Monday, December 30, 2013

Puglia Italy: affordable retreat/Tour with Blissful Travels with Margaret

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Call 860.978.8111

Blissful Travels with Margaret presents

Get Blissful in Puglia, Italy” May 13 – 20, 2014 or May 13 – 23, 2014
Margaret Sylvester & Ylenia Sambati have created a fabulous, affordable Retreat/Tour for 8 guests.

If you are a foodie, wine lover, a shopper, like art and history, love being pampered, want to relax by the pool and eat healthy… join us!

Yle has been planning and organizing cultural experiences in Puglia for over 10 years. She was recently recognized in the Huffington Post as one of the best tour guides in Italy! Yle was Margaret’s Tour Guide for 6 days in 2013 showing her Puglia’s treasures. We put this special trip together for YOU!

Our Daily Itinerary
Day 1 – Tuesday, May 13 - Welcome to Puglia!
You are picked up upon arrival at Brindisi airport.
Welcome to Masseria Provenzani
Enjoy a “Benvenuti” (Welcome) Aperitivo Pugliese.
Unpack, relax by the pool…
Welcome Dinner
Meet your hosts Margaret and Yle and learn about the week ahead!

Day 2 – Wednesday, May 14 - Cooking Class with Special Healthy Puglia Recipes
Enjoy a relaxing morning at our beautiful accommodation.
Cooking Class and lunch at the Masseria using traditional healthy recipes.
Relax by the pool this afternoon and Massage in the privacy of your room.
Buffet Dinner

Day 3 – Thursday, May 15 - Guided Tour of Lecce
Lecce tour, a “passeggiata” in the city of Baroque
Cartapesta (Papier-mâché) Experience with famous local artisan.
Free afternoon to explore Lecce or relax by the pool.Cooking Class and bread making together with a Private Wine Tasting by Sommelier at the Masseria. Dinner based on our creations.

Day 4 – Friday, May 16 - Wine and Olive Oil Day
Wine Tour We will visit two famous local wineries with tastings.
Picnic Lunch, delicious, healthy, local recipes, enjoyed in a gorgeous Olive Tree Grove and Private Olive Oil Tasting.
Back to the Masseria for relaxing and Dinner.

Day 5 – Saturday, May 17 - Excursion to Gallipoli
Morning Tibetan Bowl Meditation and Reiki with Margaret and an all Levels Yoga Class.
Private Wine Tasting in a Southern Winery
Gallipoli Tour the “beautiful town of fishermen”
Picnic Lunch on a white sandy Gallipoli beach.
Back to Masseria for afternoon Wine Tasting/Aperitivo
Dinner at the Masseria with a special Cheese and Wine Tasting Session.

Day 6- Sunday, May 18 - The Trulli Valley Tour
Photography Day in the Itria Valley and its rural landscape of “Trulli”, cylindrical buildings with conical roofs. We visit Cisternino,
Ostuni, and Martina Franca.
A Light Lunch on our way sampling the delicious “Focaccia Barese”.
Free time to explore and delight in the labyrinth of whitewashed village streets, the olive trees and the bright blue color of the Adriatic Sea.
Back to Masseria for Dinner

Day 7 – Monday, May 19- Excursion to Otranto
Morning Tibetan Bowl Meditation and Reiki with Margaret, all Levels Yoga Class
Excursion to Otranto
Beach Day on the Otranto white sandy beach with Picnic
Late afternoon Painting with Local Italian Maestro.
Dolce Cooking Class and Dinner at the masseria.

Day 8 –Tuesday, May 20 - Abbracci Day
Time to finish packing, relax by the pool and say our good-byes.
Transfer to Brindisi Airport.

What’s Included:
7 Nights accommodations at Masseria Provenzani with pool, ensuite, wifi, private bath.
7 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 7 Buffet Dinners Prepared by Mamma
1 Massage at your accommodation
2 Yoga Classes
1 Day Winery Tour and daily Wine Tastings
1 Olive Oil Experience and Picnic amidst the olive trees
Cooking classes at the Masseria.
Pick up and drop off at Brindisi Airport
Beach time with picnic lunch
All land transportation
Services of a local travel expert
Integrated Energy Session, Reiki, BioMat, Tibetan Bowl.
Note: Itinerary is subject to change with or without notice. Sequence of day trips may vary.
COST: May 13 – 20, 7-Nights/8 days 1350 Euro = $1850.00 P.P. Double, Single, add $275.00

Add 3 nights with Breakfast, May 20 – 23, $300.00 P.P. Double, Single, add $150.00 at the time of print.
Adjustments will be made upon final payment.
NOT INCLUDED Airfare, personal expenses, snacks, drinks and meals not listed on itinerary and travel insurance. Please purchase insurance when purchasing your airfare.
To hold your space: 50% down, payable with Credit Card. Capitol One and a few other companies do NOT charge conversion fees. Check with your Credit Card company. Call Margaret at 860.978.8111 for deposit or information.
Final Payment due 60 days before trip, March 12, at 860.978.8111

Margaret Sylvester has spent years of traveling, experimenting with foods and flavors, and learning about living healthy. Blissful Travels with Margaret is a small group of 8 travelers, making special memories while exploring fantastic destinations with stunning scenery in Sedona, AZ, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, New Mexico, the Colorado Rockies, New England, Sicily, Puglia, Italy and more.
We tour local sites and partake in yoga classes and massages. Each day starts and ends with recipes that include seasonal, local and organic ingredients. By hosting these peaceful yet exhilarating trips, the name Blissful Travels with Margaret sums up our mission.
The more I travel, the more I realize that the trips I've taken in small intimate groups have become my favorite experiences and my fondest memories. Often my fellow travelers have become life-long friends.
I am also the owner of Blissful and Balanced. We believe the integrated blend of Reiki, Sound Healing and the Amethyst BioMat promotes wellness of Mind, Body and Spirit. I am a Reiki Master Teacher, using this combination of therapies to lower blood pressure, to reduce stress & anxiety, to enhance the immune system, promote healing, relieves pain, and more.
I use Tibetan Singing Bowls during your session to help restore balance & energy. You will be lying fully clothed on a massage table, lined with the gentle warmth of an Amethyst BioMat that delivers therapeutic Far Infrared Rays and Negative Ions as I incorporate Reiki. My integrated sessions are portable and are offered to you on all trips.
What makes your vacation with us Blissful? In addition to luxurious accommodations, fabulous food, hiking, visits to museums, galleries, wineries, and national or historical sites and more...Yoga classes and a massage are ALWAYS included!
Blissfully Yours,
Margaret Sylvester

Monday, December 23, 2013

Italian Christmas lights, not your common mini bulbs....

The great Artists of Florence are seen in the wonderful street lights.

My contact in Florence just sent me some wonderful photos of Christmas street lights.
She explained to me while I was in Florence, that each neighborhood or street would sponsor the holiday lights each year.
All photos by Sheila Ford who will show you parts of Florence to photograph that you might never find.
Sheila constantly tells me to LOOK UP!   And photos are all about the LIGHT!

On you next trip to Florence contact Sheila.  She will show you parts of Florence you have never seen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Venice High Water, Acqua Alta

I have heard about the seasonal flooding in Venice that turns tourists into ‘children’ playing in the expansive puddle that is St. Marks Square and is only an inconvenience for the local Venicians, but I have never been in Venice when the event occurred.

During my visit this year acqua alta occurred on three days.    DSCN4132
The flooding is slow as water seeps in from all the canals and lagoon.   A signal is blasted in the morning to announce that the flooding had started.  I would be more than 6 hours until the water started to recede.     During this time the locals will pump out their first floor stores, walk to work or begin their shopping with knee high boots and think little of the event.

But travelers and visitors embrace the novelty.   Local vendors sell inexpensive plastic boots in bright colors.   Your options are plastic foot covers, wet shoes or waiting out the flooding.   Not all streets are flooded but many of the main routes will have portions with more than 4 inches of water.     Some of the vaporetto routes were closed until the water level under the bridges lowered enough to allow the boats to pass.



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rome at Christmas: what surprised me

15 Impression from my Solo Christmas trip to Rome: 

Although I travel solo to Italy every year and try to stay as long as possible I have never been Home To Italy during the winter.   Usually by November I head back to the southern part of the USA to wait out the ice and cold across the Northern Hemisphere.

An additional thrill was an invitation from the author of Browsing Rome to write about any insights on Rome from my solo my solo trip.    Since I no longer travel as a tourist but as a traveler, my trips will not appeal to anyone who spends every day following a tour book. 

My December trip was devoted entirely to finding what xmas traditions Italians practice that Italian Americans also observe.    Therefore my visit did not include museums this year or monuments but rather the seasonal foods, street festivals and markets where Italians were enjoying the holidays. 

This theme proved to be perfect.     It was easy to do a visual inspection of holiday decorations as I progressed from Zurich to Como and down to Rome, but also the tourists were minimal, locals were more available to chat and the topic of Natale was universal to all.   

By the time I had arrived in Rome for the first visit (I returned at the end of my trip as well) I had already been through snow, a train strike, VERY COLD weather and had contracted the flu.   But when you only have one month a year to visit Italia, none of this stops a true traveler.   You just keep going!


1.      Street lighting:    In every town and city I visited the streets were blazing with Christmas lights.  No plastic snowmen, candy canes or Rudolf but street after street had displays of white lights.  Each street was different.   Some designs, such as the ‘jellyfish look’ were very unique.   I could not find anyone to ask if each neighborhood decides what lights they used nor do I think that question ever came up!

2.       The Christmas Markets

I left the USA with a list of markets that would be featured in each of the towns I planned to visit.

Apparently an outside Christmas market can be found in most Italian towns.   In Florence it was a German market, in Prato they had a Chocolate fair.   Rome has a huge market in Piazza Narvone that goes on for weeks.   I visited several times to try to see everything.

In addition to the stands offering sweets and snacks the popular items were something like an oversized donut and crepes filled with Nutella.    I enjoyed watching children eating cotton candy for the first time and learning how to eat it!


Since an outdoor market is a perfect location for a solo traveler to spend time, observe, interact and not become the object of everyone’s attention I found lots to keep me interested and except for the biting cold, would have spent more time there.                                                                                                                       The puppet stand had me transfixed.   Who can you identify?