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A whitewashed church overlooks Milos' harbor. Photo by Catharine Norton

A whitewashed church overlooks Milos’ harbor. Photo by Catharine Norton

Milos — one of Greece’s sun-soaked  Cycladic islands that include the better known Mykonos and Santorini — had not been on my radar until a Greek-American friend of ours suggested it might be the perfect place for a three-generation vacation.

The three generations? My wife, Catharine, and I — first-time grandparents as of six months ago — our son, Grael; daughter-in-law, Nona; and our young grandson, Conrad, making his first trip abroad, brand new passport in hand. (Well, not in his hands — though he would have liked to have gotten hold of it, along with anything dangling and shiny.)

Because we’d all be traveling with a baby, we didn’t want anything too hectic and crowded — that eliminated Mykonos and Santorini — but we did want a good choice of lodgings, restaurants,  cafes, and beaches, as… Continue reading

Florence's Ponte Vecchio, medieval bridge over the Arno River. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, medieval bridge over the Arno River. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

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Approaching Gibraltar by cruise ship. Photo by Clark Norton

Approaching Gibraltar by cruise ship. Photo by Clark Norton

In the brief aftermath of the stunning British vote to depart the European Union, UK google searches have surged on — among other topics — “getting an Irish passport” and “move to Gibraltar.”

Getting an Irish passport makes a certain amount of sense, since Ireland is part of the EU and if you want to stay in it, you could move to Ireland.

Moving to Gibraltar — the famous Rock and one of the original “Pillars of Hercules” that guards the entrance to the Mediterranean like a sentinel — is a little puzzling, though, since it’s a British Overseas Territory and will presumably have to exit the EU as well.

Still, 96 percent of the voting population among Gibraltar’s 30,000 residents marked their ballots for “Remain” (in the EU), so those moving to Gibraltar would presumably find lots of sympathetic ears.… Continue reading

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- part of a trend? Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — part of a trend? Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental.

First, let’s establish one thing: I’m not a particularly  affluent traveler, certainly by U.S. standards. I don’t really know where I fall in the spectrum of what I spend roaming the world , but I know that when I’m traveling on my own dime price is definitely an object.

Sure, I like to stay in a five-star hotel, dine in a Michelin three-star restaurant or fly first class as much as the next guy, but only if someone else is paying for it. As a consequence, I’ve stayed in some real dumps, eaten any number of meals in greasy spoons, and sat cramped in coach for up to 14 hours at a time on hundreds of flights, all to feed my travel addiction or in furtherance of getting a… Continue reading

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona's photogenic Red Rock Country. Photo by Michael Madsen.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona’s photogenic Red Rock Country. Photo by Michael Madsen.

When I moved to Tucson in late 2015, one of the first people I looked up was Mitch Stevens, who runs a tour company called Southwest Discoveries, which specializes in hiking and walking tours in some of Arizona’s most spectacular scenic areas.

While Southwest Discoveries is relatively new, Mitch is an old hand at leading hikes and tours, with an extensive background at the helm of Sierra Club outings. He’s particularly interested in drawing baby boomers to his tours, which is how we originally connected.

Mitch has lived in Arizona for decades and is a walking encyclopedia in the geology, archaeology, history, and culture of the Southwest.

Arizona’s searing summer heat levels off in Autumn, with October and November ushering in perfect hiking weather that lasts throughout the winter and into spring.

Red Rock Country

Mitch has… Continue reading

The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

Viking Cruises — which already operates the world’s largest and most popular river cruise line with almost 60 ships in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Asia– is now moving into ocean cruising in a big way.

Viking launched its first ocean-going ship, the Viking Star, in 2015, and in April 2016 launched its second, the Viking Sea. (I’m looking forward to a voyage on the Viking Sea this fall in the eastern Mediterranean).

And it’s launching more ocean-going vessels, the Viking Sky, Sun, and Spirit, in 2017 or 2018. A sixth unnamed ship is on order for 2020, and if Viking’s explosive growth in river cruising is any indication, other ocean-going cruise lines may want to watch their backs.

Viking’s ocean-going vessels hold a maximum of 930 passengers and, in… Continue reading

Laos' Pak Ou Caves are a site for Mekong River-based meditation. Photo from Travel Laos.

Laos’ Pak Ou Caves are a site for Mekong River-based meditation. Photo from Travel Laos.

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

First step to traveling abroad: get a passport.

First step to traveling abroad: get a passport.

A recent British Airways survey of 2,000 randomly chosen U.S. baby boomers (aged 55-70) asked what their biggest regrets were in life.

About one out of five (women 22 percent, men 17 percent) responded that they wish they had traveled more.

The majority of those respondents cited responsibilities at work and home that ate up their time — and what they believed would be prohibitive expense — as to why they hadn’t pursued their travel dreams.

About half the men surveyed and more than 60 percent of the women had never gotten passports, mainly due to the perceived expense of international travel.

More than a fifth of all those surveyed now believed that not taking vacations had had a negative effect on their health. And of those who did take vacations, 10 percent said they had worked more than an… Continue reading

Classic cars in downtown Havana draw photographers galore. Photo by Clark Norton

Classic cars in downtown Havana draw photographers galore. Photo by Clark Norton

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

Sahara Desert dunes at Erg Chebbi, Morocco. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Sahara Desert dunes at Erg Chebbi, Morocco. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

With Season 6 of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones almost here, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with Westeros, Winterfell, Essos, King’s Landing, The Seven Kingdoms, the Iron Throne, Tyrion, Cersei, the rest of the Lannisters, Daenerys and the Targaryens, the Baratheons, the Starks, Lord Baelish, the Greyjoys, the Wildlings, the White Walkers…and dozens of other characters, places, families, armies, kings and would-be kings, sadists, liars, spies, schemers, charlatans, lovers, knights, dragons and dungeons we don’t have room to mention.

You can be forgiven if occasionally you get confused about who’s who and what’s what. But GoT is just about the most popular TV show in the world right now, seen in 193 countries (we’re guessing North Korea is the outlier), and we’re big fans, too.

What better way to get ready for Season 6 than visiting some or… 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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