Travel blog

Cuba – It's not a country, it's a feeling




I don’t like to fly. However, if it means getting somewhere I really want to go, I will put up with my own misery for the end result. Going to Cuba was just such a destination. We left San Diego airport early morning July 1, the beginning of an unforgettable adventure.

Most of my friends and family had reacted the same way when I told them of our travel plans. Comments ranged from “How exciting!” and “That’s on my bucket list!” to “Why?”  Regardless of the viewpoint, the initial response was always one of surprise. I suppose it’s not a common destination, at least not for Americans. That may change soon.




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Topics: Americas, Cuba, Ambassador Adventures


Preparing for a California Wine Tour: A Beginner’s Guide




This summer we’re finally taking the trip my wife, Francine, has talked about for years: a combined Alaskan cruise and West Coast train tour with YMT Vacations. With a chance to see glaciers up close and humpback whales, Inuit villages and even the “city by the bay,” this one is going to be something special. But topping Francine’s list of things we simply must do is something I swore I never would.




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Topics: Americas, Ambassador Adventures


Beyond the Guidebook: The Hawaii Four-Island Agricultural Tour




Besides the amazing resorts and popular beaches, Hawaii offers a whole lot of lesser-known treasures that make this place pretty special. On our YMT Vacations Hawaii Four-Island Agricultural Tour we got to go beyond the tourist highlights to experience the real Aloha State — the places the locals love and the ones I’ll never forget. We learned the history, experienced the culture and wandered through some spectacular landscapes.




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Topics: Americas, Hawaii, Ambassador Adventures


Off the Beaten Tourist Path: One Lesser-Known Treasure of Italy



I live in a country that is 238 years old but today I walked through a church that took three centuries to build! It’s not in the Vatican or in the Medici-backed city of Florence. Nope, this church that took longer to build than my country has existed is in a tiny town known as Orvieto, Italy and it is spectacular.




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Topics: Europe, Ambassador Adventures


Discovering the “Real” Hawaii




Tourism has become big business these days. Most destinations attract you with glossy brochures and Madison Avenue advertising. There are theme parks and “must-see” hotspots, slick productions and high-end tours designed to keep you and your dollars coming back. But sometimes the best attractions are the roadside ones, the ones locals recall fondly from their childhood. These are the places that give you a rare glimpse beyond the guide books and straight into the heart of a place.




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Topics: Americas, Hawaii, Ambassador Adventures


Sandwich Wars in the City of Brotherly Love



New England has its chowda, key lime pie is the specialty in America’s southernmost city and there’s no better place for deep-dish pizza than Chicago. But in Philadelphia, the cheese steak reigns supreme as the city’s signature dish, and there’s no better spot to enjoy this working-class, stick-to-your-ribs sandwich than on the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philly.




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Topics: Americas, New England/Canada, Ambassador Adventures


Good Eats!: The Best of Italian Cuisine



Food is serious business in Italy. It seems every restaurant we visited featured a recipe perfected by generations of grandmothers and a chef just bursting to tell you all about his family specialty. The great thing is you don’t have to spend a lot to get some pretty spectacular dishes: a simple local trattoria is often times better than the finest international restaurant and a pizzeria gets you the best $10 beer and pizza you’ve ever tasted.




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Topics: Europe, Ambassador Adventures


Sea-ing Food In A Whole New Way: Exploring Vigo, Spain



Landlocked smack dab in the heart of the Midwest, the only experience our family had with the sea was the frozen box of Gorton’s fish sticks my wife would pull out on Friday nights. We grew up eating meat and potatoes, and were ignorant that any other type of diet even existed. That was until Francine and I visited Vigo, Spain.




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Topics: Europe, Ambassador Adventures


Sweet Treats




After seeing the magnificent David, the Gates of Paradise and the Palazzo Vecchio, I’ve found my true purpose for coming to Florence -- gelato. I’ve made it my own personal mission to try every single flavor. I’m not kidding. We’re four days in and I’ve already had eight!




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Topics: Europe, Ambassador Adventures


Tastes Like Home



As the child of Irish immigrants I have an inexplicable attachment to the potato. This lowest of the tuberous crops is my go-to comfort food. If I’m having a bad day there’s nothin’ a good spud can’t improve. If there’s a reason to celebrate there’d better be a loaded baked potato alongside my steak. And if I don’t see a heaping mound of mashed taters at Thanksgiving, well, let’s just say my holiday is in jeopardy.




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Topics: Europe, Ambassador Adventures