Mystery of the Black Madonna


The Black Madonna has been a figure of mystery for centuries. Some say she’s simply a statue of the Virgin Mary carved from black wood, or perhaps has soot on her skin from the smoke of thousands of candles.  But speculation goes much deeper than that. Throughout Europe, especially in France, about 500 Black Madonnas, painted or carved in wood or stone, stand in Catholic churches, with a few in ... Read Full Article

The Thyssen Bornemisza and Reina Sofia Museums in Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art

Thyssen-Bornemisza museum

Earlier, I wrote about the Prado Museum in Madrid's Golden Triangle of Art.  The Thyssen Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia Museums complete the triangle. Thyssen Bornemisza Museum Across the Paseo del Prado from the Prado Museum, a short walk past colorful flower beds takes you to the Thyssen Bornemisza, a museum that opened in 1992 in a former palace. The spacious, light-filled galleries hold ... Read Full Article

Eco Travels in Lanzarote, Canary Islands

a yurt in Lanzarote

The history and beauty of the Canary Islands is easily missed if you're hopping over for the party, sun, sea and sand. But, just booking yourself on an island tour will begin to give you a flavor of just how fascinating the diverse history  and landscape of the Canary Islands really are. We spent five days at the end of our Spain trip exploring these fascinating islands and found that eco tourism ... Read Full Article

A Tapas Tour of Northern Spain


  Tapas. Pinxtos. Or less formally, little bites of Spanish goodness. There are plenty of reasons to go to Spain; tapas just happen to be the tastiest. In northern Spain, typical tapas styles and the dishes that represent them can vary widely, as can the protocol for ordering and eating them in different regions. Here’s a primer on enjoying these small bites in three northern ... Read Full Article

Cala Figuera – Mallorca’s Sleeping Beauty


Cala Figuera, a tranquil and picturesque fishing village situated in a bay surrounded by cliffs, is one of the most scenic spots on the island of Mallorca and a world away from the tourist crowds. The setting is postcard picturesque with houses hanging off the cliffs above whitewashed boat houses with green colored doors. In the harbor below, sail boats peacefully rest on crystal clear turquoise ... Read Full Article

Tenerife: Spain’s Botanic Treasure


The best-known of Spain's Canary Islands is Tenerife, its touristic fame established nearly a century ago by the British who still wait out winter at its beach resorts. Its beaches are not the best on the islands – Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura have those – but it has more variety than most other islands. The Treasures of Tenerife Spain’s highest point, the snow-capped cone of El Teide, stands ... Read Full Article

A Lot to Love in Spain’s Andalucia

The Great Mosque of Cordoba in Andalucia

Only a thorough-going sourpuss could fail to find something to love about Andalucia. Spain’s southwestern region encompasses so much of the country’s natural, historic and cultural largesse that it hardly seems fair to the rest. The Treasures of Andalucia Just the most obvious ones make an ambitious itinerary: The Alhambra, the Great Mosque of Cordoba, miles of Mediterranean and Atlantic ... Read Full Article

Our Guide to Tipping in Europe


Traveling to Europe should be an adventure, but trying to figure out the tipping rules for each country can be a headache.  Here is our quick guide to the ins and outs of tipping in Europe. Austria At Restaurants you should round up the bill, or tip 5-10%. Tip in cash, handing the tip directly to the server, or tell the server how much the bill should be (including tip) before he or she makes ... Read Full Article

Agritourism: Traveling to Europe to Hang Out on a Farm


Agritourism is gaining in popularity as a way to learn more about the country you are visiting in a very personal way. Agritourism is a vacation taken on a farm, a vineyard or other rural venue. Typically vacationers will book a room, cottage, or villa on a farm or rural property. In many cases, vacationers are able to assist in chores such as picking fruit, helping in the grape harvest, and ... Read Full Article