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one part of Levante beach in Benidorm, Spain

Reconsidering Benidorm

Benidorm is one of those places everyone has an opinion about, and it usually isn’t good. When I asked my husband what he thought of the place, he described it as “an overgrown beach town with high buildings right up to the beach.” It was full, he said, with “loud Dutch and fat, pale, English…

Doorways in Arolithos Traditional Cretan Village near Heraklion, Crete

Arolithos “Traditional Cretan Village”

I’ve never seen a hotel quite like Arolithos Traditional Cretan Village before. I only stayed there because I took the gamble that Hotwire offers, and I thought that I’d lost the gamble. I’m still not sure one way or the other. Disclosure: If you click and book a room on Hotwire using a link in…

This view gives an idea of how the Rethymnon fortress walls tower above the sea. The building is the House of the Councillors.

Rethymnon in half a day

The town of Rethymnon on the north coast of Crete is a popular destination for visitors who want to venture away from their all-inclusive resorts for a bit of local color. The narrow streets of its old center wind between rows of narrow houses with balconies, often overflowing with flowers. Shops sell everything from made-in-China…

The church at Alkadi monastery in Crete

Arkadi Monastery and its Tragedy

Just a week or so after visiting the Ter Apel cloister, a place of peace and contemplation, I arrived at The Holy Monastery of Arkadi in Crete, a similarly contemplative religious place. Arkadi is Eastern Orthodox, while Ter Apel was Catholic and then Protestant, yet it looked to me as if the monks in both places…

a bulls-head "rhyton" from Knossos, apparently used for libations. It can be filled through a hole in the neck and the liquid can be poured out through the snout. Carved from stone, with inlays of shell, rock crystal and red jasper.

Knossos and the Minoan Mystery

On my recent trip to Crete to lead a workshop, I was able to visit just a couple of sites, one of which was Knossos, a UNESCO World Heritage tentative list site (along with the four other Minoan palace ruins in Crete). I was looking forward to seeing these ruins of an ancient civilization, the…

carving above the door of Sant Felix in Vilac, Val d'Aran, Spain

Medieval Churches in the Val d’Aran, Spain

There’s something special about the medieval churches in the Val d’Aran, Spain. All are quite small, stone-built in Romanesque style, and date from the 11th to the 15th century. Disclosure: I went to the Val d’Aran as part of a discounted package provided by Pyrenees Experience. I’ve already written about what to do in the Val…

I think this was the mezzano, at the Italian Days Food Tour

Italian Days Food Tour: A review

Our tour guide from Italian Days Food and Wine Tours was far too cheerful for such an early start. We had been picked up at seven in the morning—before sunrise in mid-January—and denied even a cup of coffee before leaving. Our hotel’s breakfast only started at seven, so we had run downstairs and grabbed a…

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