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Speaking of Travel

Along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

One of the many Green Herons.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has identified 515 locations throughout Florida as part of The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT). The 2,000 miles of “trails” feature excellent bird and wildlife viewing. Highway signs identify each site, and there are guide booklets and a smartphone app available, as well as a very helpful website: At this website, the guide booklets can be downloaded and paper copies ordered. Divided into four geographical areas, each section of the GFBWT has two or three “gateways” with staffed visitor centers that provide information and ... Read More »

The Croatian Istrian Peninsula

Along the Lungomare in Opatija.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber The Croatian portion of the Istrian Peninsula is located in northwest Croatia, along the Adriatic’s Gulf of Kvarnar. Historically, this area was ruled first by the Romans, followed by the Venetians and then the Austrians. For a while in the 1920s, the Italians regained control. Although Istria became part of Yugoslavia in the 1940s, many towns still have two official names — one Croatian, the other Italian. A small part of the peninsula also lies in Slovenia and Italy. While visiting Istria, the town of Opatija was our home base. I could easily write of ... Read More »

Historic Split

Narodni trg, the People’s Square, in Split is a popular place to stop for refreshment. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Along the beautiful Dalmatian coast between Dubrovnik and the Istrian Peninsula is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Split, a major ferry and cruise ship port. The drive north from Dubrovnik passes through the fertile Neretva Valley known for high quality citrus fruit. Fruit and honey stands line the road. The drive also traverses that small portion of Bosnia that is that country’s only outlet to the sea. A local guide told us that for at least five years there has been talk of building a bridge to connect Dubrovnik directly with the rest of ... Read More »

Wilma and Harold’s Lightweight Adventure

Rooftop view of Reykjavik from the Hallgrimskirkja church. PHOTOS BY WILMA SANDERS

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Unless cruising, which is not our preferred method of travel, grappling with luggage can take some of the pleasure out of a journey. For domestic destinations, we usually use just two carry-ons and a back pack. We literally do carry on our luggage and deal with TSA restrictions by buying any large sizes of liquids or gels, such as toothpaste, when we arrive. For month-long treks to Europe, we bring one larger size suitcase, one carry-on size, which we check, and a backpack. The backpack contains our electronics, items we may want on the ... Read More »

The Black Mountains and Bay of Kotor

A sampling of the local products at the market outside the walls of Kotor.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber In the Middle Ages, the area now known as Montenegro was referred to as Crna Gora; the country’s official name today is Republika Crna Gora, which translates as “Black Mountain.” The name Montenegro, also meaning black mountain, is Venetian in origin. Unlike the interior and its neighboring countries, the coastal region of Montenegro was never under the control of the Ottomans; Venice ruled the coast from the 1400s until almost 1900. South of Croatia along the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro also borders Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Albania. Although Montenegrins participated in the Balkan Wars with ... Read More »

From the Rubble of War

The Ottoman Old Town in Mostar. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Visiting the charming, somewhat tranquil city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is difficult to fathom that less than 20 years ago it lay in rubble, torn apart by war and barbarism. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one country with two geographical zones, three regions, three ethnic groups/religions, three languages, three presidents and two alphabets. The three ethnic groups are Bosniak (Muslim), Serb (Orthodox) and Croat (Catholic). The Ottomans introduced Islam to this area in the 15th century, and their cultural influence is still widely evident. It later was controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and ... Read More »

The Southern Dalmatian Coast

Cavtat provides a quiet alternative to Dubrovnik. Submitted Photos

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Croatia’s mainland coastline is 1,100 miles of drama and beauty. Offshore, there are 1,200 islands in the Adriatic. The beauty is almost indescribable: deep turquoise water dotted with both rocky and green islands, large bays, isolated coves, rugged ridges and bluffs, dark forests, fertile fields and orchards. Dalmatia encompasses a long part of the Croatian coastline. The term Dalmatia comes from an ancient Illyrian tribe, and the area is so named historically and geographically. Dubrovnik is considered part of the Dalmatian Coast, and there are some easy day trips that can be made from ... Read More »

Florida for the Holidays

St. Augustine has a variety of holiday events scheduled at the holidays.

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Since moving to Florida 15 years ago, we find ourselves increasingly spending the holidays in the Sunshine State. It’s not that we don’t like traveling at the holidays; we do. It’s the weather. We spent one Christmas in the Rockies. It snowed every day, and for three days, it was so bad that we couldn’t leave the condo. New York City is my favorite place at the holidays. Three years ago, we had a great trip there. We had a wonderful time seeing all the lights and decorations, checking out the displays in the ... Read More »

Shopping Locally for Travel Gifts

Keep in Touch in Shops of Marco carries a variety of travel accessories. photoS BY VICKIE KELBER

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber It’s no secret that I like to shop. My husband refers to a day filled with shopping as a “Vickie Day”. He never accompanies me on a “Vickie Day”. Although I do my share of internet shopping for difficult to find items, I prefer local “brick and mortar” shops and particularly appreciate that we have a number of goods and services available right here on Marco Island; that was one factor in choosing Marco as our home. For this year’s column on gifts for the traveler, I decided to explore some of what the Island ... Read More »



SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber A trivia question: Who was among the first, in 1776, to recognize the independence of the United States and the first to establish trade with it? It was the nation state of the Republic of Ragusa, renamed Dubrovnik in 1918. Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a dramatically beautiful walled city that sits right on the Adriatic. Believed to have been founded in the seventh century, Dubrovnik has been under the influence at various times of the Byzantines, Venetians, Hungarians, and the Austrians. An independent city state from 1358 to 1808 and once one ... Read More »

What ever happened to Yugoslavia?


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Those of us of a certain age remember a country known as Yugoslavia and the violence that accompanied its disintegration. Just what was Yugoslavia and what is it like now? The more I read and listen to people talk about the history of this area, the more complex it seems. Yugoslavia was composed of six republics and two autonomous regions, five nationalities, four official languages, three official religions, two official alphabets, and a mixture of many ethnic groups. No wonder its dissolution was so complicated. Part of the Balkan Peninsula, the earliest inhabitants of this ... Read More »

The Pink Plane


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber I first heard of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) a few years ago. A friend’s mother died of the disease and he wanted to find an “in lieu of flowers” cause whose administrative costs were low. As the only breast cancer organization to receive an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy (Charity Watch), BCRF was the one he chose. Recently, I was made aware of Delta Air Lines’ annual participation in Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its strong support of BCRF. I spoke with corporate representative Paul Skrbec and most of the ... Read More »

Apps Galore


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber In past columns about apps useful for travel, I’ve mentioned some that assist in negotiating one’s way on the road, in airports, and using public transportation, as well as those that provide destination information, translations, personalized postcards and utilities for which there are varied and useful options. For this review, I’ll broach some different topics. I often call packing the worst part of travel, but there are some apps to help. Travel List is an all in one app that assists in planning an itinerary and creating a packing list. User reviews like its simple ... Read More »

Travel Websites 2013


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Time flies. It is hard to believe that it has been well over a year since my last “annual” review of travel websites. I remember when gathering information about a destination required pouring over guide books in bookstores to find just the right one and writing to local, state, and national tourist bureaus for literature. Now, it seems there is an infinite amount of information about anywhere you might want to travel as well as easy access to user reviews and assistance on sites such as Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic. For this column, I ... Read More »

Prelude to Sochi


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber No matter who takes home medals in women’s ski jumping at Olympics XXII in Sochi, Russia, for a group of American woman, it will be a victory. Since the first winter Olympics in 1924, men’s ski jumping has been included but women’s has not; it has been the only Olympic event that did not allow women even though women have been involved in ski jumping since the 1890s. The addition of women’s ski jumping to the Olympic roster represents the culmination of a long, hard fight for a determined group of women from Park City, ... Read More »

Top questions II


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber In discussing top travel questions, the issue of insurance is second to money concerns which were addressed in my last column. Should I buy travel insurance and if so what kind? There are many things to think about as insurance can add 3-15% (or more) to the cost of your trip. In considering trip cancellation policies, ask yourself how much you are willing to risk if you have to cancel. If you are OK with risking loss of all your prepaid fees, then just think about medical insurance. What if part of a trip has ... Read More »

Top Travel Questions


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber I often get questions about travel and want to address the most common ones. I’ve written about some of these issues before, but there are some queries that keep coming up and there is always new information to share. By far, the top question I get is about exchanging money and using credit cards outside of the US. Because I want to try to provide comprehensive information about this topic, this entire column will address that matter. In my next column, I’ll tackle answers to questions about insurance, passports, lost luggage and the technology ... Read More »

The Isle that is Capri


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber I wish I could write with enthusiasm about Capri, I really do. It does have the most beautiful turquoise water, wonderful views, and some nice shops, and the approach to this mountainous island jutting up out of the water is impressive, but I just can’t bring myself to rave about it. Part of it is my fault. Instead of planning an overnight trip which might have given us a better experience and allowed us to get off the “beaten path”, we joined the army of day trippers, traveling by boat from Amalfi. It was ... Read More »

Shopping for Ceramics


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Italy is a wonderful place to shop for ceramics. The combination of earth, water and fire used to make ceramics has been a tradition in this country dating back to its earliest times. The term ceramics comes from the Greek and refers to anything made of clay. Majolica refers to enameled, decorated ceramics, usually bold in color and intricate in design. The Amalfi Coast is a particularly picturesque shopping venue for Majolica ceramics. Vietri sul Mare is the unofficial ceramic capital of this area. It is where one will find the largest selection and ... Read More »

Antiquities of Campania


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Italy is comprised of 20 administrative districts known as regions, one of which is Campania, located in the south west along the Mediterranean Sea and the location of some noteworthy ancient sites. Above Campania’s capital, Naples, looms Mt. Vesuvius, the volcano that helped preserve two of its three major antiquities, Pompeii and Herculaneum (Ercolano). Because we could not decide which of these two locations we wanted to visit, we decided to book a tour that combined both. Normally, we hate bus tours, but this was an efficient way to visit both sites in one ... Read More »