TravelQuest Blog

In many ways, the highlight of my Svalbard eclipse trip was managing to get there. For some reason, I had always wanted to visit Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Once, I’d gone to a travel agent and asked about going to Spitsbergen and they said, “Pittsburgh? We (…)

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While internationally reported as ‘unseen’ and ‘disappointing’ on the rest of the Faroe Islands, for our TQ group it was a very successful (and dramatic) display of the total solar eclipse. The TravelQuest group traveled from Iceland to the tiny Faroe Islands with unparalleled anticipation, and perhaps even a little uncertainty. (…)

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With Eclipse USA just 3 short years away, we at TQ felt it was time to pay a visit to one of our prime August 21, 2017, viewing locations – Jackson, Wyoming. Let me say that the small town of Jackson, pop. 10,000, is not only a perfect place to (…)

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While TravelQuest’s Aram Kaprielian and I were scouting Indonesia in early April 2014 in search of the best viewing location for the March 9, 2016, total solar eclipse, we sought out a number of incredible immersive experiences that will be offered as short add-on adventures, pre- and post-eclipse. For anyone (…)

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In early April 2014, TravelQuest’s Aram Kaprielian and I shared some incredible experiences as we scouted Indonesia for the best viewing location for the total solar eclipse of March 9, 2016. Invariably the first Indonesian island most people experience is Bali — “The Island of the Gods.” For many, it (…)

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Sometimes I believe I have the best job in the world. This feeling was reinforced in early April 2014, during my 19th journey to Indonesia. It was my first trip with TravelQuest’s Aram Kaprielian, and we shared some incredible experiences as we scouted far and wide for the best viewing (…)

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TravelQuest’s Expressions of the Past tour has concluded, and our little group has dispersed. But the memories we’ve collected will remain with us forever. It’s impossible to summarize this trip in a short blog post, so I’ll mention the caves as the highlight (at least for me). I found the (…)

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The Great Gaudi

May 15, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine

I am utterly gobsmacked; lost for words. My vocabulary is bankrupt. As a writer, this is a disaster. But I can’t help it. I’ve been Gaudied. On the final day of our Expressions of the Past tour, we visited Güell Park and the Sagrada Familia. Both are creations of Antoni (…)

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On our Expressions of the Past tour, we’ve been exploring cave art for a number of days. Each cave, and each artistic endeavor, has been mesmerizing in its own way. But what of the artists themselves? Today, we visited one of their homes. The Grotte de la Vache is a (…)

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Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about our visits to various caves is the “no photography” rule — you can’t take pictures of the cave art. I can understand it from a conservation point of view, and because each tour would have to be extended to give everyone enough (…)

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A Bus With a View

May 12, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine

I confess that I was torn regarding today’s topic. Our TravelQuest group visited three of my (many) favorite travel spots: a cave with paintings (Lascaux, albeit the replica, Lascaux II), the medieval heart of an old town (Sarlat), and a marvelous medieval fortress (Chateau de Castelnaud). All were fascinating, and (…)

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This evening we had a fabulous duck dinner. On the menu: an appetizer that included duck foie gras, preserved duck in a filo pastry, slices of smoked duck, and a duck-based Crème Brule; a main course of duck three-ways (a rolled fillet with prunes, a stuffed breast, and slices of (…)

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An Alien Past

May 10, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine

Today in astronomy, exoplanets are all the rage. These are planets, orbiting stars located elsewhere in our galaxy, that we’re finding in extraordinary numbers. It fires the imagination to consider what these alien worlds might be like, but really, we don’t need to look to outer space to find a (…)

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Field of Dreams

May 09, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine

When it comes to wines and the making of same, my knowledge is pretty basic. But our guide, Cesar — now there’s a man who knows his wine, whether it’s Spanish, French, or “other.” And thanks to him, and our recent tours of several different wineries, I’ve managed to expand (…)

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Resurgence

May 08, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine

Bilbao was founded as a city-state in the 14th century. While the small city of Vitoria is considered the capital of the autonomous Basque Country in northern Spain, Bilbao is its economic capital and largest city. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was part of a daring attempt to revitalize the (…)

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Into the Depths

May 07, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine

In my previous post I said that Cesar, our local guide, summed up the problem with the (otherwise excellent) replica cave in Altamira by saying: “The real cave has a presence that the replica does not.” Having previously seen a cave with paintings I felt that to be true, but (…)

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The title of this post refers to the song (words by Allan Roberts; music by Doris Fisher) performed by a variety of artists including the Mills Brothers, whose version hit #1 on Billboard Magazine in 1944. Of course the song refers to hurting your sweetheart, but I thought the line (…)

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A Spanish Lunch

May 05, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine

You may have heard that lunches (and dinners) in Spain are long, lingering affairs. You heard correctly. After our 2½ hour tour of the López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Winery, where we discovered the long, laborious process required to make perhaps the finest wines in the region of La Rioja, (…)

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The idea that your jaw can drop in amazement is somewhat of a cliché, and most writers are urged to avoid the phrase. And yet, sometimes it happens. The Cathedral in Burgos, inside and out, is one of those places that can cause your jaw to articulate downward— more than (…)

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If you’re ever in Madrid for a frustratingly short period of time and are wondering how to make the most of your almost non-visit, allow me to recommend the Prado. Now if art by the masters— Goya, Rubens, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Raphael, El Greco, and Bosch (among others) — is not (…)

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