Laraine Harding's Essence of India Tour

Essence of India Journey

Having been an independent traveller for many years, I felt daunted by the misconceptions I heard about travelling in India. I chose Insight’s “Essence of India” guided holiday and am delighted I did!

I started the tour with the express purpose of seeing the Taj Mahal and capturing that infamous photo for my travel wall. However, I found that there was far more to this incredible country than I ever anticipated. Continue reading…

Country road

Country Roads of Italy: Epilogue

The Palladian Traveler ties a nice bow around his 21-part Country Roads of Italy travel journal with a photographic look back on his amazing eight-day Insight Vacations journey.

It’s been several months — real-time, not virtual — since I was aboard Insight Vacations’ motorcoach, reclined in my business-class legroom seat, rolling through Umbria and Tuscany wondering what I’d see, smell and taste next.

Part of a group of international media — 23 veteran travel writers and photographers — I was invited along this premium-escorted journey to sample firsthand a portion of one of Insights “Country Roads of Italy” itineraries and was pampered every kilometer of the way with a healthy dose of the three Cs: culture, cuisine and [wine] corks.  Continue reading…

Insight Vacations Italy: Gondola ride in Venice

Country Roads: Gliding into the Venetian Sunset

Fancying the wind in his face and hairpin turns, The Palladian Traveler is in hot pursuit of a bevy of redheads as he files his 16th Country Roads dispatch from a sports car-crazed town in the Emilia-Romagna.

As daylight’s descent wanes, heading ever closer and begrudgingly toward the night, not wanting its place in the sky to end, my band of merry media — guest travel writers and photographers on an abbreviated Insight Vacations Country Roads of Italy itinerary — resists the pull of the inevitable as well, as it waits along a three-step landing to begin, sadly, the very last activity of our eight-day journey: a gondola ride through the narrow side canals of Venice.  Continue reading…

Insight Vacations Italy: Venice’s Centro Storico district

Country Roads: Venice splashed by Aqua Alta

Staring down the Adriatic Sea, The Palladian Traveler gets “man up” courage and joins the masses atop a passarella for an elbow-to-elbow walk on water around Venice’s Centro Storico district.

The late Robert Benchley, a 20th century American humorist, newspaper columnist and Hollywood actor, was sent packing to Europe one summer by good friends and fellow film stars David Niven and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

Niven and Fairbanks put their heads together and, like a reputable travel agency, mapped out Benchley’s sojourn, which included a stop in Venice.

Immediately upon arriving in La Serenissima, Benchley sent a five-worded cable to Niven. It read: Streets full of water. Advise.

Continue reading…

Insight Vacations Italy: Tour of Venice

Country Roads: Escape to Giudecca

With the Adriatic Sea gurgling underfoot, The Palladian Traveler races against a growing high tide to get out to a Venetian glass-blowing factory. He documents it all, while puddle jumping around the Lagoon, in his 19th Country Roads dispatch.

I’ve just been punched, a real roundhouse to the old breadbasket, by that “time flies when you’re having so much fun” realization that your temporary taste of la dolce vita (the sweet life) is about to come to an end.
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Insight Vacations Italy: Venice and the Grand Canal

Country Roads: La Serenissima

Bidding arrivederci to terra firma, The Palladian Traveler quickly falls under the hypnotic spell of Venice as he deliriously files his 18th Country Roads dispatch from a motoscafo gliding along the serpentine Grand Canal.

For the past six days I’ve been living the sweet life, and doing so on someone else’s euro.

Totally content with my business-class legroom seat and onboard WIFI connection, I’ve been riding inside a comfortable motorcoach with the rest of my band of merry media — guests of Insight Vacations (Insight) on one of its Country Roads of Italy itineraries — as it rolled through Umbria and Tuscany. Together, we’ve seen, experienced and tasted so much, but a bit more sweetener is about to be added to this la dolce vita recipe.
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Insight Vacations Italy: Bologna, the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy

Country Roads: Bologna, Gone in 60 Minutes

The Palladian Traveler is on the clock and under the gun as he races through triple-headed Bologna, biting, gulping and shooting along the way in this, his 17th Country Roads dispatch. Tick…tick…tick…

The late Italian film director Sergio Leone, best remembered for his “spaghetti westerns,” brought together three unique characters in his U.S. Civil War period feature centered on the search for buried Confederate gold: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The 1966 flick runs 161 min. and stars Clint Eastwood (the Good), Lee Van Cleef (the Bad), and Eli Wallach (the Ugly).
Continue reading…

Insight Vacations Italy: Ferrari Museum

Country Roads: The Redheads of Maranello

Fancying the wind in his face and hairpin turns, The Palladian Traveler is in hot pursuit of a bevy of redheads as he files his 16th Country Roads dispatch from a sports car-crazed town in the Emilia-Romagna.

Climbing on board the motorcoach with the rest of my groggy-eyed group of merry media — journalists and photographers invited by Insight Vacations to sample an abbreviated version of its fabulous Country Roads of Italy itinerary that races you through Umbria and Tuscany — I’m trying desperately to clear my head after yesterday’s “dark and foodie night” of eating way too much and over imbibing, and this morning’s early wake-up call. YAWN.
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Country Roads: A Dark and Foodie Night

Country Roads: Dark and Foodie Night

Batten down the hatches as The Palladian Traveler eats and drinks his way through a proverbial dark-and-stormy night, stopping long enough to file his 15th Country Roads dispatch from Val d’Elsa in Tuscany.

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

These seven words, joined at the hip, form an often mocked and parodied phrase quilled by English novelist Edward Buwler-Lytton in the opening sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford.

Literary criticism aside, Buwler-Lytton’s narrative just happens to set the stage perfectly for what I’m about to transcribe.
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Insight Vacations Italy: San Gimignano Gelato

Country Roads: The Good Humour Man of San Gim

Standing in the middle of Medieval Manhattan, The Palladian Traveler has the scoop on why everyone screams for ice-a-cream as he files his 14th Country Roads dispatch from the cobble of San Gimignano.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, standing next to an ancient landmark in the middle of San Gimignano’s Piazza della Cisterna with my band of merry media.

All 23 of us are guests of Insight Vacations on its Country Roads of Italy journey through Umbria and Tuscany, and we’re gathered around Belinda, our tour director-slash-storyteller, as she’s about to address the peanut gallery.  Continue reading…