Shermanstravel Blog

Italy

AbruzzoDriving through endless sweeping hills in Italy, there’s nothing for miles, except for the occasional religious relic on the side of the road.  It was hard to believe that we’d just come from bustling Rome, which is about 120 miles away.

The region of Abruzzo, the least populated of Italy’s 20 regions, is also its greenest, with one third of its territory preserved in national parks. It’s also one of the few areas in the world where you can ski in the mountains in the morning and surf (on the Adriatic Sea) in the afternoon. Read more

Koh LantaWhether it’s a packed cruise ship unloading throngs of boisterous passengers, or a mob of thirty college students tearing through town, an excess of tourists can make a destination go from in-demand to insufferable, just like that. Consider avoiding these played-out locales and shift your attention to nearby spots that are lesser-known, and more worthy of the term “vacation.”

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santignacioBritish Airways has just launched its discounted “daytripper fares” for travelers flying from London to a handful of European cities. The catch? (Or, perhaps the benefit?) You have to return to London in the same day. Round-trip tickets, including all taxes and fees, will cost £79 (about $130) to Dublin and Geneva, £89 (about $149) for Edinburgh and Rome and £99 (about $165) for Vienna and Munich. You can only travel with carry-on luggage from London’s Heathrow airport, and only on Saturdays or Sundays.

These fares are tailor-made for travelers who want to cram in a second destination with their London trip — a fairly common strategy, especially considering how easy it is to get to Paris, Scotland, or other parts of England by rail. Flying expands your options even more.

Of course, taking into account check-in, transfers, and flight time, this doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy that second destination. But if you really have the urge to pop across the Channel (or Irish Sea) for a few hours, here are some suggestions for quick, interesting itineraries you can accomplish in a day.

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MilanKnown as a destination for jet-setting fashionistas and corporate types, Milan has built a reputation as the flashiest, most up-to-date of Italy’s modern metropolises. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Yes, a stay at the super-chic Armani Hotel would be amazing. And sure, we might spend an afternoon prowling Via della Spiga for supermodel sightings. But at the end of the day, this is Italy, and plenty of us aren’t coming for the new Fall/Winter collections – we’re here for the history. Here are three spots to help you step back in time.

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pizzarium-620Here’s the thing about food in Rome: when it’s good, it’ll drive you to tears of joy over a bowl of bucatini. But like any tourist-ridden city, when it’s bad, it’s really bad – in the form of sticky laminated menus, limp pizza crust and hot pink gelato. The trick is finding the gems that locals swear by. From intimate, family-run joints to Michelin-star meals, here are five of Rome’s best restaurants. Read more

Lake PlacidYes, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have been mired in controversy, but we can’t help but get into the Olympic spirit as the opening ceremonies (February 7) draw nearer. After all, what beats watching a trained professional athlete go hurtling down the luge track at 90 miles an hour? We’ve taken a look back at previous winter Olympics host sites, and all the fun activities that visitors can still do there. Now, who’s ready for some bobsledding? Read more

Cruise Ship in Sydney HarborWelcome to wave season! At the very end and beginning of every year, cruise lines roll out promotions for sailings through the next year – sometimes even two – in hopes of booking passengers early. The deals can take the form of steep discounts over 50 percent, 2-for-1 fares, onboard credits, free airfare, and other special packages. For you, this means that there’s no better time to go big – or at least dream about it. Here, we offer eight unbelievable cruises for the ultimate nautical adventure… Read more

PicassoMuseum_620x400The great thing about traveling to Europe is that you can experience some of the world’s greatest art for an entirely reasonable price. With an abundance of free and low-cost museums, the world’s masterpieces are yours to savor. But which do you see first? Upon arrival in Europe’s capitals, most travelers head straight to the big, famous collections at the Louvre, the Prado, or the Rijksmuseum, just to name a few. But if you venture further afield, you can take a deeper dive into the world’s great artists and their work in single-artist museums. Here are some of our favorites, all of which can be visited for less than $20 USD.

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620x400_Scuola-del-Cuoio_FlorenceItaly wasn’t created for one-stop shopping – in fact, it’s not even that well suited to single-destination trips. Rome? Venice? Florence? How to choose? Well, you might not have to. The Italy deal in this week’s Top 25 newsletter offers a six-night train ride including a two-night stop in at each of those iconic cities. Since you won’t be spending the entire trip watching the scenery go by (at least, we hope not), here’s a look at the best shops to visit to take home a one-of-a-kind, easy-to-pack souvenir. Read more

Venice
The Italian government’s recent decision to limit the number of large ships entering Venice through scenic Giudecca Canal early next year – and eventually, prohibit them altogether – may come as a blow to some cruise passengers who have their hearts set on seeing this famous city.

A new weight limit  has been proposed for all ships entering through the city center to reach the cruise passenger terminal, a route that has traditionally yielded classic views of the duomo, the waterfront palazzi, and gondolas drifting by. By next November, all ships heavier than 96,000 tons will be banned from entering the city completely, meaning by summer of 2015, there will be no large ships cruising into Venice at all. Read more

We’ve already dished up the best hotel restaurants to have a Thanksgiving feast at on the home front, but what if you’re traveling over the holidays? Luckily for homesick Americans, international hotels understand the significance of the day, meaning that even in such far flung places as Europe and the Caribbean, you can celebrate with a semi-traditional feast and all the trimmings.

London

The DorchesterLondon’s iconic Mayfair hotel, The Dorchester will be offering American guests traditional favorites with an English twist at its restaurant The Grill. Thanksgiving dinner will include such dishes as New England clam chowder; roast turkey, quince and orange stuffing, baked squash, sweet potatoes, chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon with cranberry sauce, and, for dessert, pumpkin and pecan pie, and eggnog ice cream with roasted marshmallow sauce. With the hotel’s prime location overlooking Hyde Park, you can easily burn off (some of) the calories with a brisk stroll. While in the park, you can check out Hyde Park Winter Wonderland with its shops, ice skating, and carnival rides (opens Nov. 22). Thanksgiving lunch and dinner rates start from £60 per adult excluding wines (approximately $90) and £90 with wines (approximately $138 USD) and €30 per child aged 5-11 ($48 USD).

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Milan Famedio Cimitero MonumentaleWe’re not about to sit here and tell you that Milan is Italy’s newest “it” destination, or that it beats out Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast when it comes to scenery. However, several recent developments in the travel world have made us stop and reconsider the northern Italian city’s tourism potential.

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Il Duomo, Milan, Italy

Il Duomo, La Scala, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele; these are just a few of the iconic Milan sights you could be saying Ciao! to soon, if you take advantage of this flight deal.

From now through mid December, we are seeing flights from New York City to Milan on airlines including Lufthansa, United, and Alitalia starting as low as $579 round-trip. Just in time for holiday shopping — think of the gifts you’ll find for your fashion-forward and foodie friends — and for the feast of Sant’Ambrogio, the city’s patron saint, which is celebrated on December 7th.

The lowest rates for round-trip flights from other U.S cities are listed below. Follow this link to book.

  • Boston: $755
  • Washington, D.C.: $755
  • Chicago: $927
  • Miami: $937
  • Dallas: $984
  • Los Angeles: $1000
  • San Francisco: $1000

Shoulder Season Spots in EuropeHere we are in September, and though certain parts of Europe tend to cool down faster than others (Vienna is already in the low 60s, while Sicily is keeping things at a balmy 75 degrees) summer season has for the most part come and gone. But don’t let that end your fun – or derail a possible vacation. Between now and Thanksgiving, there’s a special window of opportunity for savvy travelers known as shoulder season.

Flights aren’t necessarily cheaper compared to the rest of the year, and yes, temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit (you may luck out weather-wise, but it’s never guaranteed), there is one sure benefit to traveling at this time of year: fewer tourists.

This in-between season offers a calmer, less hectic way to enjoy Europe’s traditionally touristy destinations like Rome and the Greek islands. With the dip in foot traffic comes shorter lines, greater flexibility in organizing tours, and easier access to in-demand restaurants and hotels – in short, a better vacation. Here, we offer suggestions for the activities you’ll want to add to your itineraries for a visit to Europe in the next month or two. Read more

Great European Train TripsEurostar recently tested service between London and Aix-en-Provence. Later this year, the TGV will begin running a direct service between Paris and Barcelona, and, starting in 2016, a new Deutsche Bahn route through the Channel Tunnel will link London to Amsterdam, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Ditching Europe’s budget airlines in favor of its railways is beginning to look more attractive. Not only is rail travel throughout Europe often as quick as, if not quicker than flying, it also has the bonus of spectacular scenery along the way.

Our favorite European rail journeys are not necessarily the fastest, but they are some of the most memorable.

The Bergen Line: Bergen to Oslo, Norway

Traveling along the 231-mile-long highest mainline railway line in Northern Europe offers you a front row seat for some of Norway’s most spectacular landscapes; think dramatic fjords, lush forests, and crystalline waterfalls. If you have the time, take the branch line that runs from Myrdal to Flåm, a village at the inner end of Aurlansfjord, an arm of Sognefjord, Norway’s biggest fjord. This 12-mile route takes around one hour and climbs more than 2,838 feet making it the steepest standard-gauge railway in Europe. Read more

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