Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Night-time in Nafplio, Greece


Some places have a totally different atmosphere at night, transforming from one thing during the day, to another at night. Nafplio, in the eastern Peloponnese, is one of those places. This waterfront town is a lovely, sun-splashed paradise during the day, with palm trees lining the streets and horse drawn carriages. But as the sun dips, you see why it's considered one of the most romantic towns in Greece. The sunset over the ocean was hypnotic and the town looked like a twilight fairy tale.


Walking through the small courtyards and eating at a sidewalk cafe with the sea breeze wafting over me was thrilling. Nafplio  also boasts some mythical magic, it was reportedly founded by Poseidon's son Nafplios. My favorite experience was hearing a live opera singer in the square. Check it out in my video below for a taste of Nafplio night-time mystique:



Monday, July 30, 2018

Aegean Blue


I love large bodies of water. The waves, the salty sea breezes, the colors are all very soothing for me. In fact, just looking at these pix has totally relaxed me. I've dipped into many oceans and lakes but I can't remember being as excited as I was to swim in the Aegean Sea.  As I traveled all over the Peloponnese region, I learned a lot about Greece's geography. The country is actually made up of  roughly 6,000 islands and only 227 are inhabited. About 1,400 are clustered around the Aegean.


The Aegean is actually a long embayment of the Mediterranean Sea.  I've seen the Mediterranean from many countries and perspectives and it has never looked like this. The blue is a mix of turquoise, sapphire and cobalt and the different shades seem to flow into each other.


You can glimpse the Aegean all around the Peloponnese but I was lucky enough to visit several beaches and actually immerse myself in its beauty. It was cold but also very peaceful, none of the beaches were crowded and the waves gently splashed over me. The current Aegean coastline dates back to 4000 BC and I felt a special vibration while swimming. Water is always healing but I think that there's something extra in the Aegean.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Greece's Magical Mystras Castle


Greece is famous for its ancient monuments but my visit to the Peloponnese region revealed that there are so many more historic landmarks than the Acropolis and the Parthenon. In fact, the country is literally covered with ancient history, including 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of which is Mystras Castle Town.


Stepping into the Byzantine archways of Mystras is like strolling through Greek legends.  Founded in the 12th century, this mountainside town was once the center of the Byzantine empire, second only to Constantinople. Mystras was also where the last Byzantine emperor was crowned and you get a sense of the opulence of the period from the long frescos in the churches and the marble engravings of the castles and mansions.


Fortress, church and castle ruins are spread all over Mystras. There is a dreamy, otherworldly feeling that hovers over the place. The only permanently occupied structure is the Pantanasssa Monastery, which houses a group of nuns. There are usually not many crowds in Mystras so I enjoyed  a peaceful visit soaking up the history and mountain views.



Monday, June 25, 2018

Next Stop: Greece


This week, I'll be diving into the extensive history and culture of Greece, courtesy of Greek Tourism. My trip kicks off in Athens, where I'll visit the iconic Acropolis as well as the Monastiraki flea market. The rest of my journey is focused on the Peloponnese region, where I'll roam monasteries, the Mycenae and Epidaurous ancient sites, the town of Kalamata, which I'm especially excited to see as an olive fan, and wineries, caves and a beach! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Chasing Waterfalls in Tobago


Many people consider Tobago as an example of the"true Caribbean." That means that this 120 square mile island isn't filled with resorts or tourist attractions and the traditional family-focused culture is still in tact. It was enlightening to view this small island from a local perspective as we traveled from the capital of Scarborough on the Southern coast, to the Northeastern tip of Charlotteville with my daughter's gregarious cousin Glen. Each town has its own feel and personality but the constant was the unspoiled, natural beauty and friendly people.


We hiked up to Argyle Waterfall and gained an eyeful of Tobago's beautiful landscape. The waterfall cascades down from 175 feet and after the sweaty hike, we were tempted to take a swim but the freezing water changed our minds. Instead we, dipped our feet in the stream and rested on the nearby rocks.


It was a soothing experience listening to the waterfall and watching fish swim by our feet. We had the waterfall to ourselves and only saw one  family passing through on our way out.  A laid-back, peaceful vibe is what Tobago is known for and the trip to Argyle Waterfall proved that this island still retains it's "true Caribbean" style.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Next Stop: Tobago


This week, I'm returning to the lovely island of Tobago and it's a homecoming of sorts. I'm taking my daughter to see her grandmother, they haven't seen each other since she was three-years-old. As a revered teacher on the tiny island, Hermia Yeates holds quite an influence so besides reconnecting, we will be meeting calypsonians, dignitaries and possibly even the prime minister.  Gobbling up doubles, chicken pilau and shark and bake will be major highlights of our trip as well as taking in the natural landscape. The last time I was on Tobago, I was there to see Wendy Fitzwilliam be crowned  as Trinidad & Tobago's second Miss Universe. I remember being swept up in the pride and euphoria and I also recall a certain narcissistic "billionaire" who owned the pageant and went on to open hotels on the island. It will be interesting to see the changes on Tobago as well as experience the island through my daughter's eyes. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Organic and I-tal Living in St. Lucia


Connecting with the landscape and native plants of a destination is one of my favorite activities when I travel so I was excited to have a personalized farm-to table experience in St.Lucia. But I had no idea just how pivotal the visit would be.  The I-tal , organic farm-to-table experience  at The Body Holiday is an absolute must.


St. Lucia is an especially lush, verdant island so wandering through the restaurant's garden with Chef Damien would have been fun even if we weren't gathering food to eat. He pointed out essential plants like callaloo, breadfruit and papaya and explained local uses for herbs like peppermint, basil and rosemary.


I picked a big basket of callaloo, which is one of my beloved island veggies. The sun was so intense that the plants buoyant leaves started wilting as soon as I cut them. Our group picked baskets and baskets of produce for our vegan meal.


And that's not where the participation ended. We diced tomatoes, eggplants, carrots and onions. Since I'm super clumsy, I avoided using the big knives and snapped the green beans for what turned out to be a five course meal using only ingredients from the restaurant's garden. Enjoying the different flavors and learning about Damien and his wife Ratanya was a major highlight. The chefs even made a special tea for me to drink for my cold. The open walled restaurant sits atop a hill so that you can take in a full view of the island's beauty. Eating at I-Tal restaurant and connecting with St. Lucia's landscape and people is the ultimate  sustainable travel excursion.