Being a big art history and history buff, the 75thanniversary of the D-Day invasions was fascinating to me. In addition to World War II, Normandy is rich in so much other amazing history and sights- ranging from the Middle Ages to today. Having been to Paris and other parts of France, Normandy had been high on my list for some time. So, we decided this would be the year to explore this incredible area of Northern France.
Sao Miguel is the largest of the Azores Islands. It was settled in the mid 15th century where a military fort was established. Sao Miguel is nicknamed “the Green Island” due to the abundance of mountains, trees and its very fertile soil. Driving around the island is amazing- the natural landscape is so beautiful. The landscape feels a bit like Ireland, Iceland and Hawaii all rolled into one magical place! We couldn’t wait to explore this island. We spent for nights on Sao Miguel with a quick trip to Terceira in the middle. Sao Miguel provided us a great introduction to the beautiful Azores Islands!
Volterra is a hill town slightly off the beaten path but a must visit! It is one of the oldest towns in all of Italy. The town is remarkable in that it has ruins or sites from the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval period. The ancient Etruscans named the city Velathri or Felathri, while its Roman name was Volaterrae. The town is located right in the heart of Tuscany, in the province of Pisa bordering the province of Siena. We couldn’t wait to explore this ancient, incredible (but hilly) town.
The Azores Islands are a treasure in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. These islands are quickly becoming a hot destination to visit. The combination of outdoor adventure and Portuguese culture make for an incredible vacation. My son and I decided these incredible volcanic islands were our summer destination. With Delta offering seasonal service from NYC to Sao Miguel, it is easy to get to the Azores from the United States. We decided to spend a week visiting Sao Miguel and Terceira, 2 of the 9 major islands that comprise the Azores. Both flights and ferries connect the islands, so inter-island travel is also easy. We fell in love with both of these magical islands.
Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. This gem of Catalonia is full of incredible sights, art, shopping, and restaurants. But it’s the spirit and friendliness of the Catalonian people that truly warms this city. Barcelona has been on my list of places for so long (I have a very long list). I was not disappointed! Between the many, many museums, the Gaudi and Art Nouveau architecture, and the stunning Gothic quarter, I couldn’t wait to explore.
It’s no secret that London is one of my most favorite cities. Any chance to visit I jump at. So recently I packed my bags and headed across the pond for a long spring weekend in London staying at the fabulous Corinthia Hotel and exploring some amazing sights. While the idea of spring in London may bring images of lots of rain to mind, our spring weekend was sunny, dry and full of wonderful adventures!
The drive from Lisbon to Porto is very beautiful. Driving straight through takes about 2 and a half hours. We decided to make our trip a leisurely drive stopping at some of the highlights of Northern Portugal. We were not disappointed. Having a private car and driver was essential. Carlos, our driver, was friendly and full of interesting facts and information regarding all of our stops. The smaller towns, the churches, the architecture and the art were astounding. It was a long day for us but each stop was unique. We left Lisbon around 9:00 am arriving at our first stop an hour later in the charming, medieval town of Óbidos.
During our visit to London, I decided to surprise my daughter with a one day trip to Paris. My daughter (even at 11 years old) has wanted to visit Paris. So, my husband and I thought it would be a great surprise by to take her on a quick trip to the city of lights. While this sounds crazy to many people (especially my European friends), it was an incredibly easy day trip! The hard part came in trying to decide what we were going to do in Paris for one day since there is just so much to see! The art, the history, the food, and the shopping in Paris are truly the best. I planned a day that incorporated all of it. We saw so much of the city; I even surprised myself.
London is one of my favorite cities to visit. My husband, daughter and I decided to head across the pond for a week. Having been many times, we didn’t plan to do all of the traditional sightseeing spots. We planned some really fun, unique experiences combined with a few typical sights that my daughter would really enjoy. London offers so much that it’s hard to decide what to see! A visitor has their pick of museums, historical sites, culture, restaurants, shopping, and parks.
After spending several days in Lisbon, we ventured North to Porto. The second largest city in Portugal (after Lisbon), Porto is located on the shores of the Douro River and the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the oldest European cities. The historical center was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996. Like Lisbon, Porto is steeped in charm, history and art. Porto is also the capital of Port wine production and surrounded by the Douro River Valley which is home to internationally acclaimed Portugese vineyards. Port wine is produced primarily in the cellars of Villa Nova de Gaia area. Wandering the hilly, narrow streets or the cobblestone alleys where the port wineries are, experiencing the incredible restaurants and watching the port boats dotting the Douro creates an incredible atmosphere.