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July 27, 2012

Affordable All-Inclusive Resort in Limone sul Garda

By Sylvie Macle
ITWPA Member

Limone sul Garda is a true Italian gem that will steal your heart. It lies 27 miles northwest of Verona and 80 miles west of Milan and is one of the most photogenic villages on Lake Garda.  

The houses along the harbor front are painted vibrant shades of pink, green, orange, and yellow. The restaurant terraces are bordered by pink laurel flower pots and palm trees, and some even extend over the water on wooden stilts, complete with lanterns and bright red pots of geraniums.

Indeed, there are so many flowers along Lake Garda that their delicate fragrances linger in the air. The food stalls which line the narrow cobbled streets are a feast for the eyes as much as for the palate, with their ripe fruits perfectly aligned in little wooden boxes. In Italy, where life hands out some of the biggest lemons you will ever see, locals don’t just make lemonade -- they make limoncello (a popular digestive liqueur best served chilled).

Many boats come and go, linking the various towns across the lake (all picturesque in their own rights). Even the cars seem to go at a slower pace, making driving for non-Italians a lot easier than it would be further south!

The nearest airport is Verona (where Romeo and Juliet fell in love); to reach Limone, you need to drive a good hour and 40 minutes on the A22. The airport does have a car rental office -- although renting a Peugeot 206 for a week, including full insurance, will set you back $428. Drive towards Brennero-Modena and take the Rovereto-Lago di Garda Nord exit, then follow directions to Lago di Garda and Riva del Garda.

One of the best value for money resorts in the area has to be the four star Leonardo Da Vinci Hotel. At $94 per person (off-peak) all inclusive (and read this to mean: all soft drinks, wine, beer, and liquor), you would be hard pressed to find better value. The staff are not only gracious but multi-lingual, and the superior rooms are spacious with balconies overlooking the lake and mountains. There are three large pools, including one with slides for kids and one indoors for rainy days. They even have a little shuttle that heads hourly into Limone to save you the steep parking fees or the 15 minutes’ walk.

The three meals per day are all based on “as much as you can eat” though the dinner buffet is the most lavish. There is plenty of choice for vegetarians, and lovely, tender meat and fish for those who are not. If you have a sweet tooth chances are you will be tempted to try out every dessert: fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, tiramisu, panna cotta… not to mention the many flavors of those world-famous Italian ice creams. Not only was the food truly gourmet (and let’s face it, delicious food has got to be one of the highlights of any holiday) but because it’s cooked in olive oil it is really healthy, too. In fact, we didn’t put on half the weight we had expected to, considering how much we did indulge!  

Last but not least: Limone sul Garda is 2 hours and 45 minutes from atmospheric Venice and just 2 hours from the Dolomites National Park with its alpine mountains and dazzling turquoise lakes. The Leonardo Da Vinci Hotel can also book excursions to the many regional “must-see” locations at around $61-$83 per day (cash only), a welcome break from driving, leaving you free simply to enjoy the peaceful scenery.

La dolce vita? You bet.

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Jettison Jet Lag

By Colleen Campbell

The Wright brothers and their fantastic flying machine changed everything when they gave us a way to get to faraway places faster. Instead of spending days or even weeks traveling to foreign destinations, we now hop on a plane and find ourselves halfway around the world in just hours. But faster travel often means dealing with jet lag, the annoying travel companion who can zap all the energy and enthusiasm out of a trip.

Generally, jet lag is caused by the disruption of the 24-hour cycle of biochemical and physiological processes your body goes through each day. That disruption occurs when you cross several time zones and your body gets out of whack with its regular cycle.  

Jet lag usually means sleepiness during the day and inability to sleep at night. But it can also inflict headache, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, impaired coordination or vision, and even memory loss.  Nothing you want to endure on a trip abroad.
Fortunately, you have options! Here are five natural and easy steps to ensure you leave this unwelcome travel companion behind.

Step 1: Shape up before you ship out.
Exercise, eat well, and get plenty of rest before your trip. Don’t start a new exercise regime two weeks before departure. Just be smart about keeping healthy and getting adequate sleep.
Step 2: Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
Drink plenty of water before you leave, while in flight, and when you arrive. Your body needs water to perform natural functions efficiently and travel can leech your body’s moisture with stress and dry airplane air.

Step 3: Cut the cocktails and coffee.
Stay away from alcohol and excessive caffeine before you depart. Both are unnatural additions to your body chemistry that force sleep or wakefulness outside of normal rhythms.    

Step 4: Act like a hamster.
A study done on hamsters at the University of Toronto shows exercise can reduce jet lag. The hamsters’ normal light and dark schedules were switched and half the group ran on a wheel while the other half slept. The non-running hamsters took 5.4 days to adjust, while the running hamsters adjusted in 1.6 days! So take a brisk walk every day on your trip.

Step 5: When in Rome, eat and sleep like the Romans.
Eat and sleep at the normal times for your destination. You might not feel like it, but eat meals at the same time as the natives. Go to bed at the right time and do not sleep in -- even if you have to drag yourself out of bed.

Follow these five easy steps and you may reduce or even eliminate jet lag and send that unwelcome travel companion packing! 

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Chicago’s Millennium Park: An Artful Respite

By Connie S. Reed

It’s a hot summer day. You’ve spent the morning shopping along the Magnificent Mile, or perhaps you were museum hopping or just taking in the city’s sights. Now you are warm and hungry, and your feet are tired and sore. You are ready for a break. Head to Millennium Park, where art meets park, to enjoy a meal, relax, and maybe even cool your feet in a fountain.  

At lunchtime folks are scattered over the park’s lawns, benches, and cement walls picnicking, reading, or sunning. The Great Lawn of the Jay Pritzker Pavillion, stretching beneath the canopy of a stainless steel trellis-like structure, is a picnic haven during the day, then becomes free seating for concerts most summer Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. You can often hear music rehearsals during the day. If you don’t have picnic food with you, you can dine al fresco on the patio of the Park Grill, which in winter becomes an ice skating rink.  

Beyond the Great Lawn, the BP Bridge winds and curves over Columbus Drive toward the lakefront. The bridge’s wood plank walkway and stainless steel angled and curved sides combine art with function, beckoning you to cross the bridge just for the sake of crossing.
For more stainless steel art, don’t miss the iconic Cloud Gate (better known as The Bean because of its kidney bean shape), a sculpture by Amish Kapoor. Tourists often surround The Bean, cameras in hand, snapping pictures of the brilliant reflections of themselves and the city’s skyline in this highly polished sculpture in the center of the park’s plaza.
To cool off on a hot day, head to the Crown Fountain. Fountains are always refreshing sights when you are warm, but standing in them is usually prohibited. Not so in this fountain. You are welcome to kick off your shoes and splash all day, if you’d like, in the shallow pool that spans between two 50-foot glass-block towers with water cascading down the sides. The towers flash LED pictures of Chicago residents’ faces. Look out below! The “faces” spew out an occasional gush of water from the mouths, so if you’re standing just below them, you may get drenched.

If you feel conspicuous frolicking in the pool of the Crown Fountain, make your way to the canal at the Lurie Garden instead. No more than three feet wide and a few inches deep, the canal that runs the length of the Lurie Garden adjacent to the boardwalk is a perfect spot to sit and dangle your feet in the water while you plan your afternoon. When you have cooled off and are rested, take a walk through the two-and-a-half-acre garden with over 138 varieties of perennial plants. You can take a guided tour of the garden at midday on summer Fridays and Sundays.  

After your respite in Millennium Park, cross the Nichols Bridgeway into the Art Institute, where you can spend the rest of your day perusing thousands of works of art, including Grant Wood’s American Gothic and an impressive collection of impressionist paintings by artists such as Monet and Renoir.

Millennium Park is located along Michigan Avenue two blocks south of the Chicago River, between Randolph and Monroe. Tours are offered daily at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on a first come, first served basis. For more information, visit http://explorechicago.org/city/en/millennium.html or call 312-742-1168.

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An Essential Travel Item

By Karen Brooks

Suitcase space is at a premium, as all frequent travelers know. So why should you make room for bentonite clay? Here’s why:

Are you fearful of bug bites? Poisonous bites and stings can ruin your vacation. The thing that makes a spider bite or bee sting painful is the poison, so the most effective way to kill the pain and stop the reaction is to get the poison out. One thing that does a lovely job of removing the poison is bentonite clay. This clay is easily obtained both online and from any health food store. It has drawing properties that make it an excellent remedy for bites and stings. It costs little and doesn’t take up much room, so it can be handy for emergencies whether you are carrying a suitcase or a backpack. In addition, it is not sensitive to heat or cold and it doesn’t spoil.

Bentonite clay works wonderfully fast. Simply add a little clean water to it to make a wet paste and plaster it on the affected area. Cover it with a clean bandage and allow the clay to dry, then re-wet it with clean water through the bandage and continue the process until the redness and inflammation are gone. This is not just small-time folk medicine. I’ve seen this used on brown recluse bites here in southeast Missouri -- where people are in terror of the brown recluse spider -- and it worked wonders. I even used it myself on a large area on my arm that had been red, swollen, and feverish for days. I never knew what bit me, but in three days the clay had pulled out the infection and the redness and swelling were gone.

In my opinion, everyone should keep bentonite clay in their medicine cabinets at home, and you may want to make room for it in your suitcase when packing for your next camping trip or foray into bug-infested wilds.

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Whimsical Eltz Castle

By Gail L. Knight
ITWPA Member

In the midst of rolling green countryside near Münstermaifeld, Germany, sits a castle that would fulfill many a young girl’s dreams of where she, the princess that she is, should live. This mesmerizing castle, hidden in a valley away from view from the roads above, is the medieval castle Burg Eltz (or Eltz Castle).

Burg Eltz is visually different, both inside and out, from most of the castles in Rheinland-Pfalz. While walking through its oddly-shaped rooms and courtyard, the aura of long-departed lords and ladies, knights and damsels, and servants and tradesmen going about their daily lives within its walls is ever-present. The colorful banners, portraits, furniture, armor, shields, artwork, and heraldic symbols that fill the castle and its grounds harken back to the castle’s early heritage.
According to the Burg Eltz website, the name “Eltz” first appeared in 1157, when the name “Rudolf zu Eltz” was recorded as a witness to a deed written by Emperor Frederick I. The exact date when construction began is not known, but the first stones were most likely laid between the 11th and 13th centuries, during the Hohenstaufen dynasty, with rooms added to the structure over five centuries.
Although this vertically rambling structure rises 230 feet above the Eltz River that surrounds it on three sides, using a rock outcropping as its foundation, Burg Eltz was used primarily as a home rather than as a fortress throughout its history, with as many as 100 full-time residents living in its 100-plus rooms during various periods. The geographic site chosen for the castle was economically strategic for the time, taking advantage of one of the most important Imperial business and trade routes of the day, the Mosel River.
Fortunately -- and nearly unique among Germany’s medieval castles -- Burg Eltz sustained no damage during the many wars and foreign occupations experienced over the centuries in what is now modern Germany, allowing the castle to be viewed today as it was originally built. Equally notable, for over 800 years the castle has been owned by at least one member of the Eltz family.
Representing the family’s 33rd generation, the current owner, Dr. Karl Graf von und zu Eltz (also known as Faust von Stromberg), resides full time elsewhere in Germany with his wife and children. However, the family actively uses the castle, adding their own personal touches such as family photos and flower arrangements created by the current duchess herself with flowers from her own gardens.

Open annually from April through the end of October, the castle grounds also host two restaurants and a souvenir shop. Delicious pastries served with coffee and wines from the Burg Eltz winery are special treats on offer. Burg Eltz is just a short distance from the Münstermaifeld town center in Rheinland-Pfalz, an easy drive from Cologne, Bonn, or Trier. For more information, including hours of operation and directions to this historical castle, visit http://www.burg-eltz.de.

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“Blues, Brews & BBQ” in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

By Ginny Ripley

Savor your summer with a tasty combination of three of the season’s perennial pleasures in Fontana, Wisconsin. “Burnin’ Down the Docks” is a Sunday celebration of “Blues, Brews & BBQ” at The Abbey Resort, right on the picturesque Lake Geneva harbor.

Promptly at noon, I heard the thump of live music kick in, attracting hungry boaters and resort guests to The Waterfront Restaurant dock like butterflies to bee balm. Soon I could smell the rich tang of Matthew Whiteford’s signature “layers of flavor” barbecue out on the traditional southern outdoor smoker. Sizzling baby back ribs, pulled pork sliders, and chicken wings are just $5 a plate, washed down with an icy Leinenkugel beer, priced right at $2 a pop. We sat at a table for six, and soon all of us were having a lively conversation.

Matthew is an award-winning pit master champion on the BBQ circuit and now markets his own line of rubs, glazes, marinades, and sauces. I can personally vouch for them -- I took some home with me along with a few of Matthew’s “low and slow” recipes and my pulled pork and short ribs get rave reviews.

The Abbey Resort is located 80 miles from Chicago and 50 miles from Milwaukee, so area residents could drive up just for the day’s festivities. But I highly recommend making a long weekend of it. The Abbey Resort, spa, lake, pool, restaurants, and boutiques make for a spectacular getaway for couples and families.  

If you go for the long weekend, the surrounding area offers much to see and do, plus a fascinating history of millionaires and mobsters. We got an excellent overview on one of the hour-long steamboat tours of Lake Geneva, the second largest lake in Wisconsin. I wanted ice cream, my husband wanted beer, and we both got our way on the Ice Cream Social Tour. On the famous Mailbox Tour, a college student makes an athletic leap from boat to pier to deliver residents’ mail. The boat never stops, so the trick is to hop off and back on in time -- to much applause. I really loved the dog who waits for the mail on the pier, takes it in his mouth, and delivers it up to the house.

As we glided around the 7.5-mile-long, 140-foot-deep lake, our guide pointed out the opulent mansions of well-known Chicago barons of wealth such as Morton (salt), Wrigley (Chicago Cubs and chewing gum), Montgomery Ward, Pinkerton, and Sears. Easy railroad access from Chicago to Lake Geneva at the turn of the century made the area a popular rich man’s summer playground, becoming known as the “Newport of the West.”

So where do the mobsters fit in? Once the automobile era replaced train travel, Lake Geneva’s fortunes declined and then became a haven for Al Capone and his friends. The tour guide did a great job of bringing the colorful history to life. As we floated past the magnificent summer homes, I imagined myself a dangerous gun moll or perhaps a racy getaway driver back in the day.

For the power walkers out there, it is possible to walk completely around the 21-mile lake on The Lakeshore Path, a Native American footpath which connected the Indian camps. Chief Big Foot and his band of Potawatomi Indians called Lake Geneva the “land of the sparkling water,” and were the area’s original inhabitants. We were told they abruptly moved from this lake paradise to Kansas in 1836. Sounds like there’s more to that story.

If you go:
Burnin’ Down the Docks        
Sundays noon-6 pm
Memorial Weekend through October

The Abbey Resort
Fontana, Wisconsin

Matthew Whiteford

Lake Geneva Cruise Line
812 Wrigley Drive
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

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About July 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Travel Post Monthly in July 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2012 is the previous archive.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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