I whirled around the skating rink in Yosemite National Park, under a full moon illuminating Half Dome. As fingers and toes stiffened with cold, I’d stop to thaw out by the fire pit, pinching myself to make sure it was real — that the sheer granite face of this monolith bathed in silvery light was more than just a lofty figment of my imagination.
With daylight in the Canadian Rockies extending until almost 11 pm at summer’s peak, visitors can pack in long days of wondrous activity. For who wants to sleep when there are lakes to canoe, rivers to raft, trails to hike, wildlife to view and mountains to climb, photograph, paint or simply contemplate. So when we checked into Overlander Mountain Lodge, a member of Charming Inns of Alberta just outside the entrance to Jasper National Park, the setting was so dazzling that we took a 10 pm hike before settling in for the night.
The banks of the Nile looked golden in the late afternoon sun. A lone figure wearing a white turban and jellabiya robe knelt toward Mecca in prayer. A passing felucca (boat) cast an abstract reflection of its white sails in the rippling Nile waters. Women robed and hooded in black stooped to fill large earthenware jugs with water, then rose to take them home atop their heads.
I was standing in a circle of 16 kayakers on Schoonmaker Beach in Sausalito at 6:30pm on a Sunday night in March.
A full cantaloupe-colored moon peered out from behind the masts of sailboats. It was so large and low in the sky that it looked like it was surrealistically painted on a backdrop. Clad in life jackets and holding our paddles, we each introduced ourselves and shared with the group why we were there – more specifically, why we had each signed on to this full-moon paddle on Richardson Bay with Sea Trek.
(Review By Carol Canter) “Curtains up, light the lights, you got nothing to hit but the heights!” Well, everything did come up roses opening night for Bay Area Musicals’ fabulous production of Gypsy, which director and choreographer Mathew McCoy calls “the ultimate showbiz fable.” And that it is — a fable bursting with all the glitz and glitter, hilarious humor and heart-wrenching pathos of the ultimate show biz mother, Rose Hovick, as she pushes her two daughters — hard, very hard — to live out her own dreams. This 1959 fable of the last days of vaudeville is based loosely on the 1957 memoirs of Louise, the overlooked daughter who seizes the spotlight as Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist.
Story and Photos by Carol Canter.
Summer has turned to fall, and a long New York sojourn has ended, but I’m still in a New York State of Mind. Can’t even stop the words to “I’ll Take Manhattan …” from looping through my brain. New York is more than just a soundtrack, yet the city inspires a musical memory as powerful as a visual one. Hey, it may be heady, artsy, vibrant, a financial, political and cultural powerhouse, and endlessly interesting, but at heart, the Big Apple is just one big sensuous city.
Sipping a sunset cocktail at Cityscape, from its sleek perch on the 46th floor of Hilton San Francisco Union Square is an unparalleled celebratory high, an affordable way to access a priceless 360 degree panorama of this legendary city by the bay. For me, it was the scenically orchestrated opening to my San Francisco Staycation, and as I looked through the evening’s rose gold hues toward the East Bay hills of my home, I felt far away and free of cares!
With a 50th wedding anniversary to celebrate with family and friends and a life list of dream trips spilling over with Norwegian fjords, Roz and Irwin “B” of Santa Barbara, California chose a 12-night cruise aboard the Hurtigruten ship Midnatsol. So did a couple from Cologne Germany, who sailed with their four children and their families. The choice was the right one for them all, each a multi generational and well-traveled group that reveled in the adventure. The “B’s” had traveled in Norway before, visiting a friend Roz had made 50 years prior. The couple had long dreamed of returning for a fuller exploration of Norway’s fjords, the glacially carved inlets of water rated as “the world’s most celebrated and iconic travel destination” by National Geographic Traveler.
When my daughter was a young child, we learned the courtship dance of the blue-footed boobies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was part of their “hands-on” — or was it “feet-forward”– children’s program and I’ll never forget it because it was hilarious fun … and educational. We faced one another, standing in the “footprints” of two boobies, and were guided through their dance, clicks, honks and all. Little did I know that decades later–while cruising the Galapagos Islands with Ecoventura–I’d recognize the dance steps of two real blue-footed boobies as they performed this stylized ritual on a rugged windswept island in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands chain.
Story by Carol Canter. Photos by Carol Canter and Jack Heyman.
My first Zumba class took place on the Sundeck of the Ama Prima, our beautiful Ama Waterways ship, as Captain Ron Schuegard piloted our 160-passengers and crew through the legendary Rhine Gorge. Wellness Host André Almeida led our group to “step to the left, step to the right, then circle slowly now using your sexy move.” Latin music and the breeze energized us, as we surrendered to the rhythm and the scenic splendor. Dazzling it was, viewing turreted castles — even a few picturesque ruins — strategically built atop craggy hilltops or vineyard-terraced inclines.
Story and Photos by Carol Canter.
Bergen was bathed in sunshine, turning our late afternoon arrival in Norway’s second city into a Kodak moment. Painted wooden facades of historic quayside buildings glowed red, gold and brown against the surrounding green mountains, while Bergen’s busy harbor sparkled, buzzing with activity. Outdoor cafes overflowed with people enjoying the warm summer late August day. Fishmongers at the market offered samples of succulent smoked salmon, while produce vendors displayed baskets of plump red raspberries bursting with sweetness. With its enviable natural setting, Bergen draws visitors to explore its seven mountains, fabulous fjords and a coastline dotted with thousands of islands.
The train whistle blew, signaling the arrival of the sleek Rocky Mountaineer into Banff’s heritage railway station. It was “All Aboard” by 9 a.m. and, within minutes of departure on the Rocky Mountaineer, we were raising glasses of champagne and peach juice to toast our two-day rail journey through the Canadian Rockies from Banff, elevation 4540 feet, down to Vancouver, at sea level.
Story by Carol Canter with photos by Carol Canter and Jack Heyman.
On a Mekong River cruise, we meandered along Asia’s “Mother River,” from Vietnam into Cambodia in late March aboard the AmaDara, visiting floating markets and riverside villages where houses rise on stilts. We moored overnight in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city once considered the “Pearl of the Orient.” Along the way we passed fishing boats of every stripe, fruit orchards and fish farms, pagodas and rice paddies–all sustained by the ebb and flow and unparalleled biodiversity of Southeast Asia’s longest river. Even as we ventured forth to visit a glorious gilded palace, historic Buddhist monastery, and small craft workshops producing silk, copper, candy or woven rattan mats, we relished the return to the air-conditioned comfort of our beautiful AmaDara, greeted with a chilled hand towel and a cold drink. AmaWaterways’ new ship–its woodwork gleaming and staterooms spacious–was launched in mid-2015 to cocoon its 124 passengers in comfort on a seasonal 7-Night Mekong River cruise between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Siem Reap (gateway to Angkor Wat), on journeys billed as “Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong.” Rich it was.
Story by Carol Canter with Photos by C. Canter and Jack Heyman. We looped through Switzerland on a 15-day Swiss Travel Pass in May, taking panoramic train journeys through legendary mountain passes, boat rides across shimmering silver lakes and cable car rides to postcard-perfect Alpine villages and peaks. With almost everything included in the Swiss Travel Pass – even museums and heritage sites – travel through Switzerland was seamless and easy to plan. Service was friendly, helpful and multilingual.
Floating by barge through France’s canal-laced countryside underscores the pleasures of dining on meals prepared from fresh locally-sourced ingredients. Our first lunch onboard the 8-passenger Anjodi made this abundantly clear. The buffet was no less than a delectable culinary map of the surrounding Languedoc region in the south of France, featuring a beautiful salade niçoise (from Nice) with red mullet; tielle – an octopus pie from the neighboring seaport of Sète; brandade de morue — a salt cod and olive oil paste; warm rocket, potato and mussel salad; green salad; and a pissaladière — a provençal pizza made with anchovies, olives and onions.
La Belle Epoque, European Waterways’ six-room floating boutique barge hotel, cruises the Burgundy Canal each week spring to fall between Tanlay and Venarey-les-Laumes. The 12 passengers who sign on will be taking a slow and sensual six-night journey from nowhere to nowhere. They could drive the same distance – 40 miles – in no time, but what illuminating and palate-pleasing experiences would be missed. For a cruise aboard La Belle Epoque is slow travel at its finest, a luxurious opportunity to explore the legendary landscape of Burgundy, France’s renowned wine region, as a staff of experts feeds your mind, body and soul….
The annual approach of Carnival turns my thoughts to Brazil and especially to Rio de Janeiro. I fell madly in love with A Cidade Maravilhosa (marvelous city) half a century before I ever set foot there, when I saw Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) for the first time. The 1959 film, directed by French director Marcel Camus, plays out the tragic Greek love story of Orpheus and Eurydice in a modern favela (slum) overlooking Brazil’s legendary city. Along with the arresting visuals and pounding rhythms of Carnival, the film introduced to the world a new beat called Bossa Nova, with a soundtrack of classics like “Mañha de Carnaval” and “A Felicidade” that to this day are beloved worldwide.
To experience the coastal drama of Western Ireland, we took to the road in early October of 2015 to drive a bit of the legendary Wild Atlantic Way. Stretching 1500 miles from Kinsale, County Cork in the South West to Inishowen, County Donegal in the North West, this designated wild coastal route is said to be the longest in the world.
Continuing our exploration of Ireland via its Wild Atlantic Way, we returned to Killarney, gateway to the magnificent 26,000 acre Killarney National Park. We wished for an extra day or two here to explore the park and its landmark historic sites like Muckross House and Abbey, its waterfalls, hiking and bicycle trails. But we enjoyed the lively and welcoming town of Killarney, where we devoured the best fish and chips ever at the legendary Quinlan’s Seafood Bar (www.kerryfish.com) to which everyone in town had sent us. It was worth waiting on line with other visitors, and the locals who advised us that the best fish to order was the hake–or was it the haddock! We were sent next door for dessert at Gaelic Gelato, which turned out to be another significant stop. Clive, the charming owner, designed for us the best driving route for the next leg of our Wild Atlantic Way journey.
The magic of the holiday season in Mexico begins the eve of December 12 with candlelight processions all over the nation in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. In Barra de Potosi, a tiny fishing village on Mexicoʼs Pacific coast, the entire population turns out to honor La Guadalupana. They do the same 20 minutes north in the larger fishing-village-turned-coastal resort of Zihuatanejo, and in every village, town and city throughout the nation.
El Profe puts the hamlet of Coacoyul on the map every Thursday afternoon from 2 p.m. when the restaurant opens to serve pozole, the hearty hominy-based soup that is the weekly culinary tradition in much of Mexico, especially in the state of Guerrero.
By Carol Canter.
We were early — maybe one to two weeks before peak fall foliage. So instead of colors that scream, we had hillsides that whispered with hues perhaps more subtle than we had hoped for, but achingly beautiful in a restful way. More earth tones – umbers and russets and coppers, punctuated by yellows pale and golden.