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Sure enough, she got an unknown infection in the middle of the cruise. The Princess Cruises doctor was able to treat her more effectively after seeing the paperwork. Do this at least two weeks prior to cruising, three if you can. It may take a week or so for your doctor or other medical groups to provide this information to you. At least two to three weeks before departure, arrange for pet care, whether in your home or by boarding your animals. Put any instructions in writing and include pet care insurance documents and vaccination certificates for the caregiver.

Contact your veterinarian and make sure he or she understands that you have designated a particular person to act on your behalf while you're gone. If necessary, draw up a power of attorney so that person can legally make decisions about the pet on your behalf. On a long cruise, you may want to book an airport shuttle transfer leave plenty of time if you are booked with others; it could take an extra minutes if the shuttle stops to pick up multiple people or a limo ride.

If you're booking a car pick-up with a local limo company, do so at least two weeks in advance. Book even further out if your required transport falls during a major event period like prom season, Mardi Gras or Super Bowl. Making every penny of the vacation dollar count: Taking a cruise vacation makes that goal easily achievable.

The consumer who does some research and takes advantage of expert advice will discover many ways to save and stretch the dollar by choosing a cruise.

Most cruise lines offer inclusive pricing. Cruises are offered in every possible price category. Cruises come in every length, from three days to three months. If budget is a high priority, pick a shorter cruise.

Cruise lines operate all over the world. With a weak U. On most ships, the price of your cruise is based on your choice of accommodations, nothing else. Most ships offer a wide choice of inside and oceanview staterooms, staterooms with balconies, even suites. Most ships offer a wide variety of accommodations. If spacious, luxurious accommodations are your top priority, choose a cruise line whose suites match your budget.

Cruises are an ideal choice for families, extended families and friends who want to share a memorable vacation. Put together your own group of cruisers and ask for a group rate.

There are more than 30 homeports for cruise ships in the United States. Wherever you live, pick a cruise you can drive to in order to save on the cost of airfare. For more information about stretching the vacation dollar, visit http: They loved what they experienced and have kept coming back for more.

They got a taste of shipboard life, including in many cases fabulous entertainment, onboard spas and other recreational facilities, and a dazzling variety of dining experiences. They visited, perhaps for the first time, foreign countries or tropical islands. And, because consumers tell us that cruising offers outstanding value and a unique vacation lifestyle, those first-timers will be back, if not this year then in the years to come.

Many of the short cruises are offered from a rapidly growing list of American port cities ranging the entire lengths of the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast. There is even one cruise line that enables passengers to plan their own length of cruise. We've culled press releases and other sources for travel deals and ideas --whether you are traveling with others, or on your own.

Napa Valley is a vacation destination with abundant resources — incredible wineries, memorable cuisine, unusual cultural attractions, innovative spas and distinctive resorts.

While the Valley has long drawn visitors from around the world, there is a persistent perception that the destination is always expensive. Not so, says the staff at Silverado Resort , an elegant resort that has been accommodating guests since Have you always wanted to take a singles vacation but don't want to pay the industry-standard single supplement?

Our members have asked us for years about why they have to pay more to have their own room and Singles Travel International has always been on the lookout for ways to minimize the pain of traveling solo. Our vacations include all taxes, government fees and fuel surcharges, no hidden fees! Introducing Solo Super Savers! Our Solo Super Savers are winter departures that offer an excellent value and no single supplement — and it's great to travel with a group of singles!

About Singles Travel International: With over 25 years experience in travel consulting, Singles Travel International provides worry-free travel that meets the unique needs of solo travelers to a variety of destinations in over 32 countries.

Reserve your place on one of these wonderful STI vacations today. The "Diva's Only Weekend" includes: There is a two-night minimum stay. Rates and packages are based on availability. Rates shown do not include tax or daily occupancy fee. To visit Hotel Giraffe's website, click here. Adventure seekers with a passion for filling a shopping bag or an empty stomach instead of a gas tank can find the "Park the Car" trip ideas on www.

Virginia's convenient location, just hours from major cities such as D. Walkable Cities Some of Virginia's best towns and cities are also the most foot-friendly. The city of Staunton , one of Virginia's many walkable Main Street communities , combines historic charm with a modern arts vibe. The stately Stonewall Jackson Hotel sits next to the American Shakespeare Center where professional actors present the best of "the Bard" in a recreation of the famous Blackfriars' Playhouse.

Art galleries and outstanding restaurants line the city's streets. Drop into Sunspots for fine glass art and live glassblowing demonstrations. Roanoke , once Western Virginia's railroading center, is experiencing a new wave of excitement. Stay at the majestic Hotel Roanoke adjacent to a vibrant downtown. Catch a play at Mill Mountain Theatre , shop for art, fine jewelry and accessories and join in the bustle at some of Virginia's most popular new restaurants.

Historic Richmond is easy to love, with many hotels right downtown, so visitors can walk up and down the cobblestone streets to lively restaurants, historic sites and shops, or take a hotel shuttle to the "Mile of Style" in Cary Town.

Virginia Beach is a summertime favorite and perfect place to park and play. Stay at one of the many oceanfront hotels lining America's longest pleasure beach hugging the Atlantic Ocean. The three-mile-long boardwalk has separate lanes for pedestrians and cyclists and is a sunny conduit to sand castles and salty breakers. Stroll leisurely or rent a bicycle or 4-wheel surrey to and from Virginia Beach's excellent restaurants, shops and outdoor adventure outfitters for biking, fishing, parasailing and more.

Close and Convenient Locations The early residents of Virginia's Historic Triangle — Jamestown , Williamsburg and Yorktown , — did just fine without cars, and so will visitors today.

Stay at the legendary Williamsburg Inn , the splendidly renovated Williamsburg Lodge or The Woodlands and the entire historic district of Colonial Williamsburg is within easy walking distance. Browse historic buildings, artisan shops and taverns and keep an ear peeled for the famous Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps. At the Visitor Center , board a shuttle that takes visitors along the scenic Colonial Parkway to Jamestown or Yorktown for exceptional modern looks at American history.

Stay-n-Play Resorts Virginia's luxurious resorts are destinations unto themselves that pamper visitors so much that cars are unnecessary. Charlottesville resorts such as Keswick Hall and Boar's Head Inn are fine destinations to luxuriate in hospitable surroundings, rejuvenate with spa treatments, golf and indulge in delicious dining. How about a chance to take a hot air balloon ride? Balloon adventures embark right from the Boar's Head Inn's front door and soar with the breeze over area wineries and even Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.

The resort's fine dining is accentuated by its star sommelier, Mary Watson-Delauder, whose passion for wine makes the resort's food and wine camps a must for wine lovers. Talk about happy campers. The historic Homestead Resort in the Alleghany Mountains of Virginia has been a respite for travelers long before vehicles existed.

Since , travelers have vacationed in luxury at the resort known for legendary golf, classic cuisine and natural warm springs that once soothed the "soles" of Thomas Jefferson himself. Williamsburg's Kingsmill Resort has a spectacular riverfront setting, a full-service spa, fine dining and championship golf. For guests seeking nearby adventures, Kingsmill also offers in-season shuttles to neighboring Busch Gardens and Water Country USA and regular shuttle service to and from Colonial Williamsburg.

Virginia's State Parks are consistently recognized as America's best. Reserve a comfortable cabin, a tent site or even a yurt and spend a weekend fishing, canoeing, nature hiking, bird watching or simply unwinding. Check ahead for guided ranger programs for the whole family. Explore the Web site, discover your "passionality" and request a free copy of the Live Passionately — Virginia is for Lovers Travel Guide. Travel resources are also available by calling The Eurail Scandinavia Pass allows flexible rail travel in all four Scandinavian countries for as few as 4 days or as many as 10 days within 2 months.

Prices quoted are for 4 days of adult second class travel within a 2 month period. Options for up to 10 days of travel in Adult, Youth, Saver and First class categories of travel are also available for most products. Eurail still offers its popular passes for each individual country, as well. Visit your local travel agent, go to www.

The BritRail Guest Pass is a great opportunity for your Britain-based friend or relative to experience the flexibility and convenience of a BritRail Pass, which is normally not available to residents of Britain!

Buying BritRail Passes could not be easier. Visit your travel agent or go to www. But BritRail Passes are not sold in Britain so you must buy before you fly. BritRail is your passport to 19, daily train departures covering popular destinations in England, Scotland and Wales.

With this substantial discount, you can afford to savor the relaxing atmosphere of first class — less crowded, with wider seats and more legroom than standard class. You must purchase both passes before your departure from your home in North America. Passes cannot be mailed to Britain. Travel may be completed up to six months after the date of issue. BritRail products are not sold in Britain. Under 1k for a Week at the Beach -- in Micronesia. Kosrae is a remote, mountainous, tropical island with a diverse culture - somthing often missing from more popular tourist destinations.

More information on Kosrae Village's popular and very affordable packages is available online at www. Orlando CVB recently introduced nearly 40 special values on accommodations and attractions at VisitOrlando.

In addition, the Orlando CVB offers the following tips, to help families on a budget make the most of their vacation:. The Official Visitor Center is open daily from 8: Bristol International Airport is located in the heart of the historic South West of England, within twelve miles of the historic city of Bath, and close to attractions such as Stonehenge and the Cotswolds.

Lauderdale to the Keys. Gator Air, a small Fort Lauderdale-based airline, began flying nine-passenger Piper Cherokee Chieftans with comfortable business jet interiors into each Keys airport twice daily. Gator Air offers affordable rates with flights to Marathon scheduled to depart at 7: For more information about Gator Air's flights to the Florida Keys, call or visit www. Black Tomato, the award-winning London-based travel company that specializes in creating exceptional travel experiences with a hip twist, has launched its U.

Catering to hard-working, hard-playing and discerning affluents with a taste for the unique and exclusive, Black Tomato travels to the four corners of the world, and countless spots in between, to find rare and wonderful experiences for its growing clientele. We will make sure each Black Tomato journey is one of the most memorable and fulfilling experiences one can have while traveling. Black Tomato was founded on the conviction that travel is a mindset and not just about the destination.

The Black Tomato experience begins in the planning with a trip to the website. Chucking commodity-oriented and conventional travel lingo for a friendly, conversational tone, blacktomatotravel. Back-to-reality pampering, meant to avoid the real world for a few more hours, includes either a complimentary pair of AMC Movie Theatre tickets or a month's free membership to Netflix with a predetermined DVD of choice awaiting their return.

To catch-up on current events while guests are away, the latest issue of TIME Magazine awaits their arrival. Thanks to a talented, well-connected team of travel experts and a website rich in content and creativity, Black Tomato has quickly risen to the forefront of the U. Award-winning and innovative, Black Tomato was founded in a London flat by three year-old guys who ditched the corporate fast track to spend their days pursuing their passion for travel and sharing it with their peers.

It has quickly risen to the forefront of the U. Reunited and it Feels So Good Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts is making it easier for solo women to stay connected.

Through the development of a new program aimed at attracting those seeking to reunite with family, friends and clubs, the family-owned company hopes to bring people together in an age of email, voicemail, and video games. A CRMR Sales Coordinator will assist with organizing private dining or meeting space for larger families and clubs, and there is a range of activities in the Rockies that groups can take part in, including hiking, canoeing, and skiing, depending on the season.

This is a fresh approach to travel planning. They put together customized itineraries which are created to meet your specific wishes and contain only the things you want to do.

Packed full of the most up-to-date information, you'll be ready to explore the city with ease. From hour predictions to by-the-hour precision, those at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute know when to look in the sky for one of the most requested sights in Alaska. The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, may be a phenomenon, but researchers at this Alaska university can now forecast aurora activity by the hour - they are making the forecasts easily accessible to the general public on a new Web site, www.

For those planning a trip to Alaska, the site also offers a day forecast allowing visitors to narrow dates for the best likelihood of catching the dancing sky, but please keep in mind that when activity may be high, variables such as cloud coverage and city lights may also effect the views. Once in Alaska, inquire as to whether your lodging provides an aurora wake-up call; you'll be surprised that many do. For more information on the aurora borealis or for accurate forecasts, visit www.

Some people are adept at quantum physics. I've seen more hotel rooms than a New York City call girl on speed-dial. For years I've poked around lodgings throughout the world for consumer guidebooks, and one thing I've learned is that you never know what you'll find. Checking out a hotel room in St.

Thomas, I walked in on a guy sitting at a desk, naked. He invited me to stay but I declined. In Bermuda, I opened the door and found a couple asleep in bed. I don't know who of the three of us was most surprised. That said, quirky isn't my thing all the time and it likely isn't yours. In the end, think carefully about how prominently you want your lodging to figure into your solo experience.

Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind. Your needs and desires may change, sometimes day to day within a destination. If you're spending lots of time in the room, or you're on business where you'll be working with and hosting others, a large space with a plasma TV may work best.

If you're in the Canadian Rockies, or near Lake Geneva, or the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, a room with a view might matter more than one with Internet hookup.

When the weather's great, a balcony is wonderful. If you're hardly in your room, you may prefer to save money for other things. How much can you afford to spend on accommodations? Obviously money goes further in Podunk than Paris, but even in most big cities you can work within that range, if you're careful.

Think creatively about how you budget. Think about where you want to spend most of your time, especially after dark, and consider choosing a hotel nearby. Finding transportation door to door after that grand dinner or concert can be dicey. Walking alone at night is rarely advisable, and you don't want to be wasting time commuting or waiting for transport when a closer lodging will allow a quick walk or ride, and more time for fun.

Book far in advance, especially if you'll be near a destination during holiday and festival times. Do you really want to retreat to the 'burbs after the Toronto film festival? Once, after disembarking from a ferry on the small Greek island of Limnos, I soon realized that I had arrived a week before the hotel opened -- and the few alternative lodgings were filled.

I called several hotels, just in case, told them my plight, and one volunteered to let me stay, even though it was in the midst of a deep cleaning, and not officially open. The manager gave me some linens, I chose a room with a dazzling view of the sea, and I had the entire place to myself. I went into the kitchen and found a spoon and bowl and had some yogurt and honey for breakfast, sitting in the enormous dining room by myself.

It was a memorable solo experience -- and the closest I've come to spending a night on a bench. Strive for best rates. Avoid paying the rack rate -- listed on price sheets -- the rate a place would hope for, but savvy solo travelers can almost always beat. Deal with hotels individually rather than through their toll-free number, as front desks have lots of latitude when it comes to negotiating; the higher the room price, the more the potential discount. Check the pet policy.

If you're traveling with Fido, ensure that the lodging allows pets. Likewise, if you have no desire to mingle with animals, ask about the pet policy. Select a hotel with room-entry only through a main lobby, rather than separate entrances for each room Marriott Courtyards, Hampton Inns, and Days Inn are among lodgings designed with security in mind.

Even if they're only accessible through the lobby, their windows expose you more readily to thieves. Ask for a room in a well-lighted area. Book rooms with smoke alarms and fire escapes; if not, be extra vigilant: Don't accept a room at the end of a long, isolated hall with no exit.

Choose rooms below the fifth floor for access to fire ladders. Don't let the desk blab your room number. If the hotel staff announces your room, ask for another and explain why. Alert them that you're concerned about security and that you need them to respect that. Have the bellhop accompany you to and from your room if you feel more comfortable. Stairwells may offer exercise, but are an ideal spot for crime. Elevators are generally safer, but don't board one if you're not wild about your car mates, and if you want to back out gracefully, pretend you forgot your key.

Have it ready in the elevator so you don't have to fumble at your door. And if someone follows you out and tries to attack, knock on doors and scream for help. Don't advertise your whereabouts. Don't put the tag on the door that asks for maid service, but do use the "Do Not Disturb" sign and keep the TV on when you're out.

Don't let a hotel staffer or anyone else in your room unless you're expecting someone; otherwise, call the front desk and ask the person to wait outside for clearance. Lock all doors, and windows, even when you're in the room. Lock valuables in a safe. If you're issued a spare room key or key card, don't leave it in your room for someone to take. Also consider bringing your own personal alarm, such as a motion sensor that hangs on the inside doorknob and will go off if the outer knob is turned.

Be your own fire warden. Know where the exits are. In case of fire, stay low and cover cracks in doors and windows with wet towels; wait in your room for help if the door is hot, or break a window if needed, and use that fire escape. Know where your key is, and take it with you in case of emergency. And, on a lighter note, if you're really safety conscious, sleep in something you can run out in. PJs with attached feet won't do. These informal, adults-only resorts have numerous activities and communal dining.

Club Meds, among other single resorts, allow you to sidestep the single supplement if you take on a same-gender roommate. Concierge Floors in Major Hotels: Concierge or Business or Executive floors are havens for solo travelers. Security is often heightened, with a floor concierge and special elevators. Ask if these floors are available when you make reservations at hotels catering to business travelers. Rooms are slightly costlier, but the payback is worth it. You know what you? Bed-and-Breakfasts are right-on for solo travelers.

Among the standard amenities are a private room and often a private bath , full breakfasts at communal tables, drinks in the parlor, the opportunity to trade information and travel stories, a friendly house cat or dog, and pastry and coffee anytime. You never know when you'll come upon a Basil Fawlty or some other similarly memorable character, and traveling solo, you'll often connect.

To feel really at home, stay in a home, the easiest way for solo travelers to meet and live with locals. Others may be sharing the house as well, usually with the family, and often there's a minimum stay, maybe a week or so. You may have to share a room or a bath, but if you're willing to spend a bit more, you can often negotiate this.

Kitchen privileges are usually included, you'll probably have a key to come and go as you please, and sometimes a private entrance. The family may even guide you around -- maybe for a fee. Obviously, homes and hygiene vary, so check on this aspect, and get referrals before committing.

Some travel packages cover air costs and lodging, and could include a couple of meals a day. If you want a comfortable apartment or condo, this is a great way for a solo traveler to make friends and revisit them. And even better, you can probably swap your timeshare for another, somewhere else in the world. These lodgings are kept in good order, with ample space and generic taste, as maintenance is controlled.

Get the skinny on single rooms. An accommodations page is updated frequently. Strictly administered, deluxe group of independently owned chateaux, country houses, manors, and quality restaurants worldwide that cater to solo travelers. A Super-Deluxe Trip in Vietnam. I recently set forth to traverse Vietnam from south to north with a traveling budget of almost unlimited resources.

A dream trip for solo travelers or with others.. You can go for broke, or go for less. Either way, Vietnam is a great destination. The first thing I noticed upon hitting the ground: Today, the ambience is decidedly more mellow, all sleek marble and quiet service. Across the street, the refurbished Rex Hotel was once a military billet. Still, my jet lag required additional pampering, which I received with a whirlpool in the spacious outdoor pool, and a deep-tissue massage at the gleaming spa.

For dinner, I was treated to a bowl of steaming pho, the classic Vietnamese soup of ginger, basil, noodles and beef. The transportation options in Vietnam are surprisingly robust: I decided instead on a first-class train ticket, a chance to doze for three peaceful hours as villages sped by.

Upon arrival, I was chauffeured from the station to the secluded tropical gardens, emerald lawns and pavilions of Ocean Dunes Golf Club ; vietnamgolfresorts. A full-service resort, Ocean Dunes offers sprawling suites that overlook a private beach and come with wireless Internet access. One starry night, I was driven in a golf cart to a tiny ancient temple right off a green, where I dined by torchlight on delicate fish in a basil-infused broth with a side splash of nuoc mam , the pungent local fish sauce that tastes better than it smells.

Young dancers entertained me as if I were a Vietnamese empress. An all-villa luxury boutique resort, it provides a fusion of contemporary and traditional aesthetics, and prides itself on indulging any whim that its guests could wish for, such as.

My motorcycle driver careened along the dramatic, winding roads, while villagers waved us on as if we were competitors in the Vietnam Grand Prix. Wind-whipped but refreshed, I arrived at Da Lat — which reminded me at first glance of an old-world European beauty spot, something like an Asian Baden-Baden.

Created as a French colonial hill town early in the last century, its grand villas, hundreds in Art Deco style, face the wide boulevards. One piece of the past: The classic layout meanders around a series of lakes, affording panoramic views from its undulating greens. But after 18 holes, I opted instead for super-soft adventure — a nap — at my hilltop hotel, the Sofitel Dalat Palace ; sofitel.

The guest room featured a canopied bed, working fireplace and spacious balcony overlooking a lake. After a brief stay in Hanoi at the famed colonial-era Sofitel Metropole Hanoi ; sofitel. There, my overnight accommodation was the Emeraude ; emeraude-cruises. From my oversized bed, I gazed at endless craggy islands rising through the mist while my feet and neck were expertly massaged and my buzzy mango concoction readily refilled by smiling attendants.

All that — and sublime accommodations. As a bonus, Hoi An is known most for exceptional handmade silk and wool clothing. Scores of stores advertise one-day tailoring. Life Heritage Resort Hoi An ; life-resorts. With 60 split-level guesthouses and 40 grand pool villas — each boasting landscaped gardens and views of the South China Sea and Cham Islands — Nam Hai delivers a multitude of amenities: And a dream budget!

From Antarctica to the Arctic, the Caribbean to Canada, Mexico to the Mediterranean, they travel the great rivers of Europe and North America, sail along Norwegian fjords and other scenic coasts, cross oceans, explore the globe's most remote destinations, and even embark on world cruises. Their size enables a small group of travelers, especially wonderful when you're traveling solo, to go where no other cruise ships go - to the inland capitals of Europe and Asia, tiny islands in the tropics, undiscovered ports in the Middle East, remote coves and bays in Alaska, America's Intra-Coastal Waterway and much more.

The combination of out-of-the-way destinations and relatively small amount of passengers means that the lucky few onboard experience the world as though it was theirs alone to discover. Whether the shipboard experience emphasizes sheer elegance and luxury while visiting some of the world's most glamorous yachting destinations, or a more informal yet equally delightful and comfortable lifestyle for journeying through nature's most extreme environments, all small ships have other qualities in common.

They enable guests to socialize easily and share experiences with new-found friends who share their interests and tastes. They provide a true and very satisfying sense of having a home away from home, feeling cared for by staff the guests come to know and enjoy. And, small ships virtually eliminate the hassles of travel. Getting on and off the vessel is effortless, with docking in the very center of the action of each destination or port, and sightseeing is crowdless, often in places where there are few other visitors.

Here is a sampling of small ship cruise opportunities offered by members of CLIA: But among the most popular offerings are voyages to Antarctica, a North to South world cruise, and Greenland Exploration cruises featuring the berth MS Fram, launched in and built specifically for adventure. As they visit such remote destinations at the southern tip of the world as Marguerite Bay, Whaler's Bay, Cuverville Island and others, passengers discover that the only ones wearing tuxedoes are the penguins.

The intimate, stateroom Empress of the North is small enoughto explore the wilderness and waterways of Alaska's Inland Passage. Thepassenger Queen of the West and the stateroom Columbia Queen were built to cruise the rivers of the Northwest, including the Columbia andthe Snake. And, on the mighty Mississippi, the historic, passenger Delta Queen is the last operational steam-powered sternwheeler reminiscent of those piloted by Mark Twain, while the guest American Queen is the world's largest river cruise ship.

In addition to capturing a romantic and unique era in American history, both glamorous ships are fully modernized for today's travelers. The ship will sail on seven- to night itineraries in the Caribbean during the winter months and a variety of voyages in North America during the spring, summer and fall. These include trips through the Canadian Maritimes, the St.

In , they will be joined by the somewhat larger, all-new Seabourn Odyssey. With staff members almost outnumbering guests, Seabourn guests are treated to gourmet cuisine created by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, a casino and spa, all-suite accommodations, complimentary wines, spirits and champagne and such signature experiences as "Caviar in the Surf.

Facilities and amenities include fine dining with complimentary red and white wine, a casino, library, a piano bar and Top of the Yacht bar, a Main Salon and a water sports marina offering a full range of equipment for enjoyment right off the ship. In the winter, SeaDream visits some of the most exclusive islands in the Caribbean, including St.

During its inaugural season it will feature special Sea of Cortez expeditions in September, complete with eight Zodiac boats for up close viewing of birds, dolphins, whales and sea lions. The company's other four larger ships also fit the small ship category, with Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper carrying no more than passengers and Silver Cloud and Silver Wind accommodating only Offering worldwide itineraries, the vessels feature ocean-view suite accommodations, complimentary shoreside experiences, entertainment and onboard enrichment, complimentary beverages and in-suite beverage cabinets and other amenities for an ultra-luxury experience.

Combining old world elegance with modern amenities, the vessels feature expansive views of passing countryside, libraries, a lounge with full-service bar, boutiques, a beauty salon and hour coffee bar. Operating for more than 30 years, Uniworld offers itineraries on 12 rivers in 20 countries across four continents, including Europe, Russia, Egypt and China.

One day voyage features the Ukraine, the Black Sea and Istanbul. Carrying just to guests, the ships visit 50 countries, calling at ports throughout Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas.

Windstar appeals to contemporary travelers with a casual onboard ambiance, alternative dining venues, a diversity of shore excursions, deluxe spa facilities and a complimentary water sports program. Popular with honeymooners because of the ships' innate romantic elegance, Windstar also offers voyages through the Greek Islands and in-depth explorations of Costa Rica. Solo travelers need to multitask to save time, which can be more important that money. People would rather carry their own luggage to their rooms than wait for the bellman — although that practice also saves money in tips.

Providing faster baggage collection after a flight lands would be a service most of us would pay for. People talk with their thumbs. Hotel guests might prefer to text-message their room service orders; it would also solve language barriers and order errors. Normal is no longer good enough.

Looking for the fountain of youth. Solo women are looking to renew and reinvent themselves, citing the spa explosion. Being beautiful is important, but is no longer enough. But what makes it unique is the gift it has for taking you by surprise, by offering you those one-of-a-kind moments that stay in your memory and make living such a wondrous adventure.

Provence surprises you in all kinds of ways. Only in Provence can you drive peacefully along a back road even in the height of summer. And only in Provence can you take a hiking trail and encounter just the faint whisper of the wind in the trees. The quality of the light, particularly in winter, will astound you, too. Provence will surprise you, as well, with the warmth of its people, who are more than willing to spend time sharing their passions.

Provence is also a dynamic, forward-moving region that shows a special talent for marrying the past with the present, bringing out the best in both. The originality of Provence lies in its contrasts: Provence has no end of surprises in store. Nearby is a troglodyte farm, now an agricultural museum, which was part of the quarries from which Glanum was built.

A single foot limestone monolith standing in the field is striking. At the Ocher Conservatory you can attend workshops that teach the secrets of using ocher and other natural pigments. Still fished by hand, they are sold right off the boat in January and February during the sea urchin festivals on the coast.

There is a strong trend toward organic wines in Provence, and the generous tasting samples that are still free of charge are yet another pleasant surprise. Asia Transpacific Journeys, a luxury Asia travel company specializing in Custom Travel to India and in-depth Small Group Trips throughout India, sheds light on how to make sense of travel to India and its complexities.

Where does one begin in India? On subsequent trips explore the tropical south and rugged northern Himalayan regions. How are the south and the north different?

The south feels like a different country, tropical and lush. This is the spice mecca Columbus sought. There is a languorous feel, and the ancient temple architecture is stunning. By contrast, the stark, snow-capped northern Himalayan region is home to ridge-top monasteries and contrasting Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and mystic religious traditions.

What are the accommodations like throughout India? In the south most properties are traditionally appointed boutique hotels and converted private mansions. In the Himalayan region expect rustic lodges and a few luxurious spa retreats. What are the benefits of private, custom travel to India? Going with a knowledgeable, reputable travel company will assure consistently excellent quality in lodging, transport, logistics and local guides.

Medical Tourism -- A Trend. The kind of traveling that involves a medical purpose behind it is generally termed as medical tourism. A medical tour can be concerned with any kind of health check-up or even for some major surgical reasons. It has been the trend to move to cheaper and similar equipped places for certain critical treatments or surgeries.

Some major surgeries such as, cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgery or dental surgery and many more, are often opted to be undertaken in countries with cheaper medical facilities. And many solo travelers have been taking advantage of it.

However, besides, the individual medical care and other such health oriented issues, the medical health tourism companies also go that extra mile in keeping with the luxury quotient of their esteemed guests and every single patient. They take special initiative in putting forth enough facilities and services for them, to keep them in ultimate comfort and a luxurious ambiance. Though coined quite recently, the term, medical tourism is a not-so-new concept, however.

Thousands of years before, the Greeks were believed to be moving to a magical place called Epidauria. They believed it to be God Asklepios's abode, and continued to visit the spot to recover sooner from illness.

The concept of medical tourism is thus quite an archaic concept that has been religiously going on since the beginning of ancient civilization. There are certain vital factors that have led to the wide dispersion of this unique kind of tourism among the recent travelers.

With the easy and cheaper availability of international traveling, and the rising improvements in the field of medicine and technology all around the globe, a medical trip a year is now a common phenomenon. No one wants to take any risk on their health issues, thereby opting for the best in the business and heading for a short or sometimes a longer medical trip.

An article by the University of Delaware publication, Udaily, speaks volume on this. Cosmetic surgery savings are even greater: While these are the ideal places to go for a medical trip, some of the orgnizations, such as The Society for International Healthcare Accreditation SOFIHA and HealthCare Tourism International, are the non-profit organizations that help in providing the guest-patients with every possible means of comfort and cure.

Whether you travel solo or with others, check out some of the most renowned food festivals of the world: The chief attraction of this festival is the annual Truffle Auction. Kona Coffee Fest, Hawaii Coffee lovers must not miss this festival of coffee being celebrated for more than years. The spectacular beauty of the island of Kona attract more than visitors each year on this day long celebration. There are more than 50 events on the schedule of the festival.

There are parades, a Miss Kona Coffee Pageant, outdoor concerts, a golf tournament and tasting. This festival is famous for fresh island seafood and the fishermen who provide it. It takes place on the Easter weekend. Then Montreal's famous beer festival is ideal for you. You will be able to taste more than brews and out of which there are 15 exclusive brews created just for this event. Around cheeses from the best of America's dairies represent this festival.

The best quality mangoes from all over the country can be seen and tasted in the International Mango Festival in Uttar Pradesh. One will surely love the variety of taste provided by the same fruit.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair, California This annual harvest festival consists of seafood fisheries and artisan producers.

Other events are scarecrow-making contest, pig races and a cow-milking contest. In addition, another point of attraction is the front display hall with the pick of local wines. Iceland Food and Fun Festival This unique festival takes place during the frost. The cuisine by world class chefs are served at Reykjavik's top restaurants. The special and exclusive menus are made exclusively from the ingredients from Iceland. For the special event on the last day of the festival the acclaimed chefs visiting from other countries and who have never previously worked with Icelandic ingredients, are given one hour to shop for them at a supermarket and three hours to whip them into haute cuisine.

The results are presented at the Reykjavik Art Museum. You will experience the taste of South Florida's culinary culture here. Holland offers cultural heritage gems such as beautiful historic towns, special regions, outdoor spaces, fortresses and waterlines.

Half the country is below sea level and this has given Holland exceptional, but less well-known landscapes: Holland boasts a growing list of restaurants with Michelin stars, and these and others can be found inside factories, towers and small castles.

Sleeping in a castle, boat, lighthouse or haystack, these unexpected delights are only a short distance away from Amsterdam. Travelers can get tips on unusual accommodations, restaurants, as well as original sites of interest and activities.

All gems have been selected based on exclusivity, quality and originality. A few Holland gems: Ideas throughout the year, whether solo or with friends and family! Discover a colorful village, nestled among the towering trees, flowing waterways and elaborate stone structures. Explore the layers of the lush landscape from the jungle floor to the leafy canopy with three levels of exploration tunnels, climbing nets and mazes, soar above the treetops on a zip line adventure or launch into the sky from inside a foot waterfall.

Then, connect up close with exotic jungle animals. Come face-to-face with orangutans from treetop viewing platforms and test your strength in a tug of war with a Bengal tiger. Celebrate a jungle village where the inhabitants, both human and animal, live in complete harmony with nature.

Swing by for an unforgettable adventure and an extraordinary mix of discovery and fun in the only jungle in the world that plays with you. The new splash ground features unique water sources resembling some local favorites and residents of the Zoo! The splash ground was designed for those hot and humid days in Florida when you just want to cool off. The area includes a gator, frog, hippo, raining trees, water tunnel and a bucket dump is just waiting for children-of-all-ages to enjoy.

Each year the Zoo hosts several exciting events including: New events to the Zoo include Brews around the Zoo on March 15, There is always something to do at the Zoo! Augustine The Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum consists of two separate interpretive exhibits, each with its own entrance.

There, visitors entering the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum will be drawn into the living history village which features costumed interpreters practicing various crafts such as blacksmithing, carpentry, leatherworking, and calligraphy, reflecting the colonial city in the late part of the First Spanish Period, about The de Mesa Sanchez House, a rose colored, ashlar-scored building at 43 St.

George Street, will provide a second interpretive exhibit. Visitors may purchase a combined ticket to the two museum exhibits or a single ticket to either one. They later sold the operation to Wometco Enterprises, current owners of the Miami Seaquarium. Be sure to visit their new website at www.

Ticket prices vary for each event. Interactive features like text and voice messages can be obtained from cell phones and downloadable Podcasts will enhance interpretive messages and allow guests to immerse themselves in the action.

They are found in the wild off the coast of South Africa and Namibia. Jungle Island is a multi-faceted entertainment destination, see three spectacular shows: Winged Wonders, our world famous bird show; Reptiles of the Jungle, which includes cold-blooded reptiles that will send chills down your spine; and Tale of the tiger with awesome tigers. Dolphin Harbor offers guests two different dolphin interaction programs. Dolphin Odyssey is a two-hour experience, which includes feeding, touching and learning about these magnificent animals plus the opportunity for a deep-water interaction with a dolphin.

Guests at least 52 inches tall may participate in the Dolphin Odyssey program. Dolphin Encounter is a new program that allows guests to wade out into the pool and have a shallow water experience meeting the dolphins.

The two-hour program features an educational seminar and the chance to feed and touch a dolphin as well as learn about dolphin training techniques. Mommy and Me at Mote, popular play programs for children ages and their mommies or caregivers. Now offered on select Thursdays and Saturdays, these hour-long programs begin at There is also a 3: Participants can sign-up for individual programs or discounted session packages.

Pre-registration is required for all education programs. Mote members receive a discount for all educational offerings. Recently installed in a beautiful and tranquil viewing garden, this stunning work of art is freely accessible to the viewing public.

Inside the museum it may chill your nerves to see our recently-acquired macabre memento of less civil times: After dark, thrill to our newest, Walking Ghost Adventure. Elegantly-dressed and knowledgeable guides lead guests through some of St. Augustine is where you can truly Experience the Unexpected in ! Where one river floats you through an undersea world of colorful fish and another races you into rolling rapids.

Delight in the serene-to-extreme waters in the gigantic double wave pools and soak in the sun or the cooling shade on the white sand beach. Aquatica is where the fun is as endless as the sea itself. In addition to building greater depth in the animal collection and expanding conservation programs, the zoo is pleased to announce the addition of a water flume ride and albino alligator exhibit.

Watch out for falling waters as the ride plunges almost 30 feet at the splash down. Check out these four, for starters. Trains are a safe, comfy way for solo women to travel. Here's a listing of "The World's Top 25 Trains," as determined by The Society of International Railway Travelers, an organization of travelers who love the comfort, romance and fun of great trains. Others offer the most stylish and comfortable way to see less-developed regions, such as the world's newest private train, the Danube Express, which offers week-long, rail-based "cruises" through Central Europe.

Following, in geographical order, are the winning trains and principal countries or areas of operation: I remember a seven-country, day speed tour through Europe, whizzing along with 40 assorted tourists including bawling kids and folks on walkers who inevitably held up the bus going to the rest rooms. These quickie tours offered a tantalizing, frustrating taste of places that seemed impossibly foreign, even if Paris was just an elevator ride up the Eiffel Tower, a glance at Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, and an evening cruise on the Seine.

Rome included driving by the Coliseum and the Forum, pasta at trattorias with other tourists, and tossing a coin into Trevi fountain just like the movie Three Coins in the Fountain , which I had loved. My wish as I tossed my coin, was to return, and experience more than just a blur. Guidebooks were few, our culinary sophistication was pizza-level. We hardly heard anything but English, and rarely met a local, except at prearranged shopping sites.

But it still seemed exciting, because this type of travel was all we knew. And with fewer moves and transport problems, safety improves and costs go down. I can plan to travel deeply in France at another time. Interested in the in-depth approach? Some specific slow-travel suggestions: Read up, work on language basics, learn geography, history, culture, politics, foods.

The more you know about a place, the better the slow-go, and the more chance for enlightening surprises. Your available time will dictate your pace. A week or so in Tuscany? Maybe best to choose a hub and unpack only once, with day-trips from there.

For example, stay in Florence and visit the countryside on daytrips. With a couple of weeks or more, you could easily move around a region, by train, bus or car, taking time to get a feel for each area. Just pack light as possible. You can luxuriate in your villa terrace overlooking grapevine-covered hills with a glass of chianti, or tool around on a Vespa, tasting vintages, dining gloriously as you go, and staying in charming pensiones along the way --or do both.

Budget The better you know the bucks you can spend, the better you can decide where and when you go. And one benefit of slow travel is that you can get discounts for staying put, and finding out where locals eat, shop and play.

Be Flexible With slow travel you could just book your arrival and departure dates ahead and play around with the middle, leaving room for discovery. Buying The ultimate is to purchase a lodging: Like Frances Mayes in Cortona, Italy and Peter Mayle in Provence, you could buy a grand fixer-upper, and maybe even turn the experience into a bestseller, and fame and fortune.

You and your abode can indeed become a site for other slow travelers to visit! If buying is a possibility, be extra careful: What are your preferences? How about culture, climate? Economic and legal ramifications? Commuting costs and convenience? How important is language? What are nearby towns like? Is the political climate friendly? Is the economy stabile? Write questions down, and then, if still interested, travel several times before you invest. Do not go by second-hand opinions, photos on the Web, real estate promotions, whims or dreams alone.

Long-Stay Hotels Nowadays many chains such as Executive. Suites and Hampton Inns offer long-stay suites and efficiency apartments for minimum cost and with adequate comfort. Big cities now often offer glam apartment hotels in city center for stays of a month or more. Offer, as a last resort, to take a room or suite that would remains empty otherwise.

When I stayed for six weeks in the Philippines, I got a great deal at a hotel near the airport. You can find lists of rentals on websites like craigslist. And if you wait till you arrive, at airports and railroad stations.

At ferry stations, renters will often meet the boats. Clean and simple are fine. And you should be near restaurants and in a safe neighborhood. Are you able to do some cooking yourself? Are you near public transport, shops, entertainment? Is the setting attractive? When I lived in London for a year I rented a house near a tube station, 20 minutes north of the city. Got a better deal and more space, but I was still close-in. Time Shares When buying a timeshare, you can choose to return for a week or a month to your own place, or choose to swap for another place around the world.

Home Stays When other lodgings are few, you can often be part of a real home scene. He wore a kilt and had a blonde wife who gave cooking classes. But home stays vary from low-down to high-end.

Be especially careful to check out the surroundings, but these may be the only options if you go far afield.. Then you may be able to swap lodgings. Your South Florida condo may seem a great deal to someone out there. Just consider working through an agency, to be sure. Consider a freighter, which may stay at offbeat ports for days, loading and unloading cargo. But if you have months rather than weeks to travel, you can enjoy this slow travel on the high seas, and make some new friends on the adventure.

Or try a barge, where you float along rivers and canals more slowly than with other water travel; you can often go slowly enough to bike along paths and stay with the barge. Ferries are fab for slow travel. Greece and Alaska ferry systems, and Norwegian coastal mailboats and fjord ferries are just a few good options.

Railpass The Oriental express and Scottish Highlander are two luxury options. But Britrail and Eurail offer passes which allow you to get on and off, and take it slow, at a discount. Car Stay or go, slow or slower. A car is freedom to do as you wish.

And if you really want maximum freedom, skip the driver and do it yourself. Today, groups do the lugging and you can enjoy the exercise, with luxury meals and top-notch inns,.

Walk No slower way to travel, and no better to get to know a place. For more info on slow travel, google any of the above categories for numerous websites, or check out www.

Depending on the time period, I sometimes stayed in one place; other times, traveled around. Add your own favorites; slow-go—but in any case, do go!

Bruges, Ghent, Waterloo Cape Cod: Etruscan tombs, Appian Way, ancient port of Citte Shanghai: Naples, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast Paris: Long Island beaches, Hudson Valley Florence: Tuscan villages, wine country Vienna: Marin County, Carmel LA: Death Valley, northern Nevada, mining towns Hawaiian Islands: In small towns, you may find a local information office called a pro loco which can provide you with news of upcoming local events, nearby sights, and so forth, though it is not likely that the pro loco's staff will speak English.

We suggest our links page for more ideas. The official Sicilian regional tourism website is poorly-edited by a firm in Milan in English so terrible that we would be ashamed to recommend it. What's the best travel guide book for somebody planning a visit to Sicily? Each has a different emphasis and angle. See our books page for some solid recommendations.

For general road maps, we recommend those published by the Touring Club Italiano. These are available at book stores in larger Sicilian cities like Palermo and Catania. In general, we recommend that you purchase souvenirs and craft items, such as ceramics, at shops that specialise in the manufacture of these objects. A souvenir shop or stand that sells everything from porcelain to ceramics to medieval-style marionettes is not likely to have the selection and quality of items available from specialty shops that make the wares they sell.

That said, there are some shops at Taormina and Monreale which retail the products of various manufacturers and offer a good choice of items.

The specialty guideline also applies to fashion items. A leather shop, even if it is not large, will offer a better choice and quality of merchandise than a department store that sells various items, though department stores in Italy are not very large. So it's best to buy things like silks neckties, scarves and leathers belts, purses at specialty shops. In fact, specialty shops are the norm in Italy, whatever you're looking for, and the prices are usually fair.

What are country retreats 'guest farms' or aziende turistiche and what are they like? And what about renting a villa? Visit the guest farm page to read about 'agriturismo,' with several recommendations. We also have a villa page. In contrast to the rustic setting of the typical country retreat, hot mineral springs and mud baths or, if you prefer, "holistic mud treatment centers" are health resorts that offer a range of therapeutic treatments. These naturally vary according to the resort you choose.

Some offer massage therapy and exercise programs even something called "passive exercise classes" , as well as diet counseling, while others specialize almost exclusively in hot mud therapy. The locations of the resorts themselves vary greatly. The older establishments at Termini Imerese and Sciacca are actually in small but crowded cities, while the one at Castellamare del Golfo is in a charming coastal town, and the one at Sclafani Bagni is in the country. The facilities are usually very good.

A stay in one of these resorts may be relaxing, and will certainly cost more than a sojourn in the best hotels in Sicily. It may even yield a few passing health benefits, and will make you feel better, but don't expect miracles.

I would like to learn to cook Sicilian food. Are there any cooking schools in Sicily with English-speaking instructors? As far as violent street crime is concerned, Italy's largest cities are quite safe compared to London, Paris, Moscow, and certainly New York and Los Angeles.

Since purse snatchings are commonplace the creative Italians even use motor scooters to ride by as they snatch handbags , women are advised against carrying large purses, especially in the cities see below. Though assaults are rare, they do occur, especially in certain parts of Palermo and Catania.

An attractive young woman walking around some parts of these cities alone after As we describe below , a few Sicilian men entertain a rather unenlightened view of women. The prevalence of violent street crime shouldn't be exaggerated, though its potential presence is worth a bit of prudence. You may wish to visit our travel safety page for other observations. Most of the self-serving "travel advice" for "tourists" offered by the Italian and Sicilian travel bureau sites should be ignored, especially as regards matters like traveler safety in public areas.

Organized crime doesn't pose a threat to visitors. Mafia shootings are quite rare; you're far more likely to see one described in the newspaper or on the evening news than to witness one firsthand. To discourage purse snatchings: If you're walking down the street, walk on the side toward facing oncoming traffic.

On the sidewalk on newer streets , walk toward the flow of traffic but not right next to the street, leaving some space between yourself and the cars and motorbikes.

Hold your purse on the side away from the traffic. Increasingly, purse snatchers work on foot usually in pairs rather than on motor scooters, especially during the day. The thieves generally prefer narrow, winding streets. Don't wander the older sections of larger cities Palermo, Catania alone if you can avoid it. While the thieves are unlikely to try to snatch a backpack you're wearing, hand bags are tempting. Don't carry one at all if you don't have too; keep your money, credit cards and travel documents in pockets.

Don't wear gold or pearl necklaces, which might also entice thieves to assault you for the jewelry. Most assaults are directed toward women. Having one or two men with you is not a bad idea. Most countries' consulates general for southern Italy are based in Naples or Rome. However, there are a few vice consulates in Palermo and Catania, and also a number of consular representatives --agents or honorary consuls who can help you out in an emergency but not in bureaucratic matters.

In most cases, unfortunately, consular agents and honorary consuls are Italians, rather than citizens of the nations they represent. Don't expect full consular services from the representatives indicated here. Here's a list of addresses:. Our article on Sicily for children suggests a few possibilities. To get your teens interested in Sicily we suggest Sicily for Students , a convenient links page. What's the electrical voltage in Italy?

Will I be able to use my cell phone charger or plug in my computer? The electrical current in Italy is volts at 50 cycles. This won't be a problem if you're coming from another European Union country, but in the United States the standard current is volts at 50 cycles, so a transformer may be needed to convert Italian power to the American standard. In any event, an adapter may be necessary because British, Australian and American plugs to cite just three examples are different in design from Italian ones; their prongs won't fit into Italian wall sockets.

Some computers and cell phones are designed to adapt to the current variation internally, without need for an external adapter - but do not presume this. It's best to check the owner's manual. Airport shops and occasionally in-flight 'duty-free' services at larger airports outside Italy are a good source of adapters; those in Rome, Milan and Palermo are more interested in selling you food and wine than practical items of this kind.

Any special advice for a woman traveling alone or with a few other women in Sicily? There's no cause for paranoia. Just remember one thing: Even at the beach, in a hotel or in other public places, keep in mind that gestures or actions which might not be considered provocative in Canada, the United States, Australia or Northern Europe could be construed this way in Italy.

That's why a Sicilian woman might seem somewhat reserved when she's alone with a man she doesn't know, even in a business situation. We discuss this below. But it's not only a Sicilian thing; a lot of men in Milan, Turin and Rome behave the same way. Many cultural differences are so subtle that you'll hardly notice them during your stay in Sicily. It's probable that the most pronounced difference will be the Sicilians' unorthodox sense of time and priorities, and the long afternoon "closure" from 1 till 4.

The pace of life is slow, and schedules seem to have little importance. Though this condition exists throughout Italy, it is more evident in Sicily than anywhere else. Realistically, such inefficiency doesn't usually bother vacationers who, after all, are in Sicily to take a break from daily pressures and have a good time. But you'll probably notice other things, too. Throughout Sicily, and especially in Palermo, most people seem reluctant to stand on line in an orderly fashion.

They often crowd around bank teller windows, ticket booths, food stands and cashiers with little respect for the fact that somebody else arrived there first. Italians are generally nice people, but Italian society is essentially socialist in its outlook.

Certain employees of public services are sometimes careless about the way they treat customers. This is something you may notice in the post office or elsewhere; the bus ticket inspectors are infamous for this. They seem to presume that everybody is dishonest. In most restaurants you'll be charged a "coperto" cover charge of one or two euros for each person seated. This nominal charge appears to have originated as the fee for the staff to"cover" the table with a table cloth and serve bread.

Tipping is separate, of course, but the coperto persists because Italians are notoriously cheap tippers. One of the reasons that many waiters prefer foreign customers, particularly Canadians and Americans, is that these diners are usually more generous. While we're on the subject of restaurants, don't be surprised by the lack of a bread plate at your place, and don't bother asking for one because the staff may not know what you're talking about.

The bread will arrive in a basket or plate from which you should serve yourself; don't worry about getting crumbs on the tablecloth. Certain public services are rather inefficient. The postal service, for example, is terrible, with frequent delays and theft. If you have to send anything much more valuable than a post card or letter to another country, use a courier service. Consult the local phone book for an MBE store near you.

If you do send a post card, you may have to purchase your stamps at a tobacco shop because post office windows, which usually have long lines but no automated stamp meters, sometimes run out of stamps in certain denominations usually the ones you need. Italy has peculiar laws that could affect you as a traveler.

These laws are not especially cumbersome but to Americans in particular some may seem like invasions of personal privacy. In practice, too many Italian laws presume that everybody is dishonest and therefore guilty of something. For example, if the Financial Police Guardia di Finanza , a military agency with wide-ranging powers, ask to see your receipt scontrino as you exit a restaurant or shop, it is because they want to ensure that the appropriate taxes were charged.

Not having a receipt doesn't mean you're in any trouble, but it could mean an on-the-spot audit and court summons for the merchant. A bit bizarre, since the uniformed officers issuing the summons are over-armed, equipped with fully automatic sub-machine guns.

When you check in to a hotel, the desk clerk will ask to see your passport, which he may hold for a few hours since he is required by law to compile a form that must be presented to the police. You may provide a photocopy to avoid this inconvenience. This is actually an ineffective anti-Mafia law, enforced throughout Italy, intended to track criminals' movements.

The senators who proposed this law apparently forgot that most such criminals travel on fake identification documents. In the event that you visit a library or public archive, you'll be asked to complete a form which requests information such as your profession and place of birth, as though this personal information were somehow relevant to your consultation of books or other items. Surprising they don't ask your weight too.

One of the funnier aspects of spending your money in Sicily until it happens to you is that many supermarkets and other stores often cannot change a large bank note. Supermarket cashiers will frequently lose a sale before they'll try to break a larger euro note. Owners of smaller establishments prefer to pocket as many of the immediate profits as they can, as soon as they possibly can, and in their hasty greed fail to consider the needs of their customers.

They may even presume that you'll wait for ten or twenty minutes until a customer comes along who has the smaller notes the store needs to change your larger one!

Fortunately, the change problem is less severe at restaurants, hotels and other establishments that serve foreigners. During the passeggiata afternoon stroll in larger Southern cities, it's not unusual for undisciplined young men to call out to attractive young women they don't know with remarks like "Bella! In itself, such practices are usually innocuous, but they do reflect the persistent attitudes of some Italian men accustomed to viewing women as potential sexual conquests rather than social equals.

Throughout Italy, sexual harrassment is somewhat common in the workplace or at least moreso than in the US and the UK , and southern men seem to do it more openly than northerners.

You might observe that many Italian women, though perhaps better-educated than the men they're married to, conform to "traditional" roles in society. Some of these things are quite subtle, others less so. Legally, of course, Italian women have the same rights as men. Socially, that's not always the case. In such an old society, old habits disappear slowly. That obviously depends on what you want to see or do while you're here, but here are some general guidelines.

If you're driving, eight days would be sufficient; if you're traveling by train and occasionally bus , you might want to add a few more days. Palermo is the only city whose sights usually require more than a day to see we recommend at least two. On the other hand, if you want to spend some time at the beaches, or just take more time to visit places at a more leisurely pace, two weeks would be good. Of course, there are those who prefer to spend an entire "season" in Sicily by renting a seaside villa for three or four weeks.

A great idea, but remember that Sicily is usually quite hot during July and August, and that some beaches are particularly crowded in August, when most Italians go on holiday en masse.

Foreign students who choose to study in Italy for a semester or two usually attend universities in Rome, Florence or Bologna. Hardly anybody comes from abroad to study in Sicily at the Univesrity of Palermo, for example , since the universities here aren't particularly distinguished except for highly specialized historical or archeological studies. Besides Catholic churches, are there other places of worship in Sicily? There are several Orthodox churches not to be confused with Byzantine Catholic ones , two Anglican churches in Palermo and Taormina , several public mosques, and a few Pentecostal and Mormon congregations, as well as Waldensian parishes.

There is a small synagogue in Siracusa. For general sightseeing , we recommend the periods October through November and March through June.

For skiing on Mount Etna, late January and early February are best. If you're a dedicated vacationer who can't get enough sunshine and beaches, we recommend June through September. Remember, however, that July, August and the first two weeks of September are extremely hot, and bear in mind that almost everybody in Italy goes on vacation in August, making for crowded beaches during that month.

However, if your taste runs to the unconventional, creative or independent, consider Sicily in Winter. Our Sicily weather page will give you current conditions, the forecast and month-by-month temperature and precipitation information.

We commend you to our page on the real Sicilians. Where can I get accurate historical and cultural information on Sicily? You might begin with our Magazine , updated monthly, or our Links page, but some of the cultural and historical information on the Internet including Wikipedia , and even the information found in most magazines, is simply inaccurate.

Remember that guide books are not history books; we even found one on Sicily that describes Count Roger de Hauteville as an Englishman! Some of the best histories are published in Italian and available in Sicilian book stores particularly those in Palermo along Via Maqueda between the Quattro Canti and Cathedral. Our book page is a good source of more detailed information on many subjects presented on this site.

Even the most astute historical authors don't agree with each other on everything, but most critics would agree that the books we recommend are the best in print on their respective topics.

Most of the dance clubs discos in Sicily's larger cities are located in out-of-the-way places, often in buildings that don't look very exciting from the outside, and some are far from the cities, "in the middle of nowhere.

It's easiest to ask the staff at your hotel where to find the ones closest to you, or the "hotter" ones worth a special trip. The presence of this military base is a reminder that one thing that hasn't changed in thirty centuries of Sicilian history is this island's strategic importance.

Sigonella, the last U. After the Italian government and government-controlled services and a few large firms Fiat closed its Sicilian plant in , the US Government is the largest employer in Sicily.

Military bases are not usually indicated on commercial maps, so we've chosen not to indicate Sigonella on our map of Sicily. For further information, visit their web site at www. Not as much so as some parts of western and northern Europe, though it is not nearly as homophobic as parts of eastern Europe and certain predominantly Muslim countries. Here we strongly recommend discretion in matters like showing affection in public - though Italian heterosexual couples are unrestrained in that regard.

There aren't many exclusively gay bars. One of the main issues for travellers is whether hotels are gay-friendly. The largest cities Palermo and Catania and a few sophisticated resort areas like Taormina are perhaps the most open-minded, smaller towns much less so.

In general, bed and breakfasts are recommended over hotels, and a web search with sicily hotel gay friendly will turn up at least a few. In fact, bed and breakfasts are a booming business here, having effectively taken business from many pricey hotels. Sicily appears to be more lesbian-friendly than gay male friendly, and in any case more accepting of same-sex couples over 40 than younger ones. Sicilians have elected openly-gay politicians to important leadership positions, so it is clear that - speaking generally - they are indifferent to personal matters of this kind.

See the links page for sites listing gay-friendly venues in Sicily. Can you offer any advice for physically challenged handicapped visitors or those with special needs? We have a page dedicated to the topic of Sicilian travel for physically challenged visitors. Our events page describes events which occur annually around Sicily.

You'll have to find more detailed schedules on your own, but we suggest good methods for doing so. Despite what certain Sicilian naturist nudist organisations may tell you, national law prohibits full nudity on public beaches, which in Italy are all governed by national statute despite the occasional case of an eccentric mayor "permitting" nudity on "his" beach. Toplessness, however, is permitted, though perhaps less commonplace than you may imagine if your point of reference is Ibiza or some other popular Mediterranean resort.

Let's succinctly consider the realities here:. Firstly, few of the young women you see sunbathing topless on Sicily's beaches are Sicilian or even Italian; most are foreigners. This is oddly consistent with what you'll see elsewhere in Italian life. Italian women wear the world's tiniest miniskirts but very rarely go braless. Some may cultivate a different fashion when they're far from home, but that's a whole other topic of discussion Secondly, most of the nude sunbathers on the public beaches where nudity is sometimes if unofficially and perhaps illegally tolerated are single men; you'll only rarely encounter women, couples or families on these beaches.

That's a statistical fact, and indeed Sicily's few naturist organisations count far more men than women among their memberships. This implies no judgement on our part, but rather a simple recognition of what you are most likely to encounter at the so-called "nude" beaches, and something to consider before visiting these.

In view of reality and law, the designation by a handful of Sicilian naturists of particular beaches as "clothing optional" is nothing short of ridiculous. These terms are used in the lodging and travel industries relative to the seasonal variation in prices of flights, hotel stays and other services available throughout the year.

Speaking generally, High Season refers to the warmer months, from April through September, while the Low Season is usually defined as October through March. We sincerely believe that the winter is a perfect season to visit Sicily. Check out our weather and climate page for information on average temperatures and precipitation. While it is true that Italy has been indirectly involved in some of these conflicts - with Libyan and Tunisian refugees arriving on Lampedusa and the southeastern Sicilian coasts - they have not imposed any other conditions that you can see.

Sicily is a big island about the size of Wales or Massachusetts , and even during the Libyan "civil war" of the only evidence you might have encountered were a few military jets at the Trapani airport. Is there accommodation for those having special dietary restrictions? For information regarding specific diets Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Kosher, Halal , please visit our page on health and dietary restrictions. How do I find a genealogist or somebody to take me to an ancestor's place of birth?

We can sometimes recommend Sicily-based genealogists for specific research projects. See the genealogy page for general information on available records and sound research strategies.

The tour guide page lists a few travel consultants familiar with vital statistics records who can take you to an ancestral locality to visit and research 19th-century records while you're there. We should stress the importance of competence here, and your planning must take into account such details as public office hours and Italian public holidays.

What are suggested literary itineraries? Are there literary parks in Sicily? Sicily has had more than its share of great literature: Verga, di Lampedusa, Sciascia, Pirandello. Some tour operators can plan a literary tour based on the places described by these Sicilian writers.

A few tour guides also offer presonalized tours of this kind. The literary museums and parks dedicated to Pirandello and Sciascia are good, while others may leave something to be desired. Any advice for expatriates moving to Sicily or searching for employment in the local economy?

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