February 11, 2015 by adannunzio
‘It is beautiful to do nothing … and then rest afterwards.’
-MALCOLM ANDREWS visits an island in the sun
Philanthropists: Laurance and Mary Rockefeller
Phones scarce in Caribbean paradise
No member of the general public – least of all any journalist – has the slightest idea as to the real worth of the Rockefellers, America’s richest family.
Are the Rockefellers, now in their sixth generation since achieving renown in oil exploration and production and the banking industry, secret about their immense wealth? Well, is Julia Roberts a ‘pretty woman’?
There are so many billionaires among the Rockefellers that it would take researchers decades to work out just where all the money is located, although we are sure the tax man has some idea.
One of the lesser-known members of the family was Laurance Rockefeller. Like nearly all of his family he gave back much of his immense wealth to the community as one of the world’s great philanthropists.
In his case he has been variously dubbed ‘Mr Conservation’, the “Father of Eco-Tourism” and the “President’s Man”, having advised all 10 American leaders from Dwight D Eisenhower in the 1950s to George W Bush (who held the reins when Rockefeller died in 2004 at the age of 94) on issues involving the protection of the wilderness.
Indeed, in 1991, the latter’s father, President George H W Bush, awarded Rockefeller the Congressional Gold Medal for his heritage work. It was the first time in the medal’s history (since its instigation in 1777) that it had been awarded for efforts in nature conservation. And largely thanks to Laurance Rockefeller’s efforts St John, one of the US Virgin Islands, is universally regarded as one of the most stunningly beautiful and least exploited tourist destinations in the world.
Laurence owned property at St John on which he and his wife (childhood sweetheart) Mary used to escape the hurly-burly of financial life on the US mainland. In 1956 they donated almost 70 hectares to the government to be used as a national park. More land has been added so that almost two-thirds of St John is part of the national park. In deference to Rockefeller’s view of life there are few television sets or telephones. And there is certainly no airport.
So if tourists want to enjoy the beaches around the largest settlement at Cruz Bay that are regularly voted among the best dozen in the world they have to come by sea. Not by mega-cruise ships with thousands of passengers. The intimate St John which is only 50 sq km in area with a population of around 4,000 could not cope with such hordes.
No, it is a case of come in by ferry from nearby St Thomas or on board intimate boutique cruise vessels such as the award-winning SeaDream I and II, with their maximum of 112 guests. They ply the Caribbean Sea from November to April each year before heading off to the Mediterranean for the European summer. SeaDream passengers have regularly voted the stop-over at St John as one of their favourite destinations.
They may not arrive in the massive numbers such as are attracted to other Caribbean islands such as St Thomas – but they are vital. In the 18th century, the economy depended almost entirely on the export of sugar cane, which grew in abundance in the hot climate and fertile soil. This was cultivated by slaves from Africa or the indigenous tribes of the Caribbean. At one stage, slaves outnumbered free citizens to the tune of five to one. But the industry collapsed when slavery was abolished in 1848.
The tourists and the world’s rich and famous who have holiday homes on the island love it for the outdoor attractions such as snorkelling from one of the seven faultless beaches around Cruz Bay or hiking along trails within the national park. There is also the fun of shopping for unique gifts in the architecturally picturesque Mongoose Junction shopping precinct. Maybe they are just happy to sip the island’s unique Virgin Islands Tropical Mango Pale Ale at one of the quaint bars. Or settle back on the pristine whiter-than-white sand while contemplating the Caribbean adage: “It is beautiful to do nothing … and then rest afterwards.”
At least, the locals on St John claim it is an old Caribbean maxim. And who are we to argue, even if we suspect we’ve heard the expression somewhere else in the past!
- Malcolm Andrews is an Australian author and travel writer. He has been a regular SeaDreamer since his first voyage in 2006.
February 10, 2015 by adannunzio
SeaDream II Transatlantic Voyage Features Guest Speaker, Bill Lee
Reserve your stateroom aboard SeaDream II Voyage #21517 sailing this April 19 – May 1, 2015 and enjoy learning about physics with every day analogies.
Bill Lee has a BS and MS in physics from York University in Toronto, Canada, and he is currently completing his thesis to defend his Ph.D. A high energy computer training professional with a unique ability to explain complex technical concepts using every day analogies, Bill provides thought provoking and amusing demonstrations. His passions are science, technology, inspiring people, and having fun.
Bill’s career includes 22 years within the IBM software development lab before establishing his e-Innovations Inc., a Canadian company specializing in blended learning solutions where traditional stand-up lecture based teaching is combined with computer assisted self-educating segments.
His onboard Lecture Titles include:
What Time is It?: Nobody Really Knows
Does time have a beginning or end? Why do we perceive time in only the forward direction? Is time travel possible? Take an exciting journey with Bill Lee to learn how leading physicists are trying to explain time.
What the Higgs!: Why All the Fuss and What is the Big Deal?
The recent Higgs discovery was predicated over 40 years ago. It is a great scientific accomplishment when a mathematical prediction is proven with observable experimental results. However, most physicists are secretly hoping the experiments will not match the predictions. Learn why this scientific discovery is sensational and how wrong experimental results are even more exciting.
Einstein’s Biggest Blunder
Physics requires an observable event and re-creatable experiments. What happens when elegant mathematical proofs predict events that can never be observed? Should the mathematicians be collaborating with philosophers or physicists? Learn about the wild liberties and assumptions made by physicists today and Albert Einstein’s biggest blunder.
Hollywood Science Fiction
Back to the Future, Star Wars, Star Trek, Fringe, and The Big Bang Theory. Bill Lee will poke into the science fiction, fact, or fantasy seen on popular movies and TV shows.
Top 10 Stephen Hawking Fun Facts
Bill Lee will discuss the books from Stephen Hawking that everyone likes to buy but no one actually reads condensed and simplified, including ten fun facts from the books explained and his predictions of the strange observable behaviors in science and physics.
The Big Bang
What actually banged? How did it bang? Will it bang again or will there be big squish? Bill Lee will explain the 13.8 billion year history of the universe in 45 minutes
This transatlantic voyage sails from Bridgetown, Barbados to Malaga, Spain with one stop in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. Fares starting at $3,299 per person +. (subject to change)
January 29, 2015 by adannunzio
RARE CHANCE TO SAIL INTO ITALY’S CALABRIA AND PUGLIA
SEADREAM Yacht Club’s boutique vessel, SeaDream I will make a rare visit this August to two of Italy’s most enticingly-picturesque and sought after ports for wining, dining, shopping and beach-going – but which see few “cruise ships” because they lack large-scale port facilities…. That is exactly why SeaDream I wants to visit and can visit!
Crotone in Calabria, (on the Ionian Sea) is renowned for its classic Italian-lifestyle of small and cozy restaurants and bars, handicraft markets, centuries-old archaeological sites and sunny beaches.
Monopoli in nearby Puglia, a region of growing interest to Italophiles, is located on the Adriatic Sea and welcomes visitors to cobble-stoned alleyways, grottoes, seafood restaurants and bars, beaches… and has a cannon-topped castle built in the 16th century and now a cultural center, and a hospital dating back to 1305.
SeaDream I will sail 7-days from Civitavecchia (Rome), this August 8th for Croatia’s medieval walled-city of Dubrovnik, visiting along the way Sorrento with the opportunity of a side-trip to Pompeii, Positano, Taormina to see Sicily’s Mt Etna, and spectacular Kotor in Montenegro.
Fares start from US$4,999pp + taxes double occupancy, including premium bar drinks, wines, a golf simulator with 30-international courses, state-of-the-art fitness center, mountain bikes for shore use, power and sail water-sports where permitted and crew gratuities.
Full details from travel agents or www.seadream.com; SeaDream I carries a maximum of just 112 guests served by 95 crew.
 HIDDEN gems in Crotone – old fortifications (foreground) and beaches, bars and restaurants reflecting classic Italian lifestyle in the background. (TourismCalabria)
 PUGLIA’S Monopoli: large cruise ships can’t get in here, making this rare visit by boutique SeaDream I all the more enticing. (VisitEurope)
 SEADREAM in the idyllic Mediterranean. (SeaDream Yacht Club)
January 27, 2015 by adannunzio
Special Interest Lecture aboard SeaDream I Transatlantic Crossing April 18, 2015
Lt. Col. William “Bill” Rothschild will sail aboard SeaDream I providing a lecture series about space exploration. He presents interesting, easy to understand, and down to earth stories spiced with tantalizing insider information about the real moon race, what’s happening in space now, and an intriguing look into the future for this greatest of all travel adventures.
Bill has 44 years of experience in the aerospace industry involving space systems program management, project engineering, and rocket propulsion development and testing. He retired recently as Boeing’s director of engineering operations for the Space Exploration Division in Houston, TX and has been working as a consultant for NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and several aerospace companies. Bill led an industry consortium that defined the Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle concepts leading to NASA’s next generation of heavy lift space launchers.
While at Boeing, he held program management and engineering leadership positions on the Space Shuttle, Orion, Orbital Space Plane, 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle, Commercial Reusable First Stage Booster, Air Force Space Maneuver Vehicle, Space Rescue Vehicle, and the Liquid Flyback Booster programs.
Prior to joining Boeing, Bill worked at Pratt & Whitney in West Palm Beach, Florida where he served as senior project engineer on advanced rocket engines, space propulsion architectures, and military jet engine development programs. Lt. Col. Rothschild also served as an officer in the Air Force for 20 years. His distinguished military career involved research, development, testing, and acquisition management on rockets, guided weapons, and a wide variety of missile systems. He has a BS degree from Penn State (High Honors) and an MS degree in Aero and Mechanical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
Onboard Lecture series includes:
The Early Years of Space Exploration
Join Bill Rothschild as he describes the early Russian and American space programs including Project Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, with tantalizing insider secrets about the real moon race.
Current Space Operations
Feel like an astronaut as Bill Rothschild describes the marvels of the American, Russian and Chinese space shuttles and space stations.
The Way Forward into Space
Get the real scoop from Bill Rothschild as he presents an intriguing preview of NASA’s future plans plus the exciting promises and difficult challenges of commercial space flight.
Mission to Mars
You can be a Martian as Bill Rothschild describes how NASA plans to get you there and the exciting things you could do on the Red Planet during your voyage of discovery and adventure.
Space Service Calls to Hubble
Listen to Bill Rothschild describe this amazing space telescope and learn how our astronauts made critical repairs while flying high and fast in orbit above our heads.
Payback Time for Space Exploration
Hear Bill Rothschild describe how NASA’s investments in space exploration have created the everyday stuff of our modern society that you and your grandchildren can’t live without.
Click here for details on Voyage #11517 sailing San Juan, Puerto Rico to Malaga, Spain April 18 – May 1, 2015.
January 26, 2015 by adannunzio
Being a Club Member has it’s Benefits
Now, for a limited time, double your savings on select 2015 & 2016 “Club Voyages”! Each year Club Members are rewarded with an additional $500 savings per stateroom when sailing on select “Club Voyages”. Now, announcing six “Club Voyages” being offered to Club Members with a special $1,000 savings per stateroom! To obtain your special $1,000 Club Member savings, reserve on any of these select 2015 & 2016 “Club Voyages” before February 28, 2015.
Nov. 22-28, 2015; Voyage #21545 sailing from St. Thomas roundtrip.
Itinerary includes Anguilla, St. Barts, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost van Dyke. Voyage highlight: Anchoring off Anegada in the British Virgin Islands. Tranquil & beautiful, Anegada is surrounded by striking coral reefs and secluded sandy beaches. Just 11 miles by 3, it’s a hidden gem only visited by yachts.
Jan. 9-16, 2016; Voyage #11603 sailing from Barbados to St. Martin.
Itinerary includes the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe, Nevis and St. Barts. Voyage highlight: Mayreau & Bequia in the Grenadines. Discover exotic island life uncluttered by tourists. These islands remain an unspoiled tropical paradise. In fact, Mayreau only got electricity in 2002.
Jan. 30-Feb. 6, 2016; Voyage #11606 sailing from Barbados to St. Martin.
Itinerary includes the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St. Barts and Nevis. Voyage highlight: Overnight in St. Barts and enjoy the chic, French island by day and night. A haven for mega yachts and jet setters, St. Barts offers great shopping, lovely beaches and gourmet dining.
Mar. 12-19, 2016; Voyage #21612 sailing from St. Thomas to San Juan.
Itinerary includes St John, Saba, St. Barts, Saint Martin, Tortola, Peter Island and Virgin Gorda. Voyage highlight: Overnight at Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands. Peter Island is privately owned and a place of beauty and serenity. It’s bay is regarded as one of the world’s most romantic beaches.
Aug. 20-27, 2016; Voyage #11634 sailing from Venice to Dubrovnik.
Itinerary includes five ports in Croatia and an overnight at Kotor, Montenegro. Voyage highlight: Yachting the Adriatic Sea, and calling on the most beautiful Croatian ports including an overnight stay in Hvar, Croatia. In Hvar, 13th-century walls surround beautifully ornamented Gothic palaces and traffic-free marble streets.
Sep. 3-10, 2016; Voyage #21636 sailing from Athens to Istanbul.
Itinerary includes four Greek Islands and two calls in Turkey. Voyage highlight: Paros, Greece, considered to be one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades. Stroll the Byzantine stone footpaths meandering through the classic whitewashed cubic houses and impressive neoclassical mansions.
Notes: Valid on new bookings made before Feb. 28, 2015. Refer to code WAVE1000 at time of booking. Savings is taken from SeaDream’s Book Today & Save fares as seen on our website. Offer valid only on above select voyages. Not combinable with Group Rates and certain other savings. Contact your Travel Professional or SeaDream for details. Applies to Club Members only.
January 8, 2015 by adannunzio
Paros Island, Greece
IMMERSE yourself for an-almost week and a half in the fabled Greek Islands this July 25 when the world’s highest-rated boutique passenger vessel, SeaDream II sails a 10-day roundtrip voyage from Athens, with the price including any-time premium bar drinks, wines with meals, a 30-international course golf simulator, fitness center, mountain bikes for shore excursions, power and sail water-sports where locally permitted – even onboard crew gratuities.
SeaDream’s 5-star dining either alfresco or in the elegant dining room, and smart-casual ambience rounds out this captivating itinerary that takes in the islands of Sifnos, Skopelos, Skiathos, Patmos, Paros, Santorini and Hydra, and mainland ports of Kusadasi in Turkey and Nafplion in Greece.
The mega yacht, SeaDream II carries a maximum 112 guests served by 95 crew, with prices for this sailing starting from US$7109pp twin-share including port charges and taxes; full details from travel agents or www.seadream.com
ADDITIONAL PORT DETAILS:
SIFNOS often called The Gem of the Cyclades and renowned for its local cuisine and dining venues.
SKOPELOS and SKIATHOS both featured in the movie Mama Mia!
KUSADASI famed for its Grand Bazaar and nearby Ephesus with the House of the Virgin Mary.
PATMOS the claimed home of John the Baptist.
PAROS one of the “most unspoiled islands” in the Cyclades.
SANTORINI is famous for not allowing motor vehicles that would spoil the ambience of its waterfront restaurants, boutiques and bars.
NAFPLION offers the chance to climb 1000 steps to an ancient fortress.
HYDRA is one of the Greek Islands’ most-renowned venues for markets, galleries, restaurants, boutiques and other stores around its colorful waterfront.
January 6, 2015 by adannunzio
SEADREAM YACHT CLUB ANNOUNCES 2015 WINE VOYAGES
– Boutique Ports Paired with Intimate Culinary Experiences –
MIAMI, Jan. 06, 2015 – After the successful debut of SeaDream Yacht Club’s Wine Voyages in 2014, eight vino-intensive voyages have been added to the 2015 season. Showcasing the most picturesque yachting ports of the Mediterranean on five to nine-day sailings, each dedicated Wine Voyage provides guests with heightened wine experiences including sit-down tastings featuring wineries from regions visited, a Wine Master Class Tasting led by an internationally recognized wine expert and one tasting held by a top winemaker. At an exclusive Winemaker’s Dinner taking place onboard, the chef will craft a special menu to match the wine of the winemaker joining for the evening. Together with SeaDream’s Wine Director Erica Landin, additional casual tastings are organized throughout sailings to highlight local producers or favorite wines from the SeaDream cellar.
“The cuisine onboard SeaDream Yacht Club continues to receive rave reviews from past guests as our culinary team incorporates local ingredients of the ports we visit as only possible sailing with 112 guests,” shares SeaDream Yacht Club President Bob Lepisto. “Our extensive 2015 Wine Voyages build on this tradition by pairing legendary vineyards with expert instructors and winemakers to develop a truly one-of-a-kind experience on land and sea.”
SeaDream Wine Voyages add to the two mega-yachts’ innovative culinary and beverage program, which features the first and only full raw cuisine menu onboard as well as showcasing local delicacies from ports of call. Examples include:
Civitavecchia (Rome) to Dubrovnik, Croatia Sailing SeaDream I Aug. 8 to 15 from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Dubrovnik, guests will enjoy a memorable meals paired with the great wines of Chianti and other regions. Onboard this sailing is Wine Writer Anthony Rose of the British daily newspaper The Independent and Decanter Magazine, who will take guests on a tasting tour of the Italian greats including super-Tuscans as well as mini-tastings of wine from regions passing including Sicily, Puglia and Manduria. Special Wine Land Adventures include a visit to Cantina Benanti with owner, Antonio Benanti in Sicily and an intimate tour of Cantine Marisa Cuomo with Marisa Cuomo in Positano, Italy.
Civitavecchia (Rome) to Malaga, Spain Guests onboard the 112-guest mega-yacht for the Oct. 23 to Nov. 1 voyage sailing from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Malaga, Spain will be hosted by Guy de Rivoire, international export director of the Bollinger champagne house in Monaco, as he guides them through a tasting from rosé to vintage wines followed by a special Winemaker’s Dinner. On the same voyage, the head winemaker and/or one of the Martínez Bujanda family, owners of the Finca Valpiedra Winery, will present a special tasting menu onboard. Exclusive Wine Land Adventures on this voyage include a visit to the 1500-acre private estate of Château de Berne, Sanary-sur-Mer, the Cavas Recaredo winery in Sant Sardurní d’Anoia hosted by winery founder’s grandson, Ton Mata while docked in Barcelona, and the Simon Coll Chocolate Factory.
Below is a full listing of SeaDream’s 2015 Wine Voyage itineraries:
- Malaga to Monte Carlo Wine Voyage, departing May 1.
Eight days including boutique ports of Ibiza, Valencia, and Palma de Mallorca (Spain).
- Monte Carlo round trip Wine Voyage, departing May 9.
Seven days including ports of St. Tropez, Calvi (France), and Portofino.
- Monte Carlo round trip Wine Voyage, departing May 16.
*Five days including ports of St. Tropez, Portofino and Portovenere (Italy).
- Civitavecchia (Rome) to Dubrovnik Wine Voyage, departing August 8.
Seven days including Positano, Sorrento, Crotone and Taormina (Italy).
- Dubrovnik to Venice, departing August 29.
Seven days calling on Croatian ports of Piran, Pula, Rab, Sibenik, Hvar and Korcula.
- Dubrovnik to Civitavecchia (Rome), departing Sept. 12.
Seven days calling on Kotor (Montenegro), Saranda, Corfu and Paxos (Greece).
- Civitavecchia (Rome) round trip, departing Sept. 26.
Seven days calling on Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, Costa Smeralda (Italy) and Bonifacio (France).
- Civitavecchia (Rome) to Malaga, departing Oct. 23.
Nine days calling on Porto Ercole, Portofino, Monte Carlo, Sanary-sur-Mer (France) and Valencia.
SeaDream Yacht Club 2015 Wine Voyage fares begin at *$3,599 per person based on double occupancy. For inquiries, contact a travel professional or SeaDream Yacht Club at 1-800-707-4911 or visit www.SeaDream.com.
December 4, 2014 by adannunzio
Charitable Cause in the Caribbean
During the relaxing transatlantic crossings, we do aim to get a little exercise in. Guests get together with crew and walk laps around Deck 6. 16 laps equals 1 mile. Nothing like a brisk walk and the fresh ocean air to get your blood pumping. It’s one way to burn off the heavenly chocholate croissants from breakfast. To make the walk a bit more meaningful, SeaDream selects a charity to walk for. Guests and crew are encouraged to donate money per each mile walked, and SeaDream matches their donation.
The most recent crossings, sailing from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean guests and crew walked for the charity; “Hands Across the Sea”. Since SeaDream sails the Caribbean almost most every winter, it’s great to give back to the islands we visit. In total, SeaDream donated US$1,246 to “Hands Across the Sea”. We thank everyone who participated.
About the charity:
Hands Across the Sea is dedicated to raising the literacy levels of Eastern Caribbean children
We work in six English-speaking island nations of the Eastern Caribbean: Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. The enthusiasm for reading in the region is very high, but the budget for literacy-building resources is very low.
Many children are growing up without access to new, relevant books and a lending library. Every year, we send thousands of great new books—over 143,000 since we started in 2007—that have been requested by educators via our Hands Wish Lists. We help schools (from pre-school to high school), reading programs, and community libraries—that’s 230 projects to date—create or rejuvenate lending libraries. And we work hands-on with our projects year after year—we’re with them for as long as they need our help. http://www.handsacrossthesea.net/index.htm
November 19, 2014 by adannunzio
SEADREAM FROM GALLIPOLI TO THE GREEK ISLANDS IN MAY 2015
SEADREAM Yacht Club has a whole 9-days from Istanbul to Athens aboard its mega yacht SeaDream I in May of next year. You’ll have the opportunity to visit Gallipoli, the wonders of Ephesus or Kusadasi’s grand bazaar, medieval Rhodes, and the Greek Islands’ breathtakingly beautiful Santorini, Mykonos – and motor-vehicle free Hydra where locals and visitors alike get around on foot or by donkey.
There’ll also be the chance to see the recently-excavated Terrace Houses and the House of the Virgin Mary near Kusadasi, the Monastery of St John on Patmos Island (where he wrote the Book of Revelations,) and Bodrum’s Mausoleum of Halicarnassus; one’s of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
SeaDream Yacht Club includes five-star cuisine and premium wines and bar drinks in its prices, together with power and sail water-sports (where locally permitted,) a 30-course golf simulator, state of the art fitness center, mountain bikes for shore excursions, and even gratuities.
The 9-days from Istanbul to Athens on May 21, 2015 currently starts from US$5499pp double occupancy; SeaDream I carries a maximum of just 112 guests served by 95 crew. (price subject to change)
For more details see travel agents or visit www.seadream.com
ADDITIONAL DETAIL: FOR those not interested in visiting Gallipoli when SeaDream I has a day in Kepez there is an optional tour to the remains of the ancient city of Troy, and in Rhodes guests can see the extraordinary walls of the city that are 12 meters thick and surrounded by a moat 21 meters wide.
Santorini whose villages cling to the edge of an ancient volcano that wiped out the island’s earliest settlements 3,600 years ago is considered Greece’s most-popular destination, and at Mykonos there will be a full day and into the evening to enjoy its beaches and cosmopolitan lifestyle.
Troy Horse, Canakkale
November 12, 2014 by adannunzio
The Church of San Martino (Picture: Malcolm Andrews)
Author inspired rich and famous
HAD Australian-born author Elizabeth von Arnim been around today we’d probably be calling her best-selling books ‘chick lit’. Not that she would have been pleased with such a description. Such marketing was unknown when she was writing her best books in the late 19th and early 20th century and was a household name in the United States and Britain.
She was self-deprecating in the extreme. Not for her the author’s name splashed in bigger letters than the title of the book itself. Indeed, never did her full name even appear.
She was born Mary Annette Beauchamp in a cottage on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour in 1866, before heading with her family to England three years later.
And when she later pursued a literary career she only used pen-names. Mostly it was “by the author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden” the title of her first best-seller, reprinted eight times in the first year after its release in America in 1899, or more simply “by Elizabeth”.
In general her books were auto-biographical, including stories of two unhappy marriages – one to a fellow she called “The Man of Wrath”. But a book, written in 1922, was very different. It was called The Enchanted April and inspired by a month-long holiday in the Italian Riviera. Over the subsequent nine decades it has been adapted as a couple of Broadway plays, two Hollywood movies and a stage musical.
PORTOFINO – Elizabeth von Arnim
It was set not just anywhere in the Italian Riviera – but in the beautiful, secluded village of Portofino. Elizabeth had reached the hamlet by travelling in a horse and cart over 50km on a winding, frightening, one-lane coastal road from Genoa via another village, Santa Margherita Ligure.
The literary success of The Enchanted April is universally recognized as the reason why Portofino is today the vacation Mecca for society’s rich and famous. Now they drive there in their Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the one road into town (when the locals deign to allow cars to use it).
Or they sail into the crescent-shaped harbor in luxury yachts, unmoved by the mooring fees at the 14 available berths which are among the most expensive in the world – at around € 2500 ($US3100) per night. The likes of Steven Spielberg, Coldplay front man Chris Martin, pop diva Rihanna follow in the footsteps of Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (they got engaged there the first time around … or maybe it was the second).
But the smart tourists stop by on the small boutique cruise vessels.
Recently the SeaDream Yacht Club polled their guests about their favorite Italian destination. And Portofino won hands down, even though the award-winning SeaDream I and II visit such wonderful places as Positano on the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Capri, Taormina in Sicily, the Cinque Terre and Venice.
Everyone who is anyone visits Portofino to shop. Even if they can’t afford it – and, rest assured, few of us can! Along the Via Roma which leads from the waterfront there is every concievable shop and boutique wooing the tourists like the mythical sirens of the ancient Mediterranean. Local craftsmen and women are there with the top-end boutiques such as Dior, Armani, Ferragamo and Gucci. The smart visitors leave their credit cards back in their SeaDream staterooms.
But it is worth spending $10 for a cup of coffee, or even more for an ice-cold beer, and sit at a table at one of the sidewalk cafés and watch the passing parade of well-heeled folk. The beauty of the village makes it all so worthwhile. We don’t mean the azure waters of the Mediterranean. There are the pastel colors of the houses and shops. And the classic architecture of the San Martino church, whose bell-tower peers over the buildings between it and the waterfront.
It is all Charm. Charm with a capital C. There are virtually no cars. The locals like it that way and so, too, do the visitors once they realise they can stroll to their hearts content without having to dodge a host of Vespas and Fiats like they do in Rome, Naples or Genoa.
And why not join the queue outside the bakery for some steaming hot focaccia, topped with locally-grown olives and herbs, straight from the oven? Buon Appetito!
Ask anyone who has visited Portofino why they like it so much and you will probably be greeted with a shrug of the shoulders. “Why?’ he or she will reply. “It is just because I do!” And who can argue with that?
Malcolm Andrews is an Australian author and former Sydney daily newspaper columnist. He has been a regular SeaDreamer since his first voyage in 2006.
PORTOFINO – SeaDream