A few months ago I attended a stamp and coin show in Tucson and was disappointed to see that most of the displays were devoted to coins, not stamps.
And I became almost morose while chatting with some of the few stamp dealers there (all of whom were baby boomers, by the way). They each told the same story: in their experience, at least, stamp collecting is a dying hobby. Many of their items had been marked down for faster sale.
As a boy growing up in Indiana, I became a fervent stamp collector while still in grade school.
While I collected stamps from all over the world, including the U.S., I especially liked the issues of British and French colonies — not because I romanticized colonization (I didn’t know its moral implications at the time), but because they beautifully depicted far-away, exotic places that, quite simply, made me… Continue reading
In our last two posts, we took a look at some of the most popular travel-related bucket list destinations and activities based on a survey of 1,000 travelers by the website TotallyMoney.com. You can view those results, and my comments, by clicking here and here.
While my own experiences with a few of the items — such as gambling in Las Vegas — were on the margins (in the case of Vegas, dropping a few quarters into slot machines), I had pretty much done all those on the list.
My own bucket list tends to be a little quirkier than most. Places that end up on my list are pretty far-flung, represent something I’ve missed in past trips, or are just items that fulfill my admittedly peculiar travel obsessions. (I suspect that a lot of baby boomer frequent travelers’ lists are… Continue reading
Note: This is the second in an occasional series of chance encounters I’ve had with famous people while traveling. The first was with anthropologist Margaret Mead in Kenya as she hesitated to cross a busy Nairobi boulevard.
Several years ago I was in Manila, capital of the Philippines, and in a bit of a funk.
I was traveling with a group of journalists and we had just finished dinner at a mediocre Chinese restaurant that was located in a nondescript mall way across town from our hotel –a two-hour bus ride, or should I say crawl, away. (Without traffic it would have been maybe 20-30 minutes, but Manila traffic is notoriously brutal.) The dinner was as bland as its surroundings.
As we walked back to the bus all I could think about was the long return ride that awaited. Our… Continue reading
In recognition of Global Wellness Day — June 11 this year — I thought it would be apropos to mention a few of the more unusual ways to promote health while traveling. As a baby boomer, I’m prone to the usual stiff joints and other nagging ailments, and love the idea of medical tourism, even if it’s mostly an excuse to go somewhere exotic.
- Water-based Meditation.
While I don’t practice meditation, I have a few good friends who do, and they always seem focused and calm. Does meditation have this effect, or are naturally calm and focused people drawn to meditation?
I don’t know, but I do know I could use a little more calmness and focus in my life, and I love being on water, so maybe I’ll try:
The Mekong Spa at Belmond… Continue reading
“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”
“Less Planning, More Experiencing”
“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”
These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)
In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.
“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… 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
Sixth in a Series:
Like all rivers, China’s Yangtze is constantly changing, though in this case humans have produced the most profound recent changes rather than nature.
The huge Three Gorges Dam project has resulted in the water level rising more than 100 to 300 feet, depending on the location and the season, along a particularly scenic stretch of the river known as the Three Gorges. The gorges, while not as dramatically steep as the pre-dam versions, are still scenic and still well worth seeing, as my wife, Catharine, and I discovered on a recent Yangtze cruise with Victoria Cruises.
The rising waters have even opened up new scenery to explore: one excursion from our ship, the Victoria Katarina, took us on a ferry ride down the… Continue reading
Fourth in a Series:
There are a number of iconic river cruises in the world — the Rhine, the Danube, the Amazon, and the Nile among them — and China’s Yangtze must be added to the group.
It’s China’s longest river and third longest in the world after the Nile and Amazon. “Yangtze,” in fact, means “long river” in Chinese. Also known as the “Golden Highway,” the Yangtze is the busiest river in the world and more than one-third of China’s 1.4 billion population live along it.
The Yangtze is actually divided into seven separate sections, but the part that most people cruise — and certainly the most scenic — is the 400-mile-long “Three Gorges” section between the cities of Yichang and Chongqing, a sprawling metropolis in southwest China.
My wife, Catharine, and… Continue reading
Third in a Series:
To cruise the Yangtze, first you have to find the ship. In our case, it was the Victoria Katarina, one of a fleet of excellent ships that U.S.-based Victoria Cruises runs on China’s longest river.
Finding the ship sounds elementary, but when you’re traveling independently in China and don’t speak Chinese, it adds an extra element to the equation.
First, some background: It seems most people take the three-night, four-day cruise down the Yangtze to see the famous Three Gorges and the Three Gorges Dam, which flooded this region of the river when it was finished in 2003, displacing 1.4 million people and making the Three Gorges somewhat less steep and scenic than previously. Note: they’re still very scenic.
That downriver cruise embarks in the city of Chongqing and disembarks in the… Continue reading
Second in a Series:
I suppose the title “City of the Past, Present and Future” could apply to many cities — but few, if any, as much as Shanghai, China.
Within the course of a few blocks — or just across the street in some cases — you can go from narrow alleyways lined with shacks that have no kitchens or indoor plumbing, to magnificent old temple and garden complexes, to stately colonial-era houses sequestered behind shady sycamore-lined streets, to a pedestrian walkway lined with super-modern clothing and electronics stores that light up like Times Square at night, to a waterfront lined with more colonial-era buildings and a river walk that has to be the selfie-taking capital of the world.
And across the river (providing a background for the selfies) lies the region… Continue reading