Thursday, March 15, 2018

Got the blues? Take a trip

Feeling depressed? Rather than trying to hide from the painful feelings, think outside yourself. One great solution to chase away those blah or even deep blue feelings is to plan a vacation.
Yes, travel can be the best potion to treat the melancholy or bad memories that take you to a place you don’t want to be. Travel has the potential to help you escape those feelings of sadness and inspire you to be a better you.

If you’re bogged down with a bad job, unhappy social life, or poor relationships, travel can take you mentally and physically away from those situations. Forget the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and ease into the serenity of a natural environment. Escape to the mountains, beach, or a secluded rural setting and let the calmness tame the misery in your mind.

Once that happens you’ll be open to discovering another aspect of the world—a real and brilliant world--not the one in which you feel depressed or sad. Sure, travel is enjoyable, but it also introduces you to beautiful scenery, different cultures, tasty foods, and new friends.
Challenge yourself—try something new. Go rock climbing, ziplining, or snorkeling in a new and fascinating place. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone builds confidence, so you’ll be able tackle whatever comes your way after you return home.

Travel helps you see yourself and others in a new light. It can help you find a purpose, gain new skills, and discover qualities about yourself you were unaware of. It teaches you to be responsible and enables you to gain independence. It’s easier to make new friends, stimulate your brain, and soothe your soul when traveling away from home. And it’s so much fun!

When you move out of the daily grind, you’ll make so many wonderful memories that will lift you up just by recounting your adventures to yourself or others afterwards. To make sharing easier, be sure to take plenty of photos, write in a journal, or record your thoughts and feelings as you go.
Travel simply makes us better people by helping us understand ourselves and the people we meet along the way more completely. Rather than hiding from the world, we embrace it—and leave depression behind.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Unique ways to experience Colorado's public lands

Nearly 40 percent of Colorado is comprised of federal public land. That includes four National Parks and eight National Monuments, 41 state parks, as well as hundreds of regional parks and open spaces. Public land provides outdoor recreation, wildlife habitats, clean air and water. All of that makes the state’s landscape breathtaking and lifestyle appealing.
Outstanding landscape of Colorado National Monument
by Beverly Burmeier
Colorado Public LandsDay is May 19, 2018, a perfect opportunity to experience outdoor recreational activities or check out different voluntourism events.

Regardless of your skill level or experience, there are plenty of recreational opportunities for everyone in Colorado's public lands.

Experience a canyoneering adventure in the Uncompahgre National Forest.  Local outfitter, Canyoning Colorado, offers canyoning/canyoneering descents and trainings in the quaint mountain town of Ouray, where there is an abundance of canyons and waterfalls. Adventurers can explore eight canyons in the Uncompahgre National Forest outside of Ouray on these expeditions. Tours and trainings are available to persons with no prior experience. Experienced climbers can take on more challenging tours or learn to canyoneer on their own.

Wildflowers growing near Boulder's flatirons
by Matt Inden
Catch a glimpse of wildlife on the Colorado Birding Trail. The Colorado Birding Trail is comprised of outdoor recreation sites, hiking or walking paths, both public and private, along a designated driving route across the state. Each driving route offers unique trail names and is composed of several watchable wildlife sites including the Bobolink Trailhead in Boulder, a reliable nesting site for species along the Front Range or the Prairie Canyons Trail just south of La Junta, where visitors can see horned lizards, Cassin’s Kingbirds, roadrunners and more.

The Great Sand Dunes with the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the background
by Matt Inden
Cool off in the brisk water at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Medano Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is something of a mystery. Each spring it emerges from the mountains behind the sand dunes to form a wide, shallow and gently flowing stream. Visitors wade into it to cool hot feet after tromping around the dunes, build sandcastles, or boogie board and splash around in its rhythmic waves before it retreats into the mountains just as quickly. The ideal combination of sultry desert and refreshing water is not the Alamosa-area park’s only charm — the dunes themselves are quite bewitching as well.

Marvel at the masonry of Colorado’s ancient people at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. So adept were the construction skills of the ancient Ancestral Puebloans who lived in southwest Colorado, that parts of their structures still stand more than 700 years later. Those who tour the area’s mesas and canyons today are left to speculate about the purpose of the multistory brick towers. Archeologists think they could have been homes, storage silos for crops, defensive forts or ceremonial structures. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez, contains the highest known archaeological site density in the United States, with rich, well-preserved evidence of native cultures.

Whitewater froth on the Cache La
Poudre River
by Andrea Golod
Raft the tumbling rapids of the Cache la Poudre River. Located west of Fort Collins, Colorado’s only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre, carves through Poudre Canyon flanked by alpine mountainsides and natural rock cliffs. The triumph of paddling over a rapid named Devil’s Staircase is second only to the views and the chance to spot bighorn sheep and deer scampering along its rocky hills. Rafting outfitters guide groups to rapids of all difficulty levels, so everyone gets the right amount of adventure. 

Walk in dinosaur footprints in Comanche National Grassland. Standing in Picketwire Canyon with your foot swallowed by a three-toed impression left in the bedrock by a brontosaurus 150 million years ago, one can imagine what it might have looked like when dinosaurs inhabited the area. The canyon was home to a lake during the Jurassic period, and the brontosaurus you’re tracking now used to frolic along its shores. The footprints are reached after a flat five-mile hike, bike or horse ride.
Comanche National Grassland is one of the last short-grass
prairies in the world
by Matt Inden

Information and photos courtesy of Kirstin Koszorus, Colorado Tourism Office


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Schlotsky's launches Austin Eatery restaurant design

You can’t miss the big lighted sign on the wall. “Austin Born and Bread” is the mantra of Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery, a new concept rolled out recently in Central Texas.
Started in 1971 in downtown Austin, the casual restaurant offered just one sandwich, known as The Original. Made with sourdough buns baked fresh in the store daily, that sandwich launched a franchise that is now more than 370 restaurants strong. 

Located in Bee Cave, the concept is the first of Schlotzsky’s to add local favorites inspired by the food truck culture. There’s a happy, comfortable hometown feel to the restaurant that replicates the eclectic vibe of Austin with bold graphics on the walls and use of reclaimed wood and found objects in the decorative motif. Colorful murals remind one of the brand’s Austin roots.

“The Schlotzsky’s brand and culture was built on our Austin heritage, and we are thrilled to pioneer the new restaurant evolution in the city where our story started nearly 47 years ago,” said Kelly Roddy, President of Schlotzsky’s.

The goal is to appeal to all ages, from youngsters to millennials to seniors. Many of the new menu items are sharable, a concept that is growing especially among young adult customers and families. The restaurant also sells beer and wine and provides seating options including booths, tables, and outdoor dining.

I was invited to preview new menu items prior to the grand opening at the Bee Cave location and left with some new favorites. Created by Corporate Chef Maira Isabel Morales, the menu now includes sliders, macs, and tacos in addition to traditional fan favorites like sandwiches, pizza, soups, and salads. Popular with Texas diners, the regionally-based selections—all made with the freshest ingredients--will likely be added to other Schlotzsky’s in the future.

When you go to Schlotzsky’s be sure to expand your taste palate, whether you prefer mild or spicy, with scrumptious offerings like Sweet n’ Sassy Slider, Aloha Brisket Slider, or Chipotle Steak Slider. Taco varieties include Saucy Chick (loaded with hot sauce), Smokin’ Hawaiian, and My Jam Brisket (with a secret ingredient for a unique taste combination).

Baked in a tin are two new dishes—Brisketeer Mac (yummy mac and cheese combo) and Cheesy Bacon Tots, each enough for a meal. Left Coast Flatbread is a tasty combination of chicken, bacon, and avocado (yeah!) and Margherita Flatbread works for those who prefer vegetarian fare.

Don’t forget to order The Original once you’ve sampled the new items. Its 13 ingredients will melt in your mouth and soothe your tummy with familiar warm goodness.

Photos by Beverly Burmeier




Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Saving Tigers in India

When most people think of India the first wild animal that comes to mind is the Bengal tiger. This legendary species, largest member of the cat family, truly epitomizes wildlife in India.
As a result, India works diligently to embrace and protect this imposing and powerful animal. Males can reach 10 feet in length and weigh up to 500 pounds; as expected, females are somewhat smaller. The coat of a tiger is short and distinctively striped with patterns as individual as a fingerprint. Geographic differences also affect color and stripe pattern as well as fur density.

During a total of eight wildlife safaris in Kahna and Bandhavgahr National Parks, both located in central India, Larry and I had many sightings of Bengal tigers. We saw males and females, even a mother tiger playing with her four cubs. In the parks, tigers can often be seen resting or walking on dirt paths, which is easier on their soft feet than branches and rocks in the forest.
Although the tigers used to range over a great part of the country, today they are primarily restricted to forested areas of northern and central India. Their habitat can range from 10,000 feet high in the humid jungles of the Himalayas to the swamps of the Sundarbans where they spend much time in water.

Reclaiming tigers
In 1940 there were an estimated 40,000 tigers in India. Thirty years later the count was less than 2,000. Loss of habitat and excessive unmanaged hunting caused the number of tigers to decline significantly. Game shooting of tigers has been legal only since 1971, but illegal poaching continued for decades after that.

In 1973 Project Tiger was inaugurated by the Indian government in conjunction with World Wildlife Fund. Fifteen areas of reserve were set aside throughout India for protecting tigers and the ecosystems that benefit them. Additionally, as a result of Wildlife Institute of India being established in 1976 India now has the best record of any nation for protection of wildlife.
Within 52 national parks and 223 wildlife reserves, none of which have fences although some have villages within the reserve’s boundaries, tigers are free to roam. Our guide in India previously worked for Wildlife Institute of India and offered insight into programs currently in place to track tigers as they move through established corridors to different regions.

Tigers prey mostly on large hoofed animals such as deer, preferring to hunt at night or on cloudy days. Although they have been known to attack young elephants and cattle, they rarely kill people.  That would usually be the result of human encroachment on their territory. Tigers are not social animals; they hunt alone by stalking prey, then rush to attack and kill by choking or breaking the prey’s neck. During the day they rest in sheltered areas like caves or thick brush.
Tigers have become a big draw for tourism in India. Indeed, that was one of our primary reasons for to traveling to this huge country. We were not disappointed. Seeing them in their natural habitat is an amazing experience.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Friday, February 23, 2018

Searching for tigers

We spot the female tiger lying on the soft dirt path, seemingly undisturbed by our approaching safari vehicle. Because they have delicate paws, tigers like to walk on the dirt paths intended for motor vehicles, but being in the open like that makes her easy to see. We are the only vehicle around and watch in amazement as the tiger gets up and walks toward our vehicle. Our driver backs up multiple times to give the tigress space each time she nears the vehicle. Our cameras click continuously recording the experience so we can savor it again later.
We are on our first wildlife safari in KanhaNational Park in central India, a place we have traveled a long distance just for moments like this. Within an hour of entering the reserve we have made our first sighting.

When most people think about wildlife safaris they think of Africa, which is an excellent place to see lions, elephants, and other animals in the so-called “Big Five.”
But Africa doesn’t have Bengal tigers. And that’s why we went to India.

Our tour begins
After flying from Austin, Texas to Delhi, India and spending a day touring the old and new parts of that city, we left for Kanha National Park. That meant a flight to the small town of Jabalpur and then a four-hour drive on dusty, bumpy roads to the Kanha Jungle Lodge, arriving after dark.

Although the journey is not so easy, Kanha is often described as India’s best game sanctuary and a model for wildlife conservation everywhere. The park’s grassy meadows, flat-topped hills, numerous crystal clear streams, and lush sal (a kind of tree) forest were inspiration for Kipling’s Jungle Book. Because it’s an important tiger reserve, it was high on our list of places to search for tigers.
Wildlife drives are regulated by the park service and are only allowed from daylight to 11:00 a.m. and again from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. During our three-night stay at Kanha, we went on four safaris, two morning and two afternoon.

Going on safari
Wakeup calls for morning safaris start at 5:00 a.m. After we sip a cup of hot tea and munch a biscuit, the lodge’s resident naturalist takes us to the park entrance for registration and to pick up a driver and mandated park guide. Once inside the park, we take off on the main road in a cloud of red dust mixed with fog formed into a mist that hangs over the area most of the morning.

A golden sunrise streams through the trees as Vinod, our driver, checks the dirt path for fresh footprints. We wind around trees, into small valleys, and over simple wooden bridges—all the while scanning the landscape and listening for an alarm call from deer that might indicate a tiger is nearby.
Vinod has lived in this area and spent time in the woods since childhood, so we soon decide that he thinks like a tiger. He is keenly observant and knows where to find the large cats and where they are likely to re-emerge after vanishing into the woods.

We watch solemnly, containing our excitement so as not to startle the tiger. When she finally heads into the brush and disappears inside the forest, our guide tells us she is on the hunt for food and has wandered a good distance from her cubs. So he doesn’t think we will see her again this morning
But we are ecstatic! Almost immediately we have fulfilled our mission to view tigers in the wilds of India. As the morning progresses, we also see spotted deer, black-face monkeys, wild hogs, barasingha (swamp deer), and assorted birds. It’s our first game drive, and what a success it has been.

I’ll follow up with more of our adventures in India in future posts.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier




Friday, February 16, 2018

Spring travel trends

Destination experts at Ker and Downey, a luxury travel organizer in Katy, Texas, have identified a few locations that appear to be trending for early 2018. These include North America’s national parks, South American destinations such as Argentina and Chile; European gems like the Italian Dolomites as well as Cadiz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain; and a number of locations in Asia such as Bali, Bhutan, China and India.
Temples in Bali

“As we get further into 2018 people are realizing they haven’t finalized their travel plans for the year, and we are starting to see a lot of interest from our clients wondering what they can do to fulfill their wanderlust sooner rather than later,” said Ker & Downey Director of Marketing and Sales Nicky Brandon. “Based on whether someone wants to stay relatively close to home or check off a bucket-list trip half-way around the world, there are a number of locations travelers should be considering this spring based on travel industry trends and the new experiences Ker & Downey is offering,” Brandon adds.

Spring break often means family travel and multi-generational travel as larger family units try to make memories while kids are out of school. American travelers wanting to stay a bit closer to home might consider national parks or Alaska and Hawaii. Those looking for an extra reason to get out and discover their parks this spring need look no further than National Park Week, which begins April 21. If someone wants to discover history as well as spectacular views, Ker & Downey’s “Mid-Atlantic History Tour” sample itinerary includes private tours of the homes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe.

Vineyards in Chile
If you want to wander south, the beautiful Chilean wine region in the CasablancaWine Valley offers optimal day trips and excursions. Guests have an opportunity to see the vineyard leaves and Patagonia foliage turn to vibrant autumn colors in April (Southern Hemisphere, remember?). Those traveling in March can raise a glass to their health and happiness during the annual wine festival season.

Thrill-seekers can spring into action with an abundance of snowy activities at the ItalianDolomites, famous for its hiking and skiing slopes. After working up an appetite, travelers can experience the area’s delicious cuisine as they taste their way through Bassano del Grappa and Asiago, then sip prosecco from a personal luxury gondola in Venice.

Offering unparalleled relaxation, the tropical beach-strewn paradise of Bali welcomes the ultimate far-flung vacationer. Ideal travel times are April and May, during dry season and before peak tourist season. Customized trips allow visitors to enjoy the Indonesian province’s beaches as well as tour temples and stroll through rice paddy walks at discounted seasonal rates.
Dolomites in Italy

Anyone who loves a good festival or cultural experience should consider visiting Asia this spring. In March, India celebrates the end of winter with street parties, during which everyone throws colored powder and water at each other in the vibrant Holi Festival. Across Southeast Asia, residents of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and southwest China ring in the New Year with the annual Water Festival. Held mid-April across the region, locals splash anyone and everyone, especially tourists, creating a fun and playful atmosphere for any visitor.

The serene, natural beauty of Bhutan blossoms in spring when the indigenous rhododendron flowers are in bloom. The three-day Rhododendron Festival, held April 20-22, 2018, highlights the region’s eco-tourism and celebrates its culture of peace and enlightenment. Combine this experience with a trip to neighboring Nepal and trek through the Himalayan Mountains, most visible during April before monsoon rains begin.

More information about Ker & Downey and its custom journeys can be found at

Information and photos courtesy of Liz Baker, Thompson & Co. PR 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Forget stereotypes: Cruisers cross age and income levels

Cruising remains one of the most popular vacations for all types of people, reports Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the largest cruise industry trade association in the world.
Cruise ships come in all sizes, from those that carry several hundred
passengers to those that carry many thousands.
Having cruised many times on family-friendly to luxury ships, I wholeheartedly agree. Your experience may also confirm that finding; but even if that doesn’t surprise you, some recent trends might.

One of the most telling stats is that people from all income levels and all age brackets are cruising. Although 50 percent of cruisers have a household income of at least $100,000, a third of cruisers surveyed have a household income of less than $80,000. Shorter itineraries and ships with fewer amenities are attracting people from all walks of life. “There is a cruise for every travel preference, style, and budget,” says Cindy E’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA.
From basic inside cabins to more luxurious quarters, there are
accommodations for every budget and style of traveler.
Even more surprising is that millennials are booking luxury cruises at a record pace. Yes, 24 percent of those young things just starting their careers and families have sailed on a luxury cruise line within the past three years. Even more, 70 percent of millennials say they will definitely book a cruise for their next trip. Seems they have discovered that cruising is fun and budget-friendly at any age and not just for gray heads with canes.

Even teens enjoy the freedom and
excitement of cruising.
One reason cruises are so popular with millennials, as well as other generations, is that cruising gives them a sample of many different destinations and allows them to decide on places they want to return to later, whether on another cruise or a land-based trip. And there’s a high return quotient: Nine out of ten people say they will cruise again.
Onboard activities like miniature
golf appeal to all age groups.
Another trend: Cruisers like to travel with groups of familiar people, so a cruise can be the perfect family vacation. Although four out of 10 cruisers say they are interested in child care services onboard, only 13 percent actually use those services. Could that be because entertainment and activities are designed to be enjoyable for the whole family?

Pure relaxation in the hot tub with a cool one.
What kinds of cruises bring clients the most satisfaction? Studies put the number at 81 percent for river cruises and 73 percent for ocean cruises. Not sure what the reasons are but could have something to do with length and pace of cruises. Since a prime reason for choosing a cruise is relaxation, a slower paced river cruise fits that bill.
Travel agents are also in on the game. Knowing so many clients enjoy cruising means that travel agents are likely to recommend this vacation option. With so much variety in the cruising industry regarding destinations, length of cruise, type of ship, activities, and luxury level, it’s easy for travel agents to find something that works well for each client.

Features like ropes courses, slides, ice skating, zip lines, and more
are fun for all ages--kids not needed to try these activities!
No matter what your reason for going on a cruise, you can find one that works for you and will leave you wanting to cruise again. We have certainly found that to be true.
Information courtesy of CLIA. More information regarding the report or CLIA can be found at
Photos from Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Monday, January 29, 2018

Another testament for travel insurance

So you still don’t buy travel insurance. But you do have car insurance, home insurance, and health insurance. Have any of these netted you a payout large enough to cover all the premiums you’ve paid throughout the years? Probably not. But you still have insurance—just in case.
Well, that ‘just in case” can happen when you are traveling, too. And the costs of a major illness or accident or weather event can be much higher than the premiums paid out.

Unexpected illness in Nepal
We recently returned from a trip to India and Nepal. After two marvelous weeks exploring wildlife parks, temples, countryside, and much more in India, we headed to Nepal. That was about the time my husband Larry started feeling bad. A hotel doctor diagnosed him with bronchitis, gave him medicine, and suggested he rest for a couple of days. We canceled our trip to Chitwan National Park and stayed in Kathmandu two extra nights before flying to Pokhara.

The night before leaving Pokhara, things started going really downhill for him. He was admitted to the local clinic which determined he needed to be at a better equipped facility in Kathmandu, where he was taken by helicopter the next morning.
Without going into specifics, suffice it to say he was in the hospital for eight days receiving treatment before he was cleared to fly back to the States. Even though the cost for medical care in Nepal is significantly less than equivalent services in the U.S., it doesn’t take long in a hospital to incur a large bill.

Most U.S. insurance companies (especially if you’re on Medicare or Medicare advantage-type program) won’t guarantee payment to a hospital in a remote location like Nepal, which means we had to pay our bills (make sure your credit card limit is fairly high) and then file claims for reimbursement. 
Add caption
The one thing our travel insurance did cover upfront was our flight home. However, they only provided economy fare, although our original, but canceled flight, was in business class. And Larry needed to be in business class as per the doctor’s recommendation because of how weak he was. So getting reimbursed for the extra fee is an issue I’m still working on. Even so, I was grateful for what the insurance did cover, which was significant since it was a last-minute booking. And I’m hoping coverage will extend to a good portion of the other expenses.

Weather event in Antarctica
That was the second time we had a large claim during travel. About two years ago we went to Antarctica with an extension to Easter Island following the icy expedition. Weather created the problem this time as we could not get back to the mainland in Chile when scheduled, which played havoc with our flights to Easter Island and later return to the U.S. In all we paid out nearly $7000 more, which the insurance company covered in full. Yes, we had paid a hefty amount for travel insurance, but we would never have gone without it because of the uncertainty of traveling in that part of the world.

Before each trip, check the credit card on which you book travel (cruises, flights, tours, hotels, etc.) to see what kind of coverage is offered for non-refundable expenditures as well as medical expenses. If it’s substantial, you may be able to lower the amount of coverage to purchase on regular travel insurance. You can consider a med-evac type of policy, too, although most regular travel insurance policies include around $150,000 for that service (which is highly unlikely to be used and does not guarantee transport back to the U.S. only to the nearest facility that can provide necessary treatment).
Even if your destination isn’t so far away as Antarctica or Nepal, travel insurance is a good investment. Many costs are incurred prior to travel, and things can disrupt your plans even before a trip as well as during. I would never book a major trip without insurance—just in case.

Photos from free sources


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Paamiut is a secret treasure of Greenland

Brightly painted houses keep the cold winters from being so dreary.
While tourists to Greenland often prefer itineraries filled with all the famous sights of bigger towns, Paamiut naturally attracts travelers who want to go off the beaten path and gain a different perspective. Fortunately for us, it was a port stop on our Regent cruise to Iceland and Greenland.

What makes this tiny town so special? The people of Paamiut, which is located on the southwestern corner of Greenland, are very friendly. When they spot tourists they are quick to share all the good spots in the region. Sightseeing in Paamiut is about appreciating the beauty in simple experiences--hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing.

Famous church in Paamiut
You can easily walk to the Stave Church, one of the finest churches in Greenland, and you might even get to hear a local person playing hymns on the small organ. Built in 1909 the red and green steepled church is like a work of art with its fancy Norwegian-style designs inside and outside. Imagine what it takes to build such a wooden structure in a country with no trees.

This mural on the side of a building depicts the fishing lifestyle.
A replica of a ship hangs from the ceiling in tribute to the fishing lifestyle and strong connection to the sea. For its 1500 inhabitants, 90 percent of whom are native Inuits, every aspect of life revolves around water. The town grew because the sea is free of ice during the winter. Fishing for redfish, sea salmon, and cod is the primary occupation.

Additionally, icebergs drift from the east coast and up the west coast bringing seals and a prosperous hunting season, and whales can be hunted on a quota system. 
Icebergs float in from the open sea.

Often shrouded in fog, Paamuit means “those who reside at the mouth” of Kuannersoaq Fjord. Started as a trading post for fur and whale products when founded in 1742, Paamuit has become known for its soapstone artists, too. The town is a mixture of old and new cultures and provides amazing nature experiences for those with a different perspective of life than more urban folks.

Summer flowers brighten the simple landscape in town.
In summer beautiful hiking trails attract nature-lovers; and as with everywhere in Greenland, sailing is a summertime favorite in Paamiut. If you take a boat ride through the fjord, you might see the town’s guardian, the white-tailed eagle, called Nattoralik. It is plentiful in Paamiut, and the townspeople feel a strong connection with it as with all wildlife in the area.

The Inuit culture has a long history of whaling.
The town is quite small, so we easily walked through the city center as our school teacher guide pointed out the school, fire station, hospital, fish market and museum where displays showed how women turned thousands of tiny beads and pieces of sealskin into extraordinary national costumes that are still worn today.

The green building behind the bridge is the school.
We stopped along the bright red and white bridge in the center of town and listened to the babbling river beneath. We watched children riding bikes and playing everywhere, even on the roof of a house—easily accessible because of being built on a hill. Summer flowers grew wild throughout the town and were especially lovely in the field beside the iconic whale-bone arch.

We trekked to the observation tower.
Later Larry and I set out on our own to climb the rocky coastal hill and then scale the stairs leading to the observation tower.

Despite a brisk wind at the top, we had excellent views of the entire town’s streets and buildings in one direction and the fjord in the other. Colorfully painted houses stood out in a toy-city panorama against volcanically formed, blue-black mountains. We felt we had discovered a hidden treasure in Greenland.
Volcanic rock surrounds the fjord where Paamiut is located.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Friday, January 5, 2018

More seats, less room when flying

Getting ready for an airplane trip? It’s crunch time.
Seats on airplanes are getting smaller and closer together.
That’s how it feels when you settle into your economy seat on most airplanes.

These days the average economy seat pitch (distance from any point on the seat to the corresponding point on the seat in front or back of it) is 30 to 31 inches on the three major U.S. airlines—American, Delta, and United. Low-fare airlines like Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit have scaled back as low as 28 inches, making your available legroom even more cramped.
Allegiant offers low fares but
less leg room.
Of course, these are averages, and you should keep in mind that big airline companies have many different types of planes. Pitch can change when new planes are built or when older ones are refurbished. Bottom line, every inch counts for comfort, especially if you’re making a long-haul run.

But there’s an airline you may not have even heard of that offers the most legroom in North America. Interjet is a Mexico-based, low-cost carrier that offers a generous 34 inches of seat pitch (i.e. legroom) on all its planes. However, it may not be convenient for U.S. travelers. Interjet flies to Mexico and Central and South American destinations from only a handful of U.S. cities.
Considering well-known airlines that fly most places Americans want to go, JetBlue could be the best choice. With 32 to 34 inches of seat pitch on all its planes and 37 inches on its Even More Space option, JetBlue offers more leg space that any other well-known carrier.

Virgin America is another airline that features 32 inches of seat pitch, but that may change since Alaska Airlines purchased VA. Alaska is downgrading its main cabin pitch to 31 inches—pretty much in line with most planes on the three big airlines.
Low-fare airlines like Southwest are best for short
flights since seat pitch is likely to be less.
Foreign airlines tend to be more generous, with many offering seat pitches of 33-36 inches. If you’re traveling overseas, check out the seat pitch of these international carriers: Air India, Air Tahiti Nui, Asiana, EVA, JAL, Air China, and Turkish Airlines.

The trend among airlines is to add more seats and subtract more inches from the seat pitch, and that’s not likely to change. The best advice is to put as little as possible under your seat, so you at least have that space to put your feet.
Information culled from 

Photos from free sources.