Friday , February 12 2016
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Speaking of Travel

There’s an App for That – Navigation

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Last year, I wrote an article, “There’s an App for That” ( and with the now more than 600,000 Apps available for the iPhone/Android and iPad, there are sure to be some that are invaluable to travelers. In fact, there are so many that I am going to divide this update into two columns, the second to follow in two weeks. This week, I will identify some of them that will help you navigate to and from your destination. I won’t repeat any from my March, 2011 column. Next time, I’ll focus on Apps that ... Read More »

History abounds in St. Augustine

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Living here in Paradise, it’s easy to confine my sphere of in state travel to Marco and Naples with the occasional jaunt to Ft. Myers, or at least to Estero for shopping. With that in mind, I have been trying to make an effort to see more of what Florida has to offer. That is what led me to explore St. Augustine, a delightful place to visit for history buffs and shoppers alike. It can be a bit touristy with its various sightseeing vehicles including trollies, “trains,” and Segways, but the historic charm of the ... Read More »

Cruisin’ the Pacific Coast Highway

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Some years ago, while visiting San Francisco, we drove the north central part of the Pacific Coast Highway (CA Highway 1) all the way to Big Sur, with its dramatic scenery. Our trip included the 17 Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula through Pebble Beach with its “Lone Cypress”, one of the most photographed trees in the world located on a rocky ledge jutting out over the sea. In Monterey, we stopped for lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, watched the amusing sea lions, and visited the aquarium, as well as John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, once a ... Read More »

Websites revisited

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Last year, I wrote a column about the world being at your fingertips through the use of the internet and identified a number of useful websites. In this column, I’ll continue that discussion with more sites. I will not repeat any of the previous ones mentioned; you can access last year’s article at The online options for planning a trip seem to be endless. I usually start out by Googling a location and selecting a link that looks promising. From there, I find other links; I save them all in a folder on my ... Read More »

In search of Dalí

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL Vickie Kelber Salvador Dalí is an artist whose work my husband and I enjoy. Perhaps it is his quirkiness and symbolism or his immense talent and sheer genius. He was able to paint in any style; some of his classical works are as affecting as his surrealist pieces. His double image paintings that suggest optical illusions are brilliant. He started as an impressionist, dabbled with cubism, progressed from classicism to surrealism, embraced science and math into his art. In some works, you can see the influence of Picasso and Miró, with whom he was friends. He is ... Read More »

Victoria, the Royal

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL  Vickie Kelber With its mild climate, diverse First Nations, British and Asian influences, and proximity to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Colombia (BC), Victoria, BC makes an enjoyable day excursion from either location. Stay longer to leisurely enjoy all the city has to offer. Situated on Vancouver Island, the best ways to reach Victoria from either location is by air, boat/ferry, or bus via the ferry. A friend, upon hearing I was going there, noted that I would think I was in “Jolly Olde England without the British accent” and indeed, with some of its 19th century ... Read More »

Travel through film

Vickie Kelber The upcoming broadcast of the 84th annual Academy Awards has me thinking about films. I enjoy films almost as much as I enjoy travel and particularly like watching films that are set in locales I have visited and those that evoke a strong sense of place. It brings back fond memories, sates a bit of my wanderlust, and inspires future travel. The best film my husband and I have seen recently both in quality and ability to evoke a locale is Woody Allen’s love poem to the City of Lights, Midnight in Paris. Although we typically don’t ... Read More »


Vickie Kelber With the recent tragedy of the Costa Cruise line’s Concordia, a few of our readers asked that I review the safety tips that I’ve written about before as well as share some new ones. Many issues involving safety are applicable to all modes of transport, not just cruises. On vacation, you want to relax and enjoy. Don’t let worry immobilize you, but don’t leave your common sense at home. Always be aware of your surroundings. Research before you book. For cruises, there are many websites that provide reviews written both by actual travelers, as well as travel ... Read More »


SPEAKING OF TRAVEL  Vickie Kelber  From some of our travels I have learned what it can be like to experience illness on a trip, how to negotiate various needs, and what to do to try to stay healthy while preparing for unforeseen events. Back in the 90s, just after the “Iron Curtain” came down, we visited Prague and my husband became very ill. All afternoon, I urged him to go to a doctor, but you know men! Finally, at 2:00AM he broke down and wanted to see one. We were staying in an apartment and our contact person was not ... Read More »

Further Afield in Seattle

SPEAKING OF TRAVEL  Vickie Kelber 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 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 »


Vickie Kelber 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 »


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 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 »


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 »


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 »