With more than 27 years of experience in the cruise industry, our Vice President of National Accounts, Ana Parodi, has spent plenty of time at sea and traveling around the world. It all began with a cruise at the age of 15, and by now Ana can’t quite remember how many times she’s visited the Mediterranean, but it remains one of her favorites to explore.

Below, Ana shares her top picks throughout the Mediterranean for cuisine, history, art and more.

What are your favorite destinations for food and cuisine?
Barcelona is one of my favorites – there’s such a range of food, and it’s so cosmopolitan. There’s a particular place I always try to go back to – it’s called Los Caracoles. It really gives you a taste of Spain. It’s down a small little alley, and as soon as you enter you see the small little pork roasting. The interior is decorated with traditional Spanish tiles and they have live entertainment. They make the best seafood dishes that I’ve had.

And then in Santorini, which I just love, you have all of the cafes overlooking the sea. The squid is amazing, and the white wines are incredible. The setting is breathtaking – being able to sit and enjoy a meal while you look out upon this beautiful sea. And the sunsets in Santorini are to die for.

What are your top picks for historical destinations?
Definitely Ephesus. If you take a tour, you can really imagine the society and the way people lived. The civilization was so advanced during this time period. You can relate to it and understand the organization – there’s a library, a central shopping area, a living area and so on. You can also visit a street in Ephesus that Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony walked down which is fascinating.

Having an opportunity to travel to Egypt and visit the Valley of the Kings with King Tut’s tomb is also remarkable. I remember going into one of the temples and discovering there was actually a room devoted to recipes for perfumes! In Cairo, the Egyptian Museum is unbelievable. It showcases so many original artifacts m you can actually see King Tut’s throne. All of these details about the culture that come alive when you visit are just incredible.

Where do you recommend for art?
There’s so many! Rome – of course you have to see the masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel. And then in Barcelona, the Sagrada Família is an experience – it’s really special to see the immensity of a project that has now been going on for over a hundred years. And then if you can do one of our land tours to Madrid, the museum El Prado is a must!

What keeps you going back to the Mediterranean?
There’s a different feeling in the air when you get there. People enjoy life in a different way than we do here. The culture – and the priorities in life – are different from the way we live here in the U.S. It’s more about enjoying time with friends and family, enjoying a good bottle of wine and good food. There’s also just so much to learn from the region, so many historic places – and there’s always somewhere more to visit that you haven’t been.

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