Egypt, Modern and Ancient: From Aswan to Alexandria
This independent tour of the land of the pharaohs stretches from Aswans Great High Dam of Upper Egypt to Alexandria on the Mediterranean. It includes an all too short afternoon at the amazing Egyptian Museum, a night-time stroll through the crowded streets and shops of Old Cairo, and a day train trip to Alexandria with its magnificent Library and catacombs.
The desert, which insulated the dynasties from conquest for millennia, and the Nile are the two realities of this fascinating culture. Its 75M people struggle with lifes daily mysteries on an inhabited area the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts but they are among the most hospitable youll find anywhere.
I found that private guides were the best way to beat the crowds to the Pyramids at Giza, to tour the Valley of the Kings and to explore the stepped pyramid and necropolis at Saqqara. One morning, I arose at five to catch the morning light on the temple ruins at Luxor.
Alabaster vases, Egyptian cottons, perfumes and hand-crafted gold and silver jewelry are enough to whet the appetite of any shopper. On the culinary side, an abundance of exotic restaurants and sidewalk cafés provide tempting fare. This may seem a bit adventurous but I wasnt naïve enough to drive. Half the 18M people in Cairo seem to be on the crowded streets at the same time. With no more than one traffic light per million people, it was a matter of trust your driver and make eye contact with motorists before you cross the street on foot.
Hidden Treasures of SW China: Ethnic Tribes of Guizhou Province
Claire, a frequent traveler to China, will illustrate her 2006 trip to Guizhou, once one of S.W. China's least known provinces, but now becoming more accessible to visitors. The beautiful landscape includes marvelous karst, limestone mountains, caves, and waterfalls, but the chief attraction is the diversity of its 13 distinct ethnic minorities. These belong to many different tribes, which live in villages and maintain their ancient customs, traditions, and dress. Claire visited three such villages, including Langde, whose Miao people are renowned for their silver decorations, embroidered costumes, and music and dance.
New Zealand Off The Beaten Track: 3 Islands in 4 Seasons
Tom's presentation, based on his 5 trips for combined business and pleasure, will emphasize the natural beauty of New Zealand. From his North Island home base of Napier, spectacularly rebuilt in the Art Deco style after a 7.8 earthquake in 1931, Tom explored adjacent hiking trails, lakes, rural museums, and wineries. Invercargill, the southern-most city in New Zealand, provided a South Island home base for yet more hikes, a drive to Milford Sound in Fiordlands, and crossings to Stewart Island, New Zealand's third largest island. Because Stewart Island has only 400 inhabitants and 85% of the land is now a national park, the unique wildlife is more accessible here than almost anywhere else in New Zealand. You can take day trips or spend weeks hiking in the wilderness of Stewart Island; you might even see a kiwi bird, the national symbol, in the wild.
PatagoniaGlaciers, Gauchos, Geysers & Guanacos Galore
Grandeur overload describes Peggy and Tom Kahans 2009 journey, together with other photography enthusiasts, to Patagonia, one of the most dramatic, remote, and unspoiled landscapes in the world. From Buenos Aires, the small group traveled to Argentine Patagonia, to walk among Magellanic penguins, closely observe an elephant seal colony, and to hike on the imposing Perito Moreno Glacier. After crossing the border into Chile, the group stayed at an EcoCamp in the shadow of the majestic Torres del Paine, taking several days within the National Park of the same name. The last leg of their journey was spent in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, among wondrous high plateau lagoons, volcanoes, geysers, and the Valley of the Moon, at altitudes up to 14,000 feet.
Special Joint Session on Bulgaria
Bulgaria: A Bargain, Beguiling, Balkan Beauty Beckons
Bulgaria is off most Americans' radar screen, sad because Bulgaria offers visitors a more varied experience than most of its Balkan neighbors. The countryside features some of the wildest mountain scenery in Europe, fertile plains, and golden beaches. There are rich archeological sites of Neolithic settlements, Thracian tombs, and Roman theaters. Later architecture includes Ottoman mosques, elegant neoclassical and Art Deco buildings, blessedly few Soviet-era monstrosities, and the unique 19th cent. Bulgarian National Revival style. The cuisine reflects its Turkish influence, and the local wine flows. Above all, the people are welcoming and the prices are CHEAP. Come soon, before the word gets out!
Hiking Bulgaria's Mountains
John & Amy Osaki
Mountain Hiking Holidays, Portland
Mountain Hiking Holidays is a Portland tour operator for travelers who prefer small group escorted tours. In contrast to the preceding presentaion by Derek, who concentrated on the towns and villages of Bulgaria, John and Amy took us into the spectacular back country of Bulgaria, showing beautiful images of their guided hikes in the Bulgarian mountains.
Visit http://www.MountainHikingHolidays.com for details of their Bulgarian offerings (under "Mountain Hiking Trips, Europe" on their web site). Mountain Hiking Holidays also offers other destinations, as listed on their web site.
Tom & Verna Morrison
The highlight of our dream tour of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom was our time in Scotland. Traveling by car, we were most fortunate to enjoy perfect fall weather as we toured this beautiful country. Flocks of pheasants along the road, the remoteness of the isles of Mull and Skye, the making of Scotch whisky, and the rugged and wild terrain of the Highlands are indelible images. Many of our bed-and-breakfasts were in charming old structures and the hosts were eager to share information about their area. The local color was captivating as we crawled the small town pubs and acquired an appreciation of fish and chips and Guinness beer. Throughout our trip, we were aware of the tumultuous and violent history of this fabled land, characterized by the ruins of ancient castles, the walled towns, incredible cathedrals and the imprint of the Romans at Hadrian's Wall. A good look at the holy grail of golf, St. Andrews, our struggle with the Scottish accent at a play in the little town of Pitlochry, our unsuccessful hunt for the Loch Ness monster and walking the Royal Mile in the grand city of Edinburgh were memorable events in our journey. We were the beneficiaries of great hospitality and generosity everywhere the Scottish trait of thriftiness never on display!
A DIY Classic China Itinerary
Everett will illustrate the feasibility of independent travel in China, despite linguistic and other barriers. He and his family survived the crowds and smog at the 2008 Summer Olympics well enough to enjoy the Forbidden City and other attractions of Beijing, after visiting some of the other major tourist destinations in China. These include Shanghai, China's bustling commercial hub; Xi'an, the location of the Imperial Terra Cotta Army; the "Garden City"of Suzhou; and Chengdu, the home of the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center and gateway to Jiuzhaigou National Park.
Home Away from Home in Panama
Lorie & Jeff Bickford
Except for THE CANAL, Panama is off the radar for many Americans. Jeff and Lorie will draw upon their almost 10 years of repeated visits to illustrate Panama's rich heritage of countryside and cultures; the white sand beaches on two oceans; the thriving capital, Panama City; and the Bickfords', "Home away from Home" on a coffee farm near the small mountain town of Boquete, blessed with an idyllic setting and a comfortable climate. Ben Gentile has stayed there and will contribute to the discussion.
Twice across the Divide:
A Canada-USA Transcontinental Drive
During the summer of 2006, Ben had two conferences to attend; one in Montreal and the other in Washington D.C. Rather than enduring two long plane trips, he decided to spend the summer on the road, celebrating his 50th birthday by exploring North America. The trip took on a personal odyssey of sorts, as he mapped out a plan that would fulfill his work obligations while allowing him to complete a tour of the "Lower 48" and many Canadian provinces. Please join Ben as he shares his experiences on this eight-week, 9,600 mile road trip. Highlights include the Canadian Rockies, Montreal, New England, Charleston, Nashville, the Oklahoma Panhandle, Santa Fe, the Four Corners, Wyoming and Boise.
A Tempting Tuscan Trio:
Siena, Lucca and the Cinque Terre
In the fall of 2008, Janet and George Adkins traveled with two friends to Italy; Janet did the planning, making good use of both the internet and of Rick Steves, our guide in absentia. We sampled, at a relaxed pace, the art; history; food; and drink of a remarkable culture, using only public transportation. We explored the medieval Tuscan cities of Siena and Lucca, as well as the rugged coastal terrain of the Cinque Terre (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; five unpretentious, small towns on the Italian Riviera, linked by short hiking trails and by local train). As neophyte European travelers, we reduced the stress of travel by spending at least three nights in each location. We wanted to experience the natural beauty and Mediterranean ambiance without being overwhelmed by such a rich culture.