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On almost all of the 6-week, twice-yearly trips to Japan that my husband, Clyde, and I have been making for the last eight years, and on annual visits beginning in November 1999, we have found the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) to be a no-brainer money saver.

To quote Chris Rowthorn (formerly of Lonely Planet and now of InsideKyoto.com), “If you do just one round trip on the Narita Express (N’EX) train between Narita Airport and Tokyo, and one round trip on the shinkansen (...

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Our villa at Chabil Mar Villas, Placencia Village, Belize. Photo by Michael Brandt

I was interested in running a half-marathon in Belize, my 157th, so my wife, Audrey, and I had our longtime friend and travel agent, Kathy Waldorf (Elk Grove, CA; 916/399-3104, www.katstravelfun.com), put together a travel package for us. It was an outstanding adventure and a must-go location.

We paid $3,031 for the package, which included air and lodging. Additional costs were for travel insurance ($374), ground transportation from Belize City to Placencia and back ($140), a visit to...

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Banks of the Yangtze River near the Qutang Gorge, as seen from the Viking Emerald. Photo by Stephen Addison

Almost halfway through an “Imperial Jewels of China” tour with Viking River Cruises (800/706-1483, www.vikingrivercruises.com) that my wife, Paula Owens, and I were on in May 2011, I inadvertently brushed against a sharp object and ripped a 6-inch gash along the right-side seam of my expensive safari shirt. Since we travel only with carry-on luggage, we travel light, so I had planned on wearing that shirt at least two more days during the tour.

This event occurred during...

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I reserved an apartment in Antwerp, Belgium, for July 2019 through the short-term-rentals website Vrbo.com. The apartment I booked was owned and operated by Smartflats, a Belgian “aparthotels” company.

In the photographs, the apartment appeared reasonably attractive. One photo showed an extended verandah that faced a modern office or apartment building many stories high across a narrow street.

But the reality, when I arrived there, was that that building across the...

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Lili and Don Tremblay enjoying a fiesta at a private hacienda in Montevideo, Uruguay.

My wife, Lili, and I spent a year and a half planning and paying for our 180-day ’round-the-world cruise aboard Oceania Cruises’ (855/335-2588, www.oceaniacruises.com) MS Insignia, which started from Miami on Jan. 8, 2020, and was scheduled to end in San Francisco on July 4. It was a repeat of a trip we took in 2016.

The basic cost of this cruise was $120,000 for both of us. We booked it through our excellent travel agent, Linda Costa, at Altour (Los Angeles, CA; 800/425-...

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To celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, my wife, Anne, and I signed up for the “2020 World Cruise – Navigate the World,” Jan. 5-May 17, with Regent Seven Seas Cruises (844/473-4968, www.rssc.com). After we had sailed aboard the Seven Seas Mariner for most of January, February and into mid-March, however, the rest of our 4½-month cruise was canceled, as so many ports were closed due to COVID-19.

Our world cruise package had come with a particularly...

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Patio of the Obermann Heuriger in Vienna. Photos by Kitty Chen Dean

In eastern Austria, a Heuriger is a place where one can drink “new wine,” wine bottled this year. During our month-long stay in Vienna, June 12-July 10, 2019, my husband, Richard, and I decided to honor the Austrian tradition of going to Heurigen (plural of Heuriger) to welcome the new vintages.

As new vintages arrived, vineyards across the nation have celebrated by opening their establishments to the public, usually putting up a pine branch, a sheaf of grain or other...

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The sanctuary of Parroquia Franciscana Santa Marianita, located near Puerto Ayora’s main square — Galápagos. Photos by Wanda Bahde

Nearly everyone who visits the Galápagos Islands visits the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island. However, most miss the hidden treasure of Parroquia Franciscana Santa Marianita (www.franciscanos.ec/santa-marianita-galapagos [in Spanish only]).

From the exterior, this parish church — located on Avenue Charles Darwin near the town’s main square — could be any small, traditional Catholic church, but its sanctuary is contemporary, airy...

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