Travel on the Side

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Here’s a geography fact: Although Barbados is considered a Caribbean port of call, it’s actually surrounded completely by the Atlantic Ocean. It doesn’t touch the Caribbean Sea at all. A minor quibble, because it has some of the most beautiful Caribbean beaches. Waking up, we were already docked at Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. We looked out our window and saw an old friend – the Crown Princess – the ship that… Read More

Port #4 of our Caribbean cruise was Grenada. Again, we lucked out: 4 for 4 on being the only cruise ship in port! Grenada reminded me a lot of Dominica–lush, green interior, but with perhaps nicer beaches. First we woke up to a beautiful view of Grenada. After exiting the ship we met our tour group and boarded our shuttle bus in St. George’s, the capital. Our Grenadian adventure was river tubing! We… Read More

Some islands in the Caribbean are known for their beaches, while others are more famous for their rainforests and eco-adventures. Dominica is one of those islands: lush and verdant. A place to get off the beaten path. First, let’s get to the pronunciation: I always thought you pronounced it similar to the Dominican Republic. The correct way to say Dominica is like doh-mee-NEE-cuh — more of a French pronunciation. For this port of… Read More

In planning for our 7-day 5-island adventure, we decided to pick two of the islands for driving tours, two of the islands for beach days, and one island for an “adventure.” I posted on the CruiseCritic boards seeking advice on which islands to do a beach day. Hands down, St. Maarten was a top pick. We booked a beach day excursion directly through the cruise ship to avoid the hassle of planning…. Read More

Venice is, of course, a classic Italy “must do.” As it should be! However, if you have more time in the area, I recommend taking a tour of the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is known for glass blowing and Burano for intricate lace. If you arrive to Venice via the Santa Lucia railway station, you can easily get boat transportation to both islands. Since we were with a group,… Read More

Rome, the eternal city. Can it be done in a day? Of course you won’t be able to take a deep dive, but you can devote yourself to a couple major sites and do quick walk-bys through others. Tip #1: Plan ahead! Map out your itinerary and get any tourist attraction tickets ahead of time. Even with that, unexpected things will happen. More on that in a bit. During our Italy travels,… Read More

For those picture perfect postcard views of Florence, you need to go up! There are two vistas and two (wait, make that three!) towers/domes you will want to climb. So put on your sneakers and do some calf exercises, because you are about to feel the burn! 1. Piazzale Michelangelo Those famous shots of Florence, with the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio? Those are usually taken from Piazzale Michelangelo. What is a… Read More

No, I’m not saying that Florence is in a intermediate state. This past June, Limbo was the area where we resided–Piazza del Limbo to be more specific. What I love about Florence is the history. And yes, there is a story about limbo. The piazza is built over an old cemetery where Florence’s unbaptized babies were buried during medieval times – hence, Piazza del Limbo. The square also features one of Florence’s… Read More

Whether you’re visiting Florence in the heat of summer or the coolness of winter, a daily break (or two or three!) for gelato is a must do. But don’t just head to the nearest gelato place. Last year, I gave some advice on the topic: Gelato: Avoid places where you can see the gelato from the store front window. Especially if the gelato is molded into a mountain-like form. Although eye-appealing, it’s usually… Read More

The weather in Wisconsin took a sudden turn this past week. It is definitely fall now! This morning, I woke up to 33F. Although everything has taken an autumnal look and feel, I’m thinking back to this summer. June was a highlight. I spent 23 days in Italy chaperoning for a college class where I work. I did the same thing last year. The itinerary was much the same, but there were… Read More