Tag: "Europe"

Book Review: Cosmos Screen by Perry Kelly

When they invited me to review Cosmos Screen, I agreed because there were a few things I thought would be interesting.

Since this is a travel site, I first flipped to page 115 and the description of a tour through Europe in 1958. Travel by ship was normal then and at least on the Greek Queen Frederica, the parties on the lower levels went all night long (kind of like in the Titanic movie I guess where the richer people on the higher floors go to bed early).

Another interesting note is that people took time to tour 12 countries in six weeks. These days you wonder how many people would make time for a six-week tour. And how much would it cost if they did make the time? Here is one trip’s itinerary:

New York, Barcelona, Genoa by ship. Then Rapallo (day trip to Portofino), Grosseto, Naples (day trip to Capri and the Blue Grotto), Rome, Florence, Bologna, Ferrara, Padua, Venice (day trip to Lido Beach), Trieste.

And then on to Austria: Klagenfurt, Valden, Portachach, Vienna (day trip to Vienna Woods), Salzburg.

Then Germany and Switzerland: Munich, Zurich, Baden-Baden (Germany), Assmannshausen (for a Rhine River cruise to Bonn), Cologne.

And to save me from listing countries, the rest of Western Europe: Brussels, Antwerp, The Hague, Amsterdam, Copenhagen (day trip to North Zealand, Elsinore castle, Danish Riviera), Stockholm, Oslo, Newcastle, London, Paris, Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Gibraltar.

Then back to New York by ship.

While reading about the travel experience is enjoyable, the book seems to be a memoir first and some of the details may not interest everyone – the college boy who wants to dump his girlfriend on tour, the woman who sees the ship doctor for menstrual pains, etc.

There are other travel experiences too, like China in 1988 and Brazil in 1989. But the travel experiences may not be the most interesting part of the story. The author grew up on a farm in Alabama in the 1930s. He “gave up” on being heterosexual in 1968. In the end, I decided to save some of the travel experiences for later and learn more about a kid’s experiences growing up during the Great Depression.

In conclusion, if you like memoirs and travel, then Cosmos Screen by Perry Kelly may be a good book for you. The writing seems matter-of-fact to me. I never laughed but I did sometimes nod my head and think to myself that this detail or that detail was interesting. Not all of the author’s memories resonated with me, but Cosmos Screen did give me a glimpse of a world that I had never seen before and never could have glimpsed on my own.

Which countries are best for travelers with furkids?

My wife and I consider our two dogs our babies. Usually they are lower maintenance than real babies, except for incidents like last night, when Libby managed to get peanut butter all over her snout. Since she hates getting her face cleaned, pulling peanut butter out of her fur and washing her face involved a few tooth marks and a little blood.

Anyway, Korea wasn’t the most dog friendly country to live in although we could travel a little bit and stay in dog friendly pensions, which are independently owned motels usually situated in rural areas. We were always impressed in Europe though. In Switzerland we saw dogs inside restaurants. In Finland we saw dogs on the bus. In South West England they have a big network of dog-friendly self-catering holiday cottages. We always thought stuff like that was pretty cool.

In England, where luxury dog hotles are a thing and one doggie can win a $73,000 holiday package, furkids are normally allowed on buses although there was a big controversy a few years ago when passengers were not allowed to board with dogs when a Muslim driver or passenger was on the bus.

So usually you can take your furkid anywhere in England. The dog friendly cottage network I link to above has some ideas for dog friendly vacations:

Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset boast some of the best beaches available to dog walkers in the UK. I’m not sure what percentage of beaches are dog friendly in the US and in England, but I know I’ve turned down several press trips to beaches in the southern US because they were not dog-friendly. We did find St. George Island, which isn’t too far from me here in Tallahassee, to be a nice dog friendly beach. Plus in September, while the weather is awesome, the crowds are gone.

Exmoor and Dartmoor supply hundreds of tailored walks… I’ve written about some nature trails and things in a few travel plans for England. This website makes sure to mention that in addition to rolling hills, mystical woods, stunning reservoirs, and hundreds of miles of moorland, you also get to stop at numerous furkid friendly pubs. How friendly is dog friendly though? Are dogs allowed inside like in Switzerland or do they need to remain outside, which is the definition of dog friendly in America and Korea?

So which countries do you think are the best for dog owners, especially when it comes to domestic travel?

In which country / city would you like to retire?

I found this story a couple of weeks ago. They recommend retiring in one of the following:

1. Medellin, Colombia – $1,500 a month
2. Dubrovnik, Croatia – $2,700 a month
3. Salinas, Ecuador – $1,500 a month
4. George Town, Malaysia – $1,500 a month
5. Bilbao, Spain – $3,500 a month
6. Coronado, Panama – $1,300 a month
7. Galway, Ireland – $2,500 a month
8. Tlaxcala, Mexico – live modestly on $1,500 a month and very comfortably on $2,500

My first wish, would be one of the European cities. Galway would be great for the English speakers and so I could learn something of my Irish heritage. And while it’s not too far from Dublin, Galway would have to be less convenient that Croatia or Spain for visiting other European cities. Croatia, being more affordable than Spain might be my first choice amongst the European recommendations.

I know so little about Colombia and Panama that I’d want to do some traveling around there before even thinking about retiring there. But moving there for a year to check things out? That I could do. All I know about Ecuador is that I’m very jealous of a friend who works on the Galápagos Islands. Another place I’d have to visit before I could consider living there. Mexico, we’ve talked about on this blog, just not the particular city Tlaxcala. And while I remember a few details of the various places featured here, I don’t feel I have an overview of the country and I wonder how easy it would be to access other cool places. In Europe, I know I can just take the train to lots of cool places. In Mexico, I’m not so sure.

Malaysia, I know I like. Finding English speakers was easy enough. It’s cheap. But it wasn’t stress-free, particularly the taxis. And visiting another country is not going to be as simple as it would be in Europe.

Reader needs advice on European cruise

Reader question: Looking at doing a European cruise next year with my wife, brother and sister in law – preferably the eastern Mediterranean to include Italy, Greece, Greek isles, Dubrovnik, and Turkey. None of us have been to Europe and this seems like a great way to see a ton of different places plus my brother and sister in law love their cruises. Has anyone traveled on one of these cruises? 7, 10, or 12 nights are being considered.

Answers from friends (please put your own tips in the comments below):

Answer 1: Just did West Mediterranean, 7 days on Norwegian Epic out of Rome. Highlights were Florence, Cannes (Monaco), Marseilles (Avignon, Ax en Provence) and Naples (Pompeii). I would strongly advise spending 3 days touring Rome before the cruise, that city was fantastic. We stayed at a nice hotel in Rome, the Artemide, which was well located.

Answer 2: In 2010 my fiance and I took a 12 night cruise. Celebrity cruise line, beautiful ship. I would definitely recommend the 12 night trip. It takes a little while to get out there and there is so much sight seeing that the time really flies. We flew into Venice). Then Florence, Rome, Dubrovnik (which was gorgeous), Greece (you can miss Athens but Santorini was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen), Nice, France and Barcelona.

You really want as much time as you can get. I got engaged in Venice, and we stayed an extra night there. We were able to sit and drink wine in Saint Marks plaza while listening to a live band. We also stayed an extra two nights in Barcelona at the end of the trip. That city is a great time. The most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen and tons to do.

You’re going to really tired at night from all the walking and sight seeing. It was the best trip I’ve been on. Hope this helps a little.

Answer 3: We did a seven day cruise out of Venice to those destinations on Royal Caribbean. It was fun. The airport in Venice was a bit of a scene. It was my first time in Europe for an extended period of time and we loved it. We did the excursions and a local tour of Venice and a local city, Padua. Off the top of my head, we stopped at Dubrovnik, Crete, Corfu, Santorini and Ephesus in Turkey.

I would recommend it for those that want a little taste of the culture but don’t want to be stuck in one place too long.

Answer 4: Two years ago did a 12-day cruise on Celebrity to ports in Turkey and Greece. The cruise was preceded by a 4 day bus “cruise” into the countryside in Turkey, which was simply spectacular.

The mechanics: a flight to Istanbul and then changing planes for Ankara. Flew on Turkish Air, which was amazingly good. Flew economy, but the economy seating was configured with rows of 2 seats, 6 seats and 2 seats and my wife and I were able to get seats in one of the 2 seat portions of the row. Non-stop food and excellent entertainment on the plane. If you do fly into Turkey, you’ll need a visa, but you can buy it at the Istanbul airport for a fraction of the cost of buying it in the US.

Answer 5: 12-day Royal Caribbean. Started in Barcelona, Spain; Cannes (Monte Carlo), France; Livorno (Florence), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), some place in Greece (least favorite port); Dubrovnik Croatia (beautiful place); Venice, Italy; Italy; Naples (Salerno); Barcelona, Spain. It was the best vacation I have ever taken. The cruise was also great. I have been on more and less expensive cruises but this one was great from the moment that we stepped on the gang plank. These types of cruises do not really cater to the people that are simply looking to get smashed for the duration of the cruise. That being said there is plenty of night life and other things to do on the ship while out to sea you will not be bored. Enjoy and make sure you do not skip a day on shore.

Answer 6: Ship is important too. GF just came back from Norwegian Spirit from Barcelona to Venice. Great itinerary, terrible ship. I want to do this with the parents next year on a different ship but the main thing is the ports you want to see. Do a search. Later in the season, the prices may be lower and the weather may be better, but some attractions have earlier closing hours.

Answer 7: Expanding on answer #2, Kurt had this to say: I can’t say enough good about Santorini. It was a highlight of my many years of travel. The ONLY problem may be that your cruise ship won’t allow you more than a few hours there. There is an ongoing excavation of Akrotiri village which was buried by a volcanic eruption around 2000 B.C. I stayed 4 days in an apartment at the top of the caldera with a gorgeous view looking almost straight down 1000 feet into the Aegean Sea. The caldera was formed about 3600 years ago by the erupting volcano.