A view of Valletta’s harbor from Sliema, just a 10-minute ferry ride from the capital.

Off the beaten track, the path where you can more easily mingle with the locals, is the road my wife, Maria, and I prefer to take when we travel. We try to find the “not quite yet discovered” places, which has inspired visits to Myanmar in 2005, Dubai in 2010 (Aug. ’11, pg. 48), Laos in 2013 (June ’14, pg. 44) and Cuba in 2014 (Aug. ’14, pg. 28). In 2019, we decided to add Malta to our list, taking advantage of its proximity to our planned late-May travel...

Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara, on Galway Bay.

There are classic, iconic sites one must see on a first trip to Ireland — wonderful locations such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry and Temple Bar. On our first visit, my husband, Emmett Lee, and I saw all of those plus a few others, spending two weeks exploring, but for our latest trip, in June 2019, we planned 24 days of sightseeing to visit places we had missed the first time.

We covered Northern Ireland and the northwest counties of the Republic of Ireland during...

View of Asunción’s Government Palace, which houses the office of the president of Paraguay.

After having visited all of the countries of South America except Paraguay and Venezuela, when I decided to pay another visit to the continent, it was an easy decision to choose Paraguay. With a US State Department travel rating of Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions), Paraguay obviously beat out Venezuela’s Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory.

I could not find any group tours that just visited Paraguay, so I contacted Adrian Chalker at Adventures Abroad (800/665-3998...

The dramatic façade of Saidnaya Monastery.

As part of the first group of American tourists to be admitted to the country since the civil war began in 2011, I traveled by land with 10 other guests from Beirut, Lebanon, to Syria on Oct. 20, 2019, in what was to prove to be an extraordinary adventure. The trip was arranged by Spiekermann Travel Services (Eastpointe, MI; 800/645-3233, mideasttrvl.com). 

I had no idea how (or if) we were going to reach Damascus because nationwide antigovernment protests had just broken out...

One of the many roaming dogs we saw, catching some rays on Muri Beach.

My partner, Mike, and I wanted to get away for Thanksgiving 2019, preferably going somewhere warm and new to us. An Outside magazine article got me thinking about the Cook Islands. With no high-rises or big resorts, the islands have a wonderful, laid-back charm, perhaps reminiscent of the Hawaiian islands back in the ’50s. 

I called my cousin, who had been there twice, for a bit of advice. My cousin had loved it there, and by the end of the week, so did we!


Lions crossing the river from Moremi to Khwai.

When I returned from my December 2017 Botswana safari (April ’18, pg. 33), totally captivated, I made a promise to myself that I would return to that stunning part of the world.

I contacted the tour operator I used previously, Roger Turski at Safari Lifestyles (phone +267 760 61186, safarilifestyles.com), almost immediately, setting into motion an itinerary informed by Roger’s patient guidance and high level of knowledge.

Many factors were weighed, including a...

The city walls of Dubrovnik. Croatia.

In May of 2019, my husband, Lynn, and I met his sister and her spouse in Dubrovnik, Croatia, to begin a 2-week independent road trip. While planning this adventure to Croatia and Slovenia, everyone wanted to focus on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so we decided to add an overnight at Mostar, in Bosnia & Herzegovina, as well.

Direct to Dubrovnik Our direct flight from Frankfurt, Germany, arrived in Dubrovnik in the late afternoon, and the first glimpse of this ancient, walled city...

Having dinner at Gozobi Restaurante in Oaxaca. Except for the lady in glasses, these are my housemates, with Eunice, in black, on the right.

I have always found Spanish to be a melodious language. However, because I didn’t speak Spanish, and my preference is to travel independently, I found myself having to rely on people working in the hospitality business for my travels in Spanish-speaking countries. English is already my second language, and it took me years to become fluent, so I worried that learning Spanish would be too hard, but a chance encounter in February 2018 changed my mind.

While visiting Villa de Leyva...