Of all the cruises I have taken, three ports stand out as the most stunning (especially if you sail into them at sunrise or sunset): Istanbul, with its mosques and soaring minarets; Kotor, Montenegro, a medieval village on a pristine bay — and my favorite of all, Malta.
Malta’s port, Valetta, is a city of forts, turrets, palaces, cathedrals, and ancient walls dating from the 1500s, when the Knights of St. John (of Crusader fame) moved here from the island of Rhodes.
As our guest contributor Harley Burke points out, Malta has myriad attractions meriting a stay well beyond the standard cruise ship stopover. And don’t miss the smaller, more rural island of Gozo, reachable by ferry and home to some fascinating prehistoric sites (along with beaches and hiking trails).
By Harley… Continue reading
Several years ago I wrote about the Mediterranean island nation of Malta offering citizenship and a passport to most anyone willing to pony up US$850,000 for the privilege.
Malta’s potential clients included Americans eager to move to and/or travel freely among the European Union (EU) nations and many other countries, some of which might not welcome US travelers.
But the first nation to offer citizenship and passports for sale was the Caribbean dual-island state of St. Kitts and Nevis (more formally, the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis), way back in 1984.
Best known for its beaches, mountains, and tropical atmosphere — as well as the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton in Nevis — the Leeward Islands’ destination is the smallest nation in the Americas, both in size and population. An 18-mile scenic railway circles the entire island of St. Kitts (Nevis is even smaller), and Vervet monkeys are said to… Continue reading
Here are some of the travel books I’ve been reading the past few months, any of which would make a nice gift for the hodophile among your family, friends, colleagues — or for yourself, of course.
They’re selected to get those travel juices flowing again (if they aren’t already).
The Road Trip Survival Guide
By Rob Taylor (Tiller Press, 2021)
Even as the Covid epidemic was dealing severe blows to airline, cruise, and international travel, domestic road trips were zooming in popularity in 2020-21, making this practical yet enjoyably written guide a timely read.
Penned in a folksy style, Rob Taylor encourages readers to “explore at their own speed” and modify his suggestions as needed to fit their own circumstances.
That said, just about any road-tripper (novice or experienced) can find loads of tips within these pages. Divided into five sections — Planning, Packing, Road Trip Food, Safety, and… Continue reading
Second in a Series.
Venice’s maze of 3,000 streets, 150 canals and 400 bridges can bewilder the most savvy traveler. Of the city’s millions of annual visitors, it’s fair to say that relatively few venture beyond the main tourist haunts. This is especially true of the many day-trippers, most notably cruise ship passengers, who may have only a few hours to spend in this magical city.
As we noted in our last post, Venice: The Theme Park City?, Venice will be charging an entrance fee and limiting visitor admissions starting in the summer 2022. It’s a strike against overtourism, in which a mass influx of sightseers literally threatens to love a destination to death, or at least makes it a far less enjoyable place to visit or live in.
If it’s your first and only time in Venice, of course you’re going to descend on St. Mark’s… Continue reading
Venice has always been one of my favorite cities. If there’s a more beautiful city in the world, I haven’t found it. And millions of other people would say the same.
And therein lies the problem: Millions of people visiting (and tromping through) one of the most fragile cities on the planet — at the rate of 80,000 per day in summer, far outnumbering Venice’s own residents.
After all, the city is built on a lagoon, canals snake through its heart, and its centuries-old palazzos, churches, and art treasures are subject to erosion, flooding, and tsunamis of tourists as well.
It’s been called a “poster child for overtourism” — meaning, simply, too many tourists for its own good, compounded by massive infusions of cruise ship passengers and other day-trippers. It’s remarkable that any gondolier worth his stripes can maneuver his full craft through the gondola-traffic-choked canals and still… Continue reading
A headline in a press release about an offering this year in the “Oscars gift bag” — a bulging mix of high-end swag presented to Academy Award nominees in five top acting and directing categories — caught my eye today.
I was even more intrigued when I continued reading from the release, which was distributed by Visit Sweden USA, the Swedish tourism organization:
“When the whole world turns its eyes to the Oscars on April 25, Sweden’s remote lighthouse island of Pater Noster will once again be in the spotlight.
“While just four actors and one director will bring home the gold in the top individual categories, all 24 Oscars nominees receive a gift bag including a stay at this lighthouse turned hotel perched at the… Continue reading
I was interested to come across a recent report that the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar was cracking down on tourists wearing skimpy attire in public.
According to CNN, Lela Muhamed Mussa, the minister of tourism, declared that tourists must cover themselves from shoulder to knee in public places — or their tour guides or operators would pay the price, with fines ranging from U.S.$700 to $2,000. (Tourists themselves, who support the bulk of the local economy, are exempted, though they’re likely to draw stares and recriminations from offended local residents.)
Predominantly Muslim Zanzibar attracts up to 30,000 tourists per month, attracted by its combination of sandy, sunny beaches bordering sapphire waters and the island’s equally colorful (if often sordid) history, centered around Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital. It’s when the… Continue reading
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a periodic series on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism providers across the globe.
Back in the late 1960s, when I was still mostly fantasizing about globetrotting, I picked up a paperback book called Bargain Paradises of the World.
Although all the pictures were in black and white and the information inside was perhaps overly colorful, it was the kind of book that got my travel juices flowing.
One particular “paradise” that caught my eye was Ceylon, the tear-drop-shaped Indian Ocean island nation that has been known as Sri Lanka since 1972.
My fantasy Ceylon — which had been colonized by Britain until 1948 and was known in the West mostly for its tea exports — was pictured by Bargain Paradises as an idyllic place where… Continue reading
In Part II of Robert Waite’s chronicle of his trip to remote Haida Gwaii — an archipelago off the west coast of Canada, in British Columbia — he takes us aboard the MV Cascadia, a small expedition vessel that holds a maximum of 24 passengers.
Along with comfortable accommodations and amenities, the Cascadia provided plenty of opportunities for visiting the islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlottes, where the biological diversity is the richest on earth and Haida tribal culture is making a comeback.
If you haven’t read Part I of this two-part series, I suggest you go there now and you’ll have the full context for reading about this extraordinary journey.
By Robert Waite
Once aboard the Cascadia, much of our seven-day voyage was determined by weather and tides.
Tides on the east… 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