My First Visit To Greece: Sea-Worthy Adventures in Santorini

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

 

My first trip to Greece with my sister N and daughter A would soon be coming to an end. Thankfully, we saved our sea-worthy adventures in Santorini for the later part of the week, including a trip to the Perissa black beach and a sunset catamaran cruise around the island.

Santorini, Oia, Greece

I went to Greece with my daughter A (center) and sister N (right).

Breakfast and a Visit to the Black Beach
On Thursday, we headed out for breakfast at Passaggio, a cute spot on the edge of Oia’s town center. Passaggio is a small bistro where you can takeout or eat in. We each ordered coffee and yogurt and fruit bowls. They also make homemade smoothies which looked yummy. We decided to sit on the terrace where there is a beautiful island view. Passaggio’s breakfast bowl was the creamiest  Greek yogurt I’ve ever eaten and the honey on the bottom thin and light with just the right sweetness. It was so good, so good, so good.

Passaggio bites and drinks

Passaggio is a cute place for breakfast with a view.

Passaggio bistro in Oia; Oia restaurants; Santorini restaurants

A lovely view from the Passaggio terrace.

Knowing it would be a long trip to the beach, we were glad our tummies were satisfied. We boarded the local bus to Fira (the capital of Santorini) and from there took another packed bus to the beach all the way on the other side of the island. It took about 90 minutes one-way for the trip. (Note: Originally we had planned to rent a car. However, after seeing the rugged roads we decided against driving in Santorini – which was a wise decision. That’s why I’m still here to tell you all about my travels.)

Santorini black beach, Perissa black beach; Santorini, Greece

The black beach in Santorini has pebbles for sand.

While it was a hot and long journey, once we arrived at the black beach, it was very relaxing. The “sun beds” and thatched umbrellas are free as long as you buy drinks or food from the beach’s restaurant. There are also bathrooms in the restaurant should you need to change into or out of your bathing suit. Continue reading

My First Visit To Greece: Enjoying A Wine and Food Tour In Santorini

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Are you ready to hear about my culinary explorations and libations in Santorini? While a few months have passed since returning from my first-ever trip to Greece with my daughter A and sister N, I so love reminiscing about our travels.

A Fabulous Wine and Food Tour in Santorini
It was mid-week in Santorini and A and I were looking forward to learning more about the food and wine culture of the region with Santorini Wine Trails. We had registered in advance for the “Foodie Tour,” which includes visiting a family-owned farm, walking in an 80-year-old vineyard, and sampling local wines and beer. (Note: N didn’t join us for the tour. She wanted to rest after our previous day’s strenuous hike from Fira to Oia.)

Prickly Pears; Santorini; Greece; Santorini Wine Trails Foodie Tour; travel; boomer travel

Prickly Pears grow on the family-owned farm in Santorini.

Iliana, our guide, picked us up at the Oia Post Office around mid-morning. Three other women who were vacationing from Chicago joined our group at the next pickup.

Iliana was filled with history about the island. We told her we were enjoying the beauty of Oia and our lodging at Nicoletta’s Loukia Cave House. She shared details about how Santorini and Oia have changed over the years.

“Everything that has happened here – roads, businesses – has happened in the last 20-25 years,” said Iliana. “After the 1956 earthquake, people were scared and left the island. In the 1980s, more investment happened and people started to return.”

Santorini; Greece; travel; boomer travel

The Santorini countryside has changed a lot since roads have been built.

We shared our story about our hike through the mountains from Fira, the capital of Santorini, to Oia. “Oia was always isolated from the rest of the island. The hike was the only way originally to get there. Not until the mid-90s when they started to build the roads could you get there by car,” said Iliana. Continue reading

My First Visit To Greece: Soaking In The Splendors of Santorini

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Now that the weekend was behind us and we had experienced city life in Athens, it was time to spend a week soaking in the splendors of Santorini. My first trip to Greece with my sister N and daughter A was about to get even better.

We packed our bags and headed for the Athens airport for a short flight aboard Aegean Air to Santorini. (Note 1: You can also take a ferry ride to Santorini but a friend recommended flying as a quicker and calmer option. Note 2: It is cheaper to book your luggage fee online before you get to the airport.) Upon landing, our transport was waiting to drive us to Nicoletta’s Loukia Cave House, our Airbnb booking, high up on the hill in Oia. OIa is at the northern tip and one of the most popular and picturesque villages on Santorini’s 15-mile-long main island.

Santorini; Oia; Greece

The Loukia Cave House was perfect for the three of us and could have fit up to six. The house had everything we needed for seven glorious days in Oia – comfortable beds, hot water for showers (as long as you remembered to turn the hot water on before you showered), a kitchen for cooking, a patio for sunbathing, and daily maid service.

Santorini; Oia; Loukia Cave House; Greece

Loukia Cave House; Santorini; Oia; GreeceOne BIG thing to remember in Santorini is that toilet paper must not be thrown in the toilet – it must go in the trash. The sewer system throughout the island is not very advanced. That’s why you need the daily maid service. Got it?

Exploring Oia
Not wanting to stay inside while the sun was shining, we lathered on sunscreen, put on our hats and visors, and ventured out to explore all that Oia has to offer. Despite the crowds of tourists from multiple cruise ships, we managed to find our way to the town center to scope out the shops and restaurants and bask in our spectacular surroundings. Continue reading

My First Visit To Greece: Climbing To The Top Of The Acropolis

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

It was day two of my first visit to Greece with my sister N and daughter A. As I mentioned in my previous post, “The Amazing Old World of Athens,” we were spending a weekend in Athens and then going for a week’s vacation on the island of Santorini.

It was a hot and sunny Saturday. We woke early and enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet, which was included in our stay at the Athens’ Electra Palace Hotel. There were eggs, fresh Greek yogurt, cereals, homemade waffles, fruit, croissants and more. With our tummies full, we were ready to climb to the top of the Acropolis, the most popular Greek landmark.

Athens; Greece; Acropolis

Touring The Acropolis
The Acropolis sits high up on a hill. We followed the signs and bought our tickets on site. It costs $20 euro for a ticket to the Acropolis and $30 euro if you want to see all of the monuments around the city. You can get your tickets in advance online or at the entrance. There was hardly any wait time on site. (Note: Wear sneakers and be careful under foot as it is not an easy climb. Plus pack plenty of water bottles to stay hydrated in the summer time.)

Athena, a local guide was offering tours for an additional $20 euro. We decided to join her and were very glad we did. There is so much to learn about ancient Greek culture and without a guide it would not be as interesting.

Athens; Greece; Acropolis

We ascended the rocky path to the Theater of Dionysos. “The first theater of the world was born in Greece. The Odeon was the auditorium. Theater means viewing things in Greek,” explained Athena. “The orchestra is in the middle. Actors are called hypocrites. Group therapy was the theater of psychotherapy. Soma means soul. The soul is the psyche. They improved the soul through the theater. ”

Continue reading

My First Trip To Greece: The Amazing Old World of Athens

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

“Let’s plan a trip to Greece,” said my daughter A the day after we arrived home from our summer 2016 family vacation to Italy. “I want to go to Greece,” followed my sister N. They didn’t have to twist my arm for me to say “yes” or “ne” as they say in Greek. I love feta cheese, spanakopita, and baklava. I knew it would be a great vacation as we had traveled together to Spain a few years ago and all gotten along.

Baklava; Greek pastries; Greece; Santorini

By January 2017 our flights were booked for a June journey.  We would spend three days exploring the amazing old world of Athens and a week in Oia on the magnificent island of Santorini.

Greece; Athens; travel; Santoriini; Oia

I went to Greece with my daughter A (left) and my sister N (right).

It was a wonderful trip and now that I’m back I can’t wait to share the details. For sure, you’ll want to book a trip to Greece when you’re done reading about our travels.

A Smooth Flight to Athens
We left from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Taking the train to the plane from Manhattan was quite easy to navigate, even with luggage. I packed light, using my favorite Eagle Creek compression bags (highly recommend these bags for organizing clothes in your suitcase) and a 21-inch Samsonite. Delta was our airline of choice with a non-stop flight – on time, clean plane, lots of movies, good food. Eight hours later, we touched down in Athens. Continue reading

Where Do You Want To Travel During Your Life After 50?

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50From my visit to The New York Times Travel Show held at the Jacob K. Javits Center, N.Y.C. in January, it’s clear that boomers are a prime audience for many destinations. From Costa Rica to California, from Florida to the Philippines, from Morocco to Martinique, and everywhere else you can take a plane, ship, train or drive to visit, the post 50 market is on the move and so are their millennial children.

In fact, The New York Times announced that its annual Travel Show reached a new record of 30,099 participants during the three-day event —the highest attendance in the Show’s history.

The New York Times Travel Show; boomer travel; travel

The New York Times Travel Show reached a new record of more than 30,000 attendees.

So where do you want to travel during your life after 50?

I always like to see what places The New York Times Travel recommends each year. On the list of 52 for 2017, I’ve been to Canada (a variety of eastern and western cities), Detroit, Hamburg (Germany), Minneapolis, Kingston (Jamaica), Napa Valley (California), Sedona (Arizona), Madrid (Spain), Portland (Oregon), and yes, believe it or not South Bronx, N.Y., which is on the list. Since I was born in the Bronx I am curious to know more about this “industrial neighborhood’s revival!” That’s only 10 spots. Looks like I have much more traveling to do in my lifetime.

What’s Trending In Travel?
There were a few trends that I noticed from the panels at the Show. I also attended a media event sponsored by Trav Media, where I met with Convention and Visitor’s Bureau representatives to learn about their destinations and chat with Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) members to hear about their itineraries. Continue reading

So Much To Explore and Do In St. Pete’s Vibrant Downtown

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50As a former New Yorker, I love exploring new cities whenever I travel. That’s why I so enjoyed my first visit to St. Petersburg, Florida. St. Pete has the best of both worlds – the beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast and St. Pete’s vibrant downtown that’s filled with great restaurants, shops and cultural destinations. If I ever decide to spend my life after 50 winters in a warmer climate, I could definitely see myself residing in St. Pete, or a Florida city nearby.

downtown St. Pete, Florida; Bodega Cuban Sandwiches; Local Market; Dali Museum; Florida

A sampling of downtown St. Pete.

The downtown area is very close to Pass-a-Grille, where my boyfriend L and I stayed at the Inn on the Beach. (Did you read my first post about all the things to do in Pass-a-Grille? If not click here.) By car, it’s only about a 20 minute ride. We found parking to be inexpensive —  it cost only $5 to park in the garage on Saturday. You can also grab a trolley from Pass-a-Grille to downtown which takes about 45 minutes.

Inn on the Beach Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille; St. Pete Beaches; life after 50; Florida; St Pete, Florida; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete

The Inn on the Beach in Pass-A-Grille, St Pete, Florida.

A Best-ever Cuban Sandwich
One of our first stops for dinner was Bodega on Central Avenue, suggested by a member of the @VSPC Tourism team. The corridor is filled with a diverse selection of hip and cool small businesses run by entrepreneurs. Bodega was voted “Best of the Bay” for their Cuban sandwich, which is exactly what I ordered.

 

Bodega SignsIt was OMG, OMG, OMG, the best Cuban sandwich I’ve ever eaten. L ordered a roasted pork platter with plaintains, which was so, so good too. Bodega is known for their freshly made juices, a trend that I found all over Venice Beach, California last November as well. We sampled two different varieties with ingredients like ginger, turmeric, carrots and apples. I would recommend sharing a sandwich and juice if you go – it was way too much food for L and me to consume for dinner.

Bodega Cuban Sandwich; St. Pete's Vibrant Downtown; Florida

Best-ever Cuban Sandwich.

 

Bodega Pork and Plaintain platter; Bodega; St. Pete's vibrant downtown

Delicious pork and plantains.

 

To Market, To Market
On Saturday we headed back downtown to experience St. Pete’s Saturday Morning Market, held every Saturday, October – May from 9 am – 2 pm. It is the largest fresh market in the Southeast US. There’s food, crafts, and music. It’s so much fun. Continue reading

A Pleasant Winter Retreat In Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“I really like your blog, and wondered if you would care to come and visit us at Inn on the Beach for a two-night stay. To tell you a little about ourselves, we’re a complex of recently refurbished self-catering cottages and rooms situated on St Pete Beach, many of them offering beautiful views out over the gulf,” said the invitation from D.*

Having never explored the west coast of Florida, I was excited to visit. My boyfriend L was also glad to get away. So when the cold winds roared last week, we packed our bags and headed for a long weekend in sunny St. Pete. We added a few extra nights to lengthen our stay giving us time for a pleasant winter retreat at the Inn on the Beach in Pass-a-Grille.

Inn on the Beach Pass-a-Grille; Pass-a-Grille; St. Pete Beaches; life after 50; Florida; St Pete, Florida; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete

The Inn on the Beach in Pass-a-Grille, St Pete, Florida.

The Inn on the Beach Is A Little Bit Of Paradise
We arrived after a short flight from Philadelphia to Tampa International Airport, rented a car, and were at the Inn on the Beach in about 30 minutes. The Inn is located on 14th Street and Gulf Way in the historic Pass-a-Grille area,

Inn on the Beach in Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete; Florida; St. Petersburg; life after 50

My boyfriend L and I were excited to arrive at the Inn on the Beach.

We rented the Blue Heron room on the second floor with a terrace overlooking the beach. The room had a king size bed, open closet to hang our clothes, renovated bathroom and little efficiency kitchen. There is onsite parking, daily maid service, daily coffee, and continental breakfast is served in the courtyard on the weekend.

Inn on the Beach; Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete; Florida; life after 50

Our room had a kitchenette and king size bed.

Inn on the Beach in Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete; Florida; St. Petersburg; life after 50

A beach view from our balcony.

Continue reading

Why You Need To Escape To Venice Beach, California This Year

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

“Let’s take a trip to Venice Beach, California,” I said to my daughter A. I love California and wanted to visit my BFF R out there. I boarded the plane in Philadelphia early morning November 9th and was glad to be heading to a warm and sunny place to drown out my post-election blues. My daughter A met me from NYC and the two of us embarked on a six day escape for sun and fun.

California Venice Mural; Venice Beach, California; boomer travel; California

We rented a lovely guest house in Venice Beach on Airbnb. It was within walking distance of the town center on Abbot Kinney Blvd, about a mile or so from the beach and a few miles from Santa Monica. We rented a car and parking was available on site and on the street. You just have to move your car some days for the street sweepers.

California Venice Airbnb; Venice Beach, California; Airbnb; boomer travel

So why should you plan a vacation to Venice Beach, California this year? Besides the spectacular sunny weather and relaxed vibes, here are more reasons to book your trip now:

California Venice Sunset

 

♥ Sun Bathing On Beautiful Beaches: The sunrise and sunsets over the ocean are magnificent. We took long walks on the expansive beaches in the morning and early evening. I even found my little sandpipers from Brigantine, New Jersey skipping along the sand. They’re smart birdies. They know where to go for the winter. Continue reading

My Travels On “Rhineland Discovery” – A Beautiful Day in the Black Forest

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50It had been a glorious week on the Viking EIR, (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).* Our voyage on the “Rhineland Discovery” river cruise would soon be coming to an end. There was one last day to savor — with a morning excursion to the medieval village of Colmar, France and an afternoon exploring the beauty of Germany’s fabled Black Forest.

A Walking Tour Of Colmar, France
“Welcome aboard,” said our tour guide Rhona as we readied for the bus trip to Colmar. It was a brief ride and Rhona provided a history lesson on the way. She told us that this area of France was occupied by Germany during WWI and WWII.

Colmar, France; VIking River Cruises; river cruises

Colmar, France is a quaint village.

As we neared the roundabout there was a replica of the Statue of Liberty. “We have a tiny bit of New York City here,” said Rhona. “In 2004 an honorary statue was placed at the entrance of Colmar to honor it’s hometown creator Bartholdi, who designed the original monument as a thank you to Americans for their help in WWII.” Continue reading