Seniors Drawn to the Medieval City of Carcassonne

This blog takes this senior citizen back a long, long ways.  I remember in 1961 riding a motor scooter across southern France, driving by Carcassonne and noticing it perched up on a high hill. I had no idea what it was nor of its historical significance. All I could see from the main highway was a fortified walled city standing majestically as it overlooked  the lush countryside of The Languedoc and the distant Pyrenees to the south.

Several years later I went back to personally visit the town with a group of my French students.  We spent a day tramping through this medieval wonder.  It took a full day to discover the many facts and facets of this walled city.  It’s the largest city in Europe with its city walls still intact.

Take the time here, senior friends for a walking tour with Philippe Miro as you inspect some of the little-known parts of this magnificant and intriguing place.

 The Best of Languedoc

This southern area of France is called Languedoc (Language of OC) which meant “YES” in old French.  A friend of mine in France wrote this site to guide you through the Languedoc area. It’s just “one awesome site” and experience. My travel hero Rick Steves loved Carcassonne as I did and you can look him up as well.  Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back 2,500 years,  Carcassonne has been painstakingly restored.

All That History for Senior History Lovers

The city is an excellent example of a medieval fortified town whose massive defenses were constructed on walls dating from late antiquity. It is of exceptional significance by virtue of the restoration work carried out in the second half of the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc,which had a profound influence on subsequent developments in conservation principles and practice. Easy to locate,  it is right on the main Toulouse–Montpellier train link, an easy destination. For anyone traveling through this region it is a must – one of the most dramatic, if also most-visited, towns in the whole of Languedoc. I think that you will agree with me that it is one of the major highlights in all of France.  jeb




Seniors Love Rail Travel on The Ghan

I wrote a while back on the famed Blue Train in South Africa.  My recent Travel Magazine has an article entitled “A Window Seat to the World” on rail journeys of a lifetime. If senior citizens have not yet traveled by train, you are in for a real treat.  I’ve been on the French TGV several times and in Japan whizzed by terrain on the Shinkansen known as the “Bullet Train.”  I wrote a blog on the Trans Canadian Railway as well. The Ghan is one of those famous rail journeys that seniors will find thrilling.

The Ghan. It’s an odd name for a train but in Australian history it is a living legend, for it is the ultimate journey through the heart of the continent. A hundred and fifty years ago, the first camels were imported along with their handlers from Afghanistan and, in true Australian style, they soon shortened their name to ‘Ghan’. The Ghan train derives its name from these early pioneers and its emblem of an Afghan on a camel is in recognition of their efforts in opening up the harsh interior to the rest of Australia.

The Ghan Has a History

Their website is loaded with information of every nature that will help you make plans to enjoy a ride on that train. They call it “The Great Southern Rail: Time to Explore.  So seniors, immerse yourself in the timelessness of rail travel and be inspired by the diversity and beauty of the landscape unfolding beyond the window. Enjoy first class dining, new friends and Explore and Discover Stops in Alice Springs and Katherine.

The Ghan is not just an Australian icon, but the journey of a lifetime. I’ve always said the same thing about the journey from Moscow across China on the Trans-Siberian Rail Road. It’s one of those adventures on my “bucket list”.  The Trans Mongolian is also called “The Vodka Train.”  But back to the Ghan.

Australian rail passes are the key to exploring this diverse country, from Sydney, to the Outback, to the Great Barrier Reef and everywhere in between. Try to get a seat in the Outback Explorer Lounge or if you would like, a private carriage.

A Suggested Route for Senior Travelers

Australia’s red center is one of the most spectacular wildernesses in the world, and the Ghan is unquestionably the most comfortable way to see it. The train runs through the heart of the country: 2,979km (1,861 miles) between the south coast at Adelaide and the north coast at Darwin, taking two nights and three days and senior travelers will pass by Alice Springs. Go to TripAdvisor on the Ghan and read the blogs. I’ll depart today with a few “tips” to make that journey a great one. Enjoy. jeb




Seniors – Is the New Pre-Check For You?

The days of shedding shoes, belts and jackets at the airport will soon be over, at least for some air travelers. A new “pre-check” program is helping to ease the long waits at airport security. During peak travel times, senior travelers can sometimes see the security lines stretch across the walkways between the airport and parking garages. But thanks to a new TSA initiative, at least for some people, those security lines may be going away.

The Transportation Security Administration has announced that it will allow some passengers to be pre-screened and essentially get an “EZ Pass” through the lines. “The more pre-screening we can do, the more likely it is that a person would be able to keep their shoes on, their belt on, a light jacket, and laptop in their brief case; things like that,” says TSA Administrator, John Pistole.

The Tempe based US Airways began selling an airport “fast pass” with priority check-in with security and boarding privileges.  The pass will cost travelers $10 to $26 one way depending on the airport. Carnival Cruises has followed suit and they are testing a $50 package of perks that includes priority boarding and room access and a quicker exit off the ship in port. American Airlines just started offering baggage-delivery service for travelers who don’t want to wait at the baggage claim area. All are designed to boost revenue.

Speedier, Less Stressful Experiences For Seniors

To qualify for Precheck, frequent fliers must meet undisclosed TSA criteria and get invited in by the airlines. There is also a backdoor in. Approved travelers who are in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s “Global Entry” program can transfer into Precheck using their Global Entry number. Frequent flyers already get such perks through loyalty programs. The program will be run by private companies, to which interested passengers will provide  information and pay a yearly subscription between $80 and $100 for the privilege of expedited travel through security barriers.

Many cities with toll booths have what is called an EZ Pass that uses RFID (Radio Frequency ID) to let you go through toll booths faster by simply driving around the toll gates.

Enrolling requires a $100 application fee for a background check, plus a brief interview with a Customs officer. For domestic travel, Global Entry pays off because it gets you into Precheck. Once TSA announced that enrollment in Global Entry and other “trusted travel” programs (Nexus for frequent travel across the Canadian border and Sentri for frequent travel across the Mexican border) would get you into Precheck, applications for Global Entry took off.

Just thought you might like to know.  jeb



Filed under : Editors Choice


Seniors Fascinated With Cambridge

This senior citizen was going through his kitchen cupboard this AM and found a cup I’d purchased in Cambridge (England).  Imprinted on the side of my English Fine Bone China cup: Kings College, the Mathematical Bridge and Trinity College.  What an enjoyable experience it was to personally visit  each of these famed highlights.

Cambridge is a university town roughly 50 miles north of London on the River Cam.  The city’s population is 110,000+ and 22,000+ are students. The University of Cambridge which dates back over 800 years is ranked one of the five top schools in the world. A host of colleges and departments make up the University of Cambridge. The interior of the King’s Chapel still remains embedded in my minds-eye.

High Tech City

Cambridge is the center of what is called Silicon Fen.  More than 1000 high-technology companies established offices in the area.  As per usual all over England, the area swims with history that dates back to the Roman Empire. The NY Times says that it’ll take you 36  hours to take in all that Cambridge has to offer. TripAdvisor can help to fill up your journal with things for senior visitors to see and do. I discovered that Cambridge is mostly pedestrian-friendly, most sights can be easily reached on foot and much of the central area is traffic-free.

Punting, Seniors?

The River Cam is a place of continuous entertainment during the summer months. The boats are an unusual flat-bottomed construction and are propelled using a pole that is pushed against the river bed – the boats are called “punts” and  “punting” is very popular in Cambridge.

Cambridge has a high concentration of internationally famous collections of museums and galleries. Shopping is always agreeable in Cambridge and the markets are open seven days a week. Cambridge for the Tourist hones in on all the popular sites attractive to seniors.

Old (1749) Mathematical Bridge and More

The myth goes that it was designed by Isaac Newton without the use of pins, screws, nuts or bolts, but when disassembled, the fellows and students couldn’t figure out how to put it back together again. Lonely Planet notes that “Few cities can take the breath away quite like Cambridge.”

Cambridge is where: the atom was first split, where the structure of DNA was discovered, where Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution, where Newton developed his theory of gravity, where the order of human DNA was first discovered, where the electron and neutron were discovered, where Stephen Hawking of black-hole fame used to live and work.

Let me tempt senior travelers with a few more scenes from Cambridge England tourism. Wikitravel lists major sites that includes a total of ten colleges, a host of museums, churches and events. A photo gallery is always helpful to prepare first-timers to Cambridge.

The city is totally awesome. Seniors, you may have to plan a full week to enjoy all the amenities in Cambridge.  jeb



Filed under : Adventure Travel, Europe


Seniors Find Santa Lucia “Simply Beautiful”

Another island today senior friends, only this time down south. The island is well known for its beauty. The island has many amenities to offer senior visitors. Why Santa Lucia? Seniors find Santa Lucia “Simply Beautiful.”

The beauty of Saint Lucia provides the perfect backdrop for adventure: mountains to climb, forests to explore, an underwater world to discover. The ancients revered Saint Lucia — Ioüanalao or Hewanorra, as it was called — and fought to preserve it.

In recent decades, the famous have returned there to find solace in this enchanted place. The “Official St. Lucia Guide” provides lots of history and sites for seniors to enjoy.  It has a rich supply of “cultural treasures” with many beliefs and traditions.  The many natural attractions keep senior visitors busy for days with hikes and a variety of programs.

Some say that St. Lucia is like an island in the South Pacific plucked down in the Caribbean.  Magnificant rainforests line miles of beaches.  Steep coastlines and lovely reefs offer excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.

 The rainforest preserves of St. Lucia’s mountainous interior are one of the Caribbean’s finest locales for hiking and birdwatching.  Then of course senior travelers will find great golf courses, tennis, sailing and the world’s only drive-in volcanic crater-Soufriere volcano.

Part of the Lesser Antilles and one of the Windward Islands, St Lucia has a population of around 175,000 happy island folks. And incidentally, they speak English there so no problem communicating. Wikipedia has lots of history and info to share and notes that it’s a Caribbean Island Getaway.  Castries, the capital, is full of markets and will make for a nice stroll through its streets.

Have fun in St. Lucia.  jeb


Seniors Travel North to North Haven

I admit upfront that Maine is one of three states that I have not yet visited. I came across this small city in a magazine recently and I so I had to check it out. North Haven is a town in Penobscot Bay. The town is both a year-round island community and a prominent summer colony attractive to senior citizens. The population was 355 at the 2010 census. Small as it is, they have their own website with lots of FAQs and links of interest. I’m still curious about the “waiting for redwing blackbirds” photo on the homepage.  Did you see that?

There are 14 unbridged island communities in Maine and North Haven is one of them. It lies in Penobscot Bay (love that word!) and about 12 miles from the coastal city of Rockland. Senior visitors can get there by ferry on one of its three daily round trips. While it houses nearly 400 folks year round, thousands come out each summer to enjoy many amenities.

Wikipedia Has “Worth Knowing” Info For Seniors

Do you know why it’s called “Wiki?”  I discovered that “Wiki Wiki” is used in Hawaii for hurry up.

Ranked #1 of the attractions in North Haven is the Wharton Brook State Park on Rte. 5. Senior travelers will find several more tourist attractions in North Haven worth considering during your visit. There are a couple of vineyards nearby that attract tourists. The local paper, called “The Island Dirt,” caught my attention.

Just imagine this.  As early as 3300 BC folks called the Red Paint People were already there.  Must have been something there to attract them besides the water.  And the Penobscot Indians, much later, spent a good deal of time there. Some called them Abenaki.

I might just become a MAINE*IAC.  Do you know what it means?  No? Well you can always look it up, but if you aren’t curious enough to do that… I’ll give you the answer: \ma-ne-ak\n (2005) slang 1: person with an ungovernable enthusiasm for America’s Pine Tree State. 2: lover of blue lakes, rocky coastline, and lobsters eaten caveman-style. Now you know.

Eliza Minot writes…”Of all the places I’ve ever been, of all the terrains and landscapes I’ve ever seen, it’s on the island of North Haven amid the dark blue summer water of the Penobscot Bay that my soul rises up to meet myself, where I am home.”

Some of the stats on North Haven are interesting like you’ll discover that the mean time to work (commute) is 6.9 minutes. That’s what a small island will do to your timing. But it is 77.1 miles to Portland and 168.7 miles to Boston. They have 4 residents who are “foreign born.”

I’ll leave you today with a handy map so that you can get out there. Note Goose Rocks out on the tip. I might have to write a blog just on that site one day. jeb




It’s Valparaíso For Senior Tourists

I’m reading a book called “Poseidon’s Arrow” by Clive Cussler.  They make reference to this neat port in Chile, so this senior reader wanted to investigate Valparaíso and share with you what I found. The city is  located about 65 miles (111.8 km) northwest of Santiago, the capital.

There is lots of history in this port since Valparaíso played a very important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan.

Jewel of the Pacific Beacons Senior Travelers

Wikipedia has an abundance of  information on the port for senior visitors. The port, its unique blend of international seaport atmosphere and chaotic topography and architecture, make the city an ideal place to start the exploration of Chile’s many urban and natural attractions.

It’s a beautiful area and TripAdvisor notes that is known for its bohemian, artistic vibe and lovely vistas. Its UNESCO-designated historic downtown offers charming colonial architecture, great seafood restaurants, markets and stores. Upon your arrival you’ll soon see why it’s called “The Jewel of the Pacific.”

YouTube takes us into the heart of the port. You’ll find plenty to see and do once you arrive on the central coast of Chile. There is living history in all corners of the city  with lots of tourist services.

La Sebastiana and Cerro Concepcion are two of the most delightful of all Valparaíso’s neighborhoods, with its brightly painted corrugated iron facades and pitched roofs. To get there, take the city’s oldest elevator, called the Ascensor Turri from the corner of Prat and Carreño, across from the Clock Tower.

Valparaíso is a World Heritage Site (2003). I love every one of them wherever they are in all the 192 countries in the world.  The Boston Globe notes that Valparaíso has been very busy revamping the city since they are expecting an influx of tourists and very soon.

I’ll depart today with a Virtual Tourist link that provides senior tourists with an overview of the city. So make plans now and beat the rush. jeb




Seniors Discover Washington County

I just received the 80-page 2013 Official Destination Guide on Washington County, PA. It is full of information that senior travelers will enjoy. They quote, “Bring the energy. Bring yourself.”  Senior visitors will discover 21 covered bridges still standing. They seem to be everywhere. And you’ll find just over 200,000 happy folks living in Washington County .

My wife and I would always choose to head for the center of any city first to discover it’s treasures and historical significance. Washington is no different. This illustration will point out some of the major sites to visit. Senior travelers can send for a Washington Coungy Destination Guide or even better yet, thumb through it online and you’ll see what I reviewed.

Senior Historians Attracted to Washington County

The historic Washington County Courthouse is one historic building among many in this county.  Washington County is the home of the PONY Baseball and Softball International Headquarters and is the home of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. It’s also famous for its Rock Shelters at Meadowcroft Village, which are some of the best preserved and oldest Pre-Clovis Native American dwellings in the country.

The Whiskey Rebellion culminated in Washington. The home of David Bradford, one of the rebellions leaders, is located in Washington and is a national landmark. Just a couple blocks away is the F. Julius LeMoyne House, also declared a National Historic Landmark, which serves as the headquarters of the Washington County Historical Society. Their Roots Web is fun to explore if you are interested in geneology.

So put some of these on your itinerary and plan on staying a few days in Washington County PA. I even found a very nice hotel for senior citizens to consider called, strangely enough, the George Washington Hotel. And you oenophiles, the C.T. Miller Vineyards might add a few hours onto your stay.

You’ll find out that you can play, shop, dine, stay and even live in Washington. It’s all there. Washington County looks like a good one to be on my “bucket list”.  jeb




World’s Most Sacred Places

We know of Notre-Dame de Paris and Machu Picchu as well as the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and senior travelers enjoy visiting these plus a host of other sacred places.  I recall a friend who had traveled the world.  When I asked him the neatest places he had personally visited he replied that he dearly loved Jordan, but that “Hawaii was paradise.”  If you have been to there, you know why Andy chose Hawaii.  But what did he find so neat in Jordan?  Well, Petra is there.  It is a renown site and is a sacred place for many senior visitors.

Senior Visitors Discover Petra

Petra is one of the most sacred places in the Mideast. Petra means “stone” in Arabic and when you arrive on site you will learn why.  There you will see the famous rock-cut architecture as well as a water conduit system.And what a world wonder it is. A treasure of the ancient world, hidden behind an almost impenetrable barrier of rugged mountains and boasting incomparable scenes that make it a majestic and imposing site, Petra remains almost untouched by centuries of visitors. It was named a World Heritage Site in 1985. So ready your eyes on Petra via YouTube.

Angkor Wat

Located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Angkor Wat is a site that senior friends have found to be one of the highlights of their world tour.  Here you’ll find a place of peace and power.It’s a Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the entire world. Angkor Wat (meaning: “Capital Temple”) is an ancient temple complex (originally Hindu but later becoming Buddhist) dating from the twelfth century C.E. It’s located about 200 miles from the capital of Phnom Pehn in Cambodia. So join the walk through the temple grounds.

Japan’s Sacred Mountain

Mount Fuji in Japan is a national symbol.  You can easily see it from Tokyo, only 60 miles away.  It is the tallest peak in the country and the “most sacred mountain” in Japan.  It is said that climbing Mount Fuji can make for lifelong memories. Plan your hike in July or August, a time usually free of snow and relatively mild. Mount Fuji is actually one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains.”

And The Parthenon…

In Athens, senior travelers will find the most famous surviving building of Ancient Greece and one of the most famous buildings in the world.  Neolithic remains discovered on the slopes of the Acropolis indicate a continuous settlement on the hill from at least 2800 BC. The temple was dedicated to the maiden goddess Athena.

So there you have four of the top ten to visit.  The others include Tikal, the Sistine Chapel, The Great Pyramid, St Peters Basilica and the Temple Explatori de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.  You can research each of them on Google or Wikipedia.

Enjoy your sacred journeys.  jeb




 Seniors Travel to Exotic UR  (Part 2)

Senior friends, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy an excursion to Iraq with me, by our computers.  There’s this big excavation going on there that I mentioned a couple of days ago and I want to finish that journey.  It will be done in the comfort of our own homes because tourism visas are not being granted for Iraq right now.

Archaeologists found a big surprise in the area of the biblical Abraham’shome. The complex just unearthed on a dig is said to be about the size of a football field. Senior citizens, perhaps you saw the details shared by Fox News on April 4. It is believed to be Abraham’s Lost City approximately 4,000 years old.

Ur was an ancient Sumerian city that is thought to have been settled in the late sixth millennium, during the Ubaid Period. By about 3000 B.C., the area of Ur was about 37 acres. During the Early Dynastic Period [see Ur kings timeline], Ur reached its maximum area of 124 acres and was one of the richest of the southern cities thanks to trade, facilitated by its harbor on the Persian Gulf.

Perhaps no excavation in the more than 150 years of archaeological work in Mesopotamia has excited as much public attention as C. Leonard Woolley’s work at ancient Ur in the 1920s and early 1930s. Ur was fabled as the city of the Sumerian moon god Nanna and the traditional home of the biblical patriarch Abraham (Gen. 12:4-5).

In the thirteen years of excavations, newspapers around the world printed countless articles. The Illustrated London News, reported the results of Woolley’s discoveries at Ur in some thirty features, at least two with color illustrations. The Royal Cemetery at Ur yielded many valuable artifacts.

Ur Attracts Senior Historians

Ancient history alright and full of history, Ur was a major city, and later the capital, of the Sumerian Empire in southern Mesopotamia. Its location near the sea made it a center of commerce and trade routes. Between 2030-1980 BC Ur was the world’s largest city, boasting about 65,000 inhabitants within its walls.

The city featured many glorious temples and tombs. Today, the site is recognizable for its well-preserved remains of the Great Ziggurat. Its ruins are approximately midway between the modern city of Baghdad, Iraq, and the head of the Persian Gulf,  south of the Euphrates River, on the edge of the Al ajarah Desert.

The site of Ur is known today as Tall al Muqayyar, Iraq. In antiquity the Euphrates River flowed near the city walls. We can’t go to Iraq but we can enjoy the discovery…  jeb

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