The Secret Hideaway by Sea, by Land

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"Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection." ~ Lawrence Durrell (British novelist 1912-1990)

The idea of a secret hideaway is on many people's mind, particularly this time of year or even all year. A place one can sit, be quiet, and contemplate life and all the beauty of it. It's healing time...this time away from everyday hustle and bustle. It need not be a far off place, it can be a quiet corner just for yourself...a room with view, a place for day dreaming. Of course it is welcome to be in place where someone is looking after you and shows you places you have never seen or experienced before. Travel time is in high gear. The idea that you can visit a place and feel that you are just there to enjoy. It can be in the Canadian wilderness, or the hills of Italy's Umbrian landscape...or by cruise ships to places you dreamed about. The world is your oyster for you to explore.

The Sea adventure where the world is truly your oyster is offered by the Azamara Club Cruises. It is a different, very personalized pleasure; the ships are called Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, each with 345 Staterooms. The idea and vision was created by Larry Pimentel, CEO, the expert in Sea travel. With his passion to explore the world he now shares this vision with people who love a sea voyage. Offering the seekers of the sea adventure and far-away places, different destinations to explore, they can remain in the ships care, experiencing the feel of cultures. The guests have many choices between the Shetland Islands, Scotland, or to the Norwegian fjord country, or farther away to exotic lands. Larry Pimentel observes with joy about his travel history:

"My passion for finding new places was instilled a long time ago by my grandmother reading to us from National Geographic Magazine. There were the dreams or imaginations to visit faraway places. Now they have become real and with our ships we seek out unique small ports, whether in northern Europe or the southern coast of Italy like the Amalfi Coast. The journeys take us close to some of the most spectacular sceneries in the world. Then again we explore the coasts of Indonesia or Vietnam, or the other side of the globe like Brazil and Argentina. This personalized attention has given our guests deeply felt experiences when they seek substance rather than flash. We give the passengers the joy of delving into a particular, unique culture and they learn something special defining the region they visit."

There is a destination in the Umbrian region, east of Rome, Italy, called Bettona, located between Perugia and Assisi it has the distinction of being the only Etruscan town east of the Tiber. The main piazza is still the heart of Bettona and the layering of a fascinating history which reaches back to the 12th century. An enchanting place to stay is called "Palazzo Fiumi-LaPlaca". The proprietor and owner is Michael LaPlaca who has turned this extraordinary palazzo into a sought-after place, embracing the past and the present. Michael has deep interest in the history of the region and enjoys taking his guests to historical sites that only a person knowing the history can offer. The people of Bettona have embraced this American into their midst, call him tresoro (treasure). People hear about this extraordinary quiet place by word of mouth. Yet It is not always quiet particularly when the town celebrates the Sagra dell'Oca (Festival of the Goose) in late July for 10 days. In spring and summer it is a flowering paradise and the hills vibrate with history, great food and wine.

For an adventuresome traveler there is such a place in Algonquin Park, about fifty miles north of Toronto, Canada a small summer resort. Nestled inside Algonquin Park, is "Arowhon Pines", a place to sit back and listen to your heart, be inspired by nature. It provides the much desired peace, Arowhon is a place for canoeing, swimming or hiking or just doing nothing,it is designed to blend into the natural environment, situated by an enchanted lake.. Recognition was brought to Arowhon Pines doorsteps by people who return year after year to enjoy the magnificent setting and the culinary delights provided by the natural resources of this very special place and the owners, Helene and Eugene Kates, who treat every guest as the most special person that came across the threshold.

There are so many choices and such joy to learn about places we have never seen; each has its own charm and history. A destination for every taste ...where the curious traveler selects his choice of exploring unknown treasures. Some of the places exude great history, others just a quiet sanctuary. The most wonderful experience in any of the places is the care and the welcome one experiences. For the curious mind it is an enriching conquest, for the mindful traveler, near or far it is unforgettable and it goes deep and permanent in the ideas of life and living.

"The world is a book, and those who don't travel read only one page" ~ Saint Augustine of Hippo (Algerian 354-430)