God’s Secretaries: the story of the King James Bible

The most widely published book in the English language, the King James Bible, was born in the midst of the greatest religious upheaval in the history of Western Europe. The tale is told by Adam Nicolson in God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible. The action of the book takes place with the arrival of James I to the throne of England ...

Midnight at the Pera Palace

Five days ago, on June 7, 2015, Turkey had a parliamentary election whose results were called “a big surprise”, “a triumph of Turkish democracy”, and “a blow” to the Turkish president. Pretty dramatic stuff. In a nutshell, the president, who was trying to strengthen his constitutional powers, was taken down a big peg by the voters who took ...

Mecca: The Sacred City

Mecca, like North Korea, is a destination many of us will never experience, unless you happen to be Muslim. During one of my earlier careers, I made it to Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The time was 1979-1981, when American hostages were being held in the Teheran Embassy, the term “saber-rattling” entered our political lexicon, and French ...

The Enigma of India

There are very few major destinations on earth that are so beguilingly mystical and so harshly sobering as India. I was lucky to visit in 1997 with a well-connected tour group. We alternated between cocktail parties with government ministers, dinners with maharajahs, and visits to the most important tourist sites. Never much beyond arm’s length, ...

Rome eternally delivers

Landed in Rome yesterday. In about 36 hours, we’ve shuttled through the history, religion, and politics of the last 2,500 years several times, even with a long nap time to shake off the jetlag. We’ve already hit 8 churches, the Colosseum, the Forum, and the National Museum. What a great place! Mary vanquishes Heresy, Santa Maria della Vittoria, ...

Lessons in SE Asia

The best part about international travel is the destruction it renders to your preconceived notions. Engage your senses and your curiosity and you will be richly rewarded. This may be particularly true for Americans, because we can live huge stretches of our lives without any need to cross our own boundaries. Yet, when we do so, we realize that our ...

Singapore, a perfect destination for international travelers

After three pretty hectic days, we are leaving Singapore today aboard the ms Volendam. It’s been a great visit. Two sunny days and a downpour. We covered a lot of ground, including Little India, Kampong Glam (Arab Quarter), Chinatown ( at night, just before Chinese New Year!), and, of course, a Singapore Sling at Raffles. For pictures, check us ...

Cruisereader on the loose!

Your erstwhile adventurer in international travel is headed out to bag a bunch of big bucket list items. We are headed to SE Asia on a two-week Holland America cruise on the ms Volendam. Singapore to Hong Kong, featuring an overland excursion to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. We’ll hit Bangkok’s temples and Vietnam’s bustling cities. I’m ...

China River Cruises Pass Right by the Famous Red Cliffs

I just spent five hours watching a beautifully filmed epic movie called Red Cliff. Every guest on a Yangtze River cruise in China will want to set aside the afternoon to watch the movie. Not only will it inspire you with the stunning Southern China river scenery, the cruise ships will go right by the presumed site of one of the most famous battles in ...

Happy New Year!

It’s a great new year. Travel is on the immediate horizon as we plan to board a Holland America cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong on February 4. That gives us the chance to follow our own advise. I’ve already read Ayutthaya: Venice of the East, and Angkor and the Khmer Civilization. Next up will be Vietnamese History, as told by the Vietnamese. ...