What's Wrong With Their Home?

That's the question people might ask if they took a look at our travel schedule in 2017! Luckily, we love our home...but we also like to explore the world.  We especially love to explore it with people we love and meet new friends all over the globe. Travel is all about connecting with people all over the world, and we feel very fortunate to have met and traveled with so many incredible people. We are grateful to all the people who followed our adventures and those who shared their corner of the world with us! We especially want to thank the folks who shared THEIR trips with us in our GoSeeIt People interviews. (You can find the interviews here)  We love hearing about your travels too! THANK YOU! We hope you have many safe travels in 2018 and wish the very best in the coming year!

Over the last year here are some of the places we've been able to explore.  Click on any link to see more photos in our posts and learn more about each destination! (Next week, we will share where we are headed next!)

What A Year! 

Shanghai, China

A trip to visit our daughter in NYC took us to some of the less visited places in NYC...Flatbush, Harlem, DUMBO. See our trip report here! And about the more popular places in  NYC here  and  here .

A trip to visit our daughter in NYC took us to some of the less visited places in NYC...Flatbush, Harlem, DUMBO. See our trip report here! And about the more popular places in NYC here and here.

Exploring Venice from the water

Exploring Venice from the water

This small country offers environment from coastal to alpine, as is seen here at Lake Bled, as well as one of the prettiest little European capitals, Ljubljana. 

This small country offers environment from coastal to alpine, as is seen here at Lake Bled, as well as one of the prettiest little European capitals, Ljubljana. 

Gentlemen outside a cafe in Cavtat

Gentlemen outside a cafe in Cavtat

The gorges leading to the port of Kotor in Montenegro. 

The gorges leading to the port of Kotor in Montenegro. 

Candles outside of the St Spyridon's Orthodox Church in Corfu, Greece

Candles outside of the St Spyridon's Orthodox Church in Corfu, Greece

A Maltese balcony on Republic Street flies the EU and Matlese flags. 

A Maltese balcony on Republic Street flies the EU and Matlese flags. 

An incredible day hike up Mt Etna with 3 mountaineers, wine and homemamde parmigiana!

A local character in Nocello greets visitors who hike The Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast

A local character in Nocello greets visitors who hike The Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast

Rome

Bernini Old Boat Fountain at the Spanish Steps in Rome

Montreal

Montreal put on a warm welcome before the Christmas holidays. 

Cuba Travel, What's New(s)?

By: Kathy Klofft

Photo Essay: People of Cuba by Jeff Klofft

Two gentlemen read the news on the stoop on the outskirts of Old Havana

Two gentlemen read the news on the stoop on the outskirts of Old Havana

Cuba travel has been in the news again.  The President of the United States recently announced some changes in the policy of rapprochement that had been set by his predecessor in December 2014.  I'm not going to get political, because I've never been one to determine whether a place I travel to is "right" or wrong" (or even "Right" or "Left", for that matter)  We travel to experience the people and the place as it is and hope that our connection to other people helps bridge the gaps of our differences.  If we refuse to visit places where we disagree with the way they are governed, we'd probably not even be able to leave our own back yard!   Since the announcement about changes to Cuban American relations, I've had many readers and friends ask about how to go about seeing Cuba now.  They wonder if they should go before things change again, and what is the best way to do it.  So I'm revisiting our experiences and giving advice based on what I've heard and read in the last week. If you don't plan to go, you may enjoy Jeff's photos of the people we met in Cuba!

A young man shares his art and a smile with visitors

A young man shares his art and a smile with visitors

We decided to visit in June 2016, shortly after the announcement and posted about it here:

Cuba Posts

As for the latest news, no one can predict what will happen next, but the President has asked the Treasury Department to revisit the current rules.  It appears from emails travelers I know have received from their cruise lines with itineraries to Cuba, that they have been assured they can still make Cuba ports of call.  As i understand it, individual travel that is not part of a cruise or People to People program will be examined in a different way and possibly restricted.  So with this scanty information and not knowing what the Treasury Department rules will eventually look like, here is what I'm telling my friends.

 A couple entertains during a visit to a state run restaurant in Old Habana

 A couple entertains during a visit to a state run restaurant in Old Habana

1- Nothing appears to be happening immediately.

It seems it will be some time before new rules are made and implemented.  If Cuba is on your list, I would definitely not hesitate to go as soon as possible.  The issue with Cuban travel is not safety, we felt Cuba was very safe, safer than most major cities we have visited anywhere in the world.  The problem seems to be the change in the political approach to the island nation by the United States, and Americans ability to visit freely or do business there.

Dancers perform during the cabaret at the Hotel Nacionale in Havana

Dancers perform during the cabaret at the Hotel Nacionale in Havana

2-I would not go to Cuba "illegally" right now.

While many Americans have gone to South or Central America and simply visited Cuba from there without getting any approvals or passport stamps.  I would not do that now. There is no way to predict how immigration officials will react upon return to the United States. Also, there is no predicting that over the next 4 to 8, or more years how an "illegal" visit to Cuba might affect your ability to receive government clearances, or government benefits of any kind. We simply don't know.

Children from an arts school in Matanzas pose just before leaving for summer break

Children from an arts school in Matanzas pose just before leaving for summer break

3-I would take a cruise that has Cuba on the itinerary

.Cuba is likely just one of the places you'll visit on a cruise, and the whole vacation wouldn't be canceled if things change rapidly.  Also, I've read that the uptick in tourism since rapprochement has lead to some food shortages for people in Cuba.  Cruises, which carry their own food on board, are a good way to lessen any of those effects. Our experience with Cuban food was that it is not very varied or spiced; most of the food we ate in both paladares (privately owned home restaurants) and state run restaurants was fairly bland, but filling.

A man on the beach expresses his enthusiasm for Americans with his shirt and his gestures!

A man on the beach expresses his enthusiasm for Americans with his shirt and his gestures!

4-I would take a well established People to People Trip

If I wanted to take a trip to Cuba now, and didn't want to cruise or had a special interest, I would go with one of the outfitters that have offered People To People tour for years.  These trips usually revolve around meaningful connections between people with similar interests. Our trip was focused on Jazz and Art, which was of interest to our family.  Other trips involve bird watching and nature. With rapprochement, many new travel companies applied for and were approved to travel to Cuba with less developed programs.  However, the ones that were doing it first have the best connections and resources in Cuba.  If things are changing rapidly, a well established outfitter will have a better handle on how to adapt to changes than a newcomer.

Three men struggle to maneuver a fruit cart in the streets.

Three men struggle to maneuver a fruit cart in the streets.

5-Check the rules frequently.  

What is allowed in and out of Cuba could change at any time.  Another reason to travel with an experienced outfitter is that they stay on top of these rule changes for you.  If the limits of cigars, art or rum change, they can let you know before you invest in something that could just be confiscated. They will also stay ahead of any itinerary changes required by either government. 

A local musician who connects young jazz acts with Americans coming to learn about Cuban Jazz reacts with joy to his protegees set.

A local musician who connects young jazz acts with Americans coming to learn about Cuban Jazz reacts with joy to his protegees set.

6-If you do travel to Cuba with a cruise or tour company, be sure to keep the paperwork

The tour outfitter or cruise line will provide official paperwork that explains the legal reason for your trip to Cuba. You will need this when you return home and for future travel.   I keep mine with my passport, but remove it when passing through immigration in any country, including my own until someone asks to see it.  No one has asked to see it yet, but we never know when they might ask, so I have it ready to show that I traveled to Cuba on a legal, Treasury Department approved People to People trip.

A young couple enjoys the sunset on the malecon in Havana

A young couple enjoys the sunset on the malecon in Havana

One of the reasons we travel is to see places that are different from where we live, to connect with people in a way that emphasizes our similarities, and seeks to understand our differences. We found the people of Cuba to be open to meeting Americans, and excited for the future. Hopefully, all your travels will be the same!

 

Oops, We Have a Little Emergency

By Kathy Klofft

Sad face is just for drama, the problem was small...this time! 

Sad face is just for drama, the problem was small...this time! 

Today I made a detour a local urgent care clinic in Florida. It wasn't on my itinerary of bike riding, kayaking, and napping on the beach!  Luckily for me, a small injury or bug bite that became infected was easily and quickly treated with antibiotics, but injuries and emergencies on the road can be scary. About a year ago, I wrote a post about how to avoid medical emergencies and how to prepare for them when they occur. I hope if you have a travel medical emergency, it is small and easily solved, and I hope our tips help you solve it and get back to the fun stuff! 

See our post here; 

 http://www.goseeittravel.com/travel-blog/2015/5/30/expecting-the-best-preparing-for-the-worst

All fixed up and back to the fun in Florida!  

All fixed up and back to the fun in Florida!  

Looking Ahead 2017

Looking Ahead 2017- Where to next!

by Kathy Klofft Photos by Jeff Klofft

20160909 - Airport Stock - 004.JPG

A new calendar is always full of promise, all those empty blocks or electronic lines to fill...what will end up on each day?  If you are anything like us, at the end of the year, every block on the wall calendar is filled with scrawled events and appointments, or if you scroll backwards, you don't find more than a day or two without an appointment.  I have an idea for a New Years resolution.  Take that new, empty calendar and before you put anything in it, block out some time to take vacation and travel someplace, even if it's only in your own backyard!  Whether it's your dream trip or seeing what makes people come to YOUR neck of the woods, we hope 2017 is filled with wonderful travel adventures!  Please let us know where you are headed in 2017!

New Year Staycation!

Without school age children tied to the academic calendar, we aren't limited to travel during the school vacations, so we sit out the busy holiday travel season, choosing to "staycation" in our "home base" city of Boston. We enjoy some of the same things people travel from all over the globe to see and do, and sleep in our own beds at the end of the day!

It's worth waiting in line with locals shopping for their holiday table to enjoy a Modern's lobster tail or cannoli in Boston's North End. 

Some years exciting things are happening in our own hometown, such as last year's NHL Winter Classic outdoor hockey game.  Most everyone's hometown has something interesting happening over the winter holidays!

Savannah, GA

Early in the new year, I have plans to visit Savannah Georgia with a friend.  More than 20 years ago, my friend Mary and I were tossed together as Girl Scout Leaders to a group of kindergartners. Little did we know then that more than 20 years later we would still be helping with Girl Scouts and still be great friends!  While taking advantage of a Jet Blue airfare sale, Savannah came up on the list of cheap, direct flights, and had the added bonus of being the home of Girl Scout Founder Juliette Gordon Low's Birthplace  Our plan is to spend a relaxing weekend at a bed and breakfast in the historic district, dining at some of the fine restaruants, walking around town and making a pilgrimage to Julliette Gordon Low Birthplace as a tribute to our long friendship and volunteer committment to the GSUSA  

Shanghai, China

Business will bring Jeff to Shanghai, and you can bet he will bring his camera!  Look for a photo essay of his time in Shanghai after the New year. 

Southeastern Florida

Kathy will make another trip to see relatives in Southwest.  I usually make an effort to uncover some unique places to share for those who would enjoy spending sometime in this area in the winter.  This year I hope to take in a tour of Jet Blue Stadium, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox. 

A sand castle along our favorite beach in SW Florida

Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Mexico and Central America

Late winter we will embark on a 7 day cruise aboard Rhapsody of the Seas.  We are looking forward visiting some ports we haven't seen before including Roatan Honduras and Belize City Belize, as well as favorites Cozumel and Costa Maya (Mahahual) Mexico.  We will be live blogging here, on Twitter, FaceBook and as FamilyGoBoston from the ship, as we always do for a large amount of Cruise Critic followers, sharing our port photos and experiences on board!

A Mayan ruin on Cozumel

During our trip to Honduras, we plan to participate in Pack for Purpose, carrying an extra suitcase filled with school supplies for Familias Saludables, a Roatan non profit that provides care for women and children affected by AIDS.  PfP curates lists of needed supplies from NOGO's, connecting generous travelers with a little extra space in their bags with projects in nearly every country and partnering with locals there who ensure items donated are needed and get into the hands of those who need them equitably! We've engaged a private guide, Channin Bodin, who will help us deliver the school supplies, collected from our friends and our local GFWC club members, to the Bananarama Dive and Beachfront Resort which supports the programs and local school and ensures donations are distributed fairly. We learned about this first hand when we were discussing the program with our guide in Antigua and she told us that her own daughter's preschool had benefited from donated items from PfP and support from the local resorts giving programs.  For more information on how to Pack for a Purpose click on the link for PfP and see our post about our experiences in St Lucia in 2015.  

Azamara Quest Cruise Adriatic and Italy

One of our larger trips towards the end of the year, we plan to sail Azamara Quest from Venice to Rome. Those who follow us know we always have a "folder" for planning a trip, chock full of magazine clippings, notes, and itineraries.  This cruise with stays in Venice and Rome, as well as ports of call in Kopor, Slovenia, Hvar and Dubrovnik Croatia, Kotor Montenegro, Corfu Greece, Valetta Malta and Sicily and the Amalfi Coast of Italy will require a lot travel planning leg work on my part!!  I'm getting some help from Active Travels, a boutique, membership based travel agency, and hope, with their help, to put together a unique and active itinerary for each port of call! We plan to post along the way and share photos and trip reports from all our ports of call!

Our last trip to Croatia was in the town of Vukovar, where the signs of a terrible war are still visible.  We are making good on our promise to the people we met in Vukovar Croatia to visit the beautiful coastline! 

Where Else?? 

Places we don't even know yet!!  Our travel plans often come together at the last minute, and we never know which places we may visit at the spur of the moment or need to visit for business...if you follow us on Twitter, we usually tweet out photos from places where we've traveled. If you are planning to go somewhere interesting, be sure to share it with us via email, Twitter, Face Book or in comments here.  We'd love to hear where you are going and maybe you'd like to be one of our next "Go See It People" interviews!

Opinions and advice presented here is our own based on our experiences and we have not accepted any free travel or financial considerations for our views. All of the products and services mentioned are those that we've used and had good personal experiences.