Your Friday Escape:  Dubrovnik, Croatia

Your Friday Escape: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Where:  Croatia, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea Today’s weather forecast:  Sunny, High 92*F, Low 78*F Population:  42,615 (2011) Approaching Dubrovnik for the first time, you may sense that you’ve been there before.  It’s ancient stone walls rise from the sea, protecting a city of towers and winding marble streets.  In your mind you hear the crazed laugh of an evil, blond, teenage king.  Yes, Game of Thrones fans, you’ve just arrived in King’s Landing.  Dubrovnik, one of the world’s finest preserved medieval walled cities, fills the role of the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in the wildly popular HBO series. Things to do: Walk the top of the city walls.  Dubrovnik’s defensive wall dates back to the 9th century and by the 15th century enclosed the entire town.  The 2 km wall rises up to 25 meters high and is 1.5 to 6 meters thick.  Look out to the north from the Minceta Tower and imagine that it’s 600 years ago and it’s your job to watch for invading Turk armies.  On the west side, peer out of the Lovrjenac Fortress over Blackwater Bay, and, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, remember Tyrion Lannister bravely defending King’s Landing from Stanis Baratheon’s bloody naval onslaught.  Look for evidence of shelling by Serb and Montenegrin soldiers during a 7 month siege of the city in 1991. Of course, there’s a Game of Thrones guided tour. Ride the cable car.  For amazing views of the coastline and entire city, take the cable car to the top of Mount Srdj.  Up top, visit the museum to learn about the 1990-95 war with Serbia which broke apart Yugoslavia....
Your Friday Escape:  Les Baux de Provence

Your Friday Escape: Les Baux de Provence

This Week’s Destination: The tiny village of Les Baux de Provence, France Population: 427 Closest major airport: Marseilles This week we’re traveling to another continent and another millennium. Imagine scanning your eyes across a vast plateau from inside the thick walls of a fortress built high on a rocky outcropping. Les Baux de Provence, as this village in southern France has been known since the Middle Ages, has provided a vantage point and place of protection since prehistoric times. A major building program initiated in the 13th century replaced the early fortress with a keep and expanded the castle to take advantage of the natural rock foundation. As a Disney-fied American, I tend to think of a “castle” as a single building, but real medieval castles were often a collection of buildings enclosed within a wall. A “keep” is a self-sufficient structure at the center of the castle which served as the residence of the lord and the place of last refuge if the castle came under attack. Over the centuries the village’s population decreased from a peak of near 3,000 during the 13th century to about 400 by 1900.   After World War II , tourists drawn by the opening of a world-class restaurant revived the village.  Careful restoration earned it the official title of “One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France” in 1999. Today you can stroll its narrow, automobile-free streets, visit museums and small shops, and dine on Provencal cuisine. Things to do Cycling: The village’s official visitors’ website suggests cycling because it “allows you the time to meet people, and you only have to put out your...
Your Friday Escape: Jamaica

Your Friday Escape: Jamaica

This Week’s Destination: Jamaica Population: About 3 million Where: In the Caribbean, South of Cuba Things to do: Here’s where I’d love a little help. We just booked a family trip to Jamaica, but I’ve never been before, and I’m looking for suggestions of unique things to see and do. Obviously we’ll be hanging out at the beach and pool, but what can we do in Jamaica that’s different than other places in the Caribbean? At least 3.5 million people visited Jamaica in 2014, so someone must have some ideas for me. Here’s what I found with a little internet searching: Tour a Rum Distillery: It’s no surprise, but rum is Jamaica’s national drink.  Appleton Estate in St. Elizabeth provides guided tours of its unique copper pot distillery and oak barrel aging house while educating visitors on the history of the estate and Jamaican rum production. Yes, the tour includes samples. Guests can also buy the Appleton Estate Exclusive Blend, a rum not available for purchase anywhere else. Hours: Mon-Sat 9-4. Go Bird Watching: Interested in unique birds? At least 305 species call Jamaica home, and 28 of those are found nowhere else. Conde Nast Traveler recommends two essential items: the Birds of the West Indies field guide and a pair of binoculars. That’s a lot easier to pack and haul through the airport than a set of golf clubs. Winter provides the greatest variety of species. I suppose that’s because of the snow birds. And I don’t mean the featherless ones who arrive by plane. You can hire a local guide or book a group trip through Jamaica Birding which offers...
Friday Escape:  Caribbean Digital Detox

Friday Escape: Caribbean Digital Detox

Admittedly, today is Saturday, but I took my own Friday escape yesterday.  Consider this posted in island time.   I found the perfect lounge chair on the beach, partially shaded by the palms above, Bob Marley on the breeze, paperback best seller in hand.  BEEP BEEP BA BEEP!  Whose text disturbs my tropical tranquility?  Why in the world didn’t I leave my phone in the hotel room safe?  Can I ever really escape?  Yes! This photo of St. Vincent is courtesy of TripAdvisor   This Week’s Destination:  St. Vincent and the Grenadines Where: Lesser Antilles, southern portion of the Windward Islands, West Indies, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Population:  103,000 Things to do:   In 2012, the tiny Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines teamed up with a life coach and launched its solution for e-addicts:  digital detox vacations.  The official guide, Digital Detox in SVG, provides tips for disengaging from the digital world, fully relaxing during your vacation, and, inevitably, easing back into real life.  Here’s the corresponding YouTube video. While unplugged you can:   Claim a secluded hideaway beach as your own; try the island of Canouan. Visit the vibrant public market in the capital city of Kingstown. Savor banana pancakes, lobster and rum punch while perched on stilts over the sea at Basil’s in Mustique. Learn about conservation at the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on the island of Bequia. Stroll the St. Vincent Botanic Gardens (you know how I love botanic gardens!), the oldest in the western hemisphere. Interesting fact: Grenadine syrup, that red stuff in Shirley Temples and Tequila Sunrises, doesn’t come from the Grenadines.  According American University,...
Friday Escape:  Henningsvaer, Norway

Friday Escape: Henningsvaer, Norway

With this post I’m launching a new feature on traveltipgirl.com:  Friday Escapes.  I know that by the end of the week, I just want to get out of town.  If I can’t do that, I at least want to dream of escape.  Each Friday we’ll visit someplace new and learn how to get there. This Week’s Destination:  Henningsvaer, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Maybe because it’s been so hot lately, but this photograph of a small Norwegian fishing village captured my imagination.  Who lives in those houses? Do they get around town by boat instead of car?  What’s for breakfast?  I bet my bottom dollar it’s not an Egg McMuffin.  Maybe roast puffin on a muffin?  Do people actually eat puffin?  So many questions! Where: West Coast of Norway above the Arctic Circle.  68° 9′ 0″ N / 14° 13′ 0″ E. Population:  409 Things to do:  Hike, rock climb, visit the Lofoten Hus Gallery which displays local artists’ paintings in a former cannery, take a summer midnight boat safari in search of sea eagles, seals and other animals. Interesting Fact:  The sun doesn’t set between May 23 and July 24. How to get there:  Hurtigruten offers 6-12 night Norwegian coastal cruises which stop in the Lofoten Islands. Hurtigruten cruises provide an unique, authentic travel experience.  For over 120 years, its ships have transported goods, vehicles and people between Norwegian ports, as part of the country’s everyday commerce.  Comfortable cabins and fresh local cuisine enhance the journey through pristine waters and unspoiled natural beauty.  As the ship crosses the Arctic Circle, first timers are treated to a traditional Arctic sailing initiation ceremony.  For more information about trip from...