Marseille, France

April 23, 2023

Applaud the ochre village of Roussillon, considered one of France’s prettiest towns, and the striking cliffside hamlet of Gourdon on this extraordinary journey to the heart of Provence. Wind along the gentle slopes and green pastures of Provence during your journey by coach, stopping briefly in photogenic Lourmarin. On the highest hills between the Coulon River Valley and the Vaucluse Plateau, you’ll find Roussillon, a dreamlike village tinted with vibrant colors. During your guided walking tour, see the storied ochre quarries that account for Roussillon’s rich tones and wander among the village’s distinctive streets. You’ll appreciate time on your own, perhaps partaking in lunch at a welcoming brasserie. Travel to charismatic Gordes, which rises dramatically in tiers atop a series of bluffs in the Vaucluse Plateau. Roam along timeworn lanes, under vaulted passageways and up stepped alleyways lined with arcaded medieval dwellings and the remains of age-old ramparts. You’ll long treasure your memories of this excursion to Provence’s fairy-tale villages.

Welcome a leisurely walking tour of alluring Aix-en-Provence, a graceful provincial city with a noble heritage. Rejoice in a picturesque drive through the Provençal countryside, a verdant patchwork of gentle foothills and bucolic valleys that stirs the imagination and stimulates the senses. Begin your exploration of magnetic Aix on Cours Mirabeau, a lively boulevard shaded by 200-year-old plane trees that is framed by cafés, bookshops and splendid mansions, whose attractive façades are enriched by wrought-iron balconies and finely carved doorways. You’ll cherish the verdant Mazarin District, founded in 1646 by the noted archbishop of the same name and later home to writers and artists such as Paul Cézanne. Admire Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, which was built over ten centuries, resulting in its intriguing meld of architectural styles. During time on your own, perhaps look for the 16th-century belfry that boasts a sophisticated astronomical clock from 1661 or relax at an inviting café beside one of the myriad fountains gracing this refined city.

Maria & John

John & Maria

Maria & John

Palma De Mallorca, Spain

April 21, 2023

Explore this beautiful island beginning with the magnificent Seo Cathedral and Bellver Castle. See the windmills and impressive manor house in the verdant countryside. Discover the amazing natural wonders in the Drach Caves. And for romance, visit the former Carthusian monastery in Valldemosa, where George Sand and Chopin spent a winter.

After departing from the pier, you will soon arrive at Bellver Castle, a spectacular Gothic landmark from the 14th century. Its round design is unusual among Spanish castles, and although seemingly impenetrable, the fortress never served a defensive purpose.

As you ramble about the hilltop castle taking photos, you will appreciate the origin of its name, which means “lovely view” in Catalan. Few panoramas are quite so beautiful.

Delve into Mallorca’s grand capital city of Palma on a guided visit to two stunning Gothic landmarks, La Seu Cathedral, and Bellver Castle, and stop at a purveyor of Majorcan pearls. Enter resilient Palma, a city repeatedly invaded over the centuries due to its strategic position in the Mediterranean, and learn how each conqueror left their mark at La Seu, the city’s spectacular Gothic cathedral. You’ll delight in its enormous rose window, which casts a beautiful light into the church, and the wrought-iron canopy over the main altar, which was designed by idiosyncratic Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí. Enjoy a guided stroll to the city center, where you’ll discover an imitation pearl shop and learn the process behind the manufacture of these remarkable jewels. After some free time to shop and wander, continue to Bellver Castle, a revered 14th-century Gothic landmark. Gaze in awe at its unusual round design and seemingly impregnable fortifications, punctuated by towers of varying heights, and find a patio with a double gallery of arches, the Capella de San Marc chapel, and the Palma History Museum. You’ll celebrate the Gothic treasures of Palma on this enlightening tour.


Alicante, Spain

April 19, 2023

Lying on Spain’s radiant Costa Blanca, Alicante exudes a rare beauty. Lovely Baroque buildings cluster around the historic central district. Marble plazas grace its broad waterfront boulevard, the illustrious Explanada de España. Pristine beaches like San Juan hug the shoreline. It’s no surprise that Alicante is popular year-round. Venture to the grand Castle of Santa Barbara overlooking the city and walk from its high towers down into the dungeon. Stop for a glass of refreshing sangria in the Old Quarter. Behold the masterpieces hanging in the Gravina Museum of Fine Arts, a former 18th century palace.

Relish a guided introduction to the vibrant resort town of Alicante, founded in Roman times as Lucentum, the City of Light, on this enthralling tour. Journey to Santa Barbara Castle, one of the largest in the Mediterranean region and strategically located atop a rocky mass that soars nearly 600 feet above the city and sea. You’ll discover a massive complex that includes numerous ramparts, the medieval Hall of Nobles, the 16th-century Room of Philip II and the ruins of the ancient hermitage of Santa Barbara. Visit Alicante’s historical district and admire the more than 6 ½ million small red, black and cream tiles covering the Esplanade, one of the most enduring images of the city. In Alicante’s charming Old Quarter, survey Town Hall Square and the Cathedral of Alicante, better known as the San Nicolás de Bari, whose impressive façade is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Religious Baroque. Enjoy free time in the Esplanade, perhaps walking the broad promenade, browsing the inviting stalls along the way and soaking up the colorful atmosphere of this sun-kissed town.

If you would like to see what and where we ate while we were in Alicante, Spain.

Grenada (Motril), Spain

April 18,  2023

Marvel at the sumptuous palaces, lush gardens, and imposing citadels that are the Alhambra. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most famous legacies of Moorish rule in Spain. Meander the narrow cobblestone streets of nearby Albaicín, the ancient Arabic quarter, or see a flamenco performance in the whitewashed caves of Sacromonte, originally settled by gypsies.

The Moors’ last stronghold before falling to Spain’s Catholic monarchs in 1492, Granada still bears a Moorish influence. There is the Alhambra, the fortress-palace of the Nasrid sultans.

Discover geological wonders such as the world’s largest stalagmite in the Caves of Nerja and then meander through the lovely old quarter in the seaside village of Nerja.

After departing from the pier, you will enjoy a picturesque coastal drive to the seaside village of Nerja, a former fishing village that has recently become a popular resort town. A short distance away, you will find the Caves of Nerja, a series of caverns that stretches nearly three miles and contains the world’s largest stalagmite.

Although archaeological evidence shows that the caves were occupied from about 25,000 BC to the Bronze Age, it wasn’t until 1959 that they were rediscovered. Cave paintings reveal that the earliest inhabitants were hunters, followed by fishermen and farmers.

As you walk through the caves, you can expect to see eerily illuminated stalactites and stalagmites in the Hall of Ghosts, formations that look like frozen waterfalls, and geological debris in the Hall of the Cataclysm that an earthquake caused millennia ago. It will be an extraordinary experience that you will not soon forget.

Maria & John

Ponta Delgada (Azores), Portugal

April 14, 2023

Savor the unparalleled natural wonders of this splendid volcanic island located at a crossroads in the Atlantic. See its stunning landscape, thermal pools, natural steam vents, volcanic lakes, subtropical flora, plantations, and picturesque towns filled with perfectly preserved 17th and 18th-century buildings.

At the Pico do Ferro overlook, gaze into the depths of the Furnas Valley, the island’s largest and oldest volcanic crater. See Sete Cidades’ so-called twin lakes, one of Portugal’s Seven Natural Wonders.

Drive to three photo-worthy panoramic overviews, the first above sparkling Lake Santiago. You’ll enjoy a bird’s eye view of Sete Cidades from Vista do Rei, where you’ll see “twin” lakes that are actually one lake with two ecologically different sides divided by a narrow strait. Learn that according to legend, the lakes were created from the tears shed by a princess and her young shepherd lover when they were forced to part, each lake being a reflection of the young couple’s individual eye coloring. Enjoy another stop at the Pico do Carvão overview to view the entire island, taking in all the wonders of São Miguel.

If you would like to see what and where we are while we were in Ponta Delgada