Our planned excursion would whisk us off to explore the Bar Harbor area and Acadia National park. Honestly after a series of substandard tours the “Bar” (no pun intended) was set low. So after checking in we wandered over to our transport vehicle which turned out to be a brand new luxury minibus. Ummm .… are we in the right place I asked? Yes you are and please have a seat the tour guide responded. Alrighty!
As we entered that minibus I could smell that wonderful new cars interior with exquisite leather seats…. Well it could have been pleather but it didn’t matter. I’d already died and went to heaven. The seats were comfortable, the windows were clean, water was provided and the tour guide Chris was funny. What else could I have wanted? We could’ve stayed parked for the entire 31/2 hours and been totally satisfied. Yes that is sick.
A Classic River Boat Cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest
Prague has an area they refer to as Lesser Town but not in an disparaging way, our guide Jana didn’t like the term either. Lesser Town means it’s lower in elevation in its proximity to the river and more prone to flooding. The area is also where most of the foreign embassies are located in beautiful old buildings. The streets are narrow and are made of cobblestones that give a unique yet comforting sound as cars drive by. You can judge the speed of a car by the pitch of the tires whining upon the cobblestones. Many of the houses also have names like Three Stork, Blue Horse, Golden Flower, Golden Snake ( two houses were named that) and Golden Crown to name a few. The namesake of the house similar to a coat of arms is often located above the door or mounted on the corner of the outside of the house and you guessed it are usually painted gold.
Exploring Ancient Civilizations while Cruising on the Nile
It was nearly 5:00am when we woke to a crowing rooster and then shortly thereafter the Call to Prayer. This time the mesmerizing sound was different because not only could we hear the prayer from the local Mosque, but an accumulation of haunting calls from distant minarets. Our cabin was still dark as we laid awake and we could hear the clip clop sound of an animal as Allan pointed out a man and his donkey making their way down the street. Good morning Egypt!
A trip through Ecuador and its Amazonian Rain Forests
After our Amazon rain forest walk we hopped back on the boats and cruised across the river to a sandbar where two balsa wood rafts were waiting. They were like it sounds, balsa logs tied together like in the movies. We sat on the edge of the rafts dangling our legs in the water and pushed off the bank into the river and about ten minutes later we all jumped in the water.
Exploring Xcaret’s Ecological Parks and Resort Life in Playa del Carmen
You will typically regret the things you didn’t do more than the stupid things you did do. With this in mind we made another trip to Xcaret Park with the goal of doing the third and last underground river.
A university professor once visited a Zen teacher in search of more information about Buddhism. The teacher offered him a cup of tea, which the professor willingly accepted. Then the teacher started pouring tea in the cup, continuing to pour even after the tea started overflowing. “Why don’t you stop when the tea is overflowing?” The professor asked, worried. The teacher answered: “Your mind is just like this cup – overflowing with your expectations and opinions. I can’t give you new information until you come with an empty cup”
Cambodia (Seeking Siam Sept. 2019)
I admit we had reservations about visiting Cambodia; a country with a tragic past.
The Khmer Rouge 1975-1979 wasn’t that long ago and I felt sorrow with the realization that while I was in high school fretting over my inconsequential adolescent youth, the Cambodian people were being massacred and an entire culture destroyed.
Our local tour guide Soh did not or could not dwell on the topic. Soh had lost family like many of the Cambodian people and expressed hope that maybe someday he would be reunited with his loved ones. He then changed the subject by expressing that the Cambodian people don’t dwell on the past but live in the present and look towards the future.
Shortly after being seated we began our immersion course into what I dubbed “Elephant Handling 101” and were educated about the 8,000 remaining elephants out of the 100,00 that once roamed Thailand. We also discussed the abuse of these animals for the benefit of tourism, such as the circuses and riding camps, as well as the purpose of this camp which is to rescue these elephants and place them in sanctuary. Today more people visit these rescue sanctuaries then riding camps.
“For all of human history, there have been people who have burrowed into their well-known holes, hewing close to family, tribe, culture, race or nationality. And there have been the notable fewer who struck out, not to own or conquer or take or evangelize, but to see, experience, absorb, and enjoy, with all the discomfort and exhilaration and great humility that entails.”
Marla had planned a mystery vacation for us and I hadn’t a clue of where we were going. Our kids and her co-workers knew her plans and they all kept it a secret.
I finally got some clues like being told to buy a hat, pack a swimsuit and bring sun screen. Later I was to purchase some bug spray followed by her telling me that the initial flight would be five hours yet it wouldn’t be our final destination.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.
~ Izaak Walton
We cruised up the fjord as the temperature got colder and the fog was hanging over the shore. Eventually little chunks of ice appeared in the water floating by like pieces of a styrofoam cooler. Ice! Ice in the water! We approached the glacier as the chunks of styrofoam increased in size big enough to park a car on. How cool, or how cold.
Back in January of this year I received an email from a dear friend’s wife. Kathie was planning a surprise 50th Birthday and a Half party for her husband Kevin and this was to take place in July. His birthday was in January but they wanted to celebrate in July and have a BBQ. We exchanged emails for our surprise visit and we made plans for a Plymouth, Provence Town and Boston visit.
Who goes to Scotland in February? We did, and let us explain.
Marla has a co-worker who met a Scottish fellow in California, who works as a stuntman on the show Vikings. The filming of Vikings is done in Scotland. So when there was a break in February, that was when they got married. That was all the excuse we needed to go!
Marla and I had a week to kill in September of 2016 and we wanted to go somewhere that we had never been before. We settled on something really different and new for us : Nashville and Memphis. We became fans of country music and had a wonderful time. Both locations were very cool.
Cruising through Russia plus Ferry Tales of Finland and Sweden
If you are new to our blogs let us introduce ourselves. If not welcome back! My husband and I are some 50’ish year olds who love to write and travel! Typically our adventures involve hiking and/or cycling through countries such as Spain, Morocco, Portugal and France. We are budget nomads who like to explore places off the beaten path. This time however, we’ve been offered a unique opportunity to cruise through Russia on a Uniworld river boat. Allan’s mother had wanted to go to Russia for years and offered to take us, Allan’s brother and his wife. This will be quite a different experience from our usual travels. So please join us as we coauthor our voyage through Russia and a few of the Baltic countries!
Cycling adventures in France from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean
After cycling a section of the Spanish Meseta on mountain bikes, we arranged to rent cruising bikes for France. Our next goal? …. To transverse France via the Canal des Deux Mers. This waterway, also known as the Canal of Two Seas, connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea by way of two man made canals. Our adventure will begin in Bordeaux France as we head southeast toward the Mediterranean.
The Spanish Meseta is a section of the Camino France that lies between Lagrano and Astorga, Spain. This central plateau is considered the “Spanish Heartland” in Spain’s Castile region. It is known for its flat dry areas and lack of shade. It is also known to pilgrims as a place for quiet reflection while crossing this area. The Meseta is approximately 200km or 8 stages.
Traveling from Santiago to Morocco with an Andalusian twist
Allan and I had just completed our hike on the Portuguese Camino when we decided to explore the Andalusian region of Spain. In order to do so we limited our time in Santiago and purchased train passes southeast. Our first stop would be in Madrid. From there we would head south to Seville and Malaga …… and on a whim Morocco!
The Portuguese Camino is one of many pilgrimage routes that cross through Europe to converge in Santiago de Compostela, the presumed burial site of the Apostle St. James. This Camino traditionally begins in Lisbon which continues north into Spain with a distance of approximately 610 km. Due to limited time we instead began the “Portuguese Way” in Porto where we had a choice of one of two routes, both a distance of approximately 227 km. We decided on the inland path known as the “Central Way” versus hiking along the “Camino da Costa” on Portugal’s coast. At the time we believed it to be better signed, but after comparing notes with some coastal walkers we learned both routes were well marked and fairly easy hikes.
Hiking across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela
El Camino de Santiago or The Way of Saint James is a pilgrimage across northern Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino has existed for well over a thousand years. The Way of Saint James was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the medieval times. Legend has it that the remains of Saint James lie at the Cathedral in Santiago Spain. There is evidence of a pre-Christian route as well. El Camino de Santiago is now considered a main European cultural route as well as a World Heritage site. Other major pilgrimages include the Via Francigena toward Rome to the Tomb of Saint Peter and the pilgrimage route to Jerusalem which leads to the Holy Sepulcher of Christ.