As a first generation Canadian born to Croatian and Serbian immigrants, I grew up with ties to both sides of the Atlantic. So perhaps it’s appropriate that I now live planted in the middle, on the island of Bermuda. Starting at a young age, I was afforded opportunities to travel with my entrepreneurial parents on business, as well as family vacations. My early exposure to travel combined with a childhood in the multi-cultural suburbs of Toronto led to a fascination with the world at large, and a strong wanderlust. Once I was able to travel on my own I did so at every opportunity, and today continue to have one eye firmly fixed on the next adventure.
I prefer the slow route and particularly enjoy trips where I have a chance to explore a region in depth, as opposed to taking in only the highlights. I’m a former competitive swimmer and true “water baby”, so it’s not surprising that I have an affinity for coastal areas and island destinations. A beach isn’t enough though, for me, travel is all about the cross section of nature and culture; music, history, architecture, and most importantly…food! To date I’ve been fortunate to visit over 30 countries and travel extensively throughout Europe, Central & South America, the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Q&A with Natale, our Europe Specialist
Your most annoying travelling habit?
Overpacking. I’m always worried there’s something I’m forgetting, and usually only end up using half of what I packed.
What 5 things do you always travel with?
Phone (mainly for the camera), snacks, reusable water bottle, pocket dictionary, travel guide
You are stranded on a desert island with 2 famous people, who are they?
Sir Patrick Stewart and Dolly Parton. Both are funny people with plenty of interesting stories to tell, and Dolly grew up quite poor so I suspect she could have some surprise survivalist tricks up her sleeve.
What is on your bucket list?
- Gabon – This little west African country seems to have it all, beaches, jungle, wildlife, culture
- Azores – I’m keen to experience the Hawaii of the Atlantic, both by land and sea
- Malaysia – Let’s be honest, this one is mostly for the food. Sometimes I let my stomach do the planning.
- South America – Last time around I traveled down the eastern side of the continent, next time I’d love to see Colombia, Peru and Chile
Throughout my travels there are some experiences and memories which stand out. I would like to share these recommendations with you for some travel inspiration..
My favorite island
As both the largest island in Greece and the furthest south, Crete is blessed with beautiful beaches, picturesque Venetian towns, ancient archaeological sites and culture galore. It’s a perfect place to hunker down for extended exploration, but if you only have a few nights to spare Heraklion makes a good base to visit the Minoan palace of Knossos and the archaeological museum. For nature lovers the city of Chania offers easy access to the Samaria gorge and the famous beaches of Balos and Elafonissi.
My favorite hotel
I love boutique hotels that combine old world glamour with modern amenities, and Palace Elisabeth on Hvar Island in Croatia hits all the right notes. Located in a historic building constructed in 1899, Palace Elisabeth is centrally located just a few steps from Hvar’s main pedestrian promenade. After a long day exploring Hvar’s quaint countryside villages, wineries and fields of lavender you may want to indulge at the spa, or take a dip in the indoor pool. Most of the hotel’s 45 rooms have views to the sparkling Adriatic sea, and there are several outdoor terraces from which to enjoy Europe’s sunniest island!
My favorite city
Often overlooked amidst the bigger neighbouring cities of Split and Zadar, the Croatian coastal city of Sibenik is one of my absolute favourite places. The town has a wonderful allure and authentic feel. Here, tourists don’t yet outnumber locals. Cap off a day exploring Sibenik’s cobblestone streets and architectural wonders like the UNESCO protected St. James cathedral, with a highlight dinner at the Michelin star restaurant Pelegrini. Sibenik is also quite close to both Krka National Park (20 minutes) and Plitvice Lakes National Park (2 hours), making it a great base for exploration.
My favorite travel experience
You can’t beat a Croatia small-ship luxury cruise. Imagine waking up, grabbing breakfast, maybe catching some rays or a nap on the sun deck. Before lunch the captain drops anchor in a secluded little bay where you can dive right into the water from the back of the ship. Shortly after your gourmet 3-course lunch, the ship pulls into the next port where you’ll have plenty of time to explore and try out a local restaurant or bar. There’s simply no better way to enjoy Croatia’s coast and islands!
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