Continuing Education in the Humanities

To experience a new country, a new language, a new cuisine, or a new garb is beyond exciting.  It is first hand education using all of your senses at once. And when given an opportunity to take part in a local custom, one can only enhance one’s understanding. Trying something different allows one to appreciate the extraordinary.  The following photos bring back such joy and amazement for me and remind me that all is not wrong with the world.

I realize how fortunate I’ve been to have seen so much and I am richer for having done so.  I admire and respect those of you who have made a difference to these same places by doing humanitarian work while I have been the one benefiting.  Maybe one of these years I will join you in your compassionate endeavors! Meanwhile, thank you.

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To Cruise or Not

It’s a little hard to complain about a luxury cruise when the service is incredible, the food and weather amazing and the fellow travelers are interesting and engaging. However, I don’t think it’s for me.  I had read about a woman travelling on such a boat instead of spending her final years in an assisted living facility and thought that was just a legend but I actually met someone who was living on this boat! It is something I will keep in mind.

Perhaps the fact that I was traveling alone made my experience a bit different; however, I think it was that I felt myself melting into too much leisure.  I no longer cared if I went to the gym daily, didn’t care that I was eating 3 full meals each day and definitely didn’t balk at drinking wine with lunch or really any other time.

I’m not judging anyone who loves this life including those who enjoy dressing up in formal wear, but it’s not for me.  I prefer a bit of a struggle getting from here to there; I like planning my day and I relish unforeseen adventures that test my energy.

I’m sure I will take another cruise someday, especially if it’s the only way to get me to a destination in the most efficient and cost effective way.  Meanwhile, I think I will push my limits.  My next trip will take me to Malawi…a landlocked country!

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Cruising in the Caribbean

While I cruised for a week on the Seabourn Odyssey it certainly was not a voyage marked by upheaval or even any big waves.  It would be difficult to find something wrong with this beautiful ship on its expedition among the Caribbean islands.

This boat includes 11 decks with two swimming pools, six outdoor whirlpools, a spa and a gym.  There is a capacity for 450 passengers.  The dining rooms serve incredible food and drink and the overall service of the staff is amazing.

As a woman traveling alone I was invited to join other diners each evening, hosted by one of the entertainers or one of the ship officers. The majority of the passengers were Brits and I met quite a few who had made this exact trip before!

While I’ve not done many ocean voyages the fact that I would amass 5 new countries to add to my check-it-off map was a definite plus.   Starting at Barbados, our stops included St. Kitt’s and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines,  Guadeloupe, Martinique, Antigua and Sint Maarten where I disembarked.

Living in San Diego I wasn’t as excited as most of the passengers to visit the local beaches although I do like walking them and enjoy a good snorkeling spot.

 

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Lima, a Foodie’s Fantasy

With my two adult daughters in tow, one a vegetarian and the other a pescatarian we delighted in the options we discovered in Lima, Peru! Breakfast was included at the hotel and actually had individual stations for various food choices including vegans!

Life is good when you can find new restaurants for both lunch and dinner each day. It is even better when the cost of these delicious morsels is less than one might spend at a fast food place in the USA!

While most of the ones we frequented were in either Miraflores or Barranco due to the close proximity to our hotel we did stop at a fun little eatery off the Plaza De Armas De Lima. I can highly recommend the following: Javier’s, Mo Bistro, Cala and Tragaluz.

But the highlight was the tasting menu at Kjolle. The price was higher than the others but probably five times less than the same meal in New York. The chef, Pia Leon, is a young woman who has wowed patrons around the world with her innovative and exquisite cuisine. Her restaurant sits above her husband’s famous Central where she previously was working. The site of these two set in a beautiful garden is worth a visit in itself.

While enjoying each course I was distracted by a young couple sitting a few tables away taking well choreographed photos of her eating. I asked them about it on the way out and they have their own blog that has allowed them to travel the world and eat at places like this! Take a look at “Cheat Day Eats”.

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Was your last vacation really all that?

A report by Travel Pulse suggested that many of us exaggerate how amazing our last trip was because of all the incredible posts on Instagram and other social media sites. They made us feel we were missing out on the “good stuff”.

I have been accused of doing the same thing with my Holiday Letter….of course we’re not going to include the bad and ugly unless we’re chatting with close friends or complaining to the airline, hotel or tour company!

      

Why admit that you spent all the money and you would have preferred staying home? One can’t be blamed for the bad weather or even an outbreak of the flu but we wonder, did we do our “due diligence” in planning?

 

Sometimes the vacation is just so bad that it is actually funny.  Hey, you survived!  You had the “time” of your life, one to be remembered always! It makes a great story!

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See The World ASAP

Here is my list of the countries that I have visited and you’ll notice that I include individual ones that are actually part of a sovereign nation (like Wales, Scotland, etc. instead of United Kingdom). My intentions are to visit at least 5 new countries every year.

North and South America: USA, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Bahamas, Haiti, French Guiana, Peru, Antarctica, Suriname , Argentina, Guyana, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Ecuador.

Every Country in Europe: England, Scotland, Wales, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Holland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Macedonia, Kosovo, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Vatican City, Moldova, Albania, Andorra and Belarus.

Africa: Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, eSwatini, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Botswana, Namibia, Tunisia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Ethiopia and sort of the Congo

Middle East:  Israel,  Bahrain, Palestine, Jordan, Oman, UAE, Lebanon, Qatar, Malta, Cyprus and Kuwait.

Oceania and Asia: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam (both North and South).

Africa and Oceania are ripe for discovery…giving me enough opportunities for a few more years anyway.  In January of 2020 I’ll collect more island nations while on a cruise:  Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Nevis and St. Kitts, St. Vincent and St. Maartin.

It is easier now for me to count the countries I’ve not visited rather than those I’ve been fortunate to see.  I would love to hear some recommendations of places that I should add before it’s too late!

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A Unified Korea?

While visiting the  DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) on a group tour from Seoul, my guide indicated that many South Koreans would love to see one country instead of two; although she did imply that the younger generation was not as enthused about the prospect.

 

My first impression was of skepticism.  How could such a successful and advanced nation embrace open borders where the  economy and immigration would certainly be problematic? After visiting, I don’t think anything is going to happen anytime soon.

The new train station certainly does reflect optimism though.  And the current leadership of both are at least talking.

The highlight of the tour for me was the 3rd infiltration tunnel. It was approximately one mile in length, and about 240 feet underground.  Called the tunnel of aggression, it was built by the North, designed for a surprise attack on Seoul.  We were only allowed to get to the border of North Korea where we encountered three different blockades.

 

From above ground at the observation point I did get to see the countryside and of course many signs that warned one not to get any closer.  The red flags indicate land mines.

 

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