starship - VT

starship VT

starship - VT

I was a very long-time contributor to VirtualTourist (VT), and more recently to TravBuddy -- sadly, both sites (2017 and 2018, respectively) have met their demise; I was searching for a new travel site to post my blogs when I found, and it looks like a great fit for me!!

Although I have many and varied interests, travel is never far from my thoughts. I love reading and writing about travel. I never travel without a camera (or two) and a travel journal. While some view travel purely as a vacation and time for relaxation, I more often view it as an ongoing education -- a book with chapters I can't wait to read. At present, my wanderlust shows no signs of weakening. I love getting new country stamps in my passport.

My very long time travel motto is taken from Michael Palin: "Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected for the rest of my life."

Africa » Morocco » Souss-Massa-Draâ » Ouarzazate March 25th 2020

It was going to be difficult to top the great experiences we had in the Erg Chebbi on the previous day and night -- our first camel ride, seeing the vivid sunset and moon rise from the crest of a red sand dune in the Sahara Desert, a night sky full of stars, glamping, and being well fed and entertained with music and dancing around the fire cauldron thanks to our hospitable Berber hosts. But before wandering off to our individual tents for that night, our guide, Larbi, had given us the exact time of sunrise the following morning. Since it would be the perfect ending to experience the desert light full circle from sunrise to moon rise, we didn’t want to miss it. Little by little, our fellow travelers emerged from their tents, obviously still ... read more
Sahara Sunrise

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Merzouga March 14th 2020

Day 7 dawned bright and sunny once again. The bountiful breakfast buffet at Erfoud’s Kasbah Xaluca Maadid gave us an excellent start for the day’s activities. As mentioned in my previous blog, we started out with a fairly short drive to view the ruins of historic Sijilmassa before visiting the Mausoleum gardens of Sultan Moulay Ali Cherif and the market in the town of Rissani. This was followed by an interesting and enlightening visit to the Macro Fossiles Kasbah back in Erfoud. We were ignorant of the fact that northern Morocco had once been covered by a vast prehistoric ocean, nor that its subsequent retreat had ended in causing many types of marine life of this period to become extinct; their remains, having settled on the ocean floor in sediment, became fossilized and therefore preserved. Lunch ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Rissani February 15th 2020

Nearly every day thus far in our journey around Morocco, like a good omen, good weather had followed us. Waking up on Day 7 in Erfoud, we found the weather was once again nearly perfect. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and the air was warm and pleasant. In early morning, the Sahara has a subtle way of exerting its influence on its visitors -- an unhurried calmness which overtakes the senses while dreaming of what the day will bring. We always looked forward to the day's adventures, but it would be the evening that we most anticipated. Staying at the Kasbah Xaluca Maadid Hotel had been a delight as it was yet another example of the many types of accommodations we would experience while in Morocco. This hotel had a lot of positives ... read more
Ruins of Sijilmassa

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Erfoud January 27th 2020

After a last early morning breakfast at the enchanting Riad Salam Fes, it was already time to take our leave of the Imperial City of Fes. The air was cool at this early hour as the sun was still low in the sky, but the pale pinkish light was slowly creeping into the shadow-filled corners of the medina as the residents of Fes were waking up and beginning their busy day. Yesterday’s tour of Fes, while enjoyable, had taken on a frenetic pace as there were so many important sites to see in just one day. The day ahead (Day 6) would mean a lot of time on the bus, but I was looking forward to having “down” time just watching the scenery go by, though I later regretted not taking this opportunity to jot down ... read more
Ifrane's Stone Lion

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes January 14th 2020

Leaving the remarkable ruins of Volubilis behind us, thoughts about what we had just seen in the historic Roman city still rambled around in our brains but it was time to move on. Driving in an easterly direction, our destination was the city of Fes, once the capital of Morocco and an important trade crossroads. So far the landscape had been rather bland and sparsely populated with only a few unremarkable buildings and houses making an appearance. The most interesting sights for me were several huge stork nests perched atop spindly electricity/phone poles near small buildings.They were a nice surprise. Only 20 miles from Fes, the geographical monotony was broken when we unexpectedly saw a lake peeking out of the nearby valley with the Middle Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Near the far end, the sky-blue ... read more
Riad Salam Fes
Riad Salam Fes

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Meknes December 29th 2019

Our second full day in Morocco began with a generous buffet breakfast held in the hotel’s strikingly modern El Patio Restaurant just off the lobby. Even at the early hour of 7am, the restaurant was bustling with activity. Having no appetite, I opted for rolls and tea to settle my stomach. Rick perused the buffet stations which offered both hot and cold choices and came back with a plate of nice selections from both. Rather than a leisurely start to our day, we were forced to eat rather quickly as we still needed to check out of the hotel and confirm that our luggage was actually put into our tour bus’s cargo hold. I was eager to see more of Morocco, but I was disappointed that my being ill in Rabat had prevented us from seeing ... read more
Bab Al Mansour Gate - Meknes

Africa » Morocco » Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer » Rabat November 17th 2019

The allure I felt to visit Morocco had been growing stronger over the last several years. Honestly, I had felt drawn to visit this mysterious country for many years. As a youth I had read Marguerite Henry’s “King of the Wind,” a story about the famous Godolphin Barb horse fictionally set in Morocco. Romantic notions of Morocco filled my head after seeing movies such as “Casablanca,” and “The Wind and the Lion.” In October, 2018, that which my heart had known for many years finally overcame any doubts that my mind had harbored about visiting Morocco and I booked a tour for early October, 2019. After fighting heavy traffic to reach the airport with little time to spare, all the necessary lines were cleared and we left a cloudy New York City on an overnight Air ... read more

Europe » Bulgaria » Sofia City » Sofia September 27th 2019

How time flies when you're having fun! Our time in Bulgaria was quickly drawing to a close. The previous day was our last full day in Plovdiv and the greater part of it was spent exploring Asen's Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery in the Rhodope Mountains. This was followed by a few final hours in Plovdiv's Old Town where we had lunch, and bought & mailed postcards before returning to the hotel. We were set to leave Plovdiv on Monday, the day after this 2019 Euromeet officially came to an end with our final group dinner at Restaurant Dayana (Diana) 3. There was so much to like about Plovdiv, and I knew it was going to be a bit sad to leave. It was especially difficult knowing too that some lucky friends would be staying on an ... read more
Buzludzha Monument
Central Mineral Baths
Ornate tile work - Mineral Baths

Europe » Bulgaria » Plovdiv Province » Asenovgrad September 22nd 2019

It is Sunday morning and we had now been in Bulgaria for a week. Each day had been an education on Bulgaria: its ancient and recent historical treasures, its art & architecture, traditional culture, food and even modes of transportation. We had seen sites spanning many historical eras: the 20th-century remnants of the Communist era, Koprivshtitsa’s 19th-century Bulgarian National Revival architecture, the Ottomans’ 14th century mosque and 1st century Roman engineering in Plovdiv. Today’s scheduled jaunt would take us to sites from the early Medieval or Middle Ages period, roughly the 5th to 15th centuries. Our Euromeet host, John, had arranged a day trip to two significant sites built in this time frame: Asen’s Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery. We had a very light breakfast at the hotel before taking a taxi ov... read more

Europe » Bulgaria » Plovdiv Province » Plovdiv August 30th 2019

Only 2 days ago we arrived in Plovdiv on a Bulgarian National Rail (BDZ) train from Sofia. Our train ride of a bit under 2 hours took us past the blue-gray outline of the Vitosha, Rila and Rhodope mountain ranges which could be seen in the distance. We had seen only small villages clustered near the train stations we passed along the way. At stations such as Vakarel and Belovo the rusting vintage railcars on siding tracks evoked images of Bulgaria's past. Though we were on a "Fast Train" to Plovidiv, we made several stops and usually a uniformed station master would appear with signal sign to give our train engineer the "all aboard." As we got closer to Plovdiv, it was clear that this was a city with not only a much larger population but ... read more

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