Ultimate European Road Trip Series

The road trip continues from the Lake Garda area in the north of Italy to the west coast and the Italian Riviera. Our decision to stay in Sestri Levante, just south of Portofino, came from an inspiration after seeing a photo of an unknown beautiful seaside village several years ago, and researching until we found it… let’s go there!

The mystery village was perfectly situated in the middle of the Italian Riviera and had easy access to the major roadways thus making day trips conveniently easy. To take advantage of the area we booked an 8 night stay in an apartment in the center of town.

Road Trips Anyone?

Portofino / Santa Margherita is 20 miles (42 minutes); Cinque Terra (#1 tourist attraction in the Italian Rivera) is 44 miles (1 hr 13 minutes); Carrara Marble Mines are 44 miles (1 hr 40 minutes); Pisa (that tilting tower thing) is 72 miles (1 hr 25 minutes); Parma (Home of Prosciutto) is 98 miles (1 hr 51 minutes); Maranello (home of the Ferrari and related museum) 140 miles (2 hr 40 minutes)… just to name a few!

First Things First — Establish the Base Camp

So we booked an 8 night stay through “Homeaway.com” that satisfied our must-have check list… a good kitchen, at least two bedrooms and outdoor space with a balcony and in the center of the city… we even scored with a unit in a pedestrian-only zone. Time to park the car in a secure location, and enjoy the relaxed vibe of this laid back beach town.

We were within easy walking distance to the beach (there are two of them), a great variety of restaurants (ranging from snacks to fine gourmet dining), shopping, street markets, and even a few nights of live music and dancing. A surprisingly lively town!

Mangia… Mangia… Mangia… Che Buono Italian Cuisine

The foodie part of our travel is important to us so we prefer a vacation rental to keep our culinary options open and flexible. Staying in a hotel limits you to restaurant dining which isn’t the worst thing but, oh, what you are missing!

Exquisite Fine Dining Options

There are at least 120 restaurants in town and we easily sorted them out by using “Yelp”, “TripAdvisor” and “OpenTable” albeit Italian-style. WI-Fi is your friend and we used it every day… how did we survive without it! We selected “Balin Cuisine” for one of our special dining experiences and were well rewarded for our research.

Neighborhood Restaurants

The simple neighborhood restaurant, “La Osteria Mattana” provided us our first night’s meal as it was a long day and we were very hungry… nothing fancy, low prices and everything exceptional. Travel hint: keep your eyes open for the local crowds and eat where they eat… be spontaneous and enjoy the experience.

Purchase Prepared Food and Cook at “Home”

You are in Italy and have the kitchen to cook world-famous delicacies… so we started at the “Pastifico Moderno” pasta shop which is ranked by “TripAdvisor” as the #9 best out of 120 restaurants in Sestri… and it is not even a restaurant!

They make fresh pasta and sauces daily and the townspeople line up to select from dozens of pasta choices and at least 5 different sauces. We learned to order in the morning and go back in the late afternoon to pick up our selections (a little local secret).

This is where we bought the BEST pesto EVER… remember that this region of Italy, Liguria, is the birthplace of the famous basil sauce. You buy it by weight, take it home, cook and serve… in your own place you can even be wearing baggy, comfy clothing and flip-flops… and enjoy lots of wine too.

Go All In and Do it Yourself

All this requires is a Pasta Shop, a Green Grocer, a Butcher and of course good local wine. Italians usually shop daily for their ingredients and it becomes part of their everyday activity and we emulated their routines… relished them is more like it.

Immerse Yourself in a Small Italian Village

As if you really need a few more justifications… how about practicing your “Italian” and communicating with the local merchants? After a repeat visit or two they actually greet you and occasionally add a little taste of something “on the house”.

The warmth of the Italian people and the adventure of “living” in the village makes an indelible, positive imprint on your travel memories from the neighborhood bakery, the neighborhood cheese and salami shop, the late afternoon aperitif, and the numerous outdoor music venues to name a few.

There are two tranquil and colorful beach options to choose from… the Baia del Silenzio (Bay of Silence) which is the public beach, and the Baia delle Favole (Bay of Fables) which is the main beach of Sestri and has both private and public areas.

The separation between them is a peninsula which contains a great many historical sites dating back to the middle of the 12th Century and the “The Grand Hotel dei Castelli”. The area is preserved in a park like setting, with panoramic views and definitely worth the time to explore.

In Summary

Strategically located on the Mediterranean Sea, in the middle of the Italian Riviera, is this vibrant and beautiful seaside village. Sestri Levante has much to offer… all it takes is the time to savor the moments.

Family Car Travel Tips Travelling With Kids

Travelling long distance in the car with kids can be stressful. If planned properly you can make it hassle free and fun for both yourself and kids. Here are tips and checklist for safe and fun long distance car travel with young kids.

  1. Organization: Most important part of any travel is organizing and keeping it all organized. Use as many Ziploc as you want. It will be very helpful in keeping things separate and organized. A separate Ziploc for all medicines, another one for tiny socks etc., another one for bottles/nipples, one for baby utensils so on and so forth.
  2. Hygiene and Cleanliness: Kids can create and generate lot of mess. Whether their diapers or throwing food around. Purchase scented garbage bags from dollar store. They are about 50 for a dollar. They come very handy and keeps smell away. No need to waste money on expensive diaper trash bags or any other scented bags.
  3. Feeding Time: If you are with infants and they are just breast-feeding or on bottle that you can do in the car or in some rest area. If baby is on bottle or using jar food, keep disposable bottle liners and utensils. You can keep small plastic cup to mix the cereal or take out food and then throw away when done. This will keep your car clean and cut the need to wash things on go. Thus leaving more time for enjoyment. These disposable do not cost that much either.
  4. Taking Breaks: I would suggest taking break in rest area where there is little more space for kids to use their energy. For infants who are crawling, bring a big comforter. So that they can use that to crawl and you don’t have to worry about them getting dirty in a places that has might have so many germs. For older kids you may want to take a break at McDonald’s or those kind of places where there are play areas. You can keep them excited by reminding them of up-coming play area.
  5. Games and Treats: You will find many resources on internet about games and activities you can do in the car to keep kids occupied. I would also suggest bringing some goody bags for kids to open at the destination. Or get them excited about some activity you will do or a movie that you will watch when you arrive at the destination.
  6. Health: While travelling and particularly with kids, one can forget to take care of health. Try to eat as much healthy on go. Try to eat at least one healthy meal a day. Keep nuts and dry fruits handy to munch. It will energize you during long drives and boost your immune system too.
  7. Comfort: Last but not least important is the comfort and safety of travellers. If you have a companion who can drive, switch the driver. Keep sun glasses, sun shades, flip-flops anything that make you comfortable while driving handy and use them.

Things to Do in Las Vegas You Should Not Miss

Under ten dollar trip to travel along the Strip

Surprise! Just hop into one of the double Decker buses that keep going up and down the Strip all through the day. These buses, known as Deuces, cost you only eight dollars an all day hop in/out tour. You also have the option of a two-hour ride for six dollars, or a pass valid for three days when spending $20. You’ll find it enjoyable to travel with the locals in such a bus.

Water Shows at the Strip

The Bellagio Fountains certainly make the most excellent of free attractions that one can find in Las Vegas. You simply can’t miss it! Facing the Bellagio hotel on the Strip, these fountains are installed in the middle of an artificial lake. You are bound to get mesmerized by this memorable show of dancing jets of water, reaching amazing heights with classic as well as modern musical tunes and colorful lights in the backdrop. These fountains are played every 30 minutes, beginning at three in the afternoon, and every fifteen minutes starting at eight in the evening till midnight. If you are in a mood to watch a paid show in Vegas, your first choice should be Cirque du Soleil. This sophisticated show comprises of over seventy swimmers, contortionists, clowns plus aerialists, who perform acrobatic feats on a stage in the pool filled with 1.5 million gallons of water.

Dinning at Steve Wynn’s man-made marvel

The exteriors of the Wynn Lake of Dreams give the impression of a tiny hill covered with trees, but the interiors of this resort, designed by Steve Wynn, contain a gateway having Alpine looks, complete with one forty feet waterfall plus a mountain spread over 150 feet, and having plants from the golf course of Desert Inn, used in a novel way. Have an enjoyable dinner at one of the terraces of Lakeside or SW Steakhouse, or cocktails at Parasol Down to see the lake coming alive in dazzling colors produced by more than 4,000 lights, music and holographic images that combine together to give you a multimedia experience.

Look into an offbeat museum

Atomic Testing Museum at Nevada is unique, allowing you to peep in the nuclear weapons testing site. Or go to the Mob Museum to get detailed views on how organized crime was executed in Sin City; for a visual tour of the history of Vegas, go to the Neon Museum in northern end of the Strip. If you are an enthusiast of old-fashioned arcade games, you need to visit the exceptionally stunning Pinball Hall of Fame. You can play some of its highly admirable 150 outfitted pinball machines.

Stratosphere – The Tallest Structure in Nevada

You have two main attractions of going along the northern most end of Las Vegas Boulevard, till the Sahara Avenue. One of these is the Bonanza Gifts, which asserts to be the biggest gift store in this world and provides an enjoyable tacky journey back to the time of Route 66. For experiencing an especially different ride, you should go further north up the Boulevard till you reach the Stratosphere, Nevada’s highest building, where from you can hear all kinds of screams coming out. At its base, it has four thrill rides, including: Big Shot, Insanity, the SkyJump Ride, and X-Scream – all equally terrifying.

Fun Things To Do on the Gold Coast When Travelling to Australia

Sand, sun

and fun. That’s what comes to mind when someone mentions the Gold Coast. From the iconic beaches and high rises along Surfer’s Paradise and Main Beach to the great surf spot of Burleigh Heads, this has to be Australia’s beach capital. But there is more to the Gold Coast than just sand, sun and surf.

It is also home to Australia’s best theme parks, it has amazing shopping and dining spots, and its lush, green hinterland contains mountains, rainforests and waterfalls, with plenty of walking trails and hidden gems around every corner. There really is something for everyone; after all, 10 million visitors a year can’t be wrong. Here are some of the best things to do on the Gold Coast.

Surfer’s Paradise and Broadbeach

The Gold Coast’s most iconic locale can’t be missed on any trip to Australia’s beach capital. The beach and surf at Surfer’s Paradise is some of the best in Australia, and there is a certain atmosphere that is hard to beat; but there is more to Surfer’s and Broadbeach than just the beach. There is also some excellent night life and shopping here. So have a swim and then hit the shops. A great way to spend the day!

Theme Parks

The Gold Coast is home to Australia’s best theme parks. In fact, it has FIVE of them. That is enough to keep you and the family busy for days. Explore the rides, shows and movie sets at Warner Brother’s Movie World, see the amazing sea life and shows at Sea World, ride some of the best rides in Australia at Dream World, and cool off on the amazing water slides and rides at Wet n Wild and White Water World.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Get up close and personal with some of Australia’s best wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This huge park rescues and takes care of a lot of native wildlife, and there is enough to keep you busy here all day. You can cuddle a koala and jump around with a kangaroo. There are also several wildlife and cultural shows on offer, as well as an amazing high ropes course through the tall trees for the more adventurous.

Springbrook National Park

The Gold Coast Hinterland is a huge area of lush green mountains with a lot of amazing places to visit. One of the most accessible from the main Gold Coast strip is Springbrook National Park. The park is a large area of lush rainforest and cool, refreshing waterfalls and swimming holes. There are lots of walking trails here ranging from short strolls to full day hikes. If you are looking to escape the bustle of Surfer’s Paradise or Broadbeach for a day, Springbrook is a great option.

These are just a few of the amazing things to do on the Gold Coast. With so much to see and do and so many places to explore, this iconic Australian destination makes it the perfect choice for your next holiday.

Useful Travel and Vacation Safety Tips

In order to balance your life you need to unwind or relax once in a while. Traveling and vacation is one of the best ways to relax and reward yourself for working so hard. But of course you should be armed with travel and vacation safety knowledge to make sure you will come back home safely and happy. These tips will keep you safe while you are enjoying your trip.

Read the latest information about your destination. Check the travel health notices for the country or place that you want to visit. Some places are prone to diseases like malaria and natural disasters like earthquake and tsunamis. It is best to be prepared than get sick or trapped in emergency situations.

See your doctor before traveling. Check with your doctor regarding you health status and other health concerns to know if it is safe for you to travel. One of the most important travel and vacation safety that you need to know are the recommended vaccines to avoid illnesses abroad.

Take care of your health while traveling. Practice travel and vacation safety to avoid accidents and getting sick while traveling. To avoid insect bites and diseases associated with insect bites like malaria, use insect repellent and wear clothing that will protect you from insect bites. Be careful about food and water to avoid stomach problems and other illnesses. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol based hand gel. If you need to drive, practice safe driving, wear seatbelt and do not drink and drive. During vacation activities and adventures, always wear safety gears and follow safety instructions.