The village of Reine on one of the islands of the Lofoten archipelago.

Live like a Viking. These were the last words that my professional author son, Jeff Carlson, wrote to his boys before he died. So off to find our Vikings we went.

Together with Jeff’s 13- and 15-year-old sons, Ben and John, a 16-year-old cousin, Sam, and my daughter-in-law, Diana, I put together a family trip to Norway for June-July 2018 that would include a 14-night Princess cruise. We invited Diana’s mom and stepdad and Diana’s twin sister and her new wife.


We were welcomed to Cecer Village and treated to a dance performance while these ladies played the drums.

Following time on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Java, my June 2018 tour with Overseas Adventure Travel, or OAT (Boston, MA; 800/955-1925, www.oattravel.com), continued to Bali.

A festive atmosphere

We arrived in the middle of the exciting Galungan celebration, and I was speechless seeing the number of temples and shrines each family had… inside their homes, in their offices, in the local park — everywhere. At each one of these, someone placed a basket of...

Murals inside a round church on Tana Lake.

I had been to Africa a number of times, but I had never been to Ethiopia. The only African country not to be colonized, it has its own language, writing system, music, dancing style, dress, food and way of telling time. All of that fascinated me.

Heading out

My 22-day trip from March to April 2018 began with seven days in the northern part of the country, which is what I will cover in this article. With my guide, Tefera Alemu of Tefera Tours (Addis Ababa; tefera.tours), and his...

Inside the tomb of Ramesses III in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

After a visit to Egypt some years ago, I developed a particular interest in the tombs of the pharaohs and their queens.

Inspired by The Great Courses lectures by Professor Bob Brier, the "History of Ancient Egypt" and "Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Heiroglyphs," I booked a solo trip to Egypt (Feb. 22-March 2, 2018) with Museum Tours (Littleton, CO; 888/932-2230, www.museumtours.com).

The goal of this trip was to see every single tomb in the West Bank of...

The Church of St. John at Kaneo, overlooking Lake Ohrid.

I had booked a group tour that would take my sister Gretchen and me to northern Greece, Macedonia and Kosovo in September-October 2017, but I also wanted to add on some days in Albania, so I arranged a private tour ($1,650 per person for two) with Barbara Sansone of Original World (San Rafael, CA; 888/367-6147, originalworld.com).

Then, two months before our scheduled departure, I was notified that the group tour was canceled because not enough people had signed up. I contacted...

Half-timbered houses in Bernkastel-Kues.

When a former coworker at Northwest Airlines (now part of Delta Air Lines) asked if we wanted to do a bike-and-barge trip on the Saar and Mosel rivers in Germany, my partner, Mike Darling, and I jumped at the chance.

By the time everyone had signed up — a year in advance — there were 29 people in our group. We were very excited to catch up with longtime friends from our airline days and meet the friends of friends who would be joining us.

About the trip


An orange-robed monk standing among the stupas of Borobudur.

After a trip to wild Papua New Guinea years ago, I was enticed by the knowledge that the western half of the island of New Guinea is part of Indonesia. (PNG, on the eastern half, is an independent nation.) The opportunity to visit Indonesia presented itself when two friends I'd met on my Five 'Stans adventure invited me to join them there. After checking the exciting pre- and post-trip itineraries, I was in!

Hong Kong

Since I would be so close to Hong Kong and had never...

Llamas in Sajama National Park, Bolivia.

From December 2017 into January 2018, my wife, Susan, and I completed our second circumnavigation of the world, purchasing flights through American Airlines, part of the oneworld alliance of airlines.

Making plans

Creating and pricing an itinerary was easy using oneworld's Explorer website (rtw.oneworld.com).The website spelled out some rules for choosing flights, and as I picked destinations, the site notified me if I violated a rule.

After selecting our...