South American Sojourn
During February and March I enjoyed an extended time traveling through South America. We started with four days in the Brazilian Amazon aboard the Iberostar Grand Amazonia sailing from Manaus. The “floating resort” was an excellent way to explore the area as both the ship moved from spot to spot and we took daily excursions further into the jungle. After some time in Rio De Janeiro we went to one of the three major waterfalls in the world, Iguazu Falls. What a spectacle! In Argentina we toured Buenos Aires and then headed south to the lake district. The scenery crossing the Andes by boat and bus over to Chile is fantastic. Our last stop Rapa Nui (Easter Island) where we walked among the amazing Moai carved heads was a major highlight for me. The carving and transport of something of their size and weight is mindboggling.
I think South America is somewhat of a forgotten continent for people in our area. Having also been to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica I would say that it shouldn’t be! There is something for everyone – I recommend putting it on your travel list.
Russia – Waterways of the Czars
In June I flew into St Petersburg to join a Viking River Cruise sailing to Moscow. The 12 day itineraries operate in either direction, and although you are housed on the boat the whole time, you spend 3 days in each of those cities. While in the cities you are on the go seeing all of the major fantastic sights and taking in cultural performances so it is a welcome break to slow down during the week of cruising.
I found this cruise-tour option to be an excellent way to discover today’s Russia. The excellent local guides both onboard and on the excursions were a wealth of information as they and their families have lived through the all the changes in their country over the last 50+ years. I had not been there since 1976 during USSR times – while the attractions were the same, so very much has changed. If you haven’t been or, like me, it was a long time ago, I think the destination is worth visiting now.
A Western Mediterranean cruise in June was one of my recent wanderings. We sailed with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line on one of their mega ships, Oasis of the Seas. After extra time spent in Barcelona for sightseeing, the ship departed on to Palma de Mallorca, Spain - Provence, France – and Italy with port stops in Rome and Naples/Capri. This is a great itinerary for a first visit with excursions galore! The scenery is spectacular in these countries and activities on board the ship never cease. What made this even more special is that we took our 2 high school graduate grandsons as their gift before heading out to college. Many memories were made, and as grandparents, that is what counts. Cruising and this cruise line in particular are great for intergenerational travels!
Rocky Mountaineer Rail, Canada
Among the world’s famous rail journeys is Rocky Mountaineer in western Canada. I have done train travel before in the U.S. and in Europe but Rocky Mountaineer is not a mode of transportation. It is a one-of-a-kind experience you don’t want to miss.
The double-decker, GoldLeaf, glass-dome rail car is spacious with wide aisles, more leg room than the first class cabin of an airplane, heated reclining leather seats with foot rests, and electric outlets located in each row. Large tray tables pull out of the armrest, used to set down drinks and snacks while meals are served in the dining room on the lower deck.
Multi-course meals prepared by chefs traveling along with you, are served by very attentive staff who are much more than servers. They are storytellers, historians, guides whose commentary is sprinkled with humor throughout. The staff is gracious, welcoming, formal and relaxed all at the same time.
Breakfast and lunch featured fresh-baked breads and pastries, regional dishes, satisfying portion sizes, lighter options and special treats creatively presented and accompanied by British Columbia wines. Snacks and beverages were served throughout the day.
The glass-dome rail cars provide vistas that are beyond spectacular. Traveling on Rocky Mountaineer is quite a privilege and one in which I hope to do again in the future.