Captivating Capri

 

Capri is an island in Italy’s Bay of Naples. It is known for its rugged landscape, high end fashion boutiques and upscale hotels. I first visited this island when I was 19 and I was also fortunate enough to visit the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue.

My last visit to this enchanting island included my husband and son. When we arrived, via ferry, with a group of locals and the usual group of tourists, instead of opting for the funicular (tram) to ferry us up the mountain, we decided to walk. Not one of my stellar ideas since the day was quite warm and we neglected to bring enough water. That being said, we determined to reach the La Piazzetta. La Piazzetta is a great place to people watch. Everyone from North European royalty, to Italian actors, to the fellow tourist who fell asleep next to you on the ferry, might be spied at a neighboring table. It took us approximately one hour to make the climb. If you’re not that ambitious, you can take the funicular or bus

Once we reached the top, we admired the view from the top. Even my husband, who is not easily impressed, fell in love with the charm of this quaint island. As we walked along the streets, noting the exclusive boutiques and quaint outdoor restaurants, we found a little cafe off the beaten path. We enjoyed some delicious pasta, pizza and unobstructed views of the marina below. We even ate our pizza like the locals with fork and knife.

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After a relaxing lunch, we explored the Chiesa San Michele. The church was built during the 17th century and is known for its statue of San Michele and splendid antique ceramic floor.

After an aperitif to fortify ourselves for the trek back to the marina, I was determined to find a boat that would take us into the Blue Grotto, Grotta Azurra. Imagine my distress when I discovered that no boat would be entering the Blue Grotto that day due to high winds. I attempted to convey the beauty of this sight to my husband and son. The cavern is considered the most famous site on the island. Pictures alone, do not do it justice.

Weather permitting, to enter the Blue Grotto, first you climb into a wooden rowboat. The rowboat typically holds four individuals. To pass through the opening, the skipper has everyone lay back in the boat because the stone portal opening is typically only a meter high. As he pulls the boat through the opening by a metal chain attached to the cave walls, you feel as if you are entering another world.

Sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the sea water creates a blue reflection that illuminates the entire cavern. As I mentioned, the water appears to be electric blue in color. Objects placed in the water appear silver. The time I visited the cavern, the skippers of the boats started singing. I longed to jump into the magical warm water and never leave.

Since we weren’t able to explore the cavern, I decided we would take a boat tour around the island. Traveling around the island gives you a better appreciation of the beauty of this location that the locals love to visit on the weekend. As we passed yacht after yacht, I mentioned to my husband the proximity of a small cruise ship. He informed me that it wasn’t a cruise ship, but a yacht. The night before, the pilot of the boat gleefully informed us that Dolce & Gabbana rented out the two most expensive hotels on the island for an exclusive party. After that, I kept a sharp lookout for celebrities on the water.

 

I wish we had more than a few hours to spend on the island. Better yet, I would love to have one of the floating palaces I saw, I would even settle for one of the small yachts. I would love to return and explore more of the island, I especially wanted to visit the Villa San Michele which is considered the pearl of Capri. It was built around the turn of the 19th century. Some people have described it as paradise on earth with its beautiful garden.

If you have the opportunity, explore this beautiful island. Ciao.

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Things to do in St Lucia

Besides the gorgeous views, St Lucia has a lot to offer for everyone. Whether your goal is to lay on the beach, snorkel or scuba dive in the Caribbean waters or explore the rainforest, you will find plenty to do.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you stay at an all-inclusive, the resort will have many options available for exploring the island. If you decide to venture out on your own, you will enjoy the sites far more if you hire a taxi, via your hotel.

While we were on the island, we stayed on the northwest side of the island in Rodney Bay. We visited the volcano by taking a cruise along the coast. I highly recommend the cruise because you develop a better appreciation of the beauty of the island. If you travel via the extremely winding road, even if you don’t drive, it is difficult to relax. We cruised to Soufriere and from there took a small bus to the volcano. Some members of the party chose to relax in the mud baths while the rest of us enjoyed a short, though interesting history of the volcano.

Another activity I would recommend is a visit to the rainforest. I booked the aerial tram tour which takes you through the rain forest. I read reviews about the tram tour before booking it and some people were disappointed by the lack of colorful vegetation and birds. I found it very calm and relaxing. Often on trips, we are so busy trying to do everything that we tend to forget this is a vacation and that it’s okay to relax. On the way back through the rain forest, my son and I decided to zip line down the mountain.

I mentioned in a previous post that if you visit the island of St. Lucia, try to dine at the Pink Plantation House. It has phenomenal views and delicious food. It is difficult to find on your own. We stopped at least three times to get directions from the locals. It was well worth it, once we arrived.

 

 

St Lucia

St Lucia is a sovereign island country in the east Caribbean Sea. It is a volcanic island, so you can see the pitons (shown in the picture above) and enjoy a lush tropical rain forest. St Lucia is also known as a honeymoon destination.

Before we headed to the island, I read that St Lucia is one of the most beautiful Caribbean islands. It also has a drive-in volcano. I wasn’t sure what to make out from the last description. As we saw, you can drive up and through the crater of the volcano. The last picture is of steam flowing from the crater.

If you go to St Lucia, I do not recommend driving. My husband, who loves to drive and has driven all over the world, was not comfortable driving because the roads are extremely narrow with extreme drop offs and many sharp turns. I recommend that you book a shuttle service or taxi through your hotel.

Many people who visit St Lucia stay at all-inclusives. We love to explore on our own. If you eschew a tour and explore on your own, be sure to book a driver through your hotel.

New Year Let Down

It’s January which means a new year. In contrast to feeling excited and eager about this month, there is a feeling almost akin to depression. I find myself waxing nostalgic about loved ones who are no longer alive and past memories that keep haunting me. As I glance at the calendar on the wall, yes, I still have one, there is no holiday or event to spur me on.

The frigid temperatures do nothing to cheer me up. From talking to others, I realize that I’m not the only one stuck in this state of mind. So, what to do? My first challenge is to get back into a routine. I didn’t say this would be fun or easy. I’m also trying to find small events and dates to encourage me through this long, dreary month. A visit to a museum, going to the movie theatre to view a comedy, listening to a local concert, even visiting a local library serve as diversions. I also enjoy viewing pictures from tropical locations. Enjoy the pictures and let me know how you get motivated after the holidays.

Grand Cayman Adventure Highlights

Dolphin Discovery on Grand Cayman is an experience that our entire family enjoyed. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to join in, but I’m happy to say that I gave in and had a wonderful time. The only downside to the adventure was the photo prices once we finished swimming with these magnificent creatures. Since you’re not allowed to take pictures, the only pictures available are the ones for purchase.

Once the adventure was finished, my family immediately wanted something else to do. The Cayman Turtle Center was right across the street, so we traipsed over there. I have to admit, I didn’t have high hopes for this adventure, especially after swimming with the dolphins, but I’m glad we went there.

Initially, I figured we might spend 30 minutes exploring this center. Instead, we stayed almost 3 hours. There are salt water pools for snorkeling. There were people of all ages engaged in this activity and they all seemed to be having a marvelous time. There’s a nature trail, a couple of water slides for kids and an aviary. Besides the turtles, the aviary was one of the highlights of the center. The colorful birds weren’t afraid to land on you and eat out of your hand.

We saved the turtles for last. We enjoyed learning about and interacting with them. If you remove your shoes, you can get in with the baby turtles. Highly recommend.

 

Queen Elisabeth II Botanic Park

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Whenever I plan a trip, I make sure I keep the trip chock full of fun and interesting things to see and do. When I mentioned the Queen Elisabeth II Botanic Park, my family greeted this news with groans. They and I were pleasantly surprised to find nice walking paths (this is especially welcome when you’ve been busy sampling the local cuisine), and some blue friends.

I read reviews about this park on trip advisor and some reviewers were disappointed that they were unable to spot any blue iguanas. We spotted at very close range as evidenced by the picture above, several blue iguanas. This was biggest one and very happy with his spot in the sun.

In addition to the iguanas, there are colorful parrots and other birds. We visited the park over the Christmas holidays, however, we were told if we return in May or June, ┬áthe orchids are in bloom. If you decide to visit the park, which I recommend, wear sunscreen and bring water. There’s little shade and, depending on the time of year, can be quite hot.

Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman is known for its coral sand beach which I found out is actually 6.3 miles long. This is also one of the most developed areas of the island. Luxury hotels and pricey restaurants litter this space of beach, so be prepared to budget in advance. Grand Cayman, in general, tends to be one of the pricier islands.