Top Travelogues

There is a seemingly endless number of travelogues to choose from to inspire your journeys. Let’s be honest, it’s the best topic to write on. Travel transforms people, so it’s no wonder that it makes for such good stories. Plus, from time immemorial, tales of faraway lands have captivated the human imagination. Here are a few we love to read for your next flight.

The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain


Chronicling Twain’s trip around the Mediterranean in 1867 with a group of Americans aboard the chartered ship Quaker City, the book is cobbled together from newspaper columns Twain wrote about the journey. Twain contrasts the attitude of America, where everything is new and history is being written in real time with the focus on the past he encountered in Europe and the Holy Land. He also critiques tour guides, recognizing what makes a good one and what doesn’t, something we all can learn from. He does it all with the humorous insight only he possessed.

Travels with Myself and Another, Martha Gellhorn


Perhaps most well-known as the third wife of Ernest Hemingway, Gellhorn was a talented travel writer and war correspondent in her own right and has a journalism award named after her. She and Hemingway (the titular other) fell in love while covering the Spanish Civil War, and Gellhorn covered conflict from then to the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989. This memoir highlights some of the not-so-great aspects of travel — the tediousness of getting from Point A to Point B, the havoc travel can wreak on the digestive tract — along with the awe: “I saw, drugged with sleep and shivering, the great African sky which I have been seeking — a riot of stars, velvet black, felt as an arch, and the air seeming to glint with starshine,” she recounts.

A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle


Mayle and his wife moved to Provence, and this book details the first year. For every beautiful meal washed down with the perfect wine pairing, there is a cold wind or a harsh lesson in the relatively lax work ethic of handymen. All in all, it’s a lighthearted fish-out-of-water account that conveys the lesson that life is better when you take it easy, even if your projects might never get completed. There are more important things than working your fingers to the bone to meet the constant deadlines of the modern workaday world.

West With the Night, Beryl Markham


Markham grew up in colonial Kenya (then British East Africa), where she began her flying career as a bush pilot and befriended Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. In 1936, she became the first woman to fly solo westward across the Atlantic, after several predecessors had died in the attempt. The westward transatlantic flight is harder because the wind is against you. When her fuel tank vents iced over, she crash-landed in Nova Scotia. West With the Night details these experiences in lively prose. A telltale anecdote about Markham’s rebellion against social norms, an ex-husband of hers tried to claim he wrote most of the book, despite evidence that Markham submitted a partial manuscript to a publisher before meeting him.

The Travels of Marco Polo, Rustichello da Pisa


If you have to be imprisoned, hearing some good stories to pass the time is as good as you can hope for. As cellmates go, Marco Polo might have been the best. While they were locked up together in Genoa, Polo shared tales of his travels with the author Rustichello, who wrote them down. While there is likely some embellishment, the book is a vivid account of Polo’s journeys through Asia, including service at the court of Kublai Khan. It went as viral as anything could in the days before the printing press, inspiring countless explorers.

Capitals of Culture

Each year, cities around the world are chosen as capitals of culture to be highlighted and celebrated throughout the year. The European Union began the tradition in 1985 and elects two cities in member states annually. The American Capital of Culture Organization was created to follow suit, and UNESCO chooses an Arab Capital of Culture. The International Organization of Turkic Culture also makes an annual appointment, while the UK picks a City of Culture to serve for four years. This week, we spotlight cities recognized for 2019.

Matera, Italy

Matera is serving alongside Plovdiv, Bulgaria, this year as a European capital of Culture. In Southern Italy’s Basilicata region, Matera has been steadily gaining popularity in recent years as travelers branch out from the usual Italian haunts. It’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with traces of civilization dating back thousands of years. Matera’s old town, the Sassi, was carved from cliffside caves on the edge of a ravine. Over the years, more and more buildings have been stacked on top of each other, creating a striking scene that has caught the eye of filmmakers using it as a substitute for the ancient Holy Land and travelers seeking new adventures in Italy.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

This colonial hill town 150 miles from Mexico City is this year’s capital of culture for the Americas. A colorful city full of colorful people, San Miguel has attracted expatriates from the world over for its lively arts and gastronomic scenes. Artisans’ markets and galleries seem to pack every street, and the scenery itself is straight out of a painting. The weather is just about perfect at all times, with average temperatures in the 60s and an elevation of around 6,000 feet. Outside the city is a pyramid complex at La Canada de la Virgen, and the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sharjah, UAE

Dubai and Abu Dhabi get all the publicity, but there are five other emirates rounding out the UAE. Sharjah is widely considered the cultural capital of the Emirates, home to a museum of Islamic art and architecture, Al Noor Mosque and a large aquarium. The Emirates Fine Arts Society is located in Sharjah, as is a museum of calligraphy. While Abu Dhabi and Dubai have embraced the ultramodern, Sharjah seeks to preserve Emirati heritage. That isn’t to say that’s it all stodgy all the time, as there are picturesque beaches on both the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, plus deserts and mountains to satisfy any outdoor thrill-seeker.

Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Osh made a name for itself producing fine silks for traders traversing the Silk Road, and in 2019 it’s Turkic capital of culture. The city remains a crossroads of cultures, with 80 or so ethnicities represented in the population. Sulayman Mountain, the only World Heritage site located entirely within Kyrgyzstan, supplies magnificent views of the city and its surroundings. There are traces of history commemorating pre-Islamic times, the Silk Road and Russian occupation. The mountaintop is considered sacred, and there are ancient petroglyphs at its base. Peruse the traditional bazaar and you’ll see more spices than you can count, another mark of the many cultures that have passed through.

Kingston-upon-Hull, England

Better known simply as Hull, this city on the east coast of northern England has been the UK city of culture since 2017 and will be replaced by Coventry in 2021. Hull’s Museum Quarter contains the Wilberforce House, home of William Wilberforce, who led the movement to stop the British involvement in the slave trade. The Deep is an aquarium at the confluence of two rivers with more than 5,000 sea creatures and a whopping 660,000 gallons of water inside. The city has a renowned theater culture, and the Hull City Tigers soccer team has enjoyed several seasons in the English Premier League in the last decade, reaching the FA Cup final in 2014.

Top Cooking Classes

We’re smack in the middle of the cooking season. Thanksgiving has come and gone and with it the first round of feasting. Maybe you’re still working your way through leftover stuffing or making soup with turkey stock. If you haven’t already started, you may soon be deep in the throes of making Christmas cookies and other goodies. With Hanukkah underway, perhaps you’ve already churned out several loaves of Challah or several batches of latkes. Whether you’re trying to keep your skills sharp on vacation or learn how it’s done in a different culture, you’ll love these cooking classes with Virtuoso partners.

Florence

Eatwith lets you start your morning by meeting an Italian grandmother in Florence’s central market, shopping for ingredients that you’ll make into a wonderful meal that afternoon. Spend time discovering Florence with a local and stop off for a nice glass of wine or coffee before getting down to business. Learn how to make homemade pasta from recipes that have been passed down for generations. Cap it all off by enjoying a meal that tastes even better because you had a hand in it.

Casablanca

Soak up the sights, sounds and smells of a Moroccan souk with ShoreTrips. Sample lamb, couscous and seafood, deciding what should go in your dish. Once your menu is set, head to your host’s home and dive into making authentic appetizers, main courses, even desserts. Your host’s family will arrive just in time for dinner, sharing snippets of their daily life and engaging in cultural exchange.

Tokyo

Eatwith takes you on a tour of the world’s largest fish market. There will be big, beautiful fillets of tuna, live shrimp jumping and octopuses wriggling. Take the catch of the day to your guide’s house, where you’ll learn the ancient art of sushi making. Your guide will help you make rolls and nigiri and share the secret of the perfect slice. Enjoy a bowl of miso soup and a healthy dessert along with as much sushi as you can handle.

Lima

Discover the history of pre-Columbian cultures through the food of the Peruvian capital. Lima Tours immerses you in a culinary experience that gives you the flavor the country. The chef shares the history, geography, and biodiversity of Peru’s regions, then instructs you on how to make a proper ceviche. For the main course, you’ll make lomo saltado, a stir-fry loaded with beef, vegetables, and French fries. By then, your mouth will be watering and you’ll get to devour your creation.

Lyon

Train under a Michelin-starred chef in the French foodie mecca. Book a cruise that is a Virtuoso Voyages sailing, and you’ll be able to visit the famed Les Halles, dedicated to cooking legend Paul Bocuse. Chef Philippe Lechat will show you around, introducing you to the cooks who make the magic happen. Sample a local specialty to get the taste down, then spend an hour making the main course. Don’t worry about dessert, the chef will handle that. You get to kick back and savor the fruits of your labor.

Talking Travel with Dave Hoffman of Hoffman Law Firm

I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Hoffman of Hoffman Law Firm at the Camp Happy Days Gala. We both share a common interest in giving back to the non-profit organization. Camp Happy Days is a local charity in Charleston that helps children fight cancer by filling their life with hope and some fun. We at DMC Travel Tailor give 5% of our total profit to them and volunteer our time with them to help make this world a better place.

At the gala, DMC Travel Tailor donated a research and planning service as part of an auction item package. Dave Hoffman bid on it and this is how we met. I will be planning his next trip. When we got together we spoke about why he would like to use a travel advisor, the advantages of using one and the benefits he gets from travel. Dave Hoffman expressed that he would like to use a travel advisor to take the worry off his plate, creating a stress-free environment, saving him the valuable asset of time, while having a seamless trip created for him by a travel professional to avoid some of the mishaps he has previously encountered when planning a trip on his own.

Check out this video where Dave expresses why he thinks he would benefit from using a travel advisor:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-1Jt54tSMU&feature=youtu.be

DMC Travel Tailor is affiliated with Virtuoso, which is the leading luxury network in the world. Through this affiliation, we are able to offer clients exclusive perks and benefits they cannot find on their own. It also gives us access to global partners around the world we use to create WOW moments for our clients no matter where they want to go in the world. Some of the destinations we focus on include Africa, Australia, Italy, the British Virgin Islands and Fiji. We are also part of the Virtuoso Adventure Travel Community, specializing in adventure travel. This allows us to give you insight not only on where to go and what to do for a great adventure travel trip but also give you advice on what to wear and any equipment needed to bring.

Check out this video where we speak about that:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CeWfExpl1A&feature=youtu.be

Some of the benefits of travel we discussed were learning other cultures, having eye-opening experiences that promote self-growth, bonding with family members and or loved ones and creating memories that last a lifetime, which is priceless. At the end of the day, you won’t necessarily remember what you have bought, but I bet you will remember the things you have experienced.

If you don’t have a travel advisor and would like to speak to one, please feel free to reach out to me, Stefany Di Manno Ceccato, Dream Travel Designer at DMC Travel Tailor. I can be reached at info@dmctraveltailor.com and or by phone at (917) 653-9346. I would be happy to help in realizing your travel dreams!

GROTTA PALAZZESE AN ENCHANTING DESTINATION IN POLIGNANO A MARE, ITALY

While on a work trip to Bari, Italy, one evening for dinner, we decided to drive 30 kilometers south to a charming Italian village named Polignano A Mare.  Our destination was Grotta Palazzese.  Grotta means cave in Italian.  What a destination it was!  A restaurant that was in a cave built with limestone rocks with turquoise blue water shining from below and a view of the Adriatic sea.  I was in awe with this breathtaking beauty that surrounded me.  All of the tables were covered with white tablecloths and lamps that arced over each table.  You could hear the waves crashing into the cave.  Talk about ambiance!  It was hands down the most enchanting and romantic restaurant I have ever seen.

That evening I had lamb encrusted with pecorino cheese, which was delicious.  However, I couldn’t bring myself to eat the nicely garnished prawn appetizer they brought out when we sat down.  The prawn tasted a bit undercooked to me by American standards.  My husband, Daniele, who is from Venice, Italy, said this is quite typical when I told him.  They also had platters of seafood with the Norway Lobsters fully faced, which is never appetizing to me, but in Italy, this is also quite common, especially in cities on the water.

This place made it easy for me to be in my own wonderland for a few hours.  I was feeling inspired to dream and do.  I love when a place can bring you to this kind of marvelous state of mind!  If you are looking to be in a dreamy magical place with a date, I would highly recommend experiencing this place.

“Every year go someplace you’ve never been before.” -Dalai Lama

Amalfi Coast by Yacht

We found Pasquale through a friend of Daniele’s.  Pasquale is the captain of the yacht with Akhir Cruises that we had the opportunity to spend the day cruising around on while we were in the Amalfi Coast.  We were there with my family and figured this would be beautiful way to spend the day together. After all, how does it get better than being on the water in an intimate setting with a breathtaking backdrop?!
At first, a day on the yacht sounded pricey, but Pasquale gave us a deal to steal that included a cruise to Furore and back, including a homemade lunch and dinner, cooked by his sweet wife, Michela.  We met them and the yacht in Salerno.  When it was time for lunch, we docked the boat in Ravello, in front of a castle where they filmed some James Bond scenes.


Lunch was scrumptious and hit the spot.

The sun was shining.  It felt so good to feel the warmth of the rays on our face and to just relax and enjoy some quality family time.  I liked the back of the yacht where we could stretch out and take in our gorgeous surroundings.

Pasquale even let Buddy, my brother in law, drive the boat, which amused him!
And of course the views were jaw dropping the whole ride there and back.


I asked if we could see Furore and the famous arch I had seen in pictures. Pasquale made it happen.  After Furore, we turned around to head back to Salerno.

Once we docked in Salerno, we went to walk around and explore the downtown area while Michela prepared dinner for us.  After some shopping, we headed back to indulge in one more delicious meal before our day was coming to an end.

Good food, good wine, good crew and family bonding time made it an unforgettable day.  We enjoyed getting to know Pasquale and his lovely wife.  He explained to us he can also do cruises in Sardinia, where he lived for years.  The yacht does have bedrooms for sleep if a couple, family or group would like to cruise from Amalfi to Sardinia or vice versa.  I highly recommend this excursion.  It was the highlight of our Amalfi Coast time!