Editor’s note: In light of the recent deadly attack in Istanbul, ITN staff considered whether or not to run the following article as scheduled, as it involves travel in Turkey and, specifically, Istanbul. In the end, we decided to go forward with publication, hoping that the writer’s message — focusing on the value of personal interactions, both with locals and other travelers, in providing insight and understanding between different cultures — would be an important...


For years I dreamed of seeing the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, creatures with whom we humans share almost 98% of our nuclear DNA. I also was intrigued by Rwanda’s social and economic recovery following the devastation from the 1994 genocide. 

After more than 30 years of working as a custom travel agent, I left the travel industry without realizing this dream. In 2015, I finally arranged an extraordinary and memorable trip.

Making plans

I contacted many...


In April 2015, when the temperatures in Morocco ranged between the mid 70s and mid 80s, my husband, Max, my best friend, Hetta, and I visited the one place on Earth that all of us had always wanted to visit. Morocco was everything we had imagined it to be! 

The colors, food, artwork, architecture, history and culture were amazing, but what impressed us the most was the friendliness and hospitality of the people. 

Everywhere we went, people welcomed us with Moroccan...


Leaving Oxford at the end of our self-drive tour of England (see June ’16, pg. 6), my wife, Betty, and I arrived at London’s Paddington rail station around noon. Wearing our backpacks, we walked about three blocks to our apartment rental (www.vrbo.com/3899053ha), our home for a week’s stay in the city. (This one-bedroom apartment rents for $157-$272 per night, depending on the season.)

We always try to rent an apartment if we are staying in a city for five or more...


As veterans of eight river cruises (six with Viking River Cruises), my wife, Paula Owens, and I were intrigued when Viking Ocean Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 866/984-5464, vikingcruises.com) was formed. Ocean cruising opens up many new and appealing itineraries, but would Viking be able to maintain their high standards? And how would Viking’s small-ship river-cruise experience (accommodating fewer than 200 passengers) translate to a 930-passenger oceangoing ship? 

To find...


After losing my sister Ellen in 2014, I began to feel an urgency to find my Romanian family roots. 

When my father was alive, I (like most kids) was never motivated to question our family’s origins. Now that I was the last remaining member of my family, I wanted to find a genetic link, especially in Romania. 

I knew that my Jewish paternal grandfather emigrated from that beleaguered Eastern European country on the SS Rotterdam in 1901, arriving in the Bronx,...


Escaping the dry, browning Central Valley of California was a perfect excuse for my wife, Betty, and me to schedule a return visit to the lush gardens and green hills of England. 

As we’re both retired and can easily adjust our calendars, we decided to use transatlantic cruises as our method for “crossing the pond.” This approach would take three weeks for the round-trip ocean crossing and leave us with three weeks for land touring, including a visit to the...


Some years ago, a cycling group I was with rolled into a village square in the Slovenian countryside and we started to fill our water bottles in a fountain. A white-haired gentleman seemed to listen intently to our small talk, then walked over. 

“England?” he asked. “No, America,” we responded. 

He stepped back, took his hat off and placed it over his heart, reciting three of the few words he knew in our language: “God bless America....