Winter Vacations

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We’ve had our summer flings, now it’s time to begin thinking about a vacation or two this winter. There are warm weather locations, cool areas and thrilling travel destinations available for the winter time.

One exotic location is Antarctica. This is one of those places you place photo books and handbooks on your coffee table so that your guests will take note and ask questions. I had planned a visit there three years ago by passenger ship and when I informed Norma that the waves through the Drakes passage might be as high as 30 and 40 feet before reaching Antarctica. She said, “CANCEL.” She is normally a good sailor, but didn’t wish to chance sea sickness on the way down to the Antarctic.

What’s there? A frozen continent, impressive icebergs that rise up to heights of many feet and interesting bird and sea life. Your cruise ship will supply you with necessary parkas so you will not freeze to death when venturing onto land. You are escorted to land in zodiacs.

If this sounds interesting to you, call the German company, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises which have several smaller ships and are completely deluxe. Phone 1-800-782-3924 and you will be speaking with their North American booking office. They will be pleased to send you their brochure, which outlines their cruise offerings. Their ships are upscale, offer impeccable service and onboard use both German and English. Their lovely Hanseatic will take you to the Antarctic in style. The ship is 8,378 gross tons and is 403 feet long. It was built in 1993. All the staterooms are large and roomy.

The food served onboard is Continental gourmet.

About this time, we begin to think about Christmas time and the shopping and preparations necessary to fully enjoy the season. Tauck European River Cruising have put together Christmas Markets whereby you board one of their luxury river boats and cruise up one of Europe’s major rivers with stops at selected towns and cities for you to do shopping. You can cruise the Danube and Rhine rivers and both have wonderful Christmas markets open in December.

One itinerary begins in Aachen, Germany and busses you over to Cologne where you board your river boat and cruise to Koblenz, Rudensheim, Heidelberg, Speyer, Plittersdorf, Baden-Baden, and Strasbourg, Riquewihr, Breisach and ends in Basel, Switzerland. The fare begins at $2,150 plus airfare, taxes, etc. Tauck tours is a leading company and offers several itineraries for Christmas European shopping. Phone 1-800-468-2825 for more information and a brochure.

A very fine Norwegian cruise line is offering winter cruises from Bergen all the way up to the Arctic Circle. If cold weather cruising is fine with you, look into Hurtigruten Cruises. They offer smaller ships plying the seas up the Norwegian coast to Kirkenes and return to Bergen. The cruise is 12 days and stops along the way at small villages and towns to deposit mail and freight. You have time to stroll the streets and snoop into shops during the times the ship is in the various ports. Take very warm clothes and rain gear, because it will be cold! The ships are smaller and the crews and officers are Norwegian. The food will be good and the accommodations are fine, but not deluxe. Phone 1-800-323-7436 for more information and brochures.

Lindblad Expeditions has available space on their National Geographic Endeavour, which holds only 112 passengers and cruises the islands of the Galapagos. If you are a nature lover, consider this area. You get up-close to the various species of land and sea life. This is a photographer’s paradise as you cruise the various islands in this expedition vessel. You go ashore and are instructed and/or escorted to several locations on the various islands in the group. Charles Darwin first wrote about this area and has made his findings famous throughout the world. The animals walk right up to you and simply are not afraid. Unusual! This is not a deluxe craft or trip. But, you will be rewarded with friendly animal life and educational lectures. This is a never-to-be-forgotten travel experience. The fares are not inexpensive and are priced from $3,280 on up to $51,980 per person, double. Phone 1-800-3397-3348 for more information.

Here’s an out-of-the-way location… San Juan Del Sur, located on the southern coast of Nicaragua in Central America. More and more foreigners are flocking to the area from Europe and the United States.

This is a beach town for younger people, with lots of surfers, bars and restaurants and fantastic sunsets over the semi-circle bay. The best resort is Pelican Eyes, which overlooks the town and is close to the seafront. The accommodations are connected by handcrafted walkways. This is a wonderful place to bring the children. The rates run from $150 to $290 per night.

Morgon’s Rock overlooks Playa Ocotal and is just north of San Juan Del Sur. Here is good fishing as well as beach activities and warm weather during the winter. Not everyone has discovered these areas yet, so go as soon as you can if these locations sound interesting

Nicaragua itself is picturesque and fun to explore on your own.

Contact the Nicaragua Tourist Office for more information.

Believe it or not, a fine tour company by the name of Globus will take you on a winter tour of Yellowstone lasting 7 days. You meet the tour in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming. You begin with an included sleigh ride in the National Elk Refuge. Here are some 10,000 elk which congregate here each winter. Then, a tour of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park including Old Faithful geyser as well as others in the park.

You will see much of this interesting national park on this tour and experience it all in winter. Perhaps there will be snow on the ground during your visit, which will make for beautiful photographs.

The Tetons alone are worth the trip north. They are high, rugged and very interesting. The tour is fully escorted. Go to www.globus journeys.com for more information.

If a little west coast action meets with your vacation ideas, perhaps you want to fly into San Francisco, rent a car and drive through some of the more scenic sights from here. I suggest your staying in downtown San Francisco because this is near all the sights you will want to visit. You will want to see Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Ferry Building and then cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head into Sausalito perhaps for lunch.

Then, continue to the wine country of Sonoma. It is here you can visit several wineries and taste their various products. Perhaps even buy a case or two to bring home.

From San Francisco, head south to Monterey and Carmel and further down the coast to San Simeon and Solvang reaching Santa Barbara where you can spend a couple nights allowing time to explore this marvelous city.

Continue 90 miles south to Los Angeles, perhaps staying in Hollywood or Beverly Hills. Many sights to see here. Great museums, the movie studios and not far away is Disneyland which is wonderful for the young and old.

When your trip is completed, fly home. This is a great itinerary with good highways, good food along the way and comfortable lodging.

This would even be a good time to visit the Deep South. Summer is quite hot and humid, but winter will be milder. You can fly into New Orleans to begin your journey. Here are fine hotels and much to see. Stay in the French Quarter and you’ll be in the heart of everything worth seeing. New Orleans is similar to an old French town. It is quaint, very photogenic and offers wonderful cuisine in several outstanding restaurants. The Court of Three Sisters and Arnauds are but two. Outstanding seafood is also on many menus.

After three days here, drive over to Baton Rouge, Natchez, Biloxi and Mobile. This will give you a good taste of the old south, which you will find most interesting. There may be Mississippi River boats operating upriver from New Orleans this winter also. Your travel agent will be able to give you additional information regarding this.

Have a wonderful time wherever you go. This is a good time to venture out when tourists are not filling every nook and cranny.

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