Iris, with our guide, on Pitch Lake, Trinidad.

Rain, heat and humidity were constant companions for my wife, Iris, and me on our May 2018 trip to Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, French Guiana, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Wilderness Explorers (phone 202/630-7698 from the US, wilderness-explorers.com) in Georgetown, Guyana, organized the Trinidad, Suriname and French Guiana portion of our trip, and Voyages Lumière (phone +00 509 3607 1321, voyageslumiere.com) of Port-au-Prince organized visits to Haiti and the Dominican...

View of Dunnottar Castle, outside Stonehaven.

My husband, Steve, and I have Felix Mendelssohn to thank for our June 2018 trip to the Scottish islands. Steve is an amateur musician and had yearned to visit Fingal’s Cave since hearing the German composer’s “The Hebrides” overture.

This interesting geological oddity is not easy to visit, requiring a ferry ride from mainland Scotland to the Isle of Mull, then a boat excursion to the uninhabited island of Staffa. To make it even more challenging, the trip is...

A view of Mt. Erciyes and the ski resort.

It was dawn when the soulful call to prayer woke me up, lifting me from my bed, the ethereal quality of the cries wafting into my window like the scent of a freshly baked cartoon pie. Suddenly, a train clattered by underneath my window, breaking the spell.

I was waking up in Istanbul, near the old city walls of Constantinople. Despite the fact that I had just gotten back to sleep after waking up at 3:30, suffering from the dreaded effects of jet lag — having recently arrived...

Our friend Brenda sitting on a pier on one of the many lakes we visited.

I sat and watched as my wife, Betty, sat there talking to our friends from Canada. Her cane, now a constant companion, was by her side, and I thought about how far she had come from paralysis from the waist down only a year before, with a jumbled mind and a shattered view of the future, to sitting at a table in probably the cleanest city in the world, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Our June 2018 travels consisted of two back-to-back trips. The first was concentrated in Slovenia, with a short...

The village of Reine on one of the islands of the Lofoten archipelago.

Live like a Viking. These were the last words that my professional author son, Jeff Carlson, wrote to his boys before he died. So off to find our Vikings we went.

Together with Jeff’s 13- and 15-year-old sons, Ben and John, a 16-year-old cousin, Sam, and my daughter-in-law, Diana, I put together a family trip to Norway for June-July 2018 that would include a 14-night Princess cruise. We invited Diana’s mom and stepdad and Diana’s twin sister and her new wife.


We were welcomed to Cecer Village and treated to a dance performance while these ladies played the drums.

Following time on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Java, my June 2018 tour with Overseas Adventure Travel, or OAT (Boston, MA; 800/955-1925, www.oattravel.com), continued to Bali.

A festive atmosphere

We arrived in the middle of the exciting Galungan celebration, and I was speechless seeing the number of temples and shrines each family had… inside their homes, in their offices, in the local park — everywhere. At each one of these, someone placed a basket of...

Murals inside a round church on Tana Lake.

I had been to Africa a number of times, but I had never been to Ethiopia. The only African country not to be colonized, it has its own language, writing system, music, dancing style, dress, food and way of telling time. All of that fascinated me.

Heading out

My 22-day trip from March to April 2018 began with seven days in the northern part of the country, which is what I will cover in this article. With my guide, Tefera Alemu of Tefera Tours (Addis Ababa; tefera.tours), and his...

Inside the tomb of Ramesses III in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

After a visit to Egypt some years ago, I developed a particular interest in the tombs of the pharaohs and their queens.

Inspired by The Great Courses lectures by Professor Bob Brier, the "History of Ancient Egypt" and "Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Heiroglyphs," I booked a solo trip to Egypt (Feb. 22-March 2, 2018) with Museum Tours (Littleton, CO; 888/932-2230, www.museumtours.com).

The goal of this trip was to see every single tomb in the West Bank of...