Traveling with the Stars: Melina Kanakaredes

Actress Melina Kanakaredes, who plays Detective Stella Bonasera on CSI: NY, wrote the May 13 episode of the CBS police drama. The second-generation Greek American who hails from Ohio shares her travel highlights and tips with USA TODAY.

Q: Where have you been lately that you liked or were surprised by?

A: We went to St. Louis to visit family that had just moved from Los Angeles. The last time I was there I was 10 years old. Of course I remember the St. Louis Arch, but that's about it. I never expected it to be as cosmopolitan as it was. The kids loved the amusement park/playground called The City Museum. It was certainly a highlight for big kids and little kids alike.

We were also surprised by the wonderful restaurants. A special one that comes to mind for breakfast in downtown St. Louis is called Rooster. Definitely sample the chocolate chip crêpe and I suggest you feed it to your kids in the morning before you go to the City Museum. This way they can work off all the chocolate before you go home. I would also recommend dinner at family-owned Amigos Cantina in Kirkwood, Mo. Ask for my nephew Michael to serve you.

Q: What's the best place you've ever visited and why?

A: Monemvasia, Greece. It's in the Peloponnese. It is one of the most romantic, beautiful places in Greece and it's where the Greeks go for their honeymoon. I've traveled to Greece so many times and it wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered it. It's a mountain that had been separated from the mainland during an earthquake in 375AD. It is now an island without cars. You are either on foot or donkey. The exterior of the buildings are 500AD, but the inside is 2009. You dive off the rocks into the ocean to swim. You are surrounded by amazing 360-degree views of the water. It has five restaurants, all great. It is the ultimate secluded honeymoon getaway.

Q: What's the most surprising/unexpected place you've ever visited and why?

A: The point at which Victoria Falls meets Zimbabwe. Having never white-water rafted before, somehow I allowed myself, during a trip to Africa, to be convinced by friends to attempt the Grade 5 rapids on the border of Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls where neither country would be responsible for your death. Fortunately, I survived to tell the story. Although it was beautiful, between the rapids and the crocodiles, my splash into the waters was terrifying at best.

Q: What's your favorite vacation spot and why?

A: Greece. Aside from the obvious benefits of our children continuing to learn about our culture and being allowed the opportunity to practice the Greek language, the country has so much to offer in the form of tourism. We frequent both northern and southern Greece traveling there every summer. I would say one of my favorite locations is Halkidiki, which is a three-fingered peninsula two hours away from Thessaloniki. The water is crystal clear with the most amazing shade of blue.

Q: Can you offer an insider tip or recommendation for your favorite vacation place?

A: Sani Asterias Suites is the place I recommend to stay on Halkidiki. A room on the ocean is best and the restaurants are phenomenal.

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