Let’s forget about the cold weather and remember the time a few months ago when I went to Naples, Italy for the first time. This past Summer vacation was spent in Naples (5 days), then a small Aeolian island called Panarea (8 days), a few days (3) in Positano and finally 2 days in Rome to eat at a couple of favorites and see a fantastic exhibition of Luigi Ghirri photographs. Panarea was my favorite part. I love vacations but Panarea was better than anything I could have imagined.
Naples is a beautiful city packed with culture and a long, rich history. The historic sites and buildings are not as perfectly packaged as Rome. It is grittier and stranger than Rome. In the New York Times Travel section Rachel Donadio was “Seduced by Naples.” I can’t say that I was. I was intrigued and puzzled but Venice seduced me more than Naples. Perhaps Naples in the days before Pompeii was destroyed, or when the Bourbons ruled it as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, I may have been seduced. More
Hhhhhhhhh-vvvaaarrrrrrrr. A little bit of old town but more beach, which is something I was looking forward to the whole trip. In planning our journey along the Croatian coast I knew we’d only have 2-3 days beach time. I love the idea of plopping on the beach and relaxing for a week. Bf not so much. He likes a little more culture in the mix. I’m amenable to anything, but in seeking out the beach I chose the Amfora Grand Beach Resort in Hvar. Hvar is one of the 1,200 islands in Croatia and is said to be more resort-like and somewhat of a scene, but I wanted to check it out. The pictures of the pool at the Amfora made me imagine lounging by the pool with frozen drinks at hand, more importantly though it advertised the Bonj Beach Club. Lounging and drinks? Yes! With chairs perched on the edge of the water so you could jump right in. The pictures you see of celebs jumping from rocks into the water in the South of France or Spain, that would be me!
So much for my visions of acting like the jet set. After we checked in we walked over to the Bonj Beach Club to reserve a day bed for the next day. I was so thrilled to hear that they would be closed for the next 2 days for a wedding. Ugh. Had I not been able to see how much it matched my fantasies (umbrellas and day beds right on the water! Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!) I wouldn’t have been as upset. I got over it though just as I had many things on the trip. We were still days away from going home but I had realized that traveling to a place you know nothing about, relying on travel books, internet resources and word of mouth, can never prepare you for little things that throw off your plans. I never think things will go perfectly. In traveling to places I’ve never been I keep myself open to the range of possible outcomes–great to bad. More
From the Boskinac on Pag Island we went to Zadar. We were there for one night so we made the most of our time and immediately started our walking tour of the city after we checked into Hotel Bastion. One of the highlights of the old town is St. Donat’s Church. It dates from the 8th-9th centuries and was built with columns and other ruins from the Roman forum that was once in Zadar and parts of which can still be seen. The central part of the church is round and was difficult to photograph, not that any photo could do it justice. I’m not so religious but going into churches or cathedrals always gives me pause thinking how the architects, builders, clergy and wealthy donors wanted to inspire the Divine. I felt it as the afternoon sun came into small, high windows near the top of the dome. The best part was seeing the remains of Roman columns as the foundations for the church. Recycling was hip in the 8th century! Ha. More like they were pagan and they’re not here anymore so let’s use it! Funny how people think that way these days still.
There was an archaelogy museum across the way from the church that we zipped through. It was mostly ceramics, stone fragments and fragments of church lintels and columns that they decided to put on view inside rather than out front. Right next to the church was a belltower. More
What do those places have in common? They all begin with the letter I and I’ve been lucky enough to visit them all. First up is Italy.
In August my Italian boyfriend and I went on an almost 3 week jaunt through Venice and the Croatian coast. My last trip to Venice I was 17 on an EF tour. My memories of that high school trip are sketchy so this time I saw it with new eyes. I have been moderately aware of the wealth of paintings, sculpture, chuches, architecture and music that exists in Venice but once I began researching our trip I couldn’t wait to be there.
Just so you know the hotels and restaurants I suggest are not for the budget traveler nor are we Russian oil barons or Qatari royalty staying in $5,000/night suites. I suggest things comfortably in between. Sometimes we go for cheaper and slightly more expensive but usually it’s down the middle.
The past few summers we’ve used our generous August vacation time to visit faraway places like Indonesia and India. This summer would be no different. Initially we considered Vietnam but the rainy season and threat of typhoons deterred us so we brainstormed new destinations. I’m a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and happened to see the episode where he visits Croatia. Of course every episode I see makes me want to go immediately to Harbin, China or Provence or wherever he is, but the Croatian Coast looked like the best combination of jaw dropping landscape and delicious food and wine. Croatia won’t become part of the EU until July 2013 so it’s affordable. When we were there $1 was equivalent to about 5.5 Croatian Kuna. There are a range of places to stay from hostels to five star hotels and every mode of transportation is available between cities. Best of all it would be summer and there are 1,200 islands one can visit. More