All Aboard Viking Star: A Great Way To Discover Scandinavia

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“Welcome aboard Viking Star! We are looking forward to sailing with you on our award-winning Viking ocean fleet,” said the Viking team as I settled in for what would be a fascinating journey through some of the most beautiful countries in Viking Homelands.

Having never been to this part of the world, I was excited to explore all that it had to offer. Plus, unlike my other river and ocean cruises compliments of Viking*, this time I would be sharing the experience with a group of very talented travel media and influencers. Ooh, ooh, ooh, wait until I tell you who you should be following on Instagram, especially if you like travel photography, and food blogs, if you like to cook. 

Viking Ocean Cruises; Viking Star; #1 Ocean Cruise Line

Viking has been voted a #1 Ocean Cruise Line every year since its launch.

This trip would also be different because I was leaving my boyfriend L behind. This time my sister N would be joining me as my lucky travel buddy. N and I have vacationed many places together, often navigating new spots by foot and window-shopping till we drop.

Viking Homelands; Copenhagen; sisters who travel together

My sister N was my travel buddy for the Viking Homelands trip.

A Great Way To Discover Scandinavia
Cruising is a great way to discover Scandinavia. Once on the ship you’re right in the middle of the breathtaking scenery. You don’t have to move your luggage to get from spot to spot. Viking makes everything so easy. The ocean itineraries have been carefully designed to access the best destinations up close, with more time in the port than other cruise lines. Continue reading

My Viking Journey: A Grand Finale In My Favorite City of Rome

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50My Viking journey on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land, was about to come to an end. My boyfriend L and I were traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* Our last stop was Civitavecchia, the port of Rome. We would spend our final day touring my favorite Italian city. L had never been to Rome. I was so excited to share the famous landmarks, piazzas, and most of all the pizza.

“I can’t wait for you to see the spectacular sites in Rome,” I told L as we prepared for our 10 hour excursion. “I know you will be exhausted after walking around town but you can rest on our plane ride home tomorrow.”

Rome; Colosseum

I was glad to show Rome to my boyfriend L, a first-time visitor.

The Large Port of Civitavecchia
Ciao everyone,” said our guide Monica. “We are in Civitavecchia, a port built more than 1000 years ago. It takes about 90 minutes to get to Rome.” On our way, Monica provided a history lesson.

Civitecchia, Rome

Arriving at our last port in Italy.

Civitavecchia is a large city for Italy. It means the ‘old city.’ During World War II it was bombed to ruins, ” said Monica. We approached the 255 miles long Tiber River, which divides Rome into two halves and flows out into the Mediterranean Sea. We drove by the countryside lush with olive trees and vineyards. Tuscany is only an hour from the port. Continue reading

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

My Viking Journey: A Visit To Cyprus & The Goddess of Love

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50This week is Valentine’s Day, a perfect time to take you to Petra tou Romiou in Cyprus, also know as Aphrodite’s Rock, where legend says that the Cypriot goddess of love and beauty first stepped on land after waves carried her here. This destination was part of my Viking journey on the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land. My boyfriend L and I traveled courtesy of Viking Cruises.* 

The Birthplace of Aphrodite
After leaving ports in Greece, we docked in Limassol, the historic capital of Cyprus. Cyprus is strategically located in the Eastern Mediterranean along the magnificent Aegean Sea.

Petra tou Romiou, Aphrodite's Rock, Cyprus, Viking Ocean Cruise

A higher view of the Cyprus coast.

“We are driving to the birthplace of Aphrodite,” said our tour guide Irene as we neared Petra. “She rose out of the sea. She is the goddess of love and beauty.” Continue reading

My Viking Journey: A Visit To The Beautiful Island of Mykonos

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50It’s so cold outside that I’m going to click my slippers three times and see if they will take me back to the beautiful Greek island of Mykonos. Join me as I reminisce about the luxurious Viking Star ocean liner and my Viking journey to the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land. My boyfriend L and I traveled courtesy of Viking Cruises.*

A Tour and Taste of Mykonos
Are you ready? We just docked in sun-drenched Mykonos, the smallest of the Greek islands. Can you feel the warmth on your face? The island boasts white-washed houses, centuries-old windmills, and stunning landscapes over the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

Mykonos; Viking Ocean Cruise; Greece; luxury travel

Mykonos is one of the most famous islands in the world.

We’re going on a tour called The Tastes of Mykonos, which includes a walking tour through a labyrinth of narrow streets, a stop at the old bakery of Gioras, and a tasting at a private organic farm and vineyard.

Vioma Organic Farm; Mykonos; Greece; Viking Ocean Cruise; luxury travel

The owner of Vioma Organic Farm plays classical music in the vineyards and has a pet sheep.

A Famous Island For Famous People
Our tour guide Amaryllis likes to share the history of the island: Continue reading