We flew to Singapore on January 15th three days before our cruise departure. That gave us some time to tour the city which we very much enjoyed. Singapore is very impressive mostly because it is very modern. It is a busy city with a population approaching six million but it is also a very clean city.
We left Singapore on our cruise ship m/s Volendam for a 14-day cruise on January 20th. We began with two stops in Thailand then a stop in Cambodia, four stops in Vietnam and ended in Hong Kong. We took tours at every stop with all but one of them via the many cruise lines' shore excursion options. All were very informative and interesting. The only two major cities we saw were Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and Da Nang. Da Nang was the nicest with a great beach too. The hallmark of these cities and towns were the abundance of motorbikes for basic individual and family transportation.
We arrived in Hong Kong City to end our cruise on February 3rd. We then stayed for three days to tour the city. The city is very dense with a population of over seven million. Yet it is a pleasant modern city. I know one thing, I would never want to drive there! But there is no need to drive with the availability of taxis, trams, buses and a very nice subway system. Like Singapore this is a very clean city, no trash and no graffiti anywhere. And like Singapore we saw no "street people" begging. I recommend a visit to each of these two cities.
Overall a great trip with good weather. We did have one cool and cloudy day in Hong Kong and one foggy day at sea but no rain.
On September 5th we flew from Winnipeg to Tokyo's Narita (NRT) airport via Vancouver. A bus took us from the airport to the Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku for three nights. Our first morning we took a tour bus from the Love Statue to the Fuji area to see the mountain and the valley lakes and streams. Our second day in Tokyo we just tried to see as much as we could by subway and on foot. That night a typhoon hit Tokyo during the night and the next morning all rail transportation and major highway bridges were closed making travel very difficult. We needed to get to Yokohama Cruise Terminal to catch our cruise that afternoon. We managed to get a taxi to take us but the highways were jammed so it took us four hours instead of the normal 90 minutes. The cruise ship and crew were late getting in so we did have extra time.
The cruise left that evening but to make up time, the first scheduled stop, Ishinomaki on the eastern coast, had to be skipped and so we went on to the next scheduled stop, Hakodate. The rest of the cruise went per plan but this was our first time on a Princess cruise and it wasn't what we had become accustomed to on our many Holland America cruises.
After returning to Yokohama, we headed back to Narita airport, via a cruise transfer by bus, to fly to Seoul, South Korea. We landed at Incheon (ICN) airport and took a bus to the ibis Ambassador Insadong hotel. That evening we found the cluster of shops and restaurants on narrow walkways very close to the hotel.
Our first morning we took the subway about 50 miles south to Suwon. There we met up with Brad, Del's cousin and his wife Rachael for a visit and lunch. They then left us to tour the area on our own. The next day we did a walking tour from our hotel of two palaces and the old Bukchon Village. Our final morning in Seoul, we checked out of the hotel and took the subway to Gimpo (GMP) airport to fly to Jeju Island.
We landed in Jeju City on the northern coast and rented a car, then checked into the Lotte City Hotel in Jeju City for one night. We learned of a typhoon just south of the island that was progressing to the east off-shore. The next morning we drove east in heavy rain to the Manjauggul Cave to see the lava tubes but it was closed probably for fear of flooding from the heavy rains. So we went on southeast to the Aqua Planet aquarium. It was located on a peninsula and the wind and driving rain was very strong as the typhoon seemed to be getting closer. The dash from the parking lot was difficult but we made it inside ok. Surprisingly there were lots of folks there since it was a Sunday, typhoon be damed! We made one stop at a beach but it was difficult to see anything so we went on to find the Hotel Tuscana just west of Seeogwipo. The next day the weather was great, sunny and warm! We drove west to find The Glass Castle and then up the west coast stopping at a couple of beaches for pictures. Then we continued north through Jeju City and west back to the cave. This time it was open and we went in to find the lava tubes. Finally we cut through the hills south back to our hotel for the final night.
We checked out early the next morning to make our flight back to Seoul Gimpo airport and then took a train from there directly to Incheon airport to catch our flights back home.
Although Del had been to Australia and the north island of New Zealand, I hadn't. So we began to put together a trip that covered what we wanted to see in Australia plus a 14-day cruise of New Zealand. I had family in the Melbourne area that I had never met and that added to the desire to go there. We also had friends in Perth that invited us to visit and see some of Western Australia.
We left home on Sunday, October 2nd and flew to Sydney via a stopover in Vancouver. We began with Sydney, then to the Great Barrier Reef and a national park in the rain forest just northwest of Cairns. Next we went to Alice Springs and toured Red Rock Canyon and Uluru (Ayers Rock). Then it was off to Perth where Ken & Alison took us on several trips that included a camp-out in the bush, beautiful beaches and coastal towns.
We got back to Sydney where we embarked on our New Zealand cruise.
On the way south to New Zealand, we stopped in Melbourne and then Hobart,Tasmania. After two days of rough seas, we entered Milford Sound and the Fiordland National Park of the southwestern coast of the south island of New Zealand. The following eight days we made our way up the east coast of both islands making seven stops along the way, disembarking in Auckland. We spent three nights is Auckland before flying west to Adelaide, via a stopover in Melbourne.
We stayed in Glenelg just south of Adelaide for a few days before driving to Melbourne. We stayed in St. Kilda just south of the Central Business Distric for five nights. While there, we drove south to visit my family in Rye, Victoria on the "Mornington Peninsula". Out next stop was the Capital of Australia, Canberra. After two nights there we drove on back to Sydney. Before leaving Australia, we took a day trip to the Blue Mountains west of the city. The next day, Wednesday, November 23rd, we took that long flight back to Vancouver and then home.
I took a rail trip across the southwestern US to try out my back packing idea before I tried to do it in Europe. The trip included a rental car tour down the west coast from L.A. to San Diego with stops along the way. I stayed three nights in a downtown San Diego Hostel. It was very nice and close to everything. But the best part of this trip was a tour of the Grand Canyon by mule train. I spent one night at the bottom on Phantom Ranch and then back out on Suzanne, my mule, the next morning.
We stayed five days at Treasure Island in Las Vegas, but as most will agree, that's long enough. But we did get to see two good shows too.
On this two week trip we took in a great show in Las Vegas, saw three National Parks in the canyon country, hiked the Grand Canyon, and toured the southern California coast. We also got to stay/visit with family in Orange County.
I was invited by a good friend to join him on a tour of National Parks in the western Dakota's but we saw even more than that. After making our base in Hill City, SD we spent the next four days touring Badlands NP, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park including Sylvan Lake area, Wind Cave (no tour), Jewel Cave Tour, Crazy Horse Memorial and the towns of Lead and Deadwood.
Then we headed north to Dickinson, ND our other base and our last few days of touring. On the way we crossed over into eastern Wyoming to check out Devels Tower National Monument. The next days we toured Theodore Roosevelt National Park, first the North Unit, then the South Unit.
We saw lots on this trip and managed to get a hike in each day (except travel days).
I joined my daughter for a week vacation in California. After a night at her place in Orange County, we drove to Mammoth Lakes and stayed with relatives for three days and four nights. Two of the days we hiked in the mountains and one day we did some sightseeing that included a stop at Mono Lake to see the Sand Tufa, a trip to the top of Mammoth Mountain via Gondola, an earthquake fault and upper Yosimite National Park.
I was invited by Pat again this year to join him on a tour of National Parks. This trip took us to Voyageurs, Apostle Island and Isle Royale National Parks. We didn't have our own boat to get to the islands of Voyageurs in Rainy Lake. But we did hike one trail on the lake shore and we took a guided "Voyageurs Birch Bark Canoe" trip.
For Apostle National Seashore we took an evening guided boat cruise of the islands out of Bayfield, Wisconsin. Although it doesn't stop on any of the 21 islands, it was a worthwhile trip.
The highlight of the trip had to be our 3-night stay at Rock Harbor Lodge on Isle Royale. We took a 3+ hour ferry boat out of Copper Harbor, MI to/from Isle Royale N.P. On the island there are no roads, only trails and water. So to see it means hiking or going by boat. Many kayak or canoe to investigate the several bays, harbors and inland lakes. A waterbus is available for set times and destinations. We hiked several trails and took the waterbus to one point. We also took a canoe for about a three hour relaxing paddle.
Be sure to check out the photo link above.
This trip was a package, booked through Embassy Tours located in St. Andrews near Winnipeg, that included a 7-day cruise and several nights in Waikiki at a Hilton Hotel. We flew to Honolulu with a stopover in Vancouver on January 23rd. On the 26th we embarked on Norwegian Cruise Line's "Pride of America" which took us to the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai before returning to Oahu on February 1st.
The overall trip was great. The only disappointment is that due to very high winds we had to bypass our first port-of-call, Hilo, Hawaii where we had planned to tour the Kilauea volcano. Also the ship was lacking when compared to the Holland America's "Zaandam" we took last summer on the Inside Passage cruise.(See below)
This trip began with the primary goals of seeing my daughter, who lives now just a little northeast of Dallas, and seeing San Antonio. We have wanted to get to San Antonio and the famed River Walk for many years. In fact we had a trip there booked about six years ago but we had to cancel it due to my mother being hospitalized at the time. Later we decided to expand our tour and see some other areas too.
We did visit with my daughter for a few days. While with her we also checked out Arlington and downtown Fort Worth. Then on our way to San Antonio, we spent about a half day checking out Austin. We stayed three nights on the River Walk at the Drury Inn & Suites. An interesting area, but also within walking distance to the Alamo. While in San Antonio we also went to the Witte museum to see the "Our Body" exhibit and we checked out their botanical garden too. Since we were so close, we decided to do a quick run down to South San Padre Island. The weather wasn't that great so we stayed just one night. Anyway we really wanted another day in Austin before we flew back home.
We got to Austin late afternoon and spent the night and half the next day. We found Austin to be a very vibrant city and in a beautiful part of Texas. We also checked out Lake Travis, just 20 minutes from downtown. It was very nice with a wonderful sailing club facility and other marinas.
This was another trip with my friend Pat, who is trying to visit all US National Parks. On this trip we went to three parks, Katmai, Kenai Fjords and Denali, in that order.
We met in Anchorage on July 22nd. The next day we drove to Homer where got a charter float plane to Katmai's Brooks River Falls Camp the next morning, for a day of bear viewing. That is where we got to see the brown bears feeding at the falls on salmon just beginning their run up stream. It was spectacular to be so close. The following morning we drove from Homer to Steward, our base for Kenai Fjords NP. First we hiked the trail to Exit Glacier north of town. On the next day we took a chartered cruise out Resurrection Bay and into Aialik Bay to see the Aialik Glacier. Along the way we saw other glaciers and lots of wildlife including Steller sea lions, Horned Puffins, a Mountain goat, several Orca whales and more.
We then drove from Seward to Denali NP with an overnight stop in Anchorage. We had three days in the park, although we were staying in a cabin about five miles from the main entrance. One day we took a park shuttle bus to Eielson Visitor Center. Although it was overcast when we started out and the driver said that noone has seen the mountain all summer, we got very lucky and it cleared to the point that we got to see the mountain in full view that day. Also along the way we saw several grizzly bears, a few moose, a couple of cairabou, gold eagals, and some ptarmigans. On other days we went to the dog kennel to see the dog sled demonstration and hiked in a few places. In the afternoon of our final day we drove back to Anchorage for our overnight flights that got us back home on August 1st. What a wonderful trip!
Ken, a "Parrot Head" (member of the Jimmy Buffett fan club) friend of mine that I have also been on ski trips with as members of the St. Louis Ski Club, invited me to join him to a Parrot Head event at Key West. We met in Fort Lauderdale where we spent the night. The next morning we stopped at Miami's South Beach for a look on our drive south.
We stopped for lunch at "Alabama Jack's" near Homestead for their famous Conch Fritters. We stopped again at Curry Hammock State Park on Marathon Key for a hike through the wood lands.
We spent a night at Marathon and then onto Key West the next morning after breakfast at the "Stuffed Pig".
We stayed three nights in Key West in total. The afternoon we arrived we attended a party organized for the Parrot Heads. On Halloween afternoon Duval street was closed for a street concert featuring performers from Jimmy Buffett's group, less Jimmy himself.
One day we rented scooters and traveled all over the island checking out some beaches, the old fort and more. Another day we took the Hemingway House Tour.
We had a great time in Key West with its many fine restaurants and lots of night life. It was my first time there and I was impressed also with how safe and clean it appeared to be.
On Saturday, May 9th we began our drive from Winnipeg to Washington, DC. After overnights in both Eau Claire. WI and Fremont, OH, we arrived at the Country Inn Suites hotel in Woodbridge, VA and checked in for four nights. This hotel was located about 12 miles south of the Francona-Springfield Metro station for the Blue Line. For the next three mornings we would take the Metro from this station into the downtown DC, National Mall area.
During our drive into the DC area that late Monday afternoon, we ran into some rain showers. Overnight it rained a lot with heavy down pours at times. The next morning we were greeted with clear, bright sunny weather that lasted until our last evening in DC. We had mild mid to upper 70's for highs each day. So overall it was very nice.
Check out the list of places we visited in DC .
Friday afternoon, May 15th, we checked out and drove down to Fredericksburg, VA. We checked into the Fairfield Inn for two nights. We spent the next two days visiting with my sister and her husband who lived near by.
On Sunday morning we checked out and drove to Philadelphia, PA. We drove thru some light showers on the way and when we arrived in the historic district it was cloudy, breezy and cool. After touring that afternoon we drove to the eastern edge of the city for an overnight stay.
The next morning we drove to Weehawken, NJ and checked into the Sheraton On The Hudson for five nights. The ferry to Manhattan docks just outside the front door and by 11:30am we were in Times Square. It was cloudy and cool that afternoon but the next four days in Manhattan couldn't have been better. Sunny and warm each day.
Check out the list of places we visited in NYC .
Two weeks after we left home, we finally head west to Lancaster, PA. Our plan was to stay two nights in a Bed & Breakfast in the Amish area and tour several small Amish towns. We got there mid-day on Saturday and the Memorial Day weekend. The weather was perfect and there were lots of cars, all the B&B's were full and so were most of the hotels in the area. Finally we got a room in a Hilton in Lancaster. We then went to Hershey, PA for the afternoon and the next morning we start out early to the Amish towns before it gets crowded. You see we forgot it was Sunday and in keeping with their religion, nothing was open in the Amish towns which were totally void of any car traffic. By 10:30am we checked out of the Hilton and headed home.
Again we spend two nights on the road before arriving home on Tuesday, May 26th.
Except for the problem of hitting the Amish area on a weekend and Memorial Weekend to boot, the overall trip was a huge success.
Del and I flew to Boston, MA on October 17th and took the subway to our Airbnb apartment near Roxbury. Later we met up with our friends Ken and Alison from Perth. We spent several days with them touring Boston. Here is a list of places under "Boston" that we saw together.
Del and I then took a trip just outside of Boston to Hingham, MA to spend a couple of days with our friends Ana and James now living there. During that stay Ana took us to Quincy, MA to tour the John Adams family National Park. We then took a ferry back to Boston and flew back home on the 24th.
I went solo to Dayton for a weekend to see the National Air Force Museum and the next day I attended the Dayton Vectren Air Show.
On Tuesday, February 25th (just happened to be my 77th birthday) we flew from Austin to San Francisco. We rented a Ford Explorer SUV and drove south to Temple. We stayed there for two days with Karen, TJ and the kids in their newly built home. Karen had baked chocolate cupcakes to celebrate my birthday and each of the kids made me a birthday card. TJ had to work but Karen took us on road trip the next day along the coast.
We drove back to San Francisco that Thursday and checked into the Wharf Inn just one block from the Bay and on the wharf. That evening our friends Ken and Alison flew in from Perth and the next morning we took the Alcatraz Prison tour and then the Hop On/Off bus around town. Then we got into the Explorer and I drove up to Telegraph Hill to the Coit Tower and then the famous zig zagging Lombard Street just for kicks.
We drove to Yosemite National Park and right into Yosemite Valley the next day. After some sightseeing we went back out of the valley to El Portal and checked into the Yosemite View Lodge for two nights. We did another day of touring the valley before driving south to see the giant redwoods in Kings Canyon National Park where we walked the Grant Grove Trail to see the the General Grant Giant Redwood tree. The highway was closed going into Sequoia National Park so we then headed west towards the coast, spending the night in San Louis Obispo at the Garden Inn B&B.
The next day we drove north on the famous and scenic Pacific Coast Highway. That night we stayed near SF Airport at a Super 8. It was our last night in California and with our friends as we flew back to Austin the next morning while they flew to Las Vegas to continue their vacation. The plan was for them to rejoin us in Austin later but the Coronavirus changed that.
I had been wanting to tour the Johnson Space Flight Center for some time. We were also both been interested in seeing Galveston, so on Sunday January 5th we drove down to Houston while on our winter stay at our condo in Austin. It was a very nice sunny day and we drove right to the space centre. It was an enjoyable tour with two tram rides to see the different exhibits and control rooms. Afterwards we checked into the Hampton Inn in Webster not far from the space centre. The following day we went to Galveston and enjoyed a van tour of the various districts with their beautiful homes. A lot of the homes had tree sculptures in front them.
The following day we spent touring some parts of Houston including downtown, the Fine Arts Museum, Rice University and the zoo. We also took the free "Sam Houston Boat Tour" on a section of Port Houston. We took advantage of another free boat ride by taking the ferry over to Bolivar Peninsula to see what was there.
We had planned to go back to Galveston for another day or so but a bad storm was headed into the area the next morning, so we returned to Austin on Thursday, January 9th.
One of our first get-aways together was a weekend to Churchill, Manitoba to see Polar Bears. That was very interesting but a long 15 hour train ride and 8 hour drive each way. We saw several bears, snowy owls, and arctic foxes.
This was a driving vacation to the west. We left home early on August 18th and headed for the Canadian Rockies. More specifically, Banff and Jasper National Parks where we did some hiking. Then we went to Victoria on Vancouver Island. After a few days touring, we went to Tofino on the Pacific side of the island before continuing north back on the east side. We got as far north as Campbell River where we also did some hiking to Elk and Moose Falls.
We crossed back to the main land at Port Hardy from Comox. Then down the so called "Sun Shine Coast" of BC to Robert's Creek for the night and after our fourth ferry crossing we reached North Vancouver on August 28th after a visit to Whistler, where the 2010 Winter Olypics are to be held. The next day we boarded the Holland America's "Zaandam" for our 7 day Inside Passage cruise into SE Alaska but not before touring Stanley Park.
The cruise went as far north as Glacier Bay and stopped in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. The cruise returned to Vancouver on September 5th. The next day we hiked to the top of Grouse Mountain (that was more than we bargained for as we ended up on the wrong trail) overlooking Vancouver and the harbor below. The view was obscured by some trees and much haze that hadn't quiet burned off. We rode the Gondola down.
The next portion of the trip was all about the beautiful Okanagan Lake country with lots of produce and vineyards and winerys. We spent several days in that area from Pinticton to Naramata, Summerland, Peachland, Westbank, Kelowna and then to Vernon to the north. We even stumbled onto a ski resort area just outside of Venon called Silver Star and stayed in a B & B nearby.
Finally we rounded out the trip with a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Musem and a Hoodoo park both near Drumheller, AB. We arrived home on September 12th after putting a total of 4296 miles (6914KM) on the van.
Be sure to check out the Photo link above.
On August 24th we flew from Winnipeg to Halifax via a stop in Ottawa. We stayed just two days at the Best Western Plus Dartmouth, NS. That night we celebrated Del's birthday (a day late) with dinner at McKelvie's in downtown Halifax. The next morning we drove to Peggy's Cove and then took the Bluenose route to the villages of Chester, Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. That night we had dinner at Salty's right on the waterfront in downtown Halifax.
On August 26th we flew from Halifax, NS to Deer Lake, NL. We drove from Deer Lake into Gros Morne National Park to Rocky Harbour where we stayed two nights at Candlelight Inn B&B. That afternoon we took the boat tour on Western Brook Pond. The next morning we hiked to Bakers Brook Falls and then hiked to Southeast Brook Falls. Later we drove to the Table Lands area.
On August 28th we drove north to Flowers Cove, NL to see the "Thrombolites" and then to Anchor Point to visit with friends. That night we continued south to the Plum Point Motel. The next morning we continued south and stopped at "The Arches Provencial Park" before proceeding to Corner Brook. Final we went to the Deer Lake Hotel for the night.
The next morning we flew back to Halifax, rented our third car and drove across the causeway to Cape Breton Island for an overnight at Harbour Front B&B in North Sydney, NS. The next day we went directly to the Cabot Trail heading north thru Ingonish and Neils Harbour then off the Trail to White Point, NL. There we found Two Tittle B&B where we had reservations but it was too early to check in so we took a drive to Dingwall. When we got back to White Point we hiked a trail just above the B&B out to the end of a small peninsula that had a small cemetery on it. That evening we went to a Ceilidh (Gaelic musical gathering) in the church hall in Ingonish.
On September 1st we continued our drive along the Cabot Trail stopping along the way at Cabot's Landing Provincial Park and an art glass shop where Del purchased a mobile. We then again crossed the causeway, this time going south, and to Caribou, NS for the ferry to Prince Edward Island. After a 75 minute cruise across the strait, we drive to Charlottetown. We stayed at Heritage Harbour House Inn, a wonderful B&B, that night. The next morning we went to see Province House where the Charlottetown Conference was held. Then we drove the northeast coast to East Point and back via Georgetown. We left PEI via the Confederation Bridge to New Brunswick and did an overnight at the Chateau Moncton.
On September 3rd we drove to Saint John, NB via Hopewell Rocks Park on the Bay of Fundy. In downtown Saint John we checked into the Delta Brunswick. We walked the Boardwalk and some of the downtown. The next morning we went to the Reversing Falls Park as the tide was going out of the bay and late that afternoon we went back to watch it go in the reverse direction as the tide was rising in the bay.
We left Saint John, NB on the morning on September 5th and drove to Truro, NS via Moncton, NB. We stayed the night at Eagles Landing B&B. The next day we drove back to Dartmouth Best Western Plus and checked in for one night. Then we went Bedford to shop and then across the bridge to Halifax to walk the waterfront boardwalk.
The next morning, September 7th, we drove to the airport and flew back to Winnipeg via Ottawa.
We headed out on August 20th for Picton, ON to visit friends Ana and James at their home on Picton Bay. I decided to take the southern route so as to be on Interstate highways thru the US. Our first overnight was in Madison, WI and our second was in London, ON after crossing back into Canada at Detroit, MI via the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, ON. By early afternoon the third day we arrived.
Picton is in Prince Edward County, which is surrounded by water. But don't confuse this county with an island province with the same name. From here we took several side trips. One was to Adolphustown via the Glenora ferry. Others included a Norman Hardie winery, County Cider Company, Sandbanks Provincial Park, Lake on the Mountain, many shops and a few eateries. But the longest side trip was to Ottawa. We stayed two nights south of Parliament Hill and near the Museum of Nature./p>
On our drive back to Winnipeg I decided avoid Detroit and Chicago by taking a more northern route to Sault St. Marie, MI for our first overnight. The next day we crossed the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Duluth, MN and then northwest to Grand Forks for our last overnight on the road. We arrived home on the afternoon of September 2nd.
This was a charter package with Signature Vacations out of Toronto which forced us to spend a night in Toronto at each end to make the charter connection. We couldn't get the package out of Winnipeg for the week we wanted.
We stayed at the all inclusive Barcelo Resort in Tangolunda Bay in the state of Oaxaca on the Pacific coast. A very nice place with a large pool and beach area. Also the bay was great for sailing and the resort had three Hobie's for guest to use daily at no extra charge. I took advantage of that.
My wife's brother and his wife joined us on this trip as they have done on some other trips in recent years.
We took three of the tours that the resort pushed; The Town Tour, the Crocs & Turtles Tour and the Paradise Bay Cruise. I enjoyed the cruise the most (although some got sea sick when we hit the larger swells) because it took us to some of the other bays & beaches in the area, got in some fantastic snorkelling and had lunch at a beach front seafood restaurant.
The towns nearest Tangolunda Bay are Santa Cruz and La Crucecita (the little cross). Santa Cruz has the only cruise ship dock in the area. It also has a marina for smaller crafts and a nice beach for swimming with several beach side restaurants and a few shops.
La Crucecita on the other hand is away from the water and is the main business district in the area with lots of retail shops & markets, bars, restaurants and a central square or plaza called the Zocalo.
The Crocs & Turtles tour was worth the money but took a lot of time. One interesting place we stopped at near the Mexican Turtle Center in the Mazunte area, is at the project a woman named Anita Roddick started and eventually became "The Body Shop" chain, a natural cosmetics project with laboratory and factory. Her idea was to give the locals an income so they would stop hunting the turtles the government was trying to protect.
I would like to return to Hualtulco again sometime in the near future. The weather was perfect except for a few clouds a couple of days. With the temperature hovering in the mid-80's every day, its a great place to escape the harsh Winnipeg winters, even if its only for a week!
This was our second time to Huatulco (See January 2009). Just as before we took a charter package out of Toronto which forced us to spend a night in Toronto at each end to make the charter connection. But this time we stayed at the Las Brisas booked thru itravel2000. The lay out of this resort put the rooms in buildings up on the ridge which gave a good view of the Pacific and the cove below. The only thing I didn't like was the sailing was really just a 20 minute ride on the Hobbie and someone else did the sailing. So I didn't go at all.
On this trip we hooked up with a local we had met on a ski trip and socialized with her and her friends including some dancing in town.
One of the greatest trips I have ever been on has to be my back packing trip through parts of Europe. It was my first time to Europe and I wanted to see as much as I could and to stay as long as I could. I made a "places I must see list" and then cut it down to a reasonable size. One that I could do in 10 plus weeks. I did most by rail (yes a had a Eurail pass), ferry and bus. For a good summary, see my report "My European Adventure In A Nutshell". The most intriguing thing is that on this trip I met my wife (you know, the Canadian) in Greece. Greece was on the very end of that list with the idea that if I had had enough of travel at that point I would just skip Greece and head home. Am I ever glad I didn't do that!
We began this trip early on September 5th with flights from Winnipeg to Toronto to Philly where we took a non-stop flight to Venice, Italy.
We boarded Holland America's one year old "Nieuw Amsterdam" for our 12-day Mediteranian Cruise out of Venice on September 10th, but we purposly arrived in Venice on the 6th, to go to Cinque Terre for a couple of days first. The cruise made stops in Split, Croatia and Athens, Greece before spending two nights in Istanbul, Turkey. On the return trip we stopped at the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini with a stop to see Ephesus, Turkey along the way. Before heading back to Venice we made a final stop at Katakolon, Greece. The cruise ended on September 21st. We enjoyed the cruise very much and thankful for great weather.
After leaving the ship we went directly to the airport and flew to Palermo, Sicily. In Sicily we went to Monreale for a couple of days and then to Taormina for a night before flying to Naples in route to Sorrento. We stayed in Sorrento for two days and then went to the Almafi Coast to stay in Nocelle just up the hill from Positano for three days.
We flew back to Venice on September 29th. We spent our last evening in Venice but stayed overnight in a hotel closer to the airport and our flights to Toronto the next morning. After an overnight in Toronto, we flew home on October 1st.
Overall a very good trip!
On August 7th, we flew to Edinburgh, Scotland via stopovers in Minneapolis and Amsterdam. From the airport we took a light-rail to the Haymarket station and then walked to Fountain Court Apartments at 123 Grove St. That afternoon, Ken and Alison joined us and the next day we rented an SUV and began our road trip of the Scottish Highlands. Ken did the driving while Alison navigated. After six nights in as many towns, including Kilmarnock, Oban, Mallaig, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee respectively, we returned to the Fountain Court in Edinburgh on the 15th. We remained in Edinburgh for two nights that included a performance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The four of us flew to Amsterdam on the 17th for a two night stay at the Apollo Hotel at 2 Apollolaan. On the 19th we boarded the Holland America Prinsendam at the Amsterdam cruise terminal for a 14-day Icelandic cruise.Cruise Route
The first port of call was Edinburgh for the day before heading north to the Faroe Islands and a stop at Torshavn, the capital city. Next it was to Iceland with stops at Djupivogur, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Reykjavik, Heimaey of the Westman Islands respectively. Then it was south to Lerwick of the Shetland Islands and finally back to Amsterdam where we disembarked on September 2nd. At the airport it was good bye hugs to our good friends from Perth. We flew back home with a stopover in Montreal.
Sailing in the British Virgin Islands was one of the best vacations ever. But it was also one of the most expensive. We were in a flotilla of four boats. Each day we sailed to another location. We had snorkeled, relaxed on beaches and toured scenic locals. What more could you want. We were on a 47 foot sailboat with three births. There were two couples and a single man on board. We only eat breakfast and lunch on board. Dinners were always on an island restaurant.
On our way back from the BVI, we spent three days in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
We booked an all inclusive charter package for one week to get a break from winter here and just veg out on a nice warm beach. We sort of rolled the dice as for as finding the resort by just looking at what was offered on the internet. As it turned out, our choice of the Tropical Princess Resort was a good one and I would recommend it.
We tried to go on one excursion to the Caribbean side of the island via a large Catermaran but it didn't get booked because they entered our Master Card info incorrectly. So we spent the week on the resort except for taking the shuttle to the local shopping area. All together we had a great time. Check out the photos here.
Just like two years ago, we booked an all inclusive charter package for one week to get a break from winter here and go to a nice warm beach in the Dominican Republic. But since we went to Punta Cana last time, we decided to try Puerto Plata this time. Punta Cana is on the eastern tip of the island while Puerto Plata is located on the north coast. See Map
Another difference this time is that we went with another couple (Del's oldest brother and wife). It was their first trip to the Caribean
We choose the Bahia Principe Resort located between the towns of Cabarete and Rio San Juan. The resort was very nice but the beach was a dark color. Still it was very clean and large. The resort had a good buffet daily for all meals and four restaurants; Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean and Seafood. We tried all of the restaurants and I personally liked the seafood place, "El Pescador" the best. But others in the group had their favorites too.
One day we took a shuttle west to Sosua Beach and spent about six hours there. It was a very nice beach (lighter color sand) on a cove that contained a large reef. We brought along our snorkel gear and soon we swam out to the reef. Lots of tropical fish and very clear water. Also along the beach under the trees were many shops selling the usual.
Another day we went on the "Jeep Safari" which takes you inland into the mountains to visit a school, a home and a so called "plantation". At one stop you are invited to purchase school supplies to give to the children at the school. At another stop you can buy candy to throw to the kids along the rural roads. We also had an hour at La Boca Beach and stops at a cave pool called Blue Lake and a waterfall where young boys dove for money.
One of the reasons I choose this resort is because they offered one hour free sailing daily. As soon as I could, I reserved my sailing times. I went out one day when there was no wind! Not any fun at all. The next day I went at my reserved time only to be told that no boats would be going out that day or maybe for the rest of the week. Why? The Red Flags were up. And they stayed up until the day we left. On several days the weather was very stormy at times throughout the day interspersed with sunny periods. Only about two days did we not have at least a shower.
Even with the rainy weather we did enjoy our get away. But I must admit I was looking forward to lots more warm sunshine. When we returned home we were greeted with -25C.
This was our first trip to Cuba. It is a popular winter destination for Canadians (seems like everyone at our resot was mostly French Canadian). As a Canadian, I traveled with my Canadian Passport without any problems.
It was an all-inclusive 8-day package deal direct from Winnipeg to Breezes Bella Costa Resort right on Varadero Beach. The beach was large and the water beautiful.
We were only a few miles west of the town of Varadero which we visited by double-decker bus one sunny afternoon. The weather all week was great except about mid-week when we got overcast sky with very high winds.
Another day we took a guided walking tour of Old Havana but saw other parts of the city by bus. Havana is about 2 hours west of Varadero.
Overall it was a good trip as I found Cuba interesting but we will probably not go back.
This was our first trip to Jamaica. We booked an all-inclusive one week package with Air Canada that included a direct flight to Montego Bay and a shuttle bus to the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios. Del's brother Stuart and his wife Marilyn also went.
During the week we booked three tours, "Dunn's River Falls", "White River Tubing" and "Canopy Tour at Cranbrook".
We had a good time, the resort was good and the tours were lots of fun.
We flew to Fort Lauderdale on January 15th and spent the night at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel. Del's brother Stuart and his wife Marilyn arrived a few hours after us. The next morning the four of us took a shuttle to the cruise terminal and were onboard the Noordam by noon. The cruise map link above will show our trip route. Half Moon Cay, the small Bahama island owned by Holland America was a real paradise in terms of beach, beautiful water and facilities. Our next favorite stop was Bonaire because of the great snorkeling we found just off shore at the "No Name Beach" on Klein Bonaire. Although Curacao was interesting it couldn't compare to Aruba, which was our last stop, for sightseeing and beaches.
All in all it was a great cruise with great weather.
Our African trip was a great success. Everything went pretty much to plan. The safari itself in Botswana was the highlight. Victoria Falls was a disappointment because of low river levels but exploring parts of the Republic of South Africa for two weeks by car ("Drive on the left!") was both fun and educational. Here is a link to Maps showing the routes we took.
Go to Destination Africa for a detailed discussion with embedded links for navigation within the document, as well as links to pictures relevant to the discussion and more.
A word about pictures. I took lots of pictures almost every day. I would delete several at the end of the day that were not worth keeping because space on my camera memory cards needed to be conserved as much as possible. In fact, about two weeks into the trip, I transferred everything I had on my memory cards at that point to a DVD. But by the time I got home I still had more than 1000 high resolution pictures. I eliminated still more of those and finally ended up with 610 keepers taking 1.9GB of disc space.
I then picked 495 I just had to share. They are now all posted to my "Photo Page", but just click on Africa Trip Pictures and it will take you directly there. There are a lot of sub-pages of pictures, and with 497 pictures in all, you will probably want to spread it out over time. But I hope that you will try to see them all at some point.
We had to fly to San Diego to board Holland America's "Statendam" on October 30th. The ship departed that evening for two full days at sea as we sailed south along the Baja of California. Our first port of call was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico were we rented a car for the day and drove first north along the coast to Sayolita for a short stay. We then drove back thru PV and south along the coast to Mismaloya. When we got back to PV we stopped for some local food and then walked around a bit. We bought a painting from a local artist and then headed back to the ship after returning the car.
After another day at sea our next stop was Huatulco, Mexico. This a very nice area that we became acquainted with on our January trip. Here we hired a water taxi and a guide to take us snorkelling in Tangolunda Bay. He was great and we enjoyed the adventure.
The next stop was at Puerto Chiapas, Mexico right at the Guatemala boarder. A light rain was falling and although we did leave the ship to investigate the port area we soon returned.
Continuing south we next stopped at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. Here we booked a tour that included a tour of the old capital of Antiqua and a ride into the mountains to a coffee plantation where the Zip Line course thru the larger trees was the highlight. This was not our first time on Zip Lines as our first experience with them was in Costa Rica in January 2006 (see below).
After another full day at sea we anchored just outside of Fuerte Amador, Panama. That evening, not long after sunset, we took a tour of the Miraflores Locks and surrounding area once the home of many US military bases. It would have been better in the daylight but still it was interesting and we learned a lot about the transfer of the installations from the US to Panama.
Of course the highlight of the trip and 10 days after leaving San Diego was the day long passage thru the canal itself. We had great weather for the whole passage and I took too many pictures. But it was something to experience.
The next day we were at the last port of call, Cartagena, Colombia. Here we took a city tour just to learn more about the city and the culture. We also bought a painting. It was the only uncomfortable day of the trip as the temperature was near 90F and the humidity was reported to be 85%. Still, I wasn't complaining as I expected we would find cold and snow when we returned home in a few days.
After two more full days at sea, we entered the Fort Lauderdale port at sunrise on November 13th just ahead of the largest cruise ship making its maiden voyage, the "Oasis of the Seas". That is some huge ship! We arrived back home safe and sound late that evening to discover that there was still no snow covering the ground and the temperature was above normal at around 25F.
This was our first time to any Central American country. We choose Costa Rica partly because it has been on my wife's list of must see places for years. And part of the attraction was the opportunity to traverse the "canopy" of a rain forest via "Zip Lines".
We had a good time and visited places on our list. The "Canopy Tour" was lots of fun even though we didn't really go onto the canopy of a rain forest, it was close enough. We had a guided walk thru the Manuel Antonio National Park with its wildlife and great beach where we got to play in the water. We got to see the active Arenal Volcano at night. We visited Baldi Hot Springs, a fantastic place with many pools and two swim-up bars (my favorite). Go here for pictures.
On September 11, 2006 we flew to Lima, Peru via Toronto to begin our five week tour. Lima became our base for the first portion of our trip. From there we first took our four day GAP boat tour of the Galapagos Islands via Quito, Ecuador. Then to the famous Inca ruins at Manchu Picchu via Lima to Cusco by air and then from Cusco thru the Sacred Valley by bus and to Aguas Calientes by train. Our next Peru adventure included islands on Lake Titicaca via a two day guided bus tour from Cusco to Puno. Before our final overnight in Lima we visited a small local village and the ancient burial towers at Sullustani.
From Peru we went to Buenos Aries, Argentina for a few days and then a two day side trip to Iguazu Falls. Our final flight from Buenos Aries took us south to Calafate, Argentina to begin our Patagonia portion of the trip with a tour of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
It was a long bus ride from Calafate, Argentina into Chile and to Puerto Natales, Chile. After an overnight there we were on a van to Torres del Paine National Park where we spent two days at Lago Grey. Then another bus ride took us to the town of Punta Arenas, Chile on the Strait of Magelan where we stayed for two nights. While there we took a side tour of the old fort south of town, Fuerte Bulnes.
We then flew from Punta Arenas to Ishuaia, Argentina at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego on the Beagle Channel. We were there for three days to take in a boat tour of the channel, some museums and a day tour of the southern portion of Tierra del Fuego National Park.
We ended our trip by first flying to Santiago, Chile for an overnight that gave us a full day to tour some of the sites in the city including the "Changing of the Guard" at the Presidential Palace. At the end of the day we flew back to Winnipeg via Toronto and arrived home by noon on October 16, 2006.
My first week long ski trip with the St. Louis Ski Club. I joined the club the previous fall and went on a weekend trips prior to this trip. So I was still very much a novice skier. The trip was fun, the weather was great and I did well. I even tried cross-country skiing next to Lake Louise.
My second big trip with the St. Louis Ski Club. A lot of great skiing available here.
Our first trip together with the ski club.
Another great trip with the ski club. We both liked Aspen very much.
On this trip we were on our own (not a ski club trip) to Fernie, BC. Its a smaller resort than most and just north of Montana. We hit a warm spell so the ski conditions were not good. Also getting around town required a taxi as there was no shuttle service at night.
We had a great week at Banff. We stayed eight nights at the Banff Ptarmigan Inn and we had lift tickets (and bus shuttle service) for all three ski areas, Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Norquay. This is my second time to Banff but this time without the St. Louis Ski Club. Go here for more details on what we did. Also check out our trip pictures.
We had a great week at Big Sky Montana. We met 38 others there from St. Louis Ski Club. We left Winnipeg on Monday, March 28th and returned on Sunday, April 3, 2005. We stayed at Chet Huntley's (you remember the news anchor team Huntley-Brinkley) Huntley Lodge for ski-in/ski-out accommodations. It was very nice. We got 5 inches of fresh snow the first night and 2 more the next night. We skied four days straight. The skiing conditions were just right with only one day of clouds and wind.
On Saturday, we had a free day and rented a car for a drive to Yellowstone's North Entrance. It was a beautiful sunny day. Although we only went 25 miles into the park, we saw lots of wildlife and hiked a couple of trails after checking out the Mammoth Hot Springs. All together it was a 300 mile round trip but well worth the drive.
Check out the photo's at the Big Sky Photo Page.
Del and I met the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at this resort. We left Winnipeg on January 29th and returned on February 5th. We had a great week with lots of snow and lots of fun. Check out the trip photos at the Copper Photo Page.
I went without Del on this trip as she elected to take only one ski trip this winter. Like the last ski trip, I met the St. Louis Ski Club there for a week of skiing. I left Winnipeg on my birthday, February 25th and returned on March 5th. I had a good time but this mountain was a challenge for me. It is said to be the steepest skiing mountain in the lower 48 states. And I believe it. Also, it was above freezing at the base on several afternoons. We did get a fresh snow midweek, which was good. But the day before it rained, which was bad.
A group of us skied at Grand Targhee on the 27th. It is a bit further from town but the runs were more to my liking. Plus the conditions were good.
After skiing four days in a row, I took a break from skiing and went with another group (all eight of us were from the ski club) on a guided snowmobile trip in Yellowstone National Park on Thursday, March 2nd. First we were taken to breakfast. Then we were taken to their place to get suited up. Then we were driven north through Grand Teton National Park along the Snake River towards Yellowstones' south gate. That drive was very scenic. We got on our snowmobiles at Flagg Ranch just south of Yellowstone. Our guide took us to Old Faithful for lunch. After lunch we got to see the great geyser in action. Then we headed back. We did about 90 miles on the snowmobiles altogether but we made several stops along the way including Lewis Falls, Moose Falls, West Thumb and more. Our guide was very good, we had great sunny weather and good snow to ride on (we stayed on the main roads all the way)which made it a great day.
Del and I met the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at Park City, UT. We left Winnipeg on February 24th and returned on March 3rd. We had a direct flight via Delta Airlines to/from Salt Lake City, which was great. We had a great week with lots of snow and lots of fun. We skied three days at Park City and two days at Deer Valley just up the road. Del and I both took a needed group lesson on the second day. I hadn't had one in a couple of years and I was due. I must say it helped.
Check out our pictures at the main Park City Photo Page.
Del and I drove down to St. Louis in time for the St. Pat's festivities and then took my granddaughter from there on March 18th to Big Sky for her first skiing experience. She did great and picked it up really fast. She was skiing the Green runs with us by mid-week. The weather was warm but we got some fresh snow mid-week and cooler temps that helped a lot. We got back to St. Louis on the 24th after four days of tough skiing conditions. But we had a great time and the granddaughter is hooked!
Check out our pictures at the main Big Sky Photo Page.
This was our second trip to Aspen with the ski club. This year was marked by record snow accumulations which made skiing more challenging for those of us less accustomed to deep powder skiing. See the pictures at the main Aspen Photo Page.
I went on this trip without Del. I met the club at Vancouver airport and rode the bus to/from Whistler with them. They had plenty of snow at Whistler but the visibility on most days was very poor. We did get one good sunny day mid-week. I skied that day on Whistler mountain. See the pictures at the main Whistler Ski Trip Photo Page.
Del and I joined the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at Crested Butte Mountain just a few miles from the town of Crested Butte. We stayed in the Plaza Condos which was within walking distance to the lifts. The town was very nice and they have preserved the old western feeling of the place. The snow was good but they hadn't had any fresh snow for a couple of weeks and we didn't get any while there as we had mostly sunny days. The double black runs up higher in the bowels were all closed because of sparse snow there. See the pictures at the main Crested Butte Photo Page.
Del and I joined the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at Beaver Creek Elkhorn Lodge. See the pictures at Beaver Creek Photo Page.
Del and I joined the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at Christophe Condos in Ketchum, Idaho. See the pictures at Sun Valley Photo Page.
Del and I joined the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at Mt. Bachelor, 22 miles west of Bend, Oregon. We stayed at the Riverhouse Resort located on the Deschutes River in Bend. See the pictures HERE.
Del and I joined the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at Beaver Run Condos in Breckenridge, CO. See the pictures at Breckenridge Photo Page.
Del and I joined the St. Louis Ski Club for a week of skiing at Slalom Creek Condos at Red Mountain Resort, near Rossland, BC. See the pictures HERE!