Mallorca Village of Deià Draws Artists, Poets, Celebrities and Travelers         

Rainy day in London. Incessant phone ringing. Gloomy view out the window. And no end in sight. “That’s when I had an epiphany,” says Alan Hydes. “I asked myself, ‘What in the world am I doing here when I could be someplace better?’” Ah, but look at him now. Since 2009, Alan has been the artist in residence at the prestigious La Residencia hotel in Deià on the Spanish island of Mallorca.  “The light here is amazing,” …

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Costa Cruises: Costa Toscana Cruise ~ Cruise End Roundup

When my week-long cruise aboard Costa Toscana ended, a friend asked what I liked best and if I would recommend a cruise on the new ship. Definitely. And I would recommend taking the exact same itinerary I did. Round trip from Rome with stops in Naples, Barcelona, Valencia, Marseille and Savona. Only thing I would do differently about the itinerary is to spend a couple of days in Rome before boarding the ship. After flying that far, …

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Costa Cruises: Costa Toscana Cruise ~ Marine Grain and Three-Chef Restaurant

At first glance, it looks a bit like pea soup with some little roasted nuts sprinkled in and dollops of cream on top. Wasn’t sure whether this new “marine grain” would be savory, sweet or just downright strange. Since famed Spanish chef Ángel León – known as “Chef of the Sea – was presenting a bowl of the concoction, I thought I’d better taste it. Surprisingly, it was quite good. Savory and with a bit of crunch. …

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Costa Cruises: Costa Toscana ~ Shore Excursion to Valencia, Spain

One of the joys of cruising is visiting cities along the way when the ship docks and passengers can head off on shore excursions. The new Costa Toscana offers so many shore excursions that it is difficult to make a choice. For example, in Naples, passengers can visit Capri or Pompeii or Sorrento or so many other tours. In Barcelona, passengers can do a Gaudi tour, ride a Segway, see a flamenco dancer, take a foodie tour, …

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Costa Cruises: Costa Toscana ~ My Cabin on ‘Green Ship’

My first thought was that the attendant had forgotten to wipe the steam and cleanser off the shower in my Costa Toscana stateroom. Then I looked closer. It wasn’t steam or cleanser that was fogging part of the glass door between the shower and the cabin bedroom. It was frosted glass designed to conceal the torso of the person in the shower. The purpose, I guess, is to allow bathers to still get a wonderful ocean view …

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Costa Toscana Cruise: Ship Christened in Barcelona Extravaganza

The little girl walking in front of me stopped in her tracks. “Fun beautiful,” she said, describing the new Costa Toscana we were boarding. Looking around, she repeated her statement, “Fun beautiful.” From the mouths of babes. The Costa Toscana is definitely both beautiful and fun. Just being surrounded by the sunny décor sets a happy stage for a wonderful cruise. The colors and bright Italian décor are not too much as to overwhelm the senses. The …

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Preparing to Cruise on Riviera River Cruises, the Magnificent MS Emily Brontë

When I was a young girl, one of my favorite books was “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë. I just could envision the brooding Heathcliff wandering the moors. I was quite pleased when I learned that we would be studying the classic 1847 novel in my high school English class. Now, I can hardly believe that I will be cruising aboard the magnificent Riviera River Cruises’ MS Emily Brontë. The seven-night cruise will go from Cologne in Germany …

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MSC Seashore: Visiting Beautiful Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

Gathering up camera gear from my cabin to go ashore at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, I heard singing and loud clapping. That sound is certainly not unusual on a cruise ship. Music can be found throughout most of the day and night on cruises. But this singing and applause was coming from the island itself. Opening my balcony door, I spotted the singers immediately. Lined up on both sides of the walkway from the MSC Seashore …

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MSC Seashore: Entertainment Galore on New Cruise Ship

Look carefully at my photo of four shirtless guys doing an acrobatic move. Sure appears to be two men reflected in a mirror, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. It is four men. Two holding the ladder and two extending their bodies from the ladder. Quite a talented group. Their movements are so carefully synchronized that they look mirrored. I was there for the show so I watched the four identically-clad men walk out carrying the ladder. The …

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MSC Seashore: Interesting Tidbits on New Ship

Standing in front of an MSC Seashore elevator, I counted the numbers twice. I was not going to deck 17 but was curious as to why no number 17 was listed. I checked on another nearby elevator. Same thing. No deck 17. A passing crew member explained that mystery to me. In Italy, he said, the number 17 is an unlucky number. Like the number 13 in the United States is thought to bring bad luck. That …

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