Canadian World Traveller Fall 2022 Issue

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Traveller WORLD Umbria Japan Puerto Rico Germany Maryland ALREADY 20 YEARS! FALL 2022 Come With Us & See The World! Already Years! 20

Senior Travel Writers:

Welcome to World Traveler

Already 20 Years!

Regular Contributors: Habeeb Salloum Jennifer Merrick Olivia Liveng

Cohen Nicholas Kontis Natalie Ayotte Jasmine Morcos Daniel Smajovits Cherie DeLory

TE Sonne Alexandra Cohen

Percy Campbell Mathieu Morcos Gregory Caltabanis Anne-Marie Macloughlin


Disclaimer: World Traveler has made every effort to verify that the information provided in this publication is as accurate as possible. However, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury, or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from the information contained herein nor for any information provided by our advertisers.

This year, 2022, marks a very special anniversary for World Traveller as we celebrate 20 years of our multiaward-winning publications, and we are as passionate about travel as ever.

When we began, our print issues were spread far and wide. It was not long until we launched our website:, which has recently merged both American World Traveler and Canadian World Traveller. In the following years we introduced new media: eMagazines, eNewsletters and World Traveler Social Media pages. Today we find ourselves with a vast reader base and electronic presence which has been growing exponentially in the past three years.

In this issue, the fourth of a full year of special issues, we will bring back some of your favourite articles from the past 20 years as well as some memorable front covers and a sample of amazing photographs. So climb aboard!

We start our worldwide odyssey in Japan to explore the ‘Heart of Hokuriku’, before partaking in Japanese style wellness retreats, ending off with a delectable culinary delight in Shimonoseki, the ‘Blowfish Capital of Japan’. While in Asia, we head to China and

‘Cruise up the Lijiang River from Guilin’, known as the ‘Pearl of Southern China’.

Next, we jet off to Europe, were we have a fun boat/bike cruise and discover the best of the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. In Germany, we find the ‘Bewitching Treasures of SaxonyAnhalt’ and in Italy we experience ‘An Italian Fairy-tale Tour of Alluring Umbria’. Close by, we head to Spain and the capitol of Catalonia, Barcelona to visit the best this amazing city has to offer.

In the Americas, we start in the east and explore the Atlantic gem of St. John’s, Newfoundland. To the west, we participate in the ever-popular Calgary Stampede before heading to the far north to Yukon’s ‘Wilderness Dreams’. In the USA, we find ourselves in Indiana and experience the amazing diversity in this mid-west state and then go on a road trip to ‘Annapolis and Maryland’s Eastern Shore’. Next up, we take a wonderful cruise on the pacific coast of Mexico with UnCruise in the Sea of Cortez. To the other Mexican coast, in the Yucatan we taste delicious Latin American gastronomy from the far reaches of South America. Lastly, in Bolivia we end of journey and discover a destination that is ‘Landlocked and Lush’.

Happy Travels!

Published by: World Traveler Canadian World Traveller American World Traveler Tel: 1-855-738-8232 Publisher Michael Morcos Editor-in-chief Greg James Contributing Editor David J. Cox Graphic Department Al Cheong Advertising Department Leo Santini Marketing Department Tania Tassone Distribution Royce Dillon
Susan Campbell Steve Gillick
Destinations Stay & Play - 50 Around the World 14 Crusing Section 36 Cruise News Viking Cruise UnCruise Cruise Croatia Cruise Lijiang River Cruise Germany 8 Indiana 10 Calgary 12 Maryland 60 Japan62 Umbria 64
Zen Meditation,
Ohla Hotel, Barcelona

Travels in Germany: The Bewitching Treasures of Saxony-Anhalt

“Welcome to the windiest place in Germany,” our guide announced.

We had just got off the steam train that had chugged us up Mount Brocken and as the gusts whipped our hair in all directions, we learned about the mountain and the park.

At 1441 metres, Brocken had the highest peak in the Harz Mountains and was the focal point Harz National Park, a 24,700hectare nature reserve known for its ecologically diverse landscape, mythical legends and hiking trails. Established in 1990 after

the reunification of Germany, it spanned two states, included six vegetation zones and had not only the windiest weather in Germany but the foggiest. About 300 days a year here at the peak, our guide told us.

But today wasn’t one of them and we were treated to panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the vast plateau of the North German Basin far in the distance. Closer were the narrow railway tracks that had brought us up here.

Riding the Harz Narrow-Gauge Railroad had brought out the kid in all of us, and the hour

and half journey flew by as we moved inside and outside the carriages, taking pictures of the 1950s coal-burning locomotive as it wound its way up the mountain. Now, we walked along the mountain’s broad summit, watching serious hikers walking briskly with hiking poles as well as families and friends strolling at a leisurely pace.

The mountain with its eerie light and mists was steeped in German folklore. On the left, were large boulder formations with bizarre shapes that had been the muse for stories of mountain spirits and witches. In his poem

World Traveler - Already 20 Years!

Faust, Goethe wrote, “let’s meet the legendary Brocken witches right here at the rock formations Devil’s Chancel and Witch’s Altar.”

On the right, in contrast to this mystic scene, was a collection of buildings that looked like it belonged on a set of a futuristic sci-fi movie with two imposing transmission towers. From 1961 until 1989 the Stasi and Soviet Army operated a listening post on the mountain, which formed part of the border between East and West Germany. An exhibit at the park’s Brockenhaus Museum chronicled this era with displays that included equipment, uniforms and a cement block that was part of the wall. This mountain was very much a symbol of Germany’s reunification and engraved in a boulder on the summit is Der Brocken wieder frei (Brocken is free again).

Looking at the multitude of people enjoying themselves at the mountain top, it was hard to imagine it being off limits for so many years, guarded with barbed wired and electric fences, hidden behind the Iron Curtain.

Having explored a bit of the Saxony-Anhalt state in the past week, I couldn’t help but think that despite being open for more than 30 years, the region was still largely unknown among international travellers like myself, hiding in the shadows of bigger German attractions.

“A lot of tourists only come for the three Bs,” said local guide, Thomas Hesse. “Berlin, Bratwurst and beer.” All good things, of course, but there was much more. In SaxonyAnhalt, I discovered a region rich in history with the largest concentration of UNESCO heritage sites in Germany, colourful postcard-perfect towns and legendary places of natural wonder.

Here were just a few of the highlights:

Biking in and around Dessau

Biking has been a popular pursuit in this city ever since its famous artists and instructors at the Bauhaus School of Architecture were pedaling on its city streets in the 1920s. Cycle in town to see the Bauhaus building and Masters’ houses that have been designated a

UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or head out on the extensive bike path system along the Elbe and Mulde rivers, and into the surrounding nature. The Elbe Cycle Route connects many of the region’s best attractions, including the Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve, and stretches 840 kilometres between Bad Schandau and Cuxhaven.

Dining on a gondola on Lake Worlitz

As romantic as it comes, this sunset gondola ride glides you around the lake in DessauWörlitz Garden Kingdom as you wine and dine aboard. It’s simply a delightful way to view this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which boasts one of Europe’s best-designed gardens, palaces, sculptures, temples and graceful swans that follow the gondola hoping for a bit of bread.

Discovering the riches of Naumburg Cathedral

Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 13-century cathedral houses so many marvels that it’s impossible to delve into them all. Not only is the architecture striking, vividly illustrating the stylistic and societal differences between the Romanesque and early Gothic eras, but there are countless other treasures, including the Uta sculpture that was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s evil queen in Snow White, the newly installed controversial altarpiece painting and one of the oldest chained libraries in Europe with manuscripts dating back to 976 AD.

Sipping vino in Germany’s northernmost wine region

In the town of Freyburg, just north of Naumburg, the grapes grow on slopes so steep, it’s hard to imagine how they’re harvested. At the Freyburg-Unstrut Winery, perch yourself on a picnic table overlooking the town and sample a few of the white and sparkling wines this region is famous for. Try out more wine at the Freylich Zahn Wine Hotel and Winery. This stylish modern hotel is a wine lover’s delight with a curated collection of bottles in the room and an extensive wine menu at Restaurant 51° served up with top-notch international cuisine.

Exploring the colourful town of Wernigerode

Located in the Hartz district, Wernigerode is the European town North Americans picture when dreaming about the continent: narrow cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered houses dating back to the 16th century, a market square overflowing with sidewalk cafes with a gothic town hall as a centre piece and a castle overlooking it all. End a day of sightseeing with a meal to remember at Gothisches Haus, the city’s oldest hotel.

Falling under the spell of Rosstrappe and Hexentanzplatz (Witches’ Dance Floor)

Looking down into Bode Valley with its jagged volcanic rock and granite boulders, it’s easy to understand why these mountains near the town of Thale have spawned so many legends and tales. From the base of the mountain, a chairlift takes visitors to Rosstrappe, where a large hoofprint is testament to the legendary giants who made this gorge their home once upon a time. Not only giants but witches inhabited and worshipped here. At Hexentanzplatz, which can be reached via gondola, tour the Walpurgis Hall (Witch Hall), whose walls are painted with murals of eerie witchy scenes. On Walpurgisnacht (Witches’ Night), celebrated April 30th, modern witches and revellers gather to dance at this pagan worship spot. But most visitors come here year-round to hike and enjoy the dramatic scenery that inspired the tales.

Whether giants or witches exist or existed in these magical places may be up for debate, however there’s no doubt that Saxony-Anhalt cast a spell on me with its entrancing natural and cultural attractions.

World Traveler Fall 2022

Northern Indiana’s Wonderful Diversity

Ialways enjoy visiting places that make me say 'Who could’ve known'. Unless you were from this region, you would never know that there is so much to see and do, all within a short ride to each other and varied in character and style. On this trip to northern Indiana, we would explore a kaleidoscope of interests, ranging from a National Park to a world class university, and a trip back in time in visiting Amish country.

Indiana Dunes National Park

There was a contradiction I had to get used to on our first leg. We were in northern Indiana, but touring the area known as the

South Shore. Simply put, we were on the south shore of Lake Michigan, the furthest point south of the lake. This is where we would visit a small but spectacular U.S. National Park. Starting at the visitor center, we would be introduced to the star of the park, the largest ‘living’ Dune in America. This sand dune is considered alive as it is moving inland from the Lake Michigan shore. This movement is serious as it will eventually engulf an existing parking lot and all the vegetation in its path. Climbing to the top of the dune offers a spectacular birds eye view of the park, lake and a good look at the point at which the sand was being pushed in from the shores.

Century of Progress Homes

Not far away from the park are some very modern, almost futuristic looking homes. While visiting, I would find out they were actually built during the ‘1933 Chicago World's Fair Century of Progress Homes’. These houses were relocated to the present Lake Michigan shoreline once the fair was over. Their looks have withstood the test of time and fit in beautifully with the natural surroundings.

World Traveler - Already 20 Years!

Indiana Dunes State Park

In the afternoon, we would take a leisurely bike ride towards another park. This time it would be a state park which is located inside the national park. This was hard to understand that there’s a park within a park, but the state park was there before the commissioning of the national park which was then incorporated. On arrival at the Indiana Dunes State Park, I was somewhat taken back and at the same time delighted as what I saw looked like a Florida beach. Hundreds of people were enjoying this very hot day while the sun was shining bright, fine white sand between the toes and the sizeable waves were something I did not expect. This was an amazing sight and felt as if I was in Miami, not the northeast.

Michigan City highlights

Two of the many things Michigan City is known for are the Washington Park Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Grand Prix boat race. The lighthouse, which was built in 1858, is the cities best known landmark and offers a great tourist stop for pictures or walks. Later, while having supper at the Shoreline Brewery and Restaurant and enjoying having my first delicious gumbo meal ever, I would find out that the boat race is the biggest event in Michigan City. The Race draws thousands from all over America and the world for a week of competition and festivities.

South Bend

Onwards to the university city of South Bend and its most famous resident, Notre Dame

University. Before that bucket list visit, we would see a multitude of fun and interesting tourist sites including: the South Bend Chocolate Factory, the Indiana Whiskey Company distillery, the South Bend Brew Werks, a nano brewery and restaurant and lastly, the Iron Hand Wine Bar that produces its own wines.

I was amazed that’s such a small city could have such diversity. What stood out the most was meeting the South Bend Chocolate Factory founder and owner Mark Tarner. He explained his big plans to expand the company to a new location and open a museum next to it to house his dinosaur bones collection that he believes is the biggest private bones collection in the USA. Weird as it seemed, I thought to myself, go Mark go!

Notre Dame

With plenty of excitement and anticipation, we would arrive at the University of Notre Dame. Calling it a campus would be an understatement, as this was a humongous complex and looked like a city within a city. Everything was clean, proper and in perfect order, it even seemed the lawn was finely cut with scissors. It’s a beautiful higher learning establishment with lots of history and tradition, not to mention the sports legacies here.

Amish Country

Another day on and yet another new dimension to Northern Indiana as we would arrive in Shipshewana, a town in Amish country. Known for their simple and traditional lifestyle, we would find a harmonious county where the air is clean, the land is unspoiled and the people friendly and welcoming.

A visit to the Menno–Hof would give us an insight to the faith and life of the Amish and Mennonites of this region which I found truly humbling in this age of cyberspace and electronics.

We would continue our tour of discovery with a horse and buggy ride. Our driver, a friendly and retired older gentleman explained to us about his family of 11 children, somewhere around 70 grandchildren and several great grandchildren. In all our time with him,

I saw a man at peace with himself living in a community that he truly believes in and loves. Later on, we would visit an old-style leather shop, a wind chime factory, woodbasket shop, and a convenience store. Along the way we saw many Amish horse drawn carriages, beautiful farmers with happy kids playing in the front lawn and people going about their daily chores in a peaceful and quite setting.

That evening we would go to the Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery which is run by the Mennonites for a family style meal where the delicious dishes were passed around the table just as one would do around their own homes. My favorites dish was quite simple, and the fried chicken was perfect. To end the evening, we would be treated to a live show called ‘Soldier Boy” put on by the community that would rival any such Broadway performance.

The diversity of this tour through northern Indiana is beyond compare. We started with shifting sand dunes at a National Park, a Florida style beach on the great lakes, learned about a popular boat race in Michigan City, and had our taste buds tantalized by a chocolate manufacturer, distillery, brewery, and winery in South Bend. Our trip to the world class university was followed by visiting a unique part of not just Indiana but the whole country to see how the Amish and Mennonites keep their faith and tradition alive in a complex and changing world. Sounds like a convoluted Hollywood film but in the end, it was a tour like no other, a pleasure to experience and full of lifelong memories.

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12 World Traveler - Already 20 Years!
Photo: Shane Kuhn, Tourism Calgary

How to Catch Stampede Fever? Put on a Cowboy Hat. by Jennifer Merrick

“Yahoo! Welcome to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!” our WestJet pilot enthusiastically announced when the plane landed in Calgary during the Stampede.

Yahoo? Wasn’t it yee haw? And the greatest show? Mmmm. But I was looking forward to my first visit to the Stampede, a 10-day western celebration and rodeo that Calgary has been hosting since 1912.

Two hours after landing, I was in the stands watching cowgirls zipping around barrels on horseback and cowboys riding bareback on bucking broncos. Interesting, yes, but as the sun beat down and the competitions blurred together, I couldn’t say I was in my element.

Until I put on a cowboy hat. Then, everything changed. Suddenly, the sun didn’t feel so hot (OK, that could have been the shade from the wide brim), but it was more than that. I suddenly felt part of something. Later, I found out I wasn’t the only one who’s had this ‘magic hat’ experience at the Stampede. “I’ve heard several similar stories,” said Cassandra Cummings, the rodeo’s archivist. She explained that volunteers used to give out the white cowboy hats at the airport.

“One visitor said she felt like she belonged when she put it on and cried when she took it off at the end of the trip,” Cummings said.

My reaction wasn’t quite so strong, but in the same way a lei put around your neck in Hawaii puts you in a tropical island mood, the cowboy hat ignited a western spirit I didn’t know I had. With the cowboy hat on, the bull riding was more heart stopping, the concerts and fireworks were louder and brighter, the crazy midway food tasted better and, of course, it was yahoo and not yee haw.

Is the Stampede the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth? It is if you’re wearing a cowboy hat!

What not to miss at the Stampede

Glean insight into indigenous culture and traditions: Elbow River Camp was established at the first Calgary Stampede and continues to be an integral part of the celebration. The 26 family tipis erected here showcase designs that have been passed on generation after generation, representing the cultures of Kainai, Piikani, Siksika, Stoney Nakoda and Tsuut’ina first Nations of Treaty 7. Visitors can purchase handcrafted jewellery and clothes and taste traditional Bannock bread. New this year is the three-day Calgary Stampede Powwow in the Saddledome, featuring competitive dancing, drumming and singing.

Breakfast on pancakes

Locals and visitors alike line up for pancake breakfasts hosted throughout the city (usually for free!).

Experience the rodeo

The Stampede has the biggest purse of all North American outdoor rodeos, which means the competitiveness and the athleticism is of the highest level. Key rodeo events include bull riding, chuck wagon racing, ladies’ barrel racing, steer wrestling and bareback riding. Don’t worry if it’s your first rodeo. All the rules are explained, so newbies can follow along. Who knew that half the points in bareback riding were awarded for the horse’s performance?

Take in the evening grandstand show

As the sun sets over Stampede Park, watch the chuckwagons race over the finish line,

often with nail-biting photo finishes, followed by big-name concerts and fireworks. For an extra- special treat, watch all the action from the Lazy S Restaurant, which not only has the best view of the show but offers a four-course meal with menu choices that includes the beef, which Alberta is famous for.

Admire art, sample wine and cool off in the BMO Centre

The Western Oasis Wine Garden lives up to its name, giving visitors a refuge to relax and sip wines. Stroll through the artist stalls to view their works, which ranged from native art and the traditional western subjects of horses and cowboys to abstract nature interpretations.

Sample some adventurous midway food

Every year, the concoctions get crazier, as vendors outdo themselves vying for bragging rights and social media fame. Some of this year’s most outrageous choices included Mac n’ Cheese soft serve ice cream, cotton candy noodles, bad breath lemonade and a hotdog made of worms. My personal decadent faves were the Dumpling Hero’s fluffy steamed taco baos filled with shrimp tempura, fried avocado and pork belly and Cin City’s skewer of mini donuts for dessert.

Last but not least, buy a cowboy hat and put it right on!

World Traveler Fall 2022 13
Photo: Shane Kuhn, Tourism Calgary

Around The World

in 22 pages

Puffer Fish in the Blowfish Capital of Japan

Fugu, otherwise known as Puffer Fish is a celebrated luxury in Japan but only edible when it’s prepared by specially licensed chefs who train strenuously to figure out how to avoid its toxins! This technique known as “migaki” is a delicate skill acquired from years of training culminating in a license and special distinction. For over 2800 years, people have been consuming this dare-fueled dish that thrills.

And, there’s no better place to take this dare than the “Blowfish Capital of Japan”- Shimonoseki, in Japan’s stunning Setouchi region where a spectrum of venues have staff on hand armed with the keen skills to transform it into an edible dare. If you need the energy of buzzing stalls to propel you forward as you attempt the tasting, try the Karato Market with a fabulous variety of options and even a stall that sells a special boxed lunch in a colorful box that says “good luck” or settle in at a table at a local fugu restaurant that offers a more curated, lengthy experience great for photo opps.

One in particular to note is Heike Chaya- family run for nearly half a century, this menu has a range of creatively prepared Puffer Fish dishes done up by chefs who have undergone rigorous training. Here, you’ll find varieties to your heart’s content while its centerpiece, the Hot Pot, continues to dazzle and tempt visitors not only because of the adrenaline rush, but this fish happens to be low in fat, high in protein, and rich in collagen which is ideal for your skin.

The Setouchi region is comprised of seven prefectures centered around the Seto Inland Sea- a paradise not only for nature and art lovers, but also a culinary treasure trove in its own right with some of the country’s richest Kobe beef, incredible Hiroshima oysters, artisanal sake and gin, ubiquitous udon shops and tasty sweets.

State of Yucatán to Host Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants’ Event

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, sponsored by San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, will return on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to a regular list and an in-person awards ceremony — the first full gathering of Latin America’s gastronomic community since 2019. Previously held in Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Argentina, the awards program will return to Mexico in 2022 with a new home here in Mérida in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Yucatán.

Chefs, restaurateurs, media and gourmands will gather in the cultural and gastronomic capital of Mexico’s southeast region for the pinnacle of the year’s culinary calendar to celebrate the richness and diversity of Latin American cuisine. An exclusive events program hosted throughout Mérida will culminate in the awards ceremony on the evening of Nov. 15. Three special award announcements will precede the live program, including Latin America’s Best Female Chef Award on Sept. 20, the Icon Award on Oct. 11 and the American Express One To Watch Award on Oct. 25.

50 Best will celebrate more dining venues than ever before with the announcement of an inaugural list of 50 more restaurants ranked 51st to 100th best in Latin America. The 51-to-100 list will be announced on Nov. 3, shining a much-deserved spotlight on a greater number of hospitality establishments and the diverse culinary cultures of the region.

The 50 Best organization’s role in promoting restaurants and showcasing culinary talent remains more important than ever, continuing to support the hospitality sector by inspiring diners to seek out exciting gastronomic experiences.
) World Traveler Fall 2022

Good to Go! Great Travel Gear and Gadgets

Our travel specialists review the best travel gear and gadgets to get you on the go better

World Traveler Fall 2022 16

RV Life Needs Ninjas!

We’re taking a lot more road trips these days, so equipping your RV with the best compact equipment for quality travel living is a good idea with these fabulous NinjaKitchen products. Ninja® Professional Plus Kitchen System with Auto-iQ is so much more than a blenderit doubles as a powerful food processor, too!

Team it up with the brand-new Ninja® Air Fryer Sheet Oven that folds up flat against the counter when not in use, and you have everything you need to make complete gourmet meals in a tight space. The small oven is a powerful little beast that air fries, air roasts, air broils, bakes, dehydrates, keeps warm, and does bagels and toast, too.

Don’t want to haul around a BBQ? Then Ninja® Foodi™ 5-in-1 Indoor Grill provides smokeless barbecuing in a tight space, air frying, and roasting,too. Unique Cyclonic Grilling Technology™ provides perfect surround searing just like the big outdoor BBQs. It weighs less than 20 lbs. and takes little space.

World Traveler Fall 2022 17

Welcome to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Avisitor to Newfoundland and Labrador is referred to as a “come from away”. This affectionate term embraces the welcoming spirit of the province with an inclusive feeling of community bonding.

I was impressed from the start. I flew into St. John’s, checked into my room at the Sheraton Hotel, and gazed out the window at the impressive view of Cabot Tower atop Signal Hill and the Narrows, the passageway that leads ships from the Atlantic Ocean to St. John’s Harbour. But this was my third visit to the city, so I headed to a favourite lunch spot. At the Yellowbelly Distillery, I ordered Salt & Vinegar Fish and Chips, made with fresh Cod, while savouring a Fighting Irish Red Ale. Livia, the bartender, originally from Rome, Italy, confided that her initial fears about being an outsider were quickly dismissed by the pervasive local attitude that “we’re going to allow you to be one of us”.

And I heard a similar sentiment later that week from Drew Wolfson-Bell, the sous chef at Terre Restaurant. Originally from Toronto and Montreal, he moved to St. John’s in 2019 to open Terre with his friend Mathew Swift. He told me that “there’s something magical about this place… it’s fun to show tourists what we like about the province.” And for the record, Terre is a star player in St. John’s culinary scene.

All in all, it was so relaxing for me to explore my favourite St. John’s haunts. The jelly-bean houses on Duckworth Street, the bars and restaurants on Water and George Streets, the panoramic views from Signal Hill, and the picturesque walk along Lady’s Lookout Trail, past Cuckold’s Cove to the enchanting neighbourhood of Quidi Vidi. In the evening, we embarked on the Iceberg Quest cruise and visited the Masonic Temple to laugh along with the Spirit of Newfoundland show. We even enjoyed a Screech-In, where we uttered the felicitous phrase, “Long may your big jib draw”. We kissed the Cod (literally), drank screech (spicy rum), and became “Honourary Newfoundlanders.” It was all part of community bonding!

And there are many things to experience just outside of St. John’s. At Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America, you can fol-

low trails punctuated by songs of Savannah Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks, as you marvel at the roaring Atlantic waters and the oldest surviving lighthouse in the province.

And at Witless Bay, we hopped on a small site-seeing boat with the entertaining Con O’Brien (the lead singer with the Irish Descendants) as our guide, and headed out to the Ecological Reserve, known as Puffin Rock. The site and clamour of thousands of Puffins, Razorbacks, Common Murres and Herring Gulls is nothing short of spectacular!

St. John’s is perfect for travellers who love to indulge in history, culture, food, nature and gorgeous scenery, and take home with them warm memories of the city’s community spirit. World Traveler - Already 20 Years! 18

Yukon Wilderness Dreams

On my first morning in the Yukon, I opened the door of my cabin to see the silhouetted mountains around Tagish Lake. I heard the hooting of a parliament of Great Horned Owls echoing off the crystal clear surface of the water. A long, billowy cloud sat suspended between the mountain tops and the lake. And then, just as the sun peaked through the spruce trees' jagged outlines at the lake's far end, a realm of Belted Kingfishers broke the silence with their rattling calls. Another day of Yukon wilderness tranquility.

Ciarán Nolan, our pilot from Capital Helicopters, observed that many cities go out of their way to create wilderness areas. But then, he paused and reminded us," Whitehorse is a wilderness".

Ciarán spoke of his dream come true. He was far from his home in the small village of Donore, Ireland, and now flying amongst the mountains in the most stunning scenery on earth.

Our helicopter flew from Whitehorse to Southern Lake Resort on Tagish Lake, but it was really not a helicopter 'ride' as much as it was an inspirational view of Yukon wilderness. On the way, we flew toward the Whitehorse Dam on the Yukon River, gazed at Schwatka Lake, dipped toward Miles Canyon, climbed up to Montana Mountain, and then over to Bennett Lake and the community of Carcross.

The landscape was dotted with deep blue lakes enveloped by thousands of tall green

spruce trees. When we flew over the suspension bridge in Miles Canyon, it served as a historical exclamation mark. Here, the rapids by Canyon City were so intense that the Klondikers thought they resembled a flowing horse's mane and referred to ‘The White Horse’. The name was officially changed to Whitehorse in 1957. But thousands of years prior, the first nation people used the Canon City area for trading and banding together. Kwanlin Dun refers to "the people of the water running through the canyon." And a visit to the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in downtown Whitehorse provides a fascinating insight into the history and culture of the first nation on whose territory the city rests today.

And the wilderness is omni-present; from a walk along the Yukon River in Whitehorse, to the dramatic cliffs by Fish Lake Road, and from the Carcross Desert to Emerald Lake, to a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

At Winterlong, Meghan Marjanovic noted that the craft beers they produce reflected their passion for the Yukon: hiking, outdoors, and mountains. Pingo, a light tangerineflavoured pale ale, showcased Muskox from the Dempster Highway, while Sweater Weather, an oatmeal stout, depicted Mountain Sheep from Kluane National Park.

And even Yukon cuisine captures the spirit of the wilderness. Chef Sandra Jost prepared an amazing lunch of Cucumber apple salad with cold smoked salmon and juniper berries, Yukon Arancini, Bison chorizo, Yukon root vegetable crumble and Haskap Berry Pannacotta. Even Air North turned out to be a flight with a difference. The economy class lunch of Bison Shepherd's Pie with a hot chocolate chip cookie was reason enough to want to fly Air North again.

When you are in the Yukon, your spirit is tranquilized by the beauty and serenity of the land. And when you return home, those sweet wilderness dreams make you want to return as soon as possible. World Traveler Fall 2022 19

Barcelona the Great!

Having traveled to Spain many times in the past decades, this would be my first time to Barcelona and what a visit it would be, it was everything that I heard and seen in magazines and TV, plus much-much more. Barcelona the capital of Catalonia is a shining star, it seems there’s an endless array of things to see and do as well I would be delighted to just walk around and absorb the dynamic feeling of the city and at the same time I could not miss out on the most visited attractions and sites.

Even after travelling to Spain many times over the past few decades, this would be my first time to Barcelona - and what a visit it would be. It was everything that I heard and seen in magazines and TV, plus much-much more. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and a shining star where it seems there’s an endless array of things to see and do. Even then, it was just as delightful to walk around and absorb the dynamic feel of the city, but I could not miss out on the most visited attractions and sites.

The Holy Family

The Sagrada Família is not only the top draw in Barcelona, but in all of Spain. This has been on my bucket list for decades and luckily having waited so long meant I would see the interior of this amazing church completed. The exterior was unique and had a humbling grandeur, but nothing could have prepared me for the first view of the interior. It was a rush to the senses with high vaulted ceilings, beautiful colors diffused by the stained glass that filled every corner with warm and pleasing light, and the fine art decoration

adorning the walls and ceiling left me speechless and in total awe! Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the master architect of the basilica is, plainly speaking, an absolute genius to have envisioned this masterpiece a century ago.

Sant Pau Art Nouveau

Another Barcelona site, another mind-blowing visit. It was love at first sight as this very distinctive style of architecture that resonates through history from the period in which it was built. ArtNouveau is the dominant style, and the complex is filled with many amazing buildings that look out onto a massive oval shaped courtyard. After all, this place was a hospital complex. I was taken back when thinking of what it took the Catalans to design and build this masterpiece. Sant Pau is now a classic museum and one of the many must see places in Barcelona.

Park Guell

Set on what was once the outskirts, Park Guell is one incredible complex. This is one of the most visited sites in Barcelona and coming here you will join the crowds that enjoy the breathtaking setting high on Carmel Hill overlooking the metropolis with a view as far as the sea. The art is unbelievably unique but it’s still so typical of this incredible city and another masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí. A visit here is a must!

Bamboo eBike ride

Biking is fun, ebiking is better and best of all is exploring Barcelona on an environmentally friendly ebike that is made of bamboo. Owner, guide, and inventor Luca Giampi of ‘Bamboo Bike Tours’ explained the idea of using bamboo in his bikes due to it’s lightweight, strong and a renewable source material.

Our two-hour bike ride with the Luca was fun, educational and informative. We would take in the best of central Barcelona that would bring us to many of the well visited sites, including: the historic Gothic District, the grand cruise-ship harbor, delightful city beaches, stately parks, well known streets including the famous La Rambla’, beautiful historic buildings and to many places with diverse and exceptional street art.

Barcelona dazzles and delights, but can still sooth all the senses. There is so much to offer that visitors can never get bored of this Mediterranean gem. It is both grand and still intimate and inviting for visitors. ‘Barcelona the great’ is a must visit to any traveler!
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Bolivia - Landlocked and Lush

As a big golf fan, I couldn’t resist in adding another check to my list by teeing off at the world’s highest golf course at the La Paz Golf Club.

Total Terracotta

Sucre - Bolivia’s official capital - is a world away from the lights of La Paz and is arguably one of South America’s most beautiful cities. Almost all of the buildings are whitewashed with terracotta roofing and lined up along tranquil, cobbled streets. Only 270,000 people live in Sucre, yet I found it to be a city worth staying for a good few days to relax, people watch, and take in the majestic views from the hill of La Recoleta.

One can also find real dinosaur footprints in Parque Cretacico – which also houses life size replicas, while Castillo de la Glorieta and Castillo de la Libertad show off the city’s wonderful architecture.

Heading south from Sucre we arrived in the small city of Uyuni, stop off point for the fantastic salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. The city practically functions on tourism, with the main street dedicated to tour companies offering a Jeep service to the salt flats. Prices are incredibly variant, so shop around. Both one and three day tours include a lunch stopoff en route at the Great Train Graveyard, containing some of the continents oldest trains.

With South America being the continent with the highest growth in tourism for the last three years, it’s little surprise the adventurous ones are spreading deeper into this remarkable corner of the globe. Argentina, Brazil and Peru may be the headline grabbers, whilst Colombia, Chile and Ecuador have been welcoming more and more visitors of late, but the good vibes coming out of sky high Bolivia are seeing more backpackers and holiday makers explore this Andean nation than ever before.

Bolivia is different. A country of the strong willed, Bolivians eat very well and take great pride in their food, and their refusal to give in to the commercialism that seems to dominate the modern cities of the world is proof of this difference – McDonalds operated at a huge loss in Bolivia for 9 years until they finally decided to close the doors in 2002. Bolivians simply didn’t want it.

Landing above the clouds

Flying into the world’s highest airport in La Paz is a surreal experience. The country’s administrative capital – Bolivia has two capital cities - is perched at 3,650 m meters above sea level, with the jungle of skyscrapers clinging to the mountains making me wonder why on earth anybody would decide to build a sprawling metropolis here. Once on the ground, if that’s what you would call it, the city is a rollercoaster of steep hills, chic coffee shops, and cute museums.

For those with a taste for musical instruments, the Museo de Instrumentos Musicales is a must visit, where you can learn all about early percussion and string instruments including the famous Bolivian charango. Mirador Killi Killi offers a city view like no other, taking in the sprawling city and the surrounding mountains, while Plaza Murillo can offer a sense of stability after navigating the steep surrounding streets.

For those returning to the town for the night and craving a taste from home, Minuteman Pizza – set up and ran by an American expat – is hugely popular amongst tourists and has a renowned reputation for offering the best Pizza’s in Bolivia.

I finished my trip with a long weekend in the city of Copacabana, situated on the Bolivian side of the world’s highest navigable lake –Lake Titicaca. The city is small and peaceful but offers some of the best trout you will ever taste, caught daily from the lake. A boat tour to Isla del Sol is a must, where one can relax on the northern shore, swim in the clear lake and visit the Gold Museum which houses Inca treasures discovered in the nearby waters.
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Qatar Airways Qsuite Sets Precedent in Air Travel

Galavanting around the world just got a whole lot easier–and a whole lot more glamorous. Qatar Airways has proved that travel–even luxury travel–does not have to break the bank. Further, the airline is an industry leader in aviation travel that doesn’t create extra headaches or grievances.

And with direct flights to Doha from more than 150 destinations on every inhabited continent, Qatar Airways is genuinely connecting the world. As one who typically loathes flying, I was disappointed when

the flight attendant woke me up as we descended into Doha’s dawn on an overnight from New York City. Qatar’s Qsuite (Business Class) was undoubtedly the finest flying experience of my life Here’s why:

My Qsuite Journey

I was fortunate to travel Qsuite -the first of its kind in business class-which provided me complete privacy when I wanted it, along with ambient mood lighting and a fully flatbed. I have flown business or first

class on many airlines, but Qatar Airways sets the new standard. The lovely stewardess who greeted me as I stepped onto the flight showed me all of the (countless) amenities travelers with this airline class receive. Afterward, she smiled and told me I had the option to close my curtains, which ultimately sealed my belief that I wasn’t on an airplane but in the comfort of my cozy living room.

Even better, had I been traveling with my husband or other family members, we could have even chosen seats amenable


to a four-person work area or even a double bed. Imagine that-flying with a partner and given the luxury of a double bedheck, airplanes become more comfortable and luxurious than home!

And how often do we dread long airplane rides simply due to the pit of hunger that manifests after barely being able to digest airplane food? The airline also provides business class passengers an “a la carte” dining option, making my constant hunger more manageable. Was I on a flight or in a five-star restaurant in the center of a

metropolis? The possibilities were endless. The most difficult decision I made was to commence with a French onion soup or escargot (of course, my answer was oui to both!) The Quite menu adheres to the structure of a four-course meal - with soup, appetizers, and desserts – with a post-sleep 'breakfast' (starters and mains) as the final destination is in sight. Of course, there are lighter options available that can be enjoyed at any time during the flight.

The stewardess went out of her way, surprising me with champagne and chocolate when landing in Doha and with Maha Gold Service (meet and greet’ service) both during arrival and departure. I felt like royalty in the air.

Stopover Program

It gets even better. Until discovering oil in 1939, Qatar cultivated its most significant profit and recognition from pearl diving. But it has since grown, making its considerable mark on the tourism map. Typically, accommodation is one of the costliest expenses on vacation. However, travelers can alleviate this cost when they transit via Doha for a few days with Qatar Airway’s Stopover Program.

This generous program waives visa fees from eighty countries. It also provides accommodation at luxury four or five-star hotels, such as InterContinental Doha or Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel for two nights—for a mere USD 100 booking fee!

A Whole New World

Once landed in Doha, I was equally blown away. Indeed, Doha itself has proven to be a significant tourism draw. The city is significantly smaller than Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which allows it to keep its slightly provincial feel. While travelers can still find modern high-end innovations, such as Doha Festival City with an Angry Birds theme park, Qatar stays true to its heritage in several ways. I visited the Souq Waqif, one of the most traditional in the

Middle East, to find pearl shops and tea shops where men still gather to play Dama’s classic game. Whether eating traditional Qatari food or getting whimsically bewildered in the labyrinth of people watching, the Souq is not to miss.

Qatar is also equally modern, as it is timeless. The sheer decadence and luxury found within Qatar’s hotels are reason enough to visit. Take The Mondrian Doha, in Doha’’s West Bay Lagoon neighborhood. The property’s 270 rooms have views of the human-made Pearl Island. I enjoyed a luxurious detoxing massage much-needed swim in the penthouse pool. The hotel epitomizes dual elegance and creativity, described as Alice in Wonderland in real life, the whimsical architecture by famed Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. One misconception among Western tourists is that because Qatar is primarily governed under Sharia Law, there are zero legal drinking opportunities. However, five-star international hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to foreigners. Two Qatari hotspots are found in The Mondrian, Masaharu Morimoto's new Morimoto Doha, and the bespoke Black Orchid club.

Finally, there are only two countries where the desert sand meets Qatar and Namibia’s ocean. Few things spike adrenaline more than a safari in a 4X4 through Qatar’s vast desert, about an hour and a half ride from Doha city center. The radio is blasting Arabian-French techno music as a white Land Cruiser picks up speed. The experienced guide smiles slightly mischievously and revs the engine before accelerating through this stunning natural oasis as the sound of sand descending the slopes overwhelms. Q-Explorer Tours is a professional tour operator that handles individual and group guided arrangements, catering to specific itinerary desires and budgets. In addition to dune bashing, the company provides many other opportunities to explore Qatar’s culture, gastronomy, and natural beauty.
World Traveler Fall 2022 27

Wellness Tourism in Japan

It’s no surprise that self-care and wellness has moved to the top of the priority list as we all start travelling again. In fact, recent research shows 41% of travellers say they’re looking for a sense of contentment and wellbeing on their next trip. Japan is a destination known for mindfulness and meaningful experiences that can help travellers slow down, disconnect from technology, feed their spirits, build mental wellness, and commune with nature. What’s more, beyond the usual spas, outdoor activities and classes offered at most travel destinations, Japan is home to some unique practices steeped in local tradition, giving visitors both a genuine cultural experience and a way to improve their mental and physical well-being. Here are four authentically Japanese practices that every wellness traveller should experience while visiting Japan.


Ready to take your meditation practice beyond the Headspace app on your phone? In Japan, you can build on your meditation skills by joining a session at Buddhist temples

and retreats all throughout the country. In Zen Buddhism, meditation is practised to gain self-realisation and enlightenment. Once only associated with monks and other religious devotees, meditation is now widely embraced by those who want to reap the well-documented health and wellness benefits, including managing anxiety and depression, and improving sleep quality.

There are many new techniques you can learn by joining a sesshin, a group meditation at a temple that is open to the public. Typically, you’ll learn about how to incorporate aspects

of Zen into your life and the basics of zazen meditation, before being guided through a session. You’ll also get a chance to explore the grounds of the temple and engage in other Zen activities. Reservations are usually required, and while some temples offer daily classes, others are less regular, especially those offering English instruction.


All that meditation can work up an appetite! For those who want to delve further into their spiritual side, a one- or two-night shukubo (temple stay) can offer a unique experience and respite from the hustle and bustle of travel. While your accommodation won’t be fivestar, it will be very comfortable, and for many, the food is a big highlight. Known as shojin ryori, the meals at temples are simple and vegetarian, focussing on natural, seasonal ingredients and avoiding meat, fish, and strong flavours such as garlic and onion. Accompanied by rice, pickles, and a vegetable soup, every meal is based on the “rule of five” with five colours (black, white, green, yellow and red) and five tastes (sweet, salty,

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sour, bitter and umami). The result is food that is as beautiful as it is delicious and healthy.


Relaxing in the thermal waters of an onsen (hot spring) is a quintessentially Japanese experience. Fed by volcanically-heated water rich in minerals, onsen are equal parts relaxing, healing and spiritual. There are literally thousands of hot spring towns and resorts throughout the country, and your onsen experience could be anything from soaking your feet in a public foot bath by the side of the road, to luxuriating in your own private bath at a five-star resort. This natural phenomenon can be experienced in both the summer and winter, by the beach or up in a ski resort -

that’s how widespread onsen are! Not interested in getting wet? Try a “sand bath” where you’ll be buried in warm sand heated by the volcanic waters below.

The ritual does come with some traditions: in most cases men and women will bathe separately, you’ll need to thoroughly wash before entering the water, bathing suits are not permitted (the exception being at some public onsen where everyone can bathe together), and visible tattoos are not permitted in public spaces, although some private hot springs are more flexible.


Although it’s only recently become popular in the west, the Japanese practice of shinrinyoku or “forest bathing” was introduced in the 1980s as an antidote to the country’s increasingly urban, indoor lifestyle. The concept is simple: disconnect from technology, immerse yourself in nature, and engage your senses. Listen to the sounds of the forest, meditate as you mindfully stroll, breathe in the cool air, remain present and take in the calming atmosphere around you. Forest bathing has been shown to slow your heart rate and decrease depression, fatigue and anxiety - all from a walk in the forest. In fact, the health benefits are so marked that Japanese doctors

actually prescribe shinrin-yoku to their patients!

Japan offers plenty of opportunities to practise this unique wellness activity, especially within the country’s national parks. While anyone can choose a path and immerse themselves in nature, there are guided and semi-guided options available. Walk through a tunnel of twisted evergreen branches in Yakushima (Island) National Park - where you might also spot a wild monkey; stroll through 100-yearold red pines along the Ichimanpo-no-Mori Forest Bathing Trail, or even forest bathe via canoe on the Toyohira River.

Traveler Fall 2022 29
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A Journey of the Senses

AAt the crossroads of Europe and Asia is Istanbul, with a rich history spanning over two thousand years. Strategically located on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul is a vibrant city where east and west meet to create this unique cultural capital. Istanbul is home to an estimated 15 million inhabitants, built on seven hills, and topped by the minarets of over 3,000 mosques including the worldfamous Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.

Mouth-watering tastes worth travelling for It is the food that leaves the greatest impression. Traditional Anatolian staples such as doughy manti (dumpling), freshly squeezed juices sold on every street corner and sesame covered simit rolls, perfectly accompanied by Turkish çay (tea). The smell of fresh fish or rich Turkish coffee are often in the air.

Take flight in a hot air balloon at sunset

On everyone’s bucket list should be a hot air balloon flight at sunrise. People travel to Cappadocia from all over the world to take part in this spectacular sight of hot air balloons making their gentle flight over the valleys and fairy chimneys, lit up by the rising sun. Accommodation ranges from cool and rustic cave hotels to elegant and luxurious houses. Traditional Turkish baths (hamams) in which to relax and unwind is also a highlight. During your stay, venture into underground cities, cave churches and the outdoor museums to learn more about the history of this special place.

Cappadocia is also famous for its wine, and a must experience element of your meal.

The colourful Aegean coastal city of Izmir

In Western Anatolia on a bay of turquoise water is the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, where archaeological sites remind visitors of a rich history set against a backdrop of the hilltop Kadifekale castle. Spot one of the most famous landmarks of Izmir, the Clock Tower designed by French architect Raymond Charles Pere dating back to 1901. To enjoy the view and save your legs from the 155 steps connecting city streets, use the public elevator known as Asansör. Another alternative is the modern

European-style quarter of Karşıyaka which also offers excellent sea views. Notable nearby highlights are the enchanting ancient ruins of Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The nearby village of Çeşme is a charming gastronomic paradise with its whitewashed houses and blue painted windows.

Turkish food in Izmir has many influences and flavours for every palate. Izmir meatballs, called köfte, are enjoyed across Turkey, made lovingly with local spices and served in a tasty tomato sauce. Try local specialty Kumru, the perfect on-the-go snack of sausage, cheese and tomato served in bread, or the delicious pastry Boyoz, which can only be found in Izmir and should not be missed!


The luxurious ancient port city of Bodrum

Rugged, rolling mountains meet the shores of the crystal blue Aegean Sea in the small city of Bodrum. The Aegean coastal city is spread across a double bay, mixing ancient and modern history. The city is home to the ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus, site of the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Along the coastline is the well-preserved medieval Bodrum Castle which offers superb views and is home to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

Renowned for its unique "sugar cube" houses, Bodrum is one of Turkey’s gems and is fast becoming the first choice for holidaymakers the world over.

Escape to small villages or enjoy the extravagance of its many five-star hotels and bustling nightlife, Bodrum is the place where the green of the forest meets the clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

Make sure your flight is part of the vacation

Vacation time is precious, so make every minute count by starting your trip the moment you step onto the plane. The award-winning products and services of Turkish Airlines’ Business Class provide an unparalleled experience with the utmost elegance. Prior to take off, passengers can benefit from extra baggage allowance, priority check-in and boarding, and access to Turkish Airlines Lounges.

Relax in exclusive seats, with massage functions, that convert your seat into a 188 cm flat bed. Delight in gourmet dishes prepared and cooked to your taste by Flying Chefs, and enjoy comfort kits to maximize your wellness on-board. Business Class also offers a cutting-edge in-flight entertainment system, films in different languages, a wide assortment of audiobooks, a great range of music and much more. It boasts award-winning catering designed for any palate where you can enjoy international cuisine and local Turkish specialties such as ‘pide’ and ‘börek’ with fresh fruit juices and tea.

Whether you are enjoying the wonders of Turkey for several weeks or only a few days as part of the Turkish Airlines Stopover Program, Turkish hospitality and wonder awaits.

Are you ready to Widen Your World?

Going Further With

Turkish Airlines

Glowing reviews and exceptional food are the order of the day for this up-and-coming airline!

Part of the Star Alliance network, Turkish airlines (THY) offers service to Canadians from Toronto and Montreal, and connections to destinations all over the world from their hub in Istanbul.

Building on their international reputation, THY has been climbing the ranks as a top provider and doing very well in Canada.

With 321 destinations, and adding new ones at a rapid pace, THY welcome travellers with smiles and a friendly hello, though often with a charming accent!

Their aircraft include A330s, A340s, B777s, B737-800s and B727-800s, all well maintained and laid-out with the customer in mind. Each section is designed with creature comforts taking front and centre. The seats throughout the plane are comfortable and the facilities are kept impeccably clean and

organized. Most Business Class passengers can expect either fully lie-flat seats or angled lie-flat seats that brings relaxation to a higher level.

Comfort Class is Turkish Airlines' premium economy section is highlighted by slightly larger seats configured in two-by-three-bytwo rows, a large video screen and entertainment system with an iPod outlet and a laptop power outlet for each seat.

Even passengers traveling in Economy Class can enjoy an above average trip, as all passengers enjoy the famed THY complimentary meal. Though multi-course meals are provided in Business Class on extended range flights, all passengers are treated to the award winning food served on board.

Considering that THY deals with one of the world’s biggest (maybe the biggest) catering service and are partners with Do & Co., there is no surprise in the quality THY can offer!

World Traveler Fall 2022

Tropical Tidbits

The beaches are beckoning

Sun holidays are back, baby! With so many islands dropping their COVID protocols, and so many pandemic weary folks on a mission for revenge travel, the Caribbean has seen an incredible surge in demand the past few months. Bookings for winter escapes are through the roof. And who wouldn’t want to wash away the challenges of the past two years in a surreal aqua sea? Though the airlines have had their own challenges keeping up with demand, they are beginning to bounce back into some semblance of normalcy, and some have added new routes to the sun. British Airways has just included Aruba to their roster, and American Airlines is now flying direct from Miami to Anguilla. (Previously you would have to take a ferry or a small plane charter flight from St. Maarten.) So, grab your flip flops, and let’s go!

Best festivals are back!

Some of my best memories of island stays are when I’ve had the opportunity to participate in their gala celebrations when it appears as if the entire nation comes out for a boisterous street party with colorful parades. So, I am happy to say that the many traditional annual festivals that had to be postponed have returned or will be returning this coming year. Barbados has already celebrated a successful Crop Over this summer, and most islands that celebrate Carnival will do so again around Easter. “Junkanoo”- The Bahamas’ answer to Carnival- will be back bigger and better than ever as well. Often Junkanoo style celebrations include stilt walkers (moko jumbies), and horn blowers are big, too, and there are always colorful costumes and lively parades with the largest blow-outs always around the Christmas holidays.

The lush, pristine little emerald gumdrop island of Saba was delighted to announce the return of its month-long “Sea & Learn” event in October after two years' absence. Going into its 20th year, this pioneering program invites locals and visitors alike to take a deep dive into understanding the fragility of the natural environment- on land and under the sea. In-depth workshops, courses, and activities include world class instruction by leading professionals who embrace ecological stewardship. There are activities for all ages. Visit:

Curacao Sandals Royal opens with a bang!

Though I was sad to see the end of an era when the legendary Santa Barbara Beach

Saba’s “Sea & Learn” returns
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Resort gave way to the construction of the new Sandals Royal Curacao (I have a gazillion happy memories of spending time there over the years) I was happy to see the replacement has greatly elevated the offerings. Christened last summer with a gala grand opening, they even had their own carnival, this Sandals couple-only all-inclusive ensures indulgence abounds at every turn. Newly minted Love Nest luxury suites, butler service, private pools, swim-out suites, and lots of deep soaking tubs add to the allure, and many firsts for the brand on the amenity front are found there, too. Complimentary mini-Coopers for high level room guests, a new two-tier infinity pool for all, and Sandals’ first-ever off-site dining program, called ‘Island Inclusive’ that invites guests to enjoy eight partner restaurants off-property.


Aruba’s long table event sets record for charity donations

The highly anticipated return of the 1,000 ft. long table dinner that seats 1,000 guests at once to support local charities was an immense success. In fact, this year’s “LongTableAruba” was a record-breaking event. Sponsored by Wind Creek Aruba in partnership with Renaissance Aruba, guests enjoyed a gourmet meal under the tropical stars along the marina. This year, they held a video competition for potential recipientsnon-profits and causes- to state their case to receive the grand prize of $40,000 Aruba’s Animal Welfare Alliance won the video contest and the grand prize, and five worthy semi-finalists were also awarded $10,000 each. It was the most money awarded in the event’s history.


Best beach read for your Caribbean bucket list

I can’t think of a better book to read while lounging on white sand beach by aqua waves than this great new compilation 100 Things to Do in the Caribbean Before You Die. Thoughtfully curated and beautifully written by fellow travel writer and Caribbean expert Bob Curley, you’ll become enlightened about many adventures throughout the islands that you never even knew you wanted to do. From swimming with pigs in the Bahamas to drinking rum at a 400-year-old distillery in Grenada, or joining the party at Trinidad's wild Carnival celebration, he’s been there and done that. And though I have also done many of these things, I see many more I want to do in the future. Guess I’ll have to live a longer life… or get a bigger bucket! To order, visit:

Learn how to charter a boat to explore the Caribbean

Bob Curley has also been busy on another project that will help your seafaring bucket list dreams come true. He’s mapped out all the ins and outs of chartering a boat to explore the wonders of the Caribbean. You need not have a captain’s license to charter a crewed monohull, catamaran, sailboat,

motorboat or even a yacht. And when you compare the cost to a typical hotel stay, you’ll find you can holiday even longer for less. Even well-seasoned sailors and certified captains will benefit from this online course hosted by the American Sailing Association. It examines important topics like types of vessels to charter, secret mooring spots, best ports of call, planning an itinerary, provisioning your vessel, and much more. Visit:

Award-winning travel journalist Sue Campbell is based in Montreal but makes it her business to be on top of everything cool, hot, and new under the sun throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

World Traveler welcomes her as a regular columnist. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @suectravel

World Traveler Fall 2022


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Holland America Line Adds Second Commemorative 150th Anniversary Transatlantic Crossing In April 2023 Aboard Rotterdam

New eastbound voyage sails from Fort Lauderdale on historic route that ends at Rotterdam on company’s 150th birthday

As its 150th anniversary approaches April 18, 2023, Holland America Line is adding a second commemorative transatlantic crossing aboard Rotterdam to the schedule of celebratory events. Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 3, 2023, the 16-night itinerary sails to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, retracing in reverse the company’s first voyage.

MSC World Europa Offers New Innovative Onboard Entertainment in High-Tech Venues for Hours of Endless Fun

MSC Cruises’ first World Class ship to offer guests of all ages an abundance of exciting entertainment options including new shows, immersive experiences, surprises and more

CroisiEurope Announces 2023 Cruises Through France’s Aquitaine Region

Guests will discover the iconic city of Bordeaux, the region’s famous red wines, historic architecture, and natural landscapes

Highlights of CroisiEurope’s 2023 Bordeaux cruises include:

The Exceptional Region of Bordeaux. History and wine enthusiasts will love this cruise along the Gironde River, traveling round trip from Bordeaux with stops in Cussac-FortMedoc, Blaye, Libourne, and Saint-Emilion.

A Cruise in Aquitaine. Explore the great wines of Southern France with this 6-day cruise, round trip from Bordeaux, with stops along the Grand Crus wine route.

Cruise Through the Aquitaine Region. Cruise through Southwestern France’s maritime cities for a taste of rich history, wine culture, and natural beauty.

Guests can enjoy five new themed parties, two new interactive big screen game shows, multiple state-of-the-art attractions and more in high-tech venues across the ship

MSC World Europa, MSC Cruises’ most innovative and environmentally advanced flagship, is set to feature new and exciting next-level entertainment options that complement the ship’s innovative design, cutting-edge technology and will bring the onboard guest experience to a whole new level.

Guests of all ages will be able to enjoy aweinspiring entertainment from morning to night, including three new concert-style shows in the multipurpose Luna Park Arena; five new fullscale theatre productions in the World Theatre; four themed experiences in the Panorama Lounge; and surprise, pop-up live exhibits throughout the ship.

The rich assortment of entertainment on board includes:

Amawaterways Unveils Longest River Cruise Aboard One Ship for 2024

Two departures of 49 Nights Now Open for 2024 Bookings; First-Ever Exploration into the Danube Delta

Award-winning luxury river cruise line AmaWaterways has recently announced reservations are now open for its 2024 history-making Seven River Journey - Spring and Summer Editions. Continuing its path of innovation, AmaWaterways is introducing its longest and most epic journeys yet with the complete 49 night itinerary spent on board one luxurious ship, the AmaMora, and the first-time experience of sailing the complete length of the Rhine and Danube rivers including the seldom visited Danube Delta region leading to the Black Sea.

Luna Park Arena with Three Interactive Shows

Five New Full-Scale Theatre Shows

Panorama Lounge

Street Theatre

Unbeatable Attractions for All Cruise News AmaWaterways Avalon Azamara Carnival Celebrity Cos
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The Brand’s Newest Ship, Celebrity Beyond, Debuts this November just in Time for a Winter of Bucket-List Caribbean Sailings from Florida

Viking Celebrates 25th Anniversary in Amsterdam

Milestone Event Named Two New Expedition Ships and Featured All Classes of Viking Ships in the Same Place for the First Time

Explora Journeys Announces Enriching Mediterranean Destination Experiences from May 2023

The highly anticipated, Celebrity Beyond, will make its North American debut this November with a full season of Caribbean sailings from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. From November through May 2023, travelers can book unique and robust Caribbean vacations, such as: a 10- or 11night Ultimate Southern Caribbean journey with stops in St. Maarten, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica and Saint Kitts; a 7night cruise through Bahamas, Mexico and Grand Cayman; or a 7- night luxurious journey with stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Puerto Plata.

Celebrity Beyond showcases the design talents of multi-award-winning British designer Kelly Hoppen CBE; celebrated American designer Nate Berkus; and lauded Parisbased design firm Jouin Manku; the innovation of British architect Tom Wright; the culinary talents of world-renowned chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud; and experiences and products from goop CEO and founder Gwyneth Paltrow, the brand’s new Well-Being Advisor.

Celebrity Beyond builds on the features and design of its award-winning predecessors Celebrity Edge (2018) and Celebrity Apex (2020) with such spaces as The Retreat, the exclusive resort-within-a-resort area for suite guests, highlighted by a new two-story sundeck; an expanded Rooftop Garden and stunning Resort Deck featuring unique cantilevered pools; a multi-level, multi-terraced Sunset Bar redefining the ship’s aft; and the return of the Magic Carpet, an engineering feat soaring cantilevered above the sea.

Viking has recently marked the company’s 25th anniversary with a historic celebration in Amsterdam. To commemorate the milestone, for the first time ever, three classes of Viking ships—a river ship, an ocean ship and the company’s newest expedition vessel, the Viking Polaris®—met in Amsterdam and sailed in a special convoy to IJmuiden, Netherlands. Participating in the convoy with the Viking Polaris were the Viking Longship®, the Viking Mani, and the ocean vessel, the Viking Mars®.

During the Amsterdam event, Viking also named the Viking Polaris and her identical sister ship, the Viking Octantis®, which is currently sailing her inaugural season in the Great Lakes. Both ships will spend the Austral summer in Antarctica, before traveling north to the Great Lakes for a series of voyages during spring and summer.

Viking’s 25th anniversary celebration in Amsterdam is the most recent event during a milestone year in which the company has also welcomed to its fleet eight new Viking Longships on the rivers of Europe and new purpose-built vessels on the Mekong, Nile and Mississippi rivers. By the end of 2022, two new, identical ocean ships will have also joined Viking’s fleet. Earlier this year, Viking was named the #1 Ocean Line and #1 River Line in Travel + Leisure’s 2022 “World’s Best” Awards, in which the company became the first cruise line ever to top both categories in the same year. Viking is also rated #1 for both rivers and oceans by Condé Nast Traveler, making it the first cruise line to ever simultaneously earn #1 in its categories from both publications.

Explora Journeys has recently released their first set of Destination Experiences, as part of the Mediterranean Inaugural Journeys Collection of EXPLORA I.

The luxury lifestyle travel brand has revealed a selection of experiences around the Mediterranean, with a unique blend of well-known destinations such as Ibiza in Spain, discovered through a different lens and lesserknown ports, rarely visited by cruise ships such as Calvi in Corsica, France or Kastellorizo in Greece.

At every destination, Explora Journeys will provide inspiring opportunities for guests to discover authentic Mediterranean cultural, historical, and culinary delights from an extraordinary perspective.

Experiences are tailored to small, intimate groups, from two to 25 guests. Always with an emphasis on exclusive, off-the-beaten-track encounters focused on a slower pace of travel to allow guests to fully immerse themselves in each destination, whilst not leaving their mark on the places they explore.

May – June 2023:

Inaugural Mediterranean Journey: A Maiden Journey into Mare Nostrum (11 nights) : Barcelona, St Tropez, Calvi (Corsica), Rome, Fiskardo (Kefalonia), Istanbul, Athens.

Mediterranean Grand Journey (25nights): Barcelona, St Tropez, Calvi (Corsica), Rome, Fiskardo (Kefalonia), Istanbul, Athens, Patmos, Bodrum, Kastellorizo, Santorini, Athens, Mykonos, Gozo, Ibiza, Barcelona.

ta CroisiEurope Cunard Delfin Disney Holland America tar-Clippers UnCruise Uniworld
Viking Windstar Hurtigruten MSC Norwegian Oceania Ponant Princess Roy al-Caribbean

Viking Octantis - We Set Sail

In this second part of a two-part article, we set sail for the best of the Caribbean islands where we would start in Barbados and end our journey in New York City. Along the way, we would frequent the beautiful tropical islands of St. Lucia, Saint Kitts, Saint Barts, Virgin Gorda of the British Virgin Islands, San Juan, Puerto Rico and then after three days at sea end our journey in mid-town Manhattan, New York City.

This Viking itinerary is called the ‘Caribbean Connections’ , and is considered more as a repositioning cruise, as the Viking Octantis spends its winter in the southern hemisphere sailing from Ushuala, Argentina to Antarctica, while it’s summers are on the USA and Canada Great Lakes. This is quite the journey,

as the Octantis heads from the South Pole to the interior of North America by travelling by Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, the Caribbean, the north-east of the USA, maritime Canada and the St Lawrence Seaway. In 2023, the Octantis will journey from the Great Lakes while still visiting a limited itinerary in the Caribbean and will instead pass through the Panama Canal and visit the western countries of South America including the Galapagos Islands, Peru and Chile.

More exciting news from Viking is that the Polaris will be joining its sister ship the Octantis on similar itineraries in North and South America to discover the best of these two fantastic continents in comfort and style!

In the first part of our article (still posted on our website and found on our online eMagazine kiosk) we talked about the incredible advanced technologically of the Octantis, it’s fabulous, modern décor, spotless service by the crew, the beautiful and functional cabins, delicious meal options, and the many spacious public areas.

So now, let the sailing begin.

Saint Lucia

Having left Bridgetown, Barbados we headed north on an overnight sailing and in the morning found ourselves viewing the incredible and iconic UNESCO site of the Deux Pitons of Saint Lucia. What a sight to behold

World Traveler - Already 20 Years!

as these two mountain peaks jet majestically out from the ocean. After a good night’s sleep and a tasty breakfast, we headed to the Viking tailored tour of the island. It started with a Gros Piton hike where we encountered many friendly and laid-back locals and viewed unique flora and fauna of the region. Twisting and turning and climbing ever higher, we would reach a spectacular view of the other Piton, the surrounding island of Saint Lucia, the beautiful blue sea, beaches, and a fabulous view of the amazing Octantis. This was a great start to our journey.

St Kitts

Hats off to Viking. Our original itinerary included Montserrat but due to pandemic restrictions we would have to skip this island and, with the good work of the crew, we instead visited the island of Saint Kitts which is part of St. Kitts & Nevis. Our options for this country were varied but we chose to chill out on Saint Kitts’ gorgeous sandy beaches. It was a quiet time, sitting under a beach umbrella, taking dips in the gentle and warm waters of the ocean, catching up on reading while sipping local and imported refreshments. We could have gone sea kayaking but opted out as the view from our beach lounge chairs was exactly what the doctor ordered. This would be our second day and, needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and upon returning to the Octantis, we had a whole slew of things to do like using the spa and exercise room as well as indulging in supper and drinks.

Gustavia, St. Barts

Saint Barts is like a piece of France in the Caribbean. French language and culture are dominant and a stroll on Gustavia’s main street reflects what you might find on the Champs-Élysées as evidenced by the highend luxury brand stores. The beautiful harbor was filled with a multitude of boats that included expensive super yachts and the streets were lined with high-end luxury cars that gave proof that this is an opulent island for the rich and famous. Very neat, proper and well-kept, this French paradise is special to the Caribbean and a good sight different to the many other Caribbean islands and a stark contrast to places like Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In this overseas French department, we especially loved the small

boutiques that had unique and charming decoration ideas that we brought home as a reminder of this beautiful destination. On our trip back to the Octantis, I could not help but think that this was a remarkable cruise, to be on this magnificent ship and to tour these wonderful destinations.

Virgin Gorda, BVI

This being our first cruise through the Caribbean, we would be treated to many different island destinations. This statement would be proven true through our visit to Virgin Gorda in the archipelago of the British Virgin Islands. As an included tour with Viking, we started our discoveries on a bus that took us along the highroad that circumnavigates the whole island. The many stops along the way gave us spectacular views of neighboring islands, including the private islands of Sir Richard Branson, he was well set up to say the least. For us, the greatest highlight of this day was a visit the baths at the Devils Bay National Park. Here we would take a path towards the shoreline lined with many incredible rock formations and small pools of water that were ankle to knee deep. This is one remarkable adventure having to negotiate through caves and ascend and descend the terrain. For us, the most memorable of all was Devils Bay beach. Having visited many tropical paradises around the world, including the outstanding beaches of South-East Asia, the Devils Bay beach was like a beautiful dream, one of the best I have ever visited. Not a big beach, it was framed by massive natural boulders on both sides with clear aqua-blue waters and amazing fine sand. With blue skies, the sun shining bright, and a gentle breeze blowing, a dip into the warm salt waters led us to bliss, there wasn’t a worry in the world!

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Another day and another new island visit. This time we would be visiting Puerto Rico, the last one on Vikings itinerary of the Caribbean before heading to the open ocean towards New York City. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the city of San Juan is modern looking and well built up, and the island as a whole looked prosperous. We would leave the metropolitan area to head to the rainforest for a relaxing morning of horseback riding through lush greenery and discover the best

of natural settings in Puerto Rico. We were taken to another beautiful location with lush forests to observe the flora and fauna and have time to dip our feet in refreshing mountain streams as well as by local food and refreshments at a wooden style food stand. All in all, we would experience yet another dimension of the beautiful Caribbean.

New York City

Having visited New York City many times, our approach by sea would give us a totally new perspective of the big Apple. At the break of dawn, it seemed like most of the ship’s passengers were up early and standing at the aft of the ship for our approach to New York. First came the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, shortly afterwards, as the sun would rise, we would have an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty on the horizon lit up in golden hues. The skyscrapers of Manhattan stood out spectacularly and the whole view was an incredible sight to behold and a memorable way to conclude our cruise on the Octantis.

Of all the cruises we have been on, we could easily say this just might be our favorite one. The itinerary and tours were perfect and very well planned by Viking. And the Octantis was the star that made the journey complete. Having said all that, the major purpose of this expedition ship is the challenging aspects of cruising through the Antarctic. We are hopeful that one day we will have that unique experience with Viking and journey to the ends of the world.

World Traveler Fall 2022

An UnCruise in the Sea of Cortez Seven nights in the UNESCO-acclaimed ‘world’s aquarium’

In 1940, famed author John Steinbeck sailed from Monterey, California, on a sardine boat with his marine biologist friend Ed Ricketts, an adventure retold in his book, The Log from the Sea of Cortez. After circumnavigating Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, the two men spent six weeks in the Sea of Cortez (the Gulf of California), collecting marine specimens and documenting —

for the first time — the incredible biodiversity in this massive swath of sea.

Today, it’s recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site with the richest marine ecosystem in the world. More than 1,000 species of fish another 1,900 species of other marine life call the Sea of Cortez home.

Renowned explorer and conservationist

Jacques Cousteau dubbed the pristine sea “the world’s aquarium.”

When my wife and I were presented with an opportunity to retrace the route of Steinbeck’s landmark voyage, we jumped at the chance. We joined UnCruise Adventures on a week-long sailing expedition through this remarkable gulf.

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Photo: Uncruise Adventures

The Safari Voyager

The Safari Voyager departs from the relaxed port city of La Paz, a drive of fewer than three hours from the sun-splashed resort town of San José del Cabo. The ship is docked here in winter, during the prime three-month whale-watching season.

Most UnCruise guests arrive at Los Cabos International Airport and enjoy a day at the Grand Faros Los Cabos Hotel before boarding an air-conditioned bus to La Paz. As my wife and I live part of the year in Puerto Vallarta, we took a nonstop flight on regional airline TAR to the gateway city, where we joined the crew and fellow passengers for welcome cocktails on the Voyager.

Expedition sailing is most suitable for exploring the Sea of Cortez, and the Safari Voyager delivered on all counts. Aside from the plethora of marine life, there is far more endemic flora and fauna beyond the redrock cliffs and secluded beaches of isolated desert islands, sometimes referred to as “the Galapagos of the North.” In stopovers at Bahia de Loreto National Park, in the Bahía Agua Verde (“green water”), and on the islands of San José, San Francisco, Partida, Carmen and Los Islotes, we enjoyed such eco-friendly activities as snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking and horseback riding.

Amazing adventure

One highlight was Isla Espiritu Santo, the crown jewel of the Sea of Cortez. Here, I jumped into the lukewarm sea to find myself face-to-face with a pride of playful sea lion pups. As they corkscrewed around me, they first stared, then darted off like children in a playground, seeking new friends and perhaps a fresh fish lunch.

Erika Hernández, a Costa Rican native who served as lead expedition guide, had prepared us in advance for this amazing adventure. “Sea lions are excellent divers and stay underwater for an average of three minutes at a time,” she told us. “They can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes, can dive up to 1,000 feet, and can swim up to 22 miles per hour.”

Some of the other high points of our sevenday expedition were these:

• Unrivaled snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of the “world’s aquarium,” discovering countless tropical fish and an abundance of vibrant coral.

• Scanning the horizon for whales and slothlike whale sharks; watching graceful mobula rays and dancing dolphins.

• Bird watching: Magnificent frigate birds, pelicans, great blue herons, rare blue- and red-footed boobies, cormorants and hummingbirds were, it seemed, everywhere we looked.

• Kayaking along the red-rock cliffs of Isla San Francisco and exploring rugged shores by skiff.

• Hiking along ridges through desert bus and cacti, and ascending rocky trails for sweeping bay views.

• Riding mules from Bahía Agua Verde into the arroyos of Loreto to visit local rancheros.

Life on Board

Built in 1984 and refurbished in 2016, the Safari Voyager is perfect for leisurely exploring. It accommodates up to 66 passengers and offers 34 cozy cabins in seven categories

— single, master, commander, captain, admiral, commodore suite and owner’s suite. Each air-conditioned room has windows facing the sea, a television, a desk, bathrobes and toiletries.

The ship’s lowest deck contains its restaurant and concealed kitchen. On our April trip, passengers dined at tables of six, mingling over breakfast, lunch and dinner. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the buffet-style feast served on the sundeck: It featured tomato basil soup, rack of lamb, crab cakes with red-pepper remoulade, chili relleno with salsa verde, plenty of vegetables and a peanut-butter chocolate trifold for dessert.

A daily happy hour included small appetizers. Chef Matt’s barbecue pork crostinis and

deviled eggs with shrimp were unforgettable. Bartenders Katy and Tim created signature libations as we chatted about past and future activities.

We spent our last day relaxing on the golden sands of Isla Espiritu Santo. When we returned to La Paz for a farewell dinner, we were treated to a slide show recalling the week’s events and our new friendships made aboard the Safari Voyager.

A few details

On our expedition, we were a bit disappointed not to have up-close encounters with gentle giant whales and whale sharks. The odds are favorable, however, as the hot desert sun, warm Mexican seas and shallow lagoons encourage winter mating. Early-season visits offer the best chance for snorkeling alongside whale sharks and spotting large whales.

Whales arrive from Alaska’s frigid waters to give birth as early as November. Uncruise Adventures has scheduled its 2023 Baja Bounty voyages to begin January 21, with the season’s last sailing on March 18.

UnCruise is well known for its innovative marine adventures. A fleet of adventure ships explore from Alaska to Hawaii, from the Pacific Northwest to Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Beginning in 2023, a new Caribbean journey will follow the Belize Barrier Reef down the Central American coast to Guatemala.

World Traveler Fall 2022
Photo: Uncruise Adventures Photo: Uncruise Adventures

A Bike and Boat Tour of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast

46 World Traveler - Already 20 Years!

Two "b-words" that always complement one another are "bikes" and "boats." These are not just means of transport and a way to get from A-B. Nay, a "bike AND boat" tour may be the optimal way to explore a new country by land and sea. I recently had the opportunity to tour much of Croatia with's charter of the wooden ship "San Snova.”

Though I have always individually loved biking and boating as separate activities, this tour allowed me not only to reach some of Croatia's most remote and lessfrequently touristed islands, but also to explore them intimately by biking. Biking is not only a physical and mental journey, but also forces us to slow down and better digest new environments that a traditional bus tour would never allow. It allows us to stop to replenish and rehydrate at local stops on sideroads that would be much too narrow and winding for a bus to travel on. And, most of all, they allow us to best connect with the local environment and people of a new destination.

"Bike and boat tours are probably my favorite type of tour," said Jim Johnson, Founder and Former President of "Bicycle tours typically get you where cars and most tourists never go. But I add a boat to the mix, especially in coastal waters, and you can gain access to areas that even bicycles can't normally get to. Many of our clients also love the idea of a floating hotel where you don't have to pack and unpack daily."

The bike and boating tour combination may be just what you've always wanted if you're active and adventurous. I am already yearning for upcoming adventures with the first, in 2023, covers the route north Split and Dubrovnik and includes Istria and Northern Dalmatia. The other, for 2024, will go south from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and Albania with an overnight excursion off the boat to Bosnia. While this was my first "B and B" tour, it certainly won't be the last–from the stunning accommodations to the adventures offshore each day by two-

wheels, I made use of my time in a way I never had on a holiday previously.

San Snova, Our Valiant Ship for the Week

I spent two weeks aboard San Snova, the impeccably gorgeous wooden sailing vessel that seamlessly combines modernity and practical functionalism. While the ship isn't grand in size (therefore, it can swiftly maneuver into smaller bays that larger vessels would never fit in), it feels complete. The ship boasts 14 spacious guest cabins, each with a private bathroom, shower, and toilet. Above deck, the vessel has six double cabins with a French bed, five triple cabins with French beds, and a single bunk bed. Below the deck are three spacious triple cabins with one double bed and a single bunk bed.

Besides providing an excellent home to rest your head after a day of cycling, the ship is entertaining and quite all-encompassing. It's not a gigantic cruise ship with casinos and waterslides but does have many areas optimal for soaking in that Croatian sun. The desk has comfortable chairs, and the bar in the salon provides all the local Croatian beer, and wine one may need on holiday. When the ship docks outside small harbors, there is the perfect side platform for jumping off into that crystal clear water that has made Croatia so famous. And, of course, there is the ability to just lounge and watch the scenery go by.

"If you're tired or don't feel like cycling, you stay on board and view the world from the deck," explained Johnson. "That's also a bonus for partners with different abilities and interests in cycling. They can go on the same trip but decide which tours they will go on each day. One can ride, and the other stays on board. They meet up at the next port."

An Adventure of a Lifetime…On Wheels!

Our biking and boating adventure began in Split, the Croatian coastal city famed for being home to the former Palace of Emperor Diocletian (and many other significant Game of Thrones references!) and

some of the most lively European nightlife. After exploring both in-depth, our first of many cycle tours commenced in Šolta, which is beloved for its walled fields, numerous olive groves, locust beans, and fig trees that line the roads. The herb smells of lavender and rosemary accompanied us along the tour through this island. We even visited with a beekeeper named Goran–his combination of passion, humor, and knowledge was a highlight for everyone.

Another highlight was anchoring in Lastovo, one of the smaller inhabited islands in the Adriatic Sea. Emperor Augustus appreciated the mild climate, and in Roman times the island was named "Augusta Insula" after him. The population of just over 800 still lives mainly from fishing, agriculture, and viticulture. While quite grueling, our cycle tour around this naturally magnificent island was a testament to how possible it is to become intertwined with nature when on two wheels (and a boat to get us there in the first place!)

As an active traveler who has always appreciated taking time to soak in the local atmosphere, these two weeks aboard San Snova were truly magical–a way to better understand Croatia beyond the tourist scenes.

47 World Traveler Fall 2022

Cruise Up the Lijiang River from Guilin, Pearl of Southern China

Located in the middle of one of the world’s most natural-stunning landscapes, Guilin has long laid claim to having the most beautiful scenery in China. The city with a population of close to one million, a small city by Chinese standards, is encircled by a countryside of weirdly shaped Karsts - bizarre stone forests with many formations appearing like camels, elephants, horses, lions and upside-down ice cream cones. It is a fairytale world of strange-looking hills, tra-

versed by clear and sparkling waterways, several of which meander through the city, as well as spectacular caverns of stalagmites and stalactites in endless shapes and forms.

This landscape of unusual limestone hill formations was created over millions of years ago when the region emerged from a seabed. The spectacular Karst tableau was formed by erosion from wind and rain, resulting in the unique landscape one sees

today. It is an eerie appearing countryside, captivating all who travel to this part of China.

Since 1973, when the area was opened to visitors, the tourist industry has grown until today it has become second to agricultural products as the mainstay in Guilin’s economy. What the Chinese call the ‘most beautiful attraction on the face of the globe’ or ‘heaven on earth’ is drawing thousands of tourists from both inside and outside China.

20Years Replay Fall2011 World Traveler - Already 20 Years!

For centuries, artists and poets have been fascinated by the sheer splendour of the panorama, giving them the inspiration to produce excellent works of art therefore transforming Guilin into a cultural city.

According to a Chinese saying, Guilin’s atmosphere and scenery are the ‘first under heaven’.

One gentle autumn day I found myself in the midst of this amazing landscape when the Sweet Osmanthus were in bloom and their fragrance saturated the air. It seemed that these perfume-defusing shrubs were everywhere. They were so numerous that they have given their name to the city (Guilin mean forest of Sweet Osmanthus).

After an hour’s drive south of Guilin, our

group of eleven climbed aboard a riverboat, docked with many others on the 437 km (271 mi) Lijiang River, for a cruise. The usual cruise offered is usually for 83 km (52 mi), but we had come in late autumn and the water in the river was very shallow. Hence, we had to take a bus to Yang-Ti, a village overshadowed by the Karst-shaped hills. The spot is considered to be the most breathtaking sight on the Lijiang Rivercalled by the Chinese a ‘blue ribbon of silk’ and the dominating hills ‘hair pins of jade’.

Now as our boat began to move down stream through a natural art gallery, I looked around me. It was truly an awesome sight. The forest of green upsidedown cone-like shaped hills with their peaks hidden by mist created a magical landscape that had an eerie appeal.

Between this forest of rocks, we made our way until we came to a wide section of the river beyond which a shallow part barred our way. We anchored in this pleasant spot, overshadowed by a sheer cliff rising abruptly above the water. On its face were extraordinary likenesses of horses in different positions: one bending to drink, another lying down, while still another one galloping.

Soon, one after another, the cruise boats anchored around us until we were surrounded by some 60 boats, all serving lunch at the same time. Every spot on this section of the river appeared to be takenthe waters totally covered by tourist boats.

Munching away on a dozen dishes of Chinese food prepared on the boat, I looked up, “Want snake wine? Very good! Very good for health!” I could not believe my eyes; the man had a gallon of wine with a snake inside filling up about half the bottle. “It’s horrible! Take it away!” One the women in our group seemed upset.

The man left but, undaunted, returned a few moments later with another bottle. “Penis wine! Very tasty penis wine! Penis of animals in wine, very good for men!’ I almost choked on my food. Everyone

appeared stunned. Seeing that there was no interest, the man departed.

However, after he left, jokes were bantered around then two of our group followed the man and bought bottles. Sure enough, the labels indicated that penises of animals were among the ingredients. “This penis wine will make a great conversation piece at one of my parties”, the young lady who had bought one of the bottles grinned.

Sailing upstream, as the sun began to slip on the horizon, the forest of stone hills, overshadowing us, began to appear like ghosts at times or as men, while at other times as beasts. It was a scene that kept us company until we disembarked at Yang-Ti.

The next morning, after a 20-minute bus ride, we were walking through the Ludi (Reed Flute) Cave - one of the 3,000 caves in the region. An awesome cavern, made tourist-friendly, with a dazzling variety of stalagmites and stalactites, it is the most spectacular of the caves.

We walked through this largest cave in the area along a zigzagging path through a fantastic world of rock formations bearing a striking resemblance to animals and other natural works of nature. Under coloured lighting, they appeared like a wonderful wonderland of gardens, orchards or whatever else one could imagine. At the end of a 500 m (1640 ft) manmade trail, as we walked out from a world of strange shapes and eerie shadows, a rock, formed by nature, in the shape of a lion, with even a white fang, bade us adieu.

On the way back, reflecting on our river trip and the Ludi Cave, I thought of the wonderful few days that we had spent in Guilin amid its forests of stone. It was an incredible interlude during our trip to China. After our explorations, it became apparent to me that the travelers who had labelled Guilin, the ‘Pearl of Southern China’ had a point. 49 World Traveler Fall 2022

Sweet Dreams Around the World

Zen at the Inn at Huntingfield Creek

As soon as we crossed the 7-kilometer-long Chesapeake Bay bridge from Annapolis to Maryland’s Eastern Shores, we noticed a change: the pace of life was slower, birds and wildlife more plentiful and our breaths deeper. And nowhere did we feel this sense of relaxation more than during our stay at the Inn at Huntingfield Creek in Rock Hall, Maryland.

Rosie, Bayla and Maggie, the resident dogs, welcomed us with wagging tails and affection when we arrived. Owner, Joanne Rich, showed us around the property that she and her husband, Jim, purchased 18 years ago.

“We liked the feeling of it immediately,” Joanne said, and they worked hard over the years to ensure their guests would have that same good feeling.

The 70-acre property had five guest rooms in the inn and seven fully-equipped private cottages, each with a different theme. We stayed in the Zen cottage that lived up to its moniker with features like a fireplace, full kitchen and extra-large whirlpool bathtub and in the décor and smaller details, including welcome snacks, plush spa robes and the down comforters. Not only the cottage, but the entire property exuded Zen from the hammocks and Adirondack chairs to the saltwater pool, lavender field and waterfront. It was a place that invited us to disconnect from the work-aday world and focus on the surroundings and our loved ones. This was exactly the intention.

“Our greatest pleasure is seeing couples put down their phones and talk to each other,” said Joanne.

And we did just that. We reminisced about our children, now almost grown, as we walked the grassy promenade to the waterfront, where herons waded patiently in the Bay water for fish. We discussed future retirement dreams over a glass of complimentary wine in the inn’s library.

And over a delicious breakfast of eggs, sausage and Joanne’s awardwinning Very Berry Bread Pudding made with blackberries picked on the property, we contemplated extending our vacation to stay longer at the Inn at Huntingfield Creek.

citizenM Opens First Chicago Hotel in the Heart of Downtown

citizenM — the pioneer of affordable luxury hotels — is set to open its first property in Downtown Chicago on September 21st. The newly-constructed hotel, located at 300 N Michigan Avenue, is conveniently situated between the Riverwalk and Millennium Park. citizenM Chicago Downtown presents travelers with eye-catching art, high-tech design and frictionless service in one of the most culturally robust cities in the world. The 280room hotel sits within the 47-story tower which also includes 289 residential units and 25,000 square feet of retail space.

To mark citizenM’s arrival, Chicago native Nina Chanel Abney was commissioned to transform the building’s exterior 2,000 square foot terrace and entrance walls into a gigantic abstract and vibrant Chi-town tribute. The inspiration behind her work is fueled by the dynamics of the contemporary media landscape and addresses topics of race, gender, and politics. Known for her paintings, prints, and large-scale murals with layered compositions, her figural works feature colorful hardedged geometric symbols and shapes.

Visitors can expect the same unfailing dedication to design, art, technology, and comfort, seen throughout all of citizenM’s properties. The property was designed by Chicago’s bKL, in collaboration with citizenM’s long standing architecture partner Concrete to offer a streamlined, luxury experience — including high-tech amenities, friendly and genuine service, comfortable guest rooms, and spacious and inviting living areas filled with contemporary art and iconic furnishings such as Vitra, citizenM’s furniture partner. citizenM Chicago Downtown features a 24/7 gym and three societyM meeting rooms, available for half and full day hires to both guests and the public, offering unlimited coffee to let ideas flow.

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Ohla (la) Barcelona

It took me a few minutes, but I finally got it. “Ohla” is pronounced in same way as the Spanish word for greetings, “Hola”. A play on words and by the end of my stay here I would be thinking Ohla la, la, la. What an amazing property.

Centrally located and close to practically everything, the Ohla Barcelona hotel is a gem. In fact, guests here need not walk very far as the hotel lies in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. In as short as a five-to-15-minute walk away, visitors can find two metro stations, the famous Rambala, the shoreline and beaches, the central bus stop to the airport, bars, restaurants, stores and almost everything needed for a visit.


Having stayed in many hotels around the world, I am always surprised when I have an OMG moment. This was one of them as I entered my room. The first sight was the floor to ceiling old style arched windows that offered an amazing view of the beautiful neighborhood. This was accented with handsome looking modern furniture, a beautiful and functional washroom that opened up to the room. Add to this all the modern electrical needs and I was set up for comfort to explore Barcelona

Rooftop oasis

La piece-de-resistance was found on the top level of the Ohla Barcelona where there was a roof top pool and bar that gave a birdseye-view to the fabulous surroundings and the magnificent and historic architecture of neighboring buildings. With hip music playing in the background and cool refreshments at hand, guests can spend days and nights with friends while taking in the fresh air and sites of the best of Barcelona.

Tapas and cocktails

When not lazing in the pool or touring the city, there is several choices to fill your belly. Caelis restaurant, awarded with a Michelin star and run by French Chef Romain Fornell,

is a high end, magnificently designed restaurant serving traditional dishes in a contemporary cuisine. There is also La Plassohla, a 'tapas' restaurant that offers tastes that come from local and foreign cultures presented in small dishes to share. Finally there is Vistro 49, a boutique bar specialized in wines and cocktails that offers a warm and intimate location for relaxation or conversation. It is a wonder that I went into the city at all!

The gambit of services

The wonderful rooms are well made and equipped with Egyptian cotton sheets, large TV, minibar, and a great view. Exploring the hotel, guests can enjoy a workout in the gym, relax in the sauna or receive a massage. The staff was always accommodating and ready to help and offered great advice on things to and to see in the amazing city.

Country Inns...Luxary Safari Camps...Ecolodges...Ice...Cave...Treetop... Hotels
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ChinaJapanSantoriniOsakaLosAngelesBarcelonaSantiagoWashingtonJakartaMarrakeshBostonBotswanaCopenhagenNewDelhiDuba 51


Puntacana Resort & Club is the Caribbean’s leading resort community on the eastern shore of the Dominican Republic. Tortuga Bay is member of the Leading Hotels of the World and the only AAA Five Diamond awarded hotel in the Dominican Republic, offering understated elegance, privacy and unparalleled personal service. Located at Playa Blanca is The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, guest enjoys all of Westin’s signature amenities and Don Queco Cigar Bar. Our Four Points by Sheraton is situated at Puntacana Village, few minutes away from Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ).

The Estates

Become a part of our magnificent paradise community with the purchase of a vacation home in the elite The Estates at Puntacana Resort & Club, where Julio Iglesias, Mikhail Baryshnikov call home. An exclusive lifestyle of relaxation, excitement and understated elegance, prospective buyers can choose among elegant homes perched above the Caribbean Sea or overlooking scrupulously manicured golf courses in Corales, Tortuga, Arrecife, Hacienda, Hacienda del Mar and Marina. Home and apartments are also available at Puntacana Village.


With 45 holes of championship golf, Puntacana Resort & Club is the Caribbean’s premier golf & beach destination. The P.B. Dye designed La Cana Golf Course, consisting of 27 holes across Tortuga, Arrecife and Hacienda, was declared the number one course in the Caribbean by Golf Magazine. Designed by Tom Fazio and set between rocky cliffs, coral reefs and the expansive Caribbean Sea, the Corales Golf Course features six oceanfront holes, multiple lines of approach and picturesque canyons, making for an exhilarating experience.

Activities & Spa

Puntacana Resort & Club offers a wide range of adventures for guests of all ages including golf, tennis, kite boarding, scuba diving, horseback riding, fishing and numerous excursions by sea, land and air. The leading spa in the Caribbean, Six Senses Spa at Puntacana Resort & Club presents a range of innovative packages, Signature treatments and Asian therapies. Visit Galerías Puntacana to enjoy an assortment of shops, restaurants, playground, and our spirited nightlife.


Puntacana Resort & Club is home to 6 world class eateries with an indigenously delectable cuisine. Tucked inside Tortuga Bay, the AAA Four Diamond awarded Bamboo blends modern cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Specializing in local seafood, The AAA Three Diamond Award La Yola is located at the Marina. At La Cana Golf & Beach Club is The Grill, an American style grill offering views of the sea. The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club provides a variety or restaurants and bars from Ananí to Brassa Grill. Next door is Playa Blanca, a beachfront tropical restaurant. Our Dine Around Program offers the best sampling of our finest culinary experience. All restaurants offer complimentary shuttle service within the resort. More dining options are available at Puntacana Village.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We believe that in development there needs to be equilibrium among the economic, environmental and social components. Our non-profit Grupo Puntacana Foundation serves both natural and social resources, while contributing to the sustainable development of our Dominican Republic. These practices have been guiding principles of our company, and along with vision, hard work and perseverance, the key to our success.

Punta Cana International airport

Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ), built, owned and operated by Grupo Puntacana, the resort’s developers, and located within Puntacana Resort & Club, is just minutes away from check-in at any of our hotels or private homes. Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) has direct service from 98 different cities around the world, making Punta Cana the most accessible destination in the Caribbean. Our VIP terminals service the needs of guests flying in private aircrafts.

The Caribbean’s Premiere Golf & Beach Resort Community

Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort

Stirred, not shaken! This is not the James Bond way to make a Martini!

Shenty Fernandez tends the bar at the Zala Gastro Lounge at the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort. When I ordered a Dirty Martini, he prepared it with unusual precision and care. I watched as he filled the Martini Glass with ice and let it sit, while he measured and poured the Martini ingredients into a tumbler. Then he stirred the mixture, spilled the ice out of the Martini Glass, poured the mixture through a strainer, into the glass, and added three olives. This was a perfect Martini.

When I asked Shenty why he stirred the Martini, rather than shake it à la James Bond, he explained that shaking dilutes the mixture with the ice-and-water in the tumbler. Stirring blends the mixture and coaxes it to bond together, taste upon taste. And with his train-

ing as a Mechanical Engineer, you could easily see how Shenty took pride in the cocktails he created.

This turned out to be a microcosm of the attitude of the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort itself. When I asked General Manager Mark Nooren why all the staff were friendly and smiling he explained, “We make sure our associates are happy because by doing that, we know they will gladly share that happiness with our guests, and be at their service with a smile on their face”. And the same attitude was taken when Mark initiated a $40 million renovation of the old Marriott Curaçao, which re-opened in November 2019 as the 336 room 4-Star plus, Marriott Beach Resort.

Located on Piscadero Bay, about a 15 minute drive from Hato International Airport and an even shorter drive to Willemstad, the 6-acre property sits on an idyllic sandy beach graced

with views of turquoise waters. My King room was comfy and spacious. The soothing sound of waves was only a few feet away, complemented by a balcony that overlooked the beach and the blue-on-blue ocean.

In the early morning I enjoyed the chef-prepared omelettes and fresh baked croissants at the breakfast buffet, before an early morning walk along the nearby oceanfront path. I even walked to the historic Otrobanda and Punda districts of Willemstad on a few occasions. It’s a good 50 minute walk (or a 15 minute taxi ride).

And for those who prefer to stay put, there is an adults-only swimming pool, a large family pool, a kids club, a gym, wellness activities, snorkelling, diving, local art exhibits, and more. Meals can be enjoyed at ÇSpice, the Salty Iguana Ocean Grill, and the Izakaya Sushi Bar.

All in all this is a pretty impressive property and a great complement to a holiday in Curaçao.

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The Hilton Lac Leamy in Quebec’s Outaouais region

The Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec, just across the river from the Canadian capital of Ottawa, is a one-of-a-kind destination. Surrounded by waterways, woodlands and recreational trails, it offers the atmosphere of an urban resort in an enchanting environment. Among all the properties of the Hilton chain, this property is first in Canada and among the top 10 across the Americas. In fact, it is a five star hotel with four diamonds since its opening in 2001.

We were very fortunate to spend the day there recently and what a treat that was.

Upon arrival in the hotel's lobby, I was literally dazzled by the four blown glass chandeliers created by artist Dale Chihuly, as well as the six islands of red flowers spread out on the wall at the back of the reception. In addition, a coil composed of small glass works surrounds the column of the grand staircase leading to the upper floor of the hotel.

Connected to the Lac-Leamy Casino, the hotel features a fitness center, outdoor heated pool, indoor pool, spa and wellness center and a variety of dining options. Free WiFi is available.

Unquestionably, the outdoor pool is a big draw here. We were seated poolside on comfortable lounge chairs, with a large umbrella to guard us from the sun. The pool itself was perfectly heated as I floated about relaxingly, resting on the noodles they provide each guest. There are also two large hot tubs, something I have been craving since before the pandemic. The warm water was just the tonic I needed for some aching bones.

On the lower level you will find the Restaurant Arôme Seafood and Grill. With a magnificent view of Lac de la Carrière, the restaurant offers a memorable experience for all. A special feature of the menu is dry-aged meat, which appeals epicureans and meat lovers. L'Arôme was the first restaurant in the Outaouais to offer this high-end meat. In the summer season, you can also enjoy the excellence of the kitchen on its large outdoor terrace by the water. Now that is on my “to do” list for sure.

Banco Bistro is located at the casino, offering an a la carte menu, while the Bacchus Bar and Cigar Lounge is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4 pm to midnight.

There is also the TGV Snack-Bar, the seasonal pool bar. Private dining is always available with 24-hour room service. We took advantage of the latter poolside, enjoying chicken quesadillas, a pizza and some chips and drinks. There is a nice shady eating area at the pool.

You can get out of your regular routine at the luxurious Amerispa Spa, open every day from 10 am. There are 17 treatment rooms ready to receive you, with everything for relaxation and well-being: massages, facial and body treatments, manicures, pedicures and treatments for men.

I got to see the gorgeous stained glass work at the Conference Centre as I walked through the facility.

And just some information about the first class casino on site. I know so many Montrealers who travel regularly to this property to enjoy the hotel and take advantage of the convenience of merely walking from their room to the casino. You can check out the wide variety of games such as slot machines for every taste, table games like roulette, baccarat, blackjack and poker, and low-stakes multi-gaming stations.

There is also a 1,000-seat theatre, with highend entertainment, and a 2,500-seat ballroom and conference hall. The 51,000 ft2 (4738 m2) Conference Centre can accommodate various events thanks to its 16 modular rooms and 1070-seat theatre. It is equipped with the necessary infrastructure and technology, including the latest audiovisual equipment and free Wi-Fi access.

The concept of the resort is the balanced contrast between urban entertainment and the tranquility of a park-like setting, giving guests the choice of what suits their mood best: cycling, cross-country skiing, first-class dining, or a show.

The Canadian Museum of History is five kilometers away and downtown Ottawa, a seven kilometers drive.

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Curacao - Four Fab Spots to Stay

Curacao Marriott Beach Resort

Exciting New Oasis for Business and Leisure by Susan Canpbell

Iwas delighted to hear that the Curacao Marriott would be reopening in the Piscadera Bay area in 2019. The absence of a major resort on that prime piece of real estate right across the street from the Curacao World Trade Center was sorely missed. But now, after a $40 million USD renovation, the transformation is complete. And it’s glorious. I’m happy to see they left the grand entrance and sprawling pool intact and now, bedecked with state-of-the-art amenities, they are regaining their reputation as a first-rate stay on that landmark six acres of oceanfront. They will soon also offer the largest meeting space capacity on the island.

The 336-room hotel is divided into two wings flanking The Great Room lobby area, one with a stand alone adult-only pool area. Our rooms were fresh and modern with epic sea views, and our Reef Club level status gave us access to an inviting indoor/outdoor space just off the lobby offering complimentary gourmet snacks and spirits. Also, off the lobby, is Zalo Gastropub for creative tapas and hand-crafted cocktails, a sushi bar, and a coffee house/marketplace for grab-and-gogoodies. For surfside food and drink, there’s the lively Salty Iguana, but it’s their new signature dining spot called C-Spice that’s really making big waves on Curacao’s culinary front. We had the pleasure of enjoying a fabulous poolside dinner there, and it was great to see award-winning Chef Dino Jagtiani at the helm. I knew him from St. Maarten when he ran Temptation, one of that island’s most celebrated restaurants for many years.

back Curacao Marriott!

Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino Practical Urban Base with a Brand-New Vibe by Susan Canpbell

I’d not been to this cool urban resort in the heart of downtown Willemstad for two years, so I was really surprised at the magnitude of changes there- all for the better! Though their past carnival theme had been a very bright and colorful collage of design elements, that’s all changed after a 12-million-dollar renovation. Though the new Wind Creek Carnival Casino still carries on that festive colorful theme, the entire complex has been redesigned with an ethereal upscale, sleek, and modern style. From the sparkling new lobby and refreshed indoor/outdoor Nautilus signature dining room to the addition of a guest-only Starbucks on the second floor, the resort has truly been elevated. And it’s extremely inviting.

Our stay this time was short but sweet, so the first spot I headed to was the unique manmade clifftop beach and seawater infinity pool, seriously one of the coolest water installations I’ve ever experienced. I’m happy to say that it’s still intact the way I remembered it, but now it’s even better with on-site spa cabanas. It’s right beside the cruise terminal, so you can see the twinkling lights of the ships on the water at night, and during the day, sometimes the infinity view provides the optical illusion that the ships are about to cruise right up onto the beach! Very cool.

All the property’s 223 rooms and suites have been completely refreshed, and I totally enjoyed my sea view room overlooking the historic Rif Fort and its lively outdoor village where the outdoor music can waft up to your balcony at night. Of special note was the abundance of 110-volt outlets, there were dozens of them. Most of Curacao’s hotel rooms were originally designed to accommodate European visitors, so they often require adapters for the 220-volt outlets.

This is an ideal practical base for business travellers, but also perfect for those seeking to be within easy walking distance of all the island’s UNESCO World Heritage sites and major urban attractions Willemstad has to offer.

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Avila Beach Hotel

The Grande Dame That Always Delights by Susan Canpbell

Every time I visit Curacao, I like to spend time at this classic Grande Dame, and each time I do, it’s even better than the last!

Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019, this is the resort where the Dutch Royal Family stays while on island, but this spot, though definitely aristocratic, is by no means snooty. It’s an inviting compilation of two family-friendly private beaches with a house coral reef ideal for snorkeling, a collection of casual and modern dining spots, and fun and friendly bars. In fact, their Blues Bar is famous for being the absolute best spot for Thursday Happy Hour on island. It’s set upon its own high pier, and their live jazz band plays atop the bar on their own loft perch. And if you dine on their outside deck there Thursday nights, you’ll also be treated to the Punda Thursday Vibes fireworks display in the distance.

The 150-room complex is divided into three separate wings, each with its own appeal and specialty. The Blues Wing sits atop its own overwater pier and is uber romantic, especially now that this wing has been designated as adult-only. For business travelers and those seeking nononsense, sleek, modern stays, the Octagon Wing is the place to be, and that’s where you’ll find their stylish Cloud Nine Spa, 24/7 fitness centre and deluxe infinity pool. La Belle Alliance Wing is more classic colonial and their apartment style stays are preferred by families because they sport full kitchens. We had the pleasure of staying in their new two-bedroom luxury penthouse suite in the Belle Alliance Wing, and it was epic. The 3rd-floor sea view deck was large enough for a party of 20, the open concept kitchen/living room was also massive, and the the fact that it has 2 1/2 bathrooms and its own laundry facilities was also a plus.

There’s also history and culture on site - a small octagonal museum dedicated to Simon Bolivar is worth a visit, and there’s often outdoor classical musical concerts in their sea front courtyard.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort An Ideal Escape for All Ages by Susan Canpbell

Iadore staying at this sprawling complex out on the island’s eastern tip, it’s truly a destination within a destination, and it offers everything one could want for an ideal tropical holiday. And if you golf, even better. Their spectacular seaside Old Quarry Golf Course has won best in the Caribbean awards many years running. I don’t golf, but I do love to go tropical fish-finding, and this resort is just around the corner from the cool tugboat wreck in Spanish Waters, one of the island best snorkels sites.

The colonial style complex of 350 stylish and spacious rooms spans 2,000 acres of gorgeous palm gardens and a lovely protected beachfront with shallow waters ideal for families. Children also love the water fountain splash area and parents love the main pool with big cabanas and food and beverage service. The resort now has an all-inclusive option, and dining on site includes a collection of beach bars and grills, the Medi main dining room, sushi and cocktails in The Great Room and Shore, their standalone signature restaurant that sits atop a cliff over the sea. Shore also welcomes off-property guest and it is, in my opinion, one of the best dining spots on the island, and so do take a trip out there to experience it, even if you are not staying at the resort. They have an excellent stand-alone bar there, too.

Personally, I simply enjoy chilling on the beach or floating in the sea while there and getting royally pampered in their awesome Atabei Spa is also a must, but if fitness is your thing, there are plenty of options. Hiking, biking, guided yoga and Pilates and an excellent 24/7 gym are a few, and the resort’s tennis and golf pros offer weekly clinics for guests. The calm waters surrounding Santa Barbara beach are also ideal for SUP and sea kayaking.

Curacao - Four Fab Spots to Stay

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Chesapeake Bay: Road Tripping Annapolis and Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Estuaries, where salt and fresh water meet and interlace with the land, are remarkable ecosystems, providing wildlife habitat, purifying water and protecting shores from storms. Chesapeake Bay is North America’s largest estuary, stretching from New York to Virginia, with an astounding 18,804 kilometers of shoreline (more than the entire US West Coast) with over 100 tributaries that drain into a more than 100,000square-kilometer basin. It supports over 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals and produces about 500 million pounds of seafood annually.

On this summer’s road trip, we drove nine hours from Toronto to Maryland’s Eastern

Shore to explore a part of this coastline and were delighted at every turn with the region’s storied history, nautical pursuits and culinary riches, including the BEST crabcakes ever.

Annapolis, Maryland’s state capital, located about 50 kilometers from Washington, DC, was our first stop. As we walked along the red-brick sidewalks, we quickly understood how the city earned its nickname: the museum without walls.

“There are more colonial buildings here than in DC, Boston and Philly,” said Susan Hall, visitor service manager of the Museum of Historic Annapolis and tireless member of the city’s historical society. She explained that like

Bruges in Europe, the city was simply overlooked; as bigger ports like Baltimore modernized, Annapolis’s buildings remained intact. This heritage, combined with the city’s walkability and plethora of independent shops and restaurants, made it a pleasure to stroll.

We learned more about its history on a selfguided tour of the wooden-domed Maryland State House, the oldest in continuous legislative use and where George Washington resigned, returning authority to the people instead of claiming power for himself. A bronze statue of Harriet Tubman in the Old House of Delegates Chambers honoured the heroine of the Underground Railroad who

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risked her life, time and time again, returning to her native Maryland to free her family and dozens of others from slavery.

Following the red-bricked sidewalks, we passed by the city docks and the old marketplace to delve into more history at the Museum of Historic Annapolis, which chronicled everything from the earliest native history of the Bay to why Annapolitans burn their socks. In case you’re wondering, it’s a tradition to celebrate spring in the hopes of not wearing them again until the cold weather returns.

An integral part of the city was the US Naval Academy, the ‘Top Gun’ military school that’s been training cadets for careers as officers in the Marines and Navy since 1845.

“We are part of the charm of Annapolis,” said Bob Cepek, our guide who himself graduated from the Academy in 1963.

Set on 338 acres, right next to downtown, the campus or ‘yard’, as it’s commonly referred to as, is a national historic landmark for its heritage buildings and striking 19th century French architecture. With Bob as our gracious and knowledgeable guide, we learned about the Academy, both its quirky traditions (Bill the goat mascot and freshmen climbing a greased obelisk for a second-year hat) and its impressive achievements (54 astronauts are graduates, and the origin of the motto: never give up the ship). Stops included the landmark chapel with its commissioned Tiffany windows and 268-rank organ; the ornate crypt of John Paul Jones, a Revolutionary War hero and founder of the Navy, and the jawdropping entrance of Dahlgren Hall, where a full-sized replica of the Wright brothers’ aircraft hung from its cathedral ceilings.

As it was summer, the only students were the ‘plebes’, first years in the middle of their ‘plebe summer’, a six-week intensive orientation boot camp. We watched them doing drills near Bancroft Hall, affectionately known as ‘Mother B’ to the over 4500 midshipmen who live here for four years.

Our hotel in Annapolis, the Graduate, catered to the Academy’s alumni, and its décor featured nautical photos and paintings, luggage trunks as night tables and photos of its famous alumni, including David Robinson, the football star. Its central location meant we could walk to the city’s attractions and its fabulous restaurants like the Iron Rooster and Miss Shirley’s, both institutions in the city known for their hearty and delicious breakfast concoctions. Preserve on Main Street was a meal to remember with its innovative farm-totable menu items that each had an element of pickles or fermentation, their specialty.

As walkable as Annapolis is, you can’t leave the city without getting on the water. It does have another nickname, after all: The Sailing Capital of America.

We boarded the Woodwind, a 74-foot schooner, for a true sailing experience with Annapolis Sailing Cruises, on a windy Wednesday evening, which was race night on the Bay. It was a thrill to see so many boats out and have a fun race ourselves with Woodwind II, the sister ship to ours.

In every great sailing destination, a watering

hole exists where sea dogs congregate, and in Annapolis it was Boatyard Bar and Grill in Eastport, a community just outside of the city. This laidback hub, now in its 21st year, has attracted everyone from working watermen to celebrities like Michelle Obama and Jimmy Buffet. It was here I first tasted an authentic Maryland crab cake. The grilled mounds of succulent, perfectly seasoned blue crab were so different than the breaded fried patties I’d previously had that I was spoiled for life.

Also in Eastport is the Annapolis Maritime Museum dedicated to the unique aspects of Chesapeake Bay.

“People think of it as a playground,” said our guide Gwen. “But it’s an ecosystem.”

The exhibits chronicled the geological and social history that intertwined the Bay with the communities that inhabit its shores, emphasizing the devastating impact of over-harvesting the oysters and the importance of conservation.

In the next few days, we road tripped through some of these communities on Maryland’s Eastern Shores: Easton, St. Michaels, Oxford, Chestertown and Rock Hall. Each had their own personality, showcased their unique heritage and boasted culinary highlights (including crab cakes that rivalled the Boatyard’s). And more often than not, it was connected to the grand Chesapeake Bay.

“There’s no place else like it,” said Mark Einstein, captain of Blue Chesapeake Charters. Passionate about sailing, he and his wife, Suzanne, have navigated their boat along the coast and in the Caribbean, but always come back to their home in Rock Hall.

“It’s authentic,” Mark said. “And we’re right on the open channel.” Looking out at the horizon, Chesapeake Bay stretched out our as far as the eye could see. As we cruised, we passed an osprey nest, where an awkwardlooking fledgling was flapping its wings, practicing for when it would shortly leave the nest. In autumn, it’ll go south to Central and South America, but come back to the Bay next spring. And with any luck, so will we. World Traveler Fall 2022 61
Photo: Maryland Tourism

Japan Japan

Exploring the heart of Hokuriku

t the Wajima morning market, you quickly discover that most of the vendors enjoy engaging locals and visitors alike in friendly banter. Many asked where we called home (Toronto) and then related their own trips to Niagara Falls! One woman saw me aiming my camera at her display of squid and fish, hanging out to dry. Just as I was about to click the shutter, she quickly parted the ‘curtain’ of squid, greeted me with a smiling “Ohayo Gozaimasu” (Good morning) and really seemed to enjoy my surprised look. We both laughed at the impromptu game of peek-a-boo.

After one thousand years of getting together - networking, if you will - to barter goods and trade stories, the women of Wajima continue to gather in what is now the Asaichi (morning market). They sell their farm produce as well as fish, conch and abalone, freshly caught in the Sea of Japan. And as part of the market experience, it’s important to know that sampling tiny squares of dried abalone is encouraged; buying grilled snacks of juicy scallops and spicy squid is expected; munching on rice crackers seasoned with sesame or nori (seaweed) is addictive, and wandering past colourful displays of seafood, vegetables, pickles and

lacquerware is both fascinating and enticing.

However, when we arrived at the morning market at 10:00 am (it is open most days from 8:00 am to Noon), our visit to the city had almost concluded. The previous day we took the two hour bus ride from Kanazawa to Wajima, which is perched near the top of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. After checking into the Route Inn, a business-style hotel, we set out to explore the small town including the main temple and shrine, the public bath, a maze of interesting narrow streets leading to the shopping

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area, and the sake breweries. Luckily three sake stores were open and most likely, it would have been seen as disrespectful if we had not visited each one, chatted with the owner and tasted the delicious, smooth products (as well as purchased a few bottles).

Dinner that evening featured melt-in-yourmouth sushi and sashimi at Sukezushi.

Before heading to the market the next day, we took a local bus to Shiroyone Senmaida—the 1000 rice fields of Shiroyone. On a steep slope descending to the wild waves of the Sea of Japan, we found the 1004 small rice fields shimmering in the early morning sun. It’s one of Japan’s ‘places of scenic beauty’ and visitors can scamper up and down the fields to enjoy the awesome views. From mid-October to midMarch, 21,000 pink and yellow LEDs are planted in the rice fields and visitors flock to appreciate the amazing night scenery of the ‘Senmaida Light-Up’, reflected in the sea.

After returning to town to visit Wajima’s morning market, it was time to head back to Kanazawa.

Lonely Planet’s list of ‘best in travel for 2014’ featured Hokuriku, an area of Japan that literally means “Northlands” and forms a strip on the north coast of the Island of Honshu, stretching from Niigata across to Kanazawa, north to the Noto Peninsula and south to Fukui. On a visit in 2012 we became enamoured with Niigata’s markets, small towns, castles, onsens and izakayas, so it was an easy decision two years later to explore more of the Hokuriku region.

When you enter the ‘Motenashi” (welcome dome) in Kanazawa’s ultra-modern steel and glass train/bus station you get the feeling that you’re in for a very special visit, a feeling that is only enhanced when you pass through the dramatic ‘Tsuzumi-mon’, (wooden gate) that resembles a traditional Japanese hand drum, at the station’s east entrance. We checked into the Hotel Nikko just across the road, and then set out to discover the city.

The Omicho-Ichiba, often referred to as ‘Kanazawa’s Kitchen’ is only a 20 minute walk from the hotel. This busy, colourful market, where seafood and vegetable vendors shout out the daily specials, has been around for nearly 300 years.

To get into that ‘market spirit’, we slurped fresh oysters and devoured hot, savoury fish cakes. And then it was time to wander the aisles, inhaling the piquant fragrance of fresh, wasabi root, gaping at displays of tuna jaws and tuna eyes ready to pop into a soup, ogling at matsutake mushrooms selling for $35.00 a piece, and engaging the vendors in friendly conversation.

For travellers devoted to the niche market of visiting markets, the Omichi-Ichiba is the pot of gold. Coincidentally, the name Kanazawa means “marsh of gold” and refers to the legend of Imohori Togoro who was digging for potatoes in the area, only to discover flakes of gold.

With all that fresh food playing havoc with our senses, we purchased lunch to bring back to our hotel room: tender scallop sashimi, grilled smelt (Ayu) filled with eggs, Wild Yellowtail (Buri) sashimi, crunchy local pickles and a can of cold Sapporo beer. Our picnic for two cost about $12.00 Cdn.

Kanazawa is a very walkable, safe city but if time is limited, the Loop Bus is a great way to travel to all the attractions for about $2.00 per person.

The Nagamachi Samurai District was the home of the Kaga Clan in the 17th century. The restored Nomura house provides a fascinating glimpse into Samurai life and includes a classic garden, complete with a waterfall, Koi pond, and stone lanterns.

The enchantment of Japanese gardens continues at Kenroku-en, known as the Garden of the Six Sublimeties and recognized as one of the country’s three most beautiful landscape gardens. Features include scenic walkways, ponds, bridges, teahouses, ancient trees, lanterns and lookouts.

Nearby, the restored moat and turrets of Kanazawa Castle, originally built in 1592, provide remarkable insight into castle life and architecture.

The Higashi Chaya District was one of three areas where locals and travellers could be entertained by the songs and dances of geisha. Today the picturesque narrow streets are lined with Edo era-looking cafés and shops.

We finished the day at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, a round, glass structure that challenges visitors to approach art from all angles, even under water! One of the more notable exhibits is Leandro Ehrlich’s Swimming Pool, an interactive art installation where visitors seem to be walking on the bottom of the pool.

There are many more treasures to explore in Hokuriku. The bullet train that serves the Tokyo-Nagano-Kanazawa corridor makes it easy to access the region, including the dramatic Kurobe Gorge, the historic city of Takaoka, the contemplative temple at Eiheiji and the dramatic basalt cliffs at Tojinbo. But the heart of the region—and one that will capture yours-- is Kanazawa and Wajima.

Return visitors to Japan have a great excuse to break away from the well-visited TokyoOsaka routine and explore further.


World Traveler Fall 2022

An Italian Fairy-tale Tour of Alluring Umbria Article and photography by Michael Morcos

World Traveler - Already 20 Years!

taly has so much to offer the traveler that it is sometimes difficult to choose a region to visit. Certainly Rome, Venice and Florence, the most visited places in Italy are beautiful, but beyond that the region of Umbria has a wonderful array of things to see and do. Umbria‘s big brother, Tuscany, is undeniably well known and frequently traveled. Umbria is equally beautiful, peaceful, packed with history, amazing landscape, charming villages, outdoor activities and delicious local gastronomy. On our tour here would prove that Umbria should be top of mind for touring and laid-back vacations.

Decugnano dei Barbi winery

Our first stop on our tour would be a fabulous winery in the district of Orvieto. On this very hot and sunny day, our drive was relaxing, and we anticipated a great visit. On a hill overlooking the extensive landscape were miles of vineyards, olive trees and lush vegetation. The Decugnano dei Barbi estate was quiet, organized and a pleasure to visit. I felt at peace and in harmony with the surroundings. We would find out that contrary to beliefs, Umbria produces some incredible labels that rival most other wines from the more renown houses in Italy. In fact, though Umbria is known for producing large quantities of wine, and still offers high quality wines. Besides this, the estate has charming accommodations in villas for those who want to stay longer. Also on the property was an abandoned chapel that was now converted to a beautiful open hall for wine tasting, small banquets and those wanting to celebrate special occasions. There we would be served a variety of different wines with delicious finger foods such as sliced cold cuts and beautifully aged local cheeses. Although our time here was short, it was the perfect introduction for a wonderful Umbrian journey of discovery.

Lake Trasimeno

Aside from the northern Italy’s lakes that are fed by the Alps, Italy is generally not known for large inland bodies of water. To our surprise and delight, we would visit something totally unusual, Lake Trasimeno. This region is great for outdoor activities and believe it or not, semi-industrial fishing. Here we would visit the local fishing cooperative and take a

boat ride with the fisherman, lay down fishing nets, visit Isola Polvese Nature Reserve, see a gigantic historic fortress, take a hike through the natural settings of the island, enjoy time on the beach, swim in soft water, taste delicious local food and by the end, we would rejoin the fisherman to bring in the daily catch.

To cap off this amazing day, we drove to the beautiful and well-maintained village of Monte del Lago, located on the shores of the lake. Here we would wander around the town streets while observing the locals gathering in friendly discussions. We would then have some sensational olive oil tasting at the Frantoio Fattoria Luca Palombaro and tour the historic facilities of this small batch oil producer. Finally, we finished our day with supper further up the hill at the Relais la Fattoria, a hotel and restaurant that had a magnificent panoramic view of the amazing lake and village. Staring up at the star-studded sky, I felt like I was living in a wonderful dream and we still had many more Umbrian experiences still to come.

Village of Bevagna

The medieval village of Bevagna is nothing short of spectacular. The original layout of the city still exists, including the fortified city walls, small lanes and passages, and centuries old homes. Of most interest is the town square that has the inspiring massive cathedral and many historic stone and brick buildings. We would visit many mediaeval workshops including a candle maker that uses the same processes and material as in centuries ago. Bevagna holds a very popular and well visited yearly festival celebrating its many years of history and culture where locals and visitors alike dress up in period costumes. We would spend our time here exploring the back alleys, village squares and stores before finally having a light lunch at Le Barbatelle restaurant that included local winds wines and wonderful cheeses.

Umbria bike ride

How far do you want to go was the question from our cycling guide? All the way, right to the top, let’s go to Vallo di Nera. We would leave our hotel on fantastic ebikes to explore the Umbrian countryside by negotiating the

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hilly terrain, passing through a pristine forest, along small rivers, over stone bridges, past lush farmland and spectacular sunflower fields and finally rode up a steep and winding road to reach the hilltop village of Vallo di Nera. A cooling breeze offset the suffocating 35-degree heat as we reached the highest crossable point. Before us was a view I cannot even attempt to describe. With the setting sun, we were in bliss within a tranquil Umbrian setting and I had to pinch myself to believe this amazing moment.

Truffle hunt

This will be another glorious day and with much anticipation we would participate in a black truffle hunt and then proceed to cooking classes with Primo, the owner and head chef of the Piermarini restaurant. Heading towards the nearby hills in a small car I felt a cold wet nose on my arm, looking behind me was an excited puppy who knew what was coming up and we would soon find out that truffle hunting was as much a science as it was an art, and the Black Truffles found on this private property would soon be in our plates. We would be treated to a family style tasting, with dishes prepared and served steaming hot from the kitchen and coupled with a variety of local wine. We would enjoy this amazing atmosphere and delicious dishes while standing and observing the chefs prepare the feast. Needless to say, this was another quintessential Umbrian moment.


To conclude this amazing Umbrian odyssey, we would travel to the city of Narni. Here we would visit a fascinating and recently discovered underground church and a historic torture chamber before visiting a former cathedral that was converted to a lecture hall for its university.

We would end our day in a cultural center with a private live performance by the very talented pianist, Cristiana Pegoraro, who plays many classics as well as her own songs throughout the world and is not only a gifted in her domain but also in charge of the popular and ever growing yearly Narni music festival. After the performance we were led to a massive outdoor terrace that is on high with a spectacular view of the forest in the Umbrian hills. With plenty of finger foods, great wines and a setting sun, I would observe a distant building that resembled a monastery. Having another perfect moment in Umbria, I reflected on this amazing trip through a special place in Italy, all we had seen and done and thought I was in a fairytale. This region gave many unique experiences and was an utterly fascinating destination that deserves a traveler’s time and attention.

Two Perfect Umbrian Stays

Relais &Chateaux Borgo dei Conti

It was love at first sight; the Borgo dei Conti would be the perfect stay to begin our tour of beautiful Umbria. This property is old world opulence at its best as it was formally a private residence. A destination of its own, one can get lost in the hotel by relaxing next to the massive outdoor pool, using the spa facilities, exercise room, eating fantastic dishes at the onsite restaurant or wondering around the massive forested private trails. My room had all the modern amenities including a fabulous washroom and luxurious modern furniture. Richly decorated, it has artwork everywhere and the service, as expected, was flawless. In all, I felt that I was staying in lifestyle magazines.

Torre del Nera

Looking up, I stood in awe like in a pleasant dream. I would finely be staying in Italian hilltop village. The Torre del Nara hotel was situated within the small village of Scheggino mixed in with the other local residences. The hotels’ individual rooms and apartments were former family homes that were bought and renovated to their present state. To my delight, I would get a full house on two floors, richly decorated with beautiful and historic furniture and no less than two balconies that provided unforgettable views of the surrounding village and the Umbrian countryside. My rooms included a complete kitchen, full size living-room, a functioning fireplace, a sitting area, and spacious sleeping quarters. This property would also have a full Spa and sizable restaurant. Having a charged itinerary, I would cherish every moment while there.

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