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Speaking of Travel

Cuba: On the Road to Cienfuegos and Trinidad

Parque José Martí is WIFI enabled, a rarity in Cuba.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Three and four hours east of Havana, on the Caribbean side of Cuba, are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Both are colonial cities, the first with obvious French influence, the other Spanish. The highway from Havana to Cienfuegos and Trinidad was in good condition, but many of the secondary roads appeared to be more primitive. Traffic was light; we passed a few Yank Tanks, those American classics from the 50s, Ladas, other Russian and some Chinese makes of cars, and some horse carts. Outside of Havana, there was a Mercedes Benz dealership; certainly ... Read More »

Cuba for the Senses

Music is everywhere!

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber By the end of our time in Cuba, visiting three of its cities, the beach, and the mountains, I felt as if I was on sensory overload, for Cuba is a country that truly appeals to the senses. Visually, it was a delight. The first thing that struck me, flying over the island on the way to the airport in Havana, was how green everything was. Once in Havana, there were bright colors and visual stimulation everywhere. There were the famous “Yank Tanks,” American cars from the 1940s and 50s, with their vivid colors; bubble gum ... Read More »

Travel to Cuba – Logistics

Sunrise on part of the Vedado section of Havana. The famed Hotel Nacional is the building with the double red roofed cupolas.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Travel to Cuba for US citizens is evolving. There are a host of new transportation options either already in place or planned including ships, ferries, charter and commercial flights, even trains (well, sort of….read on). While more choices are available, travel still requires that visitors from the US meet one of 12 broad categories to justify their trip; under US law, travel to Cuba purely for a vacation is not allowed. The 12 accepted purposes include visiting a close relative, educational activities which involve “people to people exchanges”, journalistic, religious, and humanitarian activities, public performances, professional ... Read More »

Roadside Attraction Reinvented

Up close and personal with an iguana.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber When I was growing up in the Northeast, my father loved road trips. He also loved roadside attractions. I think his favorites were Roadside America, an indoor miniature railroad and village in Pennsylvania and Santa’s Village in New Hampshire. We spent long summers in northern Maine, which meant frequent trips to New Brunswick, Canada, which had its own attractions. We never crossed the border without a stop at one of them…Magnetic Hill where cars appear to roll uphill, the longest covered bridge in the world that crosses the St. John River, the giant “flower pots” formed ... Read More »

Bring Back the Good Old Days

TSApre3 is good for most
domestic airlines. (Left) TSApre3 provides expedited screening
airport security checkpoints. (Right) SUBMITTED

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Remember the “good old days” of air travel? Shoes, belt, jacket, scarf could remain on your body without having to take them off to clear security. You didn’t have to pull out your quart size zip lock bag of small size liquids such as Purell, or your laptop for special inspection. For $100 or less, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) offer programs that can help bring some of those good old days back. If your travel is primarily domestic, there is TSA Precheck, (TSA Pre?); for international travel, Global ... Read More »

Gifts for the Traveler 2015

Great stocking stuffers: Vaultz mesh bags and water bottle carabiner.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber For this year’s column on gift suggestions for the traveler, I am featuring some recent acquisitions that I have found useful. Always trying to remain hands-free and unencumbered by a handbag, I recently started using a Sholdit. It looks like a traditional infinity scarf, but has a hidden zipper pocket to store items such as a passport, cash, credit cards, key, tickets, lipstick, glasses, phone; whatever one doesn’t want to be without. I used it daily on our most recent trip and loved it, never having to fuss with a purse. Although I purchased mine at ... Read More »

Lessons Learned

PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER
The orange glow from the first light of sunrise.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Some of you may have noticed that my column was on hiatus for a few months while I attended to some family medical issues. During that time, planned trips were cancelled, including my dream water view apartment in Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy. Thank goodness for trip insurance. I purchased the insurance from Roam Right, via the insuremytrip.com website. Compared to a prior incident with another company, Roam Right was very accommodating in issuing a refund. Of course, having learned from that experience, I did have all my receipts and substantiating paperwork readily available in a folder ... Read More »

Graze Your Way Around the World

The Greece marketplace booth featured gyros, moussaka, spanakopita, saganaki, Greek wines and a Tzatziki martini.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Before settling in for the heat and humidity of summer in Florida, think about planning an activity for the more temperate weather of fall. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival in Orlando will take place September 25-November 16, 2015. Featuring foods from around the world, this year will be the 20th for this annual event. If you have never been to Epcot or are an Epcot fan and don’t have an opportunity to frequent a lot of ethnic restaurants, you might want to plan a visit. With the exception of Columbus Day weekend, this is a ... Read More »

Glaciers – Visit them Soon

Further along the Aletsch; the black stripes along the surface are known as medial moraines, rick debris pushed along the sides of the streams of ice. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Although I love a tropical climate, many of our travels have taken us to places noted for their glaciers. These visits have always occurred in the warmer months, for I would never venture forth in winter to an area capable of producing glaciers. Even my glacier skiing experiences were in the northern hemisphere in August. Simplistically, a glacier forms when, over years, more snow accumulates in the winter than can melt in the summer. The mass of snow gradually turns into glacial ice. While new snow/ice is added to the top of the glacier, the bottom ... Read More »

Tulip Time in Holland

Tulip time in Holland. PHOTOS BY ART MANBURG

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber One of the best times to visit Holland is when the flowers, for which it is known, are in their full splendor, on display at Keukenhof Gardens, from mid-March through mid-May. Although people often use the terms “Holland” and “the Netherlands” interchangeably, Holland refers to only two of the twelve provinces that comprise the country of the Netherlands. North and South Holland are home to the Netherlands’ major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and other popular destinations such as Leiden, Delft, and Haarlem. Tulips are not native to Holland; they were imported from the Ottoman ... Read More »

A Festival for Everyone

Alp horns are a part of most festivals in alpine Switzerland. PHOTOS BYVICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Every country has its celebrations and festivals, but it seems that the diminutive Switzerland, not quite as large as Vermont and New Hampshire combined, has more than its share, especially in the summer and early autumn. Perhaps it is the hard working character of the Swiss (yes, I know I am stereotyping) that makes them want to party so much. Or, the long cold winters that inspire everyone to get outside in the warmer weather and celebrate, squeezing in as much enjoyment as possible, before fall turns into early winter. We’ve visited Switzerland many times, often ... Read More »

In Search of Swiss Cheese

Outside the beautiful walled city of Gruyeres. photos by vickie kelber

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Switzerland is known for its cheese. Most of us have eaten “Swiss” cheese. Yet, few of us have experienced true Swiss cheese, for most of what is sold at local deli counters is a cheaper, lower quality commodity produced either domestically or from another country. It is made from pasteurized milk from cows fed on silage and often contains artificial ingredients. True Swiss cheese has no milk treatment, no artificial ingredients, no preservatives and comes from cows fed only grass or hay; no silage is allowed for Swiss cheese. The craft of cheesemaking in Switzerland dates ... Read More »

Bird Rookery Swamp

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By Vickie Kelber   In my quest to explore the wonders that are, as I like to call it, “in our own back yard”, a friend and I set off early one morning for the Bird Rookery Swamp Trail off Immokalee Road. Many of you know of, if not visited Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The Bird Rookery is located adjacent and to the south of this preserve on Shady Hollow Boulevard, about 50 minutes from Marco Island. Open since 2011, Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is part of the South Florida Water Management District’s CREW, Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. The trail ... Read More »

Chihuly at Fairchild

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Speaking of Travel Vickie Kelber As part of the Art at Fairchild program at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, a special installation of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly will be on display until May 31, 2015. Instituted in 2004, Art at Fairchild has brought exhibits by such artists as Roy Lichtenstein and Fernando Botero to this tropical wonderland; Chihuly was here once before in 2005. Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly is credited as a leader in establishing glassblowing as a fine art. He studied at the University of Wisconsin in the first university level ... Read More »

‘Til the Cows Come Home

Local farmers lead their cows in a descent from their summer home.

Speaking of Travel By Vickie Kelber Although we have visited Switzerland a number of times, usually choosing to spend a month at a time, our travels have always taken place between early June and late August. On our last trip, we went a little later in the season, determined to stay until the cows came home. Cows are an important part of Swiss culture and economy. Think Swiss cheese and chocolate. The cow has become a ubiquitous symbol of the country. After landing at Zurich Airport and getting on the internal transportation tram, we were greeted with a recording of ... Read More »

Fly Fishing on the Middle Provo

There is fly fishing year round on the Middle Provo, even when the ground is snow covered. photoS BY Vickie Kelber

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber This column is my husband’s idea. He suggested I write about something in which he is interested. So, at least this week, no museums, no churches, and except for a quick mention, no shopping, no restaurants,…..just a river and some fish. To learn more about fly fishing and the Provo River, I met with Ben Nelson, Matt Puodziunas, and Peter Robinson of Trout Bum 2 in Park City, Utah. Trout Bum 2 is a comprehensive retail and guide service. In 2013 and 2014 it was named Park City’s best fly fishing shop by readers of the ... Read More »

Amsterdam, How It’s Changed

The Stedelijk Museum with its new addition. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEDELIJK MUSEUM

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber I first visited Amsterdam in the 70s; my husband and I were last there in the 80s. On that trip, after a week in the city, we traveled on to Brussels. We were amused when a guide who took us to visit Waterloo and some of the countryside chateaus of Belgium referred to Amsterdam as a “doomed city.” On a recent visit there, I’m pleased to report that it is not doomed. It is a vibrant, diverse city, known for its tolerance, picturesque canals, and outstanding art collections. After a recent government sponsored overhaul and renovations ... Read More »

Travel Insurance: Safeguard or Scam?

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SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Travelers often consider the purchase of travel insurance. Policies differ, but typically comprehensive insurance covers trip cancellation, delay or interruption expenses and accident and medical expenses. The policies are long, with lots of fine print, conditions and exceptions. For years, we never bothered with trip insurance, but started to as our parents began developing health issues; we never knew if we might be called home unexpectedly. The past few years, as we have aged, we have purchased it for ourselves for international trips. Until recently, our only occasion to put in a claim came in September ... Read More »

Afiyet Olsun

Kumpir stands with their baked potato toppings piled high line  the street in the Ortakoy district of Istanbul. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Many people have asked me about the food in Istanbul; we loved it. There was a wide variety of options available, both in terms of eating establishments and food choices. Street food is popular. Red push carts dot the streets and hole-in-the-wall kiosks are located throughout the city. For a quick breakfast or snack any time of the day, there is limit — thin rounds of baked dough that have been dipped in molasses and sesame seeds. During the day, other carts sell grilled corn on the cob and chocolate covered chestnuts. Kumpir stalls sell baked ... Read More »

Further Afield in Istanbul

The Mehter band performs below the piercing eyes of Atatürk. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber After writing about some of the “must sees” in Istanbul (Istanbul Highlights December 26, 2014), I wanted to share other worthy experiences if your travel time allows. The Bosphorus, the 20-mile long strait connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, is fundamental to Istanbul. Important for commercial navigation, it separates “old” Istanbul from “new” Europe from Asia; many of the major sights in this city are located along it and ferries regularly traverse it. Istanbul is a big, sprawling city full of neighborhoods and districts. Taking a sightseeing cruise along the Bosphorus provides a ... Read More »