Several years ago, my son, Grael, and I set out on a driving expedition from Paris to Spain. We had no planned itinerary — just followed our whims for a week — in our Auto Europe rental car, which I had reserved online here in the U.S..
We spent an enjoyable overnight in Toulouse, France, motored through the ravishing Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, continued through the small mountainous nation of Andorra into northern Spain, drove south to Barcelona for a few days, then west to Basque country, and, when it started to rain there, headed north and ended up in Brittany in northwest France, where we ate crepes and walked by the seaside before returning to Paris via Mont St.… Continue reading
Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 8 this year and continues for 15 days.
It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.
This is the Year of the Fire Monkey: a combination of fire — one of the five primal Chinese elements that include wood, earth, fire, metal, and water — and monkey, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.
Chinese New Year is now celebrated by parades featuring dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family gatherings and feasts, and, on the 15th and final day, a Lantern Festival featuring illuminated red lanterns.
According to legend, Chinese New… Continue reading
Part II of a two-part series. Our story so far:
In my previous post, I confessed to spending three months in Europe shortly after finishing college determined to view every painting on the Continent by the 15th-century Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch.
My quest took me the length and breadth of Western Europe on a tight budget, in rumpled clothing, and with an almost fanatical zeal to complete my Bosch life list. In the process, I befuddled just about everyone I knew. I was no trained art historian, just an amateur Bosch aficionado equipped with a rail pass and an oddly compelling travel obsession.
Way back in 1971, shortly after graduating from college, I developed an obsession for the paintings of the 15th-century Flemish master Hieronymus Bosch, whose phantasmagorical — sometimes grotesque — artworks appealed to my psychedelic sensibilities of that era.
I spent days in libraries hand-copying notes from dusty tomes about the artist, sought out all of his works in American museums, and eventually embarked on a three-month pilgrimage to Europe determined to set eyes on every Bosch painting on the Continent.
On my target list were 31 museums and churches containing 58 works of art, scattered across a dozen countries and 26 cities and towns from Copenhagen to Vienna to Lisbon.
My resources were limited: a Eurailpass, a copy of Europe on $5 a Day when it was still called that, and a budget to match.
Note to readers: Today’s post is an updated version of a previous post on increasingly popular repositioning cruises, which generally represent excellent value and will sail this spring, largely in March and April:
Every spring, a number of ocean-going cruise ships leave the warmer areas of the world — say, the Caribbean, South America, or Hawaii — to travel to other regions (such as Europe, Canada, or Alaska), to take advantage of the more seasonable weather in the latter spots.
In the fall, usually around October or November, the vessels reverse this pattern, traveling from the cooler climes to warmer waters.
These are called repositioning cruises (repo cruises for short), and they tend to be longer — sometimes quite a bit longer — than typical cruises.
The cruise lines don’t want to run… Continue reading
When my wife and I were in Nuremberg, Germany, this past September, we stayed for four nights in a lodging that was adjoined to the Imperial Castle that sits on the highest point in the city.
It was a short stroll to the castle entrance and all the other landmarks of the old city, which has been beautifully restored after its destruction in World War II.
It was five-to-ten minute downhill walk to the Hauptmarkt, or Market Square. The Albrecht Durer Haus — where Germany’s most celebrated painter lived — is even closer. The main train station is about a mile away.
We had a sparkling clean room with a view, a private bathroom, and a gigantic German buffet breakfast — wonderful breads, cheeses, meats, fruit, yogurts, eggs, juices and coffee (including espresso drinks) — that was included in the rates.… Continue reading
As a baby boomer, most of my pop cultural touchstones date back to the 1950s through the 1970s.
Bob Dylan will always speak more to me than Jay Z; the Kardashians are only names to me. What is it they do, exactly? I have no idea.
My all-time favorite actors and actresses are long since deceased; some of my favorite movies were filmed in black and white. But many of them — along with popular songs, books, and TV shows — have played crucial roles in developing my love of travel, and continue to do so to this day.
The first movie I can remember seeing on the big screen — around 1952 — was The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn; it was playing at my local theater as part of a double feature with another classic, High Noon.
The African Queen… Continue reading
While it’s certainly true that subsequent generations have discovered Star Wars, baby boomers were among the first to take the interstellar journey to a galaxy far, far away back in 1977, albeit in the comfort of their local cinema.
Now that Disney has taken over the franchise with the ultra-successful Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the same boomers — and yes, subsequent generations — can awaken to a special “Star Wars Day at Sea” aboard a Disney cruise ship. (Disney cruises, by the way, are geared to adults as well as kids.)
Eight sailings of the appropriately named Disney Fantasy will transport Star Wars fans of any age to a sea far, far away — well, not that far away, but at least out of the… Continue reading
First in an occasional series of profiles of ardent baby boomer travelers:
I hadn’t seen Carol Bruen — who I knew as Carol Heller before she was married — since the end of seventh grade.
Carol and I were grade school classmates in Greencastle, Indiana, before she moved to Alaska. We reconnected recently via this blog. (One of the best things about blogging is hearing from old friends, classmates, and colleagues — so if some of you are still lingering out there, don’t forget to write!)
In our correspondence, we discovered our lives had taken many similar turns — we both did stints working in the U.S. Senate in Washington during the 1960s; we both lived in the same neighborhood in San Francisco in the 1970s; we both had come to know Alaska quite well; and,… Continue reading
Except for some brief stops at the Phoenix, Arizona, airport, I hadn’t been in the “Valley of the Sun” region for about 30 years until recently, when some friends invited us to spend a few days in their timeshare at the Sheraton Desert Oasis resort in Scottsdale, which lies north and east of Phoenix.
My memories of the area weren’t particularly positive. Our previous Phoenix visit — poorly timed for August, when it was 110 degrees in the shade — was spent futilely searching for the “there” there, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. If there was a downtown Phoenix, we couldn’t find it back then. It just seemed to be a mass of sprawl in the desert.
Because I had imagined Scottsdale to be just another Phoenix suburb, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of… Continue reading