My travelogues describe the countries I have visited and of some quirky happenings, as listed in descending order below. Click on the place(s) you would like to visit then click on “read” for an illustrated description, then on “See all IMAGES” for all remaining images. The Fjords of Alaska; Rock and Roll, Big Wheel! Journeys through W Canada; New Zealand seen through Glasses, Darkly; Six Countries down the Rhine; Japan at Cherry Blossom Time; A Quick Tour of Britain; Portugal, Douro and N Spain; Bordeaux and Region; Paris; Cruising down the Rhone; London and Around the Baltic; Norway and Northern Russia; Turkey; Around the Black Sea; Vietnam; Cambodia;Kakadu and Kimberley Coast; Cruising the Mediterranean; Shanghai; South America and the Galapagos; Berlin to Moscow by train; China’s Three Gorges; Nanjing; Beijing; Yunnan; Arizona; Crossing USA; Vancouver Island; Provence; West Coast Canada and USA; Eastern Canada; Malaysia; The Silk Route.
NOTE: for New Zealand and the Rhine stories click on the title after “More at”, a page comes up, then click again on the title. (Don’t know why: all other titles are OK with one click).
THE FJORDS OF ALASKA We board Le Soleal a small ship built to be able to enter the fjords and inlets of Canadian Fjordland, which ordinary cruise ships can’t, and then continue up the Inside Passage to Alaskan towns like Metlakatlan, Ketchikan (“Salmon Capital of the World”), Petersburg (“Little Norway”), magical Elfin Cove, Cordova, and then to Anchorage. We see cetaceans of all sorts, likewise birds, bears and deer; glaciers up close and personal (the one in the picture has just “calved”). We also encounter US bureaucracy at its puzzling best (should that be “worst”?). Read The Fjords of Alaska. (Click). All Images
“ROCK AND ROLL BIG WHEEL!” Journeys through Western Canada. We take the magnificent Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff through dramatic, canyons, boring desert, and the mighty Rockies. Then coach through Banff and Jasper National Parks, where we see lots of wildlife and wonderful scenery like Lake Louise, Maligne Lake, Morrain Lake and more. On to Vernon and a whacky health resort, and to Whistler where cable cars do work environmentally, and end up in Victoria, twice voted “the best city in the Americas”. Read “Rock and Roll, Big Wheel!” (Click, the title comes up then click on that title) All Images
NEW ZEALAND SEEN THROUGH GLASSES, DARKLY. We tour NZ by bus, but an eye problem dims the views wonderful as they are. Auckland, Bay of Islands, Hobbiton (set for The Lord of the Rings), Rotorua, art deco Napier, a brief pass through Wellington, then the majestic South, the beautiful Kaikoura East Coast to a recovering Christchurch, across the Southern Alps, Milford Sound, Dunedin, an invisible Mt Cook. I am impressed with the efficiency with which our cousins deal with sometimes massive problems, ranging from traffic, earthquakes, mudslides and other nasties. Read NEW ZEALAND SEEN THROUGH GLASSES, DARKLY. All Images
SIX COUNTRIES DOWN THE RHINE. In Amsterdam we board the Scenic Crystal and head down the Rhine via Holland Belgium, Germany Luxembourg, France, back to Germany finishing at Basle Switzerland — not that we saw much of that last lively country. Highlights of the trip include the astonishing Veere Delta Project, Maastricht, Koblenz in Germany where the Rhine and Mosel meet. Then the celebrated middle Rhine with many castles lining the banks including the Mouse Tower and the naughty Lorelei (pictured), and many fascinating towns, a trip into the Black Forest (which is green), Breisach and finally Basle. Read: SIX COUNTRIES DOWN THE RHINE All Images
HEART OF ANCIENT JAPAN. We see some sights in Tokyo, then to tour Honshu visiting by bullet train Hakone National Park and volcano Mt Owakadani, Kanazawa, Takayama, UNESCO village Shirakagawa and historical Kyoto, Hiroshima, unwinding in beautiful Shinto island Miyajima. Into Kyushu to the island of Sakurajima and its erupting volcano, finally to Kumamoto The trip a gourmet’s delight where we learn the mysteries of genuine wagyu beef, teppanyaki, sake and hi-tech Japanese toilets. Read: HEART OF ANCIENT JAPAN All IMAGES
|A QUICK TOUR OF BRITAIN On our way to Portugal and Bordeaux we spend 11 days looking at parts of UK we haven’t done before, including climbing to the top of St Paul’s Dome in London. Take bus tours to Leeds Castle (which is in Kent not Leeds) and Canterbury. A longer tour takes in Stratford on Avon, York, Edinburgh, Lakes District, Livetpool, Chester and down the Welsh border, to Bath then to a newly done up Stonehenge, with Druids in action. Read: A QUICK TRIP AROUND BRITAIN See all IMAGES|
PORTUGAL, THE DOURO, ON THROUGH N. SPAIN
|BORDEAUX AND REGION
Crossing the Spanish border we visit St, Jean de Luz then to our destination Bordeaux. We board a boat that takes usa round the complicated wine regions bordering the Gironde Estuary, the Dordogne and the Garonne Rivers. Apart from vineyards, a castle or two, we visit a caviar factory and the town of Cognac, which lives up to its name. Leaves only a day or so to see the marvellous city of Bordeaux.As Victor Hugo said: “Take Versailles, add Antwerp and you have Bordeaux.” Read: BORDEAUX AND REGION See all IMAGES
|A QUICK TOUR OF PARIS
We have a brief few days in Paris prior to a cruise down the Rhone (see below). We have a hair-raising ride in a 2CV, guided tours of the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower (what else?) and a Gourmet Tour of the Latin Quarter. We quickly learn that the best value for food and wine is not to be found in the First Arrondissement where we are staying.
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|SOUTHERN FRANCE BY RIVER BOAT
To Chalon to board our boat — and go everywhere by bus. The river is flooded and can’t go under the bridges. Beaune, Beaujolais, Ch. Cormatin, Macon, Lyns. We we change to another boat. Wine, scenery, ancient cave paintings, Chateauneuf-du-Papes, Avignon and much more. Sorry the images are out of sync with the text (thank Google).
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|LONDON AND AROUND THE BALTIC
A refresher of London thence to Amsterdam and the Rijks Museum, through the restful Kiel Canal to Bornholm (Danish) and Gotland (Swedish), both warm and charming islands with dark pasts. A wet Stockholm, but an impressive archipelago, to interesting Tallinn. We revisit St Petesburg but so much to see, then Helsinki and a small village spoilt by weather and conclude this stage of our trip in Copenhagen. Although Mary was out we see how she takes the kids to kindy.
Read: FROM LONDON AND AROUND THE BALTIC see All images
|AROUND THE BLACK SEA 1: Turkey
In Istanbul, we see iconic sites including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, what Daniel Craig left of the Grand Bazaar. We bus through Anatolia to other places that cradled our civilisation including Gallipoli Ephesus, Pergamon, Kammukale, Cappadocia. The mv Island Sky takes us along the Anatolian shore: Amasra, Amasya, Trabzon and the mountain-locked Sumela monastery. For the rest of our cruise around the perimeter of the Black Sea see Part 2.
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||AROUND THE BLACK SEA 2: Georgia, Russia, Odessa, Romania, Bulgaria
Next stop Batumi in Georgia, with its striking buildings on the waterfront,most empty, then to Sochi scene of the 2014 Winter Olympics and of Stalin’s favourite dacha, Odessa and the Potemkin Steps and glorious opera house, to Dracula’s supposed castle in Transylvania and more blood tragedy in Ceaucescu’s Bucharest, finally a brief stop in ancient Nessebur and its 40 churches. .
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We learn traffic dodging in Hanoi, then to the beautiful Sapa Highlands, stunning Ha Long Bay, Hoi An city of lanterns, Ho Chi Minh City, Phuoc Tuy (evidence of the American War everywhere), up the Mekong to the Cambodian border. Along the way we meet friendly hospitable people. They pity the Americans for they lost and the Vietnamese regained their country. With Luke Nguyen’s help we find out something about Vietnamese cuisine. Read: VIETNAM see All Images
Mv AMALOTUS takes us up the Mekong to Phnom Penh, a very pleasant city in the middle of an election campaign; Pol Pot’s astonishing murderous reign as preserved in the Genocide Museum, in stark contrast peaceful villages and local crafts, and Angkor Wat. Oridnary Cambodians and Vietnamese are amazing friendly and gentle after what they have gone through.
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|THE GHAN, KAKADU and KIMBERLEY COAST
Two of Australi’s must-do trips in one: From Adelaide to Darwin in the Ghan, a day or so in Kakadu, then we board the OCEANIC DISCOVERER that takes us from Darwin right along the WA coast to Broome. We see much indigenous art and wildlife on islands and up remote gorges. . Read: GHAN, KAKADU, KIMBERLEY COAST see All images
|CRUISING THE MEDITERRANEAN
We join Celebrity Cruises’ massive Millennium and its massive passengers. Our floating hotel takes us from Barcelona to Venice, via the Riviera, various Italian stops, Santorini, Athens, Dubrovnik and finally Venice.
Read: Santorini-Athens-Dubrovnik-Florence-Venice See all images
|SHANGHAI and Thereabous
We join what we thought was a Hong Kong based tour to Shanghai, Hangzhou and some very interesting towns in between. But things don’t run particularly smoothly.
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Buenos Aires, Rio, Iguassu Falls, La Paz, Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, the Amazon, the Galapagos, Santiago … all in one brilliant package. Who could resist?
Read: Buenos Aires-Iguassu-Rio-La Paz
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From Berlin through Hungary, Poland, Lithuania to Russia. We see the horrors of Auschwitz and the wonderfully restored cities of Prague, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, Vilnius, St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Read: Berlin to Budapest
Read: Krakow to Vilnius
Read: St. Petersburg to Moscow See All Images
|CHINA’S THREE GORGES
We travel the Yangtze in 1993, before the flooding began. Now some wonderful villages and monuments are drowned, over one million people displaced.
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|THE BIRDS OF NANJING
A quirky story of how I attended a conference where I meet some very attractive ladies but end up like one of China’s famous caged birds … promises, promises, but not what you’re thinking!
Read: BIRDS OF NANJING
I am invited to Beijing but my host has already left. I attend a meeting where George H. W. Bush Sr’s musclemen take control. I am propositioned to no avail and end up dancing under the stars instead … just dancing.
Catherine and I join a minibus tour of Yunnan, a beautiful and still unspoilt part of China in 1990. Yunnan is home to many of the nonHan minority ethnic groups such as the Bai, Yi, and Na Xi people. We visit Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, then our bus driver pulls a few tricks …
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|ARIZONA: ON GUNS, GOD AND TESTOSTERONE
A visit to Phoenix Arizona, soon after the Brady Gun Laws have been promulgated. Testosterone everywhere but some stunningly beauitful desert countryside. I come across what seems to be the father of Rosemary’s Baby. I end up at the Grand Canyon.
Read; GUNS, GOD AND TESTOSTERONE (best images in text)
Oh dear, more violence! This time it is rather older. Catherine and I are driving across the USA and we keep coming across reminders of the Wild West and the American Civil War and …
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|VANCOUVER ISLAND: On Motorcycles but not on Whales
I attempt to meet two ambitions while on Vancouver Island: to ride a Harley and to see a whale. I have a wonderful time doing neither …
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Catherine and I attend a conference in Aix-en-Provence, but find our surroundings rather more attractive than the conference. We visit some breath-takingly beautiful places, with food and wine to match.
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After a conference, we have three days to do Ireland. Ridiculous but we do our best: the West and Dublin, using the great hop-on/hop-off Dublin bus tour. But wherever we go, we meet road works and Guinness (independently). And we find out what “Dublin coddle” is.
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|WEST COAST CANADA AND USA
We start in Vancouver with a clash of cultures over environmental issues; then it’s round the Olympic Peninsula to Seattle, where we are surprised at contrasts. We rip down the coast through Oregon and California, taking Yosemite in on the way. To San Francisco and its contrasts again: we live at one end of the scale while others barely survive at the other.
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| EASTERN CANADA
Starting from Kingston Ontario I head East through some striking countryside to explore Anglo- and French-Canadian, and American-Canadian, relations. All is resolved as I eat my way round Old Quebec City.
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We are in Malaysia for a conference and afterwards we have a few spare days to see what we can. Not nearly as much as we’d like, but the contrasts: modern KL, old world Malacca steeped in multicultural history, and the Cameron Highlands, where amazingly the British sun still hasn’t set.
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|THE SILK ROUTE
We do the Silk Route (one of them) by train, starting in Beijing, through Louyang, Xi’an, north of the Taklamakan Desert into Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and ending up in Russia. Brilliant, but we wade through a biological minefield that rather spoils things.
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