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Speaking of Travel

Further Afield in Seattle

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL  Vickie Kelber  vickieonmarco@gmail.com One could easily remain occupied for an entire week in Seattle, but there are some excursions from the core of the city that provide great opportunities as well. The outlying neighborhoods of Fremont and Ballard, easily reachable by bus or car, are fun to explore. An eclectic neighborhood whose residents refer to it as “the center of the universe”, Fremont is known for its unorthodox sculptures, funky shops, restaurants, and the Theo Chocolate Factory that offers tours. Two of the more amusing sculptures are the giant troll crushing a VW under the Aurora bridge and ... Read More »

The Secret of Seattle

Speaking of Travel By Vickie Kelber vickieonmarco@gmail.com When people think of Seattle, they tend to think of gray skies and rain. In reality, the average rainfall is only about 37 inches a year, less than places like New York City or Atlanta and most of the rain comes in the winter months. In winter, there are at times endless days of clouds and drizzle. The secret of Seattle is that the summer months can be quite pleasant, with a string of sunny, warm days. As Rome was built on a series of hills, so was Seattle and, as in many other ... Read More »

‘TIS THE SEASON

Vickie Kelber  vickieonmarco@gmail.com Through the years, we have taken many trips during the holidays. When we worked, we enjoyed getting away for a few days between Christmas and New Years. Now retired, we like to visit other locations either just before or on Christmas to see how they celebrate their holidays. From these experiences, I’ve developed my personal six rules for holiday travel. Rule #1. Use common sense. When planning the trip, avoid the high travel days by traveling a few days before or after Christmas or New Years. Airlines typically over book at the holidays, so make sure you ... Read More »

MARCO LIGHTS UP!

Christmas Decorating Contest Committee Plan for the 15th Annual House and Business Decorating Contest The Christmas House and Business Decorating Committee met recently at Sanitasole, hosted by Paula and Richard Robinson, for final preparations for the 15th Annual Decorating Contest.  Enthusiasm is building among Marco Island residents as they noted early decorations already displayed. Marco Island has long been noted for the many outstanding Christmas decorated homes. In 2010, the contest included over 1700 homes and 125 businesses judged.  Residents and visitors alike increase their Christmas spirit by driving around the Island to see the innovative decorations.  The contest is operated ... Read More »

Gifts for the Traveler

By Vickie Kelber vickieonmarco@gmail.com With the holiday season fast approaching, are you wondering what you can buy for that family member or friend who likes to travel? Here are some ideas encompassing a wide price range. For a big ticket item, nothing beats an iPad. iPads are the Swiss Army knives of travel. Guide book, reading book, translator; use it to organize travel documents, research anything, check email, send photos, make phone calls with Skype or similar app, occupy down time by playing games, keep a journal. It works with WIFI or purchase a 3G version and a data plan ... Read More »

MOSCOW

Vickie Kelber  Moscow is a busy city where East meets West and hustle and bustle surround a scene that seems to have come from a fairy tale. Most of the wealth in Russia is concentrated in Moscow. The metro with its richly decorated stations is fast moving and crowded. Traffic is a problem. Grocery stores stay open 24 hours because, as a local guide explained, “we are used to shopping in the middle of the night because we work from 9 to 5 and then sit in traffic.” The walled 68 acre Kremlin fortress combines religious structures with the seat ... Read More »

Homage to a Veteran

Vickie Kelber  On 11/11/11 at 10:15AM, I will be at the dedication of the Veteran’s Memorial in Veteran’s Park on Marco Island; I hope you will be there also. The VFW and a committee of residents worked diligently to raise funds to match the monies provided by the city to build this well deserved homage. I would like to use this dedication as an opportunity to encourage travel to visit other US veterans memorials throughout the world whether it be the more recent World War II memorial in Washington DC, one of the many military museums throughout our country (check ... Read More »

Russian Imperial Waterways Cruise

Vickie Kelber Early May may not be the best time to book a Russian waterways cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow. We embarked on May 8th, but, unfortunately, spring was reportedly “ three weeks late” and our trip was impeded by ice. From the Neva River in St. Petersburg, we cruised to Ladoga Lake, the largest lake in Europe. Due to the still present ice on the lake, all ships were required to line up and wait for an ice breaker to escort them through as a convoy and we were not able to sail after dark. We cruised past ... Read More »

St. Petersburg, an Imperial City

Vickie Kelber  St. Petersburg, designed by Peter the Great to emulate a grand European city, has also been known as Petrograd and Leningrad. In 1991, by a majority vote of 52%, its name was returned to the original St. Petersburg. It served as the capital of Russia from 1713-1728 and 1732-1918. Although Peter studied in Amsterdam and used it as his model in fashioning his city, St. Petersburg’s 68 rivers and canals, 42 islands, and 300 bridges have earned it the nickname, “Venice of the North.” Of great consequence in the city’s history was the siege of Leningrad. During World ... Read More »

SPRINGTIME IN RUSSIA

Vickie Kelber  Although we have traveled semi independently in other areas of Eastern Europe, we had never been to Russia. Perhaps growing up in the days of the Cold War still resonated and influenced our decision to book a tour, albeit one that gave us quite a bit of free time, rather than seeing the country independently. Having now spent a few days in both St. Petersburg and Moscow, there is no question in my mind that we would have felt very comfortable negotiating these cities on our own. English is not readily spoken, but with a few words of ... Read More »

Remembering September 11, 2001

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL by Vickie Kelber  It’s been 10 years since the phrase “9/11” became a significant part of our lexicon. All of us remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001 and have stories about that day. Our story involves travel………… We were in Portugal on September 11, scheduled to return home early on the 12th. We had spent 2 wonderful weeks in an apartment in the charming UNESCO World Heritage town of Sintra. Due to an early flight on the 12th, we booked a room in Lisbon for the night before. We checked in early as we wanted to spend ... Read More »

Biblio travel

By Vickie Kelber                                                                                                  When my husband and I travel, we enjoy bringing books with us that are set in the locale we are visiting. Often, they are classics that we enjoy re-reading. Twain’s Tramps Abroad and Trevanian’s The Eiger Sanction in Switzerland. Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra in Andalucia. In Italy, ... Read More »

“There’s an App for that”

By Vickie Kelber                                                                                                  “There’s an app for that”.  Chances are that if it is something you want for travel, there IS an app for that. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of apps to assist with all facets of travel. Here are just a few of them based on good user reviews, including ... Read More »

Amelia Island

By Vickie Kelber Amelia Island is diagonally opposite Marco Island, tucked away in the northeast corner of Florida, just below the Georgia border. Although locals consider “season” to be during the summer, it makes a nice spring or fall getaway or pleasant diversion on a leisurely trip north. It is about 20 minutes from Route 95, 30 minutes from the Jacksonville airport and there is a small municipal airport. It offers 13 miles of quartz beach, multiple activities, historical landmarks, and accommodations ranging from Victorian bed and breakfasts to world class resorts. The island is 13 miles long and 2 miles ... Read More »

Bernese Oberland, awesome alternatives!

By Vickie Kelber Although a small country, Switzerland makes up for its size with its diversity. German, French, Italian. Breathtaking mountain vistas, sparkling lakes. Sophisticated cities, enchanting villages. While all areas of Switzerland offer something worthwhile, my favorite is the Bernese Oberland. There are 26 cantons in Switzerland, somewhat equivalent to our states. The Oberland is in central Switzerland, canton Bern. A favorite of tourists, there are alternatives to some of the more heavily visited areas in the Oberland. Interlaken is a prime destination for tourists. Its central location between the lakes of Brienz and Thun and in the shadow ... Read More »

The world at your fingertips

By Vickie Kelber With the internet, the world is literally at your fingertips.  Investigating, booking, and enjoying all aspects of the travel experience from the essential to the esoteric can be accomplished online. Booking sites for flights change rapidly. Individual sites do not necessarily have information about all airlines and with Google’s planned purchase of ITA software, more changes are in the future. No one site offers all flight options.  When booking a flight, I usually go to  a booking comparison site such as http://www.tripadvisor.com/Flights, http://www.kayak.com, http://www.mobissimo.com/search_airfare.php, http://www.farecompare.com, or http://www.fly.com for a general idea of which airline is offering the ... Read More »

Lowcountry flora, fauna, and history

By Vickie Kelber Gardens are popular tourist attractions, with Longwood, Biltmore, New York, Brooklyn, and Atlanta among some of the better known. On Business Route 17 in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, about 2 hours north of Charleston and 20 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, there is a unique garden museum that features indigenous flora, fauna, history, and the largest display of outdoor sculpture by American artists in the world. It has been named a National Historic Landmark and can easily take a full day or more to truly appreciate. A single ticket is good for 7 days. With its many ... Read More »

Odds and Bobs

By Vickie Kelber The title of this column comes from a British ex pat we know who has lived in Venice for 30 years. She visited the city as an 18 year old, fell in love with both the city and a charming Venetian, married and settled in. She uses the expression, “odds and bobs”, which is a British version of “odds and ends” or miscellaneous and today I’ll share assorted travel tips. We all know the drill when it comes to passing through airport security lines…..containers with no more than 3.4 oz. of liquids, and they must be in ... Read More »

Shark Valley by bike

By Vickie Kelber A few months ago I wrote about some of the treasures right in our own backyard and mentioned Shark Valley, the northern part of the Everglades National Park, located on Route 41 east. I’ve visited it at different times of the year; in the fall, after rainy season, you can see and truly appreciate what is meant by “river of grass”. I’ve walked the road at Shark Valley for a mile or so and also taken the tram tour. Recently, a friend and I packed our bikes and plenty of water to embark on the 15 mile bike trip ... Read More »

The Route of the Caliphs

By Vickie Kelber The Route of the Caliphs (rulers) traversing mountainous interior Andalusia, Spain between Granada and Cordoba is dotted with a string of fortified hilltowns that served as the first line of defense during Moorish rule. They are characterized by watchtowers, castles, and glorious vistas. There is a northern and a southern route; part of it passes through Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park, with elevations that range from 1,000 to 5,000 feet. To explore this area, we had a choice of renting a cortijo (farmhouse) in the countryside or an apartment in the cliffside town of Priego de Cordoba; we chose ... Read More »