Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

Along The Apulia Promenade

Travel Writer

Lungomare is the Italian word for a seafront promenade. Every coastal town worth its dot on the Italian map has one: a stretch of travertine where lovers snuggle on benches, locals walk their dogs and everyone comes to contemplate the sea.

A piazza in Lecce Photos by Hilary Larson

The Languid Allure Of Apulia

Travel Writer

Almost purely by accident, my husband and I ended up in a wild, raw landscape of olive groves, crumbling white-stone walls and vast blue sea views at every bend in the road. We were in Apulia — or Puglia, as the Southern Italian region is known locally — in search of that perfect Italian beach vacation: a little culture, a dose of history, but mostly gorgeous scenery and golden sand.

Gallipoli, on the Ionian coast, boasts a scenic beach as well as an ancient port and harbor. Hilary Larson

A Blast Of Culture

Travel Writer

Few places combine the ancient and the novel with as much finesse as Israel. This fall, Israel travelers have several opportunities to experience the familiar in unexpected ways.

Blockbuster shofar exhibit at Bible Lands Museum includes a ram’s horn that belonged to a Buchenwald and Rosh HaShanah Stamps

Seaside Villages And Canada’s Ellis Island

Travel Writer

If you think New Englanders are friendly, you’ll love New Scotlanders, inhabitants of the region more commonly known as Nova Scotia. The liveliest and most diverse of Canada’s three maritime provinces offers a warm welcome to travelers, a wealth of Jewish heritage and plenty of local culture — from fiddling in pubs to Titanic artifacts.

This time of year, as beaches still beckon on warm afternoons, fall foliage explodes with color to charm the most ardent leaf-peepers.

Peggy’s Cove with its historic lighthouse, is a favorite spot on the Halifax coastline.

Time To Trade Up

Travel Writer

Rrrrrumble, rrrrrumble.

One hot, sticky August night on the Spanish coast my husband and I were trying to sleep. The open window of our budget hotel room let in an intermittent breeze off the sea. Unfortunately, it also let in the groans, rumbles and shrieks of garbage trucks and tour buses on the street below.

A budget hotel in Tossa de Mar, on the Spanish coast, was hot and noisy, at least for one couple

The Past Is Present

Travel Writer

Every year for the past decade, the entire continent of Europe has spent the first post-vacation weekend in September celebrating 2,000 years of Jewish culture, from its most ancient aspects to its modern incarnations. There are bagels in Brussels, lectures in Lyon, concerts in Krakow, screenings in Sofia.

It’s the European Day of Jewish Culture: a grassroots, pan-cultural and pan-religious event whose aim is to recover and delve deeper into the richness of the continent’s Jewish heritage.

The continent-wide Days of Jewish Culture open Europe’s Jewish past to Jews and non-Jews.

Here’s Mud In Your Vacation

Travel Writer

Good weather, it turns out, is a relative concept.

When the sun comes out over Santorini, nobody pays any attention. It’s a fact of life, like seagulls and tourists.

But watching the sun come out over the Wadden Sea Islands — an archipelago off the Dutch coast — is like watching a miracle unfold.

Mud walking in the Wadden Sea, top. Above, the beach at Texel, Holland. Photos courtesy of Dutch Tourism Office

Take To The Beach

Travel Writer

It’s fascinating to me how differently travelers can perceive the same place.

For Americans, Barcelona — Europe in general, for that matter — is a cultural destination. We come to tour the architecture of Gaudi, see the museums of Dali and Miro, walk through Catalonia’s ancient Jewish ghettos, and sample the molecular gastronomy for which the region is lately famous.

Near Barcelona, the Sitges beach, top, and Castelldefels, offer inviting stretches of sand that attract locals and tourists.

The Art Of The Souvenir

Travel Writer

The best souvenir I ever heard of was a giant wheel of cheese that my friend Era smuggled out of her native Albania.

This was not just any cheese. It was 20 pounds of stinky, sheep-milk kashkaval, the hard cheese found throughout the Balkans. And of course, such an item is virtually guaranteed to be on the U.S. Customs no-no list for importation; had they searched her luggage and found the wheel, it could have been quite the scene. But they didn’t, and Era was eating Albanian sheep cheese all year.

A souvenir shop in Prague. Bringing make mementos isn’t as easy as you might think.
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