View of the Sea Channel from atop the Grand Cascade at Peterhof.

Russia has been on our travel wish list for quite some time, though it is a destination that can be intimidating for DIY travelers. A lot of research and good planning were necessary, but we were rewarded with an amazing trip. We did divert a bit from our normal DIY routine at times by hiring a driver or a guide for particular areas.

Moscow introduction

Following our journey through Georgia (Dec. ’17, p. 40), we flew Georgian Airways from Tbilisi to Moscow’s...

Our Grand Circle ship, the Bizet, docked in Paris.

In March 2016, my two traveling companions, Mary and Elaine, and I flew from San Francisco to Paris to embark on a Grand Circle Travel (GCT) river cruise from Normandy to Paris. This was my sixth trip with Grand Circle (Boston, MA; 800/221-2610, gct.com) — the third river cruise — and all have been excellent and reasonably priced. 

I’ve discovered that people develop great loyalty to this travel company. For two travelers in our group this time, it was...

Fred Steinberg and his wife, Maria, in front of The Treasury.

Some 10 years ago, when completing a tour of Turkey’s Ephesus, our archaeological-student guide said, “Now that you have seen the finest restoration of an ancient city, I suggest you go to my second favorite, Petra in Jordan.” 

My wife, Maria, and I put that suggestion on our travel “B list,” and this past summer, after attending a destination wedding in southern Spain, we headed to this awesome UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A bit of...

View of the Tower of London, seen on our complimentary Thames River cruise.

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit my hometown on Aug. 25, 2017, I decided to leave Austin, where I had gone to ride out the storm, and returned home to check my house and get clothes, before continuing with my plans to join my brother Charles and his wife, Jean, for a transatlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, departing Sept. 7.

It turned out to be good therapy for me, since there was little water supply and no electricity at home and my friends had scattered...

The stunning Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore.

I’ve traveled to many of the wild, exotic and “Why on Earth would you go there?” places in the world, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan and Libya, but there was one destination I’d been wanting to visit for a long time that had always eluded me. But not anymore! 

In October 2016, I traveled to Pakistan with Spiekermann Travel (Eastpointe, MI; 800/645-3233, www.mideasttrvl.com). 

I have taken many trips with Spiekermann and have always...

Dancing the sardana in Barcelona.

Due to increased tensions following the region’s declaration of independence and Madrid’s subsequent move to take control of Catalonia’s administration (see p. 2), travelers to this region are, as of press time, being advised to “exercise caution” because of the possibility of continued protests by large crowds.

After visiting the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, I was intrigued by the variety in the artist’s work and the mediums he...

A special opportunity to visit the orangutans of Borneo with the woman who knows them best

While traveling in Rwanda, I met someone who had recently gone to the island of Borneo to see orangutans. She told me about Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, who is to orangutans what Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees and Dian Fossey was to mountain gorillas. Together, these three women were dubbed the “Trimates” by Dr. Louis Leakey. 

Dr. Biruté Galdikas might be the lesser known of the three, but she has been in the field in Borneo for 46 years studying these wonderful...

The Lamaria Church in Ushguli.

We chose to visit the country of Georgia for its historic religious sites, its culture, its cuisine and its gorgeous scenery, and our 8-day stay in May 2017 did not disappoint.

Though this small, sparsely populated country has become, economically, much poorer since its separation from the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia is still a popular vacation destination for Russians, who love the food and wine, and it has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.