Category Archives: Int’l Tourism

Southern Africa Snapshots, Part IV

South Africa, Swaziland & Zimbabwe wrap-up.

My early posts from this trip each contained just one or two captioned images. The end of trip involved more travel time and fewer sites, so I am posting several images from each. By this time, the end was in sight, and I was not ready to come home. Then again, much as I love my husband and my home and my town and my cat, I want each trip to last just a bit longer.

Day 11 – Zambezi River (Botsawana)

Photos follow from a  “sunset cruise” (i.e., boat ride) on the tranquil Zambezi River before it plunges down the canyons and cataracts of Victoria Falls.

Welcome dancers at riverside where the boats leave from.
The river’s namesake in a can.
Calm waters.
Enormous elephant browsing on the bank.
Hippos in the stream.
Many boats on the river, including this one that strangely but inaccurately reminds me of “The African Queen.” The boat in the romantic adventure film had no canopy.
The main event.

Day 12 – Victoria Falls

Like Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls merits more a longer visit.  I enjoyed the scheduled half-day visit (pix below)  but I ended up not visiting a village in the afternoon. Too blazing hot.

English gets second billing on Zimbabwe park signs.
Thirty-eight wet stone steps to the first designated lookout over the massive falls.
Statue of Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingtone, the first European to see these falls.
“Thunder smoke” is what Africans call the falls.
Roiling waters.
Wide falls dropping from a broad basalt shelf.
Canyon cascade.
Rainbow.
Some of the offerings at the Sinathanayu Market on the fringes of Victoria Falls Village.
The Victoria Falls Hotel feeds threatened vultures every day. These large scavengers are not agile and perish on power lines or by eating poisoned carrion.
Fortune teller holds forth in a staw hut within the cavernous BOM A Restaurant where w cultural show and gut-busting buffet take place.

Day 13 – Victoria Falls Hotel

Last morning in Africa. I could (and probably should have) taken the opportunity to interact with orphaned lions that have been habituated to humans, but I just wanted to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel to contemplate, pack and steel myself for the three-flight return to Colorado. I hung out on a hotel terrace for a time and watched the birds.  No wildlife came to drink and no dramatic sunrise showed itself, but I still reveled the quite time of morning.

Then it was time to say farewell to our wonderful guide, Anni Hennup.
No airport images from Botswana because some fool on my inbound. flight caused trouble by taking disembarkation photos. Major but totally avoidable hassle. Landed in Cape Town on a rainy afternoon with beautiful light and even a farewell rainbow.

Looking forward to another trip to Africa sometime in the future.

Southern Africa Snapshots, Part II

South Africa, Swaziland & Zimbabwe wrap-up.

Continuing words and images of a two-week trip to southern Africa north from Cape Town. This series includes the parks of northern South Africa and a brief (and in my view, unnecessary incursion into Swaziland). This impoverished kingdom has an unemployment rate of more than 90%, high even for sub-Sahara Africa.

Day 4 – Winelands

Heading north out of Cape Town on the legendary N1 Road, AKA the Cape to Cairo Road, the Pan-African Highway or even the Great North Road in sub-Saharan Africa, Looks pretty ordinary here, despite its length and the exotic lands through which it travels.
Vineyard landscapes have a special beauty. I didn’t know it at the time, but near the end of the trip, I learned about the tragic fires in Napa and Sonoma, two leading California wine counties. I’m guessing we’ll be drinking more imported wines for a while — including from South Africa’s Winelands region. Cape Winelands and their cultural landscape were  listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on June 24, 2004 in the Cultural category.
In addition to the usual tasting facility (not a room, because ion warm weather it is on an outdoor patio), the Spice Route Winery has vineyards with a view, a restaurant specializing in African fa are, the CBC craft brewery and tasting room, the wonderful De Villiers chocolate tasting cellar and shop, the Red Hot Glass artisan glass shop, a kids’ playground and more.
Jewelery maker among the many arts and crafts vendors at the Franschhoek Saturday market, along with food purveyors, farmers and bocce adherents who set up a rough court one edge of the market.
Boschendal Wintery & estate is one of the Franschhoek Valley’s oldest. Tasting tables are set up under shade trees near this Dutch-inspired building.

Continue reading Southern Africa Snapshots, Part II

Southern Africa Snapshots, Part I

South Africa, Swaziland & Zimbabwe wrap-up.

I recently returned from two weeks in southern Africa, booked through Gate1Travel with incomparable Anni Hennop as a guide. The continent and the countries we visit provide a kaleidoscope of both positive memories and insights that are hopeful distressing.

Quick takeaways: Enormous income inequity. Vibrant but often violent history. Compelling scenery. Trash and litter (especially plastic bottles) despoiling the landscape. Wonderful wildlife.  Poaching remains problematic. Cultural and creative richness that sees people through and gives hope. Property crime rampant. Political corruption. Go visit and see for yourself.

Meanwhile, below find an image or two from every  place I visited and thing I saw at the beginning of the trip. Visit my Facebook page for more.

Day 1 – Arrival Afternoon

Watershed, an art and design center on Cape Town’s Victoria & Albert Harbor waterfront.

Day 2 – On the Road from Cape Town

Cape Peninsula Drive, one of the world’s most scenic highways. Parts are hacked into steep cliffs. Some stretches offer spectacular scenic views of beaches and bays. Parts lead though the fynbos, known as the smallest but richest of the six floral kingdoms on the planet with some 1,100 species of indigenous plants.
Wild seas. even during calm weather, at Cape Point where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. Whales are commonly sighted. Seals live on rocky outcrops. Birds fly past.

Continue reading Southern Africa Snapshots, Part I

U.S.to Put Out Unwelcome Mat for Foreign Visitors

Administration establishes tough and intrusive border regulations.

I started this blog more than a decade ago to celebrate the joy of travel and to offer occasional useful information for travelers. Sadly, travel has become increasingly less joyful, what with punitive airline experiences, fears of violent incidents in some of the world’s most appealing destinations and now, border hassles. Below is a digest graph from  the WTFJHT daily E-blast over the latest news to discourage inbound visitation to the U.S. — and we don’t now what the counter-policies might be.

The Trump administration is considering steps for “extreme vetting.” Foreigners entering US could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social media passwords and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology. (🔒 Wall Street Journal)

i have to wonder whether it will have a domino effect on travel to countries that previously were easy to enter. Will those with U.S. passports or arriving from U.S. flights now be diverted from the green customs light line when entering other countries?

Terrorism Tragedies Scaring Tourists from Europe

Destinations large and small impacted.

globeAs the years tick past, I wonder when I will no longer be able to put a pack on my back and tow a small rolling suitcase — and head somewhere distant. Therefore, the urge to travel — to see places I’ve never visited —  has increased, not waned.  I want to go afar while I still can.  Asia, Africa and Latin America call, but most of all, so does Europe. I’ve seen quite a bit, but there’s so much more.

Bombings and mass shootings in major cities make headlines all over the world, but incidents where few or none are killed and a few are wounded get less attention. And travels embarked on, experienced and completed without incident make no news at all. But more and more news stories do surface where something happened to tourists somewhere. A recent knife attack on a mother and her three daughters in the resort of Grande-Colombe in the French Alps was reportedly because the attacker thought the victims were too scantily dressed.

In my heart, I know that the chances of being in exactly the place where violence occurs are extremely slim (about like chances of winning the Powerball), but  many tourists still don’t want to take a chance. A piece in the New York Times, Terrorism Scares Away the Tourists Europe Was Counting On, makes me sad for a variety of reasons, but also offers opportunities for travel values. I’m checking out deals. In addition to the terrible tragedy for locals, every awful incident causes nervous visitors to cancel. I will want to get on a plane and go. How about you?

Powerful Cyclone Slams Fiji

Taking Cyclone Winston a bit personally.

FijiMe-logoI’ve visited Fiji, a beautiful island nation in the South Pacific populated by people who exemplify the Polynesian tradition of hospitality. I’m dismayed to read about Winston, the most powerful ever recorded with winds of 180 mph with gusts over of 220 mph, that slammed into Fiji. It has resulted in relatively few fatalities — thus far.

The lei is not just a Hawaiian sign of welcome, but a Polynesian one. Bula as experssed by a string of beautiful blossoms and the sweet scent of plumeria and other tropical flowers.. l
The lei is not just a Hawaiian sign of welcome, but a Polynesian one. Bula as experssed by a string of beautiful blossoms and the sweet scent of plumeria and other tropical flowers.. l

Some 900,000 people are scattered among the 100 or so inhabited islands of the total of 332.  Communications, water, electricity and sewerage must surely have been impacted, but how strongly is still unknown. And then there are the airports.  I flew Air Pacific to Nadi, one of the country’s largest cities, and from there to smaller islands — each with a ferry pier and/or a grass or asphalt airstrip. Fiji boasts secluded and yes, romantic resorts on outlying islands.

CycloneWinston

In the interim, Air Pacific has become Fiji Airways, and my husband and I are scheduled to fly to Australia with them early next month.  We have a stopover in Nadi. Reports are that the storm tracked between the two biggest islands. Suva, the capital, and Nadi, where there main airport is located, are both on Viti Levu. The country will reportedly still be under a curfew and state of emergency when we pass through.

American cities on Fiji Airways’ route map are Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Honolulu. It also serves Australian and New Zealand and is a popular and convenient getaway for folks from both. Here’s hoping for the visitors and the tourism infrastructure catering to them that clean-up is fast — more importantly, for the Fijians that their beautiful islands are restored to full function very soon.

Five New ‘Ethical Destinations’ Recognized

Ethical-Traveler-LogoIn the view of Ethical Traveler, Grenada, Micronesia, Mongolia, Panama and Tuvalu “are making impressive strides to conserve natural resources, support human rights and protect animals.” As such, they are first-time winners of the annual Ethical Destinations Awards, joining destinations recognized in previous years.

Each year, California-based Ethical Traveler researches and publishes a list of what it considers art the 10 most forward-thinking countries in the developing world. In addition to “performance” in the areas of human rights, social welfare, animal welfare and environmental protection, winning countries must be appealing as travel destinations.

The 2016 winners, in alphabetical order (not in order of merit), are:

  • Cabo Verde
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Micronesia (Federated States)
  • Mongolia
  • Panama
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Uruguay

Ethical Traveler is a project of the Berkeley-based Earth Island Institute. The goal of the Ethical Destinations Awards is to encourage developing nations to do the right thing, and to reward destinations where policies and actions protect human rights and the environment.

Need Extra Passport Pages? Get Them Now

Extra page policy ends at on December 31.

passportMy most treasured expired passport was valid from 1995 to 2005. The reason I like it best is that traveled so often during that decade that I actually had to get extra pages. I beef up the need did by requesting a stamp “as a souvenir” at every passport control opportunity. (I did get close to needing extras in the 2005 to 2015 passport. ) It will also be my only passport with extra pages, because starting on January 1, 2016. Americans will no longer be given the opportunity to add pages to existing passports. I have no idea why.

Bottom line is that if you travel a lot internationally, you might want to apply for extra pages before the end of the year so you won’t have to prematurely renew. After the first of the year, renewing (i.e., getting a whole new passport) is your only option At the time, however, you will be able to choose a 52-page book rather than the standard 28-page passport. FoMoInfo on the new regs.

Spain in a Jar of Boulder-Made Sauce

Classic Spanish sauce reminds me of a long-ago visit to Spain

TarragonaMapA message from Peter Guarino caught my eye for two reasons. First, it is a new local food purveyor, and second, the food he currently purveys is Romesco sauce, an intriguing and complex sauce whose origins are in the seaside town of Tarragona in the Catalonian (or Catalunyan, as it is now spelled) region of eastern Spain. Tarragona is known for its Roman amphitheater by the sea, its remarkable double aqueduct and its beautiful cathedral.

A lifetime ago, my first husband and I went to Tarragona on what was to be a day trip from Barcelona, where in a café, we met another couple from the US with whom we had a lot in common. I worked at Swissair at the time; she was with Air India. My heritage is Austrian; she had been born there. Our husbands had both served in the US Navy. They were renting a house in Tarragona and invited us to spend a couple of nights. My strongest food memories are of the fig tree growing outside the kitchen door and of her gone-local cooking. I had my first, unforgettable tastes both of aïoli and of Romesco.

Tarragona's seaside amphitheater, as well as a splendid aqueduct, a beautiful cathedral and long (if crowded) beaches are the most famous attractions of this town.
Tarragona’s seaside amphitheater, as well as a splendid aqueduct, a beautiful cathedral and long (if crowded) beaches are the most famous attractions of this town.

Traditionally,  fishermen from that region would bring in their catch, sell off the best fish for maximum profit and then concoct a stew of what was left in Romesco sauce as a base. I’ve since tried my hand at both, and they turned out well. At heart, I am a from-scratch cook, but sometimes I am happy to be able to shortcut the process and serve a quality prepared product.

PeosRomescoPeo’s Romesco sauce is very Boulder, being a product made from organic tomatoes, organic spices, organic olive oil, organic vinegar and nuts that are free of chemical pasteurization. Also, It is vegan-friendly, and this version his also gluten-, dairy- and GMO-free. Sometimes I think I’m the only person in Boulder with no food allergies or sensitivities, but avoiding GMO foods is one of my hot buttons.

Guarino recommends his complex sauce both for dipping and cooking.  He calls it “the Queen of Spanish Sauces.” If you are intrigued, click here for Colorado stores that currently carry it.

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

TripAdvisor’s List of Up-and-Comers

TripAdvisor-logoI occasionally have contributed to TripAdvisor, an important travel info and booking site, and many of my friends are more conscientious about reviewing destinations, hotels, attractions and so on there. I’m intrigued by the site’s new list of top global and U.S. destinations that it deems are “on the rise.” Internationally, the only one I’ve visited is Jerusalem, but Havana, Nepal (or elsewhere in the Himalayas) and Hanoi are high on my bucket list.

The site’s “Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the World”

  1. Havana, Cuba
  2. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
  3. Kathmandu, Nepal
  4. Jerusalem, Israel
  5. Cusco, Peru
  6. Ambergris Caye, Belize
  7. Sapporo, Japan
  8. Hanoi, Vietnam
  9. Corralejo, Spain
  10. Fortaleza, Brazil

Domestically, I’ve been to every place on the list other than Destin and Galveston, but I’m not much for Sunbelt destinations. Still, I do like Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, because it feels like a real place — one filled with visitors, of course, but still not a tourist development like, say, the Kohala Coast, built on a lava flow just for tourists.

TripAdvisor’s “Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the U.S.”

  1. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
  2. Anchorage, Alaska
  3. Destin, Florida
  4. Bar Harbor, Maine
  5. Santa Fe, New Mexico
  6. Jackson, Wyoming
  7. Galveston, Texas
  8. Brooklyn, New York
  9. Moab, Utah
  10. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania