Laura Sholtz


Laura Sholtz


Former TravelPod Member: laura421

Joined: December 21st, 2011

From: lives in Thailand
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Central America Caribbean » Costa Rica January 21st 2019

It is pouring outside this morning, but we are in the rainforest, so even though this part of La Fortuna in Costa Rica is fairly heavily built up because of its being close to Arenal Volcano National Park, we are still in the rainforest and can expect such drenching rains. While we have stayed in many luxurious and beautiful lodges and hotels on this trip so far, this lodge is not my favorite; the rooms are dark and very cold, and in my first room, tucked back underneath the upper level rooms, my windows didn't even open, adding to the oppressive feeling of being enclosed in a cold tomb. Hearing my dismay while I stood in the open doorway trying to let some warm air and light come in, Esteban, our very young but most excellent ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Guatemala January 14th 2019

Yesterday was really our last day in Guatemala, spending most of it exploring and learning about Tikal. Our excellent guide, Ivania, has led us through five days here in Guatemala, visiting the top three places tourists generally go: Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and, finally for us, Tikal. Having only five days in this country we didn't have enough time in Antigua, as our whole little group of six on this OAT pretrip all chose to spend one of the two days scheduled for Antigua travelling to and playing on and near Lake Atitlan. But all three main tourist spots are gorgeous places, very much worth visiting. In this short time I have enjoyed Guatemala very much! We are an interesting group, two couples and two solo travellers. I am one of the singles, and Yasmin is the ... read more

Asia » India » Kerala November 23rd 2018

Today is the day after Thanksgiving. We taught Dennis, our program director, about this US holiday, and he thought it was good to have a special day for offering a general thanks, but to whom? For what, exactly? People from India do not understand what Thanksgiving means for most, or many, Americans, but then we do not understand many of their holidays either. One thoughtless woman toasted, "Happy turkey day!" which demeans this lovely holiday completely. Gratitude should be the main theme, the focus of this day. This is our second day on the Spice Luxury Cruises houseboats. There are three boats reserved for our group: the Tamarind, the Pepper, and the Fennel. The boats are all built similarly, made of bamboo, and all have thatched roofs. The Tamarind has four rooms, the Pepper has two, ... read more

Asia » India November 17th 2018

We have been following news of the nearby cyclone for several days, continuing travelling not too far from its changing path, wondering if our little group would be detoured to keep out of harm's way. Other than our windy and slightly wet lunch in Mahabalipuram, and seeing the ocean with its angry waves, we have been very lucky with our travel timing. Yesterday afternoon our group arrived safely in Thanjavur, where the cyclone had hit between midnight and 4AM this morning. The hotel was open, running by generators, but trees and power lines were down, limbs and whole trees broken off and lying across roads, power lines hanging lower than a person's waist. The city was a mess; everything was closed except for our hotel. At the last count I heard eighteen people had already been ... read more

Asia » India November 15th 2018

There is a cyclone boiling in this part of the world, but so far we have escaped its ravages and rains. This morning here in Temple Bay in Mahabalipuram we heard that it had moved further south, and would reach landfall later on this afternoon. Here the weather is beautiful, not too hot yet, and with specks of blue sky scattered here and there. Early this morning four of us walked to the beach in hopes of seeing sunrise, but the clouds disrupted our viewing. But walking barefoot along the sand was gorgeous nonetheless! I love to swim in the ocean and lakes, but here, with the cyclone's being so near, our ocean is a hungry and angry one, a beast that would easily capture a swimmer and never let her go. Today we had to ... read more

Asia » India November 11th 2018

This has been our first full day in south India. Sri Lanka, even in Colombo with its terrible traffic, is not as loud, not as crowded, not as full of garbage as it is here in Chennai. This city used to be called Madras, a name the British originally bestowed on this bustling city, but years ago starting in 1947 when India achieved its independence, the country began changing the British names for their cities to Tamil. Thus Bombay became Mumbai, Calcutta became Kolkata, Benares became Varanasi, Tanjore became Thanjavur, and Madras became Chennai. Many other cities changed their names too, but these are some of the most well known. This morning a new friend and I walked a bit through Chennai's crowded streets, but it was hard to talk with all the horns beeping, plus ... read more

Asia » Sri Lanka November 9th 2018

After travelling for ten days already, this is our last night in Sri Lanka; we have been so busy exploring this island nation that I have not had time, nor the will, to write. This little country with its beautiful name, Sri Lanka has both terribly congested cities and gorgeously beautiful landscapes that take your breath away. Colombo has little beauty; it is another overcrowded Asian city with modern signing on shops crammed next to each other on dirty city streets, plus it has the distinctive disadvantage of also having internationally known name brand stores, places I never want to shop in any country. How these expensive stores survive in poor countries is beyond understanding, but perhaps people feel that by having these expensive monstrosities their country can also partake in western culture, or at least ... read more

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai November 2nd 2018

The muezzin is calling, the second time this morning already and it's only 5:40AM. I love hearing it! The very first time I ever heard a muezzin call was when my daughter Laila and I travelled to Egypt, back in the spring of 2007. It is such a lovely, haunting call to prayer. Five times each day Muslims pray, and in Cairo I did not want to miss hearing even one of those times, so I'd opened our windows wide to allow this entrancing music to enter. We also heard the muezzin in Istanbul, in Morocco, in Jordan, in Israel, and now, here in the UAE. Such beautiful reminders to stop and pray, to my thinking no matter what one's religion. Heading off to Sri Lanka and south India this time, I am in Dubai for ... read more

Europe » Estonia » Tallinn September 29th 2018

This morning we will take a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to end this tour where it began, in Helsinki, Finland. Right now we are in gorgeous Tallinn, Estonia, the last of the three capital cities of the Baltic States. Heading in to this trip, fifteen days sounded like almost enough time to explore this part of the world, but, as usual, and of course, it is not. I especially need to go back to Lithuania, to see more of that little country and to try to find the town that is named after my family (or vice versa). My last name was made up by my father; unfortunately he - or someone else - chose a confusing to spell, abrupt name that sounds as if we are German, but we are not German at ... read more

Europe » Latvia » Riga Region » Riga September 27th 2018

We are in Riga, Latvia now, another pretty Baltic city in whose Old Town I searched and searched for Echinacea tincture since the bottle I brought from home is now almost totally empty. I don't dare stop taking it, as many people on our tour are still quite sick and continue to infect others. No one wants to be sick, either on tour or on our long flights home, so I want to continue taking it prophylactically. I must have asked at ten or even twenty shops, by pointing to a photo of the Echinacea flower on small boxes of loose tea, and saying "tinctura," but had no luck at all. Most shopkeepers spoke no English, and my Latvian only covers "hello" and "thank you," so these were difficult and frustrating interactions. I was also hunting ... read more

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