View of the Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, UAE

I had visited and admired many Muslim countries, but I had yet to observe daily life in the Gulf nations, which pair great wealth and deep conviction to Islam and have played a critical role in world history, both past and present. 

My 15-day “Arab Sheikdoms” tour in October 2016 with Bestway Tours & Safaris (Vancouver, BC, Canada; 800/663-0844, www.bestway.com) took me to five vibrant countries I had never seen before: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and all seven...

A bai, or men’s house, seen on our tour of Palau

In May 2017, my wife, Iris, and I started a 42-day trip to the South Pacific with an evening Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles to New Zealand. 

On this island-hopping trip, we took 31 different flights (including short interisland flights), extending from the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.45 degrees south of the equator, to nearly the Tropic of Cancer, 23.45 degrees north of the equator. Our trip, arranged by Hima at Asian Pacific Adventures (Tarzana, CA; 800/825-1680, www....

View of María Pita Square in A Coruña.

Having traveled extensively in Spain over the years, in May 2017 we set our sights on an area new to us, the rugged region of Galicia, in the northwest corner of the country. 

Because I am a military retiree, we are able to catch hops on US military aircraft to many wonderful destinations, and getting to Spain from Charleston, South Carolina, was relatively easy. Our 8-hour flight from Charleston to a Navy base in Rota, about two hours by bus south of Seville, delivered us there...

View of the Sea Channel from atop the Grand Cascade at Peterhof.

Russia has been on our travel wish list for quite some time, though it is a destination that can be intimidating for DIY travelers. A lot of research and good planning were necessary, but we were rewarded with an amazing trip. We did divert a bit from our normal DIY routine at times by hiring a driver or a guide for particular areas.

Moscow introduction

Following our journey through Georgia (Dec. ’17, p. 40), we flew Georgian Airways from Tbilisi to Moscow’s...

Our Grand Circle ship, the Bizet, docked in Paris.

In March 2016, my two traveling companions, Mary and Elaine, and I flew from San Francisco to Paris to embark on a Grand Circle Travel (GCT) river cruise from Normandy to Paris. This was my sixth trip with Grand Circle (Boston, MA; 800/221-2610, gct.com) — the third river cruise — and all have been excellent and reasonably priced. 

I’ve discovered that people develop great loyalty to this travel company. For two travelers in our group this time, it was their...

Fred Steinberg and his wife, Maria, in front of The Treasury.

Some 10 years ago, when completing a tour of Turkey’s Ephesus, our archaeological-student guide said, “Now that you have seen the finest restoration of an ancient city, I suggest you go to my second favorite, Petra in Jordan.” 

My wife, Maria, and I put that suggestion on our travel “B list,” and this past summer, after attending a destination wedding in southern Spain, we headed to this awesome UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A bit of background...

View of the Tower of London, seen on our complimentary Thames River cruise.

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit my hometown on Aug. 25, 2017, I decided to leave Austin, where I had gone to ride out the storm, and returned home to check my house and get clothes, before continuing with my plans to join my brother Charles and his wife, Jean, for a transatlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, departing Sept. 7.

It turned out to be good therapy for me, since there was little water supply and no electricity at home and my friends had scattered following...

The stunning Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore.

I’ve traveled to many of the wild, exotic and “Why on Earth would you go there?” places in the world, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan and Libya, but there was one destination I’d been wanting to visit for a long time that had always eluded me. But not anymore! 

In October 2016, I traveled to Pakistan with Spiekermann Travel (Eastpointe, MI; 800/645-3233, www.mideasttrvl.com). 

I have taken many trips with Spiekermann and have always been...