|Everybody else has a page devoted to what they are passionate about. I love travel. My husband and I have been lucky enough to travel to some wonderful places, and we love to share our recommendations and suggestions. Last year on the Get Caught Reading at Sea cruise, we even got to give a talk on it. So I’d love to share some Dreyer’s Travel Tips(especially for international travel), and then some of my favorite places to stay.||Countries:
+ Czech Republic
|Okay, specific recommendations: You’ll notice they’re all B&Bs, most in Ireland, and most away from the cities. Yeah, okay, it’s our preference for travel. But whereever we go, we try and stay at small family run places. Not only does that provide a more personal atmosphere, it inspires unexpected benefits. Always ask the homeowner for local recommendations. They’re more than happy to help. In fact, once in Ireland when I asked a lovely lady where the local music pub was, she called her husband in from blowing tree stumps so they could take me themselves.Whereever you go, if you choose this way of travel, be flexible and respect the privacy of your hosts(kitchens must be invited into). And be prepared to be surprised and delighted. Anybody with great(reasonably priced) recommendations of their own, let me know. I’ll try and include them: For other info on Ireland or England, I highly recommend their Tourist Boards. I have a few links on my site, but the net is a great place to shop for places to stay. If you have any questions, comments or recommendations, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
(by region) (phone prefix from US 011-353)
I’m prejudiced. Ireland is where God lives for me. I love the beauty of the country, the sound of the sea, the soft northern light, the skirling music and raucous sport, the history and the crac (you have to ask an Irishman about that). One of the most important things to know about going to Ireland, though, is that fully half of the experience of visiting is the people themselves. I’ve never met a kinder, more friendly, more hospitable people anywhere in the world. My husband swears that as children they were warned that if they failed to give directions the fairies would get them. It’s why I always stay in B&Bs, and why I learned to stay in B&Bs everywhere I go. Not only does that provide a more personal atmosphere, it inspires unexpected benefits(also, because of the hot economy, a lot of hospitality workers in the cities are from Eastern Europe. Still nice, but it’s not the local flavor).
Always ask the homeowner for local recommendations. They’re more than happy to help. In fact, once in Ireland when I asked a lovely lady where the local music pub was, she called her husband in from blowing tree stumps so they could take me themselves. Just remember to respect their home and the privacy of your hosts(kitchens must be invited into). And be prepared to be surprised and delighted.
If you haven’t been, get a book like Inside Ireland. Decide what you want to see and how you want to get there. And most importantly, remember that Irish roads aren’t like ours(and it’s more than driving on the wrong side of the street). The country may be the size of Illinois, but the average speed is about 35mph. And that’s not counting the times you stop for photos, or a beer, or to ask directions (make a point of it. It’s an experience all to itself)
The Lombard Pub
Mrs. Griffin Aaron Court
Finnstown House Hotel
(If you want a treat. Pricey but well worth it. 17th century Castle with all modern conveniences, that’s a home. Not a conference center.
Mrs. Breege Gavin
|Castlemurray House Hotel
St. Johns Point, Dunkineely
Co. Donegal, Ireland
Mitchell’s Seafood Restaurant
|IF YOU LOVE TRADITIONAL MUSIC, MY FAVORITE TOWNS FOR IT ARE DOOLIN IN CO. CLARE. ANY PUB WILL HAVE FABULOUS SESSIONS. OR DINGLE TOWN. ESPECIALLY AN DROICHAD BEAG or O’Flaherty’s Check the scene at http://www.irishmusicbars.com/|
|(within short drive of Shannon Airport, Burren, great golf, if you’re into that kind of thing)
Clonunion House B&B
Mrs. Nuala Duffy Shanagarry
Quin, Co. Clare
|SOUTHWEST (The Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Killarney, Cork)|
Gleann Fia Country House
(Do you get the idea I spend a lot of time out on Dingle? You’re right. It’s my favorite place)
Mrs. Eileen Hurley
Slea Head Farmhouse
Mrs. Angela de Mordha
Mrs. Alice Hannaffin
O’Gorman’s Cafe me Mara
The Old Pier
|RING OF KERRY|
RING OF KERRY
Ring of Kerry
(Spectagular site overlooking Derrynane Bay, fabulous hostess)
Caherdaniel Ring of Kerry
St. Kieran’s St.
Kilkenny City, Kilkenny Co
(if you’re in Kilkenny, don’t miss this one. It dates from
1324 and has one of the most remarkable histories you’ve ever heard But you have to go to hear them).
|(Telephone access to Scotland and England 011-44) We took two trips to Scotland. One that I call the Flying American Tour, or Clans, Castles and Cathedrals–everything but Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s another country I loved driving through. Wide roads, lots of space, amazing scenery. It’s especially fun to walk into a pub and ask what the owner’s favorite whiskey is.You’ll get everybody talking. And drink some great whiskey.The second trip we took, we only went to Edinburgh. I found it much easier to take plane or train in and then rely on public transport. It’s a very walkable city(although I swear it’s all uphill), but your B&B, hotel or local information office has a handy 3-day pass on buses and trains, and entry to most of the major attractions. And when you go, make sure you go on the Mary King’s Close tour. It really shows what the old town used to be like. And it’s haunted. A little girl is down there, and tourists all bring her little stuffed toys.(Telephone access to Scotland and England 011-44)|
53 Frederick Street
ISLE OF SKYE
Mr. John Franchi
NEAR GRETNA GREENE
|Wok and Wine
57 Frederick Street
|England is just too diverse to comment on in one place. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of it. The good news is that the train service is amazing. The bad news is that it is also expensive. There is also an excellent network of bus lines. Or you can drive everywhere but London. They actually charge tax for people to even drive through certain areas. But the public transport there is fabulous, and taxis great fun, and I think reasonable. Remember that when visiting, especially London, that August is the European vacation month, and everybody has come to see the same things you have(I was once caught in a Japanese tour at Westminster Abbey, and unable to even touch ground for twenty minutes). London is another city I highly recommend taking the double-decker bus tour. And don’t miss those historical museums, like the Naval Museum. The Brits really know how to put a museum together.|
Mrs. Judy Smith
Elvington House B&B
Down the road from Jervaux Abbey
Italy is is bright, fascinating, musical, passionate, gentle, and, oh, Lord, is it friendly. There is just something about that Mediterranean light that makes you want to sit in one place with a cup of cappuccino in hand, watching the world go by. And the bells. Each town seems to have its own system, but there are so many churches that there seem to be bells ringing all the time, and it’s glorious.
There is so much variety, you find you can’t stop taking pictures. Learn a bit of Italian and you can have wonderful interactions with people everywhere. If you love well-worn history, evocative music and people who talk more with their hands than their words(they really do say “Maaa-ma MI-a!” all the time), this will be like dropping into a soup of experience. And I haven’t even talked about the food.
Organizing the Trip
Matera is one of the most unique places I’ve ever been. Mel Gibson filmed the Passion of the Christ there, because it really does look like that. After my second trip to Italy, I still say don’t miss it. Matera is quaint, quiet, beautiful and walkable(although, like many places in Italy, you have to like stairs). It’s still small enough that in the evening everyone dresses up, enjoys gelato and strolls the piazzas in the traditional passeggiata. The photo is of a religious procession I stumbled over.
|B&B Alle Malve
via B Buozzi 102
Domus al Barisano
Ristorante il Borghese
|PRAINO (Amalfi Coast)|
Amalfi Coast is spectacular. It is also straight up. I’m not kidding. Our hotel was 100 steps below the street). The town of Amalfi itself is fairly flat, but the tour buses live there, so it’s packed. Positano is lovely, but it’s expensive(and steeper than Praiano). We chose Praiano because it was between the two, reasonable and we could catch the coastal bus anywhere(first time I’ve done that. Embarrassed how easy it was). Great restaurants, family feeling, and sunsets to die for. But no parking. And you can easily get to Pompeii from here.
Hotel le Sirene
Aaaaaaaah. That’s the best way I can put it. Sweet little, friendly, happy restaurant with lovely food and a spectacular view. The kind of place where the owners encourage you to stay. We did, even if we could no longer see anything in the dark.
I usually don’t do this, but I did want to warn you about another restaurant. For some reason everybody in Praiano recommends the next restaurant. And while the food is good, it is certainly not worth it. I’ve never met a ruder, more disagreeable, less accommodating staff in my life. Avoid ila Brace
Rome has had such a bad rap over the years, that I went reluctantly. Again, embarrassed. Of course it’s noisy. It’s busy. It’s a city. It’s also lively, friendly, gorgeous, clean, accessible, and oh, the history! The art! The food! I loved it.
Recommendation: We used David and Rosanna Incorati, the hosts of our B&B in Rome, as private tour guides. I highly recommend them. The tour was personal, passionate, informative and fun. They made a remarkable city truly an experience of a lifetime(and you don’t have to stay with them to use their services).
Piazza del Risorgimento No. 36 int 16+ 06 39889323
We didn’t spend much time in Florence this trip, because my family doesn’t enjoy art. But when I come back(and I will), I’ve decided that I’ll stay in Siena and train over every morning. Florence is glorious; it’s grand. But Siena is quaint and friendly and small, a medieval walled city that oozes charm and geniality. Even better, after about 5 the swarms of tourists leave, and the city is yours.
But, wait! There’s more! Tuscany really is that charming. If you can do it, get a tour of the hill towns, especially San Gimignano, which is priceless.
via della Sapienza 15
Osteria del Compaccio
There are few places in the world that can’t be mistaken for someplace else. Venice is one of those places. I have never been anywhere like it. The color, the light, the narrow, twisting streets, the wedding cake buildings and gleaming canals. And then, I took a vaporetto down the Grand Canal and thought, “I’ve seen this all before.” and realized that I was thinking of a Canaletto paintin from the 18th century. It really hasn’t changed sine then.
Venice Note: Maps suck. Especially the locally produced ones. The big thing you need to know is that the two directions are toward the train station, or toward St. Marks. And the Ponte Vecchio is right in the middle.
Calle Cendon Cannaregio 534
Al Leon d’Oro
|My husband travels to Prague on business and has been begging me to join him. I finally did, and have to say I’m really glad I did. This is an amazing city. It’s the only major European city to not be bombed during World War II, which means the historic center is intact. And this represents more than a thousand years of history. I recommend you stay down in the historic area. We stayed in the Male Strana, beneath the castle, and the area is quaint, packed in great little pubs and restaurants, and steeped in history. If you like stained glass, don’t miss St. Vitus Cathedral. If you like classical music, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a historic palace or church that isn’t playing something each night. My only caveat is to familiarize yourself with the language before going, especially if you want to use trains or subways while you’re there. It’s very intimidating for a westerner, but after about a day, I felt much more comfortable about it. And most Czechs are fluent enough in English to communicate. Also, if you try out at least the basics, Please, thank you, etc. the locals are delighted, and will even help you with pronunciation(it became a game with me). Just don’t expect a whole lot of green veggies at the restaurants.|
|Belgium is kind of a split personality for me. I adored Bruges with it’s marvelous gothic architecture, small village feel and especially the Michelangelo Madonna. The town is like a beautifully wrapped gift with little surprises everywhere. You can climb the belltower, go in search of the Basilica of the oly Blood, or just sit in one of the sun-soaked town squares and enjoy watching the world go by.
In Brusselsthere is a lot to see and enjoy, from the palace to the Grand Place. Also, for real history buffs, Waterloo is only 12 miles south. The battlefield is evocative with an amazing interactive museum under the Lion Mount, and more museums in the village itself where Wellington had his command.
Hotel Duc du Bourgogne
|Hotel Appia Residence
(Right in the middle of the historic area, a 14th century convent beautifully restored. Arranges taxi from airport)
There are tons of reasonably priced pubs and cafes. Prague specializes in the coffee house. for something special:
We got to stay in India for almost three weeks. I’m not going to kid you. For the first 4 days, all I could think was “I’m so glad I came. Now I’ll never have to come back.” I’ve traveled extensively, as you can tell. I thought I was prepared for the sensory overload. I was not. I began my trip in Delhi and felt battered by the people and the noise and the dirt. But right about the end of that fourth day, I began to see past that to see the beauty. Within two more days I was fascinated. Within 10 I was in love. I truly can’t wait to go back.
Every cliche about India is true. It is a land of contrasts. In Delhi the animals fed off the trash in the streets(although in Calcutta, they are using trash to fuel). Being at the edge of the desert, it is a very dusty city. And the noise! If I heard one more horn honk, I thought I’d explode. But there is so much beauty, such diversity. I always thought the Irish people the nicest in the world. I now know better. The Indians are, hands down.
Yes, there is extreme poverty. There are children beggars you must not even make eye contact with.(every local will tell you that you will do more good by donating to Mother Theresa). But there is color and sound and an amazing joy that seems to permeate everything. I think of walking down the bazaars, where gold and scarlet flower necklaces swing in the breeze, and women in iridescent yellow, green and magenta saris crouch by the road with a blanket of fresh fruit: mangos and tomatoes and bananas. In a nearby shop a salesman lifts a length of peacock georgette in the air so it wafts into a woman’s hands. Aromas of coffees and spices and flowers vie with exhaust and cow dung. The ancient buildings glow in the sunlight, their designs so intricate you can’t believe them possible. The air is thick with shouting as men sit cross-legged negotiating, music from the local Sikh temple, the call to faith from the Mosque. India truly is a sensual banquet.
Again, Rick and I arranged a self tour. I reserved the hotel rooms using Trip Advisor(if you take a guided tour, you will usually stay only in chains). Then I used the brilliant people at Travel & Leisure Elite(a travel subsidiary of American Express) to arrange drivers, guides and interior transportation. I can’t recommend them enough.
I can only speak to two specific areas: THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE and CALCUTTA, as they were the only areas we had time for.
|THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur)|
DELHI: Many historic sites. Otherwise, not my favorite place.
AGRA: Gateway to the Taj Mahal.
TAJ MAHAL: Okay, I admit it. The only reason I went to the Taj was because my husband had gone once without me and I never let him forget it. I mean, can’t you close your eyes and see the Taj Mahal? Well, let me tell you. No you can’t. I have rarely been flummoxed in my travels. The Taj flummoxed me. It really is beyond description, a gleaming wedding cake that seems to float in the air. And up close, intricately carved with inlaid gems and stone. It really, really is all that, and you’ll regret missing it. The only warning I’ll give is that it’s a lot more crowded than you can see in that picture with Princess Diana.
JAIPUR: A pink fantasy of a city. Beautiful architecture, wonderful history, and it’s the world capitol for cutting of colored gemstones. Don’t miss an exhibition. We stayed in a little gem of a local hotel that is an old haveli, or Hindu home, and ate a sumptuous dinner off of gold plates at the Rambagh Palace, once the home of the Maharajas of Jaipur. And make sure to make time for the Amber Fort, about 20 miles outside of the city. If you get there early enough, you can ride an elephant up to the ramparts (even more cool than it sounds).
RANTHAMBHORE TIGER SANCTUARY: Just south of Jaipur. A small sanctuary that still has the greatest number of tiger sightings in the area. You can’t stay within the sanctuary, but I highly recommend the hotel we found, just outside. A family home turned hotel with extra rooms in tents that resemble 4 star accommodations. There is just nothing like coming back from a hard day hunting tigers to sit around a campfire by the pond(where the crocodile lives), and having young men in white jackets hand you a gin and tonic before dinner. Civilization at its finest.
Hotel Vasant Continental
Basant Lok, Pratik Market
New Delhi, Delhi, India
ITC Mughal Agra
Taj Ganj, Agra 282001JAIPUR:
#1 Savista Retreat
About ten miles outside Jaipur and reached via a road that will make you question your choice. Have faith. The pictures on the web site don’t do it justice, and the hosts are fascinating as well as truly hospitable. We stayed here for a couple of days just to rest.#2 Umaid Bhawan Hotel
D-1-2A Behind Collectorate, Banipark
Jaipur, Rajasthan 302016, India 0141 2316184
www.umaidbhawan.comA heritage hotel with character. An old haveli, or Hindu home that is all color and whimsy. A great base for touring Jaipur. RANTHAMBHORE TIGER SANCTUARY:
Khem Villas, VPO Sherpur Khiljipur, Dist. Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan,Telephones: 094140 30262, 07462 252099, 07462 252219
Khem Villas call themselves a luxury jungle resort. It is truly exotic, between a historic house and camp tents that are more luxurious than most hotel rooms, a pond with a crocodile, evening drinks served by waiters in white coats.
|My favorite place in the country. A beautiful melding of Indian and British architecture at its finest.
No animals in the streets here, but the medians are lined with small Hindu temples to their 2 million and 2 gods. Lush tropical foliage and gleaming white buildings, a great swath of green that is a horse racing track, and the ever-present brown flow of the Hooghly River, which is a tributary of the great Mother Ganges. If you are interested in history, ask your guide to show you the British Cemetery from the earliest days of the Raj. It was filled in 1820, and is eerie and beautiful and evocative today.
If you’re hesitant about traveling to a new place, a tour is a great way to get an overview and learn where you want to return. If you are in a tour group, consider getting a bit away once or twice to see people you normally wouldn’t on the bus. In general, in big cities I’ve found that the on-off bus tours are great for getting a lay of the land, especially the double-deckers, if you enjoy architecture. Even if we’ve been to a city before, we often take them just to enjoy an overview.
Anybody with great (reasonably priced) recommendations of their own, let me know. I’ll try and include them: For other info on Ireland or England, I highly recommend their Tourist Boards. I have a few links on my site, but the net is a great place to shop for places to stay. If you have any questions, comments or recommendations, email me at email@example.com.
Chile is a land of just about every kind of landscape, from the highest, driest desert in the world (Atacama) to the most southernmost mountains and glaciers of Patagonia, with cities, vineyards, temperate rain forests and almost the entire range of the Andes in between. We got to visit for two weeks, which wasn’t nearly enough to see the whole country. I will get to Patagonia one day, but for now I only have recommendations for the northern half of the country.
I am not a desert person. But I could spend months in the Atacama, an otherworldly place surrounded by fourteen active cone-shaped volcanoes that is so dry NASA practices moonlandings there. The sky is so clear that the desert holds one of the largest arrays of telescopes in the world. The Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon. Cobalt salt lakes dot the burnt brown landscape, embellished with flocks of flamingos.
The coast is colorful, comfortable and dotted in little fishing villages with outdoor patios where you can sip fruity drinks while you watch the endless play of the ocean. I even got to sit on a balcony over the breakers to watch a blood moon eclipse appear over the water.
And the real reason I had to go to Chile, the Andes. Harsh, sharp, big-shouldered, sere. So sharp and strong you can believe old gods still live there. So silent you can hear a river run four thousand feet below. Santiago was lovely, and I got to sing in Flannery’s Irish Pub in los Condes (there are actually quite a few Irish pubs in Chile. In fact, one of their heroes, Bernardo O’Higgins, was obviously from Ireland) . The people are lovely, and the amenities all modern and really convenient. They even have national library stations in the subways. But I admit it; I’d rather be in the mountains, the desert or along the sea.
Basic business hotel, but central, reasonable and with friendly staff.
San Juan de Atacama
Really, the only habitable area in the entire desert. Village with lots of craftsmen, backpackers and a backdrop of smoking volcanoes. Surprisingly enough for such an out of the way place, it’s hard to find a bad restaurant. As far as housing, you can spend as much as you want. There are a few mega-wealthy resorts. We chose affordable, local and friendly.
A really fun place with individual little cabanas and good food in the restaurant. My only caveat is that if you make arrangements for tours (the salt lakes and night sky tours are particularly wonderful, make sure you are very clear in your communications. We did have a bit of miscommunications and ended up in the wrong tour. Still wonderful. If you are interested in desert, night sky or nature, hard to go wrong.
VINA DEL MAR
On the other side of an epic bay from Valparaiso so that you can see the jumbled pastel houses climb the mountain straight out of the sea. Vina del Mar is a fishing village, one of many that dot the coast. Sleepy, quaint and colorful, with—here’s a surprise—great seafood
When I say right on the water, the waves crashed UNDER our balcony. The hotel is a retirement project for the owners, and you can see the love involved. The staff is great and the restaurant lovely. If you can, get the King Junior Suite with Balcony. A real deal. And don’t forget to save one of your meals for the restaurant. You’ll thank me.
UP IN THE ANDES
This is a special recommendation. If you’re a bit adventurous and don’t mind renting a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, I can’t recommend highly enough a special resort ESE of Santiago, deep into the Andes. Yes, you have to drive over 12 miles of 4 wheel drive road, but it’s far more bumpy boulders than ‘Highway of Death.” And once you get there, you’ll thank me.
Puma Lodge by Noi Hotels
Originally a heli-ski lodge, Puma began to open all year long. The views are unparalleled, the staff exceptional, the comforts amazing. And if you go off season, it’s really affordable. The one caveat is that you’re not close enough to any other civilization to go anywhere else for food. Fortunately enough the food at Puma is delicious! And when you aren’t eating, you can climb, hike, bike, or just sit in the lovely hot tub and watch the condors circle the jagged peaks that circle the lodge.
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