Far Horizons

Magnificent stands of trees grace the Sete Cidades landscape. Photos: Gail Keck

(Part 2 of 2 on the Azores)

The second portion of my November ’08 sojourn to the Portuguese Azores with my wife, Gail, focused on the capital city of Ponta Delgada and the main island of São Miguel. The three days we spent on the island, hosted by Azores Express and the Azores tourist office, resulted in our having a capsule view of a lifestyle we found to be enviable.

Arriving in Ponta Delgada on our interisland flight from Pico in late afternoon, we were met by our...


by Randy Keck, Part 1 of 2 on the Azores

Many travelers are not aware that it is possible to fly nonstop from the US to the Azores. My wife, Gail, and I did just that on a 7-day November ’08 getaway, taking a 5-hour flight from our Boston gateway to the lush Portuguese islands nestled in the eastern Atlantic. We were hosted by Azores Express, the only airline that flies to the Azores nonstop from the US, and the Azores tourist office.

Despite being on the same latitude as...


Experienced international travelers have become used to periodic disturbances, including acts of violence in foreign lands, and typically factor such considerations into travel plans. Most are also philosophical about the fact that, on occasion, foreigners traveling overseas are also victims of such acts. This reality, however, does not deter most travelers from their chosen explorations. This is because, in terms of risk/reward assessment, basic common sense prevails.


Patan is Nepal’s ancient city of beauty and art. Photos: Keck

(4 of 4 on India plus Nepal)


During the latter part of my May 2008 visit to India, I had the chance to experience the Kathmandu Valley region of exotic Nepal. My short trip focused on some of Nepal’s prime historic locations, including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Those who have more time likely would be well rewarded by venturing farther afield to some of Nepal’s rural cultural destinations. Seasonal hiking and walking tours of various grades...

In Varanasi, seeing is believing, including a bull in a fabric shop.

Part 3 of 4 on India & Nepal

It is an impossible task to convey in these few pages any real detail concerning the numerous varied attractions of the four distinct destinations in central India that are the subject of this column. My goal, instead, shall be to convey essence and hopefully inspire readers to further explore this important region.

I will proceed in the order of my visitations during a May 2008 individual tour of India and Nepal hosted by SITA World Tours (...

The Amber Fort, outside Jaipur, has beckoned travelers from afar for centuries.

part 2 of 4 on India & Nepal

Rajasthan is India’s most popular visitor destination, with its triangular route of Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur being easily accessible by road from Delhi and Agra. My May 2008 road journey through Rajasthan, hosted by SITA World Tours, focused on these three equally intriguing destinations.

For the most part, Rajasthan is a dry and dusty state, stretching to Pakistan on the west. Much of its wealth is due to its strategic trade route...

Bombay’s famous Gateway to India Arch and the historic hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. Photos: Keck

(Part 1 of 4 on India and Nepal)

India is a complex, intricate weaving of layers and textures, the essence of which is difficult to convey solely via the written word. In May 2008 I had an off-season opportunity to experience some of the best of India and Nepal on a trip hosted by SITA World Tours (an ITN advertiser) and Jet Airways.

My itinerary was similar to SITA’S 18-day tour “Best of India and Nepal” but with some modifications, including an extra night...


by Randy Keck, part 3 of 3 on Thailand

An evening flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai signaled the beginning of the northern Thailand portion of my March ’08 Thailand adventure. The lush, mountainous north was to provide a welcome respite from the heat I had experienced in central Thailand.

Chiang Mai temple tour

The following morning, with my new guide, Adul, I began a fascinating tour of local wats (temples) that helped unveil a history of the north of Thailand that...