. The sexy, masculine brand does not exactly convey the image of a tree hugging eco-friendly vehicle. But that’s just the point: don’t judge a book by its cover.

Porsche driving adventure

Under the sleek hood of the hybrid Panamera is an efficient, high performance vehicle. I somehow found myself behind the wheel on a trip to Atlanta celebrating JetBlue’s inaugural flight of a direct travel route from Boston.

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Historical Nantucket Museums Charm Visitors

02
Feb 2024

Welcome island lovers to the nautical world of Nantucket museums. Nestled amid the sun-kissed shores of this picturesque paradise, these hidden treasures promise a delightful journey through seafaring times and tall tales. As you take a leisurely break from beachside bliss, the island’s rich history unfolds before curious eyes.

Nantucket Lifesaving and Shipwreck Museum

Discover the captivating stories behind Nantucket’s whaling era at the Whaling Museum. A majestic whale skeleton and maritime artifacts bring the past to life. Stroll through the historic Hadwen House, a Victorian treasure frozen in time, and marvel at the island’s architectural legacy. Feeling artistic? The Artists Association of Nantucket showcases local talents that capture the island’s beauty in vibrant strokes.

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Visit Enchanting Erice Sicily’s Medieval Gem

29
Jan 2024

Visiting Erice Sicily is a must when in the western part of the enchanting island. This picturesque hilltop town is a historic gem that beckons travelers with its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Nestled into the summit of Mount Erice, the location allowed residents to defend themselves while remaining close to the maritime rewards of the sea.

castle on hillside Erice Sicily

This guide will explore the wonders of Erice, covering its location, transportation, history, attractions, reasons to visit, and the ideal time to experience this petite, Sicilian treasure.

Where is Erice?

Erice is nestled on the summit of Mount Erice, approximately 750 meters above sea level, overlooking the western coast of Sicily in southern Italy. This medieval town is perched on a strategic vantage point that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking a tranquil escape. The protective ramparts have now become an important feature of the surrounding landscape.

How to Get to Erice

Reaching Erice is an adventure in itself. The town is accessible by several means of transportation. Here are some options:

Trapani to Erice Cable Car:

We began our travel to Erice in Trapani (a short distance away), on the western tip of Sicily. Read more about our road trip from Palermo to Trapani. Erice is approximately 40 kilometers from San Vito lo Capo, another charming stop along the sea with beautiful beaches.

Take the cable car, “Funivia di Erice,” for a scenic ride up to Erice. The journey provides breathtaking views of porto Trapani and the surrounding coastline. On a clear day you can see out to the Egadi islands. Times on the cable car change in the off season. Make sure you are looking for the correct dates.

Cable cars going up mountain at sunset overlooking sea and islands.

Cable car going to Erice, Sicily at sunset.

INSIDER TIP: If you plan to have dinner in Erice, prearrange transportation back to your hotel. We could not get an Uber on our way back and ended up walking the 2 miles plus at 10pm.

By Car

Renting a car is a convenient option, allowing you to enjoy a leisurely drive through the picturesque Sicilian countryside. The trip takes about ½ an hour from Trapani.

Follow the signs leading to Erice, navigating the winding roads that ascend to the hilltop town.

Public Bus

Public buses connect Trapani to Erice, offering a budget-friendly option for travelers. Again-make sure to check on your return as well.

A Brief History of Erice

Erice has a fascinating history that dates back to ancient times. Originally settled by the Elymians, an indigenous population of Sicily, the town later became a crucial outpost for the Phoenicians and then the Greeks. Over the centuries, Erice changed hands multiple times, falling under Roman, Arab, and Norman rule.

Woman in yellow shirt and straw hat sitting on stone wall overlooking the landscape.

The town’s medieval architecture reflects its diverse cultural influences, with narrow cobblestone streets, well-preserved churches, and ancient walls that transport visitors back in time. Notable historical sites include the Venus Castle, built by the Normans in the 12th century, and the Temple of Venus, a remnant of the ancient Elymian civilization.

Top Things to do When Visiting Erice

Erice offers a wealth of activities for visitors to explore its rich cultural and natural heritage. Tourists can pick up a helpful map as they enter the village.

Visit the Venus Castle and other Historic Sites

Explore the well-preserved Venus Castle, also known as Castello di Venere, which offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding sea. The ancient temple paid tribute to the goddess of fertility.

Built between 1872 and 1880, the Torretta Pepoli of Erice is located just below the Venus Castle. Hugging the side of a massive cliff, the panoramic views of Trapani and the salt pans are Instagram worthy on clear day.

View from castle wall overlooking landscape.

Porta Spada is a gateway in the town’s remarkable and ancient defensive walls. The massive stones at the base are part of the original structure dating from the 8th century BC and reminded me of our visit to Peru’s Sacayhuamán .

Experiencing the cultural fusion of Elymian, Phoenician, Greek, Norman, and Arab influences that have shaped Erice’s distinctive identity is awe inspiring.

Wander Through Charming Streets

Woman in white skirt and blue and red floral top with hat walking up cobblestone street.

Stroll through the charming medieval streets of Erice, lined with stone houses, local shops, and quaint cafes. The atmosphere of the old town is both romantic and nostalgic. Erice provides a peaceful retreat from the bustling cities, allowing visitors to relax and rejuvenate amidst a serene environment.

Discover Religious Heritage

Visit the Duomo di Erice, a beautiful cathedral showcasing Norman architecture and housing precious religious artifacts. The Chiesa Matrice dates back the beginning of the 14th century (an original fresco dates back to 1420) and is built in the shape of a Latin cross with two entrances.

The pale rose colored San Giuliano church and adjacent bell tower is one of the oldest in Erice.

Try Local Delicacies

Indulge in Sicilian cuisine at local trattorias and bakeries. Don’t miss out on trying traditional sweets like cannoli and cassata. La Pasticceria di Maria Grammatico is a local favorite. The bakery has been making almond pastries in the tradition of monasteries for over 40 years.

Green cakes with white creamy centers and a cherry and orange peel on top.

If you are planning dinner during your visit to Erice, a reservation is suggested in the summer season. We had a lovely evening on a terrace with a panoramic views over the towns below at Ristorante Monte San Giuliano.Make sure to ask for outdoor seating.

Two wine glasses filled with white wine on table with eggplant rolls covered in tomato sauce and basil leaves.

Take in the Views

Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from various vantage points, offering glimpses of the surrounding countryside, the sea, and even the Egadi Islands on a clear day. It’s a visual feast for both nature lovers and photography enthusiasts.

Local Crafts

Erice is known for their colorful woven tapestry rugs. The skills are passed from generation to generation incorporating the use of small scraps of fabric. Most of the patterns and images I observed were geometric. The hand looms are identical to the ones I’ve seen in India and Ecuador, but the bright colors are more in line with traditional Sicilian decorative objets.

Brightly colored woven carpets with a geometric pattern

Similar textures and patterns can be found in the ceramics being made in Erice’s small artisan run worshops. Visitors will find clay made into traditional forms and after firing being skillfully painted is colorful patterns.

Speaking of artisan, make sure not to miss the pastry shops. The ancient pastry tradition is proudly alive and well with display cases beautifully displaying these edible jewels.

There’s More: Top Things to do in Palermo

Accommodations

Erice offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. From charming bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels, visitors can find comfortable places to stay while immersing themselves in the town’s ambiance. Prices may vary depending on the season and the type of accommodation chosen. Because of its size, Erice can easily be visited on a day trip.

woman in yellow shirt standing in arched gateway in Erice Sicily

When is the Best Time to Visit?

The ideal time to visit Erice is during the spring and fall seasons. During these periods, the weather is mild, and the town is less crowded, allowing visitors to explore its treasures at a leisurely pace. Summer attracts more tourists, so planning a trip in the shoulder seasons ensures a more intimate experience.

Conclusion About Visiting Erice, Sicily

In conclusion, Erice stands as a testament to Sicily’s diverse history and natural beauty. Whether you’re captivated by ancient architecture, seeking a tranquil escape, or yearning for culinary delights, Erice has something to offer.

Erice encapsulates the essence of Sicily’s cultural richness and natural beauty. After visiting over 20 villages and towns in Sicily, I can say that Erice is unique amongst all the others. Small and captivating in its charms, Erice should be included on a western Sicily itinerary. Don’t miss a visit to this enchanting hilltop town and let the magic of days gone by unfold before you.

Pin ME ♥ Visiting Enchanting Erice in Sicily

White castle built into a hillside surrounded by slate rock and green trees.

Castellammare del Golfo Sicily’s Most Beautiful Peninsula

11
Jan 2024

Nestled on the northwestern coast of Sicily, Castellammare del Golfo beckons with its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and inviting Mediterranean charm. This idyllic town and municipality, perched between the Gulf of Castellammare and the rugged mountains, offers a perfect blend of cultural experiences and natural beauty.

Salmon colored old building over looking turquoise sea with rock outcroppings

This guide will help you make the most of your visit, from exploring historic sites to lounging on the best beaches. Castellammare del Golfo invites guests to unwind, explore, and savor the best of Sicilian life. Whether you’re a history buff, beach lover, or food enthusiast, this enchanting area has something for everyone.

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The Best Guide for Things to do in Palermo Italy

30
Dec 2023

The island of Sicily evokes a wide variety of intriguing images. Many visitors choose to skip the capitol because of its gritty reputation and storied past. After experiencing some of the best things to do in Palermo, I think you’ll agree that this vibrant destination, although somewhat rough around the edges, is full of authentic places to visit.

Statue and palm trees against clouds in blue sky.

Whether you are spending a quick 24 hours in Palermo or have planned a longer stay, this guide for Palermo sightseeing will help you plan your trip to the Crossroads of the Mediterranean.

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Safely Eating Street Food Around the World

24
Jul 2023

My first adventures in eating street food outside the United States took place when I was in college traveling in Greece. I was a pretty green traveler and happily ate souvlaki, salads and yogurt from street vendors on a student’s budget without incident. Naiveté and luck kept me safe.

woman eating kunafa street food

The only time I saw the inside of a doctor’s office was when my friend badly chipped her capped tooth, and after the treatment she got, I’m not convinced the man was even a real doc.

Can you believe there was a translated phrase in our guide book: “my artificial tooth needs replacing”?  I can still hear the THWACK of the rubber band he used to get the cemented tooth off her gums! As you can imagine, it was not a pleasant experience, but I digress….

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The Best Sights from Cairo to Giza Pyramids

22
Jun 2023

Traveling from Cairo to Giza is at the top of every traveler’s Egyptian bucket list. The Pyramids and other extraordinary monuments present a remarkable concentration of sites to visit in what for many will be the trip of a lifetime. Egypt is one of the most fascinating countries in the world and Cairo is definitely having a moment in the world of travel.

woman walking in front of Grand Pyramid with bougainvillea on each side

If you have ever wanted to take a trip back in time and experience the ancient wonders of the world, Cairo delivers as promised.  This bustling capital has a history that spans over 5,000 years. Cairo transports with a journey from the era of pharaohs to the Islamic golden age to the modern day. You’ll also find a thriving metropolis, home to over 10 million people.

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