Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Chase winter chills at the island of St. Kitts

Regarded by many visitors as the jewel of the Caribbean, the volcanic island of St. Kitts offers some of the region’s most dramatic panoramas and scenic photo opportunities. Intriguing coves, excellent interior hiking paths, and palm-lined beaches are hallmarks of this classic Caribbean destination.

Offshore view of St. Kitts

The easiest way to view the island, which is only 65 square miles, is aboard the historic St. Kitts Scenic Railway. You’ll travel 30 miles around the island on a narrow-gauge railway along a route where sugar cane was once carried from plantations. At one time St. Kitts was the leading sugar producer in the Caribbean, and the railway remains a vital part of the island’s economy. The train returns to the capital city of Basseterre, the island’s main shopping spot, where batik and local artwork are especially popular buys. 

Smooth sand and warm water on beaches of St. Kitts

For beaches and water sports, head south to Frigate Bay, where most of the hotels are located. The island’s best white-sand coves are just beyond at the Southeast Peninsula. Green vervet monkeys scamper freely here, often looking for a hand-out. Bird watching, scuba diving, and golf are popular activities. Year-round temperature averages a balmy 79 degrees, making these mountainous islands a great place for a winter or early spring vacation.

Mt.Liamuiga, a dormant volcano, is the highest point on St. Kitts at 3792 feet. Hiking to the summit is challenging, but once there you can descend into the crater on ropes for a truly unique experience. Black Rocks on St. Kitts’ northern shores were once molten lava deposits spit out by Mt. Liamuiga Walking along the rocks and boulders is like stumbling over an obstacle course, but the striking geological formations of black cliffs and boulders is one of St. Kitts’ most notable features.

On a catamaran excursion to snorkel

The complementary islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, a small, lush tropical paradise, became an independent state in 1983. You can completely circle the isle of Nevis in 20 minutes. Calm and quiet prevail here; crowds are usually nonexistent, even on Pinney’s Beach and Qualie Beach. The Botanical Garden of Nevis provides a shady retreat with one of the largest collections of palms and rare plants.

Fish gather by the wrecked boat

While visiting St. Kitts, we took a sail and snorkel excursion operated by Blue Water Safaris. We sailed on a catamaran down the island’s southwest coast to Shitten Bay, where mountains provided a welcome windbreak. Although the weather was partly cloudy and winds quite strong, water temperature remained a comfortable 82 degrees—except for people sitting on the trampoline section of the catamaran who got soaked as water splashed over the boat during our 45 minute ride.
Exiting the water from snorkeling

At the snorkel site the water was much calmer.  A wrecked boat by the shore provided a boundary and haven for fish.  With water 22 feet deep where the boat anchored, it was easy to stay away from large rocks under the surface and mustard-colored fire coral that stings if touched. In addition to numerous coral specimens, several varieties of large and small fish were sighted swimming beneath our masked faces.  Yellow and black striped fish and  iridescent blue fish swam provided color underwater. We also saw a small octopus stretching its tentacles on a rock, adding interest and surprise to our adventure at St. Kitts.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier



Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Try these alternative vacations by sea

Travelers are considering alternative destinations for some of the most popular vacation spots in 2023. Lesser known destinations can offer similar adventures but without the often overwhelming numbers of visitors.  

These sailing adventures from Dream Yacht Worldwide, a leading ocean tourism company that aims to make sailing and sea travel accessible all around the globe, may be just what you’ve been longing for.

Instead of the Maldives, visit Seychelles

Seychelles are a tropical paradise.

Dream Yacht Worldwide began its first yacht charters in the Seychelles. And for good reason, as it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet, comprising 41 of the earth’s oldest granite islands and 74 low-lying reef islands which embody the phrase ‘tropical paradise.’ On a Seychelles yacht charter, travelers can snorkel among the treelike corals on Coco Island or at stunning St. Pierre islet where rugged granite rocks merge with lush tropical vegetation.

Beach on a Seychelles island

A must-do highlight on any yacht trip in the Seychelles is a visit to the scented vanilla plantations at Union Estate on La Digue, one of the most beautiful islands in the region. For nature lovers there’s bird watching at Aride Island and the rare Aldabra tortoises at Curieuse, a protected island where you can observe these gentle giants. 

There are also the larger islands of Mahé and Praslin to explore. Here, you’ll find stunning landscapes, relaxed island hopping and plenty of opportunities to swim in the reefs.

Instead of the French Riviera, explore New Caledonia 

Sail to New Caledonia

Dream Yacht Worldwide was the first company to offer sailing charters in this exciting cruising ground, and now they have an extensive fleet operating from the base at Port Moselle in Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia

New Caledonia is home to the world’s largest lagoon, a beautiful and unique natural aquarium covering over 9000 square miles, and one of the most remarkable and beautiful sailing destinations. The archipelago is also home to one of the world’s most extensive reef systems, with a diverse range of healthy coral and marine life, including whales, turtles and tropical fish. 

Lagoon on New Caledonia

Nouméa is a cosmopolitan city which feels much like the French Riviera. Colorful waterfronts are lined with bars, cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs, and it’s an ideal place to stock up on superb French gourmet food and wine. The city is within easy reach of the south lagoon, where you can sail Îlot Maître, Île des Pins, Île Ouen, Îlot Brosse and Ilot Kuaré. 

Instead of Sicily, check out Sardinia

Sardinia is a beautiful Mediterranean island.

The island of Sardinia
 is off Italy’s west coast in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Sardinia sailing adventures begin from Dream Yacht Worldwide's base in Olbia on the northeast coast. From there, it’s an easy sail to the Maddalena Archipelago and the glamorous Costa Smeralda – Sardinia’s most coveted sailing areas. 

Well known for miles of craggy coastline, the world-famous Emerald Coast and the Maddalena Archipelago National Park and Marine Reserve are great places to find superb beaches and scenic coves. Travelers can swim, snorkel and take in stunning sunsets in the solitude of these largely uninhabited islands.

Plentiful water activities are available at beaches
and coves of Sardinia.

Enjoy boutique shopping in the super-exclusive ports of Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo, where travelers can mix with the international jet set. With a wide choice of dining options, from local trattoria to fine dining, it is recommended to sample the local cuisine, especially the fresh seafood found on the coast. 

Of course, there are a variety of companies that offer cruises to these destinations. Dream Yacht Worldwide goes a bit further with its charters. Travelers have the option of crew support including a variety of skipper and hostess positions that support sailors and non-sailors of all skill levels. Alternatively, travelers can book a cruise and enjoy a private stateroom on a modern catamaran.

Information was provided courtesy of Angela Tuell, Communications Redefined

 I have no connection to Dream Yacht Worldwide and do not received any remuneration for sharing this information. Photos from free sources


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Early Christianity in Ireland

The day was windy and damp, but blankets and complimentary coffee and tea (served with huge scones and sweet jam) chased away the chill as our Viking boat cruised down the Shannon River in Northern Ireland. Sitting on outside benches watching pastoral scenes of cattle and cottages, we made our way from the town of Anthlone to Clonmacnoise, a monastic site one and a half hours away. 

Captain Mike, owner of Viking Tours Ireland helped us understand what cruising on a Viking ship 1200 years ago was like. He was proud of his Viking heritage and provided knowledgeable commentary about this often overlooked branch of the Irish family tree. 

Meadows of grass grow right on the river’s edge; there’s virtually no river bank, so the area is prone to flooding.  But on this summer day, cattle grazed contently, even wandering to patches of land that extended into the water. Because the region is on a migratory path, conservation groups are working to save endangered bird species that come through here in winter or springtime.

As we arrived at the monastic community of Clonmacnoise in the heart of Irish midland, the sun began to shine. Overlooking the River Shannon in County Offaly, Clonmacnoise was founded in 548 by St. Kieran, who brought Christianity to Ireland. Unfortunately, St. Kieran died of the yellow plague at age 33 only seven months after establishing his monastery here.

The settlement was a major center of religion, learning, trade, craftsmanship and politics for several centuries, thanks to its position at a major crossroads of River Shannon.  Although religion was the central focus at Clonmacnoise, the settlement always had a large lay population and thus looked more like a town than a monastery. At its peak, the monastery covered 10 acres.

Scribes labored into the 10th century, and the church prospered, as evidenced in an abundance of artistic and gold items by the 11th century. Like nearly all monastic settlements in Ireland, it was plundered on several occasions by Viking and Anglo-Norman invaders. In addition to these attacks, fires and Irish assaults on the land occurred numerous times between the eighth and twelfth centuries. Although the monastery was rebuilt each time it eventually lost influence.  By 1550 it was in ruins; everything of value had been carried off or destroyed.

From the 16th century onward, there was no actual monastery at Clonmacnoise, but it remains a powerful symbol of early Christianity. Visitors wander among extensive ruins including a cathedral, castle, round tower, numerous churches, two important high crosses, and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs.

Today people make pilgrimages to the tomb of St. Kieran (especially during St. Kieran’s feast day in September) and gather soil to spread on their farms.  Ecumenical ceremonies for Protestants and Catholics are held, and Pope John even preached here in 1979. Clonmacnoise was designated a national monument in 1877, and in 1955 the Church of Ireland transferred the site to the Office of Public Works.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Monday, February 20, 2023

Songs that inspire travel

As travelers shrug off inflation and emerge from holiday travel disruptions, people are searching international trips in droves, according to a recent report. Global Rescue conducted a survey of the world’s most experienced travelers to identify a collection of the best travel songs to inspire trip-takers.   

Iceland in the summer

“Travel confidence is exploding in a positive direction. TSA data reflects traveler volumes pushing past pre-pandemic levels for the first time in more than two years. Call it revenge travel or make-up travel, the comeback to international travel is surging,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue

 “People are gearing up for a return to travel after the pandemic pause. They are driving a significant rebound in travel activity and the Global Rescue survey, which asked more than 1,000 of current and former members between October 25 and 31, 2022, revealed the Top 25 travel songs that inspire adventure, encourage exploration, and re-connect us with loved ones,” Richards said.

Incredible waterfalls in fjords of Norway

Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise” was identified as the favorite travel song followed by these other inspirational tunes:  

·      Dancing Queen by ABBA 

·      Ain't No Sunshine by Bill Withers 

·      Caribbean Queen by Billie Ocean 

·      Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright by Bob Marley 

·      Saturday in the Park by Chicago 

·      Teach Your Children by CSNY 

·      Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker 

·      Already Gone by Eagles 

·      Rocket Man by Elton John 

·      Lose Yourself by Eminem 

·      Autumn leaves by Eric Clapton 

·      Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra 

·      I Feel Good by James Brown 

·      Don't Stop Believin’ by Journey 

·      Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd 

·      Nothing Else Matters by Metallica 

·      Burn it to the Ground by Nickelback 

·      I’m Leavin’ on a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul and Mary 

·      Timber by Pitbull 

·      Bohemian Rapsody by Queen 

·      Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf 

·      Don't You Worry About a Thing by Stevie Wonder 

·      Burning Down the House by Talking Heads 

·      Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison 

Grand Canyon National Park, USA

Are any of these songs on your travel playlist?  Need to update what you listen to before, during, or after travel? The complete collection of The Global Rescue Top Travel Songs is available on Spotify.  

Photos by Beverly Burmeier

Information provided by Bill McIntyre at Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  



Wednesday, February 8, 2023

A church unlike any other

Imagine a church soaring high above the road, jutting out of a 1,000-foot red rock wall. Imagine this church rising 250 feet above the rock mound into which it is built. Now imagine hundreds, even thousands, of people walking a challenging uphill path every day to visit this remarkable symbol of faith.

You have just envisioned the amazing Chapel of theHoly Cross in Sedona, Arizona.

Every time we visit Sedona, and there have been many, we simply must stop to photograph and visit this iconic structure. It’s a place of great beauty and peace that draws people in, sort of like making a pilgrimage to a sacred spot.

The journey to construction of the Chapel was not easy. It was commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude in the 1930s. She first planned to build the church in Budapest, but when that plan was interrupted by World War II, she changed locations and decided to build the church in her native state of Arizona.

The chapel is built on Coconino National Forest land, which required a special permit that Senator Barry Goldwater her obtain. Construction took 18 months; the cost was $300,000. The chapel was completed in 1956.

Built into the famous red rocks of Sedona, the church utilizes this landscape as a backdrop and a precursor to the beauty inside. Once you reach the actual structure and go inside, you’ll have a magnificent view of God’s handiwork through the large forward-looking windows. Front and center is a sculpture of Jesus. Many believers go forward to pray at His feet.

In fact, look for immortalized footprints at the front of the Chapel. If you step into them and look up, you will see Jesus gazing directly at you. It’s a reminder that He is always with us and watching over us.

In addition to visitation by millions annually, actual religious services are held in the chapel several days a week. Check the website for exact types of service and times. Otherwise, the church is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. There is also a gift shop on the lower floor of the Chapel building that is open daily from 9:30 to 4:30.

Parking is limited, so people often have to park on the roadway leading up to the Chapel or along the street below. At times golf carts are there to assist people getting to the Chapel, or cars may drive up the hill and drop people off.  It’s a bit of a challenge especially during popular times, but don’t let that keep you from going all the way up and into the Chapel. It’s definitely worth the effort.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Have you visited these lucky European sites?

Whether you’re looking to attract love, money or just positive vibes for the coming year, there are several destinations across the globe known for bringing luck to all who visit — but which lucky European hotspot is the most popular?

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

To find, analyzed review data from TripAdvisor alongside online search data for popular auspicious locations across the globe. This included the number of reviews, number of Instagram hashtags and global average monthly search volumes. These factors were averaged to create a popularity score out of 10, and filtered to reveal the 10 most popular European destinations.

The most popular ‘lucky’ destinations in Europe:


Lucky Hotspot


Global Search Volumes

Trip Advisor Reviews

Instagram Hashtags

Popularity Score (/10)


Trevi Fountain

Rome, Italy






Hagia Sophia

Istanbul, Turkey






Charles Bridge

Prague, Czech Republic






Blarney Castle

Cork, Ireland






Casa di Giulietta

Verona, Italy






Pont des Arts

Paris, France






Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Paris, France






Hill of Tara

Meath, Ireland






The Callanish Stones

Isle of Lewis, Scotland






Temple of Portunus

Rome, Italy





The Trevi Fountain is the most popular location to bring prosperity into your life with a popularity score of 9.7 out of 10. The fountain is one of three Italian locations listed in the top 10. The site ranks highest for TripAdvisor reviews at 103,054 and the second highest for Instagram hashtags with 626,666 posts documenting tourists' trips to the famed fountain.

The level of luck you receive from your visit is dependent on the amount of coins you toss over your left shoulder into the fountain. It is said that one coin will bring you back to Rome, two will bring you back to find love and three will not only bring you back to Rome to find love but will ensure luck in marriage as well.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia comes in at a close second with a popularity score of 9.4/10. The stunning Byzantine Mosque resides in Istanbul, Turkey and is the most searched European site for those looking to attract good fortune with 337,000 search volumes each month. Located inside the Mosque is the ‘Wishing Column’. According to legend, the column secretes a healing liquid and brings luck to those who place their thumb into the hole within the pillar and spin a full circle.

With a popularity score of 9.1 out of 10, Charles Bridge is
Kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland
 the third most popular lucky destination in Europe. This auspicious location ranks highest for Instagram hashtags (724,428), the highest not only in Europe but of all global locations analysed. Built in the early 1400’s, the Bridge adds to the beauty of the Czech landscape and is adorned with 30 statues lining the structure. It is said that rubbing the statue of St John of Nepomuk will bring you back to Prague and rubbing the plaque depicting a dog at the foot of a knight will bring you luck.

Ireland’s Blarney Castle (7.2/10) stands in fourth. One of two lucky Irish locations in the top 10, along with the Hill of Tara (3.8/10) in eighth, the castle receives 40,000 online searches globally each month and has accumulated over 102,000 posts according to Instagram hashtags. Blarney Castle’s luck is bestowed by leaning yourself back (through a railing) to kiss the stone, which in turn gives you the ‘gift of the gab’ also known as the ability to speak eloquently.
Juliet's balcony in Verona, Italy

Casa di Giulietta or House of Juliet, receives a popularity score of 7.2/10, joining Blarney Castle in fourth. According to Instagram hashtags, Casa di Giulietta has amassed 81,259 posts and over 12,000 reviews on TripAdvisor. The House of Juliet, attached to the famed Juliet’s balcony, has an open air courtyard where tourists and locals alike declare their love in letters and attach them to the walls in the hopes that Juliet will help them with their happy ending. For further luck you have the chance to rub the bronze statue of Juliet that stands in the courtyard.

Data courtesy of who commissioned the data study.