Seniors Check Out Saratoga

Saratoga, is located on the west side of the Santa Clara Valley, directly west of San Jose, in the San Francisco Bay area. The population was nearly 30,000 at the 2010 census, making it an ideal destination for seniors loving to travel.

Seniors will definitely want to visit  the Hakone Gardens, the oldest Asian estate and gardens in the Western Hemisphere.  As you can tell by this map, it’s quite large. Let’s head downtown to see what makes Saratoga such an interesting and fun place to visit. Now let’s just drive around town to see a few multi-million dollar homes.  Saratoga has more upscale homes than anywhere else in the entire Silicon Valley. How about taking a little tour first? Senior visitors will want to know the “Best of Saratoga” that includes many more amenities.

Highlights In and Around Saratoga Snag Senior Visitors

The Montalvo Arts Center is major draw for the city. Prior to your visit check out the calendar and information on the city. Take a hike up the hillside for an amazing view of the valley, or have a picnic on the front lawn. Take another hike to The Mountain Winery that has concerts galore. They also have some very good wines. TripAdvisor finds a few more highlights for you to consider.

Saratoga Village (founded back in 1848) draws in thousands each year for a parade and a host of other events. The Village  is one of the oldest platted communities in California, or on the West Coast for that matter. An open-air, European style Farmer’s Market at the entrance to Saratoga Village captures senior visitors attention. Visitors are invited to drop by and experience first-hand the farm-fresh produce, breads, sundries and the wildly popular, freshly-popped kettle corn.

 Designated a California Historical Site in 1950, Saratoga Village features many buildings throughout the community’s business area and adjoining residential neighborhoods which date back to the early days of the community. The Saratoga Historical Foundation conducts walking tours to twenty-two historical buildings in this area. Its main street, Big Basin Way, hosts many public events.

Those of you seniors who just enjoy a stroll, consider a walking tour that will take you by the major historical buildings and streets. Another option is a culinary tour. For more travel options, use your favorite search engine and the phrase ‘Saratoga Village California’.

Enjoy the experience.  jeb




Senior Visitors Find Monaco Spectacular

Yes, Monaco is a spectacle for senior travelers to experience at least once in your lifetime. If you have not been to Monaco, put it on your “bucket list”. My travel hero Rick Steves takes us there in person. You’ll discover why I use the term “spectacular” as you read through this blog and view this video.

I’ve been to Monaco several times. I had a friend whose grandfather insured the Grand Prix of Monaco and Pierre invited me to visit him and his wife Barbara.  They had even been invited to the Palace by Princesse Grace and Prince Rainier. The palace is spectacular and the view from up high overlooks the port that is filled with pleasure craft and occasionally a warship or two.

The port is exceptionally deep. The Oceanographic Institute is unmatched in the world with Jacques-Yves Cousteau behind it. It, too, is spectacular. The Official Homepage has it all including the Top Sites you will want to consider seeing.

We were enjoying the beautiful gardens adjacent to the palace with our student group when Prince Albert II rolled up in his chocolate Rolls-Royce. When his father Prince Rainier died, Albert became Monaco’s 32nd ruler.

Monaco Is Thickly Settled

I recall living in the Boston area one summer, seeing a sign that read “Caution: Thickly Settled.”  I loved that sign.  Monaco is the second smallest and most densely populated country in the world. Tiny as it be, it’s divided into four areas: Monaco-Ville (the old city), the Condamine (port quarter), Monte-Carlo (business and recreation), and Fontvieille (recreation and light industry).

The permanent inhabitants are called Monégasque and speak French.. With no natural resources to exploit other than its location and climate, the principality has become a resort for tourists and a tax haven for businesses. I did manage to enter the Monte-Carlo Casino, won the first time I played, and quit so I could say that “I had won at the Monte-Carlo.”  My student group enjoyed walking around the parking lot viewing the Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini and other assorted world-class automobiles.

Top Things For Seniors to See and Do

Make up your own priority list and see and do what you can.  Plan on spending at least two days. If you are into “cars and poker” then you will need more than just a couple of days. It is home to the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, the European Poker Tour, and the Monte Carlo Rally.

Learn a little French before your arrival… it helps a lot. Well folks, that’ll keep you busy making vacation plans so when you are on the French Riviera, or as it’s also known as La Côte d’Azur spend some time in Monaco. And make plans to catch the Changing of the Guard.  jeb




Seniors Voyage To Exotic Mesopotamia (Part I)

Ur has long been an ancient site that has attracted philosophers, archeologists and senior travelers over the centuries. Researchers have  recently unearthed a centuries-old city in southern Iraq, that was the home of biblical Abraham. I refer to Ur, a site that years ago my philosophy prof at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA  (1960) had visited.  He often brought up the names of other ancient cities like Nineveh, Ashur and Nipur. He lived the history and was full of biblical archeology and transferred it well to my class called “The Nature of Values.”

Babylon and Ur go back a long ways into history and culture. I refer to an ancient site in Babylon that had been a political and spiritual capital of southern Mesopotamia way back when Hammurabi ruled in 1792-1550 BC. My prof often spoke of this site and he knew of it’s historical and biblical importance.

He spoke of the ancient Tells in the region. The Ziggurat of Ur dates back to the early bronze age and is worth a visit. I discovered this neat video that will take you on a visual tour of the area. The To Next Place arrow will take you to other fascinating and ancient civilization sites. 

New Archeological Discovery Intrigues Seniors

A British archaeologist says he and his colleagues have unearthed a huge, rare complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham.  It’s an exciting new discovery and archeologists are taking note. It goes back about 4,000 years, around the time Abraham would have lived there. It’s believed to be an administrative center for Ur and loaded with treasures. The dig is led by Stuart Campbell from the Manchester University’s Archaeology Department, and he says finds like this are quite rare.

The complex includes a number of artifacts including a plaque, and the building surrounds a courtyard. The compound is near the site of the partially reconstructed Ziggurat, or Sumerian temple, said Campbell. British Archaeologists are very excited about the new find.

Wikipedia will tell interested senior historians about UR and its ancient history. So where is ancient Ur? notes that the Mesopotamian city of Ur, known as Tell al-Muqayyar, was an important Sumerian city state between about 2025-1738 BC. Located near the modern town of Nasiriya in far southern Iraq, on a now-abandoned channel of the Euphrates River, Ur covered about 60 acres, surrounded by a city wall.

When Woolley excavated in the 1920s and 1930s, the city was a tell, a great artificial hill over seven meters high composed of centuries of building and rebuilding mud brick structures, one stacked on top of another. This senior citizen finds it really cool. The Royal Tombs at UR are now famous and well known. See Part 2 that follows…there’s simply too much here for one blog.  jeb




Seniors Travel South…Way South

Have you ever wanted to visit the tip of South America?  Many senior travelers have and some do.  Actually, we don’t go to the very tip on this blog but we visit Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Fruitillar, Vincente Rosales Park and Bariloche.  That will keep us busy for at least a week or two.

First, How Do We Get There

We start off by taking a flight to Santiago (Chile) and then another plane on to Puerto Montt.  The other sites above can be easily reached by bus or car.  Senior visitors who have been to the area find that Puerto Montt is the gateway to Chile’s Lake District. This area is famous for its spectacular scenery of deep blue mountain lakes, snow-capped volcanos, pristine beauty of alerce (larch) forests, popular resorts, year-round sports, and traditional folklore, handicrafts and legends.

Frommer’swrites: “Pay attention and I’ll teach you all about the Lake District.” Here’s a helpful map and photos that highlight the area. There is something about the mix of lakes and mountains that inspire relaxation. Add snow capped volcanoes into the mix and it is picture postcard perfection where the scenery has been likened to Switzerland.

Senior Travelers Enjoy the Lake District (Los Lagos)

Chile’s Lake District is aptly named. There are twelve major lakes in the district, with dozens more dotting the landscape. Between the lakes there are rivers, waterfalls, forests, thermal hot springs, and the Andes, including six volcanos with Villaricabeing the highest at 9395 ft (2,847 m.)

The Lake District covers two of Chile’s regions, the Ninth Region, more evocatively known as La Araucanía, and the Tenth Region, Los Lagos. It is anchored at the northern end by the inland city of Temuco(Great city. I’ve been there with students and loved it), in the middle by Valdivia on the Pacific and Osorno inland. The District has numerous lakes and volcanos, the most famous is Osorono, called the “Fujiyama of South America” for its perfect cone. Puerto Montt on the Bay of Reloncavi is at the southern end.

Puerto Varas and Bariloche

The small city of Puerto Varas in Southern Chile has been an essential starting point for expats, foreigners and senior travelers visiting the Patagonia and other locations in the South of Chile. Bariloche is part of Argentina but sits very close to the Chile border.

Check out tours and information on Chile online and plan on a vacation way down south to the Lake District. jeb


Seniors Stroll Under World Famous Tree Tunnels

Senior citizens, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a stroll through some of the oldest and most fascinating trees that have graced the landscape for thousands of years. Tree tunnels are not new. They exist all over the world, but there are a few that stand out above all the others.

It takes a certain variety of tree to form a tunnel.  Some of the most beautiful trees on the planet make up these tunnels. Yes, trees, the longest-living organisms on Earth, beautify and protect our environment by providing color, shelter, and shade. They renew our air supply by soaking up carbon dioxide and producing oxygen and they make nice tunnels.

Seniors Enjoy the Top Ten Tree Tunnels

We start off with #10, the Cherry Blossom Tunnel in Germany. Number nine goes to a neat green tunnel from Porto Alegre, Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho in Brazil.  According to a decree signed in 2006 by former mayor Joseph Fogaça, this beautiful street is part of the country’s historical, cultural, ecological and environmental heritage.

The Autumn Tree Tunnel is found in Vermont that is in Smuggler’s Notch, a Vermont state park. Around 65,000 ginkoes grace Tokyo’s streets, gardens and parks today and the Ginko Tree Tunnel is widely renown.  The Gingko biloba is a highly venerated tree in Japanese culture. Six ginkgo trees survived the Hiroshima bombing, continuing to grow despite facing so many challenges, and are still alive today. The tunnelseniors see in Tokyo is located in the outer garden of Meiji Shrine. You’ll find the Yew Tree Tunnel in the medieval Aberglasney House that features one of the most beautiful gardens in Wales.

The Dark Hedges Tunnel in Northern Ireland is tucked away in the county of Antrim. These beautiful beech trees are thought to be over 300 years old. The Bamboo Path Tunnel in Japan, part of The Sagano Bamboo Forest is located in Arashiyama, a nationally designated historic site near Kyoto. The Tunnel of Love Tunnel in the Ukraine is actually a two-mile sector of private railway that serves a woodworking plant near Klevan, a small city located in western Ukraine.

The Jacaranas Walk Tunnel in South Africa makes up just a very few of the 10 million trees that keep South Africa’s largest city green. According to several unofficial sources, Johannesburg is home to the world’s largest man-made forest and where senior visitors will find at least 49 species of Jacaranda. The Wisteria Tunnel blooms as soon as the cherry blossom season ends, with gorgeous Wisteria flowers, that hang in grape-like clusters. The Fuji Matsuri, or Wisteria Festival, is celebrated each spring in Tokyo, Shizuoka, and Okazaki. They too are nothing short of awesome.

So look over these photos and see how many you can identify. Hope you enjoyed this little tour of tree tunnels and some other noted varieties.  jeb




Seniors Discover Another Top Small Town in Petoskey

Smithsonian Magazine named Petoskey as a Top Small Town in America in its April 2013 issue. It did not hurt that Ernest Hemingway’s family started summering near Petoskey back in 1899.  Today senior visitors look for its famed “Million Dollar Sunsets.”

The city is found in the heart of the Midwest’s most popular four-season resort areas. Covering just over six square miles, with a population of 6,080, the area is located on the shore of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay and gets its name from chief Ignatius Petosega.

Petoskey has a famed downtown area with many cultural offerings that helped Petoskey get selected as a Top Town. Smithsonian Magazine called Petoskey “charm central” with its concerts, historical architecture, art galleries and nighttime festivities.

For your information, the other Top 10 Best Small Towns to visit, according to Smithsonian Magazine, include  Gettysburg, Pa.; Cleveland, Miss.; St. Augustine, Fla.; Baraboo, Wis.; Astoria, Ore.; Petoskey; Fairfield, Iowa; Los Alamos, N.M.; Sitka, Alaska; and Provincetown, Mass. Seniors, have you been to any of those yet?

The People Make the Town

The locals are graced by concerts, vintage architecture, art galleries and Friday night festivities that attract senior travelers to the petunia basket-draped downtown district. The Smithsonian reported that Jesperson’s Restaurant has been serving local sour cherry pie since 1903 and the doors are still open at bay-front Stafford’s Perry Hotel, which catered to summer people in the Victorian heyday. The local chamber of commerce lists several things for seniors to see and do in town as well as community information. Seniors who travel by motor coach will want to know about Hearthside Grove.

Seniors Discover a Resort Destination in Petoskey

You will note on Wikipedia’s site this quaint, small resort community with unmatched beauty and charm overlooks the shores of Lake Michigan‘s Little Traverse Bay. Seniors return yearly to soak in the rich views, breathe the clean air, eat at world-class restaurants and shop in the specialty shops and boutiques of its historic downtown. Ever heard of a Petoskey Stone? It’s made of fossilized coral and is the state stone of Michigan.

The Michigan Daily likes it too and notes several places not to be missed like Roast and Toast, Glen’s Grocery Store, The Perry Hotel, The Noggin Room and City Park Grill. The Gaslight District in downtown Petoskey, the Odawa Casino Resort and The Waterfront are also a big draws as is the Mackinaw Trail Winery.

The 303 acre Petoskey State Park features visitor activities such as swimming, hiking, sunbathing and biking in the summer and a host of winter fun. Sure it’s small, but Virtual Tourist has beat us there with a Petoskey Overview. I’ve located an historic B&B built back in 1875 called the Bayfield View Terrace Inn.

So when you get up close to northern Michigan, plan on spending time in Petoskey and you’ll learn why it was selected as a Top Town.  jeb




Dominican Republic, A Senior Hot Spot

The Dominican Republic is a hot spot for senior vacationers. And why not? It abounds with resorts and attractions that encourage senior citizens to enjoy the warm waters and many amenities that it has to offer. Our friends at TripAdvisor has a listing of the most popular destinations.

I Love Those Azure Waters

“The Dominican Republic lies in the same waters as Cuba and Puerto Rico, taking up the eastern two-thirds of the island it shares with Haiti. Offering a lush interior with a mix of caves, Victorian gingerbread houses and the lore of pirates, plus 900 miles of coastline along its brim, island highlights include riding a cable car up Mount Isabel de Torres and basking on stunning Saona Island.

Oh, and did I mention the Dominican Republic is family-friendly, has just about perfect weather and is affordable?  The best vacation specialists at Cheap Caribbean lists their “hottest deals that include many “all-inclusives” that visitors love.  My wife and I have spent time with family in Punta Cana, located on the eastern side of the island.

Vacation Packages Attract Senior Travelers

Orbitz has vacation packages ready to go for you. We stayed at  Barcelo Bavaro Palace. Top notch and very accommodating. And just look at that beach. The 15 different restaurants was a real benefit.  Their buffets offered daily you will not want to miss. They certainly have room with 1,366 guest rooms and each offers views of the beach or garden.

Apple Vacations has been around for a good long time and they note that the endless white-sand beaches, calm Caribbean seas and tropical climate are just part of what makes the Dominican Republic an ideal senior vacation destination. Take your pick from Punta Cana, Cap Cana, La Romana, or the North Coast or Santo Domingo.

Check out the Photo Gallery of Santo Domingo, one of the Caribbean’s most vibrant cities, with a 12-block Colonial Zone that rivals Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Expedia’s Travel Guide provides many more options for every taste and budget. Before you leave read up on our own State Department’s Info on the Dominican Republic.

International Living “Everything you need to know about the Dominican Republic” is a free guide available online. USA Today asks the question “Is the Dominican Republic a Good Vacation?” Find out for yourself and talk with your travel agent.  Senior travelers will find a vacation here to be memorable and exciting.

You’ll find lots of young baseball enthusiasts, too. I read in my Mother Jones (April, p. 47) that the major league has 95 players from theDominican Republic. jeb




Seniors Find Baraboo

Baraboo, Wisconsin was recently selected as one of America’s Best Small Towns. Why, this senior citizen asks? There are several reasons, among which is the circus.

Ringling Brothers once made its headquarters in Baraboo and by the turn of the last century, it took 100 railroad cars to transport the circus’ 1,500 employees, the various animals, their gear and the heavily decorated wagons.  Circus World is not to be missed. It’s one of those small towns filled with fun and activities.

My wife and I have driven through Baraboo several times and found the main street to be very attractive.  An antique shop we visited made our stop downtown very worthwhile. Smithsonian Magazine selected Baraboo as one of the Top Small Towns to Visit in 2013. TripAdvisor says come. Baraboo is small, only around 12,000 folks who love their city.  Wikipedia fills in first-timers with all the info you might want to know about this interesting town.

TripAdvisor Suggests a Senior Vacation in Baraboo

Three classy hotels, 25 restaurants and three fine B&Bs (we stayed in one) along with 21 attractions make it a nice vacation spot. West Bluff Trail at Devils Lake Park is a highlight not to be missed. Stay and camp and note the Discovery Center. The Best of Baraboo Guide has many suggestions for senior visitors to check out with things to do, places to eat, where to stay and more.

The International Crane Foundation is big draw for bird lovers.  The Ringling Theater is awesome with lots of history in its walls. The Cornerstone Gallery specializes in contemporary American fine art and designer craft, with an emphasis on the work of Wisconsin artists. Artwork includes pottery, jewelry, paintings and prints, sculpture, stained and blown glass, treenware, kaleidoscopes, clocks and frames.

One Laugh At A Time, Please

The Clown Hall of Fame is in Baraboo and the city is full of parks. The City of Baraboo has much to offer senior visitors with things to do. Wistravel says that they have “Saved The Best For You.” The Chamber of Commerce has a calendar of events, weather and hot deals that you will want to check out prior to your vista. Yahoo Travel has some fine hotels for you to consider.

The Leopold Center is nearby and offers tours. The Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn B&B sounds mighty inviting to me. The local news always is of interest to me and this one has plenty for first-timers to consider. The Fall Art Tour includes Baraboo, Mineral Point (been there many times) and Spring Green. It’s the third full weekend each October and some of Wisconsin’s best-known artisans open their studios, allowing visitors a unique, behind-the-scenes view into how their work is created.

We’ve “Saved the Best for You” and I leave you with maps that will aid you in finding all those places you will not want to miss.  So take in one of America’s Top Small Towns and enjoy. jeb




Kiawah Island…Good Enough for Joe Biden

Joe Biden recently vacationed on Kiawah Island (KEE-a-wah) just off the coast of South Carolina. If there’s enough on Kiawah to attract a Vice-President, then there certainly will be attractions for us senior citizens!

Let’s check out Kiawah’s Visitor Center that offers a variety of useful services to island residents and senior visitors. The Island has it’s own website with lots of information but there just has to be more. If you’re looking for the finest recreation, shopping and dining in South Carolina, Kiawah Island is a good place to start. Canoe through marsh-lined creeks and waterways or play tennis at the two Kiawah tennis centers, ranked among the top 50 tennis resorts in the U.S.

He probably Brought His Golf Clubs

Wikipedia notes that Kiawah is a sea island, or barrier island, on the Atlantic coast of the United States. Located 15 miles south of Charleston in Charleston County, South Carolina, it is operated today largely as a gated beach and golf resort — the Kiawah Island Golf Resort with spacious villas, beaches, large and acclaimed golf courses, and other attractions.

There are many more reasons for Joe to head to Kiawah where you find only 1,163 inhabitants.  Kiawah Island is privately owned but all visitors including our VP are welcome. The name Kiawah comes from the Kiawah Indians who once lived there. Visitor blogs on Kiawah Island may be interesting to senior travelers.

The Community Association Welcomes Seniors

The Association welcomes all visitors and provides an inside look at what is offered. Google takes us up in the air for a satellite view and provides more reasons for senior citizens to visit Kiawah. And Charleston, a treasure trove of well-preserved history and architecture is another reason to head to South Carolina.

TripAdvisor offers top-rated hotels, speciality lodging, some fine restaurants and major events to keep the senior travelers busy. My wife and I would first look for a nice B&B. I have no idea where Joe will be lodged but Jasmine Porch might be a good choice. The eleven top attractions draw seniors.

Check out these classy KI Vacation Rentals “Where Playtime Never Ends.” SCIWAY (South Carolina’s Information Highway)has it all on one page. You can see Kiawah Island on this map. This Interactive Map of points out all major attractions as does this one as well. Lastly I go to Yahoo’s Travel’s URL to fill in your itinerary.

By the way, if you should happen to run into Joe, greet him for me, okay? jeb




Seniors find Adventure in Tanjung Puting

Well folks, it’s a long ways off.  You, like me,  have probably never heard of Tanjung Puting.  Those adventurous seniors among you “hungry for the unknown” will find it here.  A recent National Geographic article highlighted Borneo.  Here they highlighted Tanjung Puting as a tropical rainforest in a relatively unknown place.

Occupying two-thirds of Borneo’s primeval land mass, Kalimantan is one of Indonesia’s least-visited provinces, so today, I call for you…the adventurous senior traveler to go check it out. Mountains, forests and mighty rivers stretch across the interior, influencing the culture, history and livelihoods of villages throughout.

Tanjung Puting National Park is famous for its orangutan conservation and was made a National Park in 1982. Tanjung Puting is a part of Kalimantan. In English, the term Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, while in Indonesian, the term “Kalimantan” refers to the whole island of Borneo.

Camp Leakey was founded in 1971 with assistance from the Leakey Foundation. Take a 360 tour of Camp Leakey. Tanjung Puting is one of the natural wonders of the world. And of course TripAdvisor has beat us there and provides not one or two, but 15 reviews of the park and 28 photos. Within its borders is the habitat of over 200 bird species, 17 reptile species and 29 mammal species.

Nine of Borneo’s primate species are found in the park, including about 2000 orangutans and Tanjung Puting is one of the few remaining habitats for this endangered animal. Tanjung Puting is known to have a large diversity of forest ecosystems, including lowland forest, freshwater swamp forest, tropical heat forest which is called “kerangas”, peat swamp forest, mangrove forest, and coastal forest.

Flora and Fauna and Tours Abound For Senior Travelers

Just remember that senior visitors are in a jungle so vegetation is rich and a wide variety of animals live in Tanjung Puting. A 3-day orangutan tour may be of interest to you as that is one of the major attractions of Tanjung Putting.  Actually, seniors have a choice of several tours including a 14 day Dive Islands and River Boat excursion and several more tours to consider.

The primary reason for your visit will be to take in the Orangutans. These Adventure Tours will put you in close contact with the native creatures. Lonely Planet suggests 70 things for you to do in the area. The park, rich in wildlife with the commonly seen Orangutans, is mainly composed of low-lying swampy terrain with a complex pattern of black water rivers running through it. Mangrove swamps line the rivers with the forest canopy developing up to 150 feet high with over 220 bird species.

You will have a great personal experience getting close up to the wide variety of animals and birds at Tanjung Puting. jeb



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