The Church of St. John at Kaneo, overlooking Lake Ohrid.

I had booked a group tour that would take my sister Gretchen and me to northern Greece, Macedonia and Kosovo in September-October 2017, but I also wanted to add on some days in Albania, so I arranged a private tour ($1,650 per person for two) with Barbara Sansone of Original World (San Rafael, CA; 888/367-6147, originalworld.com).

Then, two months before our scheduled departure, I was notified that the group tour was canceled because not enough people had signed up. I contacted...

Half-timbered houses in Bernkastel-Kues.

When a former coworker at Northwest Airlines (now part of Delta Air Lines) asked if we wanted to do a bike-and-barge trip on the Saar and Mosel rivers in Germany, my partner, Mike Darling, and I jumped at the chance.

By the time everyone had signed up — a year in advance — there were 29 people in our group. We were very excited to catch up with longtime friends from our airline days and meet the friends of friends who would be joining us.

About the trip


An orange-robed monk standing among the stupas of Borobudur.

After a trip to wild Papua New Guinea years ago, I was enticed by the knowledge that the western half of the island of New Guinea is part of Indonesia. (PNG, on the eastern half, is an independent nation.) The opportunity to visit Indonesia presented itself when two friends I'd met on my Five 'Stans adventure invited me to join them there. After checking the exciting pre- and post-trip itineraries, I was in!

Hong Kong

Since I would be so close to Hong Kong and had never...

Llamas in Sajama National Park, Bolivia.

From December 2017 into January 2018, my wife, Susan, and I completed our second circumnavigation of the world, purchasing flights through American Airlines, part of the oneworld alliance of airlines.

Making plans

Creating and pricing an itinerary was easy using oneworld's Explorer website (rtw.oneworld.com).The website spelled out some rules for choosing flights, and as I picked destinations, the site notified me if I violated a rule.

After selecting our...

The 14th-century Arco de Santa María, an ornate gate to the city of Burgos.

An invitation to a friend's wedding outside Madrid at the end of May 2018 morphed into a month long trip to Spain, including visits with two other Spanish friends and some fantastic travel discoveries.

Suitcases packed, tickets in hand and our Spanish-language courses refreshed, off we went to see tres amigos (three friends).

Getting there

Our "itinerary" — we prefer serendipitous travel to organized tours — would take us to places we had never...

View of boababs at sunset.

I had traveled to over 75 countries, but Madagascar was still on my "to see" list, so I decided to go in August 2018. It is not the easiest country to visit — the distances between the national parks (and their very cute lemur inhabitants) are long, and the roads are not in good shape — but I would still recommend Madagascar if you like adventure travel. The lemurs are amazing, and I found the people to be very friendly.

Arriving in Antananarivo


Kraków’s main square, where carriages await visitors.

My wife, Ruth, and I and six friends gathered in Budapest for a 24-day excursion through Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic (Czechia), Sept. 29-Oct. 21, 2017.

After some collaboration among the eight of us, we had chosen JayWay Travel (New Rochelle, NY; 800/344-5785, jaywaytravel.com) to help organize our trip.

My wife and I paid $4,200 for our portion of the travel package arranged by JayWay, which included lodging, most meals, transportation between locations, a dinner...

Cape Willoughby Lightstation, on the east coast of Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island lies just south of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The island is 93 miles wide (east to west) and 35 miles from north to south, and it can be reached by car ferry (from Cape Jervis, on the mainland) or by air (from Adelaide and, from mid-December to the end of January, from Melbourne).

I lived in Sydney in the '70s and part of the '80s, and since that time I've known about Kangaroo Island (KI). Whenever it came up in conversation or I read about...