Travelers Roundtable

Tag: Travelers Roundtable

I had already gotten a full dose of the natural beauty and adventure along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. But if I had to choose my favorite moment, it had to be the single activity in which I was not a participant but a spectator.

Often the best travel experiences are the ones that take us completely by surprise.

An hour after coming ashore, I am climbing brick stairs that are warped with wear from the elements and the bare feet of the faithful over several hundred years.

The overwhelming number of U.S. visitors to the Yucatan stick to the coasts. And that’s a shame. Unless all you really care about is working on your tan, resolve to go deeper. 

While one could spend an eternity exploring the rich layers of culture and history in Istanbul, what lies deeper into Anatolia is equally wondrous. If you have the time, perhaps just an extra week, there are a couple places you can try to work into your itinerary.

I’m standing on an outcropping of rock at Glacier Point looking out over Yosemite National Park when the sun finally disappears over the horizon. I’ve brought my wife and eight-year-old son here, home of one of the darkest night skies in the world, to show them something they’ve never seen before with their naked eyes: a spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy that we call home. Neither of them have ever really seen the stars. But they’re about to.

Disney raised admission prices this month for all of their theme parks. While this comes as no surprise—regular increases have become the norm over the years—it’s a good reminder for families to spend a little time carefully planning their budgets for their eagerly anticipated vacations toDisneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Most families skimp and save for their dream vacations to even make them possible at all. But by picking and choosing your moments to cut loose, you can transform a budget-minded Disney[…]

Ontario’s Stratford Festival is one of the great live theater attractions in North America, and they’re celebrating the 60th anniversary this year with yet another splendid season of theatrical excellence. The question is not whether you should go — you absolutely should — but how you should go about it. Here are some helpful hints about how to get there, where to stay when you arrive, and some interesting sights to enjoy along the way.

I rounded the corner to the little eddy where the travel books lived at the very back of my favorite independent bookstore and came face to face with a nattily dressed man in his late 70s. He wasn’t browsing amongst the titles; his hands were empty, and he clearly wasn’t on his way in or out of this little literary cul-de-sac stuffed with guides, maps and memoirs. He was clearly waiting. But for whom? Me?

SHHHHHHH! Don’t be afraid, I’m a friend. Listen to me: They’re coming, they’re hungry, but we won’t be here when they crash the place. Don’t worry, you’re not trapped, we’re gonna get you outta here, pal.

Around Thanksgiving, I always recall the time my wife and I were in Istanbul near the end of the festival of Ramadan.

It’s well over 100 degrees and the Spanish sun feels like a physical weight on my skin as I descend dusty stone steps to the skeletal ruins of Madinat al-Zahra.

This year is the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World. And 40 years ago, I was a nine-year-old boy visiting the brand-new Disney World with my family. We could not afford to stay the night there. And my family could only afford to explore the new park for a single day. But we made the most of it. I remember the smell of the newly turned earth at the fringes of the entrance, the black sheen of the freshly poured[…]

My six-year-old boy just caught a fish. We’re standing where the edge of the green lawn meets the boat docks on Lake Geneva at The Abbey Resort and, after only a few minutes of casting, a nervy sunfish has brazenly decided to try to make off with his bait. After a furious battle, my son reels the creature in and lifts it into the air to admire it, the first of half a dozen that we will catch that afternoon. He’s acting like he just[…]

It’s getting late and I’m lost in the winding lanes of medieval Toledo. Normally I wouldn’t mind — it’s one of my favorite cities in the world to be lost in — but I’m due back at the hotel shortly, and first I have to find an address I haven’t looked for in more than a decade.  Somewhere in this warren of weathered doors and dusty stones is my favorite place to buy Andalusian marzipan.

It’s mid-September, and the Grand Teton National Park is on fire. Slender tendrils of smoke rise into the sky like the flags of an invading army laying claim to enemy territory.  There are five different fires in the park the day I arrive; two prescribed burns to control overgrown areas, and three that occurred naturally as a result of recent lightning strikes. The forest service keeps an eye on things to ensure that the fires don’t threaten historic structures. Otherwise[…]

I’m standing on the sidewalk on a bright, sunny September afternoon in the south of France. A lovely young woman dressed in late 19th century clothes walks past me, her eyes modestly averted. In one hand she holds a leash leading a baby goat, and in the other she leads a small boy who looks like a Dickensian paperboy. More people stream past, some dressed as Roman soldiers, others as medieval archers, and still others attired like Renaissance royalty. An adorable collection[…]

I hope the city fathers of Roanoke, Virginia know what they have here. But I’m not certain they do. They’re building buildings, flaunting their God-given resources, and dreaming up events to make the place interesting with kite festivals, marathons, and more. They’re building out a 174,000-square-foot, kid-friendly civic center with an aquarium, a butterfly room, an interactive science museum, and a restaurant with a view. They want you to know how many nature trails they’ve got, and how many city parks[…]

I am the last human being on the island. Dusk is slipping down over the menagerie behind me like a velvet curtain full of sparkling pinholes. The sea lions, the iguanas, the bird colonies take back their home, and I am the last person to board the launch for the ride back to the ship. My fellow travelers and I will talk into the night like excited school children about our amazing first day in the Galapagos Islands. I have[…]

While I do love toys –who doesn’t? — I have a confession to make: I try very hard to NOT be a gadget guy. For me, a big part of traveling is leaving behind all of those hella-cool toys so they won’t clutter my consciousness when I’m out on the road actively trying to expand it. But this was not always so. Long ago, on my very first trip abroad, the customs agent at Heathrow grilled me for nearly twenty[…]

Matthew Christopher is an award-winning photographer, writer and creator of Abandoned America, which he founded in 2006 as a catalogue of the remains of modern ruins. Abandoned America has since developed into one of the leading websites examining the phenomena of abandoned buildings. Christopher has recently released a collection of some of his work entitled Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Christopher’s journey to document abandoned sites began a decade ago while researching[…]

Among the greatest satisfactions of small town life is the savoring of simple pleasures. Sure, sometimes you want to travel to destinations that will set your pulse pounding. But often what you really need instead is to put yourself into a lower gear. Over the past twenty years, I’ve continually found that elusive, soothing, gentle pace in the small town of Geneva, Illinois. There are no world-class museums in Geneva. You’ll find no mention of the town in 100 Places to[…]

On a trip to London in 1998, my wife and I stayed at the home of a dear friend who had lived in London for half a century. While I had visited the old city many times, my wife had never traveled there before, and so I was taking her around the town to see a few of the world-class sites for which it is rightly famous. One morning, I informed my London-native friend that we were off to tour[…]

Click for audio on this topic from a WUWM broadcast below: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.: It’s time for my young son to go to bed, and we’re lying together and looking at the map app on my iPhone. “There we are,” I say, pointing to the blinking dot in the middle of the grid as the GPS shows us our current location, a tiny blue ripple lost in the patchwork puzzle of Southeastern Wisconsin. He stares, fascinated. “I want to[…]

  It’s not in the trendy tourist brochures, it’s not in a Royal County, and there are no castles, stately homes or dead rock stars buried here. If you want the Last of England, though, with its tinkle of teaspoons on the morning air, perhaps you’d consider Frinton-on-Sea.

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