You may have experienced it yourself when battling humongous lines to enter San Marco in Venice, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, or the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, or when you found yourself in a wave of fellow travelers struggling to get a peek at the changing of the guard at palaces in London, Athens, or Prague.
You may have been put off by hordes of drunken revelers in Amsterdam, Mallorca, or Berlin (of which, we trust, you were not one yourself).
You may have found small Alaskan ports or Croatian islands too overrun by your fellow cruise ship passengers to appreciate the beauty that attracted you to such cruise itineraries in the first place.
You may have sought out privacy in Iceland’s hot springs, only to find them packed with Game of Thrones fans drawn… Continue reading
Some terrific destinations just seem to fall through the cracks and when you finally visit, you wonder where they’ve been all your life.
My latest revelation is Gloucester, Massachusetts, a city of 30,000 about 30 miles northeast of Boston on the Atlantic Ocean.
It shares scenic Cape Ann with three other communities: Rockport, Essex, and Manchester-by-the-Sea, and if you like water views, boating, seafood, history, and art, you’re bound to love Gloucester and surroundings.
My wife, Catharine, and I spent a recent weekend there with old friends who live in a former sea captain’s house overlooking Gloucester harbor, where we dined on lobster as ocean breezes tempered the summer air and we watched a pink twilight settle on a parade of vessels — water shuttles, yachts, cruise ships, schooners, tour boats, party boats — passing by.
You can go whale-watching in the… Continue reading
Most of us, when we travel to another country, probably have in mind at least one “must-see” attraction., usually an iconic structure, museum, historic site, or natural wonder.
Examples might be Machu Picchu in Peru, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, the Roman Colosseum in Italy, and the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary.
Recently, TripAdvisor — which has propelled itself into the world’s leading travel site and travel data bank — released a map of Europe displaying the “one thing you must do in each country, according to tourists.” (I found it in the Huffington Post.)
For most countries, the results were pretty true to form: The Roman Colosseum in Italy; The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Tallinn Old Town in Estonia; the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece; the… Continue reading
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
As a baby boomer, most of my pop cultural touchstones date back to the 1950s through the 1970s.
Bob Dylan will always speak more to me than Jay Z; the Kardashians are only names to me. What is it they do, exactly? I have no idea.
My all-time favorite actors and actresses are long since deceased; some of my favorite movies were filmed in black and white. But many of them — along with popular songs, books, and TV shows — have played crucial roles in developing my love of travel, and continue to do so to this day.
The first movie I can remember seeing on the big screen — around 1952 — was The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn; it was playing at my local theater as part of a double feature with another classic, High Noon.
The African Queen… Continue reading
While it’s certainly true that subsequent generations have discovered Star Wars, baby boomers were among the first to take the interstellar journey to a galaxy far, far away back in 1977, albeit in the comfort of their local cinema.
Now that Disney has taken over the franchise with the ultra-successful Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the same boomers — and yes, subsequent generations — can awaken to a special “Star Wars Day at Sea” aboard a Disney cruise ship. (Disney cruises, by the way, are geared to adults as well as kids.)
Eight sailings of the appropriately named Disney Fantasy will transport Star Wars fans of any age to a sea far, far away — well, not that far away, but at least out of the… Continue reading
Watching the new Star Wars movie — The Force Awakens — the other night, I was startled, and pleased, to see one of my favorite places in the world as the setting for the dramatic last scene.
(I won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t see the film, but I can recommend the movie to any baby boomers who liked the initial trilogy, called Episodes IV to VI. Several of the old stars have returned, and the plot, characters, and general feel are much like a combination of the first three in the series.)
The place setting for the last scene is the spectacularly beautiful rocky island Skellig Michael (also known as Great Skellig), which lies about seven miles off the coast of southwest Ireland.
I visited there about 12 years ago on a… Continue reading
Christmas is a popular time to travel, especially for baby boomers escaping cold weather (those who live up north) and/or taking advantage of their empty nests (if applicable). And if you have grandkids you don’t want to part with at Christmastime, you can always take them with you!
One option is to put together a Christmas-themed vacation. But how much do you really know about where to find Santa Claus, reindeer herds, unique Christmas trees, an It’s a Wonderful Life festival, or an island named Christmas?
Take our quiz to find out (answers coming in my next post; try to resist googling or risk finding lumps of coal in your stocking).
1. Christmas Island was discovered by British Royal Navy Captain William Mynors on December 25, 1643, hence the name. Which ocean would you travel to to spend… Continue reading
Every once in a while I come across a press release so — shall we say, “unusual” — that I have to share it with my readers.
This is one sent by a Mr. John Karaglanis, who introduces himself as “the new General Manager of Hippie Chic Hotel for the 2015 season…We are pleased to present you Hippie Chic Hotel, a new concept in Mykonos.”
This immediately raises the question — what exactly is the concept behind “Hippie Chic Hotel”? Is it a chic commune, a fashionable “Hog Farm”-type operation transplanted to one of the trendiest and most expensive Greek islands? Maybe a chic backpackers’ hostel?
I ask because as a baby boomer, I can’t help but be struck by the name “Hippie Chic Hotel.”
Back in the day, circa the late 1960s, hippies were cool, groovy, with it, but oftentimes… Continue reading
When my son sang in a children’s choir some years ago, I attended a meeting where parents were debating whether it was safe to send their kids off to Britain to compete in the famous National Eisteddfod competition in Wales.
There had been some recent bombings and kidnappings in London, the first stop on their itinerary — hence the concern. I noted that the choir members would have more to fear from the bus ride from the airport into the city than from any sightseeing or other activities they would experience in London or Wales.
My statement was immediately misinterpreted by a number of other parents who thought I was suggesting that terrorists would be out to kidnap or bomb a busload of choir boys and girls just… Continue reading