Cinque Terre: a Picture Perfect Destination
By Maria-Teresa Andreacchi
A photographer once told me it’s the one place in the world where you can’t take a bad photo. With colourful homes to add composition and breathtaking landscape as a natural background, the edge of Manarola, Cinque Terre has all of the elements of a perfect photo – and, as I discover, the perfect destination.
Cinque Terre, or in English “five lands,” is a stretch of five towns along the Italian Riviera. The UNESCO World Heritage site has been a traveller’s dream for years, known for its beautiful sights and exquisite cuisine.
I walk up the winding stone pathways lying between the colourful homes. The place I’m wanting to try is Trattoria dal Billy, a famous seafood restaurant tucked away from the main attractions. There are no menus at this place. Instead, the waiter recites the fresh catches of the day.
Curious and hungry, I choose the seafood antipasti, a selection of 12 mini seafood dishes infused with local ingredients. Raw fish with pomegranate seeds, anchovies with lemon, and marinated calamari. Washing it down with red wine made by Trattoria dal Billy, I discover a new love for seafood.
Hiking in Cinque Terre
The next day, I hike from Manarola to Riomaggiore. In 2011, a landslide wiped out nearly all of Cinque Terre’s coastal walking trails, and while some were later restored, the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore remains closed. In an effort to truly experience this region, I ditch the short train ride to Riomaggiore and choose to hike over the mountain.
Walking up the stairs, then the rocks, then the mountain. It isn’t a straight line, but travelling rarely is. Standing at the top of the mountain, I see homes nestled between massive peaks of green. The S-shape coastline shows the sheer size of the mountains, one of which I’m standing on.
As I stop to catch my breath, I capture Manarola’s beauty by memory; a remote town unlike anything I have ever experienced. A town where steep slopes inspired architecture; land and water inspire culinary art; and landslides turned average tourists like me into extraordinary hikers.
The last morning, I walk back to the marina, the place that first fueled my desire to travel here. With a few moments left before departing, I snap the iconic photo. It is only a matter of time before another wanderer is inspired to explore the five lands known as Cinque Terre.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at Ladies only Luncheon. My topic was "Is it possible for a woman to travel the world and stay safe?"
I thought I would share my notes on our Blog. Enjoy!
Even if you steer clear of resorts.
Even if you go to developing countries.
Even if you don’t speak the local language.
Even if you’re traveling alone.
You can survive, thrive and have time of your life.
By prioritizing your safety while traveling.
What does that mean?
Well, let me share a few safety tips.
1. Research Your Destination Thoroughly
For many travelers, planning and researching is almost as fun as actually traveling!
It is fun to scope out the most beautiful beaches and coolest cities.
The more you know about where you’re going, the safer and happier your travels will be.
It helps to choose a destination where you will feel safe and in your comfort zone.
Check to see if there is a Travel Advisory in effect for your proposed destination.
Get information on safety and security,
local laws and customs,
health conditions and
All of these can be found on our Canadian Government Travel website. (travel.gc.ca/advice)
2. Keep Your Valuables On You While in Transit
But you shouldn’t bring valuables in the first place!
You shouldn’t bring anything you can’t afford to lose – such as expensive jewelry.
Today people travel with so much technology.
Everyone has a smartphone at the very least;
many bring laptops, tablets, Kindles or other e-readers, DSLR cameras with pricey lenses, and more.
When you consider the costs to replace any one of those items, they definitely count as valuables.
You should have a day bag into which you can fit all of your important items: your passport, your camera, your medication, your jewelry, your credit cards, your smartphone, and any other technology, photography or otherwise valuable equipment.
Never put any of those items into your checked luggage on a plane. If you let them out of your sight, there’s a fair chance that they could be taken away from you forever.
As a precaution against loss or theft, leave copies of important travel documents with family or friends. A good idea is to email your documents to yourself at an email address you can access anywhere. This includes a scan or picture of your Valid Passport. It’s a good idea to keep your bank and credit card phone numbers stored in a document as well.
3. Only Take What You Need and Leave the Rest Locked Up
There’s no need to go out for a walk in the city with all of your credit cards, your passport, and lots of cash.
Take what you need for the day: maybe around $50, tops, and a debit card, a credit card and keep the rest locked up in your accommodation.
Carry your Debit card and Credit card in a RFID sleeve.
An ideal handbag or day pack is one that is easy to carry and has zippered inner compartments for added security. The best way to carry your bag is in front of you, close to your body.
Try to have one hand free at all times.
Avoid displaying expensive looking camera’s, jewelry and other showy accessories that may mark you as a wealthy tourist.
Beware of Credit Card Fraud – Never let anyone take your credit card out of your sight.
Keep a backup cash stash In the event that the worst happens – your purse is stolen, and your credit cards are suddenly maxed out …
Keep at least $50 dollars hidden in a secret spot deep inside your luggage, like inside a tampon or hidden in a sock. In a separate spot, keep a backup credit card. If your purse or day bag is stolen off your body and literally everything is taken away from you at least you will have a little cash and a credit card.
4. Blend in as Much as You Can
Want to have the attention of every pickpocket in Paris? Show up in shorts and a t-shirt. For extra credits, wear Birkenstocks and have a conversation on the metro in English.
As normal as shorts and a t-shirt would be in Canada, you would never see that style in most of Europe. Shorts are rare and Europeans in general dress much more neatly than North Americans, especially in France and Italy.
The more you stand out, the more you brand yourself as someone who is unfamiliar with the location, which makes you more vulnerable to criminals.
Instead, research your destination in advance, observe how people dress, and try to pass as a local – or, if that’s impossible (like if you’re in Thailand or Mexico and look neither Thai nor Mexican), try to pass as a longtime expat. You know what I mean...ditch the touristy beer T-shirts!
In tandem with blending in, it’s important to maintain confidence at all times, and even if you’re not confident, at least maintain the appearance of confidence.
When you’re walking down the street, hold your head up and your shoulders back. Look straight ahead and walk with a purpose. Pretend that you have somewhere important to be, and if you fall prey to street harassment, ignore it and keep moving.
Study your street map before going out of your hotel. Avoid opening a map in a public area. If you become lost and you need to find your way, slip into a shop or café to consult your map privately or ask a shopkeeper.
Always carry the address or a business card from your accommodations. This is very useful when you are in a country where you don’t speak the language. Handing your taxi driver a business card of your hotel is much easier than trying to explain. Snap a picture of your Taxi’s license plate before getting in. Both for safety and also in case you leave something in it: Having the license number makes it much easier to track down. If you are feeling uncomfortable in your taxi, (of even walking for that matter), make a real (or fake) phone call to say “Yep, I’m almost there. I’ll be there in 10” so the driver thinks you are meeting someone at your destination. Yup! I have done this.
5. Spend Extra Money on Staying Safe
It is a smart idea to financially invest in your own safety.
What does that mean?
It means that if your flight is scheduled to arrive late at night, you should spend money on a private transfer.
It means you should pay extra money to take a taxi home at night if you don’t feel comfortable walking through the neighborhood on your own.
It means paying more to stay in a central neighborhood with lots of lively activity instead of a cheaper, quiet residential area where you feel isolated.
So speaking of accommodations:
Avoid ground floor accommodations.
Request a room close to the elevator and away from the exit.
Enter the room first and walk away around to feel comfortable.
Ensure your door locks work. Consider carry a rubber door stop for added security.
Keep two hotel keys with you — one in your bag and one on your person.
That way if your bag gets nabbed, you’re not locked out.
Leave the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door and the TV on when you leave your hotel room
Befriend female hotel employees.
Ask them for tips about getting around the area and where NOT to go.
6. Get Travel Insurance
Do you really need travel insurance? Absolutely. Whether your luggage is lost, you end up in a political coup or natural disaster, or you need to go to the hospital while on the road, travel insurance will reimburse your expenses. If you’re robbed, travel insurance will provide you with the security you need.
If the very worst happens and you end up losing your life, good travel insurance will allow your family to bring your body home without paying tens of thousands of dollars and getting wrapped up in mountains of red tape.
In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling.
7. Check in Regularly
It’s a good idea for at least one designated friend or family member to have a copy of your itinerary in advance: your flight numbers, your accommodation, and a general schedule of where you’ll be on which dates, as well as information on your travel insurance, credit cards, and a bank account number.
Plan ahead of time how you’ll check in and how often, whether it’s through daily emails, texts, or social media updates, Staying in touch is a way to dispel the fears of your loved ones, but if you find yourself in trouble, they would be able to locate you much more easily than if you had been vague about your whereabouts.
Another tip is if you are touring solo for the day, leave a note in your room explaining where you are going. If you don’t return as planned, this information could be used to track you down.
My last remark:
"We travel not to Escape life, but for life not to Escape us."
By Waheeda Harris
Whether you’re on a romantic get-away, or travelling with children, AMResorts has locations in destinations such as Mexico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Curacao. Each resort comes with an extensive amenity list featuring a wide array of international dining, spa facilities, included gratuities and taxes, and no wristbands.
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With 15 resorts by the end of 2016 in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Mexico, including a new resort in Cap Cana in November, this romantic AMResorts brand is focused on one thing: ultimate luxury.
Dreams Resorts & Spas
These family hotels offer fun in the sun for parents and kids; and by the end of 2016, there will be 14 resorts in five countries.
Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts
Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts are the antidote for those needing to de-stress and indulge in some “me” time.
Breathless Resort & Spas
If a holiday is more about fun, excitement and friends, Breathless Resorts provides an adult-only environment to party all night long.
Now Resorts & Spas
These family-friendly resorts provide an adventure-laden environment for multi-generational family trips and celebrations.
Celebrate your Big Day with AMResorts
With locations in destinations across the Caribbean and more, AMResorts properties are the perfect place to celebrate every stage of your wedding plans, from pre-parties to the
A tiny nation on the edge of the Yucatan, Belize packs a number of huge experiences, including swimming with some of the world’s most impressive marine.
By Tim Johnson
One minute, there are no sharks – just a wide-open stretch of aquamarine so clean and clear, I can see all the way to the bottom. And then, suddenly, dozens surround us. Forming an almost continuous grey mass off the back of our catamaran, they churn the water white as they jockey for position, chomping up the chum thrown in by our crew – and looking, to my eyes, genuinely terrifying as they did so. So I made the obvious decision to go ahead and jump in.
I’m in Belize at Shark Ray Alley on the Mesoamerican Reef. It’s the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere producing a swirling kaleidoscope of fish and the unique opportunity swim alongside dozens of sharks. Waiting for one particularly huge shark to pass, I put on my mask and snorkel and take the plunge, trying to keep my arms and legs compact – and unbitten – while swimming just inches from this roiling mass of shark.
An hour later, I emerge from the waters (happily) unscathed – nurse sharks, it turns out, are almost entirely harmless. These shark swims are commonplace here, offered on most snorkel trips, and the safety record is very good; even the squeamish on our boat manage to get into the water.
I return to the warm Caribbean several more times during my vacation, strapping on my snorkel and swimming along the surface, marvelling at the diversity, and sheer number of fish on the massively prolific reef below: the yellow-and-blue flash of queen triggerfish; black-and-white banded butterflyfish; small, menacing porcupine puffers; and creepy, sleek barracuda.
My adventure began in the water and fittingly ends in the water – this time with a paddle. Deep in the jungle, I glide down the Rio Grande, a sacred river, the tip of the canoe silently slicing the green-blue waters, the only sound being the mysterious creaks and croaks of the surrounding rainforest. It could’ve been now, or a hundred, or a thousand years ago – a timeless moment, simple, and yet extraordinary. Ahead, the village awaits. But I could’ve stayed on this river forever.
Top 5 Things to Do in Panama
By Kathryn Dunmore
From crystal blue waters to lush tropical rainforests, travellers can pack a lot into their days in this small Central American country.
1. See the rainforest: Just a 30-minute drive from Panama City and you’ll find yourself in lush, cool rainforests. Here, you will find many activities: kayaking, fishing, and even aerial trams to give you a bird’s-eye view of the flora and fauna.
2. Go bird-watching: Nearby Pipeline Road offers serious birders or curious travellers the opportunity for a glimpse of toucans, tiny Green Honeycreepers or even hawks. It’s an easy hike, and bird-watchers are likely to see many monkeys and sloths, as well as birds. Don’t forget binoculars!
3. Visit the Panama Canal: The Miraflores Visitor Centre is worth the trip to learn the marvels of this man-made canal. Here, there’s an observation deck where you can watch, in sheer awe, as massive cargo ships pass through the 50-foot-deep locks.
4. Wander Panama City: Panama City is the perfect blend of old and new – just one look at the city’s skyline and you know this is a modern economic centre. But, beyond the glass skyscrapers, you’ll find the Historic District, recognized as a World Heritage site for its original buildings from the 1600s.
5. Relax in Bocas del Toro: This stunning archipelago is mostly covered in rainforest and spectacular white sand beaches – perfect for sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling or diving. Known for its laidback vibe and colour clapboard houses, Bocas del Toro is also one of the world's biodiversity hot spots.
Now taking Bookings for the upcoming Winter Charter Season
Charter flights to:
Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit
Cayo Santa Maria
Non stop flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix on West Jet
Early Booking Bonuses end August 31st
I would never tell you to NOT go to Europe, despite recent situations.
However, Ixtapa Travel does recommend the following:
As you probably are aware, Delta just pulled their service from Regina.
We NEED to keep them in Saskatoon! Here is a letter that was sent to all Chamber Members.
Yours Truly ... Barb Crowe
As you are probably aware, in 2015 our Chamber expressed concern with the loss of Saskatoon's air service direct to Chicago and Denver - large airline hubs in the United States. While the loss of those connections was significant, we expressed our thanks to Delta Airlines who remained committed to servicing the Saskatoon market with their Minneapolis connection.
We at the Chamber want to draw your attention to the valuable access alternative that Delta has kept in our market. It is important to support our partners in business that remain committed to our city. Delta has been servicing Saskatoon the longest of the US carriers and we want to see this service continue and even expand.
As a valued Chamber Member / decision maker, I understand you are focused on saving time and money while conducting important business travel. Using this connection is one way to save both time and money while encouraging the retention and expansion of Delta's service to Saskatoon.
Thank you for thinking about supporting Delta Airlines as part of your business operations.
Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
104-202 4th Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0K1
Phone: (306) 244-2151 Fax: (306) 244-8366
When travelling out of the country, Canadians should visit www.travel.gc.ca before leaving home. Here is where you will find lots of good information on the Destination you are travelling to. Information from Entry/Exit Requirements, Travel Advisories, Culture, Health and lots more. AND now you can download the Smart Phone application TRAVEL SMART CANADA and get up to date, country-specific information.
Remember, it is always a good idea to register with the Record of Canadians Abroad!
President Ixtapa Travel
Ixtapa Travel Staff