My Viking Journey: The Secrets of the Ancient City of Acre

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

It was Friday, our final day in Israel. After visiting Jerusalem and Haifa earlier in the week, our excursion would take us to the ancient city of Acre. For sure, my Viking journey on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land was exceeding expectations. My boyfriend L and I were traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* 

 

Viking Ocean Cruises; Israel; Ancient City of Acre; luxury cruises; Viking Star

My boyfriend L and I traveled to Israel with Viking Ocean Cruises.

“Tomorrow will be Shabbat, so we say ‘Shabbat Shalom’ because it is the Sabbath,” said our tour guide Simon. “Acre’s markets will be crowded as people shop for food before sundown.”

Viking Ocean Cruises; Israel; Ancient City of Acre; luxury cruises; Viking Star; Market Street in Acre

Fishmongers sell fresh fish on Market Street.

A City Above and A City Below
“Acre is a 2000 year old city,” Simon said. “Acre was the main port in the north of the country during the 19th century. Then the port of Haifa was built and became the main port.”

Viking Ocean Cruises; Israel; Ancient City of Acre; luxury cruises; Viking Star; Acre port

The port of Acre is home to sailboats and fishermen.

The Old City of Akko (Akko means Acre) is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an historic walled port-city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period. As we walked, we learned more about its secrets. According to the Israel Ministry of Tourism, “Only in the Old City of Akko will you discover a perfectly preserved Crusader city being unearthed and brought back to life, located directly under the city built above it. Continue reading

My Viking Journey: Sightseeing In The Beautiful City Of Haifa

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50The snow may be piled up from our fourth nor’easter, but I’m going to take myself back to the beautiful city of Haifa. Come join me for a sightseeing tour of some of Israel’s spectacular natural beauty including the Baha’i Gardens at Bahji in Acres and Rosh Hanikra National Park, the only point in Israel where the sea meets the cliff.

We’ll also make a stop at the Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra, which was part of our optional excursion during my Viking journey on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land. My boyfriend L and I were traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* 

Port of Haifa; Israel; Haifa; Viking Ocean Cruises

The sun was shining as we pulled into the Port of Haifa.

It was my first-ever visit to Israel and after a memorable day in Old Jerusalem, I couldn’t wait to see our next city. According to the Viking Daily, “Haifa is one of Israel’s most important and beautiful cities.” It’s stunning because it is built on the slopes of Mount Carmel and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Haifa; Israel; Viking Ocean Cruises

The view of Haifa from Mt. Carmel is stunning.

An Introduction to Haifa
“Good morning. Welcome to Haifa,” said our tour guide Abby. “This is an awesome tour. There’s never a dull moment.” We hopped on the bus and drove up Ben Guerion Street which is the German colony of Haifa. Supposedly World War II changed things. Many Holocaust survivors came to Haifa after the war and restored the houses around this area. Continue reading

My Viking Journey: A Day To Remember In Old Jerusalem

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50It was the seventh day of my Viking journey on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land. We docked early morning in the port of Ashdod, Israel. My boyfriend L and I were traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.I had been happily anticipating this part of the trip and my first-ever visit to Israel. It would be a day to remember in Old Jerusalem.

“Welcome to Israel,” said our guide Isaac. “How many of you have been to Israel before?” he asked. Only one out of 35 guests in our group raised a hand. “We’ve been waiting for you for 70 years. Better late than never,” he added.

Israel; Ashdod; Jerusalem; Viking Ocean Cruise; luxury travel

We arrived in Israel at the Ashdod port.

A Tiny But Mighty Country
I was amazed at how tiny Israel is. Isaac said the country is about the size of New Jersey, 350 miles north to south and 50 miles east to west. Wow-o-wow! “We are the only non-Muslim country in the region. We are surrounded by Muslim countries. That’s why we have such issues,” he said. Despite the ongoing friction around the edges, I felt safe during our excursion.

Isaac was quite an accomplished Israeli guide. “In the east we have a long border with Jordan and we have a peace treaty. In the southwest is the border with Egypt and we have a peace treaty with Egypt. The northeast border is Syria and we don’t have a peace treaty with them,” he explained.

Israel; Ashod; Jerusalem; Viking Ocean Cruise; luxury travel

On our way to Jerusalem.

Isaac told us about the population of Israel. “We have 8.5 million inhabitants. Eighty percent are Jewish. A majority of the remaining 20 percent are Arabic.”

We learned about Israel’s vibrant agriculture with olive trees, fresh fruits and vegetables. He especially encouraged us to try Israeli peppers and eggplants.

We learned about the country’s terrain: to the west is the coast of the country, in the middle the mountains of Judea and the Negev, the Jordan Valley to the east, the Sea of Galilee in the north and Dead Sea in the south. (I didn’t get a chance to swim in the Dead Sea, which is 34 percent salt! Definitely have to plan another visit to Israel.)

Israel; Ashod; Jerusalem; Viking Ocean Cruise; luxury travel

A panorama view leading into the Holy City.

Learning The History of The Holy City
After our scenic drive across Israel’s lowlands and into the Judea mountains, we entered the Holy City. It was an amazing feeling to walk around in the Old City of Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world and a pilgrimage site for major world religions. Continue reading

Where Do You Want To Travel In 2018?

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50As we chatted during our girlfriends’ dinner a few weeks ago, our talk was all about travel. My friend J was getting ready to take a winter vacation to Sarasota, Florida and planning a springtime trip to London. My friend N was debating where to take her husband for his milestone birthday. No talk of kids or health ailments, it was all about getting away and exploring the world during life after 60 (we are all now post 60).

Travel Is A Popular Pastime 
A month earlier, I had been to media day at The New York Times Travel Show. The Travel Show takes place annually at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. It’s a fun event to attend. This year marked the 15th anniversary of the show, setting new records with more than 600 companies representing over 176 countries and 32,398 participants—the highest in the Show’s history.  The New York Times Travel Show is the largest travel industry show in North America.

The New York Times Travel Show

The New York Times Travel Show is held annually in NYC.

“Each year, more and more travel professionals and enthusiasts attend The New York Times Travel Show and for good reason,” says Maggie Kiselick, vice president of advertising and managing director, The New York Times Magazine. “People rely on the Show to provide both exceptional travel offerings and helpful information to help them plan their trips to see the world.

Australia; New York Times Travel Show 2018; travel; boomer travel

Have you traveled to Australia yet? It’s a hot destination for 2018.

Where Do You Want To Travel In 2018?
I always like to see what places The New York Times Travel recommends each year. On the list of 52 for 2018, I’ve been to New Orleans, Cincinnati, Glasgow (Scotland), Baltimore, Germany’s Western States, Seattle and Denver. That’s only 17 spots. Looks like I have much more traveling to do. Continue reading

My First-Ever Ocean Cruise On The Luxurious “Viking Star”

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Are you ready? It’s time to embark, as I share highlights from my journey aboard my first-ever ocean cruise on the luxurious Viking Star. It was a “star-studded” 15-days traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* My lucky, lucky boyfriend L was my companion for the trip.

Our voyage on the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Italy. During the two weeks, we spent time exploring the cities of Athens, Mykonos, Rhodes, Limassol, Naples, Rome and visiting the holy land in Jerusalem. (Note: We missed visiting Crete due to weather conditions.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Greece; Israel; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

Our Viking Ocean Cruise took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy.

An Elegant Vessel For Ocean Cruising
Having been on two previous Viking River Cruises — on the Douro in Portugal and on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland — I was familiar with Viking Longships. With its Ocean Cruises, as they say, Viking has taken “that same small ship, destination-focus experience to the seas with an elegant fleet of vessels setting sail in Scandinavia and Baltic, the Mediterranean, North America and the Caribbean.” The ocean itineraries have been carefully designed to access the best destinations up close, with more time in the port than other cruise lines.

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travell

Viking Star is an elegant ocean liner designed for small ship destination cruising.

Accolades Galore For Viking Star
With Viking, I knew our ship, the Viking Star, was going to be special. Viking was named a #1 Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards 2017 and 2016. Plus, Cruise Critic editors honored Viking Ocean Cruises with two awards in 2016: “Best Luxury Cruise Line for Value” and “Best Luxury Cruise Line Spa,” (Ooh, ooh, ooh, wait until I tell you about my treatments at the spa. I had to try a massage and facial. It was part of my duties as a blogger. Did I say I love my life? I do. I do.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

The spa has a relaxing warm water pool with jets.

Cruise Critic editors also selected Viking Star as the “Best New Ocean Ship” of 2015, noting “the ship is so beautifully designed—with terrific al fresco restaurants, a beautiful pool area, a superb spa and the two-level Explorers’ observation lounge—that you’ll be hard-pressed to go ashore.”  (We spent three days at sea and it was so relaxing to walk around the deck and sit on lounges looking out over the Aegean Sea.) Continue reading