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.

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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.

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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.)

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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

My Viking Journey: A World of Ancient Treasures in Athens

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It was day two on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner on my Viking journey to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land. My boyfriend L and I were traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.Our first port of call was Piraeus, one of the biggest ports in Europe and the third largest in the world.

After a delicious buffet breakfast at World Cafe, one of the Viking Star restaurants, we boarded the coach destined for Greece’s Capital. We would have a panoramic tour of Athens and then visit the National Archaeological Museum, which travel writer Rick Steves says, “is far and away the top ancient Greek art collection anywhere…and is a great way to begin or finish off your sightseeing through Greece.”

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Port Piraeus in Greece is one of the largest in the world.

A Lesson in Greek Philosophy and Mythology
Our leader Vessia was a professionally trained guide of the country and told us about the special school she went to in Greece to become a tour guide. She had an incredible knowledge of Greek history, language, culture and philosophy and was eager to share.

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Our guide Vessia had special training in all facets of ancient and present day Greece.

She explained how different words stem from the Greek language. “You are speaking Greek but you don’t realize it,” Vessia said. “For example, Acropolis means the highest point or extremity. Acrophobia means an extreme phobia. That’s why you say ‘it’s all Greek to me!'” 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.)

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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.

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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.)

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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

Exploring The Great Outdoors In The Tualatin Valley

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Do you know where the Tualatin Valley is located? I bet you don’t, but you should. It’s right outside of Portland’s backyard. That’s Portland, Oregon. And it’s one of the most beautiful places to vacation in the USA if you like the great outdoors. I had a chance to visit this month, courtesy of The Washington County Visitors Association, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.*

As I get older, I like to be outdoors during my life after 50. Maybe it’s because I spent so much time indoors during my 30+ years working in a corporate environment. Now that I have more flexibility it’s great to have time to travel and explore new places. Much of my recent travel has been international, so it was nice to explore the USA, especially the Northwest.

The Tualatin Valley, Willamette Valley, Oregon, boomer travel, post 50 travel

My plan included three days in the Tualatin Valley, about 30 – 40 minutes outside the city, and two days in Portland. It was a perfect mix of country and city living. Plus, despite all I had heard about rainy Oregon (and sadly the forest fires), we had sunny and warm weather the entire week.

The Tualatin Valley, Willamette Valley, Oregon, boomer travel, post 50 travel

DID I SAY I LOVED BOTH THE TUALATIN VALLEY AND PORTLAND ? DID I SAY I WANT TO GO BACK?

Yes, Yes, Yes! And you will too.

Welcome To The Tualatin Valley
“It is our pleasure to welcome you to our version of paradise, the Tualatin Valley. Ours is a destination filled with vineyards and wineries, u-pick farms, golf course, shops, main streets, festivals, restaurants and a variety of lodging options, and much of what makes Oregon a must-visit location,” says the tourism brochure.

Between my arrival on Tuesday and departure for Portland on Thursday, Washington County Tourism team members Sylke, Jackie and Ariel made sure I sampled a bit of almost everything (except golf since I’m not a golfer). Continue reading