Author: Claire MacDonald
Photo: Claire MacDonald

Rich and I travel a lot – at least we did until the Covid-19 virus hit. We still are hoping we can take the one trip which we still have booked to Italy at the end of September.

For this article, I thought I would try to answer some of the questions we are asked.

What is our favorite place we have visited. This one is hard to answer because we enjoy something about almost every place we have been. If pressed, I would say we really like France and Greece and Italy. I love the food, shopping, and sightseeing. We were lucky enough to lease a townhouse for a week in Paris through the travel agency, and it was perfect. It had five bedrooms and a small shady yard with a barbeque. It was much less expensive than staying in five separate hotel rooms. It was in a neighborhood about 15 minutes from the Champs-Élysées. We used Uber to get around, and it was great. There was a boulangerie patisserie (bakery) where we got fresh pastries and bread every morning. There was also a little market around the corner for fresh fruits and vegetables, and local restaurants when we wanted to eat out. We spent the days sightseeing and spent a day at the Louvre, where we saw the Mona Lisa. We would go back anytime. I have heard people say that the French are rude to Americans, but we have been to France several times and never experienced any problems.

As many of you know, Rich loves archaeology. If you ask him what his favorite place is, We have been on several digs in Greece, Turkey, and Crete, and while he socializes with the archaeologists, I take a blanket and a good book. Our agreement is that he can choose half of the trip and I can choose the last part. One year after spending a week in Santorini at a dig, I choose for us to fly from Greece to Monte Carlo, where we rented a car and spent a week driving through the back roads to Paris. We stopped at little antique shops along the way, found rooms whenever we wanted to stop for the night, and had wonderful meals. We don’t speak French (except for a few words and phrases), but Rich has a little high school Spanish, so we got by. It is amazing how a translation app, a smile, and pointing gets you what you want.

One year we rented a car in Rome so we could drive to the Amalfi coast. We had a hotel reservation at Le Sirenuse Hotel in Positano. We have stayed there several times, and like the location, because you can walk right down to the beach. There is a restaurant that we have been going to for over 20 years called Chez Black. It is on the beach, so it is a great people-watching place also. They have good Italian and fresh seafood. Their calamari with marinara sauce is one of our favorites with a glass of wine – lunch & dinner. I asked for the recipe for the sauce and was told, “just cut up some fresh tomatoes, add minced garlic, chopped onion, olive oil, oregano, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.” Mix and put in the refrigerator, so the flavors mingle and serve.  There was no need to cook it. I have never been able to get the sauce to taste like theirs, but good anyway.

If you do drive down the Amalfi coast, the road is good down to Naples or Sorrento. Be sure to stop in Pompeii just south of Naples. It is well worth spending a few hours wandering around and visiting the museum. After that, the road turns into a nightmare if you don’t drive down to Salerno and then over to Positano. If you drive from Sorrento to Positano, it is a two-lane road, and you are right on the edge of the cliff. I notice that they now suggest if you drive, leave your car in Sorrento, and take the 50-minute ferry ride.

By the way, be sure you rent a car with a GPS. The first time we rented a car in Italy when we returned to Rome, we couldn’t find our hotel. After driving around all afternoon, stopping to eat dinner, and driving more (I fell asleep and woke up in a small town outside Rome), Rich finally flagged down a taxi. He pointed to the driver, made steering gestures, told him the name of our hotel, then made motions showing we would pay. The driver had us at our hotel in less than half an hour. Much easier with a GPS. Driving in Italy is straightforward and gives you a chance to see the countryside.
We have spent a lot of time in the orient and been to Hong Kong seven times. We have been to Thailand several times and always enjoyed it as well. We spent ten days in Japan a couple of years ago, and I was surprised how different it is from the rest of the orient – in a good way. We had a really good time and wouldn’t mind going back again.

We were scheduled to go to Jordan, Egypt, and Cyprus this year, but that got canceled. We were going to Spain, and that got canceled. We had a trip to Costa Rica, and that got canceled. We are still hoping to go to Italy at the end of September. Fortunately, we think the world is going to get back to normal and are rebooking our trips for 2021. Cruise lines who cancel the 2020 trips are either giving refunds or 125% credit on future cruises (some with conditions) and although we had insurance, we chose to keep our flights and rebook when we figure out where and when to go.

I am optimistic that we will all be traveling again, albeit it more carefully. In the meantime, we are going to see our great country. If you have questions about trips you want to take, call Paige at A Destination Travel, and she can answer any questions about where and when you can travel.

Claire MacDonald
A Destination Travel

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