Features

Susan paragliding in front of the Matterhorn.

My wife, Susan, and I have always been fans of the TV show “The Amazing Race,” but we never felt that we had the right “hook” to get us through the audition process. However, an article in the Wall Street Journal from March 8, 2018, titled “Why Even Control Freaks Are Opting for ‘Surprise Vacations’” led us to Competitours (competitours.com). The tag line from their website captivated us: “The Amazing Race for Regular People.”

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A performance by the mudmen of Papua New Guinea.

How could anyone see the National Geographic pictures of the Goroka Festival in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and not want to go there? But, calculating the cost of a tour plus business-class airfare — around $30,000 for two — I had to say “Another time.”

However, with the discovery of gas off the coast of PNG and how that might disrupt the local culture, not to mention my approaching dotage, it seemed that “another time” had arrived.

My wife, Yuki...

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Binglingsi Shiku, aka Thousand Buddha Caves, with sandstone peaks rising above the Liujiaxia Reservoir.

Shortly before my scheduled departure on ElderTreks’ September 2019 “Chinese Silk Road — The Great Silk Road Adventure” tour, a detailed itinerary arrived. A read-through took my breath away, as I mentally traveled along the Chinese portion of the ancient trade route that connected the East with the West.

Visits to mosques; pagodas; museums; lost cities unearthed from centuries of sand; ancient tombs; statuary-populated caves, and geological wonders ranging...

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A view of Tallinn, the capial of Estonia.

We have had a long-term passion for history and decided to act on it once again by booking a cruise titled “In the Wake of the Vikings,” with who else but Viking Ocean Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 866/984-5464, www.vikingcruises.com/oceans)! It sailed a portion of the world we had not experienced and was rich in Norse history.

Beginning in Bergen, Norway, our September 2018 cruise crossed the North Atlantic, stopping in the Shetland Islands; the Faroe Islands; Iceland;...

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Our accommodations at Pench Tree Lodge.

When most people think of a safari, one of the African countries comes to mind first. However, having visited Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya in the past, we decided to try an Indian safari in February ’19, exploring four of the national parks there: Kaziranga, Satpura, Kanha and Pench.

We flew nonstop for 14 hours from Newark to Delhi, spent the night at the Claridges Hotel, then connected with an IndiGo flight to Guwahati, in the state of Assam.

In preparation for our trip...

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Our little group, after a lesson on hat making.

Since I started reading International Travel News in the early 1990s, I had heard the occasional report that the ships supplying the various island groups in French Polynesia also carry tourists. With two weeks to spare before the end of the 2019 cyclone season, when I would rejoin my yacht in Raiatea, the timing was perfect for me to find out for myself.

French Polynesia consists of five distinct archipelagos. Everyone’s heard of the Society Islands, which include Tahiti, Bora...

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A frozen river winds through Winnipeg.

Seeing the northern lights has been on my “bucket list” since before I really had one. Having spent most of my life in southern or midwestern climes, I never had a chance to see them from my home. Many people hope to see them on a trip to Iceland or Alaska, but there is no guarantee, and I wanted something more certain than that. 

My husband, Steve, too, was excited at the prospect of seeing the aurora borealis, so when I found out that Road Scholar (Boston, MA; 800/...

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View from atop the Erbil Citadel, looking down at the plaza below.

My dream came true. Finally, after 62 years of travel, my intense desire to close a large, gaping hole in my travel map of the Middle East was fulfilled. 

MT Sobek (Emeryville, CA; 888/831-7526, mtsobek.com) put on a superb 9-day exploratory tour of Iraqi Kurdistan departing March 6, 2019. The tour cost $5,095, with a $715 single supplement. And what a tour it was! 

Erbil

The sheer beauty of Iraqi Kurdi­stan absolutely shocked me. Mountains unexpectedly...

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