John Wheeler

Captain John

John Wheeler

Retired from the Navy we enjoy RVing and cruising.

Bordeaux is a wine connoisseur’s dream with chateaus and wine cellars (plus sellers) surrounding the city famous for its red wine. Arriving via the Garonne River in southwestern France's Gironde department (state), we discover low lying farm lands, not surprisingly occupied mostly by vineyards, lining both banks. The city slowly appears which with its 1,105,000 inhabitants, constituting the sixth largest urban area in the country. Home of the industry's main wine fair, Vinexpo, the wine economy in the metro area moves 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8thcentury and currently produces 960 million bottles from 13,000 grape growers on 287,000 acres of vineyards. From table wine to premier cru (read “expensive”) the product is carefully marketed in true French bureaucratic style to the extent that the number ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona » Barcelona May 26th 2013

Barcelona is our entrance into Spain’s Catalan country, boasting a very tall monument to Christopher Columbus. Dark, narrow streets linking picturesque squares highlight the presence of bars and cafes. The Arc de Triomf and Ciutadella Park, both legacies of the 1888 World Exhibition, lead us to Olympic Port where we learn how the city transformed itself by tearing down aging warehouses along the waterfront t to build housing for Olympic athletes in 1992 and further lessening the urban housing shortage while opening up the waterfront vistas. Driving through the picturesque Placa Espanya, Congress Palace and Maria Cristina Avenue we end up on Montjuic Hill for panoramic views of the city. The sun sets on a beautiful day in Spain as we depart the harbor for Cadiz. Cadiz is one of the quaintest cities we’ve enjoyed and ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Kusadasi May 22nd 2013

Kusadasi, Turkey is the port from which you travel inland several miles to visit the ancient city of Ephesus. Other cruise ships have joined our trek and so the fellow travelers with their buses are with us as be sightsee. This is our second trip to this partially restored Greek city, the first being last year in a driving rain storm. Rain accompanied us this year also but with no wind and better conditions. Wandering about these Greek/Roman remnants of a thriving, rich city is an amazing lesson in early civilizations. The most interesting remnant is the communal toilet with side by side holes in marble seats and running water flushing below (privacy didn’t come to fruition until the Victorians). The partially restored “Terrace Houses” have wonderful artwork in wall paintings and inlaid flooring. The gift ... read more

Europe » Greece » South Aegean » Rhodes » Lindos May 17th 2013

In order to provide some additional time in this fascinating land we back track to Ashdod, the port developed to relieve the congestion of Tel Aviv. This gives us an opportunity to see Caesarea, the Roman port city developed by Herod and named after Caesar to facilitate the Mediterranean trade. With an ongoing archaeology dig this is a National Park. Included in the excavations are The Theater, Promontory Palace, Herodian Amphitheater, Bathhouse Complex, ancient outdoor running water toilets, Fortified Medieval City, The Harbour, The Statues Square, the Hippodrome (circus) and the Roman Wall. Movies at the beginning and end of the tour recount the 3000 years of history involved. A windshield tour of our guide’s home city Tel Aviv reveals a vibrant cosmopolitan environment without the marked religiosity of Jerusalem. Our guide reports the expression: while ... read more

Middle East » Jordan » South » Aqaba May 15th 2013

Aqaba, Jordon is at the head of Red Sea and the port access to Petra, an ancient marvel requiring several hours of travel. We board our buses at 8:20 and begin the 2 ½ hour bus ride north from Aqaba, Jordon’s only Port City. Along the way we learn about this storied land, how its history and people are told in the Bible and, as we pass the road to Wadi Rum, how modern tales have been told about Lawrence of Arabia. The real Indiana Jones did explore these parts and planted the seed for the movie story filmed in Petra. Petra is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataean, an industrious Arab people who settled here more than 2,000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the ... read more

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. is the home of the 3rd largest mosque –the Grand Mosque – which took 12 years to build, has largest chandelier in the world weighing 9 tons with 1 million pieces of crystal, the largest single piece carpet in the world with a floral design to signify paradise, 41,000 people attend Friday prayer services, silver and gold inlays in opulence and Italian Moreno glass in the windows. While the Christian calendar has 365 days plus leap year the Islamic calendar is a lunar one with 354 days. The government has planted 100 million trees which are watered daily with recycled water. Day time temps range from 95 degrees in the Spring to 120 degrees in July and August in the shade. Gasoline is $1/gal. with no taxes. Heritage Village has recreation of an ... read more

Middle East » Qatar » Doha April 27th 2013

Our next stop is Doha, Qatar (pronounced “cutter” by most) and Abdul is our guide. By the way, most of the guides are expats from other countries as few local Emeriti’s do that kind of work. The first excursion stop is to the Souq Waqif, a shopping bazaar established in 1847. You can bargain up to 20% off for the spices, foods and other traded items available, we’re told. This country has 2.5 million people with 200,000 native citizens. Only Qatar citizens may own property permanently with foreigners not owning land and owning housing for up to 99 years at which time it’s returned to the government. Various visas cover a variety of visits including tourist, business, and non-permanent (i.e. working). Health care for the citizens is free as is education. Auto fuel is 25 cents ... read more

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai April 27th 2013

The emirate of Dubai is an interesting oasis of prosperity in the desert with the honor of being the 22nd most expensive city in the world and with a population of 2.5 million from 190 nations, 17% are from Emirati origin and 1.2% European and American. Fueled by oil income (with 93% of the U.A.E. oil reserves) it has the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa) completed in 2009 at 2,722 feet, and is one of 7 emirates composing the United Arab Emirate nation. Abu Dhabi is the country’s capital. Our first excursion took us on a shopping spree to a couple of the souks or bazaars, but in our next bus adventure we saw some of the buildings that make visiting this country such an architectural adventure. The Burj Al Arab hotel is built on ... read more

Asia » India » Maharashtra April 20th 2013

Our final stop in India is Mumbai, or as the British named it, Bombay. Our first excursion in this major city visits the night market at Pydhonie which is really the shops along the major shopping street. Our guide explains that the nice looking shops in buildings have the real brand name goods while the street vendors have the knockoffs. The prices tell the difference. Our drive to the Cinema Hall passes Victoria Terminus (the magnificent British built train station), the High Court and the Gateway of India. This latter Arc d’ Triumph like edifice on the waterfront’s Marine Drive was the location where Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and where the British left the country after granting them independence. We watch 20 minutes of a Bollywood movie which has everything – action, drama, love ... read more

Asia » India April 20th 2013

Cochin is known as “the Queen of the Arabian Sea” and located on the West Coast of India. It is the commercial capital of, and most cosmopolitan city in, the state of Kerala. Our bus begins our tour, hosted by the Virtuoso Voyager Club, with a stop in Fort Cochin, built by Portugal’s Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1500. Albuquerque arrived with settlers and five friars to build the first European church in India in 1503, the Church of St Francis. Standing in a corner of the typical English village green, this simplistic styled edifice does have some handsome floor tiles lining the main aisle. An interesting feature is the continued use of colonial era punkahs, large swinging cloth fans suspended above the congregation and manually operated from outside the church. This state has 51% Hindus, 25% ... read more

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