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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Incredible India

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Our journey was memorable in many ways, initially for the 28 hour flight from Portland to Boston to London to Delhi, through 14 time zones, and those delightful economy seats. No jet lag for us. Up at 7:00 for breakfast and a leisure ride in a tuk tuk to have a look around this upscale neighborhood of banking, consulates and embassies in Delhi. Delhi is everything you imagine: chaotic, thousands of people on motor bikes, and as colorful and festive as can be. Yesterday was the festival called Diwali, but it continued today in all its brilliance and illumination. The homes, apartments and shops were decorated with colorful lights, reminiscent of Western societies during the Christmas season. The aroma of incense and marigolds, the sights and sounds of firecrackers last into the night. They tell us “that India has more festival days than days in the year.” For four days,…
Saturday, 01 May 2021

Hangzhou & Shanghai, China

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Part 3 of Fortunate Cookies: A Father-Daughter Adventure in China Hanging Out in Hangzhou When Marco Polo wrote about his visit to Hangzhou in the 1400’s, he described it as “the city of heaven” and “beyond dispute the finest and noblest in the world.” With its lush gardens, peaceful West Lake, and arguably the best tea in the world, it’s easy to understand why. About seven million residents call Hangzhou home today, and it remains a serene heaven on earth. After a filling dinner in the private room of a local restaurant, we went to our hotel and saw a beautiful lake and garden from our hotel’s room. The Crown Plaza Hangzhou Xanadu Resort is a destination in itself. In the lobby, a magnificent stone (with a multitude of landscape and seascape scenes carved into it) centered the room and drew our attention. It must have been nine feet tall,…
Monday, 01 March 2021

Xi'an & Suzhou

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Part 2 from Fortunate Cookies: A Father-Daughter Adventure in China Part 1 is here: https://intravelmag.com/intravel/in-depth/fortunate-cookies-a-father-daughter-adventure-in-china Wild Geese, Big and Small Our next destination was the ancient city of Xi’an—the first capitol of Unified China. Even though there are more than eight million residents, Xi’an had more of a small-town feel than Beijing and Shanghai. But eight million is small-town compared to the twenty-one to twenty-five million in each of the larger cities Our tour guide picked us up at the Xi’an airport and took us directly to our first destination in the city: the Jianfu Temple and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. It was built in the early 700’s and was meant to store and protect sutras (or scriptures) brought back from India. The temple was named in honor of the divine experience of a monk who traveled for two years in the Gobi desert (on foot) and almost died…
Part 1: Beijing and the Great Wall From Little China to Big We make a great globetrotting team: a sixteen-year old high school student and a forty-something writer. With the rest of the family, we travel often, normally to places in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. But this time, it’s a father-daughter trip. And this time, it’s west meets east. We consider ourselves fortunate cookies, to be able to take this exotic trip. Although, admittedly, we never once encountered a fortune cookie in China. The last time we took a big father-daughter trip was about nine years prior when we went to Walt Disney World. At Epcot Center, we visited little China and imagined one day we’d make it to the big one. Finally, we did. The two weeks were even more packed than our line-hopping theme park adventure of nearly a decade before. The weather in China was ideal…
Our six week Iberian slow-travel road trip took us from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela to Madrid to Seville to the Island of Mallorca, and on to Barcelona. The adventure covered the peninsula from coast to coast, east to west and north to south, and utilized cars, trains, buses and planes. We've been very fortunate in the past to have had many slow-travel road trips in Europe, but this was the largest in terms of area to explore, and the greatest distances to travel. It was a memorable historic and cultural learning experience that we shall always remember. We arrived in Lisbon after eleven hours of flight time and 18 hours of wait time = 29 hours to paradise. A twenty-minute Uber ride to our small boutique hotel on the impressive Praca do Comercio. No vehicle needed to visit this exciting city with a population of 504,000. Lisbon, in my…
We were excited to explore two of the three southern Italian boot regions: Basticata (Instep) and Pulia (Heel). The other boot region is Calabria (the toe). ‘The North of Italy may have the Euros, but the South has the Soul.” Slow-traveling fosters careful planning and promotes boundful energies. However, once one is actually on the road these factors proved to be essential: An informed and calm navigator; a regional paper map (we used the Michelin Tourist & Motoring Atlas 2019); careful attention to the driving laws and being aware of the residents driving nuances, and finally, hitting the “Avoid highways” option on Google Maps makes for additional enjoyment and discoveries. As slow-traveling seniors, we are inspired by art, informed by culture and motivated by curiosity. Although everything on our agenda had been pre-planned, one of the marvels of slow travel is discovering what has not been planned: Slow travel and…
We lived in the village of Sablet for two months which turned out to be the best location for us to explore Provence and Languedoc in southern France. We visited 56 villages, cities & towns and these were our favorite places: Châteauneuf du Pape The village, population 2,200, spreads down the hill from the 14th century chateau, along narrow streets lined with wine shops and cellars. A beautiful village center. All around are vineyards, many carpeted with large, round stones, found on the Rhone river beds. The stones soak up the sun during the day and reflect back at night to warm the vines of those grapes. We stopped for a cafe creme on the Place de la Fontaine, where there are a couple of cafes and boulangeries, before a short walk uphill to find the summer papal palace from the 1300's. Although the winds were fierce (40-45 miles per…
There is More to the Cotswolds than Rolling Hills and Grazing Sheep: 5,000 Years of History and Architecture in the Cotswolds of England Many years ago we lived in Oxfordshire, England, and our daughter was born in a little village near Oxford. This year we revisited our old stamping grounds in and around Oxfordshire, as well as the rest of the Cotswolds region in England. The Cotswolds have a very Beatrix Potter feel - No, they are not located in the lakes region, and you will not find Jemima, Peter, or Squirrel Nutkin. However, you will find hedgerows, Ha Ha’s, stiles and thorps that are reminiscent of her region. Pastoral villages with names like Burford, Chipping Norton, Morton on the Marsh and Great Rissington dot this storybook land. Buried among the warm golden-honey bedrock of Jurassic limestone are those massive areas of rolling hills, and sheep grazing in the meadows.…
The Salish Sea is a huge area encompassing much of the area between Vancouver Island in Canada to the southern end of Puget Sound, but it mainly refers to the waters of the Georgia, Rosario, Haro and Juan De Fuca Straits between Canada and Washington State. Many groups of the indigenous Salish people made their homes along these shores and gave the region its name. A multitude of over 400 islands dot the waters of the Salish and it has over 6,000 square miles of coastline. I chose to visit three islands: Fidalgo, Whidbey, and San Juan Island. Anacortes sits near the northern tip of Fidalgo Island and is called the gateway to the San Juan Islands. I drove over the Swinomish Channel bridge which connects the island to the mainland and began to explore its scenic beauty. It has much more to offer the visitor than just a ferry…
My first trip to Europe forty years ago started with a group tour to Vienna and then on to other countries in Europe. I fell in love with the totally intact old city and vowed one day to return to explore Vienna in more depth and see the rest of the country. This year my wife and I finally did that. While Austria is a relatively small country by size (around the size of the State of Maine), it is definitely one of the crowning jewels of the many spectacular countries throughout Europe. It has so many distinctive regions with charming towns and villages perched along its rivers or nestled in lush green valleys within the Alps. I spent several months planning the three week trip, which included calculating travel distances by car particularly in the mountainous region, identifying several unique sites off the beaten track as well as those…

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