by – D.J. Wilson
“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” – (1915-2009) John Hope Franklin, Historian and Journalist
- The Greek Island of Hydra, one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, is amongst the most romantic vacation spots of the world and is surrounded by the sapphire blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
Greece – Explore natural pebbled beaches, quiet coves, and sheltered hideaways beneath the pines on the picturesque Island of Hydra. This seasonally popular isle is perhaps the most impressive of all the Greek Islands. The remarkable land mass is accessed by a two-hour ferry ride from the capital city of Athens. Hydra’s rocky terrain seemingly spills into the azure-colored sea and its iconic cliffs create panoramic views over the gulf to the Peloponnese. Motor vehicles are strictly prohibited on the island, transport by foot, boat and donkey are most popular. Climb narrow cobblestone paths which extend off the main roads. Shining white stone houses with contrasting terra cotta rooftops dot the landscape and add visual appeal. Hydra Port, the main harbor on the island, is surrounded by a crescent-shaped bay. Restaurants, shops and galleries centered on the harbor welcome tourists. Near the ferry dock, visit the Hydra Museum to absorb the Island’s history, including artifacts from the Greek Revolution and more. Observe the paintings of Greek and European artists which line the walls of the first floor and staircase. From the harbor, watch yachts, sailboats and cruisers of all sizes. Take a scenic boat ride on a catamaran or seaway boat. See the parapets with canons at both sides of the port’s entrance. Visit the Cathedral of Hydra located in the center of town. Be wowed by the elaborate interior décor, rich in gold and silver icons. Enter the second-floor museum and visit the courtyard to complete your tour. Hydra’s classification as a preserved national monument has allowed the island to maintain its unspoiled charm and avoid an “industrialized” atmosphere. Though the town’s character remains quite unspoiled, summer’s peak season offers throngs of visitors. The ongoing energy contributes to a cosmopolitan vibe, especially at nightfall. Fall season is an optimal time to plan a visit, avoiding the high heat and crowds of summer, and offering comfortable seasonal weather short of winter’s arrival. Options for accommodations are endless, from private room or house rentals with gorgeous sunset views to deluxe villas. Plan your trip during off-season to find the best available island accommodations.
- The capital city of Prague offers a warm year-round vibe despite autumn’s quick drop in temperature.
Czech Republic – The European city of Prague was founded during the Romanesque era and flourished during the Gothic and Renaissance periods. It is rich in history and played important roles in the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War and both World War I and II. Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, is home to many cultural attractions. The city features major museums, theatres, galleries, exhibits and cinemas. Historic sites include the Prague Castle (Pražský hrad), an ancient and historical monument and cultural institution of the Czech Republic. Historians will be wowed at the age of the castle, most likely founded as far back as the year 880. It is the largest ancient castle known to mankind and houses the official residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle is home to the Czech Crown Jewels, kept within a hidden room. The complex served as a seat of power for kings, Holy Roman emperors and past presidents of Czechoslovakia. Visitors will enjoy its museums, churches, palaces and gardens. The Cathedral of St. Vitus stands tall proudly tall as a beloved focal point of the city. It is open daily and visitors will enjoy observing the ceremonial Changing of the Guard and flag ceremony. Explore Golden Lane, an appealing row of medieval homes from the old goldsmith’s district at the Prague Castle. Charles Bridge, Prague’s historic stone bridge crossing the lengthy Vltava River, emphasizes the charm of the region. It was completed in the beginning of the 15th century under King Charles IV and connects the Prague Castle to the city’s Old Town. The bridge is a main pedestrian route which showcases Prague’s beautiful skyline. Old Town Square is located between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge. It features an amazing mix of old architecture, including gothic and baroque. There are many churches to see, including the Gothic Týn Church and the baroque St. Nicholas Church. Tourists are particularly drawn to the Prague Astronomical Clock (Pražský orloj) a medieval clock installed in 1410. It is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. Observe the statue of religious reformer Jan Hus, erected in 1915 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his death. Be sure to visit the art museum of the Czech National Gallery, located in Kinsky Palace. Prague is known as an alpha-global city and hosts over 5 million international visitors annually. The area is rich in historic hotels and fabulous restaurants. Warm yourself up with a variety of authentic regional specialities. Pop into a delightful restaurant for a hearty serving of cabbage or dumplings. Autumn stirs with entertainment in the “City of a Thousand Spires“. Enjoy everything from jazz festivals to the finest vocal chorales and symphony orchestras.
- The Cotswolds area is a region of rolling hills dotted with quaint villages and offers visitors a heartfelt connection to nature.
England –The Cotswolds is an autumnal paradise located in the upper part of south central England. This land of sloping bedrocks and limestone-rich grasslands serves as a delightful vacation getaway and second home haven for London’s wealthy class. It incorporates quintessential English villages which once held prosperous roles in the wool industry during the middle ages. Today, the countryside’s immense beauty and abundant fresh air has transformed the land into the “walking capital of England”. Daily walks include visits to historic sites, tours of English gardens, stops at educational museums and passage through authentic towns. Be wowed by the alluring village of Castle Combe, north and west of Wiltshire. A walk across the picture-perfect Bybrook River and along Castle Combe’s idyllic Main Street will transport visitors back hundreds of years. The limestone bridge and honey-colored cottage-style village houses with thick stone walls and stone tiled roofs are preserved as ancient monuments and reflect the neighborhood’s character. The movie ‘Dr. Doolittle’ was filmed in the village in 1966. Despite its lack of proximity to the sea, the storybook town of Castle Combe captures the essence of the fictional coastal town portrayed in the movie. Tourists may partake in organized strolls through some of the Cotswolds’ stone “wool” churches, which remain largely intact throughout the region. Walking packages include a knowledgeable guide, reliable luggage transfers, top-notch accommodations at local inns and restaurants, and special indulgences such as picnics and afternoon tea. Though the region boasts fairly mild year-round temperatures due to the warm Gulf Stream of the Atlantic, most tourists visit in the spring and fall seasons when the weather is at its best.