Tag Archives: family holiday

Montreal- an unexpected foodie city !

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Loved all the places we ate our way though !
Friday night – Foxy. Super grill food , just deliciousness !

Saturday brunch at Olive + gourmando. We waited for 30 mins – it was so worth the wait !! Owned by the same people that own Foxy. I had a summer salad with pumpkin seeds , quinoa , cauliflower , chicken.
DH had eggs. We both had spritz. Yummy.

Dinner was at Le Mousso. An 11 course tasting menu ! Heavenly. We did the wine pairing to go along with it. Every dish was creative , well done , superbly thought out.

Sunday brunch , our last meal was at Lawrence. Loved the food , scene , vibe and the chilled out neighborhood. I ate the eggplant on a flatbread with egg. So ,so good.

I need to come back to try all the other restaurants this city has to offer. Till next time Montreal- you were fun to visit !
#canada #foodlovers #foodiecity #greatvacation

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Lauro- A new addition to the West Village

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Dinner last night was at “LAURO”. A new joint in the West Village ( our favorite part of NYC).

Even though our 2nd baby is only 3 weeks old, we decided a night out was in order and my parents are visiting from India too, another reason to go out.

Read about this in Urban Daddy, the reviews sounded good, so decided to give this a shot.

Louro
142 W 10th St
(between Greenwich and Waverly)
New York, NY 10014
212-206-0606
official website

Read more: http://www.urbandaddy.com/nyc/food/20887/Louro_A_Permanent_Version_of_Supper_Club_Um_Segredo_New_York_City_NYC_West_Village_Restaurant#ixzz2Ec5TzFRM

The menu was a mix of different kind of cuisines- the bread was served with Portuguese butter- herbs and butter infused, with pepper. Delicious!

 

PlantainsRoasted beet saladPeri Peri Shrimp

Roasted pumpkin salad with arugula and huckelberru

Fry bread with kale and tomatoes

Cod fish

Pork with baked beans

Snapper kind of fish - special of the day

Veg fresh pasta with artichokes and parmeseanPrune dessert with bay leaf icecreamHeavenly molten cake

 

Overall a great meal. Service was ok, the tables were a little too close togehter, but it was a nice evening and great fresh food, with portions that were actually the right size.

I would go back and I do recommend it.

 

Good bye Eden Rock, Hello Christopher hotel, check in at Isle de France: day 2

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So, we slept well last night in our gorgeous duplex. 🙂 We were up by 9 am, ready to go to eat breakfast. It was a vast, scrumptious spread of fruits, cheese, breads, egg, bacon, chicken sausage, home made jams, fresh pressed juices, all while overlooking the beach! 🙂 Some last minute packing and then soaking up the sun in our beautiful terrace at Eden Rock. The breakfast was just super.

We left, and as always, were lost again. I had a lunch meeting with The GM at hotel Christopher. http://www.hotelchristopher.com ( the pictures on the website have not been updated since the renovation, so perhaps my pictures sell the property better.) I would not sell this necessarily to families with young kids, as I think young kids do enjoy the beach and direct access is great to have. There are 2 beaches very close to the property that one can access. It’s a great property- very contemporary, but not cold in feeling. They have 13 rooms that have a small terrace that overlooks the Ocean. Very spacious, beautiful rooms, decorated in Asian/ Italian influenced styles. The Ocean Suites, were just spectacular- on the 2nd floor, bright, great views and unobstructed views of the Ocean. The spa is one of the only ones on the island that has treatment rooms facing the ocean. Now, thats a perfect spa ! Also, some great promotions at the property- credit for your stay to be applied daily towards food or spa. The more you stay, the more you earn. One of the more affordable rooms on the Island, but the only draw back, is that it doesn’t have a beach. It has a super large infinity pool, great views, 2 fantastic restaurants. I really liked the hotels and I had happy clients return!

After lunch, we checked into Hotel Isle De France (www.isledefrance.com/ voted 4th most beautiful hotel in the Caribbean, by Conde Naste readers) and did a site inspection. The hotel is very open in feel. As soon as you walk into the property, you feel like you are on the water, it just has a very tranquil feel. The rooms are all white and light grey.

A 3 bedroom suite # 43

We decided to try dinner at Taiwan hotel, restaurant Parci. They were orignally only serving to hotel guests, but recently have

allowed other guests. It was a great recommendation.

It’s taken close to 2 hours to upload the pics and post all this, so till tomorrow night, bon nuit! 🙂

Have you been to either of these hotels? what did you think of them? share your thoughts and feedback with me.

Eden Rock St. Barth- Day 1 of 5

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Eden Rock St. Barth- Day 1 of 5

St. Barths- info:

A luxuriant villa and an immaculate beach. Leisurely dinners alongside movie stars and supermodels. A vacation could be worse.

But wanting a vacation on St. Barthelemy and having one are different things. This island’s beauty, luxury and exclusive company come with a steep price tag. And should you have what it takes for a holiday on St. Barthelemy, a word of warning: If you are lucky enough to recognize a celebrity behind a pair of sunglasses, don’t expect to collect an autograph. Those breaking the island’s law of studied nonchalance will likely be deported.

St. Barthelemy (better known as St. Barts or St. Barth) first came into the spotlight back in the 1950s when David Rockefeller and a few other prosperous individuals built holiday homes there. Slowly but surely, jet-setters from two continents followed suit, and St. Barts was on its way to becoming the fashionable getaway for the rich and the famous.

They don’t choose St. Barts for the company, though that’s certainly part of the allure: The beaches are secluded, the water is warm, and the landscape of hills and ravines is lovely. The island is sophisticated yet laid-back, with a decidedly French ambience. The people of St. Barts are adept at providing comfort, quiet and security to their well-heeled visitors.

The island has an area of 8 sq miles, it’s small! 🙂

——————-

We got here on the Jet Blue flight from NYC to St. Marteen and then took a small commuter plane ( 10 m) to St. Barth. The landing is quie like coming down from a rollercoaster! It’s really not for the faint of heart!

1st Stop today, was a stay at Eden Rock, http://www.edenrockhotels.com ( Part of the Relais Chateaux affiliation).

This hotel was built in the 1950’s and it has only changed hands once. The English couple that purchased it, David and Jane Matthews, wanted to make this their home, but they ended up converting it into a hotel. They are not from the industry and this is their only hotel ! It’s kind of nice that it’s an independent boutique hotel. This adds to the charm of the place. it feels homey, as all art, fixtures etc have been picked by her.

They have been re-modeling it and in 2010, bought some more property along to beach, to build some more modern, beach villas. The beach is great, powder sand, great snorkling, padding, kayaking around here and the waters, are just so clear- turquoise blue!

They have 7 different categories of rooms. The rock side, is more for couples, more romantic. The beach side, is more for those who want to see and be seen, families etc.

This hotel is barely 5 minutes from the airport. Maps here are terrible, signs and directions even worse. We were lost for an hour, till we eventually found it! 🙂 Hotel does have a pick up chauffeur service.

Since we arrived at lunch time, we decided to try the beach restaurant, “SAND BAR”.It’s a Jean-George restaurant, so we were expecting a fantastic meal.

1stly- the menu was very odd, for the beach setting. It’s to hot to sit out and eat salmon, or fresh fish.

2ndly- the fresh fish sanwich was average, my chicken palliard salad was unevenly cooked.

Overall, we were disappointed, but figured , it was just lunch, we would give the ” ON THE ROCKS” restaurant, ( JG fine dining) a try.

Part of the afternoon was spent doing a site inspection and then we relaxed in our amazing suite. 🙂 In the evening, we drove our red mini convertible to the town of Gustavia, which has some fantastic high end shopping, interesting stores, restaurants, bars and a great place to look at yachts.

Our room, was a Fregate Suite, (premium room), it was a duplex, with 2 terraces and outdoor showers, and a jacuzzi over looking the water. HEAVENLY!! 🙂

Our Terrace-- we had 2

Some pics of town:

For dinner, we returned to our hotel, to try ” ON THE ROCKS”. We just got main courses, as we had a late lunch.

The menu is french-asian fusion. For me, the fusion, means neither here nor there. I love French food and I LOVE Asian, but what I love most in my food , is big, bold flavors.

We got the scallops with ponzo sauce and noodles- it was ok. I got the salt and pepper lobster, with green chillies, ginger and napa cabbage. Sounds good right? it was ok… the seafood was cooked well, but the flavor profile for me, was just disappointing. I have eaten much better food at 1/2 the cost.

The view of the water, overlooking the Bay of St. Jean, was very pretty though.

My travel bucket list- Part 3

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My travel bucket list- Part 3

Australia (Tasmania)

The island-state of Tasmania, located 170 mi/275 km south of Melbourne off the country’s southern coast, is known as “Tassie” by the locals. It is perhaps best known outside of Australia as the home of the Tasmanian devil—the whirling dervish of a marsupial that inspired the Looney Tunes cartoon character. But to Australians, it’s a fabulous place to spend a week’s vacation. Tasmania has long stretches of uninhabited beaches, jagged (and often snowcapped) mountains, slow-moving creeks and rivers, gorges, historical sites, forests and a rugged shoreline.

You can fly to the island from Melbourne or Sydney. But if seasickness isn’t a problem, we recommend taking the ferry from Melbourne to Devonport. Then rent a car and drive to Queenstown for a boat tour up the Gordon River. On your return, drive to Russell Falls (a tropical waterfall decked with wild ferns) at Mount Field National Park, then go on to New Norfolk (eat at one of the restaurants along the Derwent River).

The next stop is Hobart, the largest city on Tasmania. Walk around this early-19th-century city to see old homes and buildings. Visit the Van Diemen’s Land Memorial Folk Museum in an 1836 mansion or the Maritime Museum in the fine Georgian-style Secheron House. Browse through the arts-and-crafts galleries, coffeehouses and restaurants in the old sandstone warehouses of Salamanca Place (Saturday street market). At night, attend a performance at the Theatre Royal (Australia’s oldest “legitimate” theater) or visit the West Point Casino. Take half a day to climb 4,100-ft/1,250-m Mount Wellington for a great view, then drive to Glen Huon (great apples, if they’re in season).

From Hobart, drive 60 mi/100 km past Eaglehawks Neck to Port Arthur, an old penal colony with another attractive view. For 57 years (1830-87), Port Arthur confined nearly 12,000 prisoners. Today, it has a museum displaying captains’ logs that list the crimes of their passengers. Tasmanian Devil Park, located 12 mi/8 km to the north, is a refuge for the ferocious wolverine-like marsupials. Overnight at the Cascades at Koonya bed-and-breakfast in the old penal colony, or return to Hobart. Hike up to Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park for a look at one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. Next, drive north through the center of the island to Launceston, the second-largest city on the island, to see the gorge and Tamar River scenery for two nights, then fly out.

Nature lovers will enjoy hiking through Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, near the center of the island. (Some 70 mi/110 km of hiking trails cross jagged mountains, moors, streams and gorges.) At night you might see Tasmanian devils, wallabies and other animals. During the day you can go canoeing, fishing and hiking.

Two islands in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Australian mainland will appeal to adventurous travelers who aren’t solely interested in shopping, nightlife or the creature comforts of civilization. King Island has attractive beaches, good seafood and tasty cheeses; it rates up to a three-night stay. There’s a variety of accommodations available, primarily in Currie, the main town. Flinders Island, farther east (part of the Furneaux group), resembles King in that it has a rugged coast and good beaches. It’s also a great place to hike and hunt for various precious gemstones (most of these are near the town of Palana).

No matter when you go, take a sweater—Tasmania is cold at night and might only reach the 40s F/3-7 C during the day. The Tasmanian summer in January seems to last for about two weeks.

Non-Preferred Hotels

Cradle Mountain Lodge (Cradle Mountain, Tasmania) www.cradlemountainlodge.com.au

Saffire Freycinet (Coles Bay, Tasmania) www. saffire-freycinet.com.au

The Henry Jones (Hobart) www.thehenryjones.com

Bhutan

Bhutan is the only country in the Himalayas where the Vajrayana Buddhist culture survives intact. However, the fall of other kingdoms that represent this vibrant culture, such as Tibet, Sikkim and Ladakh, and the encroachment of globalization make the survival of this tiny Buddhist nation increasingly fragile and poignant.

In Bhutan, trekkers will find an alternative to the overcrowded trails of Nepal. Serious photographers will be impressed with the country’s traditional architecture and abundant wildlife. (Herds of yaks graze in its high-country valleys, and rare snow leopards, blue sheep and black-necked cranes can sometimes be spotted in its farthest reaches.) Others can find pleasure in the elaborate tsechus(religious festivals) that are held throughout the year at various dzongs (fortress monasteries). Nearly everyone who visits Bhutan will be awed by the unsurpassed majesty of the Himalayas.

But it’s neither easy nor cheap to visit Bhutan, which is tucked in between India and China (Tibet). No independent travel is allowed in the country—all visitors must book their trip through a state-licensed travel office or a foreign travel agent who deals directly with the government. The government charges all travelers 9,000 Nu a day, to which the Bhutanese company may or may not add its own operating costs.

On the brighter side, your trip is usually free of the hassles associated with travel in other countries in this region, as the fee covers lodging, food, tours and comfortable transportation in well-maintained buses, SUVs or cars. The fee also includes a guide with whom you can plan your itinerary.

Preferred Hotels

Amankora – www.amanresorts.com/amankora

Uma Paro – www.uma.paro.como.bz

Caribbean (Jumby Bay, Antigua & Peter Island, BVI)

This private island is quite hilly, and it has several secluded beaches that are worth seeking out—Deadman’s Bay is the most famous. It’s the home of the Peter Island Resort and Yacht Harbour, one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious and exclusive resorts. The facilities are nestled along the edge of the north shore, leaving the rest of this 8-mi-/13-km-long island completely undeveloped.

Nonguests are welcome to visit the island. It’s an extremely popular overnight anchorage for the yachting crowd. You can dine at the beach restaurant or elegant Tradewinds Restaurant (advance reservations required at both) and use the beaches. Just remember to respect the privacy of the hotel guests and refrain from using the resort facilities.

Ferries run regularly between Peter Island and a dock just east of Road Town, Tortola.

Preferred Hotels 

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort – www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/jumbybay

Peter Island – www.peterisland.com

Iceland

Iceland’s stark, pristine scenery has been shaped by fire and ice: More than 200 volcanoes and numerous glaciers form the country’s landscape. It’s a frozen land that’s always letting off steam. Its U-shaped valleys, jagged lava fields, monstrous icecaps, hot springs and geysers have carved a rugged, bizarre landscape you won’t see anywhere else on Earth. But you don’t need the fortitude of a Viking to enjoy Iceland. In fact, you can experience many of its extremes in relative comfort. During a recent trip, we swam outdoors in a naturally heated pool just feet/meters away from a glacier.

Despite its relative isolation and untillable terrain, Iceland has one of the highest standards of living in the world (with sky-high prices to match). Tourists began to flock there in the 1990s, realizing that it’s actually a destination in its own right rather than just a long layover on connecting Icelandair flights. The country is considered part of Europe, and it is a popular vacation and conference destination for Europeans.

Icelanders, like many islanders, are self-confident and reserved, but once you break the ice, so to speak, they are among the friendliest in the world. Of course, they, too, have their extremes. Although weeknights in Reykjavik, the capital city, are usually quite sedate, the wee hours during the weekends (particularly Friday nights) can get downright raucous as stylishly dressed young people observe a rowdy party-on-the-streets ritual known as the runtur, or circuit.

Iceland is in the midst of an economic boom, with building cranes all over the capital, Reykjavik, though it has slowed down a bit because the country is having difficulty financing the expansion. As Reykjavik becomes more like other large cities, visitors will need to travel outside the city to find the essence of the country.

India (Madhya Pradesh Lodges)

You have been to India, done the usual Rajasthan, or Kerela/ South India trip, then this can be an interesting option.

Preferred Hotels 

The Oberoi (Mumbai) – www.oberoihotels.com

The Oberoi Gurgaon (New Delhi) – www.oberoihotels.com

The Oberoi New Delhi – www.oberoihotels.com

The Taj Mahal Hotel (New Delhi) – www.tajhotels.com

The Taj Mahal Palace (Mumbai) – www.tajhotels.com

Non-Preferred Hotels (Safari Lodges)

Baghvan Pench Jungle Lodge – www.tajsafaris.com

Banjaar Tola Kanha Tented Camp – www.tajsafaris.com

Mahua Kothi Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge – www.andbeyondindia.com

Pashan Garh Panna Wilderness Lodge – www.andbeyondindia.com

Madagascar

Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, is full of oddities and rarities. If you’re partial to lizards, for example, you’re in luck: You’ll find more than half the world’s species of chameleons there. You’ll also find more than some 70 species of lemur, a family of wide-eyed, long-tailed primates that are exclusive to this one island. Madagascar’s biodiversity also embraces some 220 endemic frog species, while more than half of the 210 breeding birds occur nowhere else in the world. And every year scientists discover new species of plants and animals in its deserts and forests.

But if Madagascar is a nature lover’s dream, it can also be a traveler’s nightmare. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world—three-quarters of its 17 million people live on less than US$1 a day. Though warm, wet and fertile, the island produces barely enough to feed itself—one in 10 children there is chronically malnourished.

Politically, the situation in the country has improved since 2001, when a disputed election threw Madagascar into chaos. President Marc Ravalomanana is opening up the country to foreign investment and trying to stamp out corruption and bad governance after years of mismanagement. Plus, the 2005 animated film Madagascar generated a lot of worldwide interest in this country off Africa’s southeastern coast.

So there is hope for Madagascar, especially in the area of ecotourism. It has an exceptional variety of landscapes, from coral isles and virgin coastlines to baobab forests and craters. All of Africa has one variety of baobab tree, for example, and Madagascar has seven, as well as 19,000 species of plants—a world record.

However, Madagascar continues to face ongoing problems—flooding in early 2005, regular cyclones (in 2004, cyclones destroyed an estimated 120,000 structures, left 240,000 people homeless, and killed and injured scores more) and drought conditions in some areas.

The country is also constrained by lack of infrastructure (there are only about 3,700 mi/6,000 km of constructed roads in a country the size of France) and good hotels. So although tourists are heading there in ever-increasing numbers.


Myanmar

Myanmar presents a dilemma. On the one hand, it has a timeless beauty—it feels like something out of a dream. It’s one of the last remaining places where you can catch a glimpse of Old Asia—of men and women in traditional longyis walking beside golden pagodas and dilapidated colonial buildings as horse carts and vintage taxis ply the streets. On the other hand, the group of generals who rule the country have combined some of the worst aspects of Old Asia with some of the less admirable aspects of their more modernized neighbors. Their contradictory impulses—to keep the country closed and tightly under control while desperately attempting to lure foreign investors and travelers—make for a very unsettling place.

The government’s reluctance to admit problems was evident in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December 2004. Despite independent reports to the contrary, the government initially denied that the country had suffered any damage. In fact, though Myanmar’s rocky shoreline was spared the serious damage that killed thousands in Thailand, Indonesia and India’s Andaman Islands, there was some destruction in the Irrawaddy Delta south of Yangon. All told, 86 people were confirmed dead, more than 5,000 people were left homeless, and several fishing villages were destroyed.

We think that adventurous open-minded travelers who choose to visit Myanmar, despite and because of the repression of its people, will find the experience both memorable and haunting. To gain the broadest insight into the country’s people and their culture, we do recommend traveling beyond the capital and the major tourist sites to explore the multiethnic diversity of this ancient land.

Preferred hotels

The Governor’s Mansion (Yangon) – www.governorsresidence.com

There is a trip that the OEH has, by boat, called “THE ROAD TO MANDALAY”. Contact me for details.

New Zealand

Myanmar presents a dilemma. On the one hand, it has a timeless beauty—it feels like something out of a dream. It’s one of the last remaining places where you can catch a glimpse of Old Asia—of men and women in traditional longyis walking beside golden pagodas and dilapidated colonial buildings as horse carts and vintage taxis ply the streets. On the other hand, the group of generals who rule the country have combined some of the worst aspects of Old Asia with some of the less admirable aspects of their more modernized neighbors. Their contradictory impulses—to keep the country closed and tightly under control while desperately attempting to lure foreign investors and travelers—make for a very unsettling place.

The government’s reluctance to admit problems was evident in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December 2004. Despite independent reports to the contrary, the government initially denied that the country had suffered any damage. In fact, though Myanmar’s rocky shoreline was spared the serious damage that killed thousands in Thailand, Indonesia and India’s Andaman Islands, there was some destruction in the Irrawaddy Delta south of Yangon. All told, 86 people were confirmed dead, more than 5,000 people were left homeless, and several fishing villages were destroyed.

We think that adventurous open-minded travelers who choose to visit Myanmar, despite and because of the repression of its people, will find the experience both memorable and haunting. To gain the broadest insight into the country’s people and their culture, we do recommend traveling beyond the capital and the major tourist sites to explore the multiethnic diversity of this ancient land.

Preferred Hotels

Blanket Baywww.blanketbay.com

Sofitel Queenstown www.sofitel.com/Queenstown

The Langham, Auckland – www. auckland.langhamhotels.co.nz

Well, that’s all I have for now.. 🙂 happy reading. Thank you to my friends at Signature, for their support as always.

Contact me to set up a vacation for you.. 🙂

Day 4-leaving Sicily -seeing Catania on route to Florence

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We checked out at 8 am and drove to the province of Catania, Acitrezza.
There are these rocks Fragollinis jutting out on the ocean which according to legend used to be Mt. Etna.the best fish restaurants of this part of Sicily are here.


Acicastello is the next town. It had a beautiful Norman castle.


Next stop is the city of Catania. There is an amphitheater built entirely of lava stone. 700000 people live here. 2 Nd largest city of Sicily. ( largest is Palmero) . The city was buried under lava so the rest of the amphitheater is under the church.

There are 365 churches here. The double cross on the dome represents a seat of the archbishop. The 2 Nd largest Jewish community in Sicily was here. The star of David is on the floor of the church by the entrance. ( sepia picture)

Domestic flight to Florence. Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and definitely one of my favorites. This trip is probably my 7 th here. Here there is such a variety of museums, palaces and shops one easily needs a few days to discover it all.
The main highlights are the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore( Duomo),Basttistero di San Giovanni ( the baptistery ) , Palazo Pitti, Ponte Vacchio, Basicila di San Miniato al Monte, tombs and sculptures by Michelangelo at Cappelle Medici, views of the city.

One must visit my highlights below:

Things to do :

a. Ufizi gallery- some famous paintings there including Botticelli’ s BIRTH OF VENUS.

b. Statue of david at Galleria dell’Accademia ( get tickets in advance for this, as well as Ufizi)

c. I really love the gardens of Pitti Palace- Baboli gardens

d. Cross the bridge Ponte Vecchio and admire the stores. Walk one bride over to your right and go to this AMAZING gelato place “Gelateria Santa Trinita” Piazza Frescobaldi , 11,12/r www.gelateriasantatrinita.it

f. Visit the Duomo

g. MUST GO! “I Mosaici di lastrucci”.

Its on Via dei Macci, 9, -51022.

www.imosaicdlastrucci.it

they are making the inlay marble pieces the same way that they were done in the 16th century. I did a tour of this place, just on this trip, it was fascinating! 🙂 MUST GO.

h. very close to this is a leather school and shop, called Scoula del Cuoio, if you are interested.

i. The most famous world wide gelateria is ‘VIVOLI’ in Florence.

This is a condensed list for anyone who has only 1 -2 days in Florence.
Lunch:

Sicily -Day 3

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Sicily -Day 3

The morning started at 9 am with a site inspection of Villa Sant’Andrea. It was a private residence of a family and stayed for a century till 1950 till it was converted to a hotel. OE purchased it in 2010 and has been in renovation since. 60 rooms. 22 jr suites and suites total.

The hotel hadn’t opened for the season, so please excuse the pictures. So this is a great property for anyone who wants to be right on the beach, with access to Grand Hotel Timeo as well. The hotel operates a shuttle service between the 2 properties, so you can stay at either and enjoy the amenities of each one. You can also sign at each property and get billed at the end of your stay. This is a slightly younger hotel than its cousin property. I think an ideal stay would involve 3 nights at Tameo and 2 here.

http://www.hotelvillasantandrea.com/web/ovsa/villa_sant_andrea_hotel.jsp

Mt. Etna visit

Mount Etna, is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. It lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe, currently standing 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. Only Mount Teide in Tenerife surpasses it in the whole of the European-North-African region.[2] In Greek Mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under this mountain by Zeus, the god of the sky, and the forges of Hephaestus were said to also be located underneath it.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.

We are going to the gate Zafferana, the main entrance of the park. We are going for olive oil and honey tasting first. (it was heavenly)

Sicily has 245 days of sunshine and temperatures in the winter are 60-63 degrees.
The snow that is on the mountain 7 months a year gets collected in an artificial lake ( largest in Europe).One of the largest eruptions was in 1928-29. The volcano has not killed a single person. It has 128 craters.

We went up to the crater, it was super windy and cold, it was icy and you had to hold onto someone, for you never know if you were going to get blown away!

We then went to a vineyard Barone do Villagrande. It has been owned by the same family since 1747. We were in the town on Milo. The volcano, has made the soil super fertile, so its great for wines, olives, pistachios etc. Another interesting fact, is that the volcano, has yet to claim any lives! It flows so slowly, that before it gets too close the people have over 3 weeks to evacuate.

Taormina is a bull shaped city. Now we are at the acropolis. It’s a Greek -Roman theater. The original theater was different from what it is now. The Greek wanted to see the enemies from the height. There were chairs for the VIP’s. Then the Romans arrived and they wanted to do the gladiator fights here vs the tragedy plays that the Greeks were interested in.
The theater was enlarged-5,500 people can sit in here now. It can be evacuated in 10 minutes. They also built the structures in front of the theater. It used to be a huge 2 floor structure. It is now 1 structure.

It used to be made in Marble and carerra. It was used as the quarry of the city. In 1861 after the unification the local community decided to restore it. Restoration was done in 1955.

Castel Mola is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Italy. Some info on it , here

http://www.castelmola.com/

Dinner:

Was a Sicilian Feast!

The course inbetween was a pasta course. In my excitement to eat the Sicilian pasta, I missed to take a picture! it was made with a duck sauce.. so , so good. I also seemed to have missed the next course- a fish course.. silly me!

We had live Sicilian singers/ performers also entertain us. We all were laughing so hard , as they were just so comical. Its ironic that the Sicilian tradergy songs end up being so lively!

Another great evening. Service was remarkable. The waiters remembered what kind of water we preferred, who preferred what kinds of wine. A great hotel, fantastic staff and a remarkable experience.