0 comments on “3 Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in Florence
 

3 Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in Florence
 

Benvenuti a Firenze! One of the most beautiful and historical cities in the world, Florence offers hundreds of things to do. You can tour the Uffizi Gallery or Galleria dell’Accademia, walk to the top of the Florence Cathedral’s Duomo, or shop until you drop at the Gucci Garden. But even for those that have been there time and time again, Florence is filled with alluring ways to spend your day. Here are 3 off-the-beaten-path things to do in the beautiful City of Lilies.

Museo di Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria
There are beautiful views of Florence in many locations – from the top of the Duomo to Piazzale Michelangelo. But a great place to experience Florentine art while enjoying the view of the city is the Museo di Palazzo Vecchio. This breathtaking museum was originally built for the city’s governing body. It houses Renaissance artwork by artists including Michelangelo and Donatello because it was lived in by part of the Medici family during the 1500s. After experiencing the art of the Renaissance, make sure pay the extra 10 euro to climb the 416 steps to the top of the tower. This view may very well be the most breathtaking view of Florence.

Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio
Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti
Decidedly less for tourists and more for locals, this smaller food market offers a intimate taste of Florentine life as you mix with locals picking up produce and fresh pasta. Filled with stalls both indoors and outdoors selling everything from cheeses, bread and honey to soaps and household goods, it’s a colorful alternative to the larger and more popular San Lorenzo markets. De Rocco, the trattoria inside, makes a great spot for an inexpensive lunch.

I Tarocchi Ristorante Pizzeria
Renai 12-14/r
This modest restaurant is home to some of Florence’s most delicious food. Open from noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and 7 p.m. to midnight for dinner, I Tarocchi serves authentic Italian food. On a typical day in this local favorite, you may be the only tourist in the restaurant. Make sure to try the fagottini di pere alla crema, a tortellini-like pasta dish stuffed with pear. This sweet and buttery dish is the perfect meal after a long day in the city. Other classics include the warm and delicious calzones and pizzas.
Have a favorite Florence spot? Share it below or on Facebook!

0 comments on “4 Top Wellness Experiences in India
 

4 Top Wellness Experiences in India
 

What better corner of the world to slow down and re-discover your inner peace than India, the birthplace of yoga and ancient Ayurvedic practices? With a rich tradition in healing, wellness and spirituality, it’s one of the most sought-after locales for wellness retreats. From guided meditation to Ayurvedic consultations, these unique shore excursions invite you to delve into India’s centuries-old relationship with wellness as you explore the best of each destination.

  1. Harbor Cruise & Ayurveda Experience | Cochin, India

    Combine Cochin sightseeing with a traditional Indian wellness experience at an Ayurveda center. Begin by enjoying sweeping views of cosmopolitan Cochin during a picturesque cruise around the city’s harbor after which you’ll visit an Ayurveda center for an insightful consultation with a traditional Ayurveda doctor. Ayurveda, a holistic healing practice, was developed in India more than 3,000 years ago and promotes good health by keeping the mind, body and spirit in balance. At the center, also enjoy a wonderfully rejuvenating massage with natural herbal oils. Later, explore some of the top landmarks around Fort Cochin, such as the unusual Chinese fishing nets, the 16th-century Mattancherry Palace and more.

  2. ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Art of Living & Goan Heritage | Goa, India

    Practice an ancient form of effortless meditation at the Art of Living, an institute dedicated to creating a stress-free and violence-free society to attain world peace. Learn more about deep-breathing techniques and mantras from your meditation expert, and tap into the reservoirs of peace, joy and creativity within. Following the meditation session, visit the nearby Goa Chitra Ethnographic Museum for a fascinating look at ancient Goan culture and lifestyle.

  3. Meditate While Cruising | Goa India

    For the ultimate in relaxation, a guided meditation is united with a serene cruise down one of Goa’s many beautiful rivers. As you sail along the naturally beautiful shoreline in a unique houseboat, a yoga guru will guide you through a series of meditative postures. Using controlled breathing techniques, experience a revitalization of your body, a calming of your mind and an increase in positive energy. To enhance the experience even further, you’ll enjoy a healthy lunch before returning to the pier.

  4. Yagna Encounter & Mumbai’s Ancient Temple Complex | Mumbai, India

    Enjoy the fascinating and unique experience of joining several spiritual Hindu ceremonies in sacred locations across Mumbai. Begin at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a spiritual oasis set upon four sprawling acres, where you’ll join a Hindu “Aarti” prayer ritual and morning chant. Also visit the famed Banganga, an ancient sacred water tank filled with waters believed to have healing powers – and is among the holiest sites in Mumbai. Here you’ll watch priests perform a special rite called Yagna. The experience is crowned with a visit to the Lalbah spice market, which brims with aromatic, colorful spices.

Join us in India this winter or spring for rejuvenating wellness experiences and unforgettable cultural immersions.

0 comments on “A Local’s Guide to St. George’s, Grenada
 

A Local’s Guide to St. George’s, Grenada
 

The Caribbean offers seemingly endless tropical islands to experience, but one of the most fascinating is Grenada. This island has some of the most scenic vistas and beautiful hiking trails throughout the Caribbean. Of course, Grenada also provides breathtaking beaches, cultural attractions, excellent shopping and festive island-style dining. Here’s what our Destination Specialists recommend.

SHOP
Esplanade Mall
St. Juilles Street

Step off the ship and into a mall with more than 50 shops with gifts for everyone. As a part of the cruise terminal, this bustling mall is a great place to stop before or after a fun excursion. Although this area may seem touristy, this is the perfect place to purchase locally-made clothing and Grenadian rum to bring back for yourself or your loved ones. Just outside the mall, live music by locals keeps the atmosphere laid-back and festive. Vendors lining the square sell everything from sunglasses to aromatic spices such as local cinnamon and nutmeg.

EAT
Patrick’s Local Homestyle Cooking Restaurant
Lagoon Road

A home-turned-restaurant, Patrick’s Local Homestyle Cooking Restaurant will satisfy your taste buds with Grenadian favorites and a homey atmosphere. A small restaurant, Patrick’s is a family-run establishment and offers the chance to try more than 10 dishes in small portions, so you can have a taste of traditional fare in its many delicious forms. Sample dishes such as callaloo soup, breadfruit salad, fried plantains, curried chicken and much more. This restaurant is popular visitors and locals alike because of the fresh island flavors and authentic Grenadian cuisine.

VISIT
Fort Frederick
Richmond Hill

If there’s one place you don’t want to miss on Grenada, it’s Fort Frederick. This historic site was built by the French in 1779, but ended up being used by the British to defend the island against the French. Fort Frederick is well-preserved and a must-see for anyone interested in history. Although the fort is small, its intriguing story and spectacular views make it well worth it. The fort offers stunning panoramic views of Grenada and the surrounding sea.

The culture- and history-rich island of Grenada may not be the most well-known, but it’s one you’ll certainly remember long after your visit. We hope to see you in the beautiful Caribbean this winter!

0 comments on “A Local’s Guide to Rome
 

A Local’s Guide to Rome
 

If you’ve been to Rome once or if you’ve been one hundred times, you know that there is much more to the Eternal City than its famed tourist attractions. Rome is a town of the people, the capital of a country dedicated to its citizens.
If you want to experience Rome like a local, here are our Destination Specialists’ top off-the-beaten-path suggestions for this beautiful city.

SHOP
San Lorenzo District
Via Tiburtina

The San Lorenzo District is a great place to experience Roman boutiques and get your Italian chocolate fix. Experience the family-run Candle’s Store on Via dei Campani for one-of-a-kind artisanal candles that put run-of-the-mill candle shops to shame. Whether you’re buying your friends and family hip, Italian clothing at local boutiques or sampling artisan chocolates and desserts at Said – the area’s authentic chocolate shop – the San Lorenzo District brims with perfect gifts for everyone in your life, including yourself.

VISIT
Centrale Montemartini
Via Ostiense 106

After exploring so many traditional Italian museums, you might be ready for something different. The newest addition to the Capitole Museums in Rome, Centrale Montemartini is a former power plant turned museum displaying ancient statues. A three-minute walk from Basilica San Paolo, this unique Greco-Roman museum is a must-see juxtaposition of the old and the new. The thought-provoking contrast between the industrial world and classical art is a testament to Italian ingenuity that makes this stunning collection well worth a visit.

EAT
Nuovo Mondo
Via Amerigo Vespucci 15

Within the homey neighborhood of Piazza Testaccio, you’ll find Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio, a daily market that favored by locals. Take time to experience Rome’s delicacies while shopping the market. Browse overflowing stalls filled with fresh fish, fresh and cured meat, freshly picked herbs and vegetables and ripe, colorful fruit. You can sit in the open piazza in the middle of the square and savor some fresh and local treats. However, we recommend saving room for the best pizza in Rome at a local favorite, Nuovo Mondo. At this humble, bustling restaurant, satisfy your senses with authentic Roman thin-crust pizza and the quintessential Italian experience.

Benvenuti a Roma! Welcome to the real Rome with these hidden secrets.

0 comments on “An Inside Look at Two Unforgettable African Safaris”

An Inside Look at Two Unforgettable African Safaris

An African safari tops most travelers’ bucket lists for its once-in-a-lifetime appeal, the thrilling adventure of witnessing Africa’s wild animals in their natural habitats and the stunningly exotic scenery. Senior Manager of Destination Services Christine Andrusyshyn is our resident expert in all things related to land tours and has a special passion for safaris. Christine recently had the chance to experience two of our African safaris first-hand, and we sat down with her to get an inside look at what they were like, what types of African wildlife she saw and much more.

Pumba Water Lodge, South Africa

 

Tell us about the ambiance of the lodge: From the moment we arrived we were welcomed with open arms and friendly smiles. All of the beautifully appointed chalets overlooked the huge watering hole where animals come throughout the day to drink – and at night we could hear the hippos in the water! The 12 stone-walled, thatched chalets were all very spacious with viewing decks and plunge pools, fireplaces and complimentary port wine. We were there during their winter so they even put hot water bottles under the covers at turndown – this was a lovely touch. The décor was very British colonial safari, completely done in dark, exotic woods.

What wildlife did you see? So many different types — we saw a herd of lions with cubs and white female lion, impalas, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, so many species of birds, hippos, Cape buffalo and much more! Most exciting for me was when a herd of elephants wandered right past our vehicle and stopped to eat right next to us as if we weren’t even there. We also spotted a white female lion sleeping on a rock and little lion cubs that came out from the trees to play next to our jeep. Our ranger was extremely knowledgeable about everything we saw.

 

Evening safaris include sundowners at sunset which was an amazing experience. Our ranger stopped in a clearing in the bush and set up drinks and snacks behind the vehicle. It was so peaceful until a massive heard of some impalas stampeded by us at top speed, obviously spooked by something. We didn’t take any chance. We high-tailed it out of there – it was exhilarating!

What were meals at the lodge like? An early morning spread of biscuits, toast and coffee and tea is served before going out on the morning game drive. After game drives, breakfast is buffet style with both hot and cold options as well as menu selections for eggs and other à la carte items. Lunch and dinner are both served at the lodge’s restaurant with several selections for appetizers, main dishes and desserts. All drinks Every meal was served like a work of art – beautiful presentation, gourmet quality and absolutely delicious. Afternoon tea included refreshments and light snacks before heading out for the evening game drive.

When can you experience it? As an overland tour on Nautica in 2019 and on Insignia in 2020. Here are a few options:

South African Explorer | Cape Town to Cape Town15 days aboard Nautica departing January 5, 2019

Safaris, Sands & Splendors | Cape Town to Singapore30 days aboard Nautica departing January 20, 2019

Around the World in 180 Days | Miami to San Francisco180 Days aboard Insignia departing January 8, 2020

Shamwari Bayethe, South Africa

 

How did the feel of this lodge compare to Pumba Water Lodge? While Pumba was quite British Colonial, Bayethe was much more modern. This lodge is set on a game reserve that houses 6 lodges and 3 education and rehabilitation centers on more than 60,000 acres – it’s massive. At Bayethe, you stay in a tent but each tent is truly a luxury tent. Nothing is spared and we actually felt like we were in a cabin or lodge. Each luxury tent is surrounded by the forest so you feel like you are completely on your own. It’s very private with long walkways to each tent. Our tent had a king-sized bed, seating area, coal-burning stove, separate bathroom area with tub, an outdoor private shower, a beautiful viewing deck and a plunge pool. The main lodge area houses the cozy dining room with two fireplaces, plus a swimming pool with an outdoor seating area on the deck, all overlooking a watering hole. The staff here was incredibly warm and welcoming as they were at Pumba.

What wildlife did you see? We saw so many amazing animals here and in so many different landscapes – jungles, wetlands, mountainous areas, open and arid regions. Two separate herds of lions casually walked by our jeep as if we weren’t there. We also had a face-off with an elephant – he came right up to the jeep and stared at us. We didn’t move a muscle and then after about five minutes, he calmly walked away. We also saw plenty of zebras, several varieties of antelope, pumbas, hippos and much more. The sunsets were spectacular here…the sky was filled with every shade of orange and pink. Our ranger here was also very knowledgeable and helpful.

 

The safari jeeps were especially great here, seating two people per row and in the middle of each row was a console with blankets inside if needed. The jeeps are covered and there’s a pull-out platform that makes getting in and out much easier. Plus, each row was higher than the row in front of it.

What were meals at the lodge like? They were very similar to Pumba Water Lodge. There’s a large breakfast buffet and a lovely restaurant for lunch and dinner with a wide selection of gourmet dishes. Afternoon tea was particularly amazing here – all types of cakes, sweets and coffee and tea. The wait staff even had jars of candies and nuts with scoops and small bags so that guests could take the snacks on safari.

When can you experience it? As a post-cruise land tour aboard Nautica in 2019 and Insignia in 2020. Here are a few options:

Serenity to Safaris | Dubai to Cape Town 30 days aboard Nautica departing December 7, 2019

Atlantic Adventures | Buenos Aires to Cape Town36 days aboard Insignia departing March 4, 2020

Atlantic Endeavor | Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town25 days aboard Insignia departing March 15, 2020

 

Inspired? Start planning the African safari of your dreams.