Far Horizons

Fusterlandia, an enclave of colorful mosaics created by José Fuster, is located in Jaimanitas, southwest of Havana. Photos by Randy Keck

In part one of this article, I identified the US Department of the Treasury’s “Support for the Cuban People” travel provision that continues to allow independent travel to the island by Americans, as outlined on the PDF that is downloadable at the following URL: www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_fact_.... 

On each of my monthly trips to Cuba from October 2017 to April 2018, I have encountered a few American explorers traveling...

“People-to-People” tour group members dancing with firstgraders at the Ibero-American Cultural Center in Holguín, eastern Cuba. Photos by Randy Keck

It is my privilege to travel to the fascinating country of Cuba on a regular basis as a tour director, leading groups on educational “People-to-People” tours under a license authorized by the US government.

Along with my experience, being on the ground and behind the scenes makes it possible for me to stay current on most events affecting travel on the island. I also try to remain up to date on the US administration’s policies governing travel to Cuba by US citizens...

Spree River sightseeing boats pass by the Berliner Dom (in background) on Museum Island in Berlin. Photos by Randy Keck

Berlin had been on my travel bucket list for more than two decades when, in May 2017, the opportunity for a 3-day visit surfaced as the final leg of a 14-day “Baltic States & Berlin” group tour offered by the New York-based tour operator smarTours (800/337-7773, www.smartours.com).

The tour cost from $2,899 per person, double occupancy, including air from New York’s JFK, four dinners and taxes. Traveling on a partially hosted basis, I was part of a group of 15...

The Estonian National Opera in Tallinn. Photos by Randy Keck

Tallinn, Estonia

The third leg of my April-May 2017 group tour to the Baltic States and Berlin, partially hosted by New York-based tour operator smarTours, commenced upon our departing Riga, Latvia. 

We traveled north along the Baltic coast, passing the important fishing port of Salacgri¯va. Between Riga and the Estonian border, we crossed four rivers that are sensitive, critical habitat and spawning grounds for the prized Atlantic salmon. 


In Riga’s Art Nouveau district, architecture such as that of this apartment building wows visitors. Photos by Randy Keck

Riga, Latvia

(Second of three parts)

The second leg of my spring 2017 visit to the Baltic States began with a relaxing drive from Vilnius northward through the peaceful countryside of north-central Lithuania and into Latvia, a country with a population of just under two million.

I was traveling, on a partially hosted basis, as part of a group of 15 on a 2-week “Baltic States & Berlin” tour with smarTours (New York, NY; 800/337-7773, www.smartours.com)....

The 14th-century Trakai Island Castle, outside of Vilnius, was recently reconstructed. Photos by Randy Keck

Vilnius, Lithuania

(First of three parts)

In late April, I had an opportunity to travel to the Baltic States — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — as well as to Berlin and Helsinki with smar­Tours (New York, NY; 800/337-7773, www.smartours.com) on a partially hosted basis.

I was part of a group of 15 on the 14-day tour “Baltic States & Berlin,” featuring the cities of Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Berlin and Helsinki. It is priced from $2,899 per...

Left: Dining at the lolo Sky’s the Limit in Grand Case, Saint-Martin. Right: A smoking oven in use at Sky’s the Limit. Photos by Randy Keck

Exploring Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin

(Second of two parts)

On our March 2017 visit to the Caribbean island of St. Martin, comprising the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten and the French Saint-Martin, my wife, Gail, and I had to choose how best to explore the island.

Touring options

Because of the traffic gridlock resulting from the Heineken Regatta, taking place during our entire stay, we opted not to rent a car. This proved to be a wise decision. Other options...

Miramar Ocean View rooms at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort — Sint Maarten. Photo by Randy Keck

(First of two parts)

The need for a dose of relaxation following a heavy work schedule resulted in a March 2017, 6-night visit to the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, comprising Sint Maarten (Dutch) and Saint-Martin (French). 

It had been well over a decade since my wife, Gail, and I had visited the island, and much development had occurred, especially on the Dutch side. In terms of size, the French portion of St. Martin is 21 square miles and the Dutch, 16.