Category Archives: travel

Travel – Luxury at safari camp in Tanzania

Tanzania in east Africa is home to more than 52 million people. It’s the largest and most populous country in Africa, with a birth rate among the largely Bantu people of nearly 5 children to every woman. At least two city names have appeared regularly in world headlines and in stories of adventure – the capital, Dar Es Salaam, and the city of Zanzibar, even more exotic because of the strong influence of Arab/Muslim culture and language on the inhabitants. Features that attract tourists to this country include the Serengeti Plains, Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria, Sultan’s Palace (Zanzibar) and many more.
At least a third of the country’s people live in cities, so there are hotels aplenty, but there’s another way to experience the country if you’re investing a serious chunk of cash. Nyaruswiga Safari Camp in Tanzania offers incredible luxury for upscale travelers who want to explore from a far-more-than-comfortable base. Here’s a brief partial list of the amazing features at this travel destination:
  • 24 Hour power + hot water purified by remote osmosis
  • Upscale canvas tents supported by African Eucalyptus poles and capped with elegant brass crowns
  • Walk-in closets, steam-ironed clothing overnight, handmade custom furnishings
  • Emperor-sized beds (larger than King) with pillows of varying firmness and the finest sheets
  • Wood burning fire stove + free-standing hammered copper bathtub en-suite
  • Rejuvenating outdoor shower and private verandah with elegant mahogany loungers
  • Gluten free & vegetarian menu amongst the gourmet cuisine prepared freshly daily by a top chef
  • DSLR camera for rent for the most stunning photography
  • Signature wellness treatments
  • Elegant guest lounge with top espresso machine, cigar selection, parlor games, elegant leather chairs and a 300 year old map made for Sir Isaac Newton
  • Elegant Royal Albert bone china for the most exceptional dining experience
  • Butlers trained in fine dining, evoking the glamour of the early 1900’s
  • Astral observation deck wtih 508x magnification, ideal for stargazing
  • 4-seater leather bound vehicles, unlike any you’ve seen- complete with charging ports, binoculars, teak wood fitted storage compartments and clamps for cameras and checking kiwi habitats in a New Zealand wildlife conservation initiative
If you’ve always wanted to see the heart of Africa – and you only want the finest accommodations while you do so – check out Nyaruswiga Safari Camp.

Travel to Bavaria and steep yourself in history


My sister and her husband have now taken two river cruises through Germany, each of which traveled through large sections of Bavaria. They were entranced by the local food, drink and music and, of course, awed by the majesty of the castles. But the history was the biggest draw for them, particularly because her husband was stationed in Germany during his long-ago stint in the U.S. Army.

Stepping through the courthouse in Nuremburg (Nürnberg in German). Walking in the footsteps of Adolph Hitler’s troops on the parade grounds where they passed in review and saluted him: “Heil, Hitler.”

Munich – Viktualienmarkt

Bavaria is Germany’s southernmost state and the #1 vacation destination in the country. It’s home to picture-book scenery, unspoiled nature, idyllic towns, vibrant cities, delicious beer, sun-drenched vineyards, delightful regional cuisine, magnificent castles, ornamental baroque churches, medieval abbeys, and the majestic Alps. Visitors enjoy the benefit of the deep sense of hospitality that’s common among the locals.

Munich (in German, München) is the capital city of Bavaria. It is Bavaria’s largest city and the third largest city in Germany (after Berlin and Hamburg). Munich lies about 30 miles north of the edge of the Alps and is bisected by the Isar River. Population in 2011 was nearly a million and a half. For more, check out Britannica’s brief history of Munich here.
Steinerne Brücke(c) Stadt Regensburg
Romantic Road, the Castle Road, and The German Alpine Road are popular tourist routes that allow visitors to explore Bavaria’s richly varied landscapes and attractions.  Everywhere, visitors partake of the Bavarian conviviality and joie de vivre, whether in traditional beer gardens, at wine festivals or at a vast range of cultural events.  Tradition is strong in the region; visitors can participate in the Oktoberfest in Munich, the Bayreuth Festival, the Oberammergau Passion Plays, Nuremberg’s Christmas Market and the Maypole Festivals throughout Bavaria.

You’ll find yourself immersed in history, majestic beauty – both natural and man-made, as well as enjoying the warmth of the people when you visit Bavaria. It’s a good trip to make with spouses, kids, grandkids, and/or friends.

And nowadays, there are plenty of direct flights from Chicago to Munich. Next post we’ll tell you more, including the lowdown on the very cool Munich Airport.


Total solar eclipse August 21 – see it from the ocean!

English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. *...
English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. * Additional noise reduction performed by Diliff. Original image by Luc Viatour. Français : L’éclipse totale de soleil en 1999 faite en France. * Réduction du bruit réalisée par Diliff. Image d’origine Luc Viatour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) is a pretty reliable source of information about the weather. Thank you, Accuweather! And they also have the occasional newsworthy story. Thanks to them I now know there’s going to be a total solar eclipse this August 21. Think about what such events might have meant to people centuries ago when the strange phenomena seemed to come out of nowhere. These days scientists predict them, the media announce them, and we can all marvel at the wonders of the universe we live in.

Here is Accuweather’s list of the top 10 places in the U.S. to view the eclipse. Remember, exact start times and length of the eclipse depend on your precise location. Even a few miles can make a big difference.

And here’s a fun idea – combine a vacation with a guided viewing of this extraordinary natural event. Royal Caribbean is doing a ’Total Eclipse Cruise’ during which you can watch the eclipse from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Participate in eclipse-themed activities on board, and wear your provided protective eclipse glasses for the actual event. Tickets are still available for the seven-night cruise, which departs from Port Canaveral, Florida and stops in the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

Or if you’re not going out of town and you can’t see it from your location, you can always go learn more about it and see videos of astounding sky-related stuff at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.


Oregon Mt. Hood Territory – vacation in gorgeous natural geography

We recently wrote about the Jackson Family’s lovely wineries and Pinot Noir wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon. After meeting recently with the tourism rep for Oregon Mt. Hood Territory, we learned even more about Oregon wines. We learned that the area isn’t just rich with grape vineyards. It’s also veined with “farm loops” that harbor berry fields, nurseries, nut groves and farmers’ markets.  Sustainable farming and all-star chefs – delivering the best of the Pacific Northwest, no matter what season you decide to visit.
Mount Hood, with Trillium Lake in the foreground.
Mount Hood, with Trillium Lake in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And there are a hundred other reasons to take your next vacation to Mt. Hood Territory – whether solo, with your significant other, or with the grandkids. It’s a long way from Chicago but offers a plethora of outdoorsy enticements that are not so readily accessible in the Midwest.

The Territory is home to a variety of one-of-a-kind lodging options – from 2000 different campsites and RV camps, a Victorian bed-and-breakfast, or a WPA-era lodge to luxury resorts and hotels so you can rough it or live it up. And one of the coolest things is that, when you’re visiting, the Mt. Hood tourism folks will help you plan ways to enjoy the sights to the max while also minimizing any negative impact on area resources or on the environment. Sustainable tourism – an innovative concept, born out of respect for their position as stewards of the Earth and all its Oregon glories.
What to do? White water raft on Sandy River Water Trail leading up to Willamette Falls. Kayak on the Willamette River. Multiple lakes let you standup paddle boat, camp, fish, paddle and watch the wildlife. Cycle through river valleys or along ridge-top panoramas. No car required – public transit service gets you up there.
Ride horses, run trails, or hike through 6000 acres of pristine forest, towering basaltic cliffs and spectacular vistas in the Cascade Mountains. Observe the wildlife along the 4-mile Mt. Talbert Nature Park trail network. Ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or cross country all winter.
The history of Mt. Hood Territory could be really fun for kids to explore. The Willamette Falls Heritage Trail, for example, is home to Philip Foster Farm, where you can experience scrubbing your laundry on a washboard, building a log cabin, or grinding your own corn – the way life was in Oregon in the 1800s. Or take a ferry across the Willamette River.
If you’re going to the west coast, don’t miss a chance to see this beautiful area – blessed with bountiful natural wonders and working hard to preserve them all. For all the details on that and more, check out the Mt. Hood Territory detailed travel planner here.

Clakit strap pouches are really handy

Clakit Clips and Pouches are patent-pending clips and pouches designed by backpacking hikers who realized, during one of their treks in the mountains, that everything they needed was in their backpacks. Which meant they regularly had to stop hiking, take off the packs, open them and dig around for the water bottle, the cell phone, the snacks, the permits or tissues or whatever. Crazy, they said to themselves.
So they decided to create some small versatile packs that you could easily clip to your backpack straps in front and in which you could stow frequently needed items within easy reach while walking. And that’s how the Clakit line of clips and pouches was born.
Clakit comes in several different shapes, all of which attach to a sturdy adjustable plastic clip with teeth that clamps securely onto your backpack or other strap. You choose the style that fits what you want to carry – water bottle, phone, etc. – and your small carrier sits right on your chest. The clip is adjustable so that it can work on other types of straps to as long as they have some thickness. And for those of us boomers who need to carry a lot of stuff, these could be a real shoulder-saver.

One of the packs, called the Clakit StrapPack Radio/GPS Clip Pouch ($19.95 on Amazon), has two strong hook-and-loop attachments – front and inside back – so you can adjust the height of the stretchy strap that goes over the top, which holds the items in and allows you to carry items of different sizes. I put a small reading glasses case in there along with my cell phone/camera and I can even fit a few business cards in with all that. Plus, this model also has an elastic strap that goes horizontally around the pack – I slip my sunglasses in there I decided to attach one of these on the strap of my big tote bag I’m saving much wear and tear on the purse zippers – I’d been constantly unzipping and zipping one zipper so I could move the phone in and out of the purse. Now I can spare the zipper and still get the phone easily. In fact, sometimes and I can actually leave my poor exhausted purse at home and just carry the tote-bag-cum-Clakit-pack. I love not having to carry two items and now I don’t lose my phone, glasses and sunglasses in the bottom of the giant tote bag.

By the way, if you’re like me and already have a selection of little packs, you can just buy the Clakit clips and see how they work with your own carriers. Brilliant idea, Larry Schessel, Clakit Founder/CEO.

Chicago Rooftop dining news


Rooftop dining in Chicago is a lively and friendly competition to see whose venue can provide the most sweeping or unique views of this dynamic city, along with enticing dining, drinking and even dancing options. Lots of contenders invite your attention – many of which are situated atop elegant hotels.  Perfect for us baby boomers to get out and enjoy the outdoor views, the food and the ambiance as the weather warms up. Tip: Go early to miss the younger crowds! Here are a few to put on your must-try list this spring:

  • Raised, An Urban Rooftop Bar, 1 W. Wacker Dr., 3rd floor of Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel. One of the most popular and buzzed-about rooftop destination, Raised will host the 2017 Tin on Tin Cocktail Classic Mixology Competition on March 27, 2017 from 4pm-9pm. Six Chicago bartenders will go head to head before judges Liz Pearce (Winner of Chicago Speed Rack), Brian Jaymont (Marriott Global Beverage Manager), Matt Schnieder (Certified Sommelier) and two elite judges. The winner will receive a trip to the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

    Raised, An Urban Rooftop Bar
  • AIRE, 100 W Monroe St. Kicking off just its second year in Chicago, AIRE, located at on the 24th floor of Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago, has quickly become Chicago’s hottest new happy hour destination and weekend escape. This spring, AIRE will debut a new, carefully crafted menu featuring signature city-themed cocktails as well as an extensive offering of local beers and wines and seasonal small plates.

    Aire rooftop at Hyatt Centric
  • ROOF on theWit, 201 N State Street, a glamorous indoor/outdoor escape set 27 stories above the city with sweeping views of Chicago, private event spaces and entertainment programming. Watch for their dynamic party events several times each year.

    Roof ontheWIT plays party music
  • LH, LondonHouse Luxury Hotel‘s tri-level rooftop venue at 85 E. Wacker Dr. lets you dine indoors or out on re-imagined American cuisine and cocktails. The modern, firelighted spaces draw in both visitors and locals and inspire those at the top of their game to engage, sip, converse, taste, connect and exchange ideas.
  • Geja’s Café, 340 West Armitage Ave. Not exactly on the roof, but a beautiful patio for sure. As part of their ever-evolving worldly wine festivals, Geja’s Café is celebrating International Women’s Wine Festival March-April. Each of those months the wine menu will devote an entire page to wines made by notable women of enology from around the world. Geja’s Café will donate $1.00 for every bottle ordered to Deborah’s Place, Chicago’s largest provider of supportive housing exclusively for women.

5 books from 2016 – reviews for Boomers

Who doesn’t love books that speak to us where we are in life? Whether you’re feeling old or caring for aging parents, or you’re just curious or wanting to read a good memoir/story, here are a few – in a wide range of topics – from the year 2016 that some of us Boomers might enjoy.
  1. Wondering why he’s still around at 93

    I’m 93. Why am I still alive? True stories from a long and eventful life, by Alan Mayer. Ever ask yourself this question – even if you’re still a long way off from 93? Mayer is a NY native who butchered, boxed and entrepreneured for many years. Then he and his high-school-sweet-heart-turned-spouse moved to Chicago where he was a banker for 30 years. This short new book – written in large print, with very small margins and lots of white space between lines – is full of stories from his life and many of his own personal observations on life. He’s survived near-miss accidents, several serious illnesses, life-threatening disgruntled employees, and other incidents that left him wondering how he came out okay. Check it out (paperback $14.95) at

  2. Cats Are Capable of Mind Control, and 1000 UberFacts you never knew you needed to know, by Kris Sanchez. Fun. Weird. Interesting, occasionally perhaps questionable “facts” about a myriad of things such as:
    – “Coca-Cola and Pepsi are used as pesticides by farmers in India, since they’re cheaper and get the job done.”
    – “The [five-sided] Pentagon was constructed so that no point in the building is more than a 10-minute walk from any other point in the building.”
    – “Vultures have stomach acid so corrosive they can digest anthrax.”
    Light reading that may appeal to several different levels of curiosity. My reaction to a few of the statements was to go and check another source before believing it, so keep your truth detector in gear and tell kids to double-check with you if they question something. Suitable for adults and kids maybe 7 and up. My 9-year-old granddaughter found it intriguing in small doses. Available on Amazon in hard cover and Kindle editions, both ~$12.
  3. Bourbon: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, by Fred Minnick. The author is famous for writing about spirits in a well-researched and entertaining fashion. This book is no different – amusing anecdotes, interesting history of the spirit as unique to its original home in the South, fascinating stories of competition between distillers, and even a story of how James Bond, who ordered a martini “shaken, not stirred” instigated the rise of white spirits to compete with bourbon. Sample chapter headings include: “Government: Friend and Foe,” “Whiskey Is the Devil’s Own Brew,” “Distillers vs. Nazis and US Government,” “To Beat Jack Daniel’s” and more. The books’ bibliography reveals how the author conducted his research: interviews with important industry figures, government publications, books, corporate literature and so on. Quarto Publishing Group 2016. ~$12 Kindle edition, ~$15 hard cover on Amazon.
  4. Move to France at 78?

    The Blue Nightgown: My French Makeover at Age 78!, by Karin Crilly. It’s a memoir, not a novel. The author’s husband of many years dies after a long illness, and she decides to move to Aix-en-Provence to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in France, despite the fact she doesn’t speak the language. Simply written, the story is a chronicle of her experiences there in search of joy, learning and, yes, romance at age 78. She re-connects with a guy she met 25 years earlier and, after months of increasingly intimate phone conversations, agrees to meet him in Amsterdam – and buys a blue satin nightgown in anticipation. You have to read the book to know what happens. This is an easy read, a charmingly simple story of a huge adventure undertaken by a long-past Boomer-age woman of comfortable means. And it’s even more enjoyable because she ends each chapter with a recipe for something wonderfully French to eat. $6 Kindle.

    Elegantly poetic memoir of wounded childhood and adult fears

  5. The Future Tense of Joy: A memoir, by Jessica Teich. This book is the beautifully written chronicle of a brilliant 30-something woman’s battle with childhood demons and a seemingly ineradicable fear about life’s danger. Educated at Yale and then at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, she has two young girls and a loving husband, but she can’t get control of her fear. One day she hears about another brilliant young woman, also a Rhodes scholar, who at age 27, had a hugely promising life ahead of her – but chose instead to commit suicide. Author Teich decides she will investigate this woman’s life story and see if, in deciphering that woman’s suffering and life choices, she can find help for her own struggles. The story is full of tension and drama and even some of the really tough parts read almost like a novel in gentle poetic prose. $14.99 Kindle on Amazon.