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Stories by Bonnie Maffei

Taste Carmel Valley, CA

Wines, olive oil, fresh produce and herbs near the PCH.

Enjoy a few leisurely hours driving east along picturesque Carmel Valley Road, just off Highway 1 near Carmel, California, where you can stop, taste and shop for veggies and herbs on an organic farm and ...

The French Riviera: Nice, Èze and Monte-Carlo

Discover for yourself the many faces of Monte-Carlo and the surrounding French Riviera. On the way to break the bank in Monte-Carlo, Monaco, lovers of modern art will want to spend time in nearby Nice ...

Indulge in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

The Nice-Cote d’Azur International Airport is a half-hour drive from one of the most unique places on the planet. A district of the Principality of Monaco, Monte-Carlo is located in the French Riviera on the ...

Morro Bay, California

“The sun was shining on the sea, Shining with all his might... ‘O, Oysters, come and walk with us!’ The Walrus did beseech. ‘A Pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, Along the briny beach...’” – from ...

The Bay Area's Best Kept Secret: Capitola-by-the-Sea

What? Never heard of Capitola? If you haven’t yet ventured that far north, you’re missing one of the Bay Area’s well-kept secrets. A quaint, colorful village, Capitola-by-the-Sea, ten minutes south of Santa Cruz, is slightly ...

Temecula and Escondido Wine Country

In Greek mythology, Bacchus (aka Dionysus), the god of wine, is said to inspire artists, musicians and poets and bring an end to care and worry. Dionysus discovered the culture of the vine and how ...

The Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Against the backdrop of the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains in Granada, the Alhambra, meaning “red castle” in Arabic, was named for the reddish-golden hue of its walls. Dating back to the 9th century, it became ...

Treasures of Naxos, Greece

The island of Naxos, Greece, is a six-hour ferry ride from Piraeus, the port of Athens. The “doorway” to the island, the gigantic Portara, was also the portal to the ancient unfinished Temple of Apollo. ...

Nerja, Spain: The Balcony of Europe

My spiritual quest began in what was once a quaint Spanish fishing village. Nerja, in Andalusia, Spain, is located 50 kilometers east of Malaga along the Costa del Sol. Imagine standing on the “Balcony of ...

A Side Trip from Sedona, AZ

Visitors to the spiritual center of Sedona, Arizona, may not know of the many wonders nearby. Sedona is known for amazing red rock formations and its “vortexes,” centers of spiritual energy. But in addition to ...

Carnival Masks and Where to Eat & Stay in Venice, Italy

Want to relive 18th-century Venice? If you visit Venice along with thousands of other tourists during Carnival, you’ll experience one of the world’s irresistible attractions. Walkways are filled with crowds of mask-wearing characters headed to ...

Mud Pots of Calipatria & Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain, Niland, CA

Avoid the tourist throngs and discover two desert oddities three hours east of San Diego, in Calipatria and Niland. From a distance, the Mud Pots look like giant anthills, and the sulphur smell will knock ...

Mexican Artisans and the Day of the Dead, Pátzcuaro, Mexico

Are you a cultural festival junkie? Treasures abound in Mexico and in your nearby Mexican neighborhood. I still have my sugar skeletons from the Day of the Dead (El Día De Los Muertos) in Pátzcuaro, ...

Apple Days in Julian, California

Apple Days are here! Apple pie tasting is an art I could get used to, especially if the pies are baked in Julian, a historic mountain town famous for its apple orchards and home-baked pies. ...

Barcelona, Spain: Gaudi, Picasso and Paella

I’ve made countless artistic pilgrimages throughout Europe, but Barcelona is one of my favorite destinations. Artists love Barcelona! The Museu Picasso, set up at Picasso’s wish, is the expression of his passionate connection with the ...

Ancient Ephesus, Turkey

If you’re a seeker of sacred sites and find yourself in the Greek Islands, hop a ferry from Samos to Kuşadası (or fly from Samos into Adnan Menderes Airport), then grab a bus to Ephesus, ...

Art in the Cyclades: Paros, Greece

I enjoyed three glorious months in Parikia, on the Cycladic island of Paros, home to poets, writers, artists and those in love with a peaceful lifestyle. You can study art at the Aegean Center for ...

Matala Beach, Crete, Greece

When visiting Crete, rent a car and drive to rustic Hotel Eva Marina, about an hour southwest of Heraklion Airport. Nine hundred fifty yards from Matala Beach, it features high-speed internet, an inviting pool, bar ...

San Clemente Pier, California

Whether you’re into spending the day fishing off the pier, grabbing chili fries at the hot dog stand, or relaxing over a cocktail followed by lunch or dinner at Fisherman’s Restaurant, San Clemente Pier has ...

Olvera Street, El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument

San Diego has Little Italy. Los Angeles has “Little Mexico,” Olvera Street, located in El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument on the site of L.A.’s original birthplace. Colorful celebrations and fiestas happen here year-round. ...

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood, as you know, is about 2 hours away from San Diego, approximately 125 miles north. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, embedded in the sidewalk along both sides of Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street to ...

Eclectic Venice, California

Venice, the famous funky beach town, bares its colorful, eclectic soul for all to see. Stroll along the pedestrian path or take the designated skate/bike paths along the oceanfront to experience Venice’s street performers, artists, ...

Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy

Grosseto, in the Maremma area of Tuscany, dates back to the 7th-century B.C. Etruscans, the “first great people of Italy.” Local attractions include remains of two important Etruscan cities, Roselle and Vetulonia. Massa Marittima (51 ...

Breathtaking Santorini, Greece

Greece without Santorini is like a Greek salad without Kalamata olives – it just doesn’t taste the same. Santorini’s awe-inspiring Caldera, a sea-filled crater, and its vineyards and unbeatable nightlife make it a popular vacation ...

Pico Island, Azores

Looking for a unique vacation? Visit the island of Pico, the second-largest and one of the most beautiful of the Azores’s nine islands. Whether you hike, bike or drive, be sure to explore the lush ...

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

For about $37 a night, you can stay next to the historic Plaka district. The clean, Australian-owned, air-conditioned Athens Backpackers hostel offers free breakfast, communal kitchen, free coffee all day, laundromat, WiFi, movies and tours. ...

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden

Secretly tucked away behind a pond at Kit Carson Park lies Niki De Saint Phalle’s colorful sacred creatures. The entrance to the sculpture garden leads you past a snake wall, through a black-and-white maze of ...

Dinosaurs in the Desert: Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs

Ninety-one miles east of San Diego, Borrego Springs and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are popular springtime destinations for wildflower lovers. But take a jaunt down Borrego Springs Road a couple of miles to Galleta Meadows, ...

Crystal Cove, Newport Beach

Ever longed to step back in time? The Crystal Cove State Park Historic District, originally a seaside colony in the 1930s, offers a vintage getaway located on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway in ...

Carnival in the Plaka, Athens

Who knew that it snows in Athens? On my way to the island of Paros to teach painting at an art school, I stayed in the Plaka, a historic district near the Acropolis of Athens, ...