Friday, November 20, 2015

Manatees And More Make Citrus County Florida An Outdoor Lovers’ Paradise

The warm springs and grassy shallows make
Citrus County a favorite wintering spot for manatees.
The author, Beverly Smirnis, snorkeling in Three Sisters springs.
November to April is manatee season in Citrus County, Florida. On a cold day as many as 500 manatees huddle in the crystal-clear springs there to keep warm and graze on the plant matter in the shallow waters. We visited in summer, travelling by boat and then swimming through a narrow passage from Crystal River into Three Sisters Spring. Even in the off season for manatees, there were many to be found.

Beyond the Mouse Ears—The Other Side of Orlando / Kissimmee

A view from our Airboat at Wild Florida

In 1971, the opening of Walt Disney World forever changed Orlando. It is estimated that 52 million tourists visit the area each year. While Disney remains a much-loved destination for many and has certainly been a boon to Florida’s economy, some visitors (even those with kids in tow) are foregoing the parks and their contrived fantasy environments in favor of the way God designed Orlando originally—with alligator-filled swamps, lakes teeming with fish, trees covered in Spanish moss, wetland bird sanctuaries, citrus groves and pastureland ripe for farming and cattle ranching. The new generation of parents will take their kids to Disney, yes. But they will extend their vacation or return again for something more.

WHOOOOO Let the Ghosts Out?

St. Augustine Delights Visitors with History and Legend

Socialize with resident ghosts as your climb
to the top of the lighthouse for a great view.
If Halloween night is party time for ghosts, the largest celebration will be taking place in St. Augustine, Florida. Ask any local in the city, and they will tell you with a straight face about their paranormal interactions. Travel Channel and Discovery Channel have both filmed specials about the ghosts residing here

Ghost Tours of St. Augustine Inc. has dedicated more than 20 years to uncovering and cataloguing the old city’s darkest secrets and mysteries. Lantern-lit nightly walking tours lead guests to graveyards, and various buildings across the city including a jail and a lighthouse. At the city’s historic fort we heard of maritime hauntings and pirates. Most of the city’s ghosts are happy and prank-playing, but some are sad at the loss of love or life. None cause any harm. For those who “prefer spirits with their spirits” the tour operator has teamed up with the original City Walk Pub Crawl tour in town to investigate haunted taverns all over town.

Monemvasia Caps Off a Trip to Greece’s Fertile Peloponnese Region

the Traditional Houses of Ardamis are a collection
of eight fully air conditioned spacious suites,
 each individual to itself and finished with the utmost
 in quality materials and furnishings, including super
premium mattresses and linens;
all are kept at a level of cleanliness
 equivalent to a five-star resort in America. 

People at the Gulf Coast Version of “L.A.” Are Living Their Dreams

32 miles of sugar-white beaches make the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach a premier tourist destination.

It's Mardi Gras Every Day in Mobile

General madness overtakes Mobile annually in the weeks and days preceding Ash Wednesday as chants of "Moon Pie! Moon Pie!" (the favored “throw” of Mardi Gras maskers) fill the air of this historic Port City. Mobile is the site of the New World’s first Mardi Gras, dating back to 1703. (That’s more than 60 years before New Orleans adopted the tradition.) 

Mobile's first Mardi Gras celebration dates back to 1703, when Societé de Saint Louise was founded. Originally called Boeuf Gras (Fatted Ox), the celebration was one of feasting and revelry on Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (the day preceding Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season which leads to Easter). In 1783 the Spaniards arrived in Mobile bringing their version of Mardi Gras which included torch parades held on Twelfth Night.

Magnificant Bellingrath Gardens

Bellingrath Gardens and Home offers 65 acres of year-round floral pageantry in a Southern estate garden. Also located in the garden is the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain, the largest public collection of Boehm porcelain in the United State and the Bellingrath Museum Home, featured on A & E's America's Castles series, which is filled with priceless antiques and furnishings.

Lawrence Posner, Mobile's "Restoration Addict"


Built 1836, Fort Conde Inn is Mobile, Alabama's second oldest house and its interior and exterior finishes reflect its architectural vintage from original heart pine flooring and customer-milled stairways, moldings, and window and door trim to marble fireplace mantle, plaster walls, 12-foot ceilings and crystal chandeliers. Walking into the Inn today is like taking a step back in time to when the home was originally built.

Mobile Bay--A Culinary Destination

It’s no surprise that the Mobile Bay area is famous for locally-caught fresh seafood, making it worth the trip as a culinary destination alone. The Mobile Bay area is famous for locally-caught fresh seafood including shrimp, blue crabs, oysters, amberjack, flounder and much more prepared in a tantalizing variety of styles. There is also barbecue, spicy Creole and Cajun dishes, and down-home Southern cooking including homemade desserts like pecan pie, bread pudding, pralines and fudge. “Miss Pinky” at Wintzell’s Oyster House says it best: "It's so good, it'll make your tongue want to slap the back of your throat!"

Virginia Wines Would Make Thomas Jefferson Proud

Chateau Morrisette is located in rural Floyd County, Virginia
We were amazed to learn that the state of Virginia is ranked tenth nationally in commercial grape production and grape bearing acreage.  It turns out that English settlers who first came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 were required to cultivate 10 grapevines each.  The intent was to create a thriving wine industry in the New World.  Close to 200 years later, Thomas Jefferson himself pursued this mission, convinced that Virginia would one day be capable of producing world-class wines.  By the 19th century, Virginia winemaking flourished.  During Prohibition it all but disappeared.  It wasn't until the 1970s that Virginia winemaking was reestablished.