Page 5 of Laura421 Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Austria » Upper Austria » Mauthausen December 6th 2017

Travelling again, a week ago I was in Krakow, Poland, on a tour with Grand Circle's "Old World Prague and the Blue Danube." Poland was an extension of the main trip, and several reasons compelled me to travel there. The first is simply that I had never been. Another reason is that my husband Bill thinks he is part Polish. And yet another reason, purely a terribly selfish first world desire, was to add to the growing list of countries I have visited, trying to eventually reach one hundred. Poland is number 65. Earlier on this tour our group had travelled to: Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and the Czech Republic, visiting their capital cities along the way. I had been to Budapest, Hungary awhile ago, but returning to Budapest is never a hardship; it is a city ... read more

Asia » Bhutan » Paro October 21st 2017

Saturday morning dawned rainy and chilly in Paro, Bhutan. The forecast had been for temps only in the low 40s; accompanied with rain it could be a bit uncomfortable, not to mention encountering potentially muddy and slippery trails, for our group's trek to Tiger's Nest, the cultural icon of Bhutan. It had poured last night, so the always pleasant and pleasing Bhutanese said we'd have no rain today as it had already washed itself out. I hoped the weather agreed with their optimistic outlooks, but took a rain jacket with me anyway. Waking at 5AM, dressing in layers, dry-bagging everything I wanted to carry, I went outside and found it was not too cold, but a misty rain was still falling and heavy fog covered the hillsides and mountains. Even so, we boarded the van and ... read more

Asia » Bhutan » Punakha October 19th 2017

It seems that almost everyone wants to or already enjoys river rafting. I like to canoe, kneeling securely on the bottom of the canoe, knees touching the sides for excellent stability. I learned the finer points of canoeing at summer camp when I was in my early teen years. Kayaking runs a definite distant second place, but I have sweet memories of holding my first grandson, nine moths old, while my son, the baby's father, paddled us in his ocean-going kayak on the South China Sea in Japan. And, from years later, I have another kayak memory of trying to hold another grandson while my son paddled us on the Potomac River out to Roosevelt Island. But I have never tried river rafting before today. We had perfect weather again this morning, a little chilly at ... read more

Asia » Bhutan » Thimphu October 18th 2017

We have been so busy on this trip that there's hardly any time to write. This has been our second full day in Bhutan, first exploring the delights of Thimphu, and today travelling to Bhutan's former capital of Punakha. On our first full day here, yesterday, we visited the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, the National Textile Museum, the Traditional Medicine (herbal) Clinic, the Arts and Crafts School, and Tashicho Dzong, an historic fortress and monastery. We also stopped at the Takin Preserve, takins being Bhutan's national animal, a heavier and more solid form of antelope. Added to all that, we had a dinner date with a Bhutanese family in their home, and were treated to a cultural performance beforehand, enjoying Bhutanese singing and dancing sitting in the cold Thimphu night air. Our days seem to be ... read more

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu October 15th 2017

Tomorrow we leave Nepal and fly to Thimphu, Bhutan. I am excited to finally visit the happiest country on earth, but I am sad to leave Nepal, as we have explored only a small part of this country. One thing I will truly miss is the food. Nepalese bara, topped with spicy tomato chutney had been my most delicious breakfast while we were in Kathmandu. I rarely eat breakfast, but I almost craved these little patties made of black lentils. And the dosas and momos were beyond compare; I could happily eat these three foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for weeks on end. Add a tall glass of fresh mango juice and a side dish of sautéed greens and the meals become fit for the gods. Such delicious memories I will have of Nepal! We ... read more

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu October 14th 2017

Given our always advancing ages, I would guess many (or most) of us seniors spend time thinking of death, what it will be like, what -- if anything -- happens afterwards, and pondering how does anyone actually prepare for death? I've heard that the Dalai Lama, at age 81, wakes each morning at 4AM to meditate for hours in mental preparation for death. Here in Kathmandu, Nepal, the people also focus on handling the bodily remains; with such a large and poor population in the city, having a system in place is imperative. And so as part of our tour, our group went to see the cremation ceremonies along the banks of the river Bagmati. Running below Nepal's oldest and holiest Hindu shrine, the Pashupatinath temple, the Bagmati eventually flows into the holy Ganges, carrying along ... read more

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu » Everest flight October 13th 2017

On our very next morning the whole group, minus one perhaps fearful couple, woke up very early and bussed to the local airport to fly Buddha Air's "Best Mountain Flight in the World." The morning was slightly overcast, which caused some not so small concern among several of us. But we boarded the two propeller plane, each of us strapped into a window seat, and off we went. Climbing through the clouds, we burst above them into a world of tall mountains, seeing valleys and tiny villages far below, impenetrable rock faces, and snow high on the peaks. It was stunning and absolutely gorgeous, a happy surprise to actually see the mighty Himalayan range so close. Following the maps given us, I tried to identify which summit was which, knowing that Everest couldn't be seen for ... read more

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu October 12th 2017

This is our first full day in Kathmandu. For this trip I'm travelling with Odysseys Unlimited, seeing how they compare with OAT and Road Scholar. The flights here were long, very long, and while award winning Qatar Airways provides adequate food and copious wine, it still took me from Monday morning until almost 5PM on Wednesday to move from central Maine to Kathmandu's airport. Being cooped up in any plane for that long a time is never comfortable no matter how many movies one watches, nor how many glasses of wine are consumed. But then finally, yesterday, I arrived in Nepal. Kathmandu is poor, very dirty, and hugely congested. Drivers scatter anywhere they wish, causing enormous traffic jams. People scuttle in and out of traffic, compounding an already horrendous mess. Most of the streets are unpaved, ... read more

Europe » Iceland August 15th 2017

Arriving late afternoon at the Reykjavik airport after our weeks traveling in Europe was very exciting; this was a new country for both of us. I had wanted to do a stopover in Iceland for many years, and this summer it finally became a reality, one I had carefully prepared and packed for. Temps year 'round in Reykjavik hover between 30 and 50ishF; with an almost constantly blowing wind it feels downright cold. There are a few ways to get into the city from the airport; predictably we chose the public bus. While waiting outdoors in the chilly wind both of us donned our fleeces and then our windbreakers on top, but still a wool hat was needed. Only then was I somewhat comfortable standing there waiting. The #55 bus took almost an hour to drive ... read more

Europe » France » Alsace August 2nd 2017

At this morning's gathering onboard the River Rhapsody somewhere in France, we happily learned that we would have half a day in Strasbourg, far too little a time, but at least we would get there on this trip. Busses arrived to remove us from Breisach am Rhein to take us to Strasbourg. I was not the only one who was elated by this news. The journey took an hour and a half; instead of an orientation walk we toured the city by open canal boat, reminiscent of the canal boats in Amsterdam. This was fun and informative; I usually prefer to explore on foot, but certainly not following behind some of the very very slow elders who are on this tour. It took at least a quarter hour for our group to board a canal boat, ... read more

Tot: 0.171s; Tpl: 0.012s; cc: 13; qc: 91; dbt: 0.0248s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb