"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca you must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences."
- Constantine Peter Cavafy "Ithaca"
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©2008 W. Ruth Kozak


"Bon bini." This lyrical, unusual word greeted me and my family at Queen Beatrix International Airport at Oranjestad, Aruba where we had arrived for a short vacation. Bon bini means welcome in the Papiamento language, one of four languages that are commonly spoken in this Caribbean island. The official language is Dutch while English and Spanish are also widely spoken.
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The Mediterranean has a variety of intriguing historic destinations in Spain, Italy and Greece. One way you can visit some of those fascinating historical sites is via a cruise. Cruise ships usually stop at ports in Italy, Spain, France and Greece from which you visit some of the world's greatest museums and historical architecture.
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It is early morning and the sun is casting shadows on the monumental canyon walls leading into the “rose city” of Petra in the Kingdom of Jordan. Petra is more than 2,000 years old and has some magnificent and amazingly well-preserved buildings that were hand-carved by the Nabataean people, an Arab tribe who ruled this area for hundreds of years starting as early as the sixth century B.C.
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Our hearts were set on introducing our fellow travelers to the spectacular Na Pali Coast, globally renowned for its rugged, breathtaking grandeur, secluded beaches, rainbow waterfalls and, yes, challenging, daunting hikes. Three days of heavy rains and flooding foiled our plans. Steep treacherous cliffs and slick trails make for heart failing excitement, but, not the kind of excitement we were looking for.
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Harry continues driving along the route made famous in John Ford's classic film Stagecoach (1939) through an eerie, snow-dusted landscape of gouged, red-brown hills and gullies cradled by massive buttes. It’s as if nothing has changed since that time. But everything, including the Navajo’s traditional way of life, is changing.
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I thought a good way to remember Tallinn’s spelling is to separate it into ‘tall inn’; especially as one of its most famous inns has the very memorable name of Hell Hunt. The picture on the inn’s exterior is also distinctive: a wolf carrying a woman. I was relieved to read that the Estonian meaning is Gentle Wolf, and nothing to do with the hell and hunt of English language.
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The Cosmopolitan Hotel in San Diego California is the quintessential stagecoach hotel. This building actually holds the stories and perhaps the spirits of two different time periods and two different men who made their mark on the history of this state. The Cosmo, as she is affectionately known, has been called one of the most historically significant buildings in Californian history.
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River cruising on the Main, Danube and Rhine, we pass hillside vineyards and medieval architecture on our journey through the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. On either side of the river banks, we pass villages and towns that have existed for ages. River cruising is slow and relaxing as if gliding along on glass.
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