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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Part One: Sake and the Spirit of Niigata

The choice was difficult.

We could spend our last five days in Tokyo, a city that we had visited many times before where our favourite haunts beckoned us: the observation level of the Metropolitan Building to see Mt. Fuji, shopping for books at Kinokunya in Shinjuku, or at Disc Union for used CD’s, or for clothes at Muji and Uniqlo and then over to Tokyu Hands department store to shop for just about anything you can image.

But this was too easy as it pandered to our comfort level. I’ve surmised that too many travellers fall into... Read More

We stood outside the buildings of Rockefeller Center admiring a large water fountain—an Atlas of bronze—and an enormously huge Christmas tree (the biggest I’d ever seen), all lit up and dazzling! The night was windy and freezing cold, enough to quite chill you to the bone. The cold that night was also record-setting, and it made the whole experience of visiting New York, well, down-right frightening. I wanted to cry out to my husband and say, “Can we please go home now, back to sunny, warmer California?” I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes or nose. Heck, I didn’t even know if I was breathing!

... Read More

The drive to our bed and breakfast has an eerie tale that put slow fear in our hearts and our minds and we’ll not soon forget. And as I write this account, I shiver remembering!

The day of our trip began with smiles and high spirits. We’d packed light, placed our bags in the car, backed out of the driveway and resolutely pulled away from the comfort of our home, leaving weeding and cleaning and all emotional cares behind. Without a doubt it would all still be there when we got back.

On the road, with a course set to our Inn in Gualala, California, as we followed the explicit directions... Read More

Supreme, or perfect happiness. Utter Joy. Contentment. These are the popular dictionary definitions of ‘bliss”. And there is nothing profound in saying that bliss is in the heart and soul of the beholder.I have alluded in past articles to the fact that I ‘bliss out’ when I find masks during the course of my travels. But that is not all! Here be it told that I am also a bibliophile—a lover of books and bookstores and I will usually spend some time perusing the shelves in whichever city I happen to be visiting. There are the legends, of course. In my search for bliss, no visit... Read More

The key to having a meaningful visit to the camel market at Imbaba is to get there early, before the “tourists” arrive. We woke up at 6:00 am and by 6:30 am we were standing in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, trying to hail a taxi. At the best of times, Tahrir (literally, Liberation) is a noisy melange of car and bus horns, people yelling, vendors hawking their wares, pollution and confusion, all contrasted by the propinquity (and historicity) of the Egyptian Museum, with its treasures of civilizations past. We had already spent several days in the City of 1000 Minarets, and it seemed as... Read More

I was intrigued to receive an email recently where, under the signature, there was a presumably rhetorical question: “Are you a tourist or a traveller?” It is an interesting question but perhaps not as rhetorical, as it is misguided or on the wrong track.

Tourists were in steerageMind you, I used that tourist vs. traveller reasoning quite a lot when I started travelling the globe in the 1970’s. I felt that I had ‘graduated’ from experiencing package coach tours, to joining adventure travel groups, and then moving on to make my own plans to explore South East Asia. I had... Read More

Boo! I have to admit that the advent of Halloween and the 24-hour Fear Fests on TV have got me thinking about why people watch this stuff --what is the great attraction--and how does this transfer over to the world of travel. I will admit that I can’t handle movies such as Halloween or Friday the 13th, and really, the scariest DVD in my collection is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

But when we were kids in the 1960’s, it was a real treat when our Mom took us to Buffalo, New York for the annual shopping spree and then we would return across the border to spend some time in Niagara... Read More

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