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In 2010, it was Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull. This year, Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano is the one making headlines, spewing lava up to 100 feet in the air and forcing closures of several main access roads in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since it erupted on March 5. A flight restriction under 1,500 feet also is in place.
Of course, that hasn’t deterred adventure travelers, who’ve come out in droves to try to catch a glimpse of the action, according to the National Park Service. I’m not going to advise that – as deliciously tempting as watching molten lava flow into the ocean might be. So until Kilauea calms down, here are some other places where you can tour a volcano. (Though geology experts advise that eruptions can happen much faster than previously believed. Consider yourself warned!)
The hidden costs of most all-inclusive tours can quickly add up once you factor in gratuities, shore excursions, and single supplements. Not so with Smithsonian Journeys, which has just announced three new all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise deals that include: international airfare, shore excursions in each port, on-board lectures, gratuities to shipboard staff, and more. Unlike most cruises (where you won’t need any brainpower beyond what’s required for reading the latest trashy magazines poolside), be prepared to learn on these cruises, as they are run by the world-famous Smithsonian Institution’s travel branch.
The cruises offered are fairly lengthy, in order to allow cruisers to have ample time to explore the amazing cultural sites throughout the Mediterranean. Choose from:
“The Wonders of Turkey and the Greek Isles” (June 23-July 6) or “The Glories of Greece and Turkey” (July 1-14), which both stop in the Greek Islands of Crete, Delos, Mykonos and Samos; the historic Turkish cities of Ephesus and Aprodisias; and World Heritage sites in Athens and Istanbul. Land stops in Istanbul and Athens are also included. Book either one of these cruises by March 31st, and pay only $3,195 (which includes international airfare from select East Coast cities).
Or pay a little bit more ($3,750) and try the “Splendors of Italy and the Dalmatian Coast” (May 31-June 15), featuring the Italian cities of Rome, Corsica, Sardinia, Venice and Sicily; the tiny country of Malta; and Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Split.
All three cruises will take place on-board the 350-passenger Aegean Odyssey, which features a spa, pool, library, lecture theater, and a variety of dining options. Be sure to take advantage of Smithsonian Journeys’ unique lecture programs with on-board experts, to help you learn about what you’ll be seeing off the boat. Or, just hang out at one of the Odyssey’s three bars – your call.
In just a few days, the New Year will dawn – and we all know what that means: Many a resolution will be made. I am writing this now in hopes of urging all couples to make their number-one resolution for 2011 to get the most from their romantic travels in year ahead. Here’s how:
1. Be spontaneous. Sometimes the best trips are planned on very short notice. And at ShermansTravel.com, great last-minute travel deals are just a few clicks away.
2. Try a new Caribbean island. Far too many couples get caught in a vacation rut – revisiting the same spot year after year. Repeat getaways are safe and familiar, but it’s fun to head somewhere entirely new: If you like the Bahamas, consider Turks & Caicos or the British Virgin Islands (shown above at left). If you like St. Thomas, try Barbados or St. Lucia. If you’re a fan of Aruba, try Grand Cayman or Anguilla. If Puerto Rico is your usual spot, give Jamaica or Curacao a try.
Travel news these days is peppered with trips and deals centered on the memoir-turned-movement Eat Pray Love. Agencies are hawking women-centric, yoga-filled sojourns to Italy, India, and Indonesia, the destinations author Elizabeth Gilbert visited over the course of a year. Hotels – even ones where Gilbert didn’t stay – are offering EPL-themed discounts.
Hey, if all this hype inspires people who rarely venture out of the easy chair to dust off the suitcase, great. But I have to admit all the hoopla has me wanting to say, “Eat Pray Ugh.”
And I’m not the only one. Some of the locals in the EPL destinations are already annoyed by the hordes of tourists clamoring for Gilbert-esque enlightenment. One entrepreneur in Ubud, Bali (Gilbert’s final destination) has already come up with a T-shirt that has a mock book cover that reads, “Eat Pay Leave.”
So if the idea of a quest for personal fulfillment sounds appealing, but not so much the crowds of Gilbert devotees (or the unoriginality of following in the footsteps of someone else’s personal journey), then here are some suggestions where you can eat, pray, and love in peace. And not to mention, get a dose of adventure far beyond what a meditation class could offer. Read more
Do you and your fiancé agree that you are truly, madly, deeply in love—but that you also truly, madly, deeply disagree on where you’ll enjoy post-wedded bliss? Take heart: Plenty of couples face a honeymoon split decision. She wants relaxation and he wants adventure; she wants a safari and he wants museums; she wants gourmet cuisine and he wants an all-inclusive party scene. To avoid an endless debate that can ruin your big day, compromise is key. So here are 21 options designed to satisfy you both:
Beach + Culture
• Bali — This Indian Ocean gem is ringed by beaches while its lush, jade-hued interior bursts with temples (Balinese-Hindu), creativity (jewelry, carvings, music and dance) and a soul-stirring karma you’ll never forget.
• Greece — Pair a few days ogling the Acropolis and other ancient wonders in sprawling Athens with isle-hopping to sunny outposts such as stunning Santorini, hedonistic Mykonos, mythical Crete or scenic Corfu.
• Thailand — The southern beaches around Phuket and Krabi are some of the world’s most stunning, while Bangkok and Chiang Mai brim with remarkable temples, markets and traditional dance. Read more
This lush Italian island, home to lava-spewing Mount Etna (total eruptions: 209), has never truly oozed romance—until now. A trio of recently opened and currently under renovation hotels is making Sicily a magnet for couples seeking a sexy escape. Sicily’s 9,926 square miles of cities, mountains, and beaches overflow with fabulous food and wine (regional specialties include eggplant caponata, stuffed rice balls called arancine, and Nero d’Avolo reds), ancient culture (don’t miss the cathedral in Siracusa with its wall that dates to the ancient Roman Temple of Minerva), nature adventure (Etna’s snow-capped slopes can be explored on foot), photo ops (especially picture-perfect Taormina set on a hillside amid lemon and orange groves) and lost-in-time Aeolian Islands (easily reached via hydrofoil from Messina). Read more
The Luxury Italy’s volcanic Aeolian Islands boast stupendous scenery, an unmistakably Mediterranean energy and a colorful history steeped in ancient mythology (Aeolus, god of the wind, was the mythical king of the archipelago, which Odysseus himself is rumored to have roamed). Set a like a strand of sensual pearls between Sicily and the Italian mainland, these seven islands are Mediterranean beauty at its most sublime – but unlike other Italian isles (ahem, Capri), the quiet Aeolians are just far enough off the radar (about a 45-minute flight from Rome) to remain pristine and typically un-crowded, making them popular among vacationing Italians. But this “off-the-beaten-path” status means the logistics of travel between the islands can be tricky. Tour operator Select Italy has set out to connect the dots with style and ease for independent travelers wanting to explore all the islands have to offer. Read more
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