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Bucket Lists

Winnemucca Lake, Alpine County, California. Photo by Catharine Norton

What, a place in California where there are hardly any people — and yet is so strikingly beautiful that it’s been called the Switzerland of California?

OK, I’ll ‘fess up — I’m the one who called it the Switzerland of California, as I hiked recently along a mountain trail bordering meadows blanketed with wildflowers and sporting gorgeous views of 11,000-foot peaks that still displayed pockets of snow in early August.

And its very name — Alpine County — certainly evokes Switzerland as well, as does its semi-official nickname, the “California Alps.”

The area was first explored by non-native Americans when John C. Fremont and his scout, Kit Carson, passed through in  1844. Soon after came contingents of Mormon settlers and gold prospectors, and much later still vacationers and second-home owners.

Alpine County isn’t very large — it’s the eighth smallest… Continue reading

If it’s Tuesday, this must be the Rue de Bouchers in Brussels. Photo from Shutterstock.

Today’s guest post, by Canadian resident Robert Waite, argues that baby boomers should slow down a bit in pursuing bucket list items and spend more quality time in a destination to absorb the culture and life of the people there.

As Bob told me, his piece is meant to stir debate,  and I found myself debating his points within my own mind —  which is exactly what a good piece of journalism should provoke.

I’ll share my opinions on this topic in a later post, but for now I’ll yield the floor to Bob:

By Robert Waite

Those of us of a certain age might recall the film “If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium,” a 1969 United Artists release that poked fun at American tourists for their penchant for rushing from European… Continue reading

White Rhino

White Rhino

As a follow-up to our recent post “5 Great Reasons to Take an African Safari,” we bring you this offer from Kenya Airways:

A free safari with the Nairobi National Park Stopover Package!

Yes, passengers traveling on Kenya Airways flight 101 from London’s Heathrow Airport to Nairobi and transiting to one of seven other East African destinations can spend a long layover looking for wild animals rather than vegetating in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport waiting for their onward flight.

Animals you might see include rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and birds (with over 400 bird species recorded).

If you have at least six hours to kill between flights, and book the arrangements in advance, you’ll be:

* Met on arrival at the transit terminal by the “KQ Karibu” hospitality team

* Fast-tracked through immigration using your granted eVisa

* Transferred… Continue reading

A male Impala hosts a bird on his back at Sabi Sands area private reserve near Kruger National Park South Africa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

A male Impala hosts a bird on his back at Sabi Sands area private reserve near Kruger National Park South Africa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Today’s guest post by Stuart Cooke of Northern Ireland hooked me with his first great reason to take an African safari: “Africa is Incredible.”

I couldn’t agree more. My first experience visiting the “Third World” was decades ago in Africa. I was traveling there for six weeks on assignment for a news service I worked for, and was supposed to be writing political stories.

I did manage to pound some out, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I quickly discovered that I wanted to see and experience as much of Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries as I could. So I rode trains to Lake Victoria and Zambia, flew to Zanzibar, feasted on Indian food in Nairobi, spent a few idyllic days on the Indian Ocean… Continue reading

Sudan is said to have more pyramids than Egypt. Photo from Corinthia Hotel Khartoum.

Sudan is said to have more pyramids than Egypt. Photo from Corinthia Hotel Khartoum.

The other day I received a press release promoting what sounded like a wonderful five-star hotel in an exotic location, said to be the finest accommodation in its city.

Along with various five-star amenities such as a state-of-the-art spa and gym, six restaurants including one with panoramic views, tennis courts, and indoor pool, it promised to serve as a base for tourists exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites, taking river cruises, visiting museums, and marveling at spectacular evening performances.

The only potential downside? The name says it all: it’s the Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, serving the capital of Sudan, a nation wracked by terrorist violence and crime in recent years, including reported attacks against Westerners in Khartoum itself.

The U.S. State Department doesn’t mince words: if you plan to travel to Sudan, the department warns in an extraordinary… Continue reading

The Tucson Festival of Books attracts more than 100,000 people per year. Photo from Visit Tucson.

The Tucson Festival of Books attracts more than 100,000 people per year. Photo from Visit Tucson.

Thanks to the hundreds of people who stopped by my booth at the Tucson Festival of Books over the weekend!

It’s the nation’s third largest book fest, attracting more than 100,000 visitors per  year from around the U.S. and beyond.

The festival lineup features dozens of writers, publishers and other literary types appearing on various panel discussions, as well as hundreds of booths stocked with books for sale, informative events and demonstrations, and fun book- and science-related activities geared for kids, among other attractions.

My grandson, Conrad, age 2, was thrilled to meet the costumed character of Pete the Cat, his favorite literary figure. (Pete the Cat is known for his slogan, “It’s all good,” even in the face of adversities such as stepping in piles of strawberries or seeing duck friends… Continue reading

Pitcairn Island boasts some dramatic seascapes.

Pitcairn Island boasts some dramatic seascapes.

When my daughter, Lia, and her partner, Mike, traipsed into the wilds of North Carolina last August for an unobstructed view of the total eclipse of the sun, they also ventured into the rising realm of Astro Tourism — along with thousands of other Americans who journeyed near and far to find the ideal locales to witness that extraordinary celestial event.

Having just had cataract surgery, I wasn’t among them, alas, and here in Tucson the sky barely darkened during our partial eclipse, which was hundreds of miles south of the band of totality that swept across the U.S.

I was able to view the “super blue blood moon” eclipse on January 31, a lunar event that had not occurred in the United States since 1866. But that was visible right here in my front yard, and all it required was walking a few… Continue reading

The floating Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa. Photo by Johan Kauppi

The floating Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa. Photo by Johan Kauppi

Every once in a while some travel information crosses my desk (well, appears in my email) that I feel an immediate need to pass along. Such is the case with the floating Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa, which is due to open in the fall of 2018.

The six-room hotel and spa is said to sit in the ice during winter and float on the river during summer.

The location is in far northern Sweden in the area that’s renowned for having the best Northern Lights viewing in the world.  The river is the Lule, which freezes in winter and thaws in summer, allowing for the above-mentioned sitting and floating.

Off the Map Travel — a UK-based agency that specializes in Northern Lights viewing trips — handles bookings for the Arctic Bath Hotel, which was developed by… Continue reading

Paris night at the Arc de Triomphe. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Paris night at the Arc de Triomphe. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In my last post, Where to Go in 2018 (and Beyond), I presented what I consider to be the essential destinations in the U.S. (primarily cities and national parks), the essential European countries, and the essential counties in the rest of the world.

By essential, I mean those which any dedicated traveler should seek out to establish their “travel literacy,” if you will. They are not necessarily my favorite countries and destinations, but those that offer some unique quality that makes them stand out among all others.

For example, I love both the Mediterranean island countries of Malta and Cyprus — and strongly recommend seeing them — but not (necessarily) before visiting France or Spain.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to skip over U.S. cities: New York, San Francisco and the rest, on the assumption… Continue reading

Yellowstone National Park is on my list of essential U.S. destinations. Photo from yellowstonepark.com

Yellowstone National Park is on my list of essential U.S. destinations. Photo from yellowstonepark.com

Just about every travel publication, digital or print, now seems to start the New Year with a top ten list of “where to go this year,” counting down to the most irresistible spot on the planet.

One year, the hot ticket may be to Croatia, the next year to Colombia, the next year to Canada. (For my own facetious take on where Americans would be going in 2017 — with nearly half the country fleeing to Canada for extended vacations, the other near-half checking out the newly discovered charms of Russia, and the remaining in-betweeners headed to Cuba — check out my post from December 29, 2016. Seems so long ago…)

My own (rather cynical) theory about top ten lists of this nature is that they mostly reflect where editors of said publications want to… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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