Eurail Travel: For Baby Boomers, Seniors and Everyone

Europe the Scenic Route: Eurail 2012

By Rhian Farnworth

For twenty-somethings, backpacking through Europe is the most romanticised method of transport. Those in their thirties, forties, and early fifties are drawn to the speed and convenience of airplanes for multi-city European itineraries. But as you get older, both of these options lose their appeal: standing in a long airport security line becomes just as unappealing as trying to catch a good night’s rest in a noisy, crowded hostel.</p>

Fortunately, there is an attractive alternative for older or more relaxed travellers—or those simply wanting to slow down the pace of their trip to fully experience each stop on their itinerary: take the train. There are many benefits to seeing Europe by rail, but here are some of the highlights:</p>

Convenience

Europe is so well connected via light rail that you can plan a trip between almost any two cities on the map—from the beloved Brussels to Amsterdam route to the charming Pickering to Grosmont route. And while train travel is certainly slower than air travel, travel by rail has continued to make great gains: you can travel the Paris to London Chunnel, for example, in just under two and a half hours. Best of all, trains take you from the heart of one city to the next, so there’s no need to worry about extra transportation upon your arrival. You’re exploration of a new city begins the minute you walk out of the station. Trains also allow you to linger in a city as long as you’d like without having to worry about falling behind on your itinerary: most can be booked the same day you want to travel with little hassle. ativan without prescription . best pharmacy to buy phentermine buy phentermine online. can i buy soma online soma for sale. diazepam 2 mg street price buy valium no prescription. alprazolam sale uk buy xanax without prescription. adipex pharmacy coupon adipex online pharmacy. buy zolpidem online without prescription buy ambien online no prescription. lorazepam price per pill buy ativan online no prescription. clonazepam mexican pharmacy buy klonopin no prescription. can you buy sibutramine online buy meridia no prescription. sun pharma modalert online buy provigil without prescription.

 

Scenery

Doesn’t a long trip always seem much more enjoyable when you’ve got great scenery to keep you company? There is no shortage of scenic train routes you can take throughout Europe to have a truly memorable journey: the Glacier Express passes by some stunning vistas of snowcapped mountains and deep gorges, while the West Highland Line from Mallaig to Glasgow will give you a view of the viaducts and the moorlands.

If you’re looking for a little cultural tourism along the way, you could take the Chocolate Train through Switzerland for some sweet treats or the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok (or on to Beijing or Ulan Bataar) for some encounters with the locals. The possibilities are endless. Stretch out your legs comfortably, open a bottle of wine or enjoy a nice meal, and take in the incredible scenery you’ll pass along the way.

 

Affordability

If you’re a senior traveller, you’ll further benefit from discounted fares on your tour de Europe—even on luxury carriers. You can sit down to a three-course meal or an afternoon tea, or book a ticket in a sleeping car to get some extra rest during your travels. These perks make train travel an attractive alternative to plane travel, which involves uncomfortable seating and less-than-appetising in-flight snacks and meals. Even if you’re not a senior traveller, train travel through Europe is generally affordable.

Train Europe

Another Train EuropeTrans-Siberian Dinning CarriageThe Chocolate Train

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Ljubljana, the Jewel of Eastern Europe

Ljubljana, the Jewel of Eastern Europe

In summer 2012 I toured Europe for ten weeks, starting in Eastern Europe.  My 2 ½ hour train ride from Zagreb, Croatia to Ljubljana (pronounced “Lublana”), Slovenia revealed lush green countryside and rivers blue in the June sunlight.  The Hotel Center was indeed in the city center, an inexpensive, clean 2 star with a private bathroom.  The high end, large shopping district and numerous banks told the story of a surprisingly prosperous, eastern European city in what used to be a part of Yugoslavia.  An abundance of young people walked the crowded sidewalks and dined and drank in the many cafes and restaurants.  Prices were much lower than in cities to the west and north.  The equivalent of two dollars bought a decent glass of wine.

The most appealing feature of the city is the Ljubljanica River, numerous shops and cafes in buildings hundreds of years old adorning both sides.  Except for the ancient architecture, t reminds me of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas.  Sitting at one of the outdoor tables, sipping a glass of wine provided excellent people watching, as well as a pleasant ambiance.

When I arrived in Ljubljana I was tired and tense from having toured four cities in eastern and central Europe in the previous ten days.  Balancing activities and relaxation was easy in the relaxed atmosphere of Ljubljana.  As is my habit, on the first afternoon I walked around the city to get my bearings and a taste of what the city offered.

Most of the locals spoke English, were very friendly and curious about Americans.  The streets and sidewalks were clean and inviting.  Even the public restrooms were clean.  On my initial walk I found Tivoli Park, a huge open space with plenty of walking trails, and flora.  There were also many smaller parks decked out in summer flowers and lush surroundings.

The main event of Ljubljana is their summer art festival, featuring visual and performing artists from all over the world.  The first festival was in 1893, and it has flourished every year since, even during the war years.  Much of it is free.  It attracts tourists from all over Europe and gives the city a festive atmosphere, especially at night around the main square by the river.  As I walked through the neighborhoods I often heard music from musicians practicing in their apartments.

My people watching by the river included two young boys playing with a ball.  Children are pretty much the same all over the world.  It is when they grow up that differences develop, and those differences create fear, which in turn creates bigotry and sometimes violence.

I splurged on dinner at a fancy restaurant in a hotel.  My salad of spring greens and duck breast was fresh and tasty.  My fresh, local sea bass sautéed in olive oil with asparagus was delicious, as was the local red wine.  The crème broulee with lavender ice cream was scrumptious.  It was top was soft instead of the crisp top in the French version.

Before dinner the next evening I sat at an outside café table and sipped white wine across from a toy store owned by a young couple who played with their two boys 11 months apart in front of their store.

Most people in Ljubljana ride bicycles, but the era of the automobile is fast coming.  Now, as one man put it, the only danger in the city is getting run over by a bicyclist.

Whether you are a baby boomer, senior or a traveler of any age, if you love art and music, as well as a relaxed city full of color and don’t like crowds of tourists, I highly recommend Ljubljana.  It is one of three cities I visited during my ten week European trip that I would return to.

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ENJOYING ADVENTURE TRAVEL FOR KIDS

Editor’s Note:  This guest post is for parents and baby boomer and senior grandparents or anyone else who considers traveling with children.

Happy Children Playing Kids

Happy Children Playing Kids (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Independent travel and the spirit of adventure can often be quashed once children come along, as many families succumb to the archetypal ‘family holiday’ full of sandcastles and ice lollies and while there’s a certain appeal to that, it’s by no means the only option available.

Starting off.

While adventure travel for kids is an enjoyable prospect, there are some simple ways to ensure the trip runs smoothly and with as little stress as possible. Travelling with children requires a certain amount of advance planning, especially if the children are very young and dependant. Start by doing plenty of research on possible destinations, considering their relevance to kids, then narrow down the options by matching them up with personal criteria and individual preferences.

Expect your children to get bored easily, especially during long periods of being stuck aboard a vehicle, so make sure you are well prepared for this and have thought it through prior to travel. Pack plenty of snacks, books and entertainment devices and consider wrapping small, individual toys so that they can be opened at regular intervals when a distraction is needed.

Think about where you are going and have a detailed itinerary as well as lists of essential phone numbers and plenty of ideas of things to do, including back-up options. Facilities for children will need to be considered.

Tailor made holidays come with a certain sense of satisfaction, especially as they are usually planned following much discussion and are suited to the needs of everyone traveling. There is nothing better than taking to the road, knowing your trip is exactly what you wanted it to be, with none of the compromises that come from booking a standard package holiday.

Where to go.

There are lots of great places to go and the world really is your oyster, but failsafe hits with children include walking or hiking holidays, cycling trips or water-based activities. If the travel is off-putting, set a time limit for acceptable distances and perhaps consider flight times of no more than four hours or similar.

National parks offer countless opportunities for adventure and children are always fascinated by the great outdoors. Search for minibeasts, trample through leaves or paddle in streams, making the most of the fresh air and freedom.

Camping is another exciting prospect and there can be nothing better than sitting out under the stars, satisfying rumbling tummies on barbequed sausages, while planning the next day’s activities in earnest.

Most children like to be active and by indulging in sporty activities, everyone has the chance to spend quality time together. Watersports such as sailing, surfing or swimming are things that work on different levels regardless of age or ability.

Where to stay.

Children can be exuberant at best and noisy at worst, so to allow them to let of steam without you getting stressed, self catering accommodations is ideal. By hiring a cabin or cottage, everyone has some space and privacy and the environment can be a home from home with no fear of disturbing anyone else.

Another fantastic family friendly alternative is to travel in a camper van or motor home and this can be lots of fun for everyone and allow for plenty of flexibility. The same goes for hiring a narrowboat and taking it for a leisurely trip down winding canals steeped in tradition and promoting a relaxed pace of life.

There are many different types of holiday available to families with children and each one can be an adventure in itself, prompting the formation of precious lifelong memories. While adventure travel is certainly challenging with children in tow, its also incredibly rewarding and great fun too!

AUTHOR BIO:

Cassia Blake writes regularly on her own experiences of adventure travel for kids for a range of independent and tailor made holidays websites and blogs. Her professional and personal life has taken her to many exciting destinations worldwide.

 

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A SPOOKY PART OF PARIS

Catacombs of Paris

Catacombs of Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found the entrance to the Catacombs of Paris clearly marked near the Denfert Rochereau Metro stop. The Catacombs are a network of tunnels and caves that run for more than 300 kilometers under the city. The Romans were the first to quarry the limestone in the city in 60 B.C. As the city grew and covered the landscape, tunneling was required to get more building materials. The quarries grew in size and complexity and produced building materials for centuries to come. Quarrying continued with reckless abandon until problems began to arise. Buildings began to collapse and fall into the earth that was opening up below.

A second problem arose––the graveyards were getting full. The Cimetière des Innocents (Cemetery of the Innocent) alone held more than thirty generations of human remains. So starting in about 1777 the tunnels were fortified and human remains—hundreds of thousands, if not millions of the dead––were removed from cemeteries and stored in the tunnels. The storing of human skeletons in the Catacombs went on for a century and a half, and they are still there. The walk through the Catacombs takes a little less than an hour. More than 100 steps took us under the streets of Paris. Water dripped from the ceilings, and voices echoed. Most of the maze of tunnels was closed to the public so that people wouldn’t get lost. If they weren’t you really could wander beneath Paris forever. It was spooky. Human bones, including heads, legs, arms and every other bone, are stacked six to eight feet high along the edges of the tunnels for miles under the streets and buildings. At the end of the public area, at the top of the stairs (more than 100 down means more than 100 up) is a first aid station complete with a defibrillator and the French version of an EMT.

Catacombes de Paris - Skulls Wall

Catacombes de Paris - Skulls Wall (Photo credit: Grodada)

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BABY BOOMERS, SENIORS AND ALL WHO LOVE ITALY: A Wonderful, Inexpensive Hotel Near the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre and the Fabulous North Coast of Italy

I visited this stunning part of Italy in June 2012 and stumbled upon a wonderful small hotel at a bargain price.  Hotel Luna Rossa is in the countryside near La Spezia and Ricco del Golfo.  Address: Via Valle 4/bis, La Spezia.  Their phone number is 39-187769806.  It is owned by an Italian family­­––mother, father and two sons.  One of the sons, Danny (don’t know if that is the correct spelling) runs it with the help of the other family members.  It is located in a quiet, picturesque area of trees and flowers, and Danny’s mother maintains a beautiful garden on the premises.  I booked through hotels.com for $55.00 per night, which included an elaborate breakfast in a nice dining/living room that the family uses.  The rooms are small, but spotlessly clean.  Mine had a view of the garden.  The family makes you feel like you are a guest in the home of friends you have known for years.  They will help you with any information you want about the area.  The boys (and Danny’s girlfriend, Viona) speak fluent English.  Staying at Luna Rosa was the most pleasant hotel experience I had during my 10 weeks in Europe.

You get to the area best by car or train from Florence or Pisa to La Spezia.  If you take a taxi to Luna Rosa from La Spezia, ask the driver to call before he leaves.  Most taxi drivers don’t know where the small hotel is, or after they have driven you all around the area, claim they didn’t.

Cinque Terra (five lands) consists of five small towns on the cliffs overlooking the coast and compares in beauty with the Amalfi Coast of Southern Italy.  In addition, you shouldn’t confine your touring to Cinque Terre.  Nearby are beautiful quaint villages and towns, like Carrara, the marble capital of the world; Lerci, which has a beautiful beach and nice shops and restaurants; San Terenzo, where the poet Shelley live and died; Porto Venere, where Byron lived and other quaint towns and villages east and west of Cinque Terra.  This area is within an hour’s drive of northern Tuscany and not far from the beautiful walled city of Lucca, not to mention, Florence.

Because of all there is to see in the area, I recommend renting a car.  It is not difficult to drive in the area, and Danny at Luna Rosa will help you with directions.  If you stay there, you will need a car because the pubic transportation is not reliable or plentiful.  However, Cinque Terra itself is best seen by the hop-on-hop-off train from the Central La Spezia Train Station, about 5 miles from Luna Rosa.  Driving in the Cinque Terra is restricted, and parking is problematic.

There is so much to see I would recommend a week’s stay, but whatever you can spare is well worth the trip.  I was there for four days and wished I had planned for a longer stay.

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THE INCOMPARABLE BEAUTY OF SCANDINAVIA: for Baby Boomers, Seniors and Everyone

A Long Train Ride to the Incomparable Beauty of Scandinavia: Copenhagen and Oslo

I went to Copenhagen by train from Bologna, some 19 hours on trains and in train stations in Milan and Basil. Walking out of the Basil train station, I was flanked by a Burger King on my left and a Starbucks on my right––disappointing. The beauty of the Swiss Alps made up for it, and once past the Americana, Basil seemed like a charming city, where American dollars exchanged for Swiss Francs didn’t buy much.

After four weeks in the warmth of summer in beautiful but economically depressed Italy, Copenhagen was a shock. It was cold and rainy, and the prices for everything were double or triple those of Italy, but it was sparkling clean with beautiful canals, sky blue when the sun shone between the clouds. The older buildings had the architecture unique to Scandinavia, so unlike that of southern Europe. In summer the gardens were beautiful. It seemed like everyone, commercial and family, was competing for the most colorful and elaborate garden. Oslo, the first stop on my Cruise of Norway was similar in its floral extravaganza and was surrounded by even more water than Copenhagen.

Copenhagen was not as crowded with tourists as I had found other European destinations in the summer, a pleasant surprise.  The tourists that were there included many American baby boomers and seniors, probably attracted by the pristine cities and friendly, English speaking natives.

My favorite part of Copenhagen was Tivoli Gardens, a Disneyland with gardens. It had everything that Disneyland had, but fewer rides, more restaurants and much more open space with great splotches of colorful flowers, green lawn, ponds bordered by more flowers and trees and plants that outdid Disneyland.

It is one of the most efficient cities in Europe for getting around, quite walkable for the most part, but efficient subway and bus service and trains that go everywhere in Europe. The hop-on-hop-off busses are an efficient way to see the city.

Oslo is blessed with fascinating museums that display its long history and art. The Viking Ship Museum, which displays Viking Ships from the Middle Ages; the Folk Museum that in addition to artifacts from the Fifteenth Century, has a village of old homes and shops that were moved there from their original locations in Norway; and the Kontiki Museum. My traveling companion and I especially enjoyed the Folk Museum. Seventeenth century homes and shops had been moved to the picturesque hilly grounds that displayed artifacts and traditional Nordic dancing by Oslo’s youth. Oslo’s architecture, like that of Copenhagen is colorful and unique and has modern skyscrapers next to four hundred year old beautifully maintained buildings. The City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prizeis presented each year is a modern building full of art, old and new. You can enjoy the beauty of the city by boat, bus or foot. The food, especially native fish, is delicious, though expensive. Be prepared to pay the equivalent of six to seven dollars for a cup of coffee and thirty to forty for lunch. Oslo is a pleasant city for Americans to visit because most everyone speaks English.

Copenhagen's Famous Mermaid

Because we were on a cruise we only spent one day in Oslo. I would recommend at least two. It is a great city to relax and enjoy the beautiful, unique ambiance and friendly people.

Oslo

Oslo Gardens

Copenhagen

Oslo Harbor

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BABY BOOMERS CRUISING NORWAY’S FJORDS: Part 2

The Fjords of Norway: Part 2

My traveling companion, Deanne, another baby boomer, and I left Rotterdam, the home port of the MS Rotterdam, a cruise ship that was our home for 14 days of incomparable scenery and on board pampering and way too much delicious food and drink.  We sailed the North Sea the first night and day and docked in Oslo early the next morning.  Oslo, a city with a modern skyline, as well as three hundred year old buildings and lush green hills was the preview.  The Folk Museum took us back to the Seventeenth Century, and the Viking Ships Museum to an even earlier time.  The city is pristine, modern and historical at once.  We sailed away reluctantly, wanting to see and know more.

 The little city of Kristiansand was quaint and beautiful, as we had expected, but it was just an appetizer.  We couldn’t have imagined what was to come.

 After strolling around Stavanger the next day, we re-boarded the ship and headed for the Lyse Fjord.  Before long I was stunned with the beauty of the water, colored from India ink to sky blue and the towering cliffs of green, purple and brown with lush trees growing out of the rock and foamy waterfalls cascading into the sea below. Only the presence of strangers blocked my tears of utter amazement and joy.

Flam was just as beautiful, the city and shining blue harbor surrounded by stunning hills and rivers.  We took a train into the hills punctuated by waterfalls large and small.  After a snack of genuine Norwegian waffles with sour cream and jam at an old hotel by the river, we hiked along the river.   We returned to Rotterdam to let off some passengers and add some new ones, then sailed to the second largest city in Norway, Bergen, that looked like all of the postcards you have seen of Norway.

The chocolate on the sunday was Geiranger, a small tourist town at the end of perhaps the most awesome of Norway’s fjords.  We plopped into a two-seated kayak and paddled at the back of a group of superior kayakers beside the majestic cliffs of Geiranger Fjord.  A couple of hours later, sore armed and wet, we looked back and found it difficult to comprehend where we had been and what we had seen.

In Alesund I looked out from the harbor that spread out before me like a blanket of sparkling blues and greens to the dark hills beyond.  The sun hid behind and then snuck out from the white and gray cotton candy-like clouds.  The next day brought more––Eidfjord.  I don’t think I will ever get as close to heaven.

Eidfjord was as spectacular as the others.  After awhile, it is just too much.  It’s like, ho hum, another beautiful fjord.

I highly recommend the Holland America cruise to see the fjords.  In two weeks, we saw Oslo and five fjords, with plenty of time to explore while the ship was docked and two weeks of pampering on board.

 

 

 

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EUROPEAN ADVENTURE: THE FJORDS OF NORWAY, Part 1

This baby boomer toured Europe for ten weeks from May to August 2012.  The Fjords of Norway is the third in a series of posts about my adventures.  I hope they will inspire seniors and baby boomers and people of all ages to travel and enjoy this beautiful planet as much as they can.

National Geographic has selected the Norwegian Fjords as the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sight.  I would not argue.  Of the world’s beauty that I have seen, the South Island of New Zealand, Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park in the United States, and the Amalfi Coast in Italy may come close, but the Norwegian Fjords, including the Geiranger Fjord, Liese Fjord near Stavanger and the fjords near Flam, Alesund and Eidfjord, which I had the privilege of viewing from their cliffs, hills and roads and the deck of the MS Rotterdam, are incomparable.

I saw the Geiranger Fjord, starry eyed and sore armed, from the back of a kayak, as my companion, Deanne, and I paddled below its towering green and brown cliffs under a cloudy sky that made its beauty more mysterious.  It was so beautiful that, despite the pain, it brought God to my heart and soul, though God did not bless me with the skill to kayak competently.

My previous experience kayaking in a two-person kayak did not imbue me with confidence, but I didn’t admit it to Deanne.  Ten or so years ago I subjected my son, then a teenager, to my lack of two person kayaking skills, and it was several hours and an expensive dinner before he would speak to me, as I recall.  Deanne had never been in a two- person kayak.  She may never do so again, certainly not with me.

There were about 25 boats in the group, led by a guide and trailed by an assistant, a young man who must have been challenged to proceed as slowly as Deanne and I did.  It wasn’t snail like speed that was the main problem.  I was elected by Deanne to man the rear because the kayak had a rudder controlled from the rear, and she had never used a rudder–not that I had either.  But how could I consider myself manly if I refused a lady’s request that I steer the boat?

We both managed to fall into the kayak from the dock without getting wet, a misleadingly encouraging beginning.  Any semblance of dignity in guiding the kayak ended there.  About four strokes were all it took before I splashed water on my companion.  She groaned and shouted my name in an unkind tone.  I tried as hard as I could not to splash her, but by the time we were two-thirds of the way to our destination (less than half of the round trip), she was soaked from head to toe and a bit displeased with me.

As a private pilot I had used a rudder on an airplane, but much to my dismay, I found the rudder on the kayak impossible to maintain anything like a straight line.  The trip was about 3 miles.  I’m certain we travelled 6 or more.  The pain in my arms and shoulders and the cramps in my feet from working the rudder convinced me of that.

Of course, Deanne didn’t care so much about my feet, arms or shoulders.  She didn’t even mind so much zigzagging all over the fjord or always bringing up the rear of the group, though it was a little embarrassing to lag behind a kayak paddled by a 12 year-old girl and her father.  We missed the guide’s lectures because by the time we caught up with the group they were ready to move on.

My companion continued to shout at me as I splashed water on her.  I think that initially she was concerned about getting wet from falling out of the boat, rather than from my paddling.  I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong.  I even tried mentally to blame it on her.  When she dipped her left oar in the water she brought it out too soon, and that threw off my timing.  Yeah, right!  As if I had any timing.

She also kept telling me I was “going the wrong way,” as she put it––true enough.  But I could see when I was headed toward the shore.  Her information didn’t help.  I hasten to point out that my skill with the use of the rudder was not so bad that we ran into anything or anybody, which, as I recall, was an improvement over my paddling a canoe years ago.  Deanne wasn’t impressed though.

We made it back to the dock, albeit after everyone else, including the 12 year-old, and Deanne made a hasty retreat to the ship to dry herself and her clothes.  I did have a few moments to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the Geiranger Fjord from the kayak, and I also gazed for hours from the MS Rotterdam.  I took the photographs below from the Kayak while I shook with fear that my paddle or oar or whatever you call it would fall into the water and sink, and then I would drop my camera in the water while trying to retrieve the paddle.

The photos do not begin to show the awesome beauty my eyes saw, but I can’t blame that on my lack of photographing or kayaking skills.  The magnificent cliffs are too high, long and subtly colorful to be captured by an amateur or even a professional photographer.

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SEDONA CALLING BABY BOOMERS AND ALL WHO LOVE THE RED ROCK COUNTRY

Baby Boomers, Seniors and Travelers of Any Age

Sedona: A Vortex for Whatever Ails You

By Ilchi Lee

Sedona, AZ, is well known for its beautiful panoramas that combine breathtaking red sandstone formations and a lush juniper forest. As rare as that is, it is also famous for an even more unusual trait – its spiritual energy. Sedona is believed to possess several energy vortexes, places of extremely intense cosmic energy. Because of this, Sedona has become something of a Mecca for spiritual seekers. But how does one find these vortexes? Well, they are not so much something that you see as something that you feel. Each one has a unique character of its own. Here is a guide to some of Sedona’s most famous vortexes, there unique qualities, and some tips on how to feel them.

Bell Rock

Rising majestically from the ground directly adjacent to Highway 179, Bell Rock is one of the most popular red rock destinations in Sedona. Its striking bell shape makes it both beautiful and easy to climb. Well maintained hiking trails and rock cairns lead travelers up the stratified levels of the formation.  A quick 15-minute walk will take you to the mid-level of the formation, providing stunning views and great opportunities to feel Bell Rock’s vortex energy.

Bell Rock’s energy is strongly masculine. However, it is a very balanced, stable masculine energy. Thus, it is a perfect place to come and find inspiration for your life’s purpose. If you are struggling to discover direction in your life, I recommend you come here and open yourself fully to whatever inspiration it can provide. Very likely, you will leave feeling very confident and clear about your path in life.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock is one of the most photographed features in Sedona. The rock formation itself is stunningly beautiful, and its beauty is further enhanced by a gently flowing segment of Oak Creek and its surrounding greenbelt area. If you like, you can park inside of the Canyon Ranch area and spend the day picnicking, fishing, hiking, wading in the Creek.

The energy here is very feminine and deeply nurturing. It is a perfect place to come when you need emotional or physical healing of any kind. Those who visit often report that the energy feels soft and loving, like a mother’s embrace. I recommend that if you come here, spend at least a few hours, so that you can fully relax and open to the energy. I especially recommend taking off your shoes and wading in the creek, feeling the cool refreshing water rushing by your feet and legs. After that, lie down on one of the flat red rocks, soaking in the energy of the rock beneath in the sky above. You will leave feeling relaxed, refreshed, and cared for, almost as though you had just received treatment at a high-class spa.

Boynton Canyon

This beautiful area is one of the least spoiled areas of Sedona’s Red Rock region. There has been little development there, aside from a couple of upscale resorts.  The Native Americans in Northern Arizona consider certain areas in Boynton Canyon to be highly sacred. While most other vortexes seem to offer either masculine or feminine energy, Boynton Canyon offers a perfect balance of both. This balance of masculine and feminine is reflected in the environment as well, which provides a unique combination of dramatic red rock sculptures, shady woodland areas, and trickling brooks and streams (in the wet season).

This is a wonderful place to visit when you’re seeking to restore balance in your life. When you go here, you will almost immediately have a sense of being transported out of your everyday life and into an enchanted land.

Hiking is probably the best way to fully absorb the vortex energy in Boynton Canyon. Walking can be used as a sort of moving meditation, and it opens up your energy. As you walk, stay silent and focus on the rhythm of your footsteps and your breath; this will allow your brain to achieve a meditative brainwave state. Then, when you reach the end of the trail or find a nice shady spot, sit down, relax, and soak in the energy.

Airport Mesa

 

It’s appropriate that this vortex is located close to the Sedona Airport because Airport Mesa is a great place to visit when you really need to take off in your life and start flying high. The vortex is located halfway to the top of the mesa that provides a flat area for the runway of the Sedona Airport.

If you are seeking the willpower and motivation to move forward toward your dreams, stand on the red rock and try to visualize your goals and dreams in your mind’s eye as though they have already happened. As you picture your success, soak in the energy of this vortex and imagine it going toward your goals.

Airport Mesa is the most easily accessible vortex and offers a 360 degree view of Sedona’s awe-inspiring sunsets. The sunset you see from here makes you understand what’s meant by the term “breathtakingly beautiful.”  Stargazing from rocks that have been warmed all day by the sun is also amazing there.

Feeling the Energy

Here is a simple exercise to help you feel Sedona’s vortex energy:

1)    Sit down in a relaxed posture. You may use the traditional half-lotus (cross-legged) posture, but if that is not comfortable, any position is fine, so long as your back is straight and you feel comfortable.

2)    Place your palms gently on your thighs with your palms facing upward.

3)    Close your eyes and relax your body completely. Inhale and exhale fully, and try to empty your mind.

4)    Focus on the palms of your hands. As you relax, you will feel vibration or tingling on your palms. This sensation is the feeling of vortex energy.

ILCHI LEE is an educator, mentor, and trailblazer who has developed many mind-body training methods including Dahn Yoga and Brain Education.  He is also the founder of Sedona Mago Retreat and the author of thirty-three books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart.  For more information about his works, visit www.callofsedona.com.

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Posted in Baby Boomer Travel, Boomer Travel, Guest Blog, National Parks, Road Trip, Senior Travel, Travel in North America, Travel Review, United States Travel | 3 Comments

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN CULTURES: YOU BE THE JUDGE

As I sat in the bar of the 5 star Majestic Hotel in Bologna, Italy, I observed two graphic examples of, in my opinion, differences between European and American (U.S.A.) cultures.

I like to spend an hour or so in 5 star hotels when I travel, though I wouldn’t spend the $400-$600 a night that it costs to stay there. There is often fine art on the walls; I enjoy gazing at the interior design and decoration; and in the older hotels in Europe the architecture is often interesting and even beautiful. The people watching is sometimes interesting too. The servers usually are very kind and attentive, in part because bars and restaurants in hotels need customers.

At the Majestic I sat near two gentlemen who were having dinner at a table in the bar. They clearly were businessmen in the baby boomer generation, and from their accents (they spoke in English) it was equally clear that one was American and the other was Italian. After about ten minutes of discussion, the Italian’s cell phone rang. He took it out of his pocket, pushed a button and put it back in his pocket. As if on cue, the American’s cell phone rang. He answered, leapt from the table and disappeared out the door. A few minutes later, the American still absent, the waiter brought their main courses. The Italian waited for a while and then began to eat. After being gone for about twenty minutes, the American returned and ate his then cold main course, after which he pulled his cell phone from his pocket and left again. The Italian shook his head.

The other incident was not quite as graphic, but still telling. The bar at the Hotel Majestic (and it was majestic) is downstairs from the lobby. The stairway going up to the lobby was visible from where I sat sipping my drink. Two children, a boy about 12 and a girl about 10, lounged on the stairway playing a video game on a smart phone. They blocked all but a foot or so of the stairway. Numerous times, they moved over slightly when someone had to step around them to get up the stairs, but nobody complained. The manager of the bar and two waiters observed this, but said nothing to the children. I have no doubt that in the United States, the hotel employees would have told the children they could not play on the stairway.

I will let you draw your own conclusions about what these two incidents say about the differences in culture. I welcome comments.

Posted in Boomer Travel, Culture, Economical travel, Europe, Hotels, Journal from Europe, Journal from France, Senior Travel | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments