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The view from the fortress above Nafplio is stunning. Photo by Clark Norton

The view from the fortress above Nafplio is stunning. Photo by Clark Norton

Although I’d been to Greece twice before, I wasn’t familiar with the town of Nafplio (also spelled Nafplion) until four members of my family and I spent several days there recently to attend a baptismal ceremony and celebration for the baby daughter of some friends. (More on that in my next post.)

Nafplio is  about a two-hour drive from the airport in Athens, and is located at the northern end of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, where the Peloponnesian War pitted the Athenians versus the Spartans in the 5th century BC.

The militaristic Spartans prevailed over the once-dominant but philosophically minded Athenians, dealing a fatal blow to the golden age of ancient Greek democracy.

It was kind of like the Michigan State Spartans football team taking on the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Ouch.

Nafplio,… Continue reading

Saguaro cacti along a trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale. Photo by Sheldon Clark

Saguaro cacti along a trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale. Photo by Sheldon Clark

Except for some brief stops at the Phoenix, Arizona, airport, I hadn’t been in the “Valley of the Sun” region for about 30 years until recently, when some friends invited us to spend a few days in their timeshare at the Sheraton Desert Oasis resort in Scottsdale, which lies north and east of Phoenix.

My memories of the area weren’t particularly positive. Our previous Phoenix visit — poorly timed for August, when it was 110 degrees in the shade — was spent futilely searching for the “there” there, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. If there was a downtown Phoenix, we couldn’t find it back then. It just seemed to be a mass of sprawl in the desert.

Because I had imagined Scottsdale to be just another Phoenix suburb, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of… Continue reading

Alexander Hamilton cuts a dashing figure on the U.S. ten dollar bill.

Alexander Hamilton cuts a dashing figure on the U.S. ten dollar bill.

Hamilton — a musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the U.S. Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington — is the hottest show on Broadway, currently showing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The cast recording was also one of the top albums of 2015.

It’s fitting to mention it today because Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 (some sources say 1757).

One of the leading figures in the American Revolution, Hamilton was known as a brilliant orator and influential advocate of a strong federal government, putting him at odds with Thomas Jefferson and provoking jealousy from his one-time friend Aaron Burr, who eventually killed Hamilton in a duel. (Burr, a fascinating figure in his own right, is now primarily remembered for shooting his rival.)

The Travel… Continue reading

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Photo by Catharine Norton

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Photo by Catharine Norton

Fourth in a Series

On the fourth day of my recent “Magical Lake Michigan:”cruise aboard the Grande Mariner with Blount Small Ship Adventures, we reached the top of Lake Michigan in early evening.

Dinner, normally served at 6:30 p.m., was delayed a bit while we sailed under the five-mile long Mackinac Bridge, which spans the Straits of Mackinac and connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan.

The bridge was opened to traffic in 1957 and is considered an engineering marvel, costing $100 million to build. It’s the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Four million vehicles cross the bridge annually.

We were heading for Mackinac Island, just beyond the bridge, following our earlier stop at Beaver Island. Docking there in early evening, we would have much of the next… Continue reading

Now a popular cruise ship stop, Tortola and neighboring Norman Island were once pirate hideouts. Photo by Gail Frederick on Flickr.

Now a popular cruise ship stop, Tortola and neighboring Norman Island were once pirate hideouts. Photo by Gail Frederick on Flickr.

Third in a Series:

The British Virgins are known for their calm, clear waters, with tropical breezes ideal for sailing. But those same waters were once infested with pirates, including some of the most notorious. Here, Blackbeard, Drake and others preyed on passing ships laden with riches bound for Spain.

Legend has it that Robert Louis Stevenson modeled fictional Treasure Island after Norman Island, where local fishermen reputedly found treasure buried in its sea caves. Today the caves off Treasure Point are favored by divers and snorkelers, no doubt hoping for a glimpse of a piece of eight themselves.

You can get here by chartering a boat or joining one of many day sails out of Road Town, Tortola, the BVI’s capital. Although Norman Island is uninhabited, the Pirates… Continue reading

Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa beach area, ready for an "I Do Redo." Photo from Marriott.

Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa beach area, ready for an “I Do Redo.” Photo from Marriott.

Not all weddings go as planned, despite the bride and groom’s best intentions.

Maybe the Best Man drops the ring and it rolls down the aisle, finally disappearing beneath a pew or chair.

Maybe the groom’s uncle has one two many cocktails and falls onto the wedding cake.

Maybe all the bridesmaids, in a misguided attempt at mirth, show up in the same gown the bride is wearing.

Maybe a sudden rainstorm drenches everyone before they can find shelter.

You get the idea. Maybe something similar even happened to you.

If so,  a Pompano Beach, Florida, resort is offering a chance for an “I Do Redo.”

The Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa is running a contest for the funniest, silliest — or perhaps most poignant — wedding-day saga, with… 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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