Friday, August 31, 2018

Bern's Einstein Haus in Switzerland is a gem --"relatively" speaking

The Swiss capital of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site
(Courtesy: Bern Tourism)

BERN, SWITZERLAND — Four simple words dealing with four complex ideas  were the driving force behind one man's perception of the universe;  time, space, gravity and acceleration. His name was Albert Einstein.

Einstein in Vienna 1921
(Photo: Public Domain)
When Einstein lived in Bern, Switzerland from 1903 to 1905 while working as a Level III assistant examiner in the Swiss patent office, he developed his Theory of Relativity that changed perceptions of the cosmos forever.

Renting a small second floor flat in the center of the Old Town with his wife Mileva and son Hans Albert, Einstein's brief residence in the Swiss capital was a perfect storm for the world famous physicist.

Switzerland has always been known for precision timepieces and its clock making industry so it was not unusual for patent applications relating to time to regularly cross Einstein's desk. Some of those ideas helped to spur his insatiable lifelong curiosity about the relationship of time and space to the universe.

Bern's famous clock tower is just a couple of short blocks from Einstein's former flat  (Courtesy;
Ironically, the Einstein apartment at Kramgasse 49 is only a couple of blocks from Bern's famous Clock Tower or Zytglogge. Today, the flat is open to the public, but it may just be one of the best kept secrets in Bern.

With its arcaded streets, the Old Town of Bern has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Because of this, other than the cars which line the street today, visitors to the apartment can look out of the front window and gaze at  the same views of Bern that Einstein himself saw over a century ago.

The second floor apartment looks much as it did when Einstein lived there  (Courtesy:
Thanks to Bern's arcades, it has been said that when you stroll through along it's streets, you can walk through the Old Town in the rain and never get wet.

One reason the Einstein Haus is so frequently overlooked by "tourists" is the unassuming manner in which it is promoted. Were it not for a small sign on an outside wall just before the entrance, visitors could easily walk past it without ever knowing it is there.

The sign to the flat is small
and unassuming
(Courtesy: Bern Tourism)
For "travelers", rather than "tourists", the Einstein Haus is not to be missed. It is small, seemingly cramped at times, and appointed with understated furnishings, but that combined with Bern's historic architecture is what provides the overwhelming sensation that one of the world's greatest minds might actually walk through the door at any given moment.

Honoring the 100th anniversary of Einstein's residence of the flat in Bern, the entrance was renovated in 2005 to welcome visitors showing an illustration of the Milky Way.

The spiral staircase to the second floor remains in its original state, adding to the aura that Einstein and his family still live in their humble surroundings while also serving as a memorable image of how they walked up and down the stairs on a daily basis.

When you are there, you can almost feel Einstein's presence
(Courtesy: Bern Tourism)
A third floor space has been added to present Einstein's biography, papers and photos of his life's work. There is also a 20-minute video which further enhances the allure of the surroundings.

Though adept at creating elaborate formulas to calculate his theories, like so many great minds, Einstein perceived the world in what is known as "thought experiments."

Wikipedia explains a thought experiment as considering "some hypothesistheory or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. Given the structure of the experiment, it may not be possible to perform it, and even if it could be performed, there need not be an intention to perform it."

"The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences of the principle in question", something to which Einstein devoted his entire life, thus making his elaborately complex calculations easier to comprehend.

Bern is the gateway to the Bernese Oberland 
(Photo: chensiyuan -- Wikimedia Commons)
Several decades after leaving Bern, Einstein emigrated to the United States in 1933 when Adolf Hitler came to power. Due to his Jewish background, he never returned to his native Germany, living out his days in Princeton, NJ instead.

Bern is perched on a hill on a peninsula created by the meandering River Aare. It is a favorite destination for visitors and, because it is the Swiss capital, the already magnificent Swiss rail system provides even greater access to the rest of the country with countless departures and arrivals each day.

From the main railway station, you can get to Kramgasse 49 aboard the tram in the direction of "Barebgraben."

It is also an easy walk by heading to the Clock Tower and walking a couple more blocks under the right hand arcade. Bern is a compact city and a popular place for a casual stroll.

Grand Hotel Schweizerhof is an elegant 5-star property directly across from the railway station
(Courtesy: Grand Hotel Schweizerhof)

Directly across the street from the main train station is Hotel Schweizerhof, a 5-star hotel property with its own unique historical perspective.

Bern has much to offer visitors seeking something a little different and unique apart from Switzerland's stunning alpine scenery; the Klee Museum, the Postal Museum, the Bear Pit, the Alpine Museum, majestic government buildings, the Rose Garden, arcaded streets, the Onion Market, the Clock Tower and much more.

Bern is picturesque and alluring thanks to its historic preservation and geographical location  (Courtesy: Bern Tourism)
But if you fail to visit the Einstein Haus at Kramgasse 49,
you haven't seen the whole city and sadly, too many people pass it by because they don't even know it is there.

Be a "traveler", not a "tourist", and you will be richly rewarded by the city of Bern and Albert Einstein. It's simply  a matter of time, space and relativity.

Friday, August 24, 2018

ADLER Lodge ALPE offers a "Taste of South Tyrol"

Cocktails on the terrace at twilight
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
DOLOMITES, SOUTH TYROL, ITALY — Most Americans think of Italy as a warm weather destination, but what could be better than blending German efficiency with Italian cuisine to create an ideal winter holiday?

As summer gradually yields to fall and fall morphs into winter, the ski slopes of South Tyrol near the Austrian border beckon with their seductive powdery white allure.

Nothing like a swim in a heated pool after a day of skiing
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)

In recognition of this magical combination ADLER Lodge ALPE is offering a "Taste of South Tyrol" culinary experience in the famed Alpi di Siusi ski region.

The cuisine of this German/Italian-speaking region is both nuanced and surprising. Hearty cold-weather dishes such as polenta and canederli (dumplings) blend elements of German, Swiss and Austrian cooking, with more than their share of Italian sophistication.
Scrumptious meals with a view
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
Add in the convenience of cozy, luxurious ski-in-ski out slopes on Italy's largest mountain plateau and you have an unbeatable recipe for winter relaxation.

ADLER Lodge ALPE is offering a $730 per person package (based on a three- to seven-night stay) which includes:
       A tour and tasting at the Tramin winery, which is known for its Gew├╝rztraminer
       Cheese and beer tastings to showcase locally produced specialties
       A visit with honey producer Runggaldier Werner
       A trip to David’s Goaslhof, a goat and dairy farm
       A baking lesson with ADLER Lodge ALPE pastry chef Elisa Kostner
       Activities such as hiking, yoga, mountain biking and educational botanical walks (with a focus on medicinal herbs)

Now that's a Tyrolean sampler if ever there was one.

Local delicacies with a view from the terrace
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)

But here's a little more food for thought. Overseeing the kitchen at  ADLER Lodge ALPE  is Chef Hannes Pignater, winner of a series of international awards, including the Gold Medal at the World Skills Competition in St. Gallen, Switzerland and the Silver Medal at the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany.

His style is simultaneously creative and authentic, with a focus on quality produce from South Tyrol directly sourced  from committed farmers. The goal, says Pignater, is “To take everyday ingredients and create something special.”

Quiet comfort in the chalet
living room
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
Pastry chef, Elisa Kostner, also has a unique approach for creating her mouthwatering desserts. Rooted in the traditions of the Dolomite area combined with her distinctive personal touches, Kostner explains, “I don’t think about what I want to serve, be it mousse, ice cream or a cupcake, but rather what ingredients I want to use. These could be buckwheat, dandelion, quark, chamomile or honey pollen.”

By using local ingredients, the chef's not only support Dolomites’ farmers, but also reduce travel distances for deliveries.
The suite life at ADLER Lodge ALPE with views everywhere
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodgr ALPE)

Luxury food and travel blog  Travellers’ Places  said that ADLER Lodge ALPE was “designed to radiate peace and relaxation" which is obvious from the moment guests arrive.

The hotel consists of a main building with 18 junior suites, as well as 12 private, freestanding chalets, modeled after classic mountain huts, dotted throughout the property. The main reception area is home to a 40-foot–high totem by world-famous wood sculptor, Adolf Vallazza,.

The Finnish sauna
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
Although skiers are lured by the nearby world-famous runs during winter, each season brings an unforgettable experience  all its own. Spring offers the sounds of birdsong and views of brightly colored meadows covered with wildflowers like orchids, crocuses and edelweiss.

During the lush, green summers, soft breezes and abundant sunshine make it easy to stay active all day.

Saima with a view
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
The alpenglow is a famous autumn phenomenon that guests love to observe during cocktail hour. Just before sunset, the mountain walls begin to glow with an infectious mix of orange, red and violet hues. This unique, breathtaking display is a special time that lasts only for a few minutes, reminding guests and staff members to pause and soak in the magic.
ADLER Lodge ALPE is a year-round resort property
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
With its setting in its own loft within the main building of ADLER Lodge ALPE visitors also discover a hay sauna, a fitness center and windows offering panoramic views of the rolling meadows and jagged Dolomite peaks.

Pristine morning mist captures the imagination
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
ADLER Lodge ALPE prides itself on being an eco-friendly property which includes strict requirements for responsible energy consumption, sustainable construction materials and an architectural design that  harmonizes with surrounding landscapes.

Indoor pool with view
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)
With three sister properties in Italy, each  imbued with a strong sense of place, ADLER Lodge ALPE, ADLER Spa Resort DOLOMITI and ADLER Spa Resort BALANCE offer mountains of opportunities for relaxation amid charming alpine settings.

Meanwhile, ADLER Spa Resort THERMAE, in Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany, is famous for its complex of naturally fed thermal baths and pools.

Rise and shine
(Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALDE)

Despite their popularity and growth, there has always been one constant, the Sanoner family, which has owned and managed the properties for seven generations are passionate about hospitality and service.

When the sun goes down the lodge beckons with promises of a grand tomorrow (Courtesy: ADLER Lodge ALPE)

ADLER resorts are in a class by themselves. After all the Dolomites beckon. Why not take a "peak" for yourself.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Germany celebrates a century of artistic innovation honoring the Bauhaus in 2019

Bauhaus began in Weimar in 1919
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)

GERMANY — Between the two great wars of the 20th century a movement arose in Germany called Staatliches Bauhaus which was more commonly known as "Bauhaus."

Germany's defeat in World War I, the fall of the German monarchy and the abolition of censorship under the new, liberal Weimar Republic allowed an upsurge of radical experimentation in all the arts, which had been suppressed by the old regime.

Bauhaus founder, architect Walter Gropius
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
Founded by architect Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919, Bauhaus (meaning "building house") combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to the designs  it publicized and taught.

Oddly enough, despite the fact that Gropius was an architect, the original school did not have an architecture department during its first several years.

Gropius teaching scheme for
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
Even so, Gropius had extremely specific ideas about the structure of his fine arts institution as pictured below in his "Diagram for the Structure of Teaching at the Bauhaus."

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of this influential project, though its lifespan only lasted fourteen years, from 1919 to 1933 when the National Socialists shut it down. Even so, the international impact of the Bauhaus movement thrives today as a tribute to the concept of "Rethinking the World."

Bauhaus was relocated to Dessau in1925
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
Weimar's original school of design was relocated to Dessau in 1925 and later briefly to Berlin in 1932. Thanks to its international forms, Bauhaus remains the most effective cultural export that Germany produced during the twentieth century.

Due to the repressive political measures of the National Socialists and drastic cutbacks in funding, it was no longer  possible to operate in Berlin.

The Berlin Bauhaus was short-lived and had to be moved for political reasons  (Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
In October 1931, the Bauhaus resumed work in an abandoned telephone factory in Berlin-Steglitz. However, the premises had already been searched and sealed by  police and the SA on 11th April 1933. In the process, 32 students were arrested.

The short-lived, dramatic Berlin phase led many "Bauhauslers" into “inner emigration” or into actual emigration, thus giving the movement a global identity along with the international reputation it still enjoys today.

The former Bauhaus pottery workshop in Dornburg was established by Walter Gropius in 1920 and is in use as workshop today. It also has a hotel and restaurant.
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)

Moving their ideas from Germany to the United States, China, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, Mexico and beyond, former teachers and students established bold new concepts in the fields of fine and applied art, design, architecture and education. Rethinking the world was, therefore, central to its effectiveness.

Second director Hannes Meyer
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
Following Gropius, the second Bauhaus director was one of the most important architects of the New Architecture movement of the 1920's. Hannes Meyer broadened the scope of the Bauhaus project with innovative concepts that had a lasting influence on important aspects of the Bauhaus’ controversial reputation. His theories, which emphasized the social aspects of design, were widely criticized and poorly received.

In addition, Meyer was a rather stealth leader during his tenure as director of the Bauhaus. So much so, in fact,  that he is frequently referred to as the "unknown Bauhaus director."

Some analysts believe he was too communist while others claim he was too bourgeois. In retrospect, it is now clear that Meyer probably had a stronger influence on the Bauhaus and its students than Gropius may have wanted to believe.

The original plans for the League of Nations in Geneva,
Switzerland  (Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
"The anniversary of the founding of Bauhaus is ideally suited to consolidate Germany's position as the number one  cultural destination for Europeans," said Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the German National Tourist Board.

"The roots, heritage and international appeal of the Bauhaus movement can be experienced in cities such as Weimar, Dessau, Berlin and many other areas. These are all contributing factors to a very important facet of travel destination Germany’s cultural offering.”  

Architecture was a primary focus
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
Over time, brief though its physical existence may have been,  the Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in modern design, Modernist architecture and art, design and architectural education. The Bauhaus also had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.

Given the politics of the era when the Bauhaus was established and existed, the changes of venue and leadership resulted in a constant shifting of focus, technique, instructors and political influence. For example, when Mies van der Rohe took over as director of the school in 1930, he made it a private institution and would not allow any supporters of Hannes Meyer to attend.

In 2019, the new Bauhaus Museum will open with the slogan,
"The Bauhaus comes from Weimar"
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de)
Travelers planning to visit Germany next year may want to check whether any Bauhaus events are taking place during their visit. Programs are planned throughout the year, particularly in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin.

With the new Bauhaus Museum opening in Weimar next year, the slogan "The Bauhaus comes from Weimar" is especially relevant on several levels for the German psyche.

Bauhaus in Weimar -- Bauhaus represents many layers of
German pride with its contributions in design and architecture
(Courtesy: Bauhaus100de) 
As philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once expressed so elegantly, "The ills of an age are healed by changing the ways in which people live their lives."

So important has the Bauhaus movement become that it was awarded UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status in 2009.

The Bauhaus is recognized worldwide as a synonym for modern architecture and design. Its ideas have not aged; rather, many of them appear to have lost none of their topicality and inspire the search for contemporary resolutions.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Is hypersonic flight the future of commercial aviation?

Could we be flying from New York to China in under three
hours in the future?  (Courtesy:

CHARLOTTE, NC — Commercial aviation took a bold step into the future in 1976 when it introduced Concorde, the first supersonic passenger airliner in history.

For the next 27 years, Great Britain and France offered flights that cruised at 1,354 mph and had a maximum speed of more than twice the speed of sound. Flying at about 60,000 feet, Concorde soared at the edge of space, connecting New York with London in slightly over 3 hours.

The name "Concorde" was chosen because it meant "harmony" or "union" thus reflecting the co-operation between the United Kingdom and France to make the project a reality.

Service stopped in the latter part of 2003 due to a low number of passengers, a slump in air travel resulting from the 9/11/2001 attacks and rising maintenance costs. There had also been a crash three years earlier, which had nothing to do with a plane malfunction, but served as an impetus to cease operations.

Flying Concorde was an expensive proposition with limited routes which, for the most part, put ticket prices out of reach except for the wealthiest clientele or for travelers who wished to fly it once in a lifetime as a novelty. Commercially however, Concorde was not economically feasible for either British Airways or Air France.

Another factor that played a major role in the downfall was the lack of competition which would have produced new technologies that might have evolved into more efficient service and number of routes.

Capacity of Concorde planes was approximately 100 or slightly more, which also meant that fewer passengers were dividing the costs of bigger, slower more commercially viable jets.

UK and French Concordes debuted in 1976 and flew for nearly
three decades  

(Eduard Marmet, British Airways Concorde G-BOAC 03CC BY-SA 3.0)

Now, just 15 years since the demise of Concorde, Boeing has unveiled plans for what could become the world's first commercial hypersonic airliner. In case you are wondering about the difference between supersonic and hypersonic, a hypersonic plane will fly at five times the speed of sound, or about 3,800 mile per hour while cruising at altitudes of 90,000 to 95,000 feet. At that height, passengers will see the curvature of the earth below their windows and the blackness of space above.

In addition, because there is no atmospheric turbulence at those altitudes, flights will be extremely smooth without the bumps that often infringe upon jets flying between 30,000 and 40,000 feet.

One expert claims that hypersonic speeds could go from New York to Shanghai, China in a little over two hours. If true, a businessman could literally commute between the two destinations in a single day if a face to face meeting was warranted at the last minute.

The obvious question then becomes if supersonic aviation was economically prohibitive before, then how could hypersonic service alter the parameters to make it more palatable to the flying public in the future?

Part of the reason for Boeing's optimism has arisen from the fact that it recently won a military contract to build a hypersonic spaceplane. Apparently, company officials have determined that if they are already in the process of developing technologies for a military venture, then why not create ideas for a plane that will accommodate commercial passengers while they are at it?

The critical factor, of course, is figuring out how to make hypersonic air travel convenient and affordable enough to overcome the high costs for the service. Without multiple routes, relatively workable pricing and competition, hypersonic flights could simply be nothing more than an aviation pipedream for the masses.

Estimates for when a hypersonic aircraft might be unveiled are all over the spectrum. Some say they could be ready by 2022. Others think they are still a decade away while more cautious opinions say the service is still 20 or 30 years in the future.

Given that Boeing is already working on the project, combined with the acceleration of global technology, a decade seems to be the most accurate estimate, at least for the introduction of the spaceplane.

Other considerations that must be dealt with are passenger comforts such as being pushed back in their seats on take-off. On typical flights today, such feelings are minimal and only last a minute or so. However, on a hypersonic flight that sensation may be more than ten minutes and the question is whether passengers will accept the temporary discomfort.

Concordes also expanded during flight, so aircraft design had to be focused upon reducing or eliminating stress on the skin of the plane. At Mach-5 such factors need to be worked out and overcome well in advance.

Noise abatement is another problem. Not so much for  people on the plane but for those on the ground, expecially in the flight path.

Something called the Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) has been designed to produce significantly lower sonic booms than in the past, meaning that in this case "lowering the boom" is a good thing.

Presently, Aviation Week says NASA hopes to see first flight testing as soon as 2021.

Who knows, perhaps Jules Verne should have written about hypersonic planes that are designed to look like gigantic hypodermic needles, and the sequel to his novel could be titled Around the World in 80 Minutes.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Five Caribbean islands for great winter escapes

Many accommodations on St Kitts and Nevis are converted
sugar mills  (Photo: Robert Taylor)

CARIBBEAN — There is really no in between when it comes to the Caribbean. I'ts a traveler's dilemma. Beachcombers and sun worshippers love it, but wanderlusters are, for the most part, ambivalent.

White sand beaches and a hammock are part of the allure
(Photo: Robert Taylor)
On one hand the stretches of white sand beaches, crystal clear water and eternal sunshine are as beguiling as any destination could be. On the other, for the most part, "if you have seen one, you've seen'm all."

Rum punch & conch salad
(Photo: Robert Taylor)
However, as fall and winter approach, the allure of warmth and water becomes increasing attractive to escape the wrath of ice and snow.

So how do you decide? Which island is best? Here's a personal top five to consider.

Sunrise at Alto Vista Chapel on Aruba 
(Courtesy: Aruba Tourism)
Aruba: Nestled just fifteen miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is one third of the ABC islands along with Bonaire and Curacao. While Bonaire remains a haven for divers, retaining much of its pristine features, Curacao for many years was regarded as the hot spot of the three.

No longer. Aruba has long since surpassed its sister island with glitzy hotels, casinos, excellent restaurants, shopping and a variety of other amenities that make it seem a bit like the Las Vegas of the Caribbean.

Iguana enjoys the sunshine
(Courtesy: Aruba Tourism)

Depending on your lifestyle, Aruba could just as easily be at the top of this list as the bottom.

All the beaches and main activities center around one side of the island because the opposite shores are too rough for beach lovers to enjoy. More adventurous travelers go to that side to enjoy caving.

Aruba's famous Fontini Trees on Eagle Beach -- Divi Divi Trees
are also in abundance  (Courtesy: Aruba Tourism)

With its steady sea breezes, one of the distinctive features of Aruba is the Divi Divi trees which grow sideways in the direction of those perpetual winds.

Aruba's Dutch heritage makes shopping in the capital city of Oranjastad almost as good as it is in the Netherlands.

Mt Hooiberg is the best known 
(Courtesy: Aruba Tourism)
Official languages are Dutch and Papiamento, but English and Spanish are also prevalent. Don't be surprised to watch a television newscast where all four languages are used interchangeably.

Geographically the island resembles the American southwest with an abundance of cactus and the highest spot being Mt. Hooiberg at 541 feet.

View from the summit of Mt Hooiberg 
(Courtesy: Aruba Tourism)
Dining offers a plethora of restaurants with choices ranging from hotel restaurants to delightful local spots.

Aruba may just be the most active place in the Caribbean. 

Barbados Museum of Parliament
(Courtesy: Barbados Tourism Board)

Barbados: As with Aruba, Barbados has done a masterful job of marketing which is noticeable from the moment you set foot on its shores.

Interior of Parliament Museum
(Courtesy: Barbados Tourism
Tracing its history to the British Commonwealth, it's not surprising that 40% of the visitors to Barbados arrive from the United Kingdom, so naturally English is the native language.

One of the most notable aspects of Barbados for first-timers is how clean it is, giving the island the feel of  Switzerland being plunked down in the middle of the Caribbean.

Food galore at the annual Food, Wine and Rum Festival
(Courtesy: Barbados Tourism Board)
The national foods of Barbados are flying fish and cou-cou, also known locally as "fungi." Cou-cou, made up primarily of cornmeal and okra, can be found in any supermarket on the island and is usually served as a complement to steamed or fried flying fish.

Sailing action at the Mount Gay Reggata 
(Courtesy:Barbados Tourism Board)
Barbados provides just enough to see and do with plenty of time for the beach.

Cannons protect Brimstone Hill on St. Kitts
(Photo: Robert Taylor)

St Kitts & Nevis: St Kitts seems like a quiet spot until you take a boat to Nevis. By comparison, St Kitts is Rio de Janeiro during Carnival.

Once a thriving region for sugar cane, St Kitts and Nevis today rely heavily on tourism for their economy. Many of the old sugar cane ruins have been renovated into beautifully quaint accommodations.

Ancient thermal bath in Nevis
(Photo: Robert Taylor)
Most visitors are fascinated by the green monkey population which is so huge that it is said there are as many monkeys on the islands as there are people.

Brimstone Hill Fortress  National Park on the northwestern coast of St Kitts is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the largest fortress ever constructed in the Eastern Caribbean, Brimstone Hill is well worth a visit.

Nevis Peak's perpetual cloud
(Photo: Robert Taylor)

Minutes by boat across the "Narrows", just two miles away is the gumdrop island of Nevis. With volcanic Nevis Peak in the center of the island, Nevis looks like a cone that has erupted from the middle of the sea.

Admiral Lord Nelson married Fanny Nisbet on Nevis
(Photo: Robert Taylor)
Nevis is a place to rest and relax. Historically the island has ties to Admiral Lord Nelson and Alexander Hamilton which makes for pleasant outings when the allure of the beaches calls for a break.  

St. Kitts and Nevis may be an acquired taste for some, but for those who just want to sit back and relax, this is the place.

Swim with the dolphins in the Turks & Caicos 
(Photo: Robert Taylor)

Turks & Caicos: Like Aruba and Barbados, the Turks & Caicos are awakening to the magnetism of tourism. This cluster of islands came to the game much later than her cousins, which is part of the appeal.

The Turks retain their original rustic charm yet possess much of the infrastructure necessary to make it the best of all worlds. 

One of three pools at the Sands
(Photo: Robert Taylor)
As would be expected, life centers around the beaches and water activities, of which there are many. Hotels range in virtually every category with one of the best properties for location, comfort and convenience being the Sands at Grace Bay near the capital city of Providenciales.

Da Conch Shack is a favorite hangout for its rustic local charm and fresh conch  (Photo: Robert Taylor)

Conch is the culinary treat of the islands featuring conch fritters, conch salads, conch chowder and everything in between. It doesn't get any fresher than watching natives pluck a shell from the sea before having it served at your table minutes later for lunch.

Da Conch Shack is among the most popular spots for fresh conch served any way you like it. Then head back to your hotel and simply "conch out."

St Barths is the only island in the Caribbean with Swedish history
(Photo: Robert Taylor)
St. Barts: The only island in the Caribbean with Swedish heritage is St. Barts. Located about 18 miles from St. Maarten, this tiny jet-setters oasis probably doesn't have the best of anything in the Caribbean, but boasts the second best of everything.

St. Barts is hilly and small but thanks to its tiny harbor, it does not get as much of the massive cruise traffic as other islands.

Gustavia Harbor
(Photo: Robert Taylor)
Known for its cuisine which is primarily French, every type of food can be found on St. Barts.

Though a bit more expensive than some of the other island destinations, St. Barts makes up for the cost with great beaches and more than its share of character. If you spend a week at this now predominantly French paradise, don't be surprised to catch a glimpse of some well-known personality who is just "getting away from it all."

View from the pool at Le Village on St Barths
(Photo: Robert Taylor)

One reason celebrities like St. Barts is because they are treated like everyone else, far from the maddening paparazzi who so frequently invade their lives.

Le Village -- St Barts on 4-star
resort  (Photo: Robert Taylor)

Five star properties are the order of the day on St. Barts, but Le Village, the only four-star resort on the island will save you some money and provide all the amenities as its more prestigious counterparts

Le Village is locally owned by native islanders and that makes all the difference. 

Caribbean sunset on the island of Aruba 
(Courtesy: Aruba Tourism)
There you have it. Five Caribbean destinations that break the mold and offer more than just beaches, sand and sunshine..