My philosophy: Mark Twain likely said it best when he called travel “fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”. As a bridge between cultures, there is no substitute for travel in the furtherance of peaceful co-existence between nations. As we travel, let’s step off that beaten path and meet the people and especially, help to promote an awareness of the beauty of our world and a caring attitude for our global environment. Along the web way, I’ll bring you rainforests, waterfalls, wildlife and whale-watching, archaeology, history, authors and art, food and wine, trains and trails, and through the stories and story-tellers, the many, many, different ways to explore our world.
Episode 1: Germany – Cruising the Rhine River:
If the idea of a floating hotel appeals to you, but you don’t fancy a mega-ton cruise ship, consider a Rhine cruise. It’s a great way to experience Europe – and to discover the majestic beauty of the famed river which has been the highway of Europe for thousands of years. Trip Tips: Kohn-Dusseldorfer has 27 Rhine cruise ships available for day trips or 7-day cruises; You can board at key points along the Rhine and cruise a section that fits your travel itinerary; There are also five day cruises aboard the 180 passenger Britannia, travelling from Dusseldorf to Basel, Switzerland; See the German National Tourist Office website for more information.
Episode 2: Dominica – the Caribbean ‘Nature Island’:
This is not a beach holiday. Dominica offers diving to an exceptional coral reef, hiking in the rainforest, an intriguing legacy of Carib Indians, and both French and British heritage. Christopher Columbus described the island’s topography by crumpling a piece of paper and that aptly illustrates the island’s hills and dense jungle greenery. Trip Tips: Dominica has diverse accommodation. We were hosted by the Fort Young Hotel and the Castle Comfort Lodge, which has wheelchair facilities for divers – send email inquiries here. We also stayed at the Papillote Wilderness Retreat with its wonderful rainforest garden. Dominica is reached via connecting flights from nearby islands like Antigua or Barbados and a ferry service from neighbouring French islands and St. Lucia. Call the Dominica Tourist Office for information. Tour operators like Ken’s Hinterland Adventure Tours offer varied and interesting travel itineraries.
Episode 3: Argentina – Iguazu Falls:
Iguazu Falls is one of South America’s greatest natural wonders and comprises 275 falls cascading over a giant horseshoe which borders Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. There is excellent accommodation overlooking the Falls on both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides. Travel tips: Plan your first trip to Argentina with a good tour operator, and go the independent route on a repeat visit. This is not an easy country to get around; all flights operate in and out of its hub Buenos Aires. Be sure to arrive at the local airports extra early — flights commonly leave before scheduled departure time. English is not widely spoken so it’s a good idea to pack an English-Spanish phrasebook or dictionary. International flight information: Aerolinas Argentina at 1-800-688-0008 or e-mail: email@example.com Trips offered by Gateways International, Tel: 1-800-268-0900 or visit www.gateways-international.com
Episode 4 – Argentina: Tilcara – Legacy of the Incas:
Searching for traces of the lost Inca Empire, we travel high into the Andes in northern Argentina to a place called Tilcara in the province of Jujuy for a glimpse of this fascinating culture. If you go, remember two things: due to the very high altitude hiking is not encouraged, and it’s not safe to drink the water spilling down the mountains. Must-sees on an Argentinian sojurn are the awesome Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires, the living glacier at Perito Merino, and Ushaia at the southernmost tip of Argentina. Time permitting, include whale-watching off the Valdez peninsula and a visit to the penguin rookery. Travel Tips: Check Gateways International: www.gateways-international.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tours and for flight information email Aerolinas Argentina email@example.com.
Episode 5: Cayman Islands “Stingray City”
The Cayman Islands — located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica — are among the world’s best diving and snorkel destinations. Half day and full day snorkelling and scuba trips to Stingray City are available from Grand Cayman. For more info check out Cayman Islands Tourism
Episode 6: Wartime Memories – Vimy to Dunkirk
Our events took place during WW1 and WW2 at Vimy Ridge and Dunkirk in France and Dover in Kent, England. We explore Hellfire Corner at Dover Castle www.dover-ent.co.uk/defence/tunnels.htm and www.english-heritage.org.uk and take the ferry across the Channel from Dover to Calais for spectacular views of the famous White Cliffs and experience the crossing made by the “little ships” when they rescued troops from the beaches in France, www.poferries.com Not included but experienced by us and highly recommended is the museum and the tunnels under Arras, www.ot-arras.fr The tunnels were of ancient Roman origin and used by the citizens to store goods, quarry chalk and evade capture from enemies over the years. When the Royal Engineers learned the countryside between British and German positions was full of underground caves they linked the subterranean holes in secret, and used them to move the entire Army from the rear to the front of the German positions avoiding the initial horrors of the Somme. The tunnels were also used to evacuate the wounded. For accommodation, tours and other details visit www.tourisme-lenslievin.fr for Vimy Ridge, www.dunkerque-tourisme.fr for Dunkirk, and www.visitkent.co.uk for Dover.
Nine islands make up the Portuguese Azores Archipelago: São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa, Flores and Corvo. During filming I visited four of them: São Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico. I had barely 2 days on each island and everywhere I went I wanted to stay longer and when I reached the next island, wished I had arrived earlier. The scenery is magnificent, the people friendly and helpful, and the food excellent. In the weeks ahead I will feature these islands but for now here is Faial, the island that stands above them all when it comes to yachtsmen and sailors using the island as a stop-over during their ocean wanderings. Peter’s Cafe is a must for ambiance, food and scrimshaw. For more info on accomodation, walking trails and festivals visit www.visitportugal.com and Azores Tourism at www.visitazores.com
We stayed at La Toc, one of the Sandals resorts, www.Sandals.com and a couples’ only property. Saint Lucia, one of the Windward Islands, is part of the Lesser Antilles and lies in the eastern Caribbean Sea. One of the more mountainous islands, it boasts a drive-in volcano, and spectacular scenery including views of The Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage site, two mountains that form the island’s most famous landmark. For more information and other resort properties on the island visit www.StLucianow.com
Our search for Alexander the Great takes us to archaeological sites in northern Greece where we meet with foremost archaeologists who give insight to his life and death. Alexander was a Greek king of Macedon, a state in northern ancient Greece.He was born in Pella in 356 BC and succeeded to the throne after his father, Philip 11 of Macedon, was assassinated. By the age of thirty, Alexander had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world stretching from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas.He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history’s most successful commanders. Our travels took us to the archaeological site of Aigai (modern Vergina) the ancient first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, see whc.unesco.orgThe late Professor Andronicos whom I had the privilege of interviewing many years ago discovered the royal tombs at Aigai and the tomb of Philip is considered one of the most important archaeological events of the last century. Before Philip and Alexander ruled, the coastal city of Pella had already replaced Aigai as the capital of the Macedonian state.Pella was one of the most important political, economical and cultural centres of Greece. Our third site, the sacred city of Dion, where major discoveries were made by Professor Pandermalis, was the location of a large temple dedicated to Zeus where Alexander assembled his armies before beginning his military campaigns. For general travel information on Greece visit www.visitgreece.gr and we recommend www.odysseus.culture.gr for more detailed information on Aigai, Pella and Dion, their archaeological sites, hours of operation, and contacts. (Note: you will need to check buttons for both English and Archaeological sites.) An ideal base for your travels in this area is Thessaloniki, however locating the sites can be challenging and we strongly recommend renting a car with driver for these excursions.
Geographically, Israel is a long, narrow stretch of land at the south-eastern corner of the Mediterranean, situated between Africa and Asia and on the edge of Europe. Its history is fascinating. It’s been a Roman province, a Crusader kingdom, a domain of Egypt and Turkey and a British protectorate. Birthplace of Christianity, the country has a human history that goes back over 500,000 years. In this introductory feature we explore Jerusalem and the Holy sites, visit Masada and a Dead Sea spa, and travel to the port city of Caesarea and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Akko www.akko.org.il and Bet She’an whc.unesco.org where archaeologists are unearthing the layers of the many civilizations that have occupied the country.For general information on accommodation, travel and contacts www.goisrael.com See also the article on Akko: The Underground Crusader Capital in our Destinations category.
New Zealand is a country of dramatic contrasts with spectacular coastline and beautiful beaches on the North Island and volcanic and alpine scenery on the South Island.For active and adventure-seeking travellers, New Zealand offers a diversity of water based sports including kayaking,black water rafting, rapelling waterfalls, jetboating and cruising through the fjord-like Milford Sound. Land-based sports include Bungee jumping, hiking, mountain-climbing and golf.Ski enthusiasts can take advantage of the country’s winter months, June through August. Special events include: the Car Rally of New Zealand; and Warbirds Over Wanaka which takes place every second Easter and features vintage planes. For general info: NewZealand.com
Japan is a lengthy trip from Canada and so on these travels we decided to save money and time by combining two countries, Korea and Japan. We travelled by Korean Air and spent time in the capital city, Seoul, visiting the city, temples and potteries. We then continued on with the airline to Kyushu in Japan and spent several days exploring the culture, cuisine and potteries of this little known island. Useful links if you plan to go to Kyushu: www.asobo-saga.jp; www.welcomekyushu.com; www.japan-guide.com; www.jnto.com Watch for our features on Korea in upcoming episodes.
Many people think of Hong Kong as a congested metropolis with massive buildings and a dense population. In our explorations we find many other sides and in this feature explore the coastal trails, the harbour and the parks. Our trip was organized by Tour East Holidays. For more information contact the Hong Kong Tourist Association.
Although considered by many to be a Caribbean style vacation, Guyana is not known for its beaches. Plan an experiential trip with some extra cash for flights inland to the magnificent and unspoiled Kaieteur Falls and trips to rainforest resorts such as Timberhead on the Demerara River in the Amerindian Reservation of Santa Mission. Evening jungle walks will make this a unique holiday. For more information contact Guyana Tourism Best time to visit is the end of the rainy season. Rainy months are December, January, May and June. Currency is the Guyana Dollar, although US Dollars widely accepted. Amerindian guides speak English and are experts on jungle lore. Bring malaria pills and insect repellent. More information www.wilderness-explorers.com There are frequent flights from the US, Canada, and Europe to the major hubs of the southern Caribbean namely Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. From either of these points there are regular and frequent services to Guyana. See also Episode 31.
Nine islands make up the Portuguese Azores Archipelago: São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa, Flores and Corvo. During filming I visited four of them: São Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico. I had barely 2 days on each island and everywhere I went I wanted to stay longer and when I reached the next island, wished I had arrived earlier. The scenery is magnificent, the people friendly and helpful, and the food excellent. In Episode 16 we feature the volcanic origins of the islands and visit a variety of them that now provide beautiful walking trails, excellent spas and even natural kitchens. In Episode 17 we feature the Island of Terceira and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angra do Heroismo. For more info on accomodation, walking trails and festivals visit www.visitportugal.com and Azores Tourism at www.azores.com and www.visitazores.com;
In the Atlantic Ocean, in a remote and rugged area of Argentina, off the Valdes Peninsula, the endangered Southern Right Whale has found sanctuary, sharing these waters with a major penguin colony plus seals, dolphins and killer whales. During this exciting whale watching expedition we took care to turn off the engines at critical moments and ensure we did not stress the whales. Whale watching is best during October and November.Visitors can fly to Buenos Aires, drive to Trelew and continue south to the small town of Puerto Piramides. The peninsula has been recognized as an important nature reserve and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Sites worth viewing: www.Travel.patagonia-argentina.com; http://www.patagonia-argentina.com; http://www.travelsure.net/Chubut ; http:// www.argentina4u.com; www.species-identification.org. Trips offered by Gateways International: www.gateways-international.com Aerolinas Argentina firstname.lastname@example.org Click for Buenos Aires hotel info.
It pays to put yourself in the hands of the experts if you want guarantees of wildlife sightings. Lion World Tours offers a range of packages to South Africa – including our five-star tour. We flew with South African Airways. We saw all of the “Big Five” on our safari at Sabi Sabi– South Africa’s Premier Private Game Reserve, visited both Kruger and Pilanesberg National Parks and stayed in some excellent hotels throughout the trip. We also took advantage of the distance we were travelling to stay on and spend time in Capetown and Johannesburg, visit wineries and explore the country’s cultural and historical locations such as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. For more information visit www.southafrica.com
Cancún is a long, narrow off-shore island on the Caribbean side of the country. This vibrant city is best known for its beach, bars and nightlife. Although it has earned a reputation as the ‘Miami of Mexico’, it does have a wide variety of resorts that cater to everyone. For general information contact www.visitmexico.com The Mayan archaeological site of Chichén Itzá is located near the small town of Piste. Bus services connect to the international airports at Mérida (under two hours) and Cancun (two and a half hours). The ruins are open daily. Chichén Itzá’s climate is consistently tropical—average temperatures are 93ºF (34ºC). Consider staying overnight in the Chichén Itzá area to enable you to visit early in the morning, out of the hot sun and without the company of the many tourists who arrive on day trip tours from Mérida and Cancún.
Nine islands make up the Portuguese Azores Archipelago: São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa, Flores and Corvo. During filming I visited four of them: São Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico. I had barely 2 days on each island and everywhere I went I wanted to stay longer and when I reached the next island, wished I had arrived earlier. The scenery is magnificent, the people friendly and helpful, and the food excellent. In Episode 21 we feature the Island of Pico with its intriguing volcanic origins that has resulted in excellent wines and liqueurs. For more info on accomodation, walking trails and festivals visit www.visitportugal.com and Azores Tourism at www.azores.com and www.visitazores.com;
Antigua was once the colonial capital of Guatemala and has some superb religious architecture that will remind you of Spain — but the culture is a distinctly local blend of Spanish and Mayan traditions. Best time to visit is in the dry season (late October to May) and you can fly to Guatemala City through the United States, Mexico, Cuba and El Salvador. Local Antigua tour operator, Voyageur Tours, helped us with our sight-seeing and excursion plans. We stayed at Hotel Las Farolas and you might like another hotel we toured, the Casa Santo Domingo, formerly a 15th century Monastery. For authentic Guatemalan food try La Fonda de la Calle Real. For more information on the country and the Spanish language courses available in Antigua visit the Guatemalan Tourism Institute. We also found Lonely Planet’s guidebook an excellent source of reference during our explorations.
Our five day road trip in Finland was filled with castles, villages, snail farms and spas as we travelled along the King’s Road – a medieval mail route linking the Kingdom of Sweden to Russia. Along the way we visited Mustio Manor and stayed at the beautiful Naantali Spa Hotel. Visit the Finnish Tourist Board for maps and brochures on the King’s Road and for specific information on the ancient cities, and attractions en route. Finnair is the country’s airline.
I found Malta a fascinating experience. At one point during its geological history it linked Sicily with Africa and animals used it as a land bridge during their annual migrations. When the seas rose it was cut off and those animals that were marooned learned to adapt to their environment. The bones of pigmy elephants have been discovered in caves. Somewhere around the 5th millennium BC a unique temple culture developed and their legacy is a vast complex of megalithic sanctuaries older than the Pyramids of Egypt. Like the Maya, these people mysteriously disappeared. These are just two of the fascinating stories I found on the Mediterranean archipelago. The location gave the islands great strategic importance and they became a port of call for Phoenicians traders, Roman galleys, Greeks, Arab raiders, Crusader Knights and Second World War convoys. Throughout their tumultuous history they have been fought over and occupied by many powers: all have left their imprint from the Eyes of Osiris to impressive irrigation systems, salt pans, a medieval walled city and rich architecture. The stone temples and capital city of Valletta are World Heritage sites. Best months to visit are April to June. Avoid high season (July to August) when many tourists converge on the islands for their summer vacations. Good walking shoes are essential and practice walking up steep steps before you visit!
The Cayman Islands offers a variety of underwater and terrestrial activities. Cayman Turtle Farm is home to over 11,000 Green Sea Turtles and houses a world-class research and educational facility that focuses on the conservation of sea turtles. The QE2 (Queen Elizabeth 11) is the first botanic park in the Caribbean to be Green Globe certified. The Heritage Garden is an important historic and educational feature demonstrating how early Caymanian settlers lived under austere conditions, depending heavily on their land for survival. During planning, four elderly Caymanian ladies were consulted on plants commonly found in early gardens resulting in: a traditional sand yard; a variety of blooming plants including roses, orchids, hibiscus, crotons, lilies and cat bush; tea bushes and medicinal herbs; “provisions” – vegetables including sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, okra, gungo peas, corn, plantains, bottlers and pumpkin; and traditional fruit trees, including mango, breadfruit, tamarind, plum, cherry, ackee and chella mella. The park is also home to the endangered Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. Grand Cayman was also the forerunner for a special program for children aged 4-8 to experience scuba diving. At Cobalt Coast Resort, Divetech enrolls kids in water-based programs that introduces them to the sport of diving. A two-week summer camp teaches them about marine identification, conservation, digital photography, art, underwater scooters, turtles and more! As ambassadors of the sea for future generations, the children are taught to love the water and respect the marine creatures. And don’t forget Sting Ray City! Check out our video episode #5 in the International category and Anne’s article on her experience in Destinations. There are a variety of tour operators that can be easily accessed once you are in the Cayman Islands. One of the originals was Captain Marvin Ebanks who started business back in 1951. Their tours are offered twice-daily.
The Andy Warhol Museum is located at 117 Sandusky Street in Pittsburgh. If you would enjoy meeting like-minded people with an interest in pop art visit the museum on a Friday. Their weekly Good Fridays programming offers a more social museum experience, with a bar, half-price admission and many featuring special programming. The Andy Warhol Museum is one of the four Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh Visit Pittsburgh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for information about city sites
Episode 27: Robben Island, South Africa – In the footsteps of Nelson Mandela
If you make it to Capetown, take the time to visit Robben Island, a national monument and World Heritage site. Lion World Tours offers a range of packages to South Africa – including visits to Robben Island. South African Airways has direct, non-stop flights from JFK to Johannesburg. Additional day tours in Capetown and other South Africa cities can be arranged through Springbok Atlas. We stayed at Table Bay Hotel in Capetown. For more information visit the Robben Island Museum website.
To have a better understanding of the people and their Mayan heritage we travelled by local bus to Xecul, Chichicastenago, Lake Atitlan and Santiago. Lake Atitlán and the surrounding villages and volcanic regions are becoming popular with back-packers. If you plan to visit the Maya ruins at Tikal, a World Heritage Site, you might want to consider staying a couple of nights in Flores and organise an early morning excursion to see the sun rise over the ruins. See also Episode #22.
After our River Rhine cruise–see video episode #1 – we took a side trip up the River Neckar and spent a few days in the City of Heidelberg meandering through the pedestrianized streets of the Old Town enjoying the baroque buildings, the lively cafes and exploring the gothic architecture of the churches. Don’t miss the bridge with its “pepper pots” or the old student jail. You’ll need good comfortable shoes for the cobblestone streets, the hike up to the old castle and the walk across the bridge to the Philosopher’s Way. Accommodation is plentiful and we stayed at the historic Hotel Hirschgasse, a boutique hotel with a great location just off the Philosopher’s Way. Heidelberg is easily accessible by train and we took advantage of the great savings with a Eurail pass which allowed us a number of days travel as we explored Holland, Germany, France and England. For more information visit the German National Tourist Office or the City of Heidelberg.
This feature took place at the Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villa — the ultimate getaway for every member of the family. With an outrageous water-park complete with surf simulator, XBOX® Play Lounge, the Scratch DJ Academy, exclusive Kids Camps, teen nightclubs, Certified Nannies, Butler service, and Red Lane® Spas, the resort provides an unrivaled experience in the Caribbean. As a proud sponsor of Sesame Street, Beaches Resorts also offers the Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street®, where kids can spend their vacation with their favorite friends from the Sesame Street gang with daily activities and weekly stage shows.
We explored the savannah region in southwest Guyana. Rupununi trips are run by local tour operators Rock View. We visited Diane McTurk’s lodge at Karanambu Travel tips: Wear long sleeves and pants at night. Bring mosquito repellent. Malaria pills and yellow fever vaccination are recommended. Best time to visit is the end of the rainy season. Rainy months are December, January, May and June. Currency is the Guyana Dollar, although US Dollars widely accepted. Amerindian guides speak English and are experts on jungle loreOther web sites to check out: Iwokrama: Wilderness Explorers For general information www.guyana.com; www.guyanaguide.com; www.interknowledge.com/guyana; www.guyana-tourism.com and specific to the Rupununi: www.rupununi.org; See also Episode 15.
The Mayan Riviera has fabulous beaches, colorful Mayan history and a great choice of hotels. If you visit Xcaret plan on at least a day to explore this excellent and innovative ecological theme park – you will not lack for things to do – in fact you may go back for a second day!. Plan also to visit the Maya archaeological site at Tulum. We based ourselves at the Reef Playacar an all-inclusive resort. Contact the Mexican tourist board for more and general information.
Water dominates Holland and especially the capital city of Amsterdam — its historic canal district was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 20l1. A spider’s web of waterways divides the centre of the City into 90 islands linked by bridges. Driving in the city is not ideal for the average tourist but it’s a great city for walking, cycling, taking the historic trams or canal boats. Some canal boats are free and there are museum boats that allow you to hop on and hop off. Don’t miss the architecture, the old medieval city, the harbor and those pancake houses. We stayed at the Tulip Inn centrally located and about 3 minutes from the main train station.
Half the country is under sea-level. We travelled out to Friesland and spent time appreciating the 30km long Afsluitdijk and the expertise that has gone into protecting the country from increased ocean levels. We based ourselves in Leeuwarden in order to visit the Mata Hari exhibit and stayed at the Bilderberg Oranje Hotel
Arnhem, capital of Gelderland, played a major role WW2 and we visited the cemeteries, the museums and the John Frost bridge featured in the epic film “A Bridge Too Far”. We stayed in Wolfheze at the Bilderberg Hotel– a lovely hotel, in a woodland setting, and explored the whole region by local trains including visits to the Paleis Het Loo, the Kröller-Müller museum, the Open Air Netherlands Museum, Castle Doorwerth and Hoge Veluwe, the Netherland’s largest park. A Eurail pass combined with car rentals is a great way to explore the Netherlands and neighbouring European countries.
Lonely Planet, a leading travel guidebook and website has named Amsterdamthe world’s second best city to visit in 2013. Highlights for 2013 include: 400th year anniversary of the renowned canal ring in Amsterdam; 40th anniversary of the Van Gogh Museum; reopening of the national museum, the Rijksmuseum; 125 years of the Concertgebouw and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; 175 years of Artis Zoo; 100 years of the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem; 100 years of The Peace Palace in The Hague; 200 years of the Kingdom of The Netherlands; 300thanniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht.
Our short visit to the Berkshires and the surrounding area in New England was packed with things to do. We visited the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, (open year round to the public); stayed at Gateways Inn & Restaurant in Lenox; toured Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, (open Spring through late Fall); and Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Hancock, (open year round with skiing in the winter and an adventure park which includes a high ropes course, a mountain coaster, an alpine slide and more in Spring through Fall).
Old Sturbridge Village includes 59 antique buildings, three water-powered mills, and a working farm. Costumed interpreters recreate life in rural New England during the 1790s through 1830s. It is the largest living museum in New England, covering more than 200 acres (80 hectares).
To be updated shortly but in the meantime visit Episode 9 on Alexander the Great for many of the relevant links and info.
Among such historical treasures, Seokguram grotto, Bulguksa temple, Gyeongju Historic Areas and Yangdo Folk Village are designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Many major historical sites have helped Gyeongju become one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Korea. Visit the Korean National Tourism Organization. Korean Air has scheduled flights to Seoul. After arriving in Seoul, you can connect to Ulsan or Pusan and then drive to Kyongju. When in Korea, you now have direct access to English-speaking guides for tourism information by dialing 1330 in 22 major cities. Free on-site English interpreter services are now offered during the day in Seoul, Pusan, Kyongju and Cheju Island. Visitors are asked to bear guide’s expenses while touring. To schedule an interpreter, contact the KNTO. It’s wise to carry a piece of paper with the name of your hotel written on it. First time visitors are advised to book a package tour. Korea is a shopper’s paradise. Best buys are leather items, silk shirts and semi-precious stones. Trips offered by Tour East Holidays. Contact Korean National Tourism Organization and Korean Air for more information.
Trinidad & Tobago are two islands not to be overlooked for a memorable vacation. The world-famous Carnival takes place the last week of February and first week of March, www.visittnt.com
The home of the legendary spy, Mata Hari. The Fries Museum is open every day but Monday. We stayed in Leeuwarden at the lovely Bilderberg Oranje Hotel The train – with a Holland or Eurail pass – is a great way to travel Holland and all of Europe. Check this terrific Netherlands website See also episodes 33-35 for more information on the Netherlands.
For information, the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism On this trip, we stayed and dined at the elegant Cornell Inn visited Hudson’s Restaurant (famous for its gumbo!) in Great Barrington and our culinary tour was capped off with a wonderful dinner at the historic Gateways Inn and Restaurant. The Berkshires, Massachusetts is also Normal Rockwell country. The painter so loved by his countrymen and so enchanted with small town life spent his last 25 years here. Today, the area is known for its five-star cuisine, excellent skiing, charming inns and wonderful culture, along with a sense of déjà vu – thru the paintings at the Norman Rockwell Museum online which is home to the world’s largest collection of his original oil paintings.
Beneath the modern city of Akko (Acre), ongoing archaeology is revealing an entire world: the legacy of Phoenicians and Romans and the years when Richard the Lionheart recaptured the city from the Muslims after the fall of Jerusalem, built a massive and magnificent city, and made it the Crusader capital of Israel. Once the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St. John, it fell into ruins and the great halls were filled in with sand by the Ottomans when they built their palace on a new ground level above the ruins. For information contact Israel Government Tourist Office Old Akko (Acre) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit Arizona and check out things to do such as hot air ballooning We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort Our guide came from Southwest Adventures Visit Arizona Guide or the Scottsdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for information and look for special offers such as coupon books that can offer discounts of 10-50% off attractions, accommodations, etc.
For general information on travelling to and around Finland visit the Finnish Tourist board for details. Helsinki’s Ateneum National Art Gallery is like the who’s who of Finnish Art and contains some of the most important works in the country, including a famous depiction of the legend of Kalevala by Gallen-Kallela and Albert Edelfeldt’s Luxembourg Gardens. We stayed at the Scandic Hotel Simonkentta in Helsinki and flew with Finnair
The ruins of Tikal, once capital of an ancient kingdom and one of the most impressive archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, are discovered deep in the Guatemalan Jungle of Central America in a designated Mayan biosphere a 2400 sq km nature reserve that extends into Mexico and Belize. The dry season (late October-May) is the best time to visit We stayed at the lovely Hotel Las Farolas and toured the Casa Santo Domingo a 15th Century Monastary (now a hotel) in Antigua. You can fly to Guatemala City through the U.S., Mexico, Cuba and El Salvador On this trip, we flew Delta Airlines Voyageur is an Antigua tour operator organizing interesting local tours Visit Guatemala Travel for online information. Lonely Planet has a terrific guidebook for Guatemala.
Our Tea House Tour was a unique way of connecting with the people and culture of Hong Kong. Contact the Hong Kong Tourist Association and check out trips offered by Tour East Holidays. Hong Kong is geographically compact, so getting around is generally quick and easy. Taxis are plentiful and the public transportation system is one of the best in the world. Like most major cities, Hong Kong experiences rush hour traffic from 8am-10am and 5pm-7pm, so be prepared for minor delays during these periods. An “Octopus” stored-value card enables you to travel on the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), KCR (Kowloon-Canton Railway), LR (Light Rail), some outlying ferry services, cross-harbour and city buses, and the Airport Express. The card now includes retail shopping, self-service, leisure facilities & public parking. The Sheraton Hong Kong is centrally located, and offers spectacular views of Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong’s outlying islands provide a wonderful escape. From the island of Cheng Chau, once an exclusive retreat for British colonials, to the Buddhist monasteries on Lantau Island, many of the islands are accessible by ferry connections from downtown Hong Kong.
Along with an early prehistoric and stone culture, Minorca has an interesting history that encompasses many Mediterranean cultures including the Greek Minoans, Roman, Moorish, Turkish, British and Spanish occupation. It’s location as a trading base made it a target for pirates and a haven for peoples of different faiths. In October 1993, Minorca was designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve
Episode 59 –Taipei Lantern Festival, Taiwan.
One of the biggest celebrations of Chinese culture on the island of Taiwan celebrates the 15th day of the first lunar month – or when the moon is full for the first time. Visitors may think that a visit to Taiwan means a hustle and bustle tour of cosmopolitan Taipei, but there’s another side to the country with rivers spilling from majestic cliffs, the varied hues of Buddhist temples and peaceful gardens. Lin Family Garden is open year round. Taroko Marble Gorge is a one day excursion from Taipei including a 30 minute flight to Hualien Airport. Lonely Planet has an excellent guide on Taiwan. Organized vacations are offered by Goway Travel
Boston is known as America’s walking city, and provides quick and easy access to a number of quaint Massachusetts towns. Salem and Newburyport are just a short distance north of Boston. Check out Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, Greater Boston Convention &Visitors Bureau, North of Boston info, Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, Salem Inn, Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water Street, Newburyport and Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, Congress Street Bridge.
See notes on our experiences travelling in the Azores under episodes #7, 16, 17 & 21.
Our journey started at the Haegang Ceramics Museum in Icheon just outside Seoul, the centre of ceramic culture in Korea and then on to Kyongju, the old capital of the Shilla Kingdom. It was from here that the Samurai took leading potters to Imari on the Island of Kyushu in Japan where they created beautiful porcelain for the Imperial Court. Our final stop was Onta in the region of Oita. For more information visit Korea National Tourism and the Japanese National Tourist Organization. (Links to be updated.)
Drive a couple of hours north of Athens and you’ll reach some of the most beautiful landscape in Greece. This area has the best of everything: mountains, small towns and loads of history. Part of that history is in the monasteries, set atop monolithic rock formations that jut out of the earth like fingers reaching to touch the gods. Metéora lies between Trikala and Kalabaka in Greece. For more information, visit the Greek Tourist Board.
A flight over the Sierra Madre Mountains to Oaxaca City gives an interesting perspective to the stories of the Zápotecs and Mixtecs who inhabited this area since 900 B.C., and whose ancestors have been traced back nearly 11,000 years. You can imagine the difficulties the Spanish Conquistadors faced when they set forth to conquer the region in the 16th century. The Marquesado del Valle (today’s Colonial City of Oaxaca) was given as a gift to Cortés by the Spanish Emperor, Charles V. Energetic Dominican missionaries followed the Spanish, founding fabulous churches, monasteries, and convents. Many buildings still exist and their histories include being turned into government offices, jails and stables during the period when church and government separated. Today Oaxaca has been declared a national monument by UNESCO and the Cathedral, the Church of Santo Domingo, and the Convent of Santa Catalina (now a five-star Quinta Real hotel), have all been restored. The city is a shopper’s paradise of reasonably-priced gold filigree and silver handcrafted jewelry, black pottery and hand-woven crafts. The people are delightful, the food delicious. Our trip included visits to the archaeological sites of Monte Albán and Mitla. Monte Albán is also known as the “White Acropolis” and is the sacred city of the Zápotec. It sits on a flattened mountaintop overlooking the Oaxaca Valley in Mexico’s southern highlands. Mitla is an ancient residence for Zápotec priests and, in one indigenous language, means “place of the dead”. Eco-tourists will enjoy Hierve el Agua, about an hour’s drive out of Oaxaca City, where mineral salts have petrified into bizarre, salty sculptures. For more information see www.oaxaca.traveland www.visitmexico.com The State of Oaxaca has a lot to offer including the beautiful beaches of Huatulco (see Barceló Hotels) and Puerto Escondido.
Barbados, where the exuberance and rhythm of Africa, combined with the formality of Britain has created a culture that is uniquely Bajan. The eastern-most of the Caribbean islands, off the coast of South America, Barbados offers many festivals throughout the year, beautiful beaches, a wide variety of attractions, fun and night life for all ages. The Island has many excellent hotels, including boutique properties and provides excellent value for money, but for price conscious travellers there’s an appealing alternative — self-catering accommodation. It’s fun to rent your own place or share with friends, shop at the markets, buy fresh fish at Oistens and chat with the local vendors on how to spice up your meals. Pristine white sandy beaches, rocky coves and beautiful bays create the scenery most people associate with Barbados. But there’s another side to the island that’s equally spectacular. The island’s beautiful tropical gardens have been attracting attention from horticulturalists around the world. Andromeda Gardens is located on a cliff top and with over six acres of exotic flowers makes an ideal day trip. Explore wild jungle ravines like Welchman Hall Gully, take in the wonderful colours and unique blooms at Orchid World, experience a fun drive with Island Safari Tours, and enjoy a local cruise with the experts who know just the right place to snorkel and guarantee the sight of giant sea turtles. Contact the Barbados Tourism Authority for more information.
Florida attracts a lot of visitors in search of sun, sea and sand and those amazing fun-filled family attractions. But there are sides to this US State: A green side, a wild side and a wet side. When we visited Busch Gardensthe Tampa Bay theme park we took time to learn more about their wildlife program and the efforts they have made to design natural habitats. We swam with manatees in their natural environment at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Parkand visited Honeymoon Island State Park, near Clearwater, an area of Florida that is gaining national recognition as a leader in eco-tourism. For ornithological enthusiasts there are many opportunities to see birds along the nature coast and in the barrier islands. Check this excellent birding in Florida website. For more information Visit Florida
Hong Kong is geographically compact, so getting around is generally quick and easy. Taxis are plentiful and the public transportation system is one of the best in the world. Like most major cities, Hong Kong experiences rush hour traffic from 8am-10am and 5pm-7pm, so be prepared for minor delays during these periods. An “Octopus” stored-value card enables you to travel on the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), KCR (Kowloon-Canton Railway), LR (Light Rail), some outlying ferry services, cross-harbour and city buses, and the Airport Express. To help you plan your trip check out the Octopus card which now has many functions and also specific tourist options. For more information visit the Hong Kong website.
We explored the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais visiting the channel ports of Calais and Boulogne, the Opal Coast, Lille (the capital), and the lovely towns and villages including Arras and Montreuil. Intriguing Flemish architecture with the pink and white stone squares and sculpted windows is everywhere along with beautiful cathedrals and excellent museums. While we spent a delightful afternoon drifting the backwater canals, an enthusiastic boater can travel up to 680 km of navigable canals and rivers. At the Abbaye Ste Marie du Mont des Cats you can buy cheese from the Trappist monks and participate in a service. We visited a cemetery where thousands of soldiers are buried just outside of Arras, close to the site of an unexpected Canadian war victory at historic Vimy Ridge. An excellent way to travel France and surrounding European countries is with a Eurail train pass and for more general information visit French tourism. See also information under Episode 6 — Wartime memories.
Episodes 69 & 70: The Responsible Traveller will be updated shortly
Episodes 71-80: The Islands of Malta.
For such a tiny group of islands (320 sq km), the Maltese archipelago has an incredible and complex history. I spent hours researching the history of the Knights and trying to understand when different peoples, like the Temple culture, inhabited the islands, where they came from and why they disappeared. My last few days on Malta were spent on a roof top patio writing, rewriting, checking and double-checking my information. If you find an error, I’ll appreciate knowing about it.
The Islands of Malta comprise Malta, Gozo, Cominho and Filfla. They lie at the crossroads of east and west in the middle of the Mediterranean, just a stepping stone between Europe and Africa but one upon which Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Norman, Spanish, French and British – just to name a few – have all left their mark. This same archipelago almost singlehandedly turned the tide for two great wars: that of the Ottoman Empire as it tried to annihilate the Christian faith in the l6th century; and again four centuries later when the islands and their people turned the tide against the Axis forces in WW2.
I had always been fascinated by the Crusades – possibly from my early history lessons. I had encountered the Knights in Jerusalem, in Rhodes and especially in Acre, in Israel, at one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries that I have had the pleasure of filming (see articles and video on Akko). I would not like to leave the impression, however, that they were Knights in Shining Armor. Their battles may be legendary but they could be a pretty nasty bunch and just as blood-thirsty as their adversaries. If you don’t believe me — do some in-depth research. In the end greed and complacency was their downfall, but their positive legacies live on in the treasures of Valletta’s superb St. John’s Co-Cathedral and in the wonderful work of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade. They still exist as an Order and perform humanitarian works but maintain a very low profile.
While filming on the islands I worked with a Maltese crew which made my life a lot simpler as they knew the angles and the best time of day to shoot, but the editing and getting those story-lines just right was totally in my hands and a real challenge. I also had the benefit of a helicopter with a top notch pilot and between us we got some great aerial shots which made some of the story-telling a lot easier. I was fortunate in being able to access the library of Milo Vassallo the former Canadian Consul General for Malta.
Many people go to the islands to enjoy a sun-drenched holiday and Malta, itself, is a major stop for many cruise ships. These ships are so massive that they make the walls surrounding Valletta seem quite insignificant, so lower your sights and take a small harbour cruise, then you’ll get a true sense of what it was like to enter the harbour 500 years ago or during WW2 when Malta was a significant base for the Allied Forces and sustained terrible bombing.
Malta is so much more than a one-day cruise stop, or a one-week sun holiday. I hope you enjoy the 10 video features and here are some links to help you with further research. The city of Valletta and the Hypogeum are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I recommend the Malta Experience as a good introduction to the Island’s history. I didn’t visit the Casa Rocca Piccola but certainly will if I ever return to the islands. I stayed at the Phoenicia hotel just outside the gates of the city of Valletta in Malta and at the L’imgarr Hotel, Gozo. More links: Visit Malta; The City of Valletta; Malta Council for Culture and the Arts; The Valletta Waterfront; Heritage Malta; St James Cavalier; Malta International Airport; Air Malta; MSC Cruises; European Walled Towns; and the Royal British Legion for WW1 & 2 veterans.
Episodes 81 on…. Sorry for the delay. Busy editing video features. Links and information will be uploaded shortly.