The Italy Road Trip

The Italy Road Trip was planned for quite some time. The dilemma was how do you see all of what Italy has to offer in 2 weeks? Well the answer is you don’t. It’s just not possible in 2 weeks. So what do you see? And where do you start? Well right here.

The Italy Road Trip – Getting There

Choose your airline (it’s Air Canada for me from Canada). In order to hit the ground running (with a 6 hour time difference), I need to fly Business Class (sometimes) or Premium Economy (this time). The extra room and increased comfort make the long flight enjoyable. I absolutely have to sleep so I bring along my new travel friend, my Palmate Travel Pillow, to get to sleep and stay asleep. I want to be ready to go and awake on Day 1!

The Italy Road Trip – Venice

Arriving in Venice, we leave the airport in a water taxi and begin the short journey into the historic canals of Venice. After checking into our hotel, we grab an espresso and head out to explore the streets of Venice. Tourists are absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed. Walking along main walking routes and over bridges, we manage to find side routes and squares where the locals are. Small neighbourhoods with cafes, restaurants, shops and Venetian homes are a lot more interesting than the main streets. On Day 2, we jump on the public water taxi (Venice transit) to get around easily and give into the main tourist areas. There’s a lot to see in Venice including Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doges’ Palace. But take the time to get off the main paths and explore!

Italy Road Trip - Venice

The Italy Road Trip – Prosecco

We leave Venice in a rental car and head up to the Prosecco Region (the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso). It’s mid-September and we manage to hit full grape harvest. The area is alive with extra workers and tractors with grape packed trailers. There are many wineries to visit and wines to drink. We are looking for Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Most wineries will have a fee based tasting (5-10 Euro per person) and will provide a generous sample of their product (3-5 wine samples). If you choose to buy a bottle or 2, the wine fee will be reduced or waived (depending on your purchase amount). Among the best wineries to visit: San Gregorio (family owned- you’ll meet father, mother and sisters);  Col Vetoraz (with a wine vending machine on the small road leading to the winery); and Villa Sandi (great wine and restaurant).

Italy Road Trip - Prosecco Region

The Italy Road Trip – Tuscany

There are so many reasons to include Tuscany in your Italian Road Trip. The wine; the food; the scenery and the people. Among the many wines, the Classico Chianti (with the black rooster on the bottle neck) stands out. The Classico label is only available to Chiantis produced from grapes in the the Chianti Classico subregion. The area covers approximately 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The other more well known wine in the area is the “Super Tuscan”. The American name for a deep red wine blended from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It’s priced to take advantage of the aura in the marketplace. Among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines) is Villa San Andrea. The small 400 year old winery is right next door to the well known Antinori. They provide an intimate tour and wine tasting for 10 Euro. Villa San Andrea’s Super Tuscan is far cheaper than the winery next door. They also have 7 other high quality and affordable wines.

Italy Road Trip - Villa San Andrea, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Tuscany

Among the many towns/places to visit in Tuscany are – Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and of course Florence. You really can’t go wrong wherever you go, but San Gimignano stands near the top. It’s an amazing, well preserved medieval village with several small hotels, shops, museums, and Tuscan restaurants. My favourite restaurants “Le Vecchie Mura“. It has both an inside restaurant and an outside terrace area across the lane. Authentic dishes feature pasta, steak, rabbit, deer, wild boar and of course local wine. Eating a Tuscan dinner overlooking Tuscany is pretty hard to beat.

Italy Road Trip - San Gimignano, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Pasta with Truffles

The Italy Road Trip – Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is all about the views. And getting to the coast just adds to the anticipation. Heading south, we drive along the highway through Naples, then onto the winding roads of  Sorrento and its long mountain tunnel. Positano is our destination and our base for 3 days on the Amalfi Coast. Positano has some incredible coastal views. It also has great hotels (Le Sirenuse, Villa Rosa); some great restaurants down on the beach (Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle – both highly rated and right beside each other) and lots of small boutiques for shopping. From Positano, you can easily make day trips to Amalfi, Ravello, Scala and others.

Italy Road Trip - Positano

Italy Road Trip - Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

We drive to Rome Airport and overnight at a Rome Airport hotel before leaving the next day. Except for the return flight, the trip is over. The Italy Road Trip was among my top trips ever. And that’s saying a lot given the amount of travelling that I have done over the years. Each area/stop well worth the visit to immerse yourself in the history, culture, food and wine of Italy. The biggest issue is when is the next Italy Road Trip?

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The Best Hiking Trails in Victoria, Australia

The Best Hiking Trails in Victoria, Australia

Australia is more than Melbourne or Sydney. This distant continent offers so much more. One such place is Victoria, the second smallest state, whose wilderness and nature is mesmerizing. Thousands of people all around the world opt to visit it during the year. And if you want to experience it in the right way and you’re up for a challenge, then hiking through some of its most spectacular sights is a perfect way to do so. There are plenty of things to see and many trails that are perfect for all lovers of hiking, but we present you the three most important ones. Look at this guide as we try to convince you which hiking trails to check off your bucket list, starting from the longest to the shortest:

1. Wilsons Promontory – 54 km

The Best Hiking Trails in Victoria, Australia

Just 157 km away from Melbourne lies the Wilsons Promontory National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks in Australia. Also referred to as Wilson Prom or The Prom, this place is heaven to all nature lovers. Not only does this place offer rainforests and magnificent beaches, but it’s also very rich in indigenous history. There is proof that Indigenous Australians lived here more than 6500 years ago. The most important thing that you need to see is the memorial at Tidal River – a memorial to all the commandos who lost their lives during World War II. The memorial weaves its way from the slopes of Mount Oberon down to the Sealers Cove, then south above the waters of Bass Strait and finishes with a photogenic lighthouse that has been operating since 1859. Since this is quite a long hiking trail, you will need much time and plenty of battery on your smartphone as you will want to record everything or photograph every single step – yes, it’s so beautiful.

2. The Viking Circuit – 41 km

Perhaps the most challenging hiking trail of Australia, but then again one of its most beautiful ones, is the Viking Circuit, which is just one small part of the amazing Alpine National Park. What makes this trail so interesting and unusual is that it’s not suitable for inexperienced hikers. If you want to check this out, you need to be well-equipped and experienced in navigation. Take a big reusable water bottle with you as you will definitely need it to rehydrate while you try to find your way through this amazing trail. There are no signposts or walking track markers, but you will see untouched wilderness. If you opt for this trail, you will be witnessing some of Australia’s most beautiful alpine landscapes, mountain peaks and grassy plains, especially through parts of Victoria, New South Wales and ACT. The Viking Circuit is not an easy endeavor with inviting features such as Horrible gap, Mount Despair or the Crosscut Saw. So, if you’re an experienced hiker and want something new and challenging, this 41km-long trail is the perfect choice for you!

The Best Hiking Trails in Victoria, Australia

3. Werribee Gorge Scenic Rim – 14 km

Since the first two choices were longer hiking trails, here’s an option for everyone who wants to embark on a journey but cannot hike long distances. The Werribee Gorge Scenic Rim is perfect as it covers around 14 kilometers. It’s quite a short hike – just a couple of hours long. It is placed in the Werribee Gorge State Park in Victoria and is just an hour drive from Melbourne. This trail is not only popular with hikers all around the world because of the magnificent nature, but because of its diverse geological features – it’s one of the world’s oldest glacial deposits. The gorge was created about a million years ago and hiking here you experience what it’s like to walk on the former ice sheet and volcanic lava. The Werribee Gorge Scenic Rim also showcases examples of perfect nature, scenic viewpoints and even unexplored territory. This is one of Australia’s most cherished treasures

The Best Hiking Trails in Victoria, Australia

Even though there are many more hiking trails that Victoria and Australia have to offer, if you’re an experienced hiker who’s looking for new challenges, one of these should be your next destination. Australia’s perfect and almost intact nature combined with great hiking trails is certainly something that you want to experience in your lifetime.

Visiting 4 of British Columbia’s Most Stunning Natural Wonders

According to Destination British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province includes six tourism regions: Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coast and Mountains, Northern British Columbia, Thompson Okanagan, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast and the Kootenay Rockies. There are so many natural wonders among them, it would be difficult to experience them all in one trip, but RV travel can make it easier, while making it more affordable too.

You may want to start by researching RV rental in Vancouver. B.C.’s largest city is an ideal spot for kicking off your adventure exploring its many stunning natural wonders, perfectly situated along the west coast of the province.

Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, Whistler

You might be familiar with Whistler as the spot that co-hosted the Winter Olympics with Vancouver back in 2010. Just 90 minutes from the city, the area is home to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains which are linked by one of the town’s most popular attractions: the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola. As you ride the glass-bottomed gondola which soars a mile over Fitzsimmons Creek you may spot bears roaming the breathtaking landscape below.

British Columbia

Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island can be reached via a scenic drive- or walk-on ferry ride from Vancouver. Once there, you can experience one of B.C.’s true natural wonders. Pacific Rim National Park is made up of three units: Long Beach, the West Coast Trail and the Broken Group Islands. It includes everything from unspoiled beaches and rocky shoreline to old-growth coastal rainforest and abundant wildlife, including bald eagles, bears, harbor seals, a variety of whale species and more. Surf, hike, kayak, soak in hot springs, embark on boat excursions or just enjoy quiet contemplation among some of the world’s most impressive and lush scenery.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, or Gwaii Haanas as it’s often called, is a remote collection of nearly 140 islands that offer the ultimate wilderness experience that includes rare animals that can’t be spotted anywhere else, including the Haidi Gawaii black bear. The surrounding waters are filled with marine life like whales, dolphins, seals and sea lion, while tufted and horned puffins, peregrine falcons and bald eagles soar through the skies. Join a guided kayak excursion and you can paddle around sea coves, tiny islands and hidden coves while watching the wildlife.

British Columbia

Yoho National Park

This park is rather aptly named for a Cree expression of “awe and wonder.” Nestled in the western slopes of the Rockies, it’s the ultimate outdoor adventurers’ paradise, with everything from magnificent waterfalls like the 100-foot-high and 500-foot-wide Wapta Falls to sparkling lakes, massive glaciers and jagged mountain peaks. The Burgess Shale fossil beds can be found here as well – these incredibly detailed fossils of prehistoric marine life are a half-billion years old providing a fascinating look at the Earth’s ancient past.