Tuesday, June 28, 2016
If you want to feel like you are truly far, far away, without leaving our galaxy, go to the Valley of Temples in Agrigento, Sicily. Talk about a step back in time! We’re talkin’ 2,500 years back. Most of the Greek temples in Sicily were destroyed as the island was conquered again and again, but somehow these seven temples escaped demolition. The combination of natural and man-made beauty, with the sheer enormity of the ruins surrounded by hills and valleys as far as you can see, well…. it’s almost too much to take in. But take it in anyway, because the experience will never leave you.
Standing amidst the giant remnants of Greek temples, built to honor the mythical rulers of Mt. Olympus, will imprint surreal images in your memory that could never be duplicated in photos. From the Temple to Hera Lacinia (Juno) to the Temple of Concordia (one of the best preserved Doric temples in the world), you’ll walk a path that will take you past burial sites, picturesque flora and fauna, fascinating statues like the horrifically beautiful one at left (serpent children???), and of course, more temple ruins. I thought it a bit ironic that the Temple of Hercules had suffered the most damage over the years.
As you walk, you may ponder the question that plagued me throughout the journey: How on earth did ancient peoples, with none of our modern technology, build these massive structures? And moreover, build them so well, they are still standing after 2,500 years of attacks from humans and the environment? Well, that’s another of life’s great mysteries. I’m just grateful that they exist and I had the opportunity to see them. I hope you do, too!
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Just returned from an amazing, soul satisfying, week in Anna Maria Island, just off the coast of Sarasota, FL, where I stayed at the lovely Via Roma Beach Resort. You can fly into either Tampa International or Sarasota-Bradenton, but the latter is definitely easier (smaller and less crowded), as well as a shorter drive to the island.
Anna Maria is as beautiful as it’s name, with long, uncrowded beaches edging most of it’s 7-mile length, and sunsets on the western side that will take your breath away. It’s definitely got that no-hurry-no-worry ambiance that you’ll find in the Keys. If you love nature and the ocean, this is the place to be. Leave your make-up and dressy clothes behind, and just immerse yourself in the Gulf. Go fishing, diving, or beachcombing. Take a dolphin watching catamaran tour or try parasailing. Flop down on the beach with a book, or just close your eyes and listen to the gulls. If you’re into photography, you’ll find no shortage of subjects, especially seabirds.
Just a short drive away are great places to visit, like Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium, and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Love seafood? Try the Gulf Drive Café for beachside dining, or the super casual Starfish restaurant, where you’ll get delicious, fresh seafood in a box.
Oh, Anna Maria, I miss you already!