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
Sometimes you can only get away for a weekend, and the folks at weekenGO.com (I like the name) commissioned a thorough study to find the best cities around the world in which to spend 48 hours.
They looked at criteria such as walkability, accommodations, dining, bars, cultural events, museums and galleries, green spaces, safety and security, tolerance, and more, surveying 1,000 cities in all.
And along with overall winners, they picked the best cities for three different groups: millennials, families, and yes, I’m glad to say, baby boomers.
The list is heavy on European cities, for good reason — they’re usually easy to get around, have lots of activities going on, are rich in historic and artistic treasures, etc.
Now, most Americans aren’t likely to jet off to London — the overall… Continue reading
Barcelona, Spain. Udaipur, India. Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Rome and Florence, Italy. Santa Fe, New Mexico and Charleston, South Carolina, U.S..
Luang Prabang, Laos. Ubud, Indonesia (Bali).
Cape Town, South Africa. Hoi An, Vietnam.
Kyoto, Japan. Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
What do these cities have in common? If you said “very little,” you’;d be right, but you’d also be wrong.
They were all voted into the top 15 of the “World’s Top Cities” by the readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine. The criteria included sights/landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
Where are the Usual Suspects?
Notable absences include London, Paris,. Venice, Prague, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver, Hong Kong…not even such trendy destinations as… Continue reading
Note: This is the sixth in a series of Baby Boomer Travel Guides and the fourth in the series focusing on transportation options around the world. Please go here, here, and here for the previous posts.
Scandinavia and the Baltic States compose far Northern Europe (we’ll cover Germany, The Netherlands, and some other northern European countries in a subsequent post), and feature some of the best scenery, most sparsely populated spaces, and lively yet historic cities in Europe.
Ships and trains offer the most convenient and comprehensive forms of transportation here, but driving among some of the countries is certainly doable.
And Denmark, especially, is well-suited to biking, with plenty of bike paths and flat terrain.
Getting Around The Baltics
The Baltic region is excellent for cruising because the main ports — Oslo,… Continue reading
In a recent post, I noted that the tiny Republic of San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by Italy, was number one on my personal bucket list.
The main reason was that it was the only country in Western Europe that I hadn’t visited, and that since I would be visiting Italy soon, I could then cross it off my list. Of course, I also wanted to go for all the reasons I want to go anywhere — seeing what there is to see and, I hope, enjoying it — but I admit the list thing was the top consideration.
As it happens, I did visit Italy shortly after the post appeared, and I did make it to San Marino — whose irresistible full name is The Most Serene Republic of San Marino.
And — as a… Continue reading
It features a number of “exam” questions that, in a humorous way, are designed to get you thinking about whether you’d rather spend this January in Italy — on their 10-day tour of Rome and Naples called “Fundamental Italy” — or back home in the U.S. in the dead of winter.
Illustrated with photos old and new, the exam asks you to choose between, among other things, shoveling snow or standing in the sunshine overlooking Rome’s Tiber River; having a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee or a cappuccino; eating American fast food or Italian pasta; and viewing a smoggy American city or what looks to be a dreamy photo of the Isle of… Continue reading
I might never have visited Nuremberg, Germany, if it hadn’t been the starting point for a Danube River cruise last fall.
My wife, Catharine, and I arrived in Nuremberg several days early, intending to use it as a base for exploring the surrounding area, a region of Bavaria known for its charming medieval towns, rolling hills, and Autumn beer festivals.
But we ended up being so enamored of Nuremberg that we never left the city during our four-day stay there.
We were entranced by pathways leading intriguingly along ancient city walls, covered footbridges that crossed bucolic rivers and canals, flower-filled parks that attracted residents out for Sunday strolls, winding streets that unveiled tempting little restaurants and taverns, and half-timbered houses lining picturesque squares.
One square is anchored by the former home… Continue reading
During our recent visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, where our daughter, Lia, lives and works, my wife, Catharine, and I had the chance to leave the city a bit and explore the attractions of the nearby region.
Since it was our third visit to Charlottesville, we had already toured Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and the Jefferson-designed University of Virginia campus, sporting some of the country’s finest architecture. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Now it was time to see some of the nearby cities, take some scenic drives, negotiate some hiking trails, absorb some additional culture, visit some wineries, and even make a pilgrimage to the factory that produces my favorite potato chips. (Special thanks to Lia, her boyfriend, Mike, and their trusty Prius for chauffeuring us around.)
So here are my top… Continue reading
Ah, Rio. One of my favorite cities on earth, and certainly one of the most beautiful.
Sugar Loaf Mountain… the golden beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema…the panoramic views from Corcovado (site of Christ the Redeemer statue)…Carnival…samba…churrascaria retaurants (all the meat you can eat!)….caipirinhas (Brazil’s delicious national cocktail, made of cachaca, sugar and lime)…the Cariocas (Rio natives) themselves, some of the world’s most sensuous people.
These are all images that will become familiar during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, which run August 5 to 21.
Perhaps less publicized will be the images of Rio’s sprawling slums (favelas), of toxic polluted waterways (including some Olympic venues), of shoddy workmanship in the Olympic Village (the accommodations for the Australian team have already caught fire due to faulty… Continue reading
I just returned from a week-long cruise to Cuba aboard the Greek ship Celestyal Crystal, in the company of 776 fellow passengers, many of them from the United States.
Along with some journalists who were guests of Celestyal Cruises, the Americans were aboard under the auspices of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a Riverhead, New York-based “People to People” program promoting U.S.-Cuba relations.
The ship was also filled with Canadians, Germans, French, English and other nationalities who had been free to visit Cuba for years, mostly for Caribbean beach vacations.
Americans, on the other hand, have been highly restricted in travels to Cuba for decades, though things are now loosening up following President Obama’s recent rapprochement with Raul Castro.
As of March 16, 2016, just prior to Obama’s historic visit to Havana, Americans can now… Continue reading