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Thien Hau Pagoda Buddhist Temple in Saigon’s Chinatown. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In Part I of Robert Waite’s two-part series on traveling to Vietnam, Vietnam Visit Stirs Emotions for Boomers, Bob recounted his recent visits to Hanoi and Halong Bay.

In this post, he travels to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnel complex dug by the Viet Cong outside the city — but much closer to it than you might imagine.

Saigon itself is a bustling city that evokes stark memories of the Vietnam War, but is also now a prime “foodie” destination and a place to drink at a bar made famous by big-name war correspondents:

By Robert Waite

Part II of a two-part series.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – The thing about name changes is that they often don’t stick. Take Mumbai, for example. The Indian national government decided that “Bombay” was… Continue reading

Hanoi’s 1911 Opera House is a prime example of the city’s French colonial architecture. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In this post and the next, Contributing Writer Robert Waite recounts his recent journey to Vietnam, the country that helped define a generation of baby boomers.

Forty five years after the fall of Saigon, which effectively ended the more-than-a-decade-long Vietnam War, a visit to Hanoi still stirs emotions, whether you were pro- or anti-war in the 1960s and ’70s.

Yet even as long ago as 1997, when I last visited Vietnam, the majority of Vietnamese — born after the war — seemed to hold few if any grudges against Americans.

Our roving correspondent, himself a baby boomer, delves into the war history but also the sights and experiences that make Vietnam one of the most intriguing countries to visit in Southeast Asia today.

First up are the capital, Hanoi, and beautiful Halong… Continue reading

Steep steps lead to the top of temple 216 in Yaxha, but the view from the top is worth it. Photo by Robert Waite.

In the first part of this two-part series, contributing writer Robert Waite described his visit to Tikal, Guatemala, the enormous ruins of one of the world’s great archaeological wonders, which 2,000 years ago was larger than ancient Rome or Beijing.

In Part II of this series, Bob writes about his travels to another stunning Mayan archaeological site nearby — Yaxha — and finds humor and cultural insights amid the ancient pyramids.

By Robert Waite

On the morning we left Tikal we headed for Yaxha, 30 km (19 miles) to the southeast, with our new guide, Cesar Quinones.

Yaxha is Guatemala’s third largest Mayan archaeological site (after Tikal and El Mirador) and boasts 500 structures spread along a hilltop stretching about three km (two miles).

Located… Continue reading

Tikal’s Temple I rises to a height of 154 feet (47 meters). Photo by Robert Waite.

For those planning their post-COVID travels, or who just like a good read, our roving contributing writer Robert Waite sets foot this time in the fabulous Mayan ruins of Tikal and Yaxha, which flourished two millennia ago in the jungles of what is now Guatemala.

It was the New York of its day, a massive complex complete with “skyscraper” temples, plazas, and palaces. When it seems safe to go, you may well want to add it to your future travel plans.

By Robert Waite

Tikal, Guatemala – Anyone who still buys into the myth that the Americas needed to be discovered by Columbus to be “civilized” has not wandered among the pyramids or across the expansive plazas of Tikal.

Beginning around 350 B.C. and stretching into the 5th century A.D., at a time… Continue reading

Hoxha built his nuclear bunker to survive an expected nuclear attack. Photo by Robert Waite

In the second part of a two-part series, contributing writer Robert Waite finally gets to turn his Albanian travel dream into reality. Among other things, he finds a wealth of bizarre historical remnants — including former dictator’s Enver Hoxha’s vast nuclear bunker — which have now become tourist attractions.

Here’s Part I of the series, By Travel Obsessed: Albanian Edition, in case you missed it.

By Robert Waite

Tirana, Albania – After narrowly escaping having our car impounded and my decades-long dream of visiting Albania dashed, we were finally on our way.

Barred from driving ourselves, we engaged Roberto, a Dubrovnik-based guide, to take us to Kotor in Montenegro.

Along the way, he proved quite gregarious, providing colorful commentary on the traits we should expect to observe upon meeting the locals in Kotor. It… Continue reading

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan's Famous hot dogs? Answer: Malaysia. Photo from Nathan's Famous.

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs? Answer: Malaysia. Photo from Nathan’s Famous.

Hope everyone had a happy Fourth!

Here are the answers to the July 4th Independence Day Travel Quiz from my previous post. (If you haven’t taken the quiz yet and want to, I’d suggest returning there first.) Some of these questions were tricky, others merely difficult, and a few were relatively easy, especially with True or False questions offering just two choices. The multiple choice questions seemed to give people the most trouble, based on feedback I received. Thanks for joining in, whether Baby Boomers or younger!

1. True or false: As one of the 13 original colonies, Vermont was the only one that refused to ratify the Declaration of Independence.

Answer: False. Vermont was not one of the original 13 colonies.

2. Which U.S. president was born on… Continue reading

Fishing boats in Gloucester harbor. Photo from gloucester-ma-gov

Fishing boats in Gloucester harbor. Photo from gloucester-ma-gov

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

Gold lanterns light the way in one of Nara Park's many shrines.

Gold lanterns light the way in one of Nara Park’s many shrines.

Eighth in a Series

Just an hour by train from Kyoto, Nara is a sometimes-overlooked jewel of a city that has played a key role in the historical and cultural life of Japan.

Often visited on day trips from Kyoto — certainly possible if you get an early start — Nara is well worth an overnight stay to keep from being too rushed. We stayed two nights and didn’t regret it, even though we had to change hotels after one night due to a booking error.

If you have more time, Nara is also a convenient base for exploring the surrounding countryside and villages filled with history, hot springs, and, in  season, cherry blossoms.

Nara Park and World Heritage Sites

Japan’s first permanent capital during the 8th century AD before the imperial base was moved to Kyoto,… Continue reading

Paris night at the Arc de Triomphe. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Paris night at the Arc de Triomphe. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

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

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.

The Vietnamese dote on babies. When you’re in restaurants, for instance, and your young children get restless, the owners will often happily insist on looking after them, perhaps even taking them outside.  (At the end of the meal, the conversation may go something like this: “May we have our check, please? And our two babies — please?”)… 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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