Travel Club

Meeting Archive


January, 2012:

Alaska: The Interior
Virginia Vanderbilt

Many people, maybe even most people, experience Alaska via cruises on the Inside Passage. What they see, providing the clouds aren’t down to the water level, is spectacular: Gorgeous totem poles, lush rain forests, dazzling glaciers, deep water, and frolicking killer whales. But is this the REAL Alaska? As someone who spent most of her first 33 years in interior Alaska, Virginia says, “absolutely not!” To really get a feel for Alaska, one must visit the interior of the state and this presentation will give you a taste of what you might find if you choose to make that journey.

By combining years of experience living in Fairbanks, the “Golden Heart of the Interior,” with many visits to Fairbanks and environs, Virginia will show you that the interior of Alaska offers four seasons of great sightseeing opportunities. Whether you want to find out what 50 degrees below zero really feels like or if Alaskan mosquitoes really are as big as everyone says they are, there is a season and an activity that will help you satisfy your curiosity.

This presentation will take you to ice carving championships, sled dog racing, gold panning, premier wilderness lodges in Denali National Park, stern wheeling on the Chena River, and much, much more...possibly even a brief look at the Rhubarb Revels, an event known to only a very few insiders.

February, 2012:

Syria–A Stunning, Scenic Secret
Virgil Funk

Although civic unrest inhibits travel to Syria at present, this fascinating country deserves a place on your "Bucket List." Virgil will illustrate his 2010 trip with visits to Damascus and Aleppo, which both claim to be the world's oldest, continuously inhabited cities, each with very grand mosques and sprawling markets. There are Roman ruins at Bosra, as well as important, early Christian sites: St. Ananias's House on Damascus's Straight Street; the Syriac monastery of Dar Mar Musa; and the Byzantine architecture of the Dead Cities in Northern Syria. Virgil will also discuss the Iraqi Student Project of contemporary aid provided to Iraqi student refugees in Syria.

March, 2012:

Slovenia and Croatia:
Two Beguiling Balkan Beauties Beckon
Alan and Belinda Scott

Our two weeks of travel began in Slovenia's attractive capital, Ljubljana, and scenic Lake Bled, then onto Croatia's Istrial Peninsula, visiting the hill country around Motovun and Groznjan, and the coastal cities of Rovinj and Pula. After moving inland to Plitvice National Park, we traveled down the Dalmatian coast via Zadar; Split; the islands of Trogir and Korcula; and Dubrovnik, with a side visit to Mostar in Bosnia. We encountered wonderful people; spectacular scenery; Roman ruins; medieval cities; and, sadly, remnants of war.

April, 2012:

Berlin, Bavaria and Bratwurst
Jim and Judy Heltzel

Jim and Judy will illustrate their nine day intensive tour of Berlin and environs in April 2009, followed by independent train travel in Bavaria. They explored Nazi history in Nürnberg; the exquisite, medieval, walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber; the hustle and bustle of Munich; and Mad King Ludwig's castle at Neuschwanstein.

Jim will describe how his phone consultation with an expert on Germany at Rick Steves Travel Center greatly facilitated their trip planning.

May, 2012:

Lingering in Laos
Robert Phillips

Laos is off the radar for most Americans, which is sad because this country offers spectacular mountain, jungle, and river scenery; friendly people; an enduring Buddhist tradition; elegant remnants of the French colonial period; and low, low prices. Come soon, before the word gets out!

Bob Phillips has both traveled extensively and also conducted tour groups in Laos, in addition to frequent travels elsewhere in SE Asia. Bob's wife was born in Laos.

June, 2012:

Iridescent Iran
Margaret Egeland

Iran, the ancient land of Persia. Iran, a modern culturally-rich country. Iran, a political thorn in America's side. Iran regularly dominates headlines in the U.S. Yet, for many Americans, Iran is a concept conjuring only carpets, Persian cats, covered women and anti-American sentiment.

Come on a journey with Margaret, exploring the ancient roots of Persia and the complex culture of modern Iran. This tour takes you to the manic traffic of Tehran, the eternal gardens of Shiraz and Kashon, the fire temples of Yazd, the enchanting bridges of Esfahan, the Qashqai village of Firuzabad, and Persepolis-the remains of the magnificent capital of the Persian Empire.

Experience ruins, caravanserais on the old Silk Road, tombs of poets, traditional carpet making, bazaars, mosques, palaces, teahouses, and bathhouses. Mix with locals in schools, libraries and public gathering places, as ordinary people go about living their lives. Discover a people more like us than different. Ponder the startling revelation that, in spite of media hype to the contrary, Iranians love Americans!

Who can resist the call to visit a country so ancient, enigmatic, politically charged, and little-known to Americans?

September, 2012:

The Yangtze River from Shanghai to Chongqing
Claire Reed

Claire Reed, a frequent traveler to China, will present her river trip in the heart of China.  In her presentation you'll discover some of China's magnificent sights, rarely visited or featured on any tours, as she traveled on a 9 day trip on the Yangtze from Shanghai to Chongqing.  She will present the Three Gorges Dam as well as some of the beautiful gardens, lakes, pagodas and historic places she visited.

October, 2012:

The South of England, from Cornwall to Kent
Cherie and Chuck Bennett

In "The South of England, from Cornwall to Kent" Cherie and Chuck Bennett look at the 10 counties of the southern tier, their favorite part of Great Britain. In many visits they have explored world-class gardens and English eccentricities; prehistoric sites and maritime history; beautiful countryside filled with lambs and bluebells; marvelous National Trust sites; white cliffs and chalk hillside carvings; thatched villages, castles and historic cities; seaports, cathedrals, and literary sites. Come see the highlights of this region, which also includes Dorset, Devon and Wiltshire.

November, 2012:


Capri, Amalfi and Sorrento
Bill and Kay Parsons

Bill and Kay Parsons went to Italy for their honeymoon in the Fall of 2002, and have been going back as often as they can ever since, with 7 trips in the last decade. With so much to see and do in Italy, they have been exploring more and more of the country in greater depth. Bypassing many of the most well-known spots, join us as these Italophiles provide an eclectic view, sharing the lesser known gems they have discovered in Capri and Anacapri, Sorrento, Amalfi, Ravello, and Pompeii.

December, 2012:


Turkey: Antalya & Cappadocia
Don Gallagher

Don Gallagher spent two months in 2011 living in a small Turkish village near Antalya with his daughter and family. He will share his observations of the village life along with his explorations of the city of Antalya, the numerous historical ruins in the area, as well as his brief journeys into the Taurus Mountains and to the Turquoise Coast. A side trip to the unique fairytale landscape and underground cities of Cappadocia, itself one of the richest areas historically in Turkey, will also be featured.

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Peter Ronai
Mid-Valley Travel Club