Must See Towns in Spain

Spain, home of Picasso, Gaudi, and Dali; just to name 3 of Spain’s great masters.  To many Spain invokes the sun drenched beaches of the Costa del Sol; the Prado Museum in Madrid; the cheers of the bullrings in Madrid, Seville, and Ronda; the whimsical buildings of Gaudi in Barcelona; tapas, and flamenco dancers.

Spain is all that and more!  Of course most tourists flock to Barcelona’s La Rambla and Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, and they should!  Both are definitely must see tourist stops when visiting Spain.   But there is more to Spain than it’s big cities.  A visit to the towns along the Costa del Sol, Spain’s sun coast, is a nice respite from the big cities; or a visit to northern Spain’s towns of Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela offer one a different perspective of this country that has a rich and diverse history.

Here are 5 Spanish towns that are definitely worth a visit next time you’re in Spain!

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Santiago de Compostela

Located in North western Spain Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomus community of Galicia.  The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been a famous Christian pilgrimage town since the 9th. Century.

As the story goes in the early 9th. Century a hermit named Pelagius saw a light shining over a long forgotten Roman tomb in the forest.  Word quickly spread throughout the Christian world that the tomb of St. James the Greater, one of Jesus’ beloved apostles, was discovered in northwest area of the Iberian Peninsula.  Very soon a city sprang up around the  holy tomb and the site became one of the most important Christian pilgrimage towns.  Pilgrims came from all over Europe walking the route which became know as the Camino de Santiago.  Smaller towns sprang up along this route where hospitals, churches, and monasteries were built to support the Christians heading to the tomb and eventually the Cathedral that was built over the shrine.

Pilgrims from all over the world still journey to this town, many literally following in the footsteps of the 9th. century pilgrims.  It is very common and even expected to see pilgrims from all over the world with walking sticks and backpacks making their way to the town.  Tour companies even offer pilgrimage packages from France, Germany, or pretty much anywhere in Europe.

The Old Town and its surrounding monasteries and monuments are pretty much the only things in this area that’s visited by pilgrims and tourists.  The Old Town though it can be crowded with people is charming.  Beautiful Baroque, Romanesque, Gothic, and Neoclassical buildings line the narrow streets.  The Cathedral is considered a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.  Over all in spite of the busy streets and plazas the town has a serene feel and is imbued with the feeling of devotion inspired by faithful who arduously make their way on foot to the shrine.  In my opinion it is a wonderful location to sit calmly and perhaps do a bit of soul searching.

Bilbao

Bilbao is the largest city in the autonomus community of Basque Country in northern Spain.  The Basque Country sits on the Atlantic coast and borders France on the north, in fact parts of the Basque Country are in France.

If you didn’t know the Basque Country locally known as Euskadi or País Vasco isn’t like any other part of Spain.  This region has its own language, cuisine, and geographic and cultural identity.

Bilbao is an very industrialized city built on the Nevrión river.  It’s a great place use as a base for exploring Basque Country.  Not to mention it is home to the futuristic looking Guggenheim Museum of Blibao.  This building which opened in 1997 has become an iconic emblem of Bilbao.  It’s built on the once very polluted banks of the Nevrión and has become a symbol of revitalization and marks the beginning of a new era for the city.  You can walk along the river bank for awesome views of Frank Gehry’s masterpiece, this otherworldly building that seems to undulate beneath the warm Bilbao sun.

The museum is home to celebrated works of modern and contemporary art.  Its permanent collection includes works by Klein, Rothko, Kiefer, and other modern and contemporary artists.  This is a must see for all fans of modern and contemporary art; and even if you’re not the building itself is a sight to behold!

Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca is the capital of and the autonomus community of the Balearic Islands of Spain.  It is situated on the south coast of the island of Mallorca of the east coast of Spain.

Palma has a rich and checkered past having been conquered and ruled by the Moors then reconquered by the Christians in the 13th. Century.  But even before that was settled by the Roman and Talayotic people.  The Gothic Cathedral of Palma dominated the center of the historic city center.  Radiating from this magnificent building are narrow medieval streets lined with townhouses and Baroque churches.  It’s filled with teeming public squares, bohemian neighborhoods, and outdoor markets selling all the bounty the island has to offer.  You’ll find museums, art galleries, cafes, shops, and beaches all under the golden Spanish sun that seems to shine benevolently over the island year round.

Granada

Granada is the capital city of the province of Granada in the autonomus community of Andalusia of Spain.  It is located at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains where 4 rivers (Darro, Genil, Monachil, and Beiro Rivers) meet.  Although it is but an hour’s drive from the Mediterranean Coast of Spain it sits at an elevation of 2421 feet above sea level.

Granada like many Spanish towns and cities has a rich and varied history.  The region has been populated since 5500 BC and has experienced both Roman and Visigoth rule.  In 711 AD when the Umayyads conquered the region it brought large parts of the Iberian Peninsula under Moorish rule, this included Granada.

Granada is where the Alhambra, an Arab citadel and palace, and Generalife, the pleasure palace and gardens connected to the citadel are located.

Construction of the citadel began in the 11th. century when the Castle of the Alhambra was developed into a walled town and became a stronghold that dominated the city of Granada.  Construction of the pleasure palace and gardens of the Generalife began in the late 13th. century and the Alhambra is a culmination of Nasrid art and architecture that were undertaken between the 13th. and 14th. centuries.  At this time the Alhambra was a royal residence, citadel, and fortress that housed the Nasrid sultans and their senior officers including servants of the court and elite soldiers.

In 1492 the Catholic Monarch Ferdinand and Isabella finally expelled the last of the Moors from Granada and established permanent residency in the Alhambra.  It was here that Christopher Columbus requested their endorsement for his westward voyage that same year.  Of course the Catholic Monarchs and their subsequent heirs altered the Moorish citadel to suite their needs.  Portions of the citadel were destroyed when the First French Empire had control in the 18th. Century.  Restoration of the complex began in the 19th. century and continues to this day.

In 1984 the Alhambra complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now the most visited tourist attraction in Spain.  Along with being a historic monument it is home to the Museum of the Alhambra and the Museum of Fine Arts.  It is definitely worth a visit!

Cartagena

Cartagena, Spain not to be confused with the city of the same name in Columbia, is a city in the autonomus community of Murcia in Spain’s southeastern Mediterranean coast.  It is also where one of Spain’s major naval stations is located.

Cartagena has been inhabited for over two millennia having been founded in 227 BC by the Carthaginian Hasdubral the Fair.  It was an important port city both during the rule under the Holy Roman Empire and the Umayyad Empire.

The mix of civilizations as well as its strategic harbor in Cartegena has resulted in a unique mix of artistic heritage.  Here you will find an abundance of Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, and Moorish artifacts and landmarks including the remains of a Roman theater second largest on the Iberian Peninsula.  Wandering the streets and plazas you will find them lined with a plethora of Art Nouveau buildings including this impressive City Hall which greets tourists walking into the city from the cruise terminal.

It’s a small and compact city and very walkable.  You can find the remains of the Punic ramparts along the hill, and the restored Roman Theater as well as the Roman Colonnade and the House of Fortune in the city center.

Cartagena also has several museums.  Aside from the Roman Theater Museum there is ARQUA Marine Archaeology Museum, the Municipal Archaeology Museum, the Military Museum, the Spanish Civil War Museum, and the Naval Museum.

You can also catch the elevator or walk up the Castillo de la Concepción where you’ll find excellent views of the town, the harbor, and the mountains.

Then you can wander around Calle Mayor the pedestrian street paved with blue marble that connects the Plaza de San Sebastián to the city hall.  It’s lined with modernist buildings that are home to trendy shops, bars, and restaurants.  Don’t be afraid to grab a table for some tasty tapas and a glass of wine as you watch the world pass by!

 

Ready for that Spanish getaway?  Call Savvy Nana Travel, we specialize in family and group travel!

More Must See French Towns

More Must See French Towns

France is one of my favorite countries to visit.  Wine, crepes, fashion, and shopping; what’s not to love? For most of us the mention of France brings Paris to mind.  But there is much more to France than the City of Lights!  Last week I wrote about 4 of my favorite must see French towns.  Well I decided that those four towns though superb aren’t nearly enough!  So this week I’ll write about four more!

Again the must see French towns I’m talking about today barely touch the surface.  But I’ll try to talk about some towns that I think will appeal to different interests.  So whether you’re a history buff, conspiracy theorist, pilgrim, or wine connoisseur I hope one of these towns will spark your imagination!

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must see french townsChartres

Chartres is a commune and the capital of the Eure-et-Loire department of France.  It’s located 90 kilometers southwest of Paris and is easily accessible by car and train.

This medieval town is known world wide for it’s beautiful Gothic Cathedral which features a labyrinth.  This cathedral known as the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres (Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is described as “a masterpiece…a high point of French Gothic art.”

The Cathedral we see today was built over the remains of a smaller cathedral that had burned down.  It was mostly constructed between 1194 and 1220.  It is very well preserved with most of its original stain glass windows intact.

Many tourist visit Chartres just to see this beautiful church.  Architectural fans stand in awe at this building.  But it is also a pilgrimage site.

Long before the cathedral was built the city was already an important pilgrimage site where devotees paid homage to early Christian martyrs including Saints Piat, Cheron, and Modesta, whose bodies were believed to have been tossed in the area on the north side of the church now called Puit des Saint-Forts (Well of the Strong Saints).

Chartes is also a church for the veneration of the Virgin Mary.  It is home to the Sancta Camisa, believed to be the tunic worn by the Blessed Mother at the time of Christ’s birth.  Legend has it that this tunic was gifted to the cathedral in 876 by none other than Charlemagne who supposedly got if from Emperor Constatine VI during a crusade in Jerusalem.  This legend has been disproven and it is believed that the gift from Charles the Bald and there is no evidence of its importance prior to the 12th. Century.

The cathedral has also been the setting for many books that claim to explore the mysteries of the cathedral, its symbols, and of course the labyrinth.  So it is a stop for conspiracy theorists as well.

Other than the Cathedral there are museums to visit, markets and fairs to explore, and of course cafes and restaurants to try.

must see french townsVersailles

Today Versailles is a wealthy suburb of Paris.  Located in the Île-de-France region 17 kilometers from Paris, Versailles is a major tourist destination known for the Chateau de Versailles and its exquisite gardens and fountains.

The town was founded by Louis XIV and was the de facto capital of France for over a century between 1682 and 1789.  The chateau is steeped in history having been home to French royalty including Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

In modern times this UNESCO World Heritage site holds a place in history for being the venue where the Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolution and the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I were signed.  Today it is mostly a tourist attraction and is the place where the Congress of France gathers to vote on revisions to the constitution.

must see french townsThe chateau and its surrounding buildings are definitely worth the visit.  It is home to several galleries including the Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and the coach gallery.  You can also visit the Queen’s Hamlet and the Trianon estates as well as the gardens and fountains of course.

The gardens are amazing and vast.  There are rivers and fountains, statues, and of course trees and flowers.  I find the best way to get around the garden is by renting a golf cart for a couple of hours.  It’s fun and allows you to see more than when you’re on foot.

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must see french townsRuoen

Ruoen is the capital of the Normandy region of France.  It is situated on the River Seine 135 kilometers north of Paris.

It was one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe and was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages.  It was also where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431.

Today a simple field of wild flowers marks the place of her martyrdom and a modern church dedicated to St. Joan d’Arc stands nearby.

I’m sure a visit to this church is a must when in town, but Ruoen’s main claim to fame is it’s majestic Gothic Cathédrale de Ruoen.  This cathedral became Claude Monet’s obsession and inspired him to paint its facade in a series of 30 painting depicting it in all seasons and times.

Le Gros Horloge, the big clock in the center of town is another attraction.  You can climb to the top for some city views.  There are also several art museums, of course they feature Monet’s work, to visit as well as some really great markets.  You can also stop by to see the macabre ornamentations on the building of the Aitre St-Maclou.  This was the site of a mass cemetery during the Black Plague of the Middle Ages then turned into a boys’ school in the 18th. century.

must see french townsCarcassone

Carcassone is a fortified city in the south of France.  It is located in the Languedoc-Rousillion area of the Occitanie region.

It is known for its double walled city that is a castle.  This UNESCO World Heritage site is a popular tourist destination where one can wander around the enchanting city, walk between the walls, and visit museums,churches, cathedrals, and shops.

Carcassone is located in the middle of what used to be Cathar country.  Cathars were a sect of Christianity who believed that their religion was basically the purest form of Christian religion.  They were strict adherents of the teaching of Jesus Christ and had little faith in priests and clergy.  Of course their beliefs were directly opposite of the accepted beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church who labeled them heretics.  During the Inquisition the Roman Catholic Church teamed up with secular kings to capture and convert the Cathars and confiscate their lands.  Needless to say it did not end well for the poor Cathars.

Carcassone is a popular place for folks interested in Cathar history, conspiracy theories, the quest for the Holy Grail, and fans of the Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code.   It is a good place to base yourself to explore the city and its surrounding areas.  The Languedoc region is steeped in secrets, mysteries, and lore connected to Mary Magdalene, the Merovigian bloodline (the bloodline many believe to be the descendants of Jesus Christ and his wife Mary Magdalen), and the Knights Templar (you had to know they’d pop up in this region somehow!).

Located just 84 kilometers away is Montségur and its fortified hilltop château.  This castle was the site where the Cathars made their last stand against the conquering armies of the Crusades.  The siege lasted months and finally ended with many of the Cathars choosing to march into the flames rather than be captured and converted.  The stronghold built on the site of an older castle and Cathar Church is also believed to be home to many treasures including the Holy Grail.  You can walk around the hill or make the climb to the top to see the castle.

Renne-le-Château is 44 kilometers away.  It is a very popular place for conspiracy theorists and Grail hunters.  The small hilltop village is steeped in Magdalene and Merovigian lore.  In fact it’s church is dedicated to the Saint.  One of its mysteries involves the 19th. Century priest Berénger Saunière who is believed to have dug up a vast treasure (that’s one theory) or discovered some sort of deep dark secret he used to extort money from the church (that’s another theory).  What ever he did he somehow one day came up with large sums of money which he used to restore, rebuild, and build his house, the church, and the Magdalene Tower.  Other village lore say that Mary Magdalene lived there after the crucifixion and raised her child there.  Whether you’re a conspiracy theorist, a Dan Brown fan, or just a casual tourist you won’t be able to resist the mystic lure of the village when you visit.

So there you have it 4 must see French towns.  Each has something to offer folks with varying interests.  Ready to plan  your French adventure or perhaps your personal quest for the Holy Grail?  Call Savvy Nana Travel, we’ll help you build an awesome itinerary!

How to party safe when traveling in the USA

How to party safe when traveling in the USA

Are you planning to take a trip to the USA soon? Aside from enjoying the many tourist spots and great food in the country, the USA is also a great place to party!  However, you need to make sure that you are safe wherever you go. Here are some tips on how you can party safe in the USA.

1. Choose a good location – The right location is something you should plan for. There are many establishments that you can choose from, especially if you are in the urbanized cities. Aside from making sure that the place has a low crime rate, you should also make sure that the establishment itself is safe. There should be enough fire exits if ever you need to use it. When it gets too crowded in the club, see if you can move to a location that will not make you feel too claustrophobic.

2. Stick to your limit when it comes to alcohol – It would be unfortunate to wake up the next morning after a night party without any recollection of the events that transpired the night before. To prevent this from happening, do not drink a lot of alcohol. Stick to your limit and even if you are pressured, you need to be firm in refusing.

3. Don’t let others top up your drink for you – One of the worst things that can happen at a party is that you become a victim of sexual assault. Many people fall victim to date-rape drugs. You need to be vigilant about this especially if you are not with your friends at a party. The easiest way to be a victim of date-rape drugs is when someone slips it into your drink. To be safe, never let anyone get a drink for you. You need to be the one to get it from the bar or pour it yourself.

4. Be with a group you trust – If you are traveling with a group of friends, you should stick with them so that you can look out after each other. This will not be a problem if you really traveled to the USA with a group of friends. Always make sure you know the whereabouts of everyone in your group, and have a plan if ever you decide to go to separate locations. But if you are traveling solo, you will need to take precautions. Have your phone with you at all times, bring a whistle or even pepper spray.

5. Choose safe transportation – This part also falls under preplanning. You need to make sure that you have transportation not just in going to the club or party location, but also when you leave. If you rent a car, make sure that you are sober and can drive the vehicle. You may also schedule a cab or car service to pick you up if you already want to leave or go to another place. Some also opt to go for party bus rental as it is not only safer but actually more fun.

Must See French Towns

Must See French Towns

Ok I admit it!  When I hear France I automatically think of Paris, specially Paris in the Spring time.  I mean seriously, food, wine, art, fashion, and shopping, what’s not to love?  But there is more to France than the City of Lights.  There are many enchanting French towns that one must see.

Let’s face it Paris is amazing but can be overwhelming.  It’s always busy no matter what time of year you visit.  The museums are packed with crowds and enough art and artifacts that you’re head will spin.  And just how many days can you survive shopping til you drop?  (I can last about 3 before I call it quits!)  That’s when a visit to one or more of these enchanting French towns comes in handy, if only to get away from the maddening crowds!

French towns are as diverse as they are charming.  Each one holds a special charm that will appeal to folks with various interests.  If you’re a great fan of Impressionist artists there are French towns for you; history buffs will find most French towns are steeped in history from prehistoric times to the not so distant past; conspiracy theorists will love the “mysterious” Languedoc region; and wine connoisseurs will love sampling wines from the different regions.  So where ever your interests lie there’s a French town just waiting for you to explore!

Here are a just four of my favorite French towns to get you started.  Maybe one of them will capture your imagination enough to plan a visit!

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french townsÈze

Located just 12 Kilometers from the French city of Nice, Èze is a fortified Medieval village in the Alpe-Maritime region of southeastern France.

This lovely village is the most accessible perched villages of France.  It towers like an aerie above the coast and is surrounded by stone ramparts and crowned by the ruins of an old medieval chateau.

french townsThe towns cobble stone streets can get pretty steep, thank goodness for the handrails! Some parts of the uphill street is not for the faint of heart, it’s quite a trek.  But trust me the climb is so worth it!  When you reach the top you will be treated to a jaw dropping view of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding countryside.

The narrow streets are lined with shops and restaurants so there’s always somewhere close where you can stop for a short break before continuing to the top.

Located 1310 feet above sea level you can visit the Jardin Exotique.  It’s a garden filled with rare succulents, typical Mediterranean vegetation, and Jean-Philippe Richard sculptures.  But most importantly it is blessed with spectacular views.  On clear days you can see all the way to Corsica!

When you’re done admiring the views, sampling the cuisine, and wandering the shops walk down to the Fragonard Perfume factory located at the bottom of the road.  The factory makes perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics and has free tours daily.  After the tour you can browse the showroom, I’m sure you’ll find something that will catch your eye, and nose!  I bought a few yellow duck soaps for the grandkids!

french townsReims

Reims, pronounced RaNs, is a very important city not far from Paris.  In fact it’s a mere half an hour away from Charles de Gualle airport.

Wine lovers and Monet fans will love this great city.  Located in the middle of the Champagne region and sitting on top of a labyrinth of chalk caves Reims is the headquarters of many of the great champagne houses collectively known as le grandes marques.

french townsThe houses of Tattinger, Veuve Cliquot, Piper Heidsieck, and Ruinart to name a few have their main offices in the city and age their champagne deep in the caves below.  Many of them offer cave tours followed by champagne tasting year round.

Many of the caves date back to Roman times and the tour is really quite interesting.  Of course your reward for walking down into the caves is a wonderful glass or two of the bubbly.  It really is like drinking stars!

 

Monet fans will recognize the Gothic Reims Cathedral.  The famous Impressionist artist painted this lofty catherdal over 30 times!  He painted it at different times of day to capture it’s glory in all types of lighting.  Aside from being a Monet favorite the Reims Cathedral was where French kings were crowned for about 1000 years.  The well decorated cathedral features many stained glass windows including those done by Marc Chagall.  One of the transept windows by Jacques Simon features a portrait of Dom Perignon the monk credited with the invention of champagne!

There are many other sites to see in this pedestrian friendly city.  You can also spend some time kicking back at one of the many cafes.  Go ahead treat yourself to a bottle of the bubbly and just people watch, I recommend it!

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Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Saint-Paul-de-Vence is then one of the oldest fortified medieval villages in the Alpe-Maritimes region of France.

This little hilltop town is known for its modern and contemporary art museums and galleries.  One can hardly walk a few feet in this village without stumbling upon an art gallery.

Many notable artists and actors have visited this old French fortress town.  Some including Marc Chagall and Donald Pleasence have called it home.  Here you will find the grave of Marc Chagall.

french townsA walk in the south side of the village will bring you to some steps at the top of which you will find the Vu (view) which overlooks the charming cemetery, surrounding hills, and the mountains.  On the west side of the village at Bastion St. Remy you can catch a glimpse of the sea.  Here you will have a view of the snow covered Alps on one side and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea on the other.

And don’t forget to check out the shops.  Aside from beautiful artwork you’ll find some unique and moderately priced crafts and costume jewelry.  I’m sure you won’t be able to resist buying a trinket or two!

french townsChenonceaux

The tiny agricultural village of Chenonceaux is in the Loire Valley.  It sits on the right bank of the River Cher which is a tributary of the Loire River.

It’s a tiny little town that has about 500 permanent residents.  Its claim to fame is the Chateau de Chenonceau one of the most photographed chateau in the Loire Valley.

The Chateau spans the River Cher.  There have been written accounts of the estate of Chenonceau dating back to the 11th. Century, but the current chateau was built over a ruined mill in 1514-1522.  The bridge expanding the chateau over the river was erected in 1556-1559, the gallery over the bridge was built in 1570-1576.

french townsThis chateau has seen a fairly long list of owners beginning with the Marques family in the 13th. Century.  It was purchased from the Marques family by Thomas Bohier (chamberlain to King Charles VIII of France) in 1513 and it was him and his wife who are credited for building the main part of the chateau.

It was later confiscated by Francis I of France for unpaid debts to the crown and upon his death gifted by Henry II to his mistress Diane de Poitiers.  It was she  who built the bridge over the river.  Upon Henry’s death the chateau was wrested from de Poitiers by none other than his widow Catherine de’Medici who added the gallery over the bridge and expanded the gardens.  And so it went from owner to owner until it ended up in the hands of Henri Menier a member of the Menier family who are known for their chocolates.

A day trip to Chenonceaux can be part of a Loire Valley excursion where you can visit one or two other Loire Valley Chateaux like the nearby Clos Lucé in Amboise where Leonardo Da Vinci lived the last 3 years of his life, and Chateau de Chambord.

These are just 4 of my favorite French towns.  Check back for more French towns that I love.

Ready to plan your French getaway?  Call Savvy Nana Travel where travel is our passion!

 

 

 

Quaint Little Towns in Italy You Should Check Out

Quaint Little Towns in Italy You Should Check Out

I’m not even gonna lie, Italy is packed with quaint little towns it’s hard to decide which one to check out.  If you’re in the school of thought that thinks one quaint little town is the same as every other then you’d be surprised to discover they’re really no

t!  I belong to the school of thought that every little town in Italy has is own charm and every one of them is worth the visit!  But let’s be realistic that’s just not possible, at least not for me.  So I pick and choose which quaint little town to explore each time I’m in Italy.  Here are some more of my faves!

 

Lake Como

Lake Como is not a town it’s a lake that’s surrounded by many quaint little towns.  In fact there are so many it’s hard to decide which one as each has it’s special charm and best of all you could if you want to see several in a day.

There’s a ferry that plies the waters of the lake, it starts at one end which is the town of Como and stops at the towns around the lake, a couple of the small towns on islands in the middle of the lake; there’s another route that starts from Lecco on the western branch of Lake Como.  (Lake Como is like an inverted Y with Lecco the southern most point in one branch and Como on the other.  The northern part of the Y includes the town of Colico.  Both lines meet at the town of Bellagio farther north along the river.  To reach towns on the Como branch of the river you must transfer to the Como route from the Bellagio stop.

 

Tremezzo is a town on the western shore of Lake Como.  It is a popular vacation spot with a five star luxury hotel and some fine restaurants.  Best of all it’s situated just across the lake from the town of Bellagio so it offers spectacular views of that little town as well as awesome views of the lake.

While in Tremezzo you can visit the Villa Carlotta and its gardens.  Though there are many beautiful villas around the lake Villa Carlotta is one of the most visited.

 

 

Bellagio

Bellagio is a town situated at the point where the 2 branches of Lake Como meet.  It is considered to be the Pearl of the Lake and is a popular romantic town in Italy.

The town is actually spread out along the lake but its historic center is atop the hill accessible by foot on the wide stairs or alleys.  The stairs and are lined with shops and restaurants.

Bellagio has some luxury hotels that pretty much scream romance, it is after all deemed to be one of the most romantic towns in Italy.  There is also a beautiful villa and gardens, Villa Melzi, which is known for its colorful display of azaleas and rhododendruns.  Once can also visit the San Giacomo Church at the top of the hill and the Villa Serbelloni Park above the historic center.  The park offers great views of the lake.  There are also walking paths along the lake and over the hill that wind their way past hamlets and picture perfect spots around the lake.  In the summer months there are many festivals and musical events held in this little town.

Brunate

The little mountaintop town of Brunate is connected to Como via the funiculare.  The line opened in 1894 and is the quickest way to get to and from Brunate.

The funiculare ride alone make this quaint little town worth visiting.  The funicular offer stunning lake views as it slowly makes its way up and down the mountainside.

The town itself is popular with tourists during the summer months.  It has some very pretty villas which I believe can be rented during the season.  There are walking paths that wind around the town with view points where one can enjoy awesome views of the lake below.  And of course there are restaurants with lake view seating.  There is also a very beautiful church called Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo.  It’s definitely worth a visit.

There are many more quaint little towns around Lake Como, that I can’t really name them all.  My best advice is to buy a 24 hour ferry ticket and hope off at any of the towns you find interesting!

Stresa

The town of Stresa in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy is the official gateway to Lake Maggiore.  Located at the best part of the lake Stresa commands fantastic views of the lake and the Borromean Islands in the lake.

Stresa’s docks are the starting points of t he ferries that ply the waters of this lake.  The ferries can take you to the 3 delightful Borromean Islands where you’ll find beautiful gardens complete with wandering peacocks and fantastic villas.  Then you can have a wonderful seafood lunch a Isola Pescatori.

Stresa is a pretty little town with charming streets, waterfront cafes, colorful markets, and even a cable car to take you to the top of Mount Mattarone for some 360 degree views of the lake and the Alps.

Martina Franca

Martina Franca is a small town in Italy’s Puglia or Apulia Region in Southern Italy.  It’s located on the heal of Italy’s boot.

The historic center is a delightful mix of narrow winding streets, baroque and rococo buildings, and colorful bursts of flowers.  It’s also not very crowded, and that’s a big plus in my book!

Martina Franca is not on many tourist’s bucket list mostly because it’s not so easily accessible.  I mean it’s easy enough if you’re okay taking the slow train, and I do mean the very slow train from Bari.  And from the town’s train station it’s kind of an uphill trek to reach the centro storico.  But it is so worth it!

It’s a charming little town where you can wander the streets virtually alone, peek into small churches, then relax at a cafe without anyone hovering waiting for you to vacate your table.

Alberobello

The Puglia region is famous for these little round houses called Trulli houses.  They dot the Itria Valley but many are concentrated in the quaint little town of Alerobello.

The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features narrow winding streets, rows and rows of these white washed round building topped with black stones.  Many of the building are now homes, churches, shops, and restaurants.  Standing in the cobble stone streets surrounded by Trulli make one feel like they’ve entered Smurf Village!  It’s enchanting and definitely worth a visit.

 

 

There are many more quaint little towns in Italy and the best way to explore them is by renting a car and driving around.  That way when you spot something that catches your eye you can pull over for a quick stop!

Call Savvy Nana Travel to  help you plan your Italian getaway!

 

5 Uber Eats restaurants you need to try in Sydney

5 Uber Eats restaurants you need to try in Sydney

Uber Eats is a convenient means of ordering food from a restaurant and have it delivered to you All one needs to do is download the Uber Eats app on their phone and they are ready to make orders. There are over a hundred or so restaurants that offer this service. Just like making an order for a taxi ride on Uber, you can do the same for your food orders. The first thing one does is making a search of the restaurants that offer the kind of a meal that one wants to buy. Once you have made a decision on the restaurant and the kind of cuisine you want, you can place the order and an Uber partner in a car, a scooter or a motorbike will pick the order and deliver it to you.

It is now possible for you to Get a first time Uber Eats coupon when you download the app and start using it. If you are in Sydney, Australia, there are many restaurants that offer this service. We shall discuss some of them here.

Here are 5 Uber Eats restaurants you need to try in Sydney:

1. McDonald’s (Circular Quay)
This is one of the most famous or the most common of the restaurants that offer Uber Eats in Sydney. Once you make an order, you can have it delivered in 20 to 30 minutes. It is a common restaurant for people who love fast foods such as burgers. Some of the most common foods that you can order here are the 10 piece Chicken McNuggets that goes for $13.55. You can also make an order for the Quarter Pounder that goes for $12.00, among others.

2. Metro Pita Kebab
This is yet another very famous restaurant that offers UberEats services in Sydney. It is a specialist restaurant that offers Turkish cuisine that is Halal certified. You can have your meal delivered in 20 to 30 minutes after you have placed an order.  Some of the most popular food that you can order here are all-day-breakfast, Kebab Box, fresh Pizza, Halal snack packs among many other cuisines.

3. Angry Tony’s Pizza
This is an Italian restaurant that offers foods such as Pasta, Pizza and classic Pizzas among others. With this restaurant, you can have your meal delivered in 30 to 40 minutes. The Margherita Pizza that is made from Italian tomato, mozzarella, and basil pesto will cost you $17.00. The Tony Pepperoni Pizza that is made from Italian tomato, pepperoni, oregano, and mozzarella will cost you $18.00.

4. Oporto (Darling Harbor)
This is yet another very famous restaurant that offers UberEats services in Sydney. The restaurant opens at 9.00 AM and your meal can be delivered in 20 to 30 minutes after you make an order. Some of the most popular meals that can be ordered here are Burgers; Flame grilled chicken, sauces, Snacks and so on.

5. Fatima’s Lebanese Restaurant
This is a popular restaurant that offers Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. When you make an order here, you will have the meal delivered in 20 to 30 minutes. Some of the most popular meals you can order here are Rolls, Plates and Combos, Sweets, bread and vegetable Containers among others.