Antarctica: My most recent trip fulfilled my goal of traveling to all 7 continents. And what a continent it is! The icebergs are fascinating, each unique and beautiful in its own way. The plentiful penguins were such fun to watch, including the youngsters and hatchlings. We also saw a few whales, seals, sea lions, porpoises and various birds. Another highlight for me was a calving glacier wall. I traveled with Tauck Tours on the Ponant ship Le Soleal which was very comfortable and served impossible to resist fresh French bread at all meals. Extraordinary trip and a destination you should certainly consider visiting.
Egypt: In March, I travelled to the ancient land of Egypt to discover the beauty and legends of the Nile River (world's longest river) and the wonders that line its shores. We explored the expansive Karnak Temple, dating back to 2000BC, visited the pyramids of Giza (one of the seven ancient wonders of the world) and toured the Valley of the Kings along with many sites in Cairo. Ending this fabulous trip was a tour of Abu Simbel to see the extraordinary temples of Ramses II relocated here during the construction of the high dam. Right now is a great opportunity to visit Egypt - tourists are coming back but the sights are not crowded.
Eastern Europe: When you’re rolling down the Danube River in Europe on a river cruise with Uniworld, you visit 5 countries on the “Highlights of Eastern Europe” itinerary. You start in Budapest, Hungary, to Croatia, to Serbia, to Bulgaria and end in Bucharest, Romania. This was a step back in time to investigate the history and legends along the Danube with many off-the-beaten path destinations. I love river cruising and really enjoyed the uniqueness of this one. We cruised an 83 mile long stretch of scenic gorges through the Iron Gates. We visited historic sites dating from WWII to the present day. Highlights were the Belogradchik rock formations which are over 200 million years old, the Royal Palace in the capital of Serbia and the historic hill towns, home to six amazing 17thcentury stone churches decorated with intricate frescoes and murals.
Iceland: In August, I had the privilege of escorting a small group to visit Iceland. The country is full of surprises – for one, it isn’t covered in ice! It’s a stunning mix of green plains, volcanic scenery, beautiful coasts and lakes, spouting geysers, hot springs, mud pools and sophisticated cities. One of the highlights for me was the experience of visiting the Blue Lagoon. It is a lake of warm-mineral rich geothermal water known for its healing prowess and beneficial effect on the skin. Visitors come from all over the world in search of health, relaxation and an exotic experience. We all left feeling renewed and ready for our trip back to our hotel in Reykjavik.
Portland OR: In August I enjoyed a weeklong cruise on the Columbia and Snake rivers with Uncruise on the S. S. Legacy doing the itinerary Exploring Rivers of Wine. We set sail from Portland, the City of Roses, along the mighty Columbia River following the Lewis & Clark expedition route. We stopped to visit Multnomah and Palouse Falls, and along the way we visited 13 wineries, touring and tastings in five Washington and Oregon AVAs, where experts shared the methods of their winemaking. One special afternoon we had lunch at Terra Blanca Winery with a tour of the estate - what a beautiful place. The food and staff on the S.S. Legacy was so unique; I can’t wait to take another Uncruise - it was that remarkable!
Africa: In September, I had the experience of taking a small group to enjoy an African safari in Kenya. The safari was an eye-opening journey through breathtaking scenery populated by diverse and exotic wildlife. We experienced the culture of Kenya's people, relaxed in a tented camp and dined on delicious Kenyan and international cuisine. It was a trip that was on my bucket list and am so glad that I was able to go to the alluring land of Hemingway and Out of Africa. If you haven't been, please give me a call to discuss getting you there!
Iberian Peninsula: In March I traveled with Insight Vacations to Spain and Portugal. Madrid is a historic city with a vibrant night life. The Prado Museum
was a favorite of mine. With a stop for the day in Toledo to learn about the ancient art of crafting swords, I was on my way to a stay in Granada at the Alhambra Palace. Built in the 13th century by the Moors the Palace has beautiful gardens and fountains. Then it was on to Seville to see the 15th century Cathedral with the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. In Cordoba I visited the Mezquita, an 8th century Mosque with a Christian church built inside it. Very beautiful and was my favorite visit on the whole trip. The drive to Lisbon was interesting because of all the Olive trees! The trees were everywhere. Our final stay was in Lisbon with a visit to the Belem Quarter where I ate the famous ‘Pasteis de Belem” and saw the ancient Belem Tower. This was a wonderful trip with a fun tour director.
Tauck River Cruise: To keep up my education of travel destinations and tour companies, I took advantage of the Tauck Academy river voyage from Cologne, Germany to Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine River. It was my first experience travelling with Tauck and won't be my last. We visited the small village of Boppard where we enjoyed a bicycle ride along the Rhine. We travelled to the city of Heidelberg and visited the famous castle. We continued on to Lucerne to see this beautiful lakeside city and then ascended via cable car to the summit of Mount Pilatus. It was a memorable adventure and Tauck does a wonderful job taking care of their travelers, injecting special experiences along the journey. I highly recommend considering one of their offerings!