Greece Sailing Trip 2014

We returned to Greece to sail the Dodecanese Islands for the second time.  This summer, however, we took off from the port of Kos (instead of Rodos), and traveled north to the islands of Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos, and Lipsi.  We took the “road” a little less traveled this year and ended up with a very different experience – it was a little more relaxed, more rustic, and definitely more windy with rougher seas.  Our captain was also younger and drank a little (lot!) less, which made us all feel a little safer aboard. :)    Overall, Greece never disappoints, and I am happy to say my skin is no longer translucent, but instead a speckled light tan color.

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Sicily – Stepping Back in Time [Part 2]

Scala dei Turchi

Carrie is currently working some other web tasks so I decided to pinch hit for her again.  Now that you’ve officially been warned, let’s talk about Sicily!

Our western loop continued with a trip to the Scala dei Turchi (the Turk’s staircase), a stark white rock formation that juts into the Mediterranean.  On our last trip to the Valley of the Temples, we passed really closed but didn’t quite make it there.  This time we vowed to see the calcium and clay formation that’s been a popular sunbathing spot since the Greeks populated the island.  Unfortunately for us, the wind was ripping and a storm was on the horizon so we didn’t get to layout.  We did however admire it from afar and above…. [Read More]

Sicily – Stepping Back in Time [Part 1]

The wildflowers made for a gorgeous landscape

I’ve been a bit slow about blogging lately, so here’s to catching up!  In mid-April, Bobby and I took a nine-day trip to Sicily and it was our second time visiting the island.  On our first trip, we visited some pretty amazing places – Taormina, Siracusa, and Agrigento (to name a view), which are located in the eastern half of Sicily.  This time, we wanted to make a western loop.  I guess you could say our “loop” got a little out of hand being that we ended up covering 3/4 of the island and driving over 500 miles.

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Our 2nd Italian Anniversary

First night on the water

I know I’m a little late, but September 6th marked our 2nd Italian anniversary.  This means we have passed well over the halfway point of Bobby’s Olmsted experience.  Wow!  I’d like to highlight some of our favorite travel spots we were fortunate enough to see this year (see our first year favorites here). First though, we’d like to reiterate to the Olmsted Foundation how incredibly grateful we are for this amazing opportunity.  We never thought we’d get travel like this as a couple, nor have the chance to learn a second language while experiencing the culture first-hand.  We can’t express our gratitude enough – thank you, thank you, thank you!… [Read More]

Dodecanese Islands – Part 2

Overlooking Pali on the island of Nisyros

After sailing from the port of Rhodes and stopping in Symi and the Turkish coast, we spent the rest of the week on four smaller islands – Nisyros, Tilos, Chalki, and Alimia.  Nisyros, known for its volcanic crater, is over over 150,000 years old.  The crater “valley” was pretty impressive, spanning almost two miles wide.  The largest of the craters is called Stefanos and activity is still visible today with its steaming pots and bubbling waters.  Tilos is known for its little port town of Livadia, with a large rocky beach and charming seaside restaurants.  Chalki had perhaps the best village (bearing the same name), where the colorful buildings seem to disappear directly into the water, sort of like the houses and hotels in Venice. It is a popular tourist port in the Dodecanese Islands and we saw everything from small fishing boats to large, multimillion dollar yachts.  Our last, but certainly not least, stop on our seven day sailing trip was the uninhabited island of Alimia.  Alimia, which means “one more” in Greek (it is considered an additional island to Chalki), was the site of a German/Italian WWII post, but is now a peaceful bay where boaters stop to swim on the way back to Rhodes.  We stayed the night in the bay and grilled out on our homemade campfire.

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Dodecanese Islands – Part 1

Muses restaurant

For our anniversary in April, I gifted Bobby a trip to northern Italy to hike the via ferrata, or “iron road,” something that he’s always wanted to do.  We were all set to go during the third week of June.  However, while watching the Giro d’Italia on TV, we saw some legs of the race in the region and we were discouraged by the piles (we’re talking 4-5 feet) of unseasonal snow on the ground. We begrudgingly canceled our trip and were trying to find a warmer vacation to satisfy our desire to hit the road when we received a great offer.  Our Italian friends Tatiana and Francesco invited us to join them on a seven-day sailing trip in the Dodecanese islands.  We couldn’t have been more excited, and quickly agreed.   The Dodecanese are a group of twelve large (plus more than 150 small) Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited.  With some suggestions from Tatiana and Francesco’s friends as well as our captain, we decided on a six island route.  From Rhodes, the port of departure, we sailed to Symi, Nisyros, Tilos, Chalki, Alimia, and even took a pit stop in Turkey during the second leg of the trip for a quick dip.

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Olmsted Ladies Trip 2013 – Mallorca

Welcome to Soller!

Every year, the Olmsted ladies (wives and female scholars) from Europe and Africa travel to a different destination for a little girls-only fun.  Last year, the girls joined up in Edinburgh for some relaxation and site-seeing.  While absolutely beautiful, it was a wee (okay a little more than “wee”) bit cold.  Remembering all too well our frozen hands and toes, we opted for a warmer destination this year.  My friend and fellow Olmsted wife, Jen Hensarling, planned our trip this year.  After a few rounds of voting, seven Olmsted wives and one scholar decided on Mallorca.  The island is the largest of the Balearic archipelago and is practically a German colony in the summer, with most of the flights coming from either Spain or Germany.  In fact, my flight went from Florence to Frankfurt and then to Mallorca.  It is also a common vacation destination for the Irish and Polish, and I can’t say I blame them!… [Read More]

Southern Exposure – Sicily [Part 2]

Upclose of the salt art

The second part of our Sicilian journey brought even more archeological sites: a couple Roman amphitheaters, another Greek theater, and the best preserved Greek temple in the world.** We had the pleasure of traveling along the eastern coast from Taormina to Siracusa, across the southern border to see Noto and Agrigento, and then finally north to see Monreale, a suburb of Palermo.  Sicily was an interesting place.  The island’s overwhelming beauty is combined with some not-so-great everyday occurrences.  We saw several blatant tax-evasion schemes, a couple “mafiosi” throwing their weight around, and a few very clever driving techniques.  Bobby and I agree that south of Rome, Italy is a completely different country and this was certainly capitalized, underlined, and placed in bold in Sicily…. [Read More]

Southern Exposure – Sicily [Part 1]

Sicily's flag

After staying in Reggio Calabria for the night, we took the ferry over to Sicily and had a short drive south to Taormina for our first stop on the island.  Sicily, which is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is largely known by the Americans as the land of The Godfather movies, the mafia, and the birth of the legend of Cyclops.  While these things are true, there is also a lot more to Sicilia – it has some of the most impressive archeological sites in Italy, boasts the highest active volcano in Europe (Mt. Etna), produces pretty darn good wine, wonderful pastries and has beautiful beaches.  We do have limited time while we’re here, so we’re trying to hit several of the main cities and sites…. [Read More]

Welcome to the Wild Wild West: Sardegna

Cala Goloritz

Ok, so Sardegna doesn’t have saloons or cowboys, but it is technically located to the west of Italy’s mainland, has tons of wild animals that love to roam the streets, and could be from a picture book of Arizona (well, I guess if the state had any water to speak of).  For the past week, Bobby and I have been spending time in Sardegna (English spelling: Sardinia), the Mediterranean’s second largest island (behind Italy’s other island, Sicilia).  Linguistically, Sardegna is interesting because they have their own language, Sardo.  Even though it is recognized as a completely different language from Italian (i.e. it is not considered a dialect), Sardo has not made a jump into mainstream Italian culture.  Some believe this is because Italian is required to obtain most jobs (on and off the island).  Sardo is, however, considered the official language on the island.  In northern Sardegna, a French influence is found with the Corsa language (coming from Corsica to the north) and in Alghero, some still speak Catalan (a brother to Spanish).

Geographically speaking, we were completely surprised by what we found.  There are large mountains and equally vast valleys, some of which hold lush vineyards and others that have scrubby-brush-like tumbleweeds.  I’m telling you, that part really looks like Arizona, minus 15-20 degrees in the summer.  The mountains often drop off in steep cliffs (some of which scientists believe are up to 500 million years old!) into the sea, whereas other parts have sandy beaches that stretch for miles and miles.  Some of Europe’s best beaches are said to be in Sardegna, with white sand and crystal clear turquoise water.  … [Read More]