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Book reserved-time tickets online as far ahead as possible for Granada’s Alhambra to ensure that you’ll see its best part: the exquisite Palacios Nazaríes. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

Looking at 2019, here are selected news items and warnings from a few of Rick’s recent articles. — Editor

• Like many travelers, in spring of last year I visited Barcelona, SPAIN, dreaming of seeing Antoni Gaudí’s breathtaking Sagrada Família church. When I got there, the ticket office was closed, with a posted sign: “No more tickets today. Buy your ticket for another day online.” Thankfully, I had known to book tickets in advance.

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The “Italianette-style” addition at the entrance to the garden. Photo courtesy of Tresco Abbey Garden

In the early-morning light of May 2018, Grand Circle Cruise Line’s M/V Corinthian dropped anchor off Tresco in the Isles of Scilly archipelago. (See my article “Maritime Jewels — Cruising the British Isles & Ireland” in the October 2018 issue.)

Once the landing platform was launched, the ship’s tender sped off toward Tresco on a mission to fetch Mike Nelhams, curator of the island’s near-subtropical Abbey Garden that we’d come to...

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The meeting hall at Nuraghe Palmavera on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Three thousand years ago, stone towers — often surrounded by settlements enclosed within stone walls — peppered the Sardinian countryside. There were an estimated six to seven thousand of these towers constructed in the period roughly between 1600 and 550 BC, the Bronze and Iron ages in Sardinia. Perhaps many more still lie undiscovered beneath the ground or covered by earth mounds.

These stone towers are called nuraghi (singular, nuraghe), and they have become...

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A colorful pedestrian bridge connects Tavira’s two historic districts — the Algarve, Portugal. Photo by Gail Minoff-Keck

From our 6-night home-base apartment on the Quarteira seafront in the central Algarve of southern Portugal, my wife, Gail, and I planned self-drive day trips to Tavira and Faro.

Both cities are unique in that they are removed from the main tourist grid, positioned on inland estuaries and without easy or immediate access to the Algarve’s famed beaches. Easy beach access is an absolute requirement for the vast majority of visitors who migrate annually to the region for the...

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The world’s smallest lizard — it could curl up on a dime — was discovered in 2001 in a cave on an island off the coast of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

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Some of the best-preserved buildings from antiquity are found in Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, an ensemble of ancient Greek temples built 2,500 years ago.

The Italian island of Sicily is -- perhaps more than any corner of Europe -- a layer cake of civilizations. On one island, visitors can marvel at a well-preserved Greek temple, admire the glittering mosaics of a Norman cathedral, wander through Carthaginian ruins, and feast at a market that evokes an Arabian souk.

One of my favorite places to experience Sicily's rich stew of history and cultures is at the Norman cathedral of Monreale, just southwest of...

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In Vienna, the neighborhood coffeehouse down the street doubles as the locals’ “living room.”

Back in the summer of 1969, I took my first trip to Europe. My father, a piano importer, brought me to Vienna's Bosendorfer piano factory. Together, my dad and I watched the world's finest pianos being built by hand, in hundreds of meticulous steps.

Each hand-crafted piano had its own personality. And, as I played a selection of new pianos, my dad analyzed the personality of each and matched it to a client's taste back home. Witnessing and enjoying this...

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April Fair is a time for both men and women to show off their traditional Sevillian clothing.

Spring fairs enliven towns throughout Spain, but I've found that nobody does it bigger or better than Sevilla, the capital of Spain's Andalucia region. If you come in April, you'll find one of the most exuberant and colorful festivals in a country known for fiestas -- the gigantic Feria de April (April Fair).

The fair is a vibrant and secular indulgence that comes two weeks after Holy Week and Easter, which is also an epic event -- especially in...

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