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Mont-Saint-Michel is a remarkable sight as you approach. Photo from Normandy Tourist Board.

Mont-Saint-Michel is a remarkable sight as you approach. Photo from Normandy Tourist Board.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have a soft spot for off-the-beaten-track destinations.

Yes, I love Paris and Venice and London, but I also like to explore the lesser-known out-of-the-wsy places that many travelers never reach.

Once years ago, I  set off by train from Paris to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval abbey off the coast of Normandy that I had read about in college in the Henry Adams’ book, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.

The trip took two full days because the train connections were awful, but I made it, and didn’t regret it. It’s a dramatically situated Gothic masterpiece, rising atop a rocky island with a maze of narrow streets surrounding it.

Traditionally, Mont-Saint-Michel has only been reachable by land when the tides are out, via squishy mud flats. When the tides come in,… Continue reading

Sahara Desert dunes at Erg Chebbi, Morocco. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Sahara Desert dunes at Erg Chebbi, Morocco. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

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

Norwegian fjords are among Europe's most scenic sights. Photo from VisitNorway.com.

Norwegian fjords are among Europe’s most scenic sights. Photo from VisitNorway.com.

Europe is rich with natural wonders – from lakes and mountains to islands, river valleys and seaside vistas.  You can even find them in the skies above.

Since any Top Ten list would be totally arbitrary, we’ll stick to a “Ten Top” list, with the understanding that more such lists could – and no doubt will – be on their way in the future.

Several of these natural wonders are familiar names; others may be new to you. But they’re all fully deserving of the title – and a visit.

Here are the first five of the ten; the remaining five will appear in my next post.

The Fjords of Norway

 They go by differing names like the Sognefjord, Aurlandsfjord, Trollfjord, and the Hardangerfjord, but they all have one feature in common: these slivers of deep-blue water… Continue reading

Yvonne Craig as "Batgirl."

Yvonne Craig as “Batgirl.”

I recently read of the death of Yvonne Craig, an actress best known for her role as “Batgirl” in the campy late 1960s “Batman” TV series.

While Yvonne wasn’t  a baby boomer — she was 78 when she died after a two-year battle with breast cancer, weakened by a long regimen of chemotherapy — she was an icon of sorts for many boomers. She was a role model for young women — the first woman superhero, predating “Wonder Woman” and the rest — and an object of desire for many young men of the era.

I’m writing about Yvonne not because of this but because my wife, Catharine, and I briefly knew her while we were on a small ship cruise together down the Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea eight years ago.

It wasn’t her role as “Batgirl” that impressed me so much as… Continue reading

The Polish town of Wieliczka has a subterranean salt mine that houses a cathedral complete with chandeliers made of salt. Photo from Flickr

The Polish town of Wieliczka has a subterranean salt mine that houses a cathedral complete with chandeliers made of salt. Photo from Flickr.

I spent yesterday in New York City at VEMEX (Visit Europe Media Exchange), where a throng of travel writers met with dozens of  representatives of European travel destinations, tour agencies, railways, river cruises and rental cars.

Representatives were allotted 15 minutes to update each writer on what was new, compelling and noteworthy about their destinations or companies, with writers busily scribbling unreadable notes and — more helpfully — pocketing cleverly packaged thumb drives that they could later plug  into their computers with all the salient information.

And there was information aplenty, providing a good indication of what types of visitors and customers they’re seeking and how they hope to attract them.

I can guarantee you that baby boomer travelers — who tend to favor… 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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