Getting from Here to There: Shakedown in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Just over two years later Rick and I joined Eva and Suresh, our Indian travel pals, for a month in their home country, including a nine-day visit in the middle of the journey to the island country of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), located off the southern tip of the subcontinent to the east. Aware of the 30-day restriction for re-entering the country, we visited the Indian Embassy in New York City a month before our U.S. departure

Escaping Israel: The Attack Shook the World And Upended Our Trip

A crowded street near Old City Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

Working with Out Of Office travel company in London to develop our itinerary, we planned a four-night stay in the city of Jerusalem, capital of Israel and a religious center of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The stay included a side trip to the West Bank’s Bethlehem and Jericho.

Next, crossing the border to Jordan, our four-night plan included swimming in the Dead Sea at Ishtar, exploring the ancient city of Petra, and “glamping” in the Wadi Rum Protected Area desert, before returning to Tel Aviv for

How to Choose a Local Travel Agency

When we pack our bags and hit the trail, Rick and I enjoy traveling by ourselves, or sometimes with longtime travel buddies Eva and Suresh. A lot of preparation goes into a travel adventure long before we board the plane. On trips to destinations that are culturally more familiar, like North America and most of Europe, we do our own trip planning––what to see, how to get there, and where to sleep. In non-Western countries, private tour companies provide us with professional

Three Stunning Churches Exemplify the Byzantine Painted Monasteries of Romania

Moldovita Church shows off its exterior Biblical murals

Bucovina is the home of eight fifteenth and sixteenth century UNESCO World Heritage Painted Monasteries, collectively considered one of the world’s great Byzantine art treasures. Richly colored graphic scenes of dramatic Biblical events and the holy men, angels, and demons who oversaw them decorate both their interior and exterior walls and ceilings. Priests intended these scenes, here and at all the monasteries, to scare the wits out of illiterate villagers, inspiring them to lead pious lives.

El Peñol Erupts from Colombia’s Landscape

El Peñol thrusts itself into my vision, a regal mountain of granite standing alone on the horizon.

El Peñol, a 656-foot granite rock, juts out of the earth. No ordinary rock, El Peñol, a Colombian National Monument, attracts thousands of people daily, many who climb the 708 steps for spectacular views of the region. On its top, vendors sell handicrafts, trinkets, and tee-shirts. One pays for the privilege of experiencing a panorama of the countryside with about a five-dollar admission fee at the bottom of the stairs.

Guatapé, Colombia Embodies an Explosion of a Crayola Crayons Box

Originally a farming town, Guatapé’s future changed forever with the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the 1970s that catapulted the town’s importance as the chief electric production center in the country. The dam created an endless network of interconnecting lakes, with hotels, exclusive homes, marinas and other recreational facilities. At the same time, it secured Guatapé’s prominence as a tourist destination.

From Colombia to the Philadelphia Flower Show: An Industry is Blossoming

Our first morning in Colombia. We arrived in Bogotá yesterday late afternoon, and we’re ready to explore this capital city with our guide Tomás Vargas. Eleven-and-a- half million metropolitan residents fill an eastern Andean plateau at an 8600-foot elevation, and oxygen-sparce air challenges breathing for us sea level dwellers. Our driver deposits the three of us at the entrance to Paloquemao Market.

“The Clark” and Mass MoCA––Two Outstanding Art Institutions Along the Mohawk Trail

After Olana, we headed east on NY-Route 66 towards Western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains to peep at the changing leaves of the deciduous forests. I covered that extraordinary experience at the beginning of this series. We didn’t expect to also enjoy impressive and provocative art as well at two lauded art institutions along MA-Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail.

Olana State Historical Site Captures America’s Idyllic Nineteenth Century

After spending time with the Roosevelts in the early mid-twentieth century, the next day we drove north along the Hudson River and stepped back further in time to the mid-1800s at Olana State Historic Site.
I confess I wasn’t familiar with the Hudson River School art movement before this trip. Yet the river’s mist that envelopes the Hudson Valley’s towns, vistas, and historic places, especially in the evening or after a rainfall, evokes the dream-like landscapes created by artists of

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Earmarks Critical Time in American History

Some of you might be wondering, “Why would he go there? Sounds boring.” Museums that open my eyes to a greater understanding of why my world is the way it is, and manage to entertain me at the same time, capture my attention. History geek that I am, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Museum and Library located in Hyde Park on the river’s east bank, fascinated me with its interpretive and interactive exhibits about

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