... In my mind there are two kinds of castles. Some demand a thorough visit. Others better engage the imagination from outside without the mind-numbing detail of a guided tour. I place Cesky Krumlov's castle firmly into the latter category and so, clad in my mind's most elaborate finery, I ride in an open carriage through vaulted passageways from one courtyard to the next. From the covered bridge, I survey the jumble of red roofs and curls of wispy smoke in my town below. And when I come upon the Bellaria summer palace, its expansive wedding-cake balconies now used as a stage for outdoor theatre, my reverie takes a turn toward the lyrical and in sparkling slippers of the finest Czech crystal, I Cinderella, dance on that stage.

    Eventually, though, my curiosity prevails and just what splendours lie behind those castle walls, I need to know. No guided tour, though. I buy the book...

from: "Rhapsody Under a Bohemian Moon," National Post

    "C'est dommage," winemaker Jeannine Lagneau lamented. "Most people stay in Beaujolais for only a day.

    Dommage indeed, my husband and I agreed four years ago after a too-brief taste of Beaujolais warmth and so this summer we would return, for three weeks this time, to savour all corners of France's prettiest wine district. We would wander from one flower-filled golden stone village to another, dawdle over leafy salades Beaujolaises at two hour long lunches and, if luck held, form new acquaintances among some of France's most open and unpretentious people. But our first stop, sans doute, would be Domaine Lagneau where, in its 16-century cave or over dinner in the stone cottage that once belonged to Jeannine's grandparents, her husband Gerard would again pour his finest cru wine into our waiting glasses... 

from: "Beaujolais Villages: More than Just Wine," Most magazine

​    ... Then it appears. Tucked into an archway carved out of the branches, a door - half a door, to be exact. I'm peering through its top half to decipher what lies behind when a woman emerges.

    "Oh ...," I fumble, "this doorway surprised me."

    "Would you like to come in?" She walks down the lane and slips through a hole in the hedge. She looks normal enough, elegant even - fifty something, well-coiffed, clad in a stylish print dress. I follow. Once through, I see that the hedge so tightly surrounds a rough cabin that on three sides no sunbeam could find passage between it and the walls.

    "There," she nods toward a few boards, bright red, holding each other upright in the yard's back corner, "is our shower."

    How South Seas, I think...

from: "Down a Hawaiian Rabbit Hole," The Globe and Mail

    ​The air is crisp. The myriad greens of an Italian spring have burst forth. Today is Pasquetta, the day after Easter and near Cisternino in Italy's southern Puglia region, the weekend's second solemn pilgrimage has brought the statue of the Holy Mother to early morning mass at Madonna d'Iberia, a countryside church dedicated to spring, fertility and life.

    But by now, few signs of piety remain and a carnival has broken out. Tented stalls have been erected, all manner of sparkly baubles laid out, and a brass band is pulling itself into order. The grilling of sausages perfumes the air, friends young and old trade multi-cheeked kisses, a woman is tying red, yellow and blue balloons onto her child's stroller, and beneath striped awnings you can buy whatever you need and much more. We settle on the dried fruit stand and come away with a bag of wrinkled cherries...

from: "Religiosity and Revelry: Easter Monday in Italy," Boston Globe

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Sharon Blomfield 

Travel Writer & Author

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