Wednesday , October 22 2014
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Speaking of Travel

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 »

Seville – the crown jewel of Andalusia

By Vickie Kelber Seville is the quintessential Andalusian city and, for me, the most alluring. Perhaps because of the time of year we were there (read on to find out more), it also was the most formal city I have ever visited in terms of well dressed men and women. The tradition of siesta is honored here; at 2:00 PM everything, including the major department store, closes for two hours. Although Seville is a bustling commercial city, the old town, Centro Historico, is compact and easily explored on foot. Its centerpiece is the truly impressive Gothic cathedral, one of the ... Read More »

Jewels of the Moorish Empire

By Vickie Kelber Andalusia (Andalucía) is an autonomous region in southern Spain. It stretches from the Sierra Morena mountains to the Atlantic Ocean and, separated by the River Guadiana, borders Portugal on the west. Its name comes from the Arabic al-Andalus, the term used by the Moors who arrived there in 711 and their influence is visible throughout the area. Two of the jewels of the Islamic Empire were Granada and Cordoba. Granada is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada; on a clear day you can see nearby snow capped peaks. It was the seat of the Nasrids, ... Read More »

Art Tourism

By Vickie Kelber Kudos to the city of Marco Island’s Arts Advisory Committee for their “Arts Afire”, a showcase of exhibits and performances, March 12-20.  Check out their planned events at http://marcoislandartsafire.com.  Through the years, a number of arts organizations on the island have worked diligently to incorporate art into the cultural life of our residents. A vibrant arts community is important for economic development.  It attracts visitors and homebuyers and is important to the children of a community and our future workforce.  Research has shown that students exposed to the arts perform better academically and improve development of  the ... Read More »

Security Issues

By Vickie Kelber Unfortunately, pickpockets and other petty thieves are a fact of life in many locations worldwide. Barcelona, Rome, and Paris are often cited as the top three European cities for pickpockets. I have spent time in all three of these and found them to be safe as long as some precautions are taken. You should be cautious when traveling, but don’t let fear ruin your trip. Before you leave on your trip, make copies of your passport, insurance cards, and any other important documents such as plane or train tickets. I pack a copy in each of our ... Read More »

The Eternal City

Rome, the Eternal City; it would take an eternity to see all it has to offer. As friends, Liliana and Mike McGuire, who live there part time are fond of saying, Rome is mesmerizing because no matter where you put your foot down, something awe-inspiring stood below that spot a few thousand years ago. Excavations of sites throughout the city are ongoing and new tours frequently become available. Recently, both the underground level and panoramic third tier of the Colosseum were opened to visitors. Never accessible to the public before, the underground level was backstage for the animals and gladiators ... Read More »

Alaska Inland Passages Cruise Excursions

by Vickie Kelber Alaska cruises are very popular and cruise lines continually add to their list of optional excursions in the various ports. The activity level of these side trips varies from sedate lunches, sightseeing, or seeing a show to more adventurous choices. If you do a little research, you can probably find less expensive excursions than those offered by the ship. However, the advantage to booking through your cruise line is that if you are delayed in returning from your outing, the ship will wait for you. If you book on your own and are late, they will probably leave ... Read More »

Worst part of traveling

Packing for a trip gets my vote as the worst part of traveling. We prefer independent travel and “living like a local” which means there are times when we have to handle our own bags. For that reason, we usually limit ourselves to one large suitcase and a smaller carryon size bag and check both at the airport. The smaller one is used for cosmetics and heavier items. On board the plane, we bring only my purse and a backpack for camera and other electronics and valuables, material we might want during the flight, medications, light jacket, and important papers. ... Read More »

IS BIGGER REALLY BETTER?

By Ewout Rijk de Vries My fondest memories of cruising date back to a port-a-day in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea aboard a small ship, the “Cunard Princess.” It was not luxurious, but there was lots of teak wood and shiny polished brass of the old sailing days. Upon arriving for the third time with escorting a group to board the “Cunard Princess” in Athens, the purser greeted us outside the terminal with a “Welcome back, Mr. de Vries” and since most of the crew worked for years on the same ship, it was like returning home. Then there ... Read More »

New York City for the Holidays

by Vickie Kelber Throughout my childhood and most of my adult life, the holiday season has been synonymous with trips to New York City, affectionately called “The City” by those who know her. When I was very young, this ritual would begin early Thanksgiving morning when my father and I would travel to the The City for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. He would hoist me on his shoulder so I could enjoy the balloons and arrival of Kris Kringle; “Miracle on Thirty Fourth Street” remains one of my favorite films. This would be followed later in the season by another ... Read More »

On the Road in Alaska – Seward to Fairbanks

by Vickie Kelber While cruising the Inside Passage or Gulf of Alaska is a great way to see this state, combining the cruise with a road trip in the western interior enhances the experience. You can do this on your own or there are many tour companies that offer an escorted trip. Most trips to Alaska begin with a flight into Anchorage. Before heading north, a journey south to the Kenai Peninsula is well worth the time. We spent two weeks in Alaska, on both land and sea, and my favorite excursion was to Kenai Fjords National Park. The Seward ... Read More »

Munich – great beer and so much more

By Vickie Kelber Although it is best known for beer, Munich, the capital of Bavaria, offers much more. True, there are hundreds of beer gardens and cellars, as well as Oktoberfest, but it is also a world class cultural center with easy access to the Bavarian alps. The most famous beer hall, Hofbräuhaus am Platzi, seats 4,500, while the Augustinerbrau claims to be the oldest. Oktoberfest runs for 16 days the end of September to the beginning of October and is host to 7 million people in a tent city a 15 minute walk from the main train station. There ... Read More »

Our own backyard

In our quest to find ever new travel adventures, we sometimes forget about the attractions in our own backyard. The Route 41 corridor heading east has a wealth of natural wonders. There is the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park with its Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk and Janes Scenic Drive; Turner River, Turner River/Birdon/Wagonwheel Roads drives, and H.P. Williams Roadside Park; Deep Lake; the Marsh Trail and Florida Trail. My favorite locations are Loop Road and Shark Valley; I like visiting there at least once a year, and they are both on my “must see” list for visitors. Loop Road is ... Read More »

Two of our National Treasures

There are 58 national parks in the United States. Two of them are just 85 miles apart in southern Utah. Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are located on what is known as the high Colorado Plateau; other natural wonders in this area include Arches National Park, Capital Reef National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Kodachrome State Park. The smaller of the two parks, Bryce Canyon, is known for its surreal, brightly colored rock formations, called hoodoos, and ancient bristlecone forests. Zion is more formidable and diverse, with massive stone monoliths, high mesas, a flowing river, hanging gardens, and narrow ... Read More »

Fall Color in the Surrounds of Salt Lake City

When I lived “up north”, fall, as harbinger of the cold, dark winter was not my favorite season. Yet, there were aspects of it that I enjoyed: Cool crisp air. Macoun apples. The brilliant reds and yellows of the various mountain ranges of the northeast. Now, fall means the aspen glow of the Rockies for me, specifically, the Wasatch and Uinta mountains of Utah. Salt Lake City is a good base from which to explore the surrounding mountains. Peak color in this area of the Rockies is mid- to late September and into October. Mornings are chilly; afternoons warm to ... Read More »

A guide to guidebooks

A guidebook can be invaluable when traveling. But, which one? There are so many choices. Some guidebooks are focused on different target audiences; some discuss history and culture; others just travel details. Some emphasize a few major places, while others discuss an entire country. You don’t want a book about France if you are only visiting Paris. And, when traveling, weight is always an issue. To decide which book is best for you, ask yourself what you want from the guide and then visit a local bookstore to browse through the travel section to see which ones meet your needs. ... Read More »

Barcelona – Part II

As the exploration of  Barcelona’s neighborhoods continues, Gaudí’s must see Parc Güell is in the area known as  Gràcia. Originally planned as a housing development that never came to fruition,  one of the two gingerbread like houses at the entrance of the park contains a museum. The famous mosaic lizard fountain and sea serpent curved benches are delightful for all ages. Since it is quite a walk from the metro station to the park, it is best to take a taxi or Bus 24 from Plaça Catalunya to the side entrance of the park. Montjuïc Park starts at the Plaça ... Read More »

Barcelona- Part I

Located on the Mediterranean Sea in the northeast corner of Spain, Barcelona is a culturally diverse, artistically rich city; contemporary, yet rife with medieval sights. It is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain. The Catalans like to think of themselves as somewhat independent of Spain; it is not uncommon to see graffiti that teases, “Spaniards go home”. Residents prefer to speak Catalan, but all of them also speak and understand Castilian Spanish and many also speak English. Locations are often known by both Catalan and Spanish names. Barcelona has been the home to Miro, Picasso, and a ... Read More »