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  • Dionysius Ear, Syracuse, Sicily
  • Dionysius Ear, Syracuse, Sicily
  • Dionysius Ear, Syracuse, Sicily
Syracuse, Sicily
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Among ancient ruins.

We are in Syracuse, Sicily. A piece of paper is slightly torn and the tearing is clearly heard 213 feet away. A resonance of sound so extraordinary it has garnered the world’s attention. The marvel is referred to as Dionysius Ear, Orecchio di Dionisio. 

The 75 foot high limestone opening invites us to enter the 213 foot depth of the ‘S’ shaped cave. Whispers are carried on air as we make our way toward the back of the enclosure. The cave's 25 foot width allows us plenty of room to explore. Our necks crane upward to take in the cave’s entirety. Mentally climbing over the immense ‘wow’, questions of why and when formulate.

Dionysius I (432-367 BC), a cruel, suspicious and vindictive tyrant, had the acoustically adept cave built to house political prisoners. From a focal point, at the top of the cave, Dionysius was able to listen to the plans and secrets of his captives. More morosely, it has been suggested that Dionysius had the acoustically flawless cave built to amplify the screams of prisoners being tortured.

With a more plausible ‘natural origin’ explanation at hand, I dismiss it, preferring to remain in the mysterious world of Greek mythology.

The vast Archaeological Park of Neapolis contains Syracuse’s greatest concentration of ancient ruins. For me, Dionysius Ear, in the ancient quarry (Latomia del Paradiso), most effectively turned me on my 'ear'. 


  • Olde Angel Inn - Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario
  • Prince of Wales Hotel - Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario
  • Treadwell Restaurant - Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario
  • Queen Street - Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario
  • 124 on Queen Hotel & Spa, Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • The Royal George Theatre - Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
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With 235 years under its belt this small town has its fair share of war time happenings, historical firsts and ghosts.

It is early March and Queen Street, the main street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is relatively unpopulated. The sparseness allows for easy meandering in and out of local shops. No hustle and bustle. Sunshine is happy to be a part of this serene day. Having just come from the spa at 124 on Queen Hotel and Spa is definitely playing a role in my happy go lucky mood. Adding sweetness to the day is being here with girlfriends. The town has provided a wonderful backdrop for our girl’s weekend getaway.

The bricks and mortar of the buildings along with the narrow two-lane main street serve to maintain the town’s simple historic ambiance. Thinking of the age of the town put me in mind of the town ghost walk I was treated to years ago. Niagara-on-the-Lake has its fair share of ghosts. Last night while dancing up a storm at the Olde Angel Inn (Ontario’s oldest operating Inn) we may have missed the rumblings of Captain Colin Swayze. Murdered by American soldiers in 1812 the Captain is said to be responsible for ghostly encounters since the Inn’s rebuilding in 1815.

Before venturing over to the Olde Angel Inn we enjoyed a dinner that had our taste buds enthralled. Treadwell is the name of the intimate establishment. The restaurant is a part of 124 on Queen Hotel and Spa (highly recommended accommodation). I have heard that cooking is an art form. I believe it. Spinning his creative magic the chef presented us with perfection. All four of us were in culinary nirvana.

Late night photos with the bronzed sculpture of Bernard Shaw set more wheels motion as to what we could experience if our stay were longer. The Shaw Festival hosted here every April to September is the only one of it’s kind. Back at our lovely hotel the four of us chatted about everything and anything until the wee hours of the morning.

The small town left me with many reason to return. Driving home I knew that Niagara-on-the-Lake had not seen the last of me.


  • Château Lake Louise, Alberta
  • Canadian Rocky Mountains
  • Château Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
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Château Lake Louise and the Canadian Rocky Mountains

It is February and the waters of Lake Louise appear frozen in time. Near the water’s edge Rocky Mountains begin their ascent high into the sky. An eerie silence echoes off the stoic mountainsides. Truly, the majesty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains resides in a travellers embracing of the first hand experience. I am moved. In awe of the enormity of the scene it strikes me how proud I am to be Canadian. This country of ours is magnificent.

I cannot imagine a Canada without our western provinces yet, in 1867, when Canada became a country, western colonies remained independent. After the United States purchased Alaska that same year, our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, saw that he needed to work fast to expand the country westward. With a commitment to build a trans-continental railway, the western colonies agreed to join Canada. Completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), in 1885, unified Canada and, as van Horne (president of CPR) promised, opened the west up to adventurers and tourists alike. Van Horne famously said, ‘If we cannot export the scenery, we shall import the tourists.’

Van Horne set about building dining stations and luxurious hotels along the western route. The original Chalet Lake Louise (renamed Château Lake Louise in 1925) was built in 1890 as “a hotel for the outdoor adventurer and alpinist”. Its location solidified by the existence of breathtaking Lake Louise. Tom Wilson, a surveyor for the railway and the first non-native person to lay eyes on Lake Louise, wrote in his journal, “As God as my judge, I never in all my exploration…saw such a matchless sight”. (Summer 1882) Today, despite its expanse and modern amenities, the charm of Château Lake Louise extends beyond its walls to the great outdoors where it is greeted by a natural acceptance. My stay at the Château and skiing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort provided memories that came with wonderful awe inspiring moments.

Mountain exploration can seem daunting, however, there are many ways to safely experience the Canadian Rocky Mountains. One such way is to hear the “all aboard” calling and travel by rail. See the mountains as they were first seen over 130 years ago. Rocky Mountaineer, the largest privately owned luxury tourist train company in the world, appreciates the authenticity of train travel. Their goal is to provide the most spectacular and unforgettable travel experience in the world. Their slogans “Prepare to be Truly Moved” and “Don’t take our word for it” are strong statements of their commitment to offering you an extraordinary experience. Whatever your travel preferences, if natural wonders and adventure are dear to you, I urge you to experience the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  

Canada, backyard travel, provides a treasure trove of marvelous travel experiences. When thinking of your next travel destination, it would serve you well to keep Canada on your list of possibilities.

Further Afield Travel and Tours would be pleased to assist you in creating and booking your next travel experience. We put personal back into travel. Come get to know us, as we will get to know you. By way of introduction feel free to visit our website:



  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tootsie's Orchid Lounge - Nashville, Tennessee
  • Broadway Street - Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
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From the heart of Nashville spouts the heart of country music.

Standing on Broadway in the midst of honky tonks, shops and eateries one gets the feeling that every guitar toting artist 'played' some role in creating the tapestry of this city. The mere mention of Nashville brings to mind a free flowing of country music. It seems Nashville relishes freedom of expression with a ear for all who are willing to try. Amazingly, despite modern development enveloping the city, the downtown core retains it's authenticity.

Crossing the threshold of Tootsies, one of the more well known honky tonks, I am struck by the dark shabbiness of the establishment. As I make my way through the bar the floors and walls begin to tell me a story. A story of struggles, successes, found stars, wonderful music and much spilt beer. The shabbiness soon turns to Grandpa's comfortable slippers. Old photos littering the walls punctuate the locations' lively history. Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Kris Kristopherson, among a slew of others, scuffed the stages of Tootsie's.

Nashville beats to the drum of a mirade of hopefuls and well established artists all with a loyalty to the city's coveted position in the industry. Playing for tips day in and day out young artists continue to inject energy into a city that is now 237 years young.

When in Nashville wander Broadway and Second Avenue, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, let your shoulders ease, grab a seat in a honky tonk, try some hot chicken and simply listen. Never have I been to a city so defined by chords, both instrumental and vocal.



  • Azure Window, Malta
  • Valletta Harbour, Malta
Published - Bronte Villager
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Malta marvelously combines intriguing depth with simple pleasure.

Surrounded by the Meditteranean Sea, 80 kms south of Italy, lies a true gem, the Maltese Islands. Footsteps taken on these islands date back to 5200 BC. Nine different ruling powers have influenced present day Malta. Malta's remarkable history is fascinating and punctuated with spectacular vistas, welcoming people, authentic local cuisine and a fabulous climate.

The archipelago is made up of three main islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Each island distinct in its allure. Malta has the draw of the urban, Comino is quaint in its intimate size (1.5 square kms) and Gozo, is a simple rural island, while offering much to see and do.

Valletta, the nations capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site, resides on the island of Malta. Measuring in at 0.8 square kms, Valletta is the smallest national capital in the European Union. Interestingly, during WWII Valletta was the most heavily bombed city in Europe. The persistent bombing gave rise to a city beneath the city. A network of subterranean rock cut tunnels, cramped living quarters and make shift chapels. Taking a tour of the Lascaris War Rooms of WWII gives visitors a feel for the extent of this underground world. In contrast to the lively vibe of Valletta, the Island of Malta also boasts some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world. Newer but equally impressive is St. John's Co-Cathedral built by the Knights of St. John between 1573-1578. Advancing over the threshold of this Cathedral is like stepping into a glitter jewelry box.

Comino is a small island between Malta and Gozo. The crystal clear blue sea invites you to enjoy swimming, snorkeling and diving. Historic St. Mary's Tower (built in 1618), now serving as a look out and staging post to guard against contraband and illegal hunting of migratory birds, was historically a defense tower which saw active service again for both World Wars.

Despite the mere 5 km stretch of sea between Malta and Gozo, Gozo is distinctly different. Life in Gozo moves at a leisurely pace, is greener, cleaner, more rural and smaller. Gozitans are known for their friendliness and welcoming nature. Rugged landscapes and a spectacular coastline provide the traveller experiences ranging from rocky inlets to red sandy beaches. Enjoy the easygoing aura of the island. Wherever you look the sea is never more than a stones throw away.

Malta marvelously combines intriguing depth with simple pleasure. Providing for a unique travel experience.