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Oct 28, 2015

Corfu, Greece: Paleokastritsa Beach

This was my first experience ever laying on a beach in Greece. Well, sort of. We waded into the water on a resort beach in Mykonos a few cruises prior, but this was our first true beach day on a Greek Island. After finding the best bird's-eye views of Paleokastritsa Beach from above, we finally made it full circle and spread out our beach towels on the shell-laden sand. It was a hot day. Hotter than I expected Corfu to be in mid-May, but much welcomed compared to the chilly days we had still been having back in Germany during that time of year. The beach was small, just a cove maybe a fraction of the size of a long stretch of North Carolina beach line. But that water! The prettiest turquoise blue I had seen in a long while. That in itself was worth the whole cruise! This little beach cove was perfectly Greek...the fishing boats, the tanning locals, and beautiful scenery all around. Even a quiet seaside restaurant serving fresh seafood, gyros (my favorite!) and generous slices of homemade baklava. We spent a good bit of our afternoon in and out of the water and in and out of the restaurant noshing on local wine and spanakopita. It was one of those experiences you feel lucky to be a part of the whole time you're experiencing it. Do you know that I mean? I kept looking over the water thinking, "I'm not sure what I did to deserve to be here right now, but thank goodness I am!" Greece is definitely a favorite of mine, forever and always.

If you find yourself with a few hours (or days) to kill in Corfu, make some time for a lazy beach day. Paleokastritsa might not be the most hopping beach town full of bars and water sports, but it's just sweet enough to make a weary traveler thankful to be traveling.

Oct 14, 2015

The Path to Paleokastritsa

White-washed walls, blooming bougainvillea, sea breeze wafting through the streets...these were the Greek Island gems that greeted us our first moments in Corfu. We departed the ship early, really early in fact, and headed straight for the car rental office to pick up our teeny-tiny Aveo for a day of island exploring. Having been to Mykonos and Santorini on previous cruises, I was familiar with Greece and its incredibly beautiful towns. But this day was devoted to finding prime beach real estate. It wasn't a surprise that we were rewarded with gorgeous scenery all along the way.

We had our sights aimed on Paleokastritsa, a sweet seaside village on the Northwest coast of Corfu. Its most notable attributes? Steep slopes of olive groves and citrus orchards, ocean caves, and turquoise coves lined with seafood restaurants and resort life. It's no wonder Paleokastritsa has long been considered one of the most beautiful areas of Corfu, and we were dying to see every square inch of it! But before we could dip our toes in the Ionian Sea, we had to make our way through some perfectly Greecian hillside villages. With just an arrow pointing to the "Path to Paleokastritsa," we began our journey.

I honestly have no clue the name of this small village (still kicking myself about that one, although it could be Makrades, maybe??), but it was just about as quaint and rustic as Greek villages come. There was a woman sweeping her front doorstep who started up a conversation with us as we made our way along the stone streets. Her words were all in Greek and we understood next to nothing, but she was full of smiles and seemed happy to have new faces exploring her quiet town. She pointed us towards the town's museum, a building with one room covered in old photos of every event the village had ever held. The pride in her eyes as she pointed to this photo and that photo, explaining each as quickly as she could. Even though the language barrier had us struggling to express our own thoughts, it wasn't hard to understand how important this village is to her and her family. The slow days, the simplistic living...it made me ache for a small village life of my own. 

We spent a good hour just wandering around, snapping photos and chatting with our new friend. As our tummies began to rumble, we quickly decided that instead of walking the whole way down to the beach, we should hop in the car and park closer to the ocean. Ease of travel was wisdom we gleaned from our time in this serene island village. In our final moments here, we experienced another awe-inspiring vista of Paleokastritsa and its beaches, making our count a whopping 4 stunning vistas viewed in just a week's time (with 7 more days to go!). Collecting those "pinch me" moments...there's nothing quite like it! 

More from Paleokastritsa to come!

Oct 5, 2015

October is National Plan a Cruise Month!

Not only is October the greatest month of the year (ahem, my birthday may have something to do that fact) but it's also the start of National Plan a Cruise Month!! Yes, it's a real thing, don't look at me like that. ;) 

For the month of October, the cruise industry has come together to help everyone fall in love with cruising by featuring unprecedented cruise vacation offers – from chances to win dream cruise vacations each day of the month (#CruiseSmile) to receiving the best cruise deals and promotions available on the high seas. National Plan a Cruise Month aims to put cruise vacations in the spotlight and hopes to help travelers discover all the incredible experiences that a cruise vacation offers while putting to bed any common hesitations to the cruising way of travel. From now until October 31st, several cruise lines are offering special deals for travelers who book a cruise, including promotions offering as much as $1,500 in savings in addition to free upgrades and bonus packages once on board! If you've been thinking about booking a cruise for the end of this year or anytime in 2016...now's the time to pull the trigger, guys! With just a deposit, you can reserve your next cruise vacation at incredible pricing AND with bonus perks! I'll be sending out my October eNewsletter this week and it's chock full of these insane cruise deals. Sign up here, if you haven't already! 

In addition to the deals featured by all the major cruise lines, for THIS MONTH ONLY I'll also be sweetening the pot with FREE ONBOARD CREDIT, exclusively for my clients! Refer a friend and they also book a cruise, then YOU get an additional special gift from me! You can use this onboard credit for lots of things while sailing...purchase your celebratory "set sail" drinks, sign up for an at sea wine tasting, reserve a romantic dinner for 2 at a specialty restaurant, finally get that pedicure you've been needing wanting (ahem)...so many options, all on me!!

Why choose to book your cruise with me? Because I'm super fun, really cool, and giving you free money, obviously. But if that's not enough to sail you my way...not only will you be working with a seasoned cruiser (I won't tell you I'm going on 2 cruises this month, nope, I won't) and certified travel professional, but you'll be supporting a small business in the process! D and I are so grateful for the opportunities RLT Vacations has brought to our family and it's because of awesome travel-lovers (like you) who've trusted me to share my love of cruising and tailor it to their own cruise vacation needs. I would love the opportunity to work with you and get you sailing on your dream cruise in 2016! Remember, my services are 100% FREE! And I've made it super simple to get in contact with me. Just click right on the words below, fill out the form, and BOOM. You'll have a cruise no obligation quote from me within 24 hours! I'm not in the business of making people wait for fun. ;) Hope to chat with many of you soon!

Oct 2, 2015

Win a Day Bike Tour of Paris For Two!

"Paris is always a good idea" - Audrey Hepburn

There was a time when I thought that statement might not hold any truth. Before ever visiting Paris, I always assumed it was just one giant tourist trap. I had little desire to go there, but went just to get that coveted check mark on my bucket list. After our trip there in 2012, I all but ache to go back. I pegged this famous French city so, so wrong for too many years! There's truly something magical about Paris. Not sure if it's the tasty food, the architecture, the romance culture, or all the iconic landmarks, but there seems to be a common theme found among travelers...Paris totally captures your heart. You want to hate it, but all its wonderfulness bleeds right in and takes hold of you, whether you expected it to or not. I often look back on our time there and think fondly of picnic dinners on the Champ de Mars, the macarons at Lauduree, the way I felt the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle against the moonlight...all things that just scratch the surface of why our time there was so lovely. You may come into a Paris visit with reservations, but you'll come out of it with more than just an appreciation for art and French champagne. You leave with an insatiable urge to go right back and do it all over again. Guess Audrey is on to something after all? ;)

Speaking of Paris and making memories...do you live in Paris? Have a trip planned to the 'City of Lights' soon? Love riding bikes and eating baguettes? If so, this is one giveaway you'll surely want to enter. One lucky blog reader will win a day bike tour for two courtesy of the lovely people at Fat Tire Tours-Paris (airfare and accommodations in Paris NOT INCLUDED--giveaway for day bike tour only). All you have to do is follow the prompts via the Rafflecopter widget below and boom...you're entered! Good luck, travelers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
**Winner will be selected on October 10th and notified on October 11th. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway open to those 18 and older. Winner receives a voucher for day bike tour for 2 in Paris from Fat Tire Tours. Airfare/accommodations to Paris NOT INCLUDED.**
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