Sometimes dreams come true. No, I did not reach over the rainbow, nor did I get a Nobel prize. I was not elected as the president of the USA, and I did not break any Olympic record either. Those have never been my dreams. As a practical person, my dreams are modest. One of them derives from a pre-digital era object, the calendar. Every year we waited expectantly, before the new year started, for the new calendars. Big companies like banks, insurance agencies, and fashion chains, handed it out for free, for advertising purposes. However, the calendars were adorned with large picturesque and exotic scenes from around the world. Continue reading My dream vacation to the Scandinavian Fjords
The two main cities of Portugal are Lisbon, the capital, in the south, and Porto, which is “the capital of the north.” The distance between them is three hours by car. Portugal looks like a small country on maps, especially when it is side by side with Spain. And yet, it is the eleventh country in its size in Europe, 4.5 times bigger than Israel. Its geographical landscape is mostly mountainous, except for the coastal strip. The Azores and the Madeira Islands are part of Portugal. However, we did not try to catch as much as we could. We preferred a slow hike that leaves a taste of more.
Vietnam is imprinted in many minds as a war zone. Pictures of frightened Vietnamese fleeing bombed houses and villages, the jungles in which the Vietcong hid (the guerillas,) the images of the American captured pilots, the story of John McCain. Thus, the idea of visiting Vietnam seemed odd to me. Who would want to visit such a place? But as I began looking into the matter in-depth, I recognized that today’s Vietnam is different from the image left by the prolonged war (16 years long, Darling). Even Senator McCain came back to Vietnam, not to mention the things you only see in Vietnam and which are worth the visit.
New York is not my most preferred city. You might say that I have a cognitive bias against it, a well-known phenomenon in psychology and behavioral sciences. It is human tendencies to think in specific ways, that causes false judgments and perceptions. Even intelligent people are biased and tend to create conclusions suiting their preferences rather than objective thinking. I discovered that prices are skyrocketing in New York in September and keep rising as the time approached. Why didn’t I check what events are scheduled in New York in September, as I did when we planned to visit Key West? I know how to deduce: I drew the right conclusion in the episode of the knocks in the middle of the night and changed hotels?
No one in Israel can forget the T.V. program of Chaim Hecht “Between Karkur and Singapore.” Not because Karkur, which is an Israeli village, is important, but because Singapore looked so good that we couldn’t understand how come things are so different in Israel especially since they learned many things from us. The program certainly raised the Israeli awareness of this island-country, but few know how much Israel helped Singapore reach this country. The cab driver asked us where we were from.
When we were in Ottawa, out of the “tourist season,” I perceived that the town was full of tourists. That made me believe that perhaps there is no “tourist season” any longer. People travel all year round. The rain, and indeed the snow, no longer deterred. So, I decided to realize an old dream. In 1998 a large Expo exhibition was held in Lisbon. I had no idea what this exhibition was about, but the possibility of strolling between the pavilions and seeing new things appealed to me, and I tried to see if a visit to the show was a possibility. I found that there are no direct flights to Lisbon and the entrance fees to the show are very high. Even though I had abandoned the idea, Lisbon stayed in my heart.
On the way from Ottawa to Quebec city, we drove along the river, the St. Lawrence. The river is vast in its breadth and length, from Ontario lake to the river mouth in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,200km away. The river flows from south to the northeast and drains nearly a quarter of the planet’s freshwater reserves. Canada itself is enormous thus it is divided into ten provinces and three territories, even though 80% of the population lives in four of the provinces: Ottawa, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. Ottawa and Quebec on the east side, British Columbia and Alberta on the west side. In the middle, there are but a few villages, generally near to the American border.
As is customary with us each fall, we are looking for a sanctuary from the July-August heat, on our way to family in the USA. The idea is not “to rest,” aka laze somewhere, but to travel and explore foreign territories. Still, the emphasis is on the weather, cool, please. At first, I thought to take advantage of the weather cooling and finally reach the southern states of America. Our way to these states is continuous, as we always talk about going there, yet we never arrive. We want to enjoy some jazz and country music and have a taste of the unique southern food, which is a combination of French, African and Mexican cuisine.
Hotel prices, as I disclosed in a previous post, have a “life cycle” of their own. This raises the question: when is the best time to find the best prices? The city of New York, with which I have an ongoing romance, will function in this post as an example.
The Internet created the phenomenon of “independent tourism”, where people are planning their own trips; They buy flights, rent cars, and reserve hotels all by themselves, without the help of travel agents. No more organized tours that are mostly bus rides along incredible distances, or remote hotels that have a secret deal with travel agencies. Thus, nowadays, a conversation about traveling starts with the sentence: “Were you already in…?” Indeed, we are all excited by breathtaking views, historic sites, and welcoming cities, so much so that with time, a list of mandatory sites for travelers, part of which is based on “herd mentality” has been created. Sometimes the sites that are considered mandatory provide the goods, yet sometimes… (Public relations people have to make a living, too). Continue reading Tourist sites that must be visited (or not)