Seniors Ask, “Where Is Koh Samui?”

That was this senior’s question.  Recently selected as “A best place to visit in 2014,”  let’s go exploring and visit Koh Samui over in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Samui is an island of natural beauty and charm.

Spending time in Bophut, a beach village, is a wonderful way to soak up local Thai culture. It is one of the few places on Samui that retains some of the island’s original Thai-Chinese atmosphere. The many restaurants and pubs are perfect spots for senior travelers to experience the famous sunsets.

There aren’t many other places where seniors can bask in the camp of a cabaret show and the solemnity of a Buddhist temple. As far as the latter goes, the Wat Plai Laem temple is a magnificent vision of gilded red rooftops and a massive spindly white 18-armed idol of Guanyin sitting in the middle of a lake.

 Welcome to Koh Samui, Seniors

The “official website” for Koh Samui is filled with information for first timers. Koh Samui, Kho Samui, Ko Samui, Samui, Koi Samui, Ko Samoi, Koh Samai, Smui are common ways of spelling the holiday paradise of Samui. If you are not acquainted with Thailand, approximate spelling is accepted.

In Samui you will find spectacular waterfalls, temples where the Big Buddha is a principal attraction as well as some fascinating rock formations that have been carved by nature’s elements. The Mummified Monk Exhibition is another popular draw.

Lonely Planet has been there and invites senior gourmet visitors to take in the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts. Most of us would enjoy spending some pleasureful time in a super spa. More like a spa journey than a day spa, Tamarind Springs incorporates an exploration of the natural world into its steam baths and spa treatments.

A Popular Vacation Destination

Koh Samui is Thailand’s second most popular island destination on the Gulf of Thailand roughly 700 km. south of Bangkok and 80 km. from Thailand’s southern coast. It is the third largest island in Thailand and the largest in an archipelago of more than 80 islands that includes the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a kayaking paradise and day trip from Koh Samui.

Koh Samui weather is almost always beautiful with an azur coast and a warm sea breeze. From the end of December to end of March Koh Samui is the ideal tropical island with white sandy beaches, clean, lush tropical gardens and a soft sea breeze.

Long sandy beaches, laying like vast strips of white sand in the sun lined with coconut trees and pine, provides the perfect picture of a tropical paradise. If you enjoy the beach and warm breezes, Samui is the place to be.  Sounds like one great place to experience.  jeb


Maury County Draws Seniors

Maury County, named  after Abram Maury, a prominent surveyor/politician of the region is the Antebellum Homes Capital of Tennessee. Maury (pronounced Mu-rray) County is located in Middle Tennessee, one of the state’s three Grand Divisions.

Between 1810 and 1860, plantations flourished. Many of the homes were built by master craftsman, Nathan Vaught. Restored plantation homes, the home of a former U.S. President, museums, historic cemeteries and other attractions offer diverse opportunities for senior visitors throughout the community.  

Maury County and its thriving cities, Mount Pleasant, Spring Hill and Columbia enjoy a low cost of living, access to top-ranked health care, public and private education and some of the finest parks in the state.

Tennessee’s Maury County School District contains six high schools. The district contains one school that received a gold, silver or bronze medal in U.S. News’s Best High Schools rankings. The county has some 80,000+ residents while the entire state of Tennessee has around 6.5M.

The Great Outdoors in Maury County

Maury County is a great place to enjoy the outdoors, get up close with the architecture of the antebellum era, or enjoy a fun-filled weekend with one of the region’s hardest working breeds. The Mule Day celebration honors the working breed so crucial to the community’s early agricultural economy.

Known for its hospitable charm and wealth of amenities and attractions, Maury County is putting out the welcome mat for seniors, retirees, families and others thinking about visiting or relocating to the region. The hills and valleys of Maury County provide an excellent backdrop for outdoor adventures.

Once labeled “the Dimple of the Universe,” the trails within the City and County Parks as well as in the Yanahli area are wonderful for senior hiking and biking. A portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway, great for biking, runs through the western edge of the county.

Maury County Welcomes Senior Visitors

Agriculture, grand architecture, sites of Civil War conflicts and the home of the country’s eleventh president,James K. Polk, mark just a few of the milestones senior visitors will find along 200+ years of Maury county history. The commercial historic district, in the heart of Columbia, boasts a magnificently restored courthouse and a town square revitalized in recent years with many unique shops, antique stores and restaurants.

History abounds all around Maury County. Several historic sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. History and beautiful homes are the county’s pride.

Four distinct seasons and beautiful scenery that includes majestic rolling hills plus many outdoor activities such as golf, fishing, hunting, water activities and walking trails invite visitors of all ages.

In addition to beautiful landscapes, the county is movie friendly having some history with the film industry.  Many movie scenes have been filmed around the county including parts of: “Hannah Montana: The Movie”, “Daltry Calhoun”, “The Green Mile”, “Stuey”, “At Close Range”, “The Grifter”, “Red, White & Blues” and Deadline”.

Looks like a super county to visit. jeb


Seniors, Missouri Has Vineyards

This senior been to Missouri many times and yet I had never heard of Hermann. The Ozark Mountains, St. Louis, Branson, KCMO are all in Missouri, and then there is tiny Hermann. Willkommen bei Hermann!

This quaint city, nestled along the banks of the Missouri River, is blessed with original architecture, prize-winning wineries, a variety of shops, a strong industrial community and a host of “down-home” folks. Designated in 1842 as the county seat of Gasconade County, Hermann is near the center of the Missouri Rhineland, just south of the Missouri River.

With a population right at 2,500, Hermann overflows with vintage German charm and timeless Deutsch beauty. You just won’t find many communities on the US map like this, senior friends, so put it on your travel bucket list and see for yourself all that Hermann has to offer.

Hermann has been chosen several times for the title of Missouri’s most beautiful town. The center of Missouri’s wine industry, Hermann’s location and beauty is one for everyone to see. Tucked away in the Missouri River Valley, the town  is a picture-book 19th-century village.

Senior visitors can enjoy some Old-World hospitality, taste and tour at world-class wineries, shop and stroll the historic district or be pampered by one of several historic B&Bs.

Seniors, Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

German immigrants from the Rhine River valley brought their customs and culture to the Missouri River Valley in the 1830′s. In the 1960s people began to rebuild the wine industry in the Hermann area. The vineyards and wineries contribute both to the agricultural and heritage tourism economies, with wine tastings and visits related to the wineries increasingly popular.

The area overlooking the Missouri River is officially recognized as America’s First Wine District. Missouri wineries all along the Missouri River are receiving considerable attention for wining national and international wine competitions.

Hermann’s German founders designed the city overlooking the beautiful Missouri River to mimic the old-world charm of Germany’s Rhine River Valley. Have you been there yet?  If not, don’t say NO, say NOT YET.

Hermann affords the senior visitor with festivals rich in tradition, spectacular views, more than 150 historic buildings, museums, wine-trail events, shops, galleries and fine dining. 

Bikers and hikers can enjoy the scenery all along the the Katy Trail, a former railroad right-of-way converted into a scenic path through the valley.

Hermann has been designated by National Geographic as one of America’s best Adventure Towns and has over 110 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 From farms to river views, Hermann offers you a delightful experience. Senior visitors will be able to relax and enjoy  as you take in the sights and sounds of this unique town. jeb


Cumberland Island Attracts Seniors

Senior travelers, welcome to Georgia’s largest barrier island and one of the most spectacular natural habitats in the Northern Hemisphere. The Island is 17.5 miles long and totals 36,415 acres of which 16,850 are marsh, mud flats, and tidal creeks.

The greatest and most lasting value of the Island is its ability to change visitors who spend time there. It is a place of transformation. It is this intangible feature that seems to be the most important benefit which Cumberland Island has for its many guests. Full of history, they say that it goes way back to as early as 2000 B.C. That’s a long time ago folks.

Where History and Nature Meet

St Marys, Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island, the gateway to Cumberland Island, is where senior visitors will want to start. Pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes whisper the stories of both man and nature.

Natives, missionaries, enslaved African Americans and wealthy industrialists all walked this island. It is a National Seashore and well worth a visit. The beach is said to be the most “Beautiful Wilderness Beach” in America.

 For Seniors Who Like Flora and Fauna

Cumberland Island provides a unique opportunity to view the flora and fauna of a natural coastal ecosystem as well as to learn about the coastal heritage of the region. Located about three miles off the mainland, the 18-mile-long island varies from less than one-half mile to three miles wide, with about 80% of the island owned by the National Park Service.

The NPS ferry operates twice a day, leaving the mainland at 9:00 am and 11:45 am and departing Cumberland Island at 10:15 am and 4:45 pm. So hop on the ferry for a day on the unpopulated sands or stay for stargazing at 18-site Sea Camp, which connects to the beach vis a boardwalk.

Nota Bene: reachable only by ferry or kayak, with a limit of no more than 300 visitors per day and only 1 small inn, Cumberland Island maintains its reputation as one of America’s most pristine seaside regions. There is nature, romance, history and adventure entwined in the many activities available.

The Island is a senior nature lover’s dream: Ecology, History, Resources, Wildlife and more. It boasts 3 ecosystems, including beaches, marshes and forests as well as a rich variety of animals and plants.

Towering oaks draped with Spanish moss line the trails of the forest, which is a habitat for armadillos, deer, hogs, rabbits, turkeys, raccoons and horses. My vet daughter would love it there.

Travel & Leisure Magazine has a super guide to the Island with comments that senior travelers will find useful if you are a first-time visitor. So when you are in Georgia, hit the coast and visit Cumberland.  You’ll be glad you did. jeb


Seniors Are Saying, “Let’s Visit Cuba”

For five decades, legal travel to Cuba has been almost impossible for senior Americans, making this island of salsa, Colonial architecture and Caribbean beauty a forbidden fruit for the adventurous. But this enigmatic island and its inviting people are beginning to open – slowly – to a select few.

Traveling to Cuba is banned for most Americans under the Trading with the Enemy Act, journalists are exempt.  Nearly half a million travelers now go from the United States to Cuba every year, making the once-forbidden island if not familiar, at least far less isolated from its American neighbors than it used to be. But who gets to go and how do they get there?

International Expeditions has been granted a special government license to offer legal people-to-people travel to Cuba, thanks to policy changes by President Obama earlier this year, designed to encourage more contact between Americans and citizens of the Communist-ruled island.

As one of the lucky few to experience Cuba, senior visitors will delve into the daily lives of naturalists, entrepreneurs and artists while seeing this nation through the eyes of its people. Cuba conjures up visions of beauty, music, and intrigue.

 Seniors Discover Havana

In Havana one experiences the old and the new, dialoguing with highly respected architects, historians, academics, and curators, and learning about Cuban-American relations. Cuba harbors the beautiful, multiethnic Viñales Valley, a World Heritage Site.

Guided travel to Cuba was reintroduced in August 2011, giving trailblazing senior visitors access to organized itineraries packed with educational and cultural activities.

Travel organizations are making it easier to see and do in Cuba with all types of arrangements from a solo passenger traveling to Cuba on a family medical emergency, to groups visiting for educational, professional, religious or other permitted reasons.

Forbes may have one of the best sites for making it legally possible for a visit to Cuba. Abercrombie and Kent has been granted a license to offer a people-to-people educational exchange program that adheres to the US government’s restrictions for the travel of U.S. citizens to Cuba.

Experience the rich culture of indigenous, African and European roots on this new “people to people” educational program. Meet artists in their Old Havana studios, Afro-Cubans in Spanish Colonial Trinidad, and lunch on a farm with Guajiros, or Cuban cowboys.

They are not the only tour companies with such a license, but these are far from commonplace and Insight Cuba is a respected alternative.

Friendly Planet Travel has also been issued a license by the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control authorizing them to organize and operate People-to-People programs to Cuba. So if you are a senior adventurous type, check these out and plan a trip to Cuba.  jeb

Filed under : Editors Choice


Seniors Head For This “Magic Town”

In the state of Puebla, nestled high in the hills of Mexico’s Sierra Norte, senior citizens will find the “Magic Town” of Cuetzalan. The town of 45,000 is surrounded by a tropical forest filled with waterfalls, grottos, and coffee plantations.

The lush green hills of Mexico’s Sierra Norte—punctuated by cascading waterfalls and steep cave-studded limestone cliffs—surround this remote indigenous community. The residents here are Nahuatl, (pronounced NAH waht l),  direct descendants of the Aztecs that inhabited the region centuries ago.

Every Sunday locals flock to the market in Cuetzalan, where local farmers sell a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables, locally grown coffee, and home-spun fabrics.

Three structures rise above Cuetzalan’s skyline: the plaza’s freestanding clock tower, the Gothic spire of the Parroquia de San Francisco and, to the west, the tower of the French Gothic Santuario de Guadalupe, with its highly unusual decorative rows of los jarritos (clay vases).

The Casa de Cultura houses a small, underwhelming but free regional museum. About 5km northeast of town, there’s a pair of outstanding waterfalls called Las Brisas and Cascada del Salto. For you adventurous senior spelunkers, the Cuetzalan cave system has the potential to be the most extensive in Latin America, with 100km of cave passaged discovered since the 1970s.

Indigenous men and woman flaunt their traditional dress, as white as the mist that sometimes descends into town. Some carry goods on their back that they’ll sell during the day, but all walk with the pride of their ancestral legacy. Cuetzalan is a town where the past lives on, a place where streets rise and fall suddenly.

 Seniors Find Unspoiled Attractions

Every year, thousands of visitors like yourselves descend upon Cuetzalan, some six hours North-East of Mexico City, for an annual spectacle known as the Dance of  The Voldores (or “Flying Men”). Strapped into rope harnesses atop a 100 foot replica tree trunk, four performers wow audiences with a choreographed aerial display.

I witnessed one of these in Mexico City.  Senior visitors will be enthralled with the action as they swing freely dangling in the air working their way to the ground below.

The region where this singular village is situated is the well known Sierra Norte, a zone with a tropical-humid climate. An adventure to Cuetzalan simply requires an open mind, some faith in yourself, and respect for the people around you (and maybe just a few words in Spanish).

Fodor’s notes that Cuetzalan is one of the most precious and unspoiled attractions in the state of Puebla. Because of its elevation the town is often enveloped in clouds. At Cuetzalan, senior visitors will see some of the Mexican Highland’s most picturesque scenery.

It’s now on the Becker’s ‘travel bucket list’. Consider putting it on yours. jeb


Seniors Discover Columbus

 Senior citizens know about Columbus and his voyage in 1492, but do you know about Columbus, Indiana? It is one exciting town with a population of 45,000. I have no idea how many cities there are in the US, but Columbus was ranked #11 among the safest in the entire country. Not bad huh?

National Geographic Magazine ranked Columbus 11th on its historic destinations list in late 2008, describing the city as “authentic, unique, and unspoiled.” There is that number eleven again. It almost made it again when it was named one of “The Ten Most Playful Towns” by Family Magazine.

I did a little research and discovered there there are 23 states with a town called Columbus. I’ll just bet that you have one near you.

So let’s go exploring and discover more about Columbus, Indiana. It’s a farming and industrial town on the White River, where they used to make cars and where giant Cummins, Inc., still produces giant diesel engines.

Unexpected Unforgettable

How’s that for a city motto?  You will not want to miss the Miller House that showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley. In 2000, the Miller House became the first National Historic Landmark to receive its designation while one of its designers, Dan Kiley, was still living and while still occupied by its original owners.

A One Stop Only site for Columbus highlights the many attractions and special features of the city. Check out the See & Do link in particular as Columbus is loaded with fun for senior visitors. Downtown Columbus is known for its specialty shops, welcoming atmosphere, and tree-lined streets.

 A Midwestern Mecca of Architecture Draws Seniors

Columbus looks like many other small town in America, with its small shops, attractive neighborhoods, streets and fine restaurants. But what sets Columbus apart is its architecture.

The Modernist buildings — mostly geometric and made of glass and steel — are not immediately visible, interspersed as they are with old, 19th-century, gingerbread-like structures. But more than 60 public buildings in Columbus have been built by a veritable who’s who of modern masters — I.M. Pei, Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Cesar Pelli, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, Robert Venturi and James Polshek, to name just a few.

The architecture is great but check out the #1 attraction in town, the Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum on Washington Street. Enjoy the music on the restored Welte Orchestrion. Mill Race Park is another main draw and a great place for seniors to just relax.

I think that you will enjoy strolling through Columbus on your next trip that includes Indiana. Put it on your “bucket list” for a visit.  Senior travelers will find it to be a very friendly and exciting city.  jeb


Seniors Head to Sherwood

Money Magazine selects America’s Best Small Towns and Sherwood ranked #5 out of 50 select towns. There are plenty of reasons senior citizens love this small town (15,000) just outside Portland — quaint historic downtown, top-ranked schools, relatively affordable home prices — but residents gush most about its proximity to fun stuff.

Just west of Sherwood is Willamette Valley wine country. Keep going and in less than two hours senior travelers are on the Oregon Coast. Or travel 65 miles east to Mount Hood for skiing or hiking. Then there’s Portland, home to highly acclaimed restaurants, microbreweries, museums, theater, and more.

The first people to live in Sherwood were the Tualatin Indians. They roamed the area for many years before the first white men came. The first wagon train arrived in Oregon in 1843, and by 1853, Sherwood was being settled by farmers.

They built their houses of the logs taken from the forest which once covered the area. They grew nearly everything they needed. Twice a year they took the three day journey into Portland for staples like salt, sugar and syrup.

 What Seniors Can See And Do In Sherwood

A major attraction in Sherwood is the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. A comment from a recent visitor noted that “This delightful wildlife refuge is located on land that was previously a dairy. It has a lovely visitor center with well-composed educational exhibits and informed volunteers.”

The Refuge, just a few miles from the center of Oregon’s largest city, is where the honking of geese replaces the honking horns. This special place is a refuge, a haven for wildlife and people. Born of a community’s dream, and made possible by their support, a wildlife refuge now thrives in the backyard of a growing metropolis.

Another highly popular attraction is Safari Sam’s. The centerpiece is the largest play structure in Oregon. Visitors have hours of fun discovering all the different features built into a jungle gym built strong enough for seniors to enjoy as well.

For you gardeners like me, take in Al’s Garden Center that is ranked #1 for visitors. Sherwood’s Family Days Out launched a site in January 2009 and they hope to have over 5 million visitors and a staggering 15 million page hits, and that’s a whole bunch!

A drive through scenic wine country is a senior visitor’s top choice. Even if you don’t like wine, the drive is beautiful and the grounds of the wineries are often breath-taking.

Nike is headquartered in Beaverton, 12 miles away, and Intel’s largest site is located among other high-tech companies in Hillsboro, 18 miles away. Despite its proximity to Oregon’s biggest city, Sherwood has many restaurants and cultural activities of its own.

The town of Sherwood claims that its unique combination of modern business and small town charm make it one of the most livable cities in Oregon. Take in some terrific views on the “Official Travel Oregon” site that will make one say “wow!” jeb


The Beckers wish a Happy 2015 to all our traveling friends.  Travel safely, joyfully and peacefully.


Filed under : Editors Choice


The Beckers wish you a New Year filled with safe and happy travels!

Jim and Jeannine Becker



Filed under : Editors Choice

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