Page 3 of D MJ Binkley Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Monaco April 25th 2022

The next leg of this trip required an early morning transit on Corsica Ferries to Nice as we were asked to arrive an hour before departure. From Bastia it is a five or more-hour ferry crossing. We selected a day cabin so we could stretch out if we wanted but at the very least would have a secure place to leave our luggage if we hung out on deck watching the world go by. The ferry pulled out shortly after the 7:30am scheduled departure time which would deposit us in Nice around 1:00pm. It was great being on deck to bid a farewell to Bastia and take a few last snapshots. We do enjoy planning trips ourselves as it allows us to pick when and where we travel and at what speed. We've enjoyed moving slowly ... read more
View from our cabin
Car from Goldfinger! 007.
Scenic Corsica

Europe » France » Corsica » Calvi April 24th 2022

And so another adventure begins….this one will take us many places in the Mediterranean, but first, to Paris for two nights. You’ve got to start somewhere, so why not Paris? Two nights in Paris is never enough but two weeks or two months may not be either. France required a “health pass” when we planned this travel experience, so the thinking was it would be simple enough to get this done in Paris and why not stay for another night before heading on? Fortunately, before we arrived things improved, and the requirement was dropped. So, instead of running around doing paperwork we were able to just run around. We were pleasantly surprised by 70 degree sunny days as the weathermen had promised us cloudy, rainy and low 60 degree temperatures. We checked out some familiar sites ... read more
Good Friday procession in Sartene
Stunning vista on mountain roads
River outside Corte

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Buraydah March 6th 2022

Our last few days in Saudi Arabia continues to delight and amaze. There seems to be no end to the variety of things to see and do. But then again, we're just giddy tourists drinking in what this country has to offer. It's not that we are easily amused, we just never tire of taking in our surroundings and learning more about this desert nation. The western tourists will definitely enjoy their time here as they learn the rich culture and history of Saudi. On a rather cloudy (yes, cloudy) morning, our bus driver departed from the sealed road and drove on an unmarked road which brought us to the edge of an extinct volcano. We've learned that since tourism is in its infancy here that guides and drivers take on even more responsibility as they ... read more
Beauty camels have large lips
Beautiful Lady
This gentleman studied in Oklahoma City

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Ha'il March 4th 2022

After all those years of travel, there we were......on a highway to Ha'il. It was inevitable of course. Not because we lived a lifestyle that would lead us to the fiery depths of Hades, but rather because we were continuing our journey in Saudi and the path was straight to a city in the middle of nowhere really. In a country as large as Saudi Arabia the drives are long from town to town. This part of the country is rather desolate, and it was a bit cloudy to boot. Lacking the sunshine, the desert didn’t have the beauty it had a few days ago. As a matter of fact, it looked a tad ugly. We’d been told we would have a picnic in a unique place because there weren’t any restaurants in this isolated section ... read more
Women Shop Vendors
Father and Daughter
Ancient Pictographs

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Al-'Ula March 3rd 2022

Saudi Arabia is known for the largest sand desert in the world. Not to get too technical, but don't get hung up on the word "desert" here as many locations in the world have deserts. But....Saudi Arabia has both a desert and the requisite sand. And that is what most people think of when they think of a desert. For contrast, Antarctica is technically a desert....but most do not think of it that way. Meanwhile..... Our trip continued to take us deeper into the desert. We are traveling by bus and our time driving down the highways give us time to have deeper discussions and ask questions we may not want to ask in a public area. As we are a small group, this better facilitates such discussions. Our local guide Saad continues to give us ... read more
Tomb at Hegra
Balloon Glow
We love the lonely roads

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Medina February 28th 2022

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East, situated between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Ninety five percent of this country is considered a desert or semi-desert. We began to feel the enormity of the country as we left Jeddah via the Haramain high speed train heading to the Holy City of Medina. Once we were out of the Jeddah city limits there were miles and miles of barren land. Saudi Arabia has no rivers of lakes. All water is from under the ground or by desalination. Shades of tan, brown, gray and rust dotted the landscape. When one first enters the desert, it looks rather bland and blends into all one color. The longer time you spend in this muted landscape it slowly becomes alive. In the landscape you begin to ... read more
View of Medina
Exploring historic train station
Hijaz Railway Terminus

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Jeddah February 27th 2022

It was back in 2008 when we had our first experience in the Middle East. We came through Dubai for a few days on our way as we traveled west towards the United States at the end of many months. Since that time, we’ve have the good fortune to visit Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. The Middle East has a stark beauty and a unique culture that continues to call us back. We have always felt that by getting to know cultures unlike our own that we become better citizens of the world. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on world travelers. It's been painful and somewhat tortuous for those who long to wander the planet. We read an article recently that described people who are COVID weary as fatigued, frustrated and frazzled by the five surges ... read more
Old Town Architecture
Making new friends
Night time view of mosque

Europe » Spain » Basque Country » San Sebastián November 5th 2021

Leaving a city like Barcelona is not the easiest thing to do. Sure, it's fairly straight-forward from a logistical point of view, but from a traveler's point of view, it is more challenging. Barcelona is a fabulous place that provided a marvelous time for us. It is no small wonder why people rave about it. was time to move on. We'd been on the road for over 40 days and seen great places, great friends and eaten some stunningly tasty food. With only one stop left before our return to the States, how do you transition from such a lively place like Barcelona? You go to San Sebastian, also known as Donostia, in the north east of Spain. Not far from the border with France, this is one place we would recommend to anyone. It's ... read more
Scenes from the overlook
An explosion of flavors
Romantic City Streets

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona November 1st 2021

Every single time we mentioned to someone that we were going to Barcelona they immediately said, "you've got to do Gaudi!"...... every single person! Remember we mentioned we threw this trip together a very short time before we traveled so our knowledge concerning the places we were going was woefully sparse. As world travelers we hated to admit to our friends we had no idea what or who Gaudi was so we smiled, nodded and kept quiet. Finally, we had time to google and found out he was an amazing Spanish Architect and Barcelona was a showcase for his works. OK, cool, we could get into that! So, at this point, we'd been to Spain, then Portugal and now returning to Spain once again....who planned this? Uh....we did. We book-ended this around the river cruise with ... read more
Casa Batllo
Familia Segrada
Intricate stained glass

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto October 27th 2021

Lisbon proved to be a wonderful time, but the real reason for our trip with the Chef was just ahead. We conceived our voyage as one that involved food, fun and cruising on a river boat. The conversation started a few years ago at a restaurant in Burlingame, CA when the subject of "where would you like to travel" came up as usual. Brendan mentioned that a river boat cruise in northern Portugal would be quite the adventure. The idea sat on the back burner for a few years, but now the day was upon us, as we traveled north from Lisbon to Porto, where we would float on the Douro River for a week in the luxurious lap of a Tauck cruise. And so, after four days of fun bouncing around Lisbon having a grand ... read more
Clouds over ruins in Castelo Rodrigo
Architecture in Porto
Lisbon train station

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