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Speaking of Travel

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 »

Just a three hour cruise away…


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber We have been to Key West before and we have also taken the Key West Express passenger ferry before; it was my birthday and we thought it would be fun to go to Key West for lunch! It was fun but we both agreed that we should have made plans to stay over for a few days. Recently, we at last got around to following through on those plans. The Key West Express operates out of both Ft. Myers and Marco (seasonally) and its fleet is comprised of 3 high speed catamarans. All are ... Read More »

Learning another Language


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber When we visit a country in which a language other than English is spoken, I always try to acquire some knowledge of that language. For me, it is part of the fun of learning about that country and its culture. It aids in communication when traveling, shows a respect for another culture, and it’s good brain exercise! At times, a little knowledge of the local language has meant survival. We enjoy being independent and visiting places off the beaten track; this means that we frequently find ourselves in places and situations where no one ... Read More »

On the Road from Santa Fe


With Santa Fe as a base, there are some interesting, easy day trips that feature the varied sites and terrain that are New Mexico. WIthin just an hour or so drive are wide open vistas, artisan communities, religious and historic locales, alpine escapes, scientific enclaves, inspirational settings, cowboy ghost towns and hippie/motorcycle culture haunts. The most popular day or overnight trip from Santa Fe is to Taos following either the high or low road. The high road with its dramatic scenery, traditional villages, artisans, and galleries is about a two and a half hour drive north, but enticing stops along ... Read More »

Back Again in our own Backyard


The unique ecology that is Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is located about 45 minutes from Marco Island. It is a linear swamp forest of about 80,000 acres, which translates to approximately 20 miles long and 5 miles wide. Although it is a part of the state park system, it is actually a state nature preserve and thus, more highly preserved and regulated than a park. It is the largest state park in Florida; larger than the next three combined Loosely defined, a strand means a moving body of water. Fakahatchee is truly Florida wilderness. In 1913, the area was ... Read More »

Native American Heritage of Santa Fe


Native American heritage is an integral part of the culture of New Mexico. Earliest evidence of habitation dates to 25000BC; around 10000BC the Clovis-Paleo hunter gatherers roamed the areas. Anasazi cliff dwellers, the ancient ancestors of the Pueblo people, were here as early as the 12th century BC, although their culture thrived in the years 500BC. With the ascendency of agriculture, villages sprung up which, when discovered by the Spanish in the 1500s, were called “pueblos.” Within an easy drive of Santa Fe, New Mexico are a number of important Native American sights. About an hour drive north and well ... Read More »

The Rich Texture of Santa Fe


Situated at 7,000 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southern range of the Rockies, Santa Fe has a mild climate with an annual rainfall of 14 inches and snowfall of 32 inches. Visiting this capital of New Mexico, three aspects impressed me immediately; the architecture, the art, and the richly textured history reflected in today’s mixture of cultures. It’s not that we were unfamiliar with adobe or pueblo style architecture. We once house hunted with friends in St. George, Utah where all the newer developments emphasize this style. And we have good ... Read More »

Caveat Emptor


When we travel and are going to be in a location for at least a week, we prefer renting an apartment, condo, or small house. Why? Certainly not for an opportunity to cook. I don’t cook at home, why would I cook on vacation? It is convenient, though, to have a refrigerator for beverages and snacks, as well as a coffee maker and a teapot and there is often more privacy in a rental. How does one protect one’s self when renting an unknown property? Obviously, the best way to be safe is to rent only from a reputable agency. ... Read More »

Far from the Crowds on the Amalfi Coast

Due to the many staircases in Priano, workers often use donkeys to haul materials.

By Vickie Kelber The dramatic landscape of the Amalfi Coast draws throngs of tourists. In fact, during the busiest time of the year, tour buses are only allowed to travel one way on the narrow, twisting main road. The better known towns of Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and even smaller Ravello become invaded by tour groups during the day. If one is looking for an extended stay on the Amalfi Coast, there are some lovely options for a quieter location. I’ve already written about the virtues of Atrani, right next to Amalfi ( Minori and Maiori are neighboring towns that were ... Read More »

Along the Amalfi Coast…


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber The most popular destinations for tourists visiting the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy are the towns of Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, and Ravello. The many shops and restaurants in Amalfi reflect its popularity as a stop for tour buses and cruise lines. Shops feature ceramic products, leather goods, jewelry, everything lemon including soaps and candies, and, of course, limoncello. In fact, there is an overwhelming choice of decorative bottles and types of limoncello. After having tasted a few different kinds, my favorite was green in color, made from lemons just as they are beginning to ripen ... Read More »

Room with a View… the Amalfi Coast


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber On the Amalfi Coast, Atrani, the second smallest commune in Italy, is just a blink of an eye bus ride from the much touristed town that gives the area its name; in many ways it is a world away and it is where we choose to rent an apartment for a couple of weeks. It was a perfect choice. Atrani once housed the most noble families of the Amalfi Republic. It was where doges were crowned and buried. In later years, it became home to fishermen and one can still see the lampras or lights ... Read More »