Far Horizons

The facts and opinions expressed in this column are based on firsthand observation. On 10 occasions since 2010, I have traveled to Cuba as a travel writer or in some other tourism-related capacity, visiting 15 of the island’s 16 provinces and all of the major cities. I have another two visits scheduled before November 2016.

An enthusiastic welcome

Earlier this year, I had occasion to visit Cuba’s most popular and most developed resort destination, Varadero, located...

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Almost every January, I have the opportunity to attend the annual Symposium of the International Tour Management Institute, or ITMI (625 Market St., Ste. 810, San Francisco, CA 94105; 800/442-4864, www.itmitourtraining.com). ITMI has been conducting its training courses since 1976 and is the largest and most highly regarded training institute for tour directors and guides in the US.

Attending Symposium provides me with the opportunity to get up to date with tour operators...

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(Third of three parts)

On the final part of the 12-day tour of Scandinavia that I took with smarTours (partially hosted) in August 2015, our group enjoyed an overnight DFDS Seaways cruise from Oslo, Norway, to Copenhagen, exploring the Danish capital for two days before flying to Helsinki, Finland. Boarding the ship in Oslo in late afternoon, we enjoyed two sunny hours of revelry on the 11th-level open deck with a view of the city skyline and harbor. The cruise was off to a great...

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 (Second of three parts)

The second stage of my August 2015 Scandinavian adventure began with a drive from coastal Bergen into the heart of Norway’s enthralling fjord region. I was journeying, partially hosted, with a group of 38 intrepid travelers on the 12-day “Scandinavian Explorer” tour offered by smarTours (New York, NY; 800/337-7773 or 212/297-0955, www.smartours.com). 

Upon our arrival at the hamlet of Voss, we boarded an express train for...

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(First of three parts)

Scandinavia finally edged its way to the top of my travel bucket list in August 2015 when the Fates presented an opportunity to travel to Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. 

With an energetic group of 38 savvy explorers, I participated in a 12-day “Scandinavian Explorer” highlights tour, partially hosted by both Finnair and New York-based smarTours (800/337-7773 or 212/297-0955, www.smartours.com). 

Tour prices, including...

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(Second of two parts)

En route to the Atlantic coast on our June 2015 driving adventure in southwestern France, my wife, Gail, and I drove 400 kilometers from Collioure to Lourdes, where we found a hotel row stretched along the banks of the Gave de Pau.

After negotiating a good rate of $78 at the 4-star Hôtel Le Méditerranée (23, av du Paradis, Lourdes; www.lourdeshotelmed.com), we joined the stream of visitors, mostly foreigners and many in wheelchairs, making their way to...

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(First of two parts)

Prior to our June 2015 Canal du Midi cruise in southwestern France (see my August and September 2015 columns), my wife, Gail, and I allowed time to experience Montpellier.

Notable Montpellier

Compared with many of it neighbors, the city of Montpellier is a relative newcomer, its origins traced to the 10th century. By the 13th century, it was a thriving center of commerce and trade with the East, including the exporting of wine. Montpellier has the...

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(Second of two parts)

One of the attractions of barge cruising along the Canal du Midi in France is the opportunity to bike on the towpaths that line its entire 150-mile length. On a partially hosted cruise with European Waterways aboard the classic, Dutch-designed barge Anjodi in June 2015, my wife, Gail, and I took advantage of the biking options along our route from Le Somail to Marseillan. 

The Anjodi carries a bicycle for each passenger, and we found their new...

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