Reykjavik and Scotland September 2019

September 06, 2019

Today’s column is the final eNewsletter! (That is, the final article about our trip to Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and Scotland).

Last weekend, the Holland America Line Ms Rotterdam docked in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Unlike the other ports we visited, which were sparsely populated, Reykjavik has a population of 125,000 in the city, and twice that amount when the surrounding suburbs are included.

But, in Reykjavik, Greta wanted to get out of the city. She had one special request on this trip: to visit the famous Blue Lagoon, about 35 miles out in the fields of volcanic rock. One requirement: bring your swimsuit.

Iceland and Greenland August 2019

August 30, 2019

Iceland and Greenland August 2019

After visiting Ireland for 10 days, Greta and I flew to Amsterdam on August 18, 2019, and boarded the MS Rotterdam, a Holland America cruise ship. Our 20-day itinerary included stops in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, the Shetland Islands and Scotland. The ship was at full capacity with 1,400 passengers and a crew of 600+.

More About Ireland 10-day Motor Coach Tour August 2019

August 23, 2019

Last week, I wrote about my partner Greta’s and my first week in Ireland. Today, I want to add some travel information and share with you the five most enjoyable activities we experienced in Ireland:

(1) Our Globus motor coach tour group of 28 visiting 200-year old Rathbaun Farm, 

 

near Galway, where we all prepared scones from scratch, and while the scones were baking, observed a border collie herding sheep.

10-day Motor Coach Tour of Ireland August 2019

August 16, 2019

Greta and I are in Ireland. We have joined 25 other people from the USA and one man from Australia on a 10-day land tour around the island. We have traveled on a Globus tour, by motor coach, staying in hotels in Dublin, Ballina, Galway, Limerick, Tralee, and Waterford.

We arrived in Dublin a day early to try to adjust from an 11-hour flight that crossed eight time zones. Although exhausted on the first night, we wanted to stay awake for four hours to sync with Ireland time.

Greta and I found a pub called the Ruin Bar a mile from our hotel, the Gibson Hotel. A red line tram runs from the hotel to Abby Street, where we got off. I had a pint of Guinness and we shared fish and chips. We were amazed at the number of pubs in that area of Dublin near the Liffey River.

If you attend the Sundance Film Festival, book your reservations early

December 01, 2016

My partner Greta's daughter, Tina, and her family, live in Salt Lake City. Greta loves movies and knows I enjoy skiing. Those three factors inspired Greta to schedule a trip for us to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah last weekend.

 

The festival was started 27 years ago at the Sundance Resort, in the Wasatch Mountains, about an hour from Salt Lake City. It struggled for three years until Robert Redford put his name behind it.

 

The festival has grown so much that now most of the activities take place in Park City, a bustling ski resort closer to Salt Lake City. This year, 120 films were shown, often multiple times each, in theatres in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo, Kimball Junction and Sundance.

Southern Italy-Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, and Capri and Pompeii. In Amalfi, taste limoncello, a lemon liqueur.

December 01, 2016

A trip to Italy without visiting the Amalfi Coast and Isle of Capri is like having pizza without cheese. 
 
My partner Greta and I decided that Sorrento, although crowded and touristy, would be the most centrally located city from which to see this part of southern Italy. From there, trains, boats and buses run frequently in most directions.  
 
Getting to Sorrento from northern Italy is easiest by train. Even with a Eurail pass, reservations cost a bit extra on high-speed trains such as the Eurostar. The six-hour ride from the Milan Central station to Naples passed through Parma, Bologna, Florence and Rome. 

Volume 1. Tom and Greta senior romantic South America trip March 2009. Our senior travel philosophy: travel while we are health and able to do so.

December 01, 2016

My partner Greta and I are traveling to South America, leaving Thursday, March 5, and returning, March 27.

 

As I've done for the last few trips, I will be submitting columns about our travels (with photos) to the Southern California syndicate of newspapers for which I write. Many of you have told me you want to read the columns, that you enjoyed the columns about Italy last year. So, I will include two or three columns in upcoming newsletters.

 

It seems there are always issues that come up just before an extended trip that makes one question the wisdom of going.

 

Three years ago, it was the Atochi train station bombings in Madrid that nearly derailed us. We were scheduled to depart from that station two weeks after the bombing. Our entire trip was to be via train in Spain. When I asked members of this newsletter if we should cancel our trip, you overwhelmingly urged us to go, and we did. But, we rented a car instead. It was a very eerie feeling when we visited that train station.

Volume 2 - Tom and Greta senior romantic South America Trip – 2009. Expect the unexpected when you travel. Visiting Emiliana vineyard in Chile

December 01, 2016

My partner Greta and I are on a trip to South America. First stop, Santiago, Chile. Because our time there was limited to 1 ½ days, we hired a guide to drive us around. We located Mauricio beforehand on the Internet.


He turned out to be gracious, fluent, knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and a family man, in his 30s with a wife and two children. He drove a very comfortable, air-conditioned car, which was appreciated in near 90-degree temperature.


On the first day, and a part of the second, Mauricio showed us around Santiago. For the remainder of the second day, we wanted to visit Valparaiso, a historical city, the most significant shipping port in Chile. Our visit there would include visiting a nearby city call Vina del Mar. Valparaiso is 75 miles west of Santiago, on the Pacific Ocean.

Tom and Greta senior romantic South America Trip 2009 - Volume 3. Buenos Aires has succulent beef and passionate tango

December 01, 2016

My partner Greta and I are traveling in South America. Our second stop was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a lively, bustling city of three million inhabitants (10 million in the metropolitan area). 

 

At the airport, there were six taxi companies at booths inside competing for business. You pre-purchase your fare based on the zone in the city to where you are traveling so there is no haggling over fares with the driver. The tip is already included.


We arrived on a Sunday, when many shops and restaurants were closed. Our timeshare apartment was centrally located in the Capitol Federal area of the city, two blocks from the obelisk, a visible landmark similar to the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

Vol#4 Staying on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian people are so friendly and co-operative, the language barrier melts away.

December 01, 2016

My partner Greta and I are on a three-week trip to South America. Our first stop was in Santiago, Chile, then Buenos Aires, Argentina, and now, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


In each country, the currency is different, so the exchange rates take a little getting used to. It seems the first transaction or two in each country you just hold out the money and let them take it because you don't know what the heck they are saying to begin with, and your brain hasn't yet clicked into the exchange rate.


Each of us has a pretty could handle on Spanish, but in Brazil, the language is Portuguese and that's another breed of cat. Oh, there are a few words that sound enough like Spanish words that you sometimes get the hang of what they are saying, but that's about it.

2009 South America Trip – Volume 5 - Montevideo, Uruguay. The Chivito steak sandwich, thinly sliced, is popular in Uruguay.

December 01, 2016

This is the 5th installment about our trip to South America. We've been to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Now, we're headed for Uruguay.


When visiting South America, most tourists skip visiting Uruguay, a small country wedged between Argentina and Brazil. But, with Uruguay being so close to Buenos Aires and easy to get to, we scheduled two days there.

After visiting Rio de Janeiro, we flew to the international airport in Buenos Aires, took a taxi downtown to the Buquebus terminal, which isn't a bus terminal, but a boat terminal, where the ferry boats leave for Uruguay.


We had a four-hour layover there, so the cafeteria became our friend. And not just our friend, but because of its popularity, many business people eat lunch there. At noon it was empty, at one o'clock, it was packed. 

South America Trip - Iguazu & Mar de Plata - Vol # 6 Relationships bridge countries and continents. Mar de Plata is a wonderful place to visit.

December 01, 2016

This is the 6th and  final installment of the 22-day trip to South America. My partner and I visited Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and now we are back in Argentina to begin the final five days.

 

With a four-hour layover at Jorge Newbury, the downtown airport in Buenos Aires, awaiting a flight to Iguazu Falls, we decided to enjoy the time across the boulevard from the airport, sitting on a bench along the River Plate, watching the locals fish in the river. We were seated next to a Parrilla stand, where the proprietor was grilling meat for sandwiches.

Arriving on Saturday night in Rapallo, Italy, May 12, 2008. Our plan was to travel within Italy by train.

December 01, 2016

My partner Greta and I are celebrating ten years of being a couple with a 23-day trip to Italy. Last Friday, May 9, we flew from Los Angeles to Milan. With the euro hovering around $1.60, European travel is no longer inexpensive like it was in the old days. We needed to tighten our belt and using frequent flyer miles helped.

 

After 19 hours in transit, our saga with new challenges and adventures began when we landed at Milan's Malpensa Airport, in northern Italy. For our first week, we had secured a timeshare condo in Rapallo, an Italian Riviera city about an hour south of Genoa.

Part one - Based in Rapallo, Our first city to visit was Portofino, the jewel of the Italian Riviera. Seeing the Cinque Terra by boat is a must.

December 01, 2016

It's our first week of vacation. We've figured how to get to and from the train station, the hub of local transportation. From there, we visited three cities over the seven days.
 
The first was Portofino, the jewel of the Italian Riviera, and frequented by the rich and famous. To get there, one takes a bus from Rapallo and transfers to a second bus at Santa Margherita, another quaint Riviera city. 
 
We failed to get off at the transfer stop. So, we had to walk back a quarter mile. On the ten-minute trip to Portofino, the bus driver blew the horn several times when approaching blind curves. 

23 days in Italy. Florence is still everybody's dream city. But if visiting Florence, parking is costly. Take the train.

December 01, 2016

My partner Greta and I are staying at a 16th Century farmhouse in the heart of Tuscany wine country with nine other couples for one week.
 
Yesterday, 10 of us caravanned in three cars to Florence. We didn't know where in the city we were going to park so we were flying by the seat of our pants. We did have a walkie-talkie in the lead car and another in the rear car, which kept us from getting separated. Trying to drive in Florence is nuts; trying to caravan three cars insane.
 
Florence is a constant traffic jam, especially at the rotaries where four streets converge into a circle. We tried to park near the train station and finally found a garage that would take all three cars. After handing the attendant the keys, we found out the garage closed at 8 p.m. 
 

There are always excuses on why not to travel that come up when planning an extended trip. But “Travel while we can” always wins out.

December 01, 2016

It seems that whenever I plan an extended trip, there are excuses that arise that make me question whether I should go or cancel. This year was no exception. (This year was 2008).

 

My partner Greta and I have been a couple for ten years. We feel blessed for those glorious years together and are celebrating our commitment to each other with a 23-day trip to Italy in May.

 

As many couples do when they first meet, we talked about countries we'd love to see and compiled a list of hoped-for future destinations. Italy ranked near the top. Planning to go there began over a year ago.

 

Then the excuses started to surface.

Summer Travels

September 18, 2016

On a recent flight to Hawaii, my life partner, Greta, and I boarded a Boeing 767-400 and were seated in row 14, seats d and e. We noticed there was a bathroom on both sides of the plane at row 14. At first I thought, how convenient, I only have to walk about two feet to the john. The plane had maybe 250 people and was full.

On the five-hour-plus flight, each toilet was flushed-- I estimate unscientifically--180 times. You could feel the vibration of each flush, so snoozing was out of the question. Not to mention the odor and potential for germs. Don't let an airline stick you in row 14 on a Boeing 767-400 aircraft. But that did not put a damper on our senior romantic travel.

Love in London and Paris - Traveling is a test of compatibility

August 04, 2016

Note from Tom: This article was originally published January 10, 2003

ABOARD THE PARIS TO LONDON EUROSTAR TRAIN – This Christmas, instead of exchanging gifts, my girlfriend, Greta, and I treated each other to 10 days in Europe. Using the Internet, we booked roundtrips on American Airlines for $319 each.

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