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February is Carnival time on the island of Madeira

Actually, February is carnival time just about anywhere. It’s the season that there’s not much happening out in those fields. On the other hand, it’s a short month, and spring is just ahead…

Carnival is a great time to vacation if you plan your trip to southerly climes. In Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira,  grilled swordfish and Madeira wine takes center stage in restaurants and on the streets.  Samba troops wiggle enough flesh to last a month or so in a  street carnival that involves everybody who can move in a sexy way and a few who can’t. A parade with floats is  held on February 21. After the parade folks get all gussied up for the ball at the Praça do Município. On the last night, Tuesday, a parade of costumed caricatures takes place, followed by prizes for the best-dressed.

It’s like they’ve reversed puritanism, isn’t it? Carnival is the time to let it all hang out, to have fun in ways that would otherwise be illegal or scare the horses.

Get a villa or apartment in Funchal for a week and then watch it all come together.

Ravello and a Home Overlooking the Sea

While it’s a shame that few tourists go beyond the Amalfi Coast on their way south in Italy, you can hardly argue against the picturesque,  craggy coast and wild seas of  the Amalfi peninsula as a tourist destination.

Ravello Vacation Rental Le Volte

Ravello Vacation Rental Le Volte

Ravello is a small Amalfi Coast village that’s managable, expecially if you came for the sun and sea. Sure, there’s a church. But if you rent a place for a week you only have to see the church once, then it’s over and you can head off to the beach or to the bar for a Campari Soda.

In summer, the Ravello festival brings music to the village. It’s been doing that since I was a wee lad, 1953 to be exact, when it honored Richard Wagner, who used Ravello’s Villa Rufolo (1270) for the setting of Parsifal. Lots of Moorish influence is seen in the Villa.

So imagine yourself on the balcony of Le Volte wolfing down some fresh seafood dragged to the beach in the early morning by craggy-faced fishermen. There are worse things to imagine. That’s the place in the picture up there to the right.

The Goddess of Love Came to Be in Paphos, Cyprus

All this and Aphrodite too.

All this and Aphrodite too.

Ancient finds are numerous within the islands and mainlands between Greece and Turkey. Paphos can claim to be one huge archaeological site with the endorsement of UNESCO labeled as a world heritage site.  It is here you can visit many points of interest, leaving time as your only limitation.

Along the southwest coast of Cyprus lies the city of Paphos, which originally was the capital in Roman times. It inhabitants date from 1400 BC. Greek Mythology is the basis of Paphos. This is where the legend of the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, was born. And it was Aphrodite, who in turn, had given the name Paphos to her only daughter.

Besides tales of Gods and Goddesses, Paphos also professes strong ties to the early Christianity period. Many relics can be found here intact; as its treasures have survived the numerous raids it experienced in 3000 years.

Today, Paphos has been revived on the strength of tourism and its ancient finds. The temperate weather, antiquities and the Mediterranean Sea only adds to an ideal vacation. A stay at one of the new vacation rentals that offer panoramic views of the sea and own beachfront such as a 1 or 2 bedroom unit at Cypria Maris is the perfect solution.

Legend states that Aphrodite emerged from the Mediterranean Sea. In Paphos,  two “official” places authenticate her existence. 
 
To examine one of these breathtaking sites is with a walk along the shore at the Akamas Peninsula. Before you know it, you will be in view of several beautiful rock formations in a natural grotto. This is where the mythological goddess Aphrodite was said to be born, upon the sea foam along the larger rock that juts from the sea. The rock is named Petra tou Romiou or The Venus Rock. Being a daughter of Zeus and Dione, she automatically was given a bona fide goddess title. 

The Baths of Aphrodite, at nearby Polis, are supposedly the “Fountain of Love” or Fontana Amorosa; being a few miles further into the Akamas Peninsula. The painting, “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli, will immediately come to mind. Perhaps Botticelli observed the formations on a visit and obtained his inspiration of her “rising from the sea.”
 
Although the romantics will appreciate the story of Aphrodite, there are many more authentic historical sites to visit in Paphos. Some highlights in the archaeological hot spot are constantly evolving;  meaning that more than one visit to this historic island is needed.

Contrary to its name, the impressive Tombs of the Kings bear no true kings or royalty that are buried within. Rather the site is final resting place for those who lived and died in Paphos between 3 BC and 3 AD. The remains are of approximately 100 aristocrats who lie within tombs which are carved out of solid rock.  There are Doric pillars, fresco walls made as if it were for supreme royalty. The 100 tombs on the site cover a wide area, so make sure you take your walking shoes.

Reflect on the history in a relaxing vacation rental.

Reflect on the history in a relaxing vacation rental.

The Mosaics of Paphos were created during the Roman era rule of the island a mere 2000 years ago. Paphos did well financially under Roman rule, however, many of these villas were destroyed by a massive earthquake. The discovery in 1962 is still in its infancy and no doubt more will be unearthed during excavations. Many of the mosaics feature mythological scenes and are one of the best preserved relics to be found throughout the world.

As you can judge, Paphos is not just a beach resort and allows variety for all tastes. To truly enjoy your visit, split up the time between a relaxing day and an intensive one. There is no better way to achieve this than with a vacation rental to lay back, swim and enjoy the sea.

Lerici: Your Perch Over the Gulf of Poets

I’ve always liked going down to the sea at Lerici. It’s the sort of town that doesn’t get a lot of foreign tourists, but Italians love it. In the summer you can take boats to other Italian Riviera spots and even to the Cinque Terre.  It’s a great way to go.

Lerici Vacation Rental

Berna: Lerici Vacation Rental

Look at the view from the terrace of Berna above Lerici! You can’t beat that with a stick.

The port lies below you, and the city is just the right size. There’s lots of parking (you pay if you’re a day-tripper, but at least there are many, many spaces.)

If you rent a place like Berna, you can just park your car for a week and explore the area on foot or by boat. You might as well take a vacation from driving, eh?

You can walk along the beach to charming San Terenzo, where brawny swimmer Lord Byron lived, or take the boat to Portovenere. Down the coast is little Tellaro, a sleepy town with great little restaurants which was also a haunt for the romantic poets.

Shoot, you can escape the tourist hordes of the Cinque Terre completely–if you want, I mean. Some folks like the teeming, tee-shirted masses. Romantic poets, evidently like seclusion.

I’m with them.

The Sun and Nature are revered in Kozino, Croatia

Chill out with a view like this with a vacation rental.

Chill out with a view like this with a vacation rental.

Provide you and those around you, an entirely new perspective on life. The cure all begins by experiencing the beauty of the sun, sea and stone-built architecture. These are just a few of the excellent reasons to visit Kozino, Croatia. Kozino is situated on the Adriatic Coast in the southernmost part of the country. 

This ideal destination offers a gentle atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of contemporary life. It can only be describes as a true picture perfect Mediterranean getaway at a fraction of the cost of other seaside destinations. There are two possibilities for the area; you can make your holiday as active as you wish with historical points of interest or inactive by taking a more lazy approach and just enjoy the breathtaking change of scenery of Kozino and other remote villages.

And what scenery it is! On the many clear days in Kozino, the natural beauty surrounded by Mediterranean fauna makes it a tranquil retreat, perfect for strolling and meeting the locals. The crisp scent of dawn gives way to the break of day and genuine quiet solitude can be found, especially with a 2 bedroom vacation rental home overlooking the sea.

Beyond appealing to the visual, with the crystal-clear sea, sailing, diving and divine beaches, head towards  the historical city of Zadar; a mere 5 miles away. As the closest neighbor to Kozino, Zadar has a wealth of museums and churches, with historical and cultural heritage dating back to prehistoric times.  Over the years, great care has been taken to preserve the findings as things were not always so peaceful in the land of tranquility. Many wars and disputes are noted throughout the centuries with the ancient Illyrians, Romans and continuing into the 5th century under the rule of Venetians and finally splitting one nation into several.

Great strides have been made to keep in time with modern day conveniences without losing the relaxed pace and strong connection to nature. Many have stated that the ”most beautiful sunset in the world” takes place here.

The admiration of the sun is so strong that a work of modern art known as the ”Greeting to the Sun” was created at the very end of the Zadar peninsula. Your first impression will be that it is an amphitheater because of the circular design; but it actually becomes an impressive show of light with a replica of our Solar System planets and their orbits surrounding it.

Nature at its best in Kozino

Nature at its best in Kozino

This festival of lights protrudes to the rhythm with three hundred multi-layer glass panels. The glass conduction plates are actually photo-voltage solar modules and the displays of colored light become symbolic towards nature. Of course, the sun is the shining star of the show,  for which it is dedicated to as the icon of life. Beside the feast for the eyes, the ears are not left out. Sounds are provided by the Sea Organ with a preference towards  waves pounding and wind whooshing.

There is one thing for sure in Kozino; you will leave refreshed, rejuvenated and more in touch with nature. Isn’t this perfect for sharing Kozino and it neighbors with others in a vacation rental?

Get Physical in Trutnov, Czech Republic

A vacation rental in the mountains is the best bet no matter the season.

A vacation rental in the mountains is the best bet no matter the season.

Situated on surrounding hillsides, Trutnov, Czech Republic,  is a must for lovers of outdoor sports during the winter months as well as the summer ones. The area is prominent for plenty of outdoor activities and much history added in besides.

Many consider only Switzerland, Italy and France for skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Europe,  but switch your thoughts and try the Trutnov region instead. Ski enthusiasts seeking more affordability will instantly find Trutnov proves not to cost a kings ransom. 
 
Nothing could be better that having a vacation rental home in close proximity from the town of Trutnov and the nearby Giant Mountains (Krkonose Mountains); the highest mountains in all of the Czech Republic. Highly proficient skiers will relish the challenges but novices can do well as it is filled with many ski schools. Leave you skis at home because rental equipment is available.

Make it a whole family affair in a 3 bedroom vacation rental chalet sleeping seven. This one includes even a sauna to unwind in after a day on the slopes. The winter visitor will certainly value the cross-country skiing opportunities right near your own backyard.

Skiing in the Giant Mountains is nothing but excellent; having ski conditions available from December until April and downhill skiing with an altitude 700-1300 meters above sea level.

The Skipark Mlade Buky, located along the eastern portion of the Giant Mountains, has most of their ski slopes covered artificially with complete daily maintenance to make sure it stays in pristine condition. With so many areas for you to sweep down the wide runs in the Giant Mountains, this may be the only place to ski for you.

If skiing or winter does not appeal to you for a visit; you will find a treasure trove of cultural riches and other options throughout the Trutnov region. Take advantage of the idyllic conditions offered for walking, mountain bike rentals, horseback riding, water rafting or swimming in a modern water park.

As one can determine, the area affords more physical activities than imaginable. So much so, that it may be a good idea to visit a thermal spring spa in the small mountain town of Janske Lazne to ease those muscles.

Imagine a private sauna everyday with a vacation rental.

Imagine a private sauna everyday with a vacation rental.

In many of the villages in the Trutnov region, there are  art galleries and museum expositions, such as at the Museum of Podkrkonos. Since 1987, the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival is a summer highlight with international artists partaking. The festival can be compared to a mini Woodstock type of venue promoting tolerance. Other villages hold their own cultural festivals allowing a glimpse to the traditions of its people.

Inquisitive families can challenge themselves on summer hikes and throw in a portion of historical sightseeing in. There is a Franciscan monastery, dating from 1678, displaying a unique collection of antique statues within the Giant Mountains.

The Giant Mountains have 200 miles of foot trails for mountain hiking within it. This makes it suitable with ease for trekking in the gorgeous countryside. A trekking journey may not be like scaling the Himalayas but the sensation is no less. After all a healthy body equals a healthy mind and you will thank Trutnov, Czech Republic and the opportunity it offers.

Périgueux for Foodies and Friends in France

Périgueux isn’t exactly a household word, I know. It’s a town in the Dordogne region of France that gives its name to Périgueux sauce, a heady sauce of truffles and Madiera wine. You have to love a region famous for truffles.

I had another of the region’s special foods for Christmas. Goose. You can go broke buying a goose for Christmas, so I let some friends do it. I just carved.

Goose fat is good for you, some have ventured. At least heart health is quite good in the region. There’s even a Goose Fat Information Service to let  you in on some of the health benefits of goose fat.

Périgueux holiday get away

Périgueux holiday get away

The trouble is, goose fat tends to get all over your oven walls when you cook a naked goose. So here’s what I’d do. I’d rent a place out in the country where geese are plentiful and relatively cheap, then cook it in a rental property, preferably one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The Périgueux holiday get away shown on the left would do nicely. It’s got an oven and double glazing over the windows so the odors of cooked goose won’t get out and offend anyone.

Of course, if it’s a real celebration you’ll want to go whole hog, so to speak, and get your hands on a big ol’ truffle to use in the Périgueux sauce or just to shave over anything warm and aromatic.

Southern France. It’s a wonderland. You get yourselves on a plane, preferably in late fall when the truffle season gets going, and you’ll land in a paradise for foodies and archaeologists. You’ve got all those prehistoric painted caves, geese, their livers, and truffles. What more can you want?


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