Why Today We Are In the Golden Age of Flying

Many harken back to the period of about 1945 to 1975 as the “Golden Age of Flying.” I say, “au contraire” – today (right now) things are much better for fliers. Here are ten reasons why:

1. It’s way faster. In the 1940s, an average intercontinental flight had at least a 12 layovers in airpots that offered little more than a snack bar. Now, you can fly from Los Angeles all the way to Sydney, Australia non stop.

2. You won’t smell like an ashtray when you land. Airplane cabins used to be smokier than the air in a casino until lighting up on planes was finally banned in 1980.

3. Flying is actually cheaper. According to the Department of Transportation airfares are about as low as they’ve ever been (excluding 2009) when adjusted for inflation. Airlines for America reports the inflation-adjusted fares fell from about $442 in 1979 (which is when airlines deregulated) to about $275 in 2014 — a nearly 38% drop.

4. You can find airfares on your own. It takes less than a minute to check the costs of dozens of airlines for any given city pair and dates. You can go to kayak.com on your computer and check every airline but Southwest. So, by checking two websites (southwest.com and kayak.com) you’ll find the cost for every airline in the world. Imagine trying to book a flight even just 20 years ago when there was no internet — you had to call the airline or physically visit its office. And comparison shopping could only be done by a travel agent, who would have to look through each airline’s printed schedule. A travel agent is still your best bet for complicated international travel.

5. Today’s airports are far more enjoyable places to spend layovers. Many airports now have shopping malls. Or, with your computer you can visit facebook, play games or watch movies.

6. You can travel in comfortable clothes. Many people lament the loss of being required to dress up (like you were going to church) but I, for one, can’t imagine wearing a suit and tie on a transcontinental flight. If you aren’t old enough to remember, there was a time when you had to fly in formal attire, but you can now wear pretty much whatever you want on a plane.

7. You are far less likely to lose your luggage. Thanks to improved technology, the number of mishandled bags fell 61%, from 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007 to 7.3 bags per thousand passengers in 2014 according to the International Air Transport Association. That’s less than a 1% chance you’ll lose your bag. But if you’re paranoid, there are now plenty of gadgets that will help you track your luggage in case the airline does screw up.

8. Luggage has gotten smarter. One of those gadgets helping protect your bag is, your bag itself. There’s been a rise in the production of smart luggage. You can now get a bag that weighs itself, tracks itself and will even charge your cell phone.

9. You don’t even need to check a bag. Lot’s of people now fly with only a carry-on. And, you can also just wear a jacket that is a bag. Travel jackets have in excess of 30 pockets. The only problem is finding the right pocket where you’ve put something. Or use an app, like DUFL, that will deliver your pressed clothes to your hotel before you even arrive.

10. There are lots of ways to entertain yourself on a plane. Fliers in the 1950s were stuck with almost no way to keep busy. Not long ago airlines showed only one movie. Now, if you’re flying international, you have dozens to choose from. And, yes, there’s Wi-Fi. Nearly all airlines now provide some form of in-flight internet. Some airlines are even starting to provide fliers with free Wi-Fi.

Added bonuses you can get: Boarding passes sent to your phone, luggage tags you can print at home and security lines bypasses by signing up for memberships with Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck.

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The Getaway Guru’s Favorite European Destinations

There are over fifty countries to choose from when planning your European Vacation. That can make planning a little overwhelming when deciding where to go! The Getaway Guru (who is always here to help) has chosen the top twenty cities that you MUST check out on your next trip to Europe. Check out the infographic for his top picks, as well as his favorite things to do in each city!

Top 20 European Cities (3)

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River or Ocean Cruising Which is Best?

Not long ago a client who had taken 19 ocean cruises was in our office to report his first experience on a river cruise. He loved the river cruise so much that he stated he was never going on an ocean cruise again! River cruising is one of the hottest trends in travel today and our client makes a good point. However I would offer some qualifications. Here are important comparisons between river and ocean cruising.

Price and Value
You won’t find a river cruise for $499 like you might for an ocean cruise. However, river cruises provide excellent value when measured against the price of a similar travel experience on land to the same destination. Add the total cost of sightseeing, transportation, meals and entertainment on a 7-day land tour in a four-star hotel or better with the cost of a river cruise and the river cruise will win every time.

Connection and Convenience
Because river cruise boats are much smaller (80 to 180 passengers) than ocean cruise liners ( 2,500 to 6,000 passengers) , river cruising offers a feeling of connection to destinatins that ocean cruises cannot offer. You unpack and pack once and enjoy the local cities and sights along the way. On land tours to similar places you would pack and unpack almost every day.

Onboard is different
River cruise ships do not have lavish entertainment but rather cabaret entertainment or entertainment provided by local folk lore entertainers. The food on river cruises is good, but don’t expect upscale fine dining restaurants that ocean liners have. Many, but not all, river cruises include shore excursions as part of the cruise fare. Cabins most ocean liners are small, and cabins on river cruises are even smaller.

Shopping for a cruise
There are several river cruise companies. They all offer excellent but slightly different experiences. Viking River Cruises is perhaps the best known river cruise company in the U.S. They have done an excellent job of marketing and they have an excellent product. However there are several other river cruise companies offering outstanding products as well. It is always a good idea to comparison shop.

Major river cruise companies are:

• AMA Waterways
• Avalon Waterways
• Uniworld River Cruises
• Viking River Cruises
• Croisi Europe

Croisi

Personalities
Travel preferences among different nationalities vary widely. Some cruise lines such as Viking River caters to clients from the U.S. and Great Britain. CroisEurope river cruise line is the largest cruise line in Europe. It is French owned and operated and the food is excellent. It caters to an international clientele so it offers a different feel and experience. CroisEurope has not penetrated the U.S. market and are currently offering some excellent rates.

Is river cruising better than ocean cruising? It depends on what you are looking for. It is a unique adventure and every traveler should consider a river cruise.

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This World Could Use a Little More Blarney!

I have visited Ireland several times. It is a beautiful country – rightly living up to its Emerald Isle nick name.   Its grass seems to be bright year round.  Many don’t realize that Ireland gets little snow so the bright green is rarely covered.  Many of its trees do not shed their leaves during the winter so those trees are green year around also.  Emerald green is indeed an appropriate color by which the country has come to be known.

While Ireland is full of beauty, castles and interesting history, its people are its greatest asset .   Have you ever seen a sad Irish person?  Not many, and if they are sad it doesn’t seem to last long.  They are happy and welcoming and possess a sense of humor that is not acquired but seems to come as standard equipment.  Two examples of this are their humorous witticisms and the gift of blarney.  Here are a few of my favorite witticisms:

  • May the Lord keep you in his hand and never close his fist too tight
  • The Irish ignore anything they can’t drink or punch.
  • Here’s to our wives and girlfriends: May they never meet!
  • God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world.
  • The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scotts as a joke, but the Scotts haven’t seen the joke yet. ~ Oliver Herford
  • “My mother’s menu consisted of two choices: Take it or leave it.”

Many countries can lay claim to similar witticisms, but none can lay claim to the gift of blarney.   What is the difference between blarney and baloney? Perhaps the best explanation was given by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen who said, “ Baloney is flattery laid on so thick it cannot be true, and blarney is flattery so thin we love it.”

An unknown Irishman explained, “Baloney is when you tell a 50-year old woman that she looks 18. Blarney is when you ask a woman how old she is, because you want to know at what age women are most beautiful.”

I have been to Blarney castle several times and many ask if I have kissed the Blarney Stone.  I have to confess I have not.  My answer is that I don’t just kiss any stone – I am saving myself for just the right stone.  Apparently President Clinton did not feel that was as he claimed at a fundraiser for John Kerry to have kissed the Blarney Stone, although Jay Leno reckoned he’d initially denied it claiming “the stone kissed him.”

Young ladies looking got their first kiss can take a lesson from the Blarney Stone.  It is not easy to get to and requires climbing to the top the Blarney Castle though steep, narrow and winding stairs.  Then one must almost risk his life to kiss it as it actually protrudes out from the castle and requires one to lean over the wall a the top of the castle to kiss it.  Lesson to young women:  It is possible to do, but one must work hard enough to do it so as to appreciate it once done.

The Irish people are a proud people.  Not proud in the sense of feeling superior to others, but that they are lucky to be Irish and their traditions, history and their freedom.  Ireland as a free country is relatively new.  It was ruled by Britain for nearly 600 years and did not become a free country until 1922 so they are not so far away from independence that they have forgotten how hard it was to become independent and how valuable freedom is.

On my recent trip to Ireland I had a large group needing four coaches for transportation and sightseeing. Two of the coaches were driven by older gentlemen and two by younger drivers.  These driver guides are all excellent.  They take pride in not only telling stories, history and interesting facts about Ireland but in keeping their guests entertained.

As the driver-guides talked about gaining independence the two older gentlemen became quite emotional , and still bear a little animosity.  I am always surprised at that thinking it is long past time to put such feelings behind and move forward.  Then I remember the feelings some in the U.S. have regarding race issues and realize that such feelings are found among all people. The good news is that it seems such feelings are not shared by the younger Irish people.

One of the darkest parts if Irish history was the potato famine.  The people depended on the potato crop as a main source of sustenance and when the crop failed between 1845 and 1852 it brought mass starvation, disease and emigration.  Approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland.

Tragic as it was it had two positive side effects.  One is the emigration of millions of Irish people to the U.S. and other parts of the world. Where would we be without the diversity and contribution brought to America and other countries by the Irish?  There are approximately 5 million people in Ireland today and approximately 20 million throughout the world who claim Irish ancestry.

The second was the fermentation of the determination of the Irish to govern themselves ultimately leading to their independence.

Among the many things the world could learn from the Irish is an application of a bit of blarney – not the baloney we hear so often but blarney which puts a positive and humorous spin on things which the Irish are masters at.

While there may not be such things as Leprechauns there really is a magic in Ireland.  You have to visit Ireland to appreciate it – it should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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NORWAY IS COOL by Don Shafer

Norway is not just cool as in really great, but a super place to cool off after waking up in the morning and thinking you’ve died and gone to Phoenix, which is what everyone seems to be feeling in and around Utah.

My wife and I just got back from cruising around Norway on the Grand Princess (a cruise we booked through the leading Utah travel agency, namely, Columbus Travel) and one of the places we visited was Longyearbyen, a village on a very northern island at about 80-degrees latitude, which is way beyond the Arctic Circle.  The high temperature that day was a sunny 39 – not celsius, fahrenheit.  By the way, that sunny was for 24-hours.  Yes, at midnight, 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. (I kept getting up to check) the sun was hanging in the sky.  The sun never got lower than about what we experience at 6:30 p.m. this time of year.

We also stopped in Stavanger, Gravdal, Honningsvag, Tromso, Hellesylt/Gieranger and Bergen, where temperatures never got above 75 and were usually in the 60s.  For someone who doesn’t take the heat very well it was heaven.

Bergen is a city about the size of Salt Lake in a beautiful fjord bay.  When we got off the ship we road the funicular to a mountain overlooking the gorgeous city splashed in the valleys of the mountains surrounding the bay.  Positively breathtaking.

The day before, speaking of sights that take your breath away, we disembarked in the morning at a village named Hellesylt and were whisked by motorcoach up the mountains of the fjord and then back down in the evening for reembarkation in the town of Geiranger.  On top at midday, the ski lift was running and the snow was 12 feet deep.  Spectacular views everywhere up there, including a the sight from high above Geiranger that is included in about every arrangements of photos from the Norwegian fjords.

We had taken off on our 14-day cruise from Southampton, and getting there was an electrifying experience – one that had a happy ending due to employees of Delta Airlines.  I have to take my hat off to Delta, because just a couple of years ago I can recall many a radio show guest railing about how their service had fallen to new lows of indifference and rudeness.  Not so anymore!  Everyone was not only friendly, but helpful to the grandest extent.

When we left Salt Lake City on June 20, severe thunderstorms around New York City, where we had a change of planes, as well as a fire at the FAA center in New Jersey, caused a three-and-a-half-hour delay in take off.  They wouldn’t let them take off because they weren’t going to be able to land.  Needless to say, we not only missed our connection but one scheduled to leave two-hours after the one to which we were assigned.  We got to New York City four hours late, about six minutes before the last scheduled flight of the day to London’s Heathrow Airport was supposed to leave.  We got off the plane and the only Delta agents in this particular concourse were helping passengers board a flight to Puerto Rico, and they were inundated with problems.  JFK was a madhouse – I mean way further out of control than it’s normal madness.  Thousands of flights had been cancelled that day and everything that had arrived was late.  There were many thousands of passengers who didn’t want to be there running in every direction.

I shouted:  “We were told on the plane there would be someone here to help us and we need help!”  A Delta gate agent (Luis Hernandez) offered:  “I will try to help you.”  He spent 25-minutes on the phone getting us on that last flight of the night to London, which was being delayed.  Then he personally escorted us to the gate where we boarded a bus for a trip to another terminal.  We took off at 1:15 a.m. (six-hours-thirty-minutes after we had been originally scheduled to depart) and landed at 12:45 p.m. at Heathrow (five-hours-thirty-minutes after we were originally supposed to be there).

After getting our luggage, we were met by representatives of Princess Cruises and whisked, along with 15 other late arrivals from JFK, to the ship, which sailed within five minutes after we set foot onboard.

Whew!

But wait, there’s more!

We arrived back at Southampton at the very pier from whence the Titanic sailed just a little more than 100-years earlier.  Hmmmm.  If we had only known.

It was the day of the “Ladies Final” at Wimbledon.  The “Gentlemen’s Final” was the next day and tickets were going for five to seven thousand pounds.  “Self,” I said, “we could go on at least three or four more cruises with that much money.”  So we saw some live theatre whilst in London town, as well as a day at the British Museum.  The shows were fantastic:  “Sweeney Todd,” a Stephen Sondheim masterpiece, “The Lion King,” something my wife has been wanting to see for several years, and lots of fun, and “The War Horse,” a truly unique and wonderful production.

Oh, by the way, there are some seven-day cruises to lots of Scandinavian destinations this August – Royal Caribbean starting at $649, Holland America, $899 – if you want to cool off yourself.  There’s a 14-day Celebrity with introductory pricing for $1400 that goes to Iceland as well as many of the ports we visited in Norway.

We are still suffering from vacation and jetlag disorientation, but we are already discussing some possibilities with the money we saved by watching Andy Murray lose on a tely in a London pub whilst enjoying a dinner of fish and chips after a delightful afternoon of “The Lion King.”

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Cruise Deals: Which Cruise is Right for You?

Swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, zip lining in Jamaica, snorkeling in Cozumel. Sounds pretty great, right? These are all things that my sister enjoyed this spring when she went on a cruise in the Caribbean. That clear blue water and the shining warm sun seems like something that could never be affordable. Surprisingly, cruises are not that expensive especially when you find great cruise deals online. There are so many different cruises to experience and you can make one happen if you search out the right cruise deals.

Alaska Cruise Deals
If you want to do something different, look for cruise deals for Alaskan cruises. You can hike through glacial waterfalls, enjoy wildlife excursions, go on dog sled rides and so much more. If you are interested in this, there are tons of cruise deals online that will point you toward an affordable price.

Disney Cruise Deals
Disney Cruise Line is a great option to take if you love Disney or if you have young kids. Depending on where you go, you can experience snorkeling, hiking and kayaking on Disney’s private island or stop at Disney World along the way. Sounds good to me! There are so many cruise deals online for Disney Cruise Lines. Experience the magic of Disney and find some of these great cruise deals before it’s too late.

Cruise deals to the Mediterranean
On this cruise, you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful cities like Florence, Venice, Istanbul, Barcelona and Rome. These European cities are ones that everyone should experience. Europe is a magical place and you should take advantage of great cruise deals that you find for the Mediterranean region. As you look for cruise deals, consider us as it’s the perfect travel agency to book your trip. You can book it online or come into our location and talk to a travel agent face to face. Set up an appointment today and we’ll get you going where you want to be.

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What’s your dream vacation destination?

Everyone’s got a destination on their bucket list. Or maybe just a favorite place you keep “trying” to get to. Share with us what your destination is. And more importantly, give us the pleasure of helping you cross it off your list.

Bon voyage!

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Advantages of Groups

Let’s say you are going to a destination where you have never before been. Do you know all of the “must see” places? Probably some of them. Do you know the best way to get to each one? Probably not. Can you get a discount on entrance fees to museums and other sites you go to? May­be some of them. Do you know the best time of day to see each one of them? Surely not. When you get to the various sites, do you know their history and highlights – in short, do you rely know what you are looking at? Doubtful. Most importantly, if you are on a tight budget, can you get a group discount for your hotel, meals, transportation, site entrance fees, etc. Not unless you are, in fact, part of a group. And I’ll bet you will be shocked at how huge those group discounts can be. 

The first time I went on a group tour, I started adding up the airfare costs with the daily rack-rate of the hotels where we stayed, the meals we ate, to say nothing of the motor coach, guide and many entrance fees, and I concluded that everyone in the group was paying about 40-percent of the cost of going it alone. And when I coupled that with the fact that if I had been by myself, I wouldn’t have known where to go, what to see, or what precisely was being seen, it gave me a tre­mendous appreciation for the tour I was taking.

 I have hosted many groups since that first excursion to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Bang­kok, and, in fact, I am hosting another group headed to Rome, Israel and Egypt shortly after Christ­mas this year. The whole thing will take 17 days, and the cheapest air fares available would total $2,000. We will stay in luxury hotels for 12 nights, and allowing a minimum of $300 per night, this cost would come to $3,600 total. Adding a very conservative $100 per day for meals would tack on another $1,200. We will take a Nile River Cruise of four days/three nights, and this would cost an individual approximately $1,100 based on double occupancy. Site entrance fees to the places we will visit would cost (very conservatively speaking) at least $800 per person. This brings us well beyond the $8,500 mark, and we haven’t even mentioned transfers, motor coach rides, local guides and es­corts, etc. 

So, you ask, what is the cost of this fabulous trip you are taking? 

$3,598 plus taxes: $2,599 for the basic Rome and Israel tour and another $999 for the Egypt extension. I am sure that when you add in the other costs related to the ground tours, doing it all alone would cost well beyond two-and-a-half times as much. 

The company organizing our excursion is Dick Jensen and Alan McKay Tours. They are the ones famous for the $999 trips to Beijing, which is amazing when you consider the cheapest airfare alone would cost $1,200. 

Oh, and did I mention that groups will almost always negotiate a lower airfare for you than you can get on your own by any means? Why? It’s called volume purchasing. Buying anything always costs less when you get a grundle versus just one or two of whatever it is. A truckload of pencils will cost a tiny fraction per pencil than if you just bought a couple.

But if you went on any kind of a group tour put together by most agencies, you would save a bundle, including nationally famous ones like Cosmos, Costsaver, Globus, Monograms, Trafalgar, af­fordabletours.com, EuropeTravel.com, etc. Also, a group affords you the luxury of going to the head of the line whenever you get to a site you want to see. Last year, I escorted a group past a half-mile long line waiting to get into the Vatican Museum, where we were allowed to immediately enter. 

Some other advantages of group travel with a bonded agency include the assurance that if anything goes wrong, such as an airline strike, natural disasters like last year’s volcanic eruptions, lost passports, or simply hastles with airlines, hotels, et al, you have someone who will go to bat for you. 

Good travel agents will also help you get where you need to be on time without forgetting any­thing. I can remember running up to the room of a grandmother and her grandson at a Jerusalem ho­tel when we were supposed to be headed for the airport to come home. She couldn’t get him to pack his bag, and she was just frankly worn out from dealing with him. I got him to help me pack his bag, and then ushered them down the elevator to the bus waiting to drive us to the airport. I can also re­member making arrangements with a local escorter in Rome for a lost wife, whose husband had been frantically searching for her while our group was about to head for the airport and a flight to Tel Aviv. Just as we started to pull away, she showed up; but if she hadn’t, we had arrangements made to take care of her and her crazed spouse, and to reunite them with the group once she was found. In anoth­er instance just this past year, we had a couple miss the flight out of Salt Lake City to New York and then Milan, Italy. The tour operator, who happened to be Jensen and McKay Tours, got them on the next flight, arranged for a taxi to take them, as soon as they arrived, from Milan to Genoa, where they joined our group in taking a Mediterranean Cruise. This is the same group in which some wanted to leave the ship in Naples as it was returning to Genoa. They wanted to spend several days in Rome. A small 16-passenger bus was arranged which took us from the Naples pier to our hotel in Rome. This hotel with a splendid view and within a short walking distance of Saint Peter’s Basilica was our launching place for all that Rome has to offer.

There are just so many advantages in being with a group, particularly when you are going someplace for the first time, and even more particularly if the people in that place don’t speak your native language.

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CRUISING DOWN THE RIVER IN EUROPE

How  in the world can you have an affordable vacation in Europe without resorting to your inner teenager by putting on a backpack, living primarily on trailmix and sleeping in youth hostels?   

I’ll get to that, but first, I have a number of questions about travel in Europe.  Most of them about the costs involved.  The fact that so many people in our nation enjoy, if not dream, about going there is not surprising, since so many Americans are of European ancestry; and in addition, we have read a plethora of stories from the last century of expatriate citizens from our country like Ernest Hemingway roaming around France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and so forth. 

I myself have German and English blood pulsating in me, and so the trip from which I just returned – to Germany, Austria and Hungary – was particularly enjoyable.  I was glad to find relative calm and peace, which is wonderful in light of the fact that my former kindred have seemed to gravitate toward notions of giving the world a “hotfoot” every now and then during the last 100 years. 

Anyway, back to my questions.  Number one:  Why is everything, except travel, so expensive there?  And along those lines:  If universal health care and nationalized commuter and travel services are supposed to drive nations to the “eve of destruction,” why are Germany and Austria so prosperous? 

Hotels and restaurants are much more expensive than anywhere in the United States, except New York.  If you rent a car, the insurance costs well more than auto rental rates.  Then there are gasoline prices:  only 2.25 to 2.75 euros, but that’s per liter (3.7 of those in a gallon).  And, of course, there’s the fact that it costs a substantial amount to simply park a car – 15 to 20 euros a day.  A cab ride from the Munich airport to our central city hotel was 70-euros (roughly $99.00).  No wonder everyone, locals and visitors, heads for the trains and buses and light rail and subways.   

On the other hand, the availability of the copious systems of public transportation make it quite easy and inexpensive to get around.  I wanted to visit Dachau – not particularly romantic the day before our wedding anniversary, but very informative.  This was the first concentration camp built by Hitler and the model for all others.  It was used from 1933 to 1945, and after its liberation, photos of the ematiated dead, stacked like wood outside the crematorium, circled the globe and became the face of everything the Third Reich stood for.  Anyway, round trip rail tickets for my wife and me were only 11-euros total for both of us.   

Now, let’s talk about how to get a hotel and meals without staying in a youth hostel and trying to feed ourselves by finding a local grocery store.   

                Here’s the answer:  a cruise ship. 

We went on our first river cruise.  We went down the Danube from Nuremberg to Budapest and here are the essentials that were included:  our hotel room which floated down the river with us; all of our meals were part of the price of the cruise; there was a city tour (shore excursion) in every town where we stopped (also part of the cruise price).  Hotels and meals can put you in debt when you take a trip to Europe; but on a cruise ship that’s what you paid for when you bought the cruise. 

We went with Viking River Cruises.  Why?  Largely because Mark Faldmo of Columbus Travel told me about a client who had taken nearly 30 cruises in his married life and went for the first time on a Viking River Cruise, and he said he wished he had known about them a long time ago because it was the best cruise he and his wife had ever enjoyed. 

                I second that. 

We ate the best meals and had the best service we have ever experienced on a cruise.  Along the river we were sight-seeing while we ate breakfast and whenever the ship picked up anchor in the afternoon or evening.  When we stopped, we were right in or near the heart of each city, and the shore excursions were not only included, but they were well-organized and efficient, and we had excellent local guides giving us descriptions and historical background.  We also saw lots of places we’d never been to – Regensberg, Passau, Vienna, Budapest.  It was great! 

There are fewer than 200 passengers on a Viking River Cruises ship, and the really cared for us attentively.  It was easy and quick to get answers to any question.  And amenities such as unlimited free WiFi were very handy. 

I will take another one of those Viking River Cruises in a heartbeat.  And every time I get a chance. 

Now, one other question I have about traveling to Europe:  Why have we changed the names of European cities?  Why do we call it Munich while the city in Germany is Munchen?   How come the Germans spell it Nernberg and we spell in Nuremburg?  When did Koln become Cologne?  Why is Praha changed to Prague and Wien to Vienna?  And why have we taken the prounounced vowel off the end of Italian cities?  I mean, why is Roma Rome to us?  Why don’t we call it Milano instead of Milan?  What happened to the “o” in Turino?  And don’t get me started with Firenze.  How in the heck did we get Florence out of Firenze?

by Don Shafer

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