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Vacation Around Greece

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I recently returned from a 10 day romp through Greece, and I can’t wait to go back! The streets are lined with healthy lemon, orange, and olive trees. The smell of honeysuckle is in the air. You can feel the pulse of the city just walking down the street taking in all the sights.

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April is the beginning of the tourism season so it wasn’t very crowded. This time of year the temperatures are venturing into the upper 60’s & lower 70’s. To be honest, it exhausts me to imagine vacationing when it’s any warmer over there. The sun can really take it out of you if you aren’t careful over when outside. There is a reason most homes have marble floors and huge roll-down shades on their balconies & windows.

Athens is a wonderful, thriving city! The view from downtown in any direction is full of hillsides crammed with houses & buildings, tightly packed together. On a typical day it may take you over an hour to get from one end of town to the other by car. Most citizens use public transportation to commute. Athens is the only city in Greece with a Metro System – It’s fairly cheap and easy to use, with color coded routes. Most major tourist destinations like the Acropolis are easy to travel to using the metro. If I can use the Metro System so can you.

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Stores and banks close mid-afternoon for the day. Some of the chain stores may have extended hours. Restaurants and small shops may close between 12pm – 3pm for siesta, and then reopen for the dinner crowd. Credit cards are widely accepted at the museums & in most restaurants located within the tourist areas. That said, expect to pay cash euros if you shop for souvenirs in the Planka (market) at the foot of Acropolis hill. In general, the Greeks do not haggle on prices, but if you offer a lesser price they just may take it. If they don’t bite on your offer, just accept the originally stated price and enjoy your purchase. Haggling over prices is considered rude. The Planka area is known for is pickpockets. Be aware of your surroundings and you should be fine.

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The Acropolis admission just increased from 12€ to 20€ per person. This pass includes entry to the Theatre of Dionysus, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Keramikos, and the Temple of Zeus within a 4 day validity period. Archeological sites tend to close at 3pm in the early season, but they may extend hours as late as 5pm during the high season. Early morning visits are recommended to avoid crowds and the midday sun. A trip to the Acropolis involves a lot of uphill walking even if you arrive via the Acropolis Metro stop. I was so glad I wore comfortable shoes with good tread. Take your time getting up there, and motivate yourself knowing there is a fruit slushy store across from the ticket booth at the entrance… no joke, it was the best 4.50€ I spent that day 😉

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2.5 hours North West of Athens is the historic site of Delphi. This was a wonderful day trip that allowed me to see the Greek countryside as we ventured into the mountains. Again, it is advisable to set out early morning, and stop midway for a lite bite to eat. (Fruit or pastry with Greek coffee is a no brainer) We passed through a picturesque little town called Arachova right before we arrived in Delphi. This was a nice destination to stop on the return trip so we could treat ourselves to a nice big meal & some shopping.

A ticket to the Delphi Archeological Site run 6€ for students to 12€ for adults, and admission into the Delphi Museum located at the bottom of the hill next to the Archeological Site entrance is included. This site also closed at 3pm, but the museum was open until at 4pm. After the trek up the slippery stairs of the Archeological Site, past all the temples to the Gymnasium and Stadium, we were ready for a nice fruit slushy. Luckily they have them in about a dozen flavors at the Café located outside the Delphi Museum. I highly recommend a leisurely sip of watermelon flavored slushy before venturing into the Museum. You can breeze through the museum in less than an hour.

agenia

Aegina is a summer vacation hot-spot for Athenians that is known for 4 things: Beautiful Beaches, Pistachios, the temple ruins of Aphaia & the Monastery of Nektarios. We had the pleasure of vacationing there over the weekend. Ferry prices range from 8€ to 16€ depending on the type of vessel you take, and the ride is only about an hour. Once you arrive in Aegina’s port you can rent mopeds or quads to roam around the island. Both vehicles are street legal. Let’s take a guess at what we chose…

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If you ever have the chance to visit Aegina, please load up on the pistachios because they are the BEST pistachios I’ve ever had. They are soaked in lemon as part of the roasting process. I miss them already! The Monastery of Nektarios is centrally located. It houses the tomb of Saint Nektarios, who was canonized by the Greek Orthodox Church during the 1960s. He is fondly known as the Walking Saint who grants miracles to the faithful. They say if you put your ear up to his tiny silver casket you will hear his footsteps. For the record I didn’t hear any footsteps, but we’ll see if my request gets granted. As for the temple ruins, they are located on the highest hill of the island. It was a fun drive getting up there on our quads. The temple has been rebuilt 3 times over the years and it is in good shape. Aphaia is a goddess compared to Athena. Local lore says this temple is the place to visit if you looking for a dose of fertility. Admission here was only 8€.

greek food

Greek food was a wonderful discovery. Forget all we Americans think we know about gyros here in the states. Over there, they serve gyros with either chicken or pork, no lamb. Meals come in 2 styles- shaved as we are used to, or cubed and grilled on sticks. Personally I prefer the sticks, and half of the fun is to fold the gyro in half and then pull the 2 sticks out, leaving the meat inside the gyro. Also expect french-fries in your gyros. If you opt for the chicken option, they will try to serve it with mayo instead of tzatziki sauce. Greek Salads are simply cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, feta and maybe capers drizzled in olive oil and salt and pepper. These salads are served with most meals and are quite enjoyable.

Greeks aren’t very big on processed sugar, so they drink lots of water, coffee, tea, and juices. My host didn’t even have sugar in her house?! Tap water is ok to drink unless you are on the islands. Baklava and other sweets are a rare treat to the standard diet. A Greek would have a spinach pie for breakfast for example, and look at you oddly for ordering a piece of baklava for yourself. Greece also has several alcohols in addition to Ouzo you should try: Retsina is pine sap wine made popular in recent years. It tastes similar to a chardonnay even though it contains no grapes. Rakomelo is a honey flavored mixed drink made in Crete. It tastes like bourbon, but the aftertaste is all baklava. I just love this stuff! Aegina has Pistachio liquor that is wonderful mixed with other spirits.

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It would be fair to say I will always carry a little piece of Greece with me. It touched my heart in a way I find hard to describe without getting all cheesy. My new Greek friends now consider themselves family… and I gotta admit, I feel the love in return. If you ever journey to Greece be sure to relax and enjoy it! Take part in the hospitality offered. Share some kind words with a fellow traveler or local Greek. Try new foods & beverages. Dip your bread in the olive oil on the Greek Salad plate. Shop at the weekly street markets, and browse the locals produce and meats. Soak up the afternoon sun. You’ll never forget your journey.

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2 Eco Friendly Resorts in Mexico We Love

There are many new eco-friendly resorts that are starting to pop up around the world. Enjoy the perfect combination of fun and responsibility on your next vacation by staying at an environmentally friendly resort. Consider a green getaway to help preserve your favorite vacation destinations for years to come. Whether you’re passionate about sustainability or just want to make a difference, you can feel better knowing that you’re enjoying the best aspects of a beachfront vacation while simultaneously preserving the environment. Each of the hotels featured below go above and beyond to be as eco-friendly as possible by participating in endeavors such as beach clean-ups, wildlife preservations, recycling programs, and more. Guests can also participate by choosing to reuse towels and sheets, conserving water, and learning about innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Many of the properties have also been recognized by some of the leading eco-friendly organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance and Green Globe for their outstanding initiatives. From the breathtaking shores of Cancun to the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, there are environmentally responsible resorts in destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Positively impact the world today by booking an unforgettable vacation to one of our eco-friendly resorts.

Barcelo Maya Beach Resort

Located on a private beach spanning over one mile, this newly renovated resort is comprised of four hotels – Maya Beach, Maya Caribe, Maya Colonial, and Maya Tropical. Perfect for families, couples, and singles looking for both luxury and excitement, this all-inclusive oasis offers spectacular options for dining, activities, and more.

Explore beautiful walking trails and paths that are perfect for those looking to relax while taking a leisurely stroll, or who want to take in the scenery while going for a heart pumping jog. Workout in the new state-of-the-art fitness center or try the hydro therapy circuit available at the Spa. If sports are more to your liking, you’ll enjoy tennis, basketball, soccer, mini golf, bowling, billiards, and an arcade. Enjoy a variety of watersports available at the Watersports and Dive Center. Nightly activities include live shows with professionally choreographed routines, a nightclub, and a teens club (ages 13-17).

Traveling with children has never been easier thanks to Barcy’s Kids Club. Daily activities for little ones ages 4-12 are available from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. If spending time outside is more to your child’s liking, Pirates Island Water Park is sure to impress. Complete with two pools and a variety of other water activities, your child will always be entertained!

When you’ve worked up an appetite after all your fun in the sun, visit one of 17 delicious restaurants. From a la carte to buffets and snack bars, there’s no shortage of options here. You’ll also be able to choose from 14 bars, all crafting specialty drinks to satisfy your taste buds.

Barcelo Huatulco Beach Resort


Extra Value: Includes up to a $500 resort credit (booking dates, travel dates, duration, and usage restrictions apply).
Greening Your Life: Part of the Apple Vacations Greening Your Life initiative, this property has received Gold Certification from Green Globe, has an established beach clean-up program, and places fencing around nesting areas on the beach in order to protect baby turtles.

Barcelo Huatulco Beach rests upon a shimmering beach at the head of Tangolunda Bay, the largest of the nine secluded bays of Huatulco. Built in a contemporary Mexican style, this is a prestigious resort in Huatulco, known for its luxury and green sustainability. A distinctive resort where you’ll enjoy a variety of land and water sports, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful grounds, the swimming pool, or just go for a stroll along the sapphire waves of the Pacific Ocean, as they are all just a few steps from your room.

Located only 25 minutes from the airport and only ten minutes from Santa Cruz Bay and the main village of La Crucecita, Barcelo Huatulco Beach features six restaurants that serve everything from sushi to regional Mexican cuisine. Step up to one of five bars and enjoy unlimited domestic drinks. Lounge the day away beside one of two outdoor swimming pools. Be sure to visit the swim-up bar for a tropical treat, or work up a sweat, day or night, on the floodlit tennis courts.

Enjoy a whole host of sporting activities offered by the hotel, or stroll through the magnificent grounds and take in a wide variety of entertainment and daily live shows. The smallest members of the family can take part in supervised activities at the mini-club, hit a hole-in-one at miniature golf, or take a dip in the children’s pool.

Golfers will be challenged at the Campo de Golf Tangolunda, just five minutes away! A spectacular 18-hole, par-72 professional Golf Course designed by Mario Schjetnan Dantan and Pedro Gftereca Gurrola, the breezy green Tangolunda Golf Course stretches for 6,851 yards down Tangolunda Valley to the bay.

A true paradise by the sea, Barcelo Huatulco Beach awaits your arrival for the perfect getaway.

Click here for more information or give us a call at 1-888-700-8747.

Hawaii Travel Guide

Where to Eat, Sleep, and Explore in Hawaii

Oahu

Beyond Honolulu’s sprawl, the island of Oahu is as distinctive and diverse as any of its neighbors. The difference: After filling up on miles-long white-sand beaches, epic surf, and awe-inspiring vistas, visitors still have access to some of the country’s finest shopping and dining. Charlene Davé of Virtuoso’s on-site tour operator in Hawaii says, “There’s every imaginable designer store in Waikiki, Ala Moana Center is comprehensive, and Kailua has cute boutiques – plus Oahu has some of the most picturesque beaches in Hawaii.”

 

Kauai

Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii’s main islands, and you can see its ancientness in its stunningly eroded landscapes. With fluted emerald cliffs, taro fields aglow at sunset, and thread-thin waterfalls, the Garden Isle hews most closely to the postcard image of Polynesia. Devotees love its white-sand beaches fronting crystalline lagoons, deliberately downbeat tempo, and emphasis on taking it slow to breathe in the beauty.

 

Maui

There’s a reason the rich and famous (Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood, and Willie Nelson, to name a few) buy homes on Maui. Some say it’s Oahu without the hassle: just cosmopolitan enough to support superior dining and shopping, but not so urbanized that you can’t find empty beaches and wilderness. Maui’s varied landscapes – Mount Haleakala’s alpine environment, Kaupo’s dry prairie, Hana’s jungles – share an island so small that you can experience all of them in just a few days.

 

Lanai

It’s said there are two kinds of visitors to Hawaii: those who love Lanai and those who haven’t been there. There’s not much to do on the Pineapple Isle, and that’s the point: On this low-gear tropical sanctuary, time creeps and visitors can relax without the nagging feeling of missing out. “I really love Lanai,” advisor Kari Mollan says. “It’s so quiet, you just want to walk the orchid gardens at Koele or sit in a rocking chair and play chess. Stay for a week, bring a lot of books, and just enjoy it.”

 

Hawaii Island

A place of superlatives and extremes, Hawaii Island (locals are moving away from calling it the “Big Island”) is the United States’ largest island and southernmost point. Site of the world’s tallest mountain (Mauna Kea – 32,696 feet from its seafloor base to its summit) as well as the country’s newest real estate (Kilauea volcano has been adding new oceanfront daily since 1983). The state’s most ecologically diverse island, comprising ten climate zones, from wintry summits to blistering lava deserts. It even has the world’s longest lava tube and the only happy-face spider. Hawaii Island’s otherworldly landscapes and supernatural beauty emanate a tangible vibration, the mana of a new land forming.

 

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Journeying by Rail through Switzerland – #travel

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Journeying by Rail through Switzerland is the destination. Hop aboard the GoldenPass Tour to take in the jaw-dropping beauty of chalet-filled villages and pastoral valleys, pristine lakes, and sky-piercing mountain peaks – from über-modern, panoramic cars or elegant, Belle Epoque carriages. Enjoy Swiss hospitality in both Lucerne and Interlaken on the Tops of Switzerland; extend your travels with a night in Montreux. Or ascend to new heights on the Swiss Rail Adventure, which combines journeys aboard the William Tell Express, Bernina Express, and Glacier Express. Travel in first-class comfort through tunnels, over viaducts and along snowcapped mountaintops – with overnights in Lucerne, Italy-inspired Lugano, chic St. Moritz, and “car-free” Zermatt.

Click here for more information or give us a call at 1-888-700-8747!

Our Top 7 Incredible Cruise-Ship Suites

Seven cruise-ship suites that rival top hotel penthouses.

Wrap-around balconies with whirlpool tubs. Baby grands for entertaining and spiral staircases for a grand entrance. Personal saunas in en suite spas. With a bevy of top-tier amenities, these super-suites make a big, bold statement. And best of all: The view outside your window is always new!

Learn more about each at the links below:

Click here for more information or contact Traveline at 1-888-700-8747.