Scotland: I spent two weeks last summer on a Globus escorted tour in this ancient land to see the countryside of some of my ancestors. Going in August, I was able to experience the world famous Military Tattoo and enjoyed the colorful spectacle presented at night in front of Edinburgh Castle.
Myanmar (Burma): Last fall I traveled to Myanmar (Burma) to take an Avalon River Cruises cruise tour down the Irrawaddy River. Onboard I really enjoyed sitting on the covered open air deck taking in the unique scenery as the ship floated by. Myanmar is an exotic destination where the excursions and touring are fascinating and informative. Viewing the 1000’s of temples in Bagan at sunrise is truly unforgettable. I highly recommend the journey.
Africa: This year I concentrated on wildlife safaris. First I visited the impressive Victoria Falls on my way to Botswana, ending in Cape Town, South Africa. The topography of Botswana is quite varied and allows for very unique game viewing experiences - I arrived just after the Okavango Delta was beginning to fill with water and then spent some time in the arid Kalahari Desert. My second trip was to Tanzania for a traditional east Africa safari. At the end I took a short flight to Rwanda and spent a day in the mountains with the gorillas. All wonderful “bucket list” experiences!
Cuba: In April I had the opportunity to visit Cuba, a destination not available to US citizens for the last 50 years. It is still not “open” to freely come and go from the US so I cruised there on a People-to-People program from Jamaica, a very convenient and relaxing way to see the island. Right now I think the cruise is a great option as Cuba really does not have the tourist infrastructure the US market is used to. And now is a great time to go because you can see it before all of the inevitable changes occur. This trip is a good option for a week of winter warmth while seeing a “new” Caribbean destination.
Normandy, France: I love river cruises and really enjoyed this Avalon Waterways cruise on the Seine river, round trip from Paris, to the northern part of France. We visited many of the WWII sights – beaches, cemeteries, museums – and along the way stopped at enchanting villages, chateaux, cathedrals and Monet’s home in Giverny. To see where Monet painted and walk through the gardens that surround the lovely ponds was a highlight. Of course, who doesn’t enjoy a few days in Paris?! It was my first chance to visit Versailles and all I can say is WOW. Wonderful trip made even better by the wonderful ship. My husband and I were trying to figure out how to smuggle home their exclusive Comfort Collection Bed!
Panama: I spent a fun-filled week at two resorts, Dreams Playa Bonita and the Westin Playa Bonita, on the west coast of Panama, and discovered Panama is not your typical tropical destination. You start out in the busting new, larger Panama City, then drive towards the Playa Blanca coast for the most amazing beach area. Of course the highlight of the trip was the Panama Canal! I took the partial passage tour and was very pleased. We had breakfast and lunch on board, and went through a lock with a large ship and two smaller yachts, allowing us to see just how the locks operate. Small engines guide the ships through the narrow chambers. The new and larger locks are streamlined and work with tug boats “mushing” the huge container ships. Seeing the que of ships and their sizes makes you appreciate the commerce that is necessary to serve the world markets. Hard to imagine the effort that went into building the first set of locks and lakes and that after 100 years they are still working well.
Cuba: A “bucket list” trip was fulfilled this April when I traveled to Cuba on a one week cruise with Celestyal Cruise Line. I loved the beautiful scenery of the island, with its cobbled streets and colorful, weathered buildings, and the historic center of Havana which is a step back in time. Visiting the Museum of Revolution was an eye opening excursion that is unmissable for anyone with an interest in Cuba's recent history. Set in the former Presidential palace, the building still has bullet holes from revolutionary movements and it houses everything from Fidel Castro's t-shirts to 'Che' Guevara's camera. The Square in Cienfuegos is the nicest in Cuba, it is flanked by renovated colonial buildings, the opera house, the main church, the house of culture and the civic office building. In the center is a small area with trees and benches and a statue of Marti. It is a lovely place to watch the world go by. Taking a vintage car ride and having a mojito where Hemingway enjoyed his drink, topped off my best day in Havana. The cruise, which sails round trip from Montego Bay, Jamaica, is a great way to experience Cuba. I was able to visit several different areas and then go back to my “floating hotel.” It is also very affordable compared to the land tours that are offered. I highly recommend it!