Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Maguires' European Vacation Part 3

After Venice, the Maguires' next stop is the beautiful resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure on the Italian Riviera. It is a very old-fashioned resort and never seems over-run by tourists. While the beaches are pebbly, not sand, the water is warm. My suggestions for my friends include having a gelato al fresco with Hannah in town, stopping for a Spritz and getting enough food you may not want to go out for dinner, and getting up in the morning to watch the fishermen bring in their catch and repair their nets. My favorite time of day in Santa Margherita is the evening when families take their daily passiegetta, Parents, grandparents, and children are out in force walking aimlessly enjoying themselves. Santa Margherita is also the gateway to Cinque Terre to the south, Portofino 15 minutes by city bus to the north, and Camogli one stop and 5 minutes on the train north.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Maguires' Second Stop: Venice

In my second installment of advice and suggestions to my friends Matt and April and their daughter Hannah, we move to destination number two, the magnificent city of Venice. The top photograph was taken just on the fringe of Saint Mark's Square as the three arches, the artist, and the stylish Venetian gentleman all seemed to me to be quintessential Venice. The picture also reminds me to turn around once in a while. You never know what potentially great scene may be behind you. Sometimes, you just have to splurge a little. In this case, a speedboat from the Marco Polo Airport into the center of the city was worth every penny. I talked Matt into it. They'll love every second of the ride. The next vertical shot says, "Get out of the center of town and get lost!" Except you can't get lost! It's an island. Shake yourself! Next, find a restaurant with some atmosphere and don't sweat the inflated prices in Venice. When you get to Santa Margarita, things will seem cheap, but enjoy Venice while you're there. Another tip. It's entirely worth it to get in line in front of the Campanile in Saint Mark's Square before 9 am and take the elevator to the top for stunning views of Venice and the lagoon. I do it every time I go there. The next photo is of a gondola shop somewhere. I couldn't find it again if I tried. Just another reason to explore off the tourist path. Next up, a huge DON'T. Don't go into St Mark's in the afternoon for any reason. It's a mess. It's summer and it's packed, Instead, go at night when only people who are staying in hotels are around. It's beautiful, bands are playing, kids are running around throwing glowy things in the air, and it truly is "The Drawing Room of Europe." And last, by all means take a break sometime in the afternoon to sit down and maybe have a cold beverage of your choice. In this case, a vodka tonic and a gin tonic. Just don't do what we did and drink it on the Square. The bill came to 38 Euros plus tip, which two summers ago amounted to about 50 US dollars! Walk the equivalent of two city blocks and cut the price by 66%. At least we got some soggy chips with our drinks.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Paris July 2014

My friend Matt and his family, one wife and one daughter, are taking their first trip to Europe in a couple of weeks. I thought I'd give them a little taste of what to look for on their travels. First stop-Paris. I hope they get to see the pond at the end of the Tuileries gardens at sunset, I hope they walk through the courtyard of the Louvre after most of the tourists have left. I hope they walk by the wonderful Parisian cafes and look in the windows. I hope they stand on one of the many bridges crossing the Seine and look in both directions. (I think the "locks of love" have been removed). I hope they look down the Champs-Elysses at sunset and see the Obelisque framed by the Arc de Triomphe. I hope they stop to look at some of the art deco cafes all over the city. And finally, I hope they take a cruise down the Seine, touristy as it may be. Bon Voyage my friends!