Europe’s Grand Canyon

The Verdon River runs through this striking canyon in southeastern France giving it the name Gorges du Verdon.  It’s a 2 to 3 hour drive from Nice – depending on how fast you want to drive along the edge of a cliff.  A little harrowing but definitely worth it.  There is a another approach to the canyon that is a bit longer but the road is far less dangerous.  Once you get there, park the car near the boat rental and explore the canyon by kayak or paddleboat.  Technically, swimming is not allowed but that didn’t seem to stop anyone.

From my visit in the Summer of 2014
From my visit in the Summer of 2014

Blue Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Blue Beach (also known as La Chiva) on the Caribbean island of Vieques is quite aptly named.  Vieques, which used to be a US Naval Base, boasts some of the world’s most beautiful and unspoiled beaches.  Because many of the island’s idyllic beaches are protected (no hotels can be built on the beach) you will need to rent an off-road vehicle to properly explore this slice of heaven. Remember you will have to bring everything with you- including towels, umbrellas and snacks- as this beach is isolated and not commercialized.  You can reach Vieques (which is part of Puerto Rico) by taking a short 18 minute flight from San Juan.

The original Bellagio

Lake Como in Northern Italy, famous for its charming homes and villas on picturesque cliffs, is becoming more and more traveled.  This Y-shaped lake has several towns around its perimetry.  The elegant town of Bellagio can be found where the arms of the Y intersect and we can see why someone would name a hotel after this beautiful destination. Lake Como is also well known to be site of many star studded vacation homes.  Both George Clooney and Gianni Versace have owned homes on this lake.  For those of us who are not able to be house guests of George, there are several housing options along the lake.  Travelers arriving by train to the town of Como can find modest to high end accommodations in this town.  A ferry connects Como to the other towns and villages (including Bellagio) and runs from morning til evening.  There is also a bus that travels between towns, but is not nearly as scenic.  The train ride from Milan to Como is just an hour, and flights into Milan from NYC tend to be cheaper than Rome!