The New Old Silk Road

The Old Silk Road is being revived with modern infrastructure and technology. The New Old Silk Road is being built and extended from places like Shenzhen, China (Silicon Valley of China) to Duisburg, Germany (strategic river harbor with access to the Atlantic). Now you can travel on paved roads and high speed trains instead of the camels of old on China’s New Belt and Road. Marco Polo would be impressed!

Uzbekistan
However it is still the ancient charm of places like Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent, Samarkand, Uzbekistan that draws tourists to retrace the steps of ancient travelers on the Silk Road. Ideas, food, goods and culture were exchanged between the Far East and the West on the old Silk Road. You could say this was the “interstate” or the “internet” of the old. Things sure moved more slowly then. Timur or Tamerlane of the Mongol Empire invested in building up Samarkand which is now in Uzbekistan. Amazing cities on the old Silk Road!

Nowruz (new day) marking the beginning of Spring is a good time to visit to soak in the Uzbek culture and warm hospitality. Enjoy some Uzbek Plov (Lamb Pilaf) and Samarkand bread.

Fly Uzbekistan Airways to Tashkent International Airport (TAS) which is the largest airport in Kazakhstan. You can get to Samarkand via train from Tashkent.

Kazakhstan
Almaty, Kazakhstan is another one of those cities that has grown and thrived! Imagine what the travelers on the Old Silk Road would have felt when they saw those beautiful mountains! In modern Almaty, Kazakhstan, you can find both the Russian Orthodox Ascension Cathedral and the Muslim Central Mosque. You can also try some great Central Asian cuisine influenced by the Great Steppe and nomadic life. You can try some Kazakh Cuisine such as Beshbarmak and Sirne.

You can fly into the Almaty International Airport (ALA) to begin your journey.

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The Romantic Danube

Europe is certainly blessed with beautiful rivers. The Danube River starts in the Black Forest of Germany and flows into the Black Sea. It flows through 10 countries making it a major water highway. Some major cities on the Danube River include Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary)and Belgrade (Serbia).

Wachau Valley
The Wachau Valley about 1 hour West of Vienna, Austria is surely a romantic part of the Danube River. There are beautiful vineyards and castles along the Wachau Valley. There is so much history along the banks of the Danube. For an example, Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned in Dürnstein Castle. Dürnstein Castle lies along the Danube River and is worth a trip from Vienna, Austria. Melk, Austria is another place that you should visit. The Melk Baroque Benedictine monastery is a treasure. It houses a large library and beautiful frescoes. River cruises run between Melk and Krems. Take a romantic river cruise along the Wachau Valley and take back lovely memories of this journey.

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Summer Beach Christmas in Australia’s Queensland

Australia is sure blessed with some of the best beaches in the world! Coming from the Northern Hemisphere, we usually think of December as winter. But it is just the opposite in Australia. Well it is Summer in Down Under!

Getting There
Fly into Brisbane International Airport (BNE), Queensland Australia for a beach Christmas. There are plenty of things to do right in Brisbane for Christmas. Brisbane is a modern bustling city. A good base to launch your exploration of Australia. You should check out either the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast Beaches. Head north from Brisbane to explore the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Or head south to the Gold Coast area of Australia.

Food
Christmas food is influenced both by the Summer weather and culture. Enjoy some yummy seafood. You can enjoy great BBQ and prawns. Not to mention English Christmas goodies like English Christmas Pudding and Mince Pie. You got to try the Aussie Pavlova Meringue dessert.

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St Lucia Christmas Little Sweden USA

St Lucia Christmas Bethany Lutheran Lindsborg USA
St Lucia Christmas Bethany Lutheran Lindsborg USA

Christmas in Lindsborg comes alive with Swedish traditions. St. Lucia Christmas is celebrated all day mid December. Young girls dressed up in white march in procession into the Bethany Lutheran Church. The procession is a community event with singing and beautiful music.
The procession is led by a young girl dressed as St. Lucia with candles on her head.

St Lucia Christmas Bethany Lutheran Lindsborg USA
St Lucia Christmas Bethany Lutheran Lindsborg USA

There are also beautiful Swedish folk dances performed by both young and old during the day in Lindsborg, Kansas, USA.

Please click to watch.


Romanian Cuisine

The great thing about travelling is you get to savor all types of tasty food on the road. Romania with its various cultural influences has some really tasty food. If you are paying in US Dollars, you can eat like a king.

Cultural Influences
Germans (Saxons) settled the Transylvania region when it was under Hungarian rule. You can visit many of the Saxon castles and even fortified churches that protected against invasions. The Turks, Austrians, Greeks and Romans have also left their influence on the food of Romania. Each region in Romania borders different countries such as Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine. Some of the Romanian Cuisine is closely related to food eaten in the Balkans.

Popular Romanian Food
Try some tasty sausages Mici or Mititei which is like a blend between a kebab and a regular sausage. Grilled lamb is quite popular here. Various stewed meat dishes with a fusion of locally grown spices create an exotic flavor. Sarmale or stuffed cabbage rolls with meat is a very popular dish eaten in this part of the world. You can also try some very unique cheeses including sheep cheese. Sibiu, Transylvania is a great foodie destination to visit.

Rural Romania
The pastoral lands in Romania offer some really good organic grown food. Even Prince Charles sources organic Transylvanian honey (for his Highgrove Royal Gardens) from Saschiz, Romania! If you have time, take a trip to rural Romania. You can get to experience Eastern Europe at a slower pace and go back in time. Wild flowers still grow in the Romanian meadows like it used to around the rest of Europe.

Getting to Romania
If you are flying from the USA, Delta, KLM, Air France and Alitalia can connect your flight to Bucharest Henri Coandă (OTP) International Airport. The Sky Team Airline partners may connect the flights via their local airline hubs in their respective countries. From Bucharest (Bucuresti), Romania you can take a train to Brasov, Transylvania to explore the castles and the fortified churches.

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European Airport Hubs

Major Continental European Airport Hubs
European Airport hubs are well integrated with ground transportation networks. Europe has an excellent rail network.

Netherlands

Schiphol International Airport (AMS)
Amsterdam is a good gateway to explore Europe further. Schiphol International Airport (AMS), Amsterdam, Netherlands is a major transportation hub. If you prefer to fly, there are low cost flights that will connect to you to rest of Europe from Schiphol International Airport (AMS). You can even take a train to Brussels, Belgium or Paris, France from the airport train station. The airport train station is conveniently located right within the airport complex. The airport has lockers where you can store your bigger luggage so you do not have to take it with you.

Amsterdam Centraal Train Station
From Schiphol train station, you can quickly reach Amsterdam’s main Centraal Station. From Amsterdam Centraal Station, you can connect by train to major European cities such as Zurich, Switzerland or Berlin, Germany. There are also river cruises that will take you up the Rhine from Amsterdam.

Germany

Frankfurt International Airport (FRA)
Frankfurt am Main International (FRA) Airport is the busiest airport in Germany. This is Lufthansa Airlines largest airport hub. Rent a car or take the trains to connect to your travel destinations. You can drive down to the Romantic Mid Rhine area. The Mid Rhine area has a lot offer with beautiful castles between Mainz and Kobenlz. Best to explore the Rhine River by boat. Slow down and enjoy the views. You can also explore the Romantic Road.

Munich International Airport (MUC)
Munich International (MUC) Airport is an excellent hub to explore Southern Germany, Bavaria and the Alps. Munich is also known as Munchen in German. If you are travelling during Christmas, the Munich Airport hosts its own Christmas Markets. You can take trains to beautiful cities like Salzburg, Austria or Vienna, Austria and Zurich, Switzerland.

Germany’s Alpine Region
Take a beautiful train journey south to Fussen, Germany. Fussen is located right across the border from Austria. Here you can explore King Ludwig’s castles. The most famous is the Neuschwanstein Castle. You should also check out the Linderhof Palace and Hohenschwangau Castle. If you have time, check out Herrenchiemsee Palace which is based on King Louis’ Versailles. Herrenchiemsee (New Palace) is located on the largest island in Lake Chiemsee closer to Salzburg, Austria.

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Germany’s Romantic Road

Germany’s Romantic Road between Wurzburg and Fussen is a destination in itself. There are several castles on this route to be explored. So take time and soak in the beautiful German towns and villages.

Rothenburg
Spend time in towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Rothenburg is located in the Franconia region of Bavaria. Experience the German culture at its best.

Fussen
Most travellers will remember the Neuschwanstein Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle is known as Schloss Neuschwanstein in German. Neuschwanstein is best explored from Fussen, Bavaria. Fussen can be reached by train from Munich. This is a very beautiful part of Bavaria. Fussen borders Austria and is lush with the Alpine scenery.

Flying into Frankfurt am Main, Germany
If you are starting in the North from Wurzburg, best to fly into Frankfurt am Main International (FRA) Airport. Rent a car and you can make your own travel plans to get to Wurzburg.
You can also take a detour from the Romantic Road and drive down to the Romantic Mid Rhine area. The Mid Rhine area has a lot offer with beautiful castles between Mainz and Kobenlz. Best to explore the Rhine River by boat. Slow down and enjoy the views.

Flying into Munich, Bavaria, Germany
If you are starting in the South from Fussen, fly into Munich International (MUC) Airport. Munich is also known as Munchen in German. If you are travelling during Christmas, the Munich Airport hosts its own Christmas Markets.

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East meets West in Singapore

Travelling to Singapore by air:

Most overseas visitors will enter Singapore from the airport.  It’s a very nice airport and a friendly place.  The security guards checking our passports even gave our kids candy! There was a nice selection of restaurants and shopping while we waited at the airport. Changi airport  even has a wonderful kinetic rain display which is absolutely mesmerizing to watch.   See it in action on their YouTube post.

Business

Singapore is a very business-like place.  It is a financial capital in Asia, and a good place to meet to have international business meetings.

Cosmopolitan
Singapore
Singapore

You will encounter a variety of cultures in Singapore.  The majority of the population is Chinese, and there are also quite a few Malays (Singapore was originally part of Malaysia) and Indians.  In addition to that cross-section of Asia, I was surprised to find some of the best French pastries and also authentic Italian food that I have ever had the pleasure to try.  As a business hub for Asia, people come from all over the world.  I felt like the European influence when it came to restaurants was something totally unexpected.  It is truly a place where you can feel like the whole world is meeting up to do business.

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Aruba

Aruba is a small island that is Southeast of Venezuela, although it officially belongs to the Netherlands. On clear days it is even possible to see Venezuela on Aruba’s south-eastern coast. Aruba’s native language is Papiamento. “Aruba consistently receives the least rainfall in the Southern Caribbean.” Says Aruba Tourism Authority. “We are also located outside the Hurricane Belt, so you can expect excellent weather no matter what time of year you choose to visit.” 
Aruba is an island paradise with beautiful sandy beaches. Just soak in the the beautiful sunshine or go snorkeling at Aruba’s beautiful Eagle Beach. The opportunities are endless, as long as you know how to safely travel there.
The most practical way to travel to Aruba is by plane. For example, the Reina Beatrix International Airport has direct flights from many major cities including New York and Los Angeles.

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Salzburg and the beautiful Salzkammergut region of Austria

Salzburg is around 2 hours by train from Munich and less than 3 hours by train from Vienna. Most of us remember watching the Sound of Music filmed in beautiful Salzburg Austria. The beautiful Schloss Mirabell Gardens is where the Sound of Music “Do Re Mi” was filmed.

Mozart, the classical composer was also born in in Salzburg, Austria. You can visit Mozart birthplace and museum in Salzburg.

Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, Christmas Carols and Advent are beautiful traditions observed here during the Christmas season. The song “Silent Night” is Austrian after all.

Salzburg (salt fortress) became an important center due to the salt trade. The fortress Hohensalzburg overlooking Salzburg is majestic. Stroll around the old town center and soak in the beauty of this place.

But that is not all. The Salzkammergut region is beautiful with Alpine ranges and lakes. Enjoy the beauty of the Austrian countryside. Take a trip to Hallstatt, Austria. This is an amazing place of beauty with the beautiful Hallstatt village hugging the lake.

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