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Speaking of Travel

Banff

View of Bow River Valley from Sulphur Mountain.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Ninety minutes from Calgary, in the Bow River Valley, Banff is the unofficial capital of Alberta’s Canadian Rockies. Located within Banff National Park, its development is tightly controlled. The population is capped at 10,000; only those with a “need to reside” can live there and businesses must provide accommodations for employees. Banff was developed in the late 1800s for tourism; even the main street was built to afford the best views of nearby Mt. Rundle. Its commercial center, with its variety of stores, mini malls, restaurants, coffee and toffee shops, is very busy. What impressed me ... Read More »

The Icefields Parkway

The Glacier Skywalk juts out over the Sunwapta Canyon.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber  The Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada, also known as Highway 93, is 144 miles of natural beauty, wildlife, tourist attractions, and, in high season (July, August), a moving parade of cars, RVs, and tour buses traversing this double lane road. Paralleling the Continental Divide, it runs from Lake Louise north to Japer and passes through both Banff and Jasper National Parks. We traveled its length twice, the first time, enjoying all it had to offer, took more than nine hours. The second, using it merely as a route from one location to another, took considerably ... Read More »

Alberta’s Canadian Rockies, Part I

Chateau Lake Louise

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Canada’s Rocky Mountains are located in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Within Alberta, the locations of Lake Louise, Jasper, and Banff provide many opportunities for alpine experiences. The landscape includes peaks, valleys, canyons, rivers, glacial lakes, forests, waterfalls, and lots of wildlife. I will write about Banff, the larger, more commercial of the three in a future column. Lake Louise and Jasper serve as the gateways to the Icefields Parkway, surely one of the most scenic drives in the world. Lake Louise, with the stately Chateau Lake Louise facing the Victoria Glacier at the ... Read More »

Travel to the Canadian Rockies

Along this road was typical (yet, no less beautiful) scenery.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber  There are several ways to visit the main attractions of Alberta, Canada’s Rocky Mountains. Many companies offer package tours with various options. Some feature just the area around Banff and the Columbia Icefields, while others cover more of western Canada, including British Columbia. There are Canadian tour companies that provide organized hiking or hiking/camping tours. Road Scholar (formerly Elder Hostel) has active educational tours of the Canadian Rockies. You know how organized tours go; up at 6:30 AM, luggage out and breakfast at 7:00, on the bus by 8:00; herded into any lunch or dinners provided. ... Read More »

Local Gem

One of the ponds at Freedom Park surrounded by Florida flora. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber The joy of discovering someplace new doesn’t always have to involve a long car, train, ship, or plane ride. In the past, I’ve written a few columns on some of the wondrous places right in our own backyard including Shark Valley, Loop Road, and Bird Swamp Rookery. Following all of the rain we had earlier this year, a friend and I set out to hike through Picayune Strand State Forest. As we feared, the ground was too saturated to walk on and another option we explored was also too wet. We then decided to head for ... Read More »

Cuba: From the Beach to the Mountains

The beach at Playa Ancón. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Trinidad, Cuba, featured in my last column, is situated between the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Escambray Mountains to the north. Our visit to Trinidad afforded us the opportunity to see both while staying at an all-inclusive resort. While it may not be held in as high esteem as the popular northern Cuban beach resorts of Varadero, Guardalavaca and Cayo Coco, we thought Playa Ancón was very attractive. A strip of land extending out into the Caribbean, Playa Ancón was developed after the 1959 revolution. Two and a half miles long, the off-white beach ... Read More »

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

B16-CBN-5-1-6

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 »