Our First Gondola Tour with La Gondola

gondola illustration Our First Gondola Tour with La GondolaOur gondolier, dressed in the traditional striped shirt and flat, straw hat, smiled at us as he paddled the gondola away from the dock.

If this image conjures up a gondola trip on one of the ubiquitous canals in Italy, you would be completely wrong.

We were enjoying our lovely gondola experience on the Providence River in Providence, Rhode Island.

Yep. Rhode Island.

La Gondola, although located in the most unlikely place for a gondola tour, provides a wonderful introduction to the city as you  are paddled along the lovely Providence River.

In the morning, ready for our unique adventure, we trekked down to the river and the La Gondola dock.

View of the sidewalk Our First Gondola Tour with La Gondola

The river walk near the dock.

Sign Our First Gondola Tour with La Gondola

Where to catch your gondola tour.

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Photo Friday: Windmill on Nantucket Island

We certainly did not expect to see any windmills in New England but Tom got this shot of one on Nantucket Island.

Windmill on Nantucket Island MA Photo Friday: Windmill on Nantucket Island

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Beach House Bliss – A Girlfriend Getaway in Gulf Shores, Alabama

beach house Beach House Bliss   A Girlfriend Getaway in Gulf Shores, AlabamaMany people, when planning a getaway to the pristine white sands of the beaches bordering the Gulf of Mexico, automatically make their travel plans for Florida. But look over on that map of the United States and you will see that the Gulf runs all the way up into several other states, including Alabama. Many of the Gulf shore beaches in Alabama are undiscovered paradises with far less tourists but plenty of equally gorgeous sand and water, great seafood, interesting activities, and fabulous places to stay.

One of our favorite beach towns in this area is Gulf Shores. Located on a narrow peninsula which juts out into the Gulf of Mexico, this quiet and lovely location is the ideal place for a girlfriends getaway. There are plenty of hotels and beach rentals in the Gulf Shores area but drive just a little further out the peninsula and you will find an even quieter and unspoiled area called Fort Morgan, close to the delights of Gulf Shores but away from the traffic and noise.

Read the rest of this article on Girlsgetaway.com HERE.

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Photo Friday: Pond with Lily Pads on Block Island

Tom got this shot of a lovely pond on Block Island, Rhode Island on our Blount cruise in New England.

Pond with lily pads and homes on Block Island RI Photo Friday: Pond with Lily Pads on Block Island

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New England Girlfriends Getaway

sailboat New England Girlfriends GetawayI stepped aboard Blount Small Adventures Grande Caribe cruise ship and heaved a sigh of relief and pleasure. There is nothing quite like cruising for a relaxing girlfriends getaway – no unpacking, no meal planning, no making your own bed, no worries! This particular cruise was visiting several islands in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in July which could possibly be the best time to visit this area on a cruise ship as it is high season and finding a hotel room in all the many locations we would visit could be difficult.

The Grande Caribe is not a large cruise ship; with space for about 80 passengers in comfortable staterooms just small enough to be homey. The lounge area is furnished with plenty of upholstered furniture and the adjoining bar area includes space for the liquor and wine bottles that Blount encourages you to bring aboard and soda dispensers where you are welcome to fill a glass with ice and a drink whenever you want. Not only do they encourage you to bring aboard your own liquor and wine, they even provide snacks and mixers to accompany them and two very nice cocktail parties during the week long cruise with scrumptious hot appetizers.

Read the rest of this article on Girlsgetaway.com HERE.

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Bike Riding is Not Just for Kids!

girl on bike Bike Riding is Not Just for Kids!I absolutely loathe spinning class. I really, really wanted to like it. Because how difficult could it be to ride a stationary bike in place?

 You know what? It is extremely difficult. For one thing, the bike seats are incredibly, indescribably, immeasurably hard. So hard that no matter what you do, no matter how thick a bike seat cover you buy, no matter how many times you stand up on the pedals to relieve your aching butt, you are still in pain.

I couldn’t understand why this was not more fun. It’s bike riding, right? Well, it’s just not exactly like regular bike riding. It’s a lot less fun.

 So when the lovely and generous folks at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach in Florida offered me and my sister-in-law bikes to ride during our girlfriends getaway last year, I hesitated. Wasn’t this going to be spinning class all over again? Painful and no fun. Turns out this was the furthest thing from the truth.

Read the rest of this article on Travelhoppers HERE.

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Photo Friday: Lake Habeeb in Maryland

Tom is the photographer; I’m the writer. But occasionally I get a photo that I really like. This is a view of Lake Habeeb in Maryland at the Rocky Gap Casino Resort.

Lake Habeen at Rocky Gap Resort Casino Photo Friday: Lake Habeeb in Maryland

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A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

New England A Weekend in Newport, Rhode IslandDid you know Newport, Rhode Island is on an actual island?

Yeah. We had no idea either.

Our first clue was when it was included in our Islands of New England cruise with Blount Small Ship Adventures. We honestly had a pretty vague idea about what all of New England was like and pretty much no idea what to expect of Newport. I knew there were mansions there and…well.

That’s it. There were mansions there.

But now that we have spent a little time there, we are absolutely ready to return and to encourage everyone we know to visit immediately.

Because Newport is quite, quite wonderful.

Technically, Newport is located on Aquidneck Island and is one of the most famous New England resort areas. In fact, it’s been a favorite resort area for a long time, beginning during the “Gilded Age” in the mid-nineteenth century when wealthy families wanting to escape the summer heat began to build summer “cottages” on Bellevue Avenue near the coastline. The misnomer of “cottages” was ridiculous as these absurdly huge mansions were by no means cottages. The wealthy families tried to do outdo each other in building the most opulent homes you can possibly imagine and many of these are now open for tours.

newport A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

I’m just going to admit, however, that Newport did not put her best foot forward on our very first visit. In fact, the gray, foggy day that we were greeted with was enough to discourage us from liking this charming, small city but not nearly enough. We almost immediately fell in love. We loved the small town feel, the cobblestone streets, the historic homes and inns, the absolutely fabulous food, and pretty much everything else. Our first stop was to check in to the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel which, if we had not already been enamored with Newport, would have caused us to fall head over heels. An absolutely gorgeous, historic hotel located within walking distance of everything you might want to see downtown, we loved every minute of our stay here. In fact, you can read about our love affair with this hotel here but, suffice it to say, that if you are in Newport, you should stay here.

You will be very glad you did.

Hotel Exterior A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

Exterior of the Vanderbilt Grace. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

After checking in, we took a stroll around town. The fog actually gave us a nice introduction because there were not many people about and we could just enjoy the quiet streets and the deserted harbor.

City Street A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

Quiet streets.

Foggy Harbor A Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island

Foggy harbor.

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Seattle, the Emerald City

Drawbridge 300x199 Seattle, the Emerald CitySeattle is known as “The Emerald City” because of the lush, dark green coastal rainforests surrounding this urbane wonderland. Perched on an isthmus with Puget Sound on one side and Lake Washington on the other, from the air it’s a green paradise. But the moniker could equally refer to the green, healthy, organic experience you’ll find in the city, too. From a hotel with a growing green grass roof (no kidding!) to the well-known favorite of tourists and locals alike, Pike Place Market, where you can select flowers and produce so fresh they might be glistening with morning dew, Seattle has a lot to offer environmentally conscious visitors.

Arriving at the SeaTac airport, grab a taxi, rent a car, or splurge a little and arrange a limo to your hotel. You can then check into the Hyatt at Olive 8 (yes, the site of that green grass roof) in style. Conveniently located within walking distance of Pike Place Market and downtown shops and restaurants, the hotel offers luxurious accommodations with beautiful, modern furnishings, and high speed internet. The expansive Presidential Suite features a kitchenette, two dining areas, a living room with fireplace, a bath and a half and a walk-in closet. There’s even a nice office, complete with a computer for your own personal use. In the bath, your own personal television embedded in the mirror will keep you up on the latest news while primping for a night on the town. With huge, floor to ceiling windows offering incredible views, you just may decide you want to stay for longer than a few nights.

Read the rest of this article on Travel Squire HERE.

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Photo Friday: Kayakers in Branson

We were pleasantly surprised by how much we liked Branson, Missouri. Tom caught these kayakers on the White River nearby.

Kayakers in Branson Photo Friday: Kayakers in Branson

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