I confess — other than Latin, I was never very good about picking up foreign languages (and alas, speaking Latin won’t get you too far these days).
I used to joke that I could say the word for “beer” in 18 languages, especially since some of them were variations of the word “beer.” And even I couldn’t forget how to say cerveza. (I was also fluent in vino and café.)
I have been able to draw on my somewhat less-than-stellar performance as a French student in high school and college and, during months of travel in Spain, learned enough, among other necessities, to ask for the hombres room after drinking too much cerveza.
All this is to say that I wish I had absorbed more of the local languages while traveling, especially in my younger days, since so many people around the world now speak English that it’s… Continue reading
I admit I was a little surprised several years ago when I toured the entire island of Ireland and discovered that St. Patrick — the patron saint of Ireland and largely credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland — actually did much of his missionary work and is reputedly buried in County Down, which is now part of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
It was less than a quarter-century ago (April 1998) that “The Troubles,” as they were called — an often violent class-related and sectarian three-decade conflict in Northern Ireland between those who wanted to remain in the UK (mostly Protestants) and those who wanted to break away and join the Republic of Ireland (mostly Catholics) — ended in the Good Friday Agreement to settle the issue peacefully.… Continue reading
Here’s a way to get some of your travel juices flowing even if you’re confined at home for safety purposes, as I am, and can’t travel for the time being.
It’s the three-day Travel Like a Pr0 Summit, with Jerry Winans as ringmaster and interviews with more than 20 travel writers and bloggers, including yours truly. It’s filled with travel tips that, with good fortune, we’ll all be able to use as the world eventually return to normalcy.
I hope you’ll find it informative and inspirational, in a time when we could all use a little inspiration — keeping in mind the thousands of Americans and those around the world who have lost their lives to COVID-19, many of whom contacted the coronavirus while traveling in infected areas, on cruise ships, and in other settings.
Links to the interviews for days one and two are available today; watch… Continue reading
In this post, Part I of a two-part series, guest contributor and baby boomer Robert Waite chronicles his journey to little-visited Haida Gwaii, previously known as the Queen Charlotte islands, off the coast of British Columbia.
Part I offers an introduction to the tumultuous history and compelling culture of the islands, while part II will detail his voyage through them aboard the MV Cascadia, a small expedition ship that allows for shallow landings and coastal kayaking trips while balancing comfortable accommodations with environmental protection.
Getting to explore Haida Gwaii personally is a far cry from the distant views afforded from Alaska-bound cruise ships as they pass Haida Gwaii sailing along the Inside Passage, often in the dead of night. Like me, if you’ve made that trip, you may have wondered what you were missing on those islands. Now we… Continue reading
A little over three years ago, I was able to travel to Cuba on a cruise ship and write about my trip for a AAA publication in Colorado and a cruise magazine, as well as for this blog.
The cruise ship was mostly populated by Americans traveling on a “people-to-people” program run by the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a Riverhead, New York-based organization promoting U.S.-Cuba relations.
The cruise included lectures on Cuban culture, tours of historic sites, a visit to the famed Tropicana nightclub, and other activities, such as visiting a privately owned restaurant as well as various Hemingway haunts around Havana.
And yes, we did meet many Cubans along the way, including government tour guides who spoke remarkably candidly about how they surreptitously supplemented their meager official incomes.
Restrictions had… 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.
Myles offered eloquent observations about the history of the war in his previous post during a visit to the ancient imperial capital of Hue, but now it’s time to move on to one of Viet Nam’s greatest contributions to world culture: its cuisine, which happens to be my own regional favorite.
As usual, this post is illustrated by… Continue reading
On Monday, August 21, 2017, a 2,200-mile-long, coast-to-coast swath of the United States stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina, will experience a total solar eclipse, when the moon completely blocks out the sun and only the sun’s corona is visible. As the moon casts its shadow, midday darkness ensues, if only for just a few minutes (or seconds).
This, as they say, is a Big Deal — one of nature’s true wonders, the stuff of myth and memory.
The last time a total solar eclipse crossed the entire continental United States was in 1918 — almost a century ago. (There have been several other instances where total solar eclipses could be viewed in certain regions of the country — the last in 1979, when only Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota were treated… Continue reading
If you have a passionate interest in a particular topic — it could be just about anything — you’re a prime candidate for theme travel.
In my younger days, I was obsessed by the paintings of the 15th-century Flemish fantasist Hieronymus Bosch, and trekked all over Europe attempting to see every one of them; I fell a little short, but had a wonderful time and my dedicated purpose gave my journey added meaning.
I was traveling by myself, but theme travel often involves going with like-minded people who share your passion. Take theme cruises, for instance.
The Lure of Theme Cruises
For six years I wrote a regular theme cruise column for Porthole Cruise Magazine, which chronicled the adventures of folks who are crazy about the most wide-ranging subjects imaginable:
Birding cruises….mah jongg cruises…vegan cruises…vampire cruises…marathon (running)… Continue reading
As regular readers of this blog know, I have a soft spot for off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Yes, I love Paris and Venice and London, but I also like to explore the lesser-known out-of-the-wsy places that many travelers never reach.
Once years ago, I set off by train from Paris to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval abbey off the coast of Normandy that I had read about in college in the Henry Adams’ book, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.
The trip took two full days because the train connections were awful, but I made it, and didn’t regret it. It’s a dramatically situated Gothic masterpiece, rising atop a rocky island with a maze of narrow streets surrounding it.
Traditionally, Mont-Saint-Michel has only been reachable by land when the tides are out, via squishy mud flats. When the tides come in,… 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