Fourth in a Series
In most years, we would have landed in Tokyo right at the peak of cherry blossom season.
Alas, my wife, Catharine, and I arrived in the Japanese capital a few days too late in early April this year because the winter there had been unseasonably warm and most of the delicate cherry blossoms had already drifted off the trees in this breezy city.
Nonetheless, some trees remained in full bloom, as did many other types of fruit trees. And as we walked through parks that offer a wonderful respite from Tokyo’s crowded streets, scores of Japanese families were still laying out their traditional picnic blankets and baskets under the cherry trees, blossoms or no. And having a great time of it.
From our little Airbnb-rented apartment in the teeming Shinjuku district, we set out to explore… Continue reading
Third in a Series
Arriving in the Shinjuku train station, Tokyo’s busiest, can be a bit intimidating, especially after a trans-Pacific flight with little sleep and in the middle of rush hour.
An unfailingly polite people in every other way, Japanese commuters plow through the station like bullet trains, with little deference to gobsmacked tourists staring in bewilderment at the maze of signs and passageways. These folks appeared to be on a mission, and accomplishing that mission — getting to wherever it is they’re going — wasn’t about to let us stand in their way.
If you don’t like crowds, you might want to avoid Tokyo — the world’s largest metropolitan area at nearly 38,000,000 people — and beat a quick retreat to the Japanese countryside.
Fortunately, our Airbnb host, Yasu, had provided us with a video of… Continue reading
The first day of spring usually conjures up images of birds singing, fruit trees and daffodils blooming, melting snows providing new sustenance to streams and rivers, and a general rebirth of life. The optimistic phrase “Spring is in the air” sums it up nicely.
Alas, the East Coast of the U.S. is being hit by another blast of snow and ice, according to reports. Here in Tucson the skies are sunny, the air is crisp and the birds are singing, but if you’re beset by storms, you don’t want to hear that.
What you want to hear is that March 20 is also World Happiness Day.
Officially known as the International Day of Happiness, March 20 (the Vernal Equinox) has been celebrated as such under the aegis of the United Nations since 2013.
Naturally, the UN has issued an annual report,… Continue reading
Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 16 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 Dog, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.
Those born in the Year of the Dog are thought to be loyal, industrious, and courageous.
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 Year traditions stem from thousands of years ago… Continue reading
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 even experienced travelers make simple mistakes that can get a trip off to a very bad start, or even ruin it altogether.
The folks at by Grand European Travel — which specializes in guided vacations and river cruises in Europe and around the world — have developed a helpful infographic that identifies six common travel mistakes that it would be wise to review before setting off on your next foreign trip.
I’m not immune to making some of these mistakes (sometimes it’s easier to dish out advice than follow it).
My rookie mistakes have included not properly insuring my trip, not packing light, and not notifying my banking institutions that they can soon expect to see charges appearing from places like St. Lucia, Hungary, or the Falkland Islands.
I’m pretty anal about… Continue reading
Our family has long tried to celebrate milestone birthdays and anniversaries with a major trip.
I won’t specify which birthdays or anniversaries, but these celebratory trips have taken us to Paris, Alaska, Norway, Greece, and Antarctica, among other far-flung destinations.
Sometimes you just need a good excuse to travel. (Other times, not — whatever works.)
So I was intrigued to come across this list of suggested milestone birthday celebratory trips from the folks at Wilderness Travel, which has been taking adventurous travelers to remote regions of the globe since 1978. (It was named AFAR Magazine’s World’s Best Tour Operator for 2017.)
Baby boomers have… Continue reading
This is the fifth and final post in guest contributor Myles Stone’s reflections on his recent two-month stay with his family in Hoi An, Viet Nam, more than 40 years after the end of the war that roiled America and in many ways changed baby boomers’ lives and world views forever.
But now it’s a new era in this beautiful Southeast Asian country, where the vast majority of the population was born after what they call the American War. (Even when I visited Viet Nam in 1997, there was little anti-American resentment.)This is the fifth and final post in guest contributor Myles Stone’s reflections on his recent two-month stay with his family in Hoi An, Viet Nam, more than 40 years after the end of the war that roiled America and in many ways changed baby boomers’ lives and world views forever.
Myles offered eloquent observations about the history of… Continue reading
Here’s part 4 of Myles Stone’s Viet Nam Diary.– a day exploring the former imperial capital of Hue, which combines both ancient and modern history, including stark reminders of the Viet Nam War.
For those who missed Myles’ previous three posts, he’s a Tucson physician who recently spent two months in Hoi An, Viet Nam, with his wife, Aimee, and baby daughter, Mimi. They were joined for part of their stay by my son, Grael, his wife, Nona, and baby son, Conrad.
How did two toddlers do in Viet Nam? Just fine.
Here’s Part 3 of guest contributor Myles Stone’s Viet Nam Diary, featuring his insightful narratives during a recent two-month stay with his family in Hoi An, Viet Nam, during which he received a visit from my son, Grael; daughter-in-law, Nona; and my 16-month-old (and already well-traveled) grandson, Conrad. (Myles’ wife, Aimee, and baby daughter, Mimi, rounded out the contingent of travelers.)
All were born after the Viet Nam War ended in 1975, and thus bring a fresh perspective to the country that so consumed the baby boom generation in the U.S. during the turbulent 1960’s and early 1970’s.
In this post and the next, Myles recounts a visit to Viet Nam’s old imperial capital of Hue during the late April holiday marking the reunification of the country. As with all his posts, photos are courtesy of the family photographer, wife Aimee.
By Myles Stone
Photos by… Continue reading