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Budapest

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

Travel + Leisure Magazine has just come out with its latest “World’s Best” lists — there are lots of those these days — one of which is the World’s Top Ten Best Cities.

Here’s the Top Ten as voted by T+L readers:

10. Jerusalem, Israel 9. Cape Town, South Africa 8.Barcelona, Spain 7.Krakow, Poland 6. Bangkok, Thailand 5. Rome, Italy 4. Florence, Italy 3. Siem Reap, Cambodia 2. Charleston, South Carolina 1. Kyoto, Japan

A loyal reader sent me the link yesterday and asked if I could name my own Top 10. I’m happy to oblige.

First, I will say that the above list is not bad, although I don’t quite understand how Siem Reap, Cambodia, makes the list, because it’s mostly known as the gateway to Angkor Wat — which, while being a world-class icon, doesn’t qualify… Continue reading

The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

I see a lot of Top Ten travel lists of this and that, often filed away and forgettable. But a friend just sent me a particularly interesting compilation of Top Ten travel lists — ranging from the world’s best nightlife destinations to best culture and history to cheapest and most expensive places to visit — as voted on by 7,000 travelers who took part in a recent survey by hostelworld.com.

Now it’s true that most people using hostelworld.com, a site where you can book hostels and inexpensive hotels/inns/guesthouses around the world, are probably much younger than the typical baby boomer demographic. But I was struck by, well, how much I agreed with the findings of the survey – though perhaps for different reasons in some cases.

Whether that means I’m still a 20-year-old backpacker at heart, or… Continue reading

Budapest's Chain Bridge over the Danube by night. Photo by Dennis Cox, WorldViews

Budapest’s Chain Bridge over the Danube by night. Photo by Dennis Cox, WorldViews

I love river cruising and was itching to get onto the Danube as soon as we reached Budapest, the Hungarian capital that the river neatly divides into two sections called Buda and Pest.

“We” being the international group of journalists I was traveling with, on an Insight Vacations tour of Central European capitals. Budapest was our last stop in a whirlwind tour that was an accelerated version of the regular Insight tours of the region, yet we managed to pack a huge amount of sightseeing into less than a week.

Having just left Vienna a few hours before, we arrived in Budapest in late afternoon in time to change money, change clothes, change languages and change mindsets from schnitzel to paprikash. Fortunately, goulash, sausages and strudel remained much the same.

Our hotel, the Sofitel… Continue reading

The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

On my recent trip to Central Europe with Insight Vacations, I enjoyed Prague immensely, discovered the delightful Medieval town of Cesky Krumlov (also in the Czech Republic), rekindled an old flame in Vienna, but  fell totally in love with Budapest.

Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for river cruises — the evening dinner cruise we took on the Danube was magical — or maybe it was the Hungarian Parliament building, lit up like a centenarian’s birthday cake at night and almost as beautiful inside by day, or maybe it was that lunch consisting solely of the best strudel I’ve ever eaten.

Probably some of all three, but there were also the endearing intangibles:

* Asking a couple of locals shortly after our arrival the name of the  bridge in front of our hotel,… 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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