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Michael Adkins's Posts
Michael has posted 7 reports and 241 photos.

Existing reports and photos: (Mouseover any camera icon for sample images. Click on any camera icon for all images)

Abruzzo Visit: 2006-12
2010-04-13 - Rome, the Eternal City, a center of religion, history and culture. In December, 2006, we spent 4 wonderful days in Rome. Although we had been to Rome before on a short visit, this was the first chance where we could really spend some time, wander the streets and take a leisurely visit to many of the famous places. We stayed in at the Hotel Settembre 95, a small boutique hotel located within a reasonable walk to many of the sites in Rome. And walk we did. While we saw much, we feel like we didn't even scratch the surface. We could have spent weeks and still not take it all in. Each day, we centered our explorations around a particular area. One day we did historic Rome and Palantine Hill, on another, the Vatican area, on another the downtown, and on the last day we ventured outside Rome down the old Appian way.
Our first day, we spent time exploring the historical ancient Rome. Surrounded by such antiquity and beauty, we allowed ourselves to get lost in the life of the ancient Etruscans and Romans. Visiting such sites as the Coliseum, Palantine Hill, the Forum, and countless temples, statues, arches and monuments, we learned much about the history of this fascinating city. The Michelin Green guide was an invaluable tool for us and for anyone who travels and is interested in the history and culture of an area.
The next day, we took the bus across the river to the land of the "Holy See", but I will cover that in that report.
The third day, was reserved for visiting the more modern center of the city and for shopping. Wandering the Via Veneto, Quirinale, Castro Pretorio, Repubblica, and Trevi neighborhoods we visited an outdoor Christmas market at Piazza Navona along with many shops and small churches.. We bought some Christmas presents as well as ogled over all of the expensive designer items available in such abundance. We also found time to just sit and relax, at a sidewalk cafe, as well as on the famous Spanish Steps, talking, and watching the throngs of interesting people pass us by.
On our final day we decided to venture outside the city, taking a bus and visiting the ancient Christian Catacombs and the old aqueduct along the Via Appia Antica (the Appian Way). A very interesting and worthwhile trip. Not only did we learn alot about ancient Christian history, but also enjoyed a nice jaunt down a very historical road.
Oh yes, one more thing. We made sure to throw a coin over our shoulder into Trevi Fountain. That way, according to legend, we will be assured that we will be returning to this magical city.

Alaska Visit: -

Albania Visit: -

Antigua Visit: -

Barbados Visit: -

Beijing (District) Visit: 2008-5
2010-04-12 - Beijing, the capital city of the People's Republic of China. An extremely fascinating city to visit. Living in Japan, offered us wonderful opportunities to take short trips to China. In November, 2004, we took a 5 day weekend and visited Beijing, which is Chinese for "north Capital". We hired a private guide and driver for our time there, and it turned out to be a great idea. Of course we visited most of the great sites in Beijing. These included:
- Tiananmen Square - which is probably the largest public square we have ever seen
- The Forbidden City - which was home to the
- The Summer Palace - probably one of the most beautiful places in Beijing, but with a sad history for the Chinese people
- The Temple of Heaven - a site on the tourist trail, but compared to most of the other sites, it was just OK.
- The Ming Tombs - which one stops at on the way to the Great Wall of China, and are very interesting.
- The Great Wall of China - This dwarfs any of the western Wonders of the World. If you haven't walked on the Great Wall, you are missing an experience of a lifetime.
- The Yellow Temple (Huangshi) - not necessarily on the top tour itineraries, it is well worth a visit to see the beautiful buildings and the religious life of residents of Beijing.
Additionally, we had experienced some of the other things in China. We visited the Beijing Zoo, which was a place to view the Giant Pandas. A pretty nice zoo, which also had a wonderful tiger exhibit. We attended a Chinese Opera.  While the music does take some getting used to from the standpoint of the western ear, but it is not an experience to be missed. We even were able to go backstage and watch the performers apply their makeup. It was interesting that each of the performers apply their own make-up in a careful, meticulous process.
Without a doubt, one of our favorite parts of the trip was taking a bicycle rickshaw ride through the hutongs. The hutongs are narrow streets and alleys of the old style Chinese neighborhoods. The hutongs have long been an important part of Chinese culture and status in the country. We took a ride through the streets and neighborhoods, and even visited one of the homes.
One of the downsides of the trip is that since we hired a guide, they felt obligated to try and take us to every shop she could find. A Tea house to buy tea (which actually was a nice side trip), a place to buy scroll paintings, a place to buy ceramics, a silk factory, a cloisonné factory, a jade factory, and probably a couple of others that I can't remember. Obviously if we buy, the guide gets a cut. Oh well, capitalism even comes to China.

Campania Visit: -

Corsica Visit: 2006-7
2010-04-12 - Corsica, a rocky island south of France in the Ligurian Sea, is a land known for its independent spirit, rugged beauty, olive oil, citrus fruits and of course as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. Our first glimpse of Corsica revealed a rugged island, with jagged craggy mountains and snow capped peaks. Yes, snow, even in July, snow could be seen in the uppermost mountains. Calvi, Corsica was one of the ports we stopped at during a sailing trip on the Star Clipper from Cannes, France to Dubrovnik, Croatia in July of 2006.
Approaching Calvi, your eyes are immediately drawn to the most dominant feature in the town - the citadel. The citadel is a walled portion of the town which juts into the bay creating a very medieval look to the town. Legend says that Christopher Columbus was born in Calvi (although most historians disagree) as can be seen in a monument at the approach to the citadel in town.
We anchored in the harbor, and before we decided to go into town, Michael went Scuba Diving off of the walls of the citadel where the remains of an American B17 bomber lies about 85-90 feet (25-28 meters) below the surface. The bomber was mostly intact except for it's tail section. In 1944, the B17 G "Baron" was on a mission in Italy. Unfortunately, German fighters hit the Baron. Without any radio, the pilot, Frank Chaplick, flew to Calvi (Corsica, France). The landing strip was too short, so he decided to land on the sea.
At lunch time, we took the tender into Calvi. Starting off the afternoon, we ate a marvelous lunch in one of the many restaurants situated on the marina. The marina, is a palm lined harbor on the waterfront with hoards of umbrella covered restaurant tables which of course feature French and Italian food, but with a Mediterranean flare. After lunch we set off to explore the town.
We wandered the lower part of the town, looking through shops, parks and the like before deciding to set our sites upward. To explore the citadel, we entered by way of Place Cristophe Colomb, named of course for that intrepid explorer. It was hot, but we continued to wind our way around the walls taking in many of the breathtaking views of the town and harbor. This was made much more fun in that the town within the citadel walls is not filled with tourist shops. In fact you can only find a few shops and restaurants in the citadel. The rest of the buildings include homes, the Governor's Palace, a couple of churches and loads of narrow, winding, empty streets. We were amazed to find that the old town was peaceful and quiet, even in July, the height of tourist season. At the top of the citadel you will find the Cathedral Saint-Jean Baptiste, a 13th century church (destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1570) where you can rest and pray for a few moments before descending back to the town.
After some wandering and shopping, we returned to the ship, having spent a peaceful day (although it was quite hot) in a sleepy little town called Calvi. We would love to return to Corsica and explore it someday. Perhaps it will be sooner than we think since some of our good friends are from Corsica and often spend summers back in their homeland.

Croatia (other) Visit: -

El Salvador Visit: -

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Visit: -

Guadeloupe (and Deps.) Visit: -

Guatemala Visit: -

Honduras (mainland) Visit: -

Ionian Islands Visit: -

Laos Visit: 2002-12
2010-04-12 - Laos, a mysterious land in southeastern Asia, was the destination we found ourselves during Christmas 2002. Why Laos? Because we have never been there, and it is an interesting place which few westerners visit. On our trip we flew from Osaka Japan, where we lived at the time, to Singapore. After a couple of days in Singapore we took a plane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia then on to Vientiane, Laos. We flew Lao Aviation, which was quite an experience. While it was a small plane, it was one of the few flights we have ever taken where no safety announcement was given. Don't worry about the seat belts, and of course if there is a problem, every person for themselves (just kidding).
After a brief stop in a small town in southern Laos, we landed safely and smoothly at our destination in Vientiane. Vientiane is a typical southeastern Asian city, which sits squarely on the banks of the mighty Mekong River. Although there are remnants of French colonialism, few signs of western civilization are evident in this city which makes it truly a remote and exotic place to visit. In Vientiane we wandered much of the downtown area with its city square and several parks on the the river. In addition, we visited many of the sites including That Luang, the royal Stupa, Vat Phra Kero and Vat Sisaket, Buddhist temples. A stupa is a Buddhist monument which traditionally contains relics of Buddha. More
Laos is a Buddhist nation. It is the national religion and evidence of this is everywhere. In fact, they have a long history of being radically Buddhist and of persecuting Christians for their faith (even today), something we didn't find out until after our trip.
After spending a couple of days wandering the capital city, we took a short flight up to Luang Prabang, a designated World Heritage Site, which is probably the top tourist destination in Laos. Luang Prabang is located on both the Mekong and Khan Rivers and is very different from Vientiane. It was much more Asian as compared to the French Colonial feel in Vientaine. This is due to the high density of Buddhist temples and the orange robed monks which could been seen everywhere. Luang Prabang is the location of a major school for Buddhist monks. During our time in Luang Prabang we visited many of the temple sites as well as the Royal Palace Museum, which had some very interesting history of the royal family in Laos. Also, we took a long boat up the Mekong to visit the Pak Ou caves. This is a cave on the banks of the river which contains thousands of Buddha statues, and is only mildly interesting. After visiting the caves, we crossed the river and visited the village of Pak Oh, where we ate lunch and wandered around the village. After a couple more days, we flew back to the capital, spent one more day and headed home. All in all, a very interesting trip to see one of the more off the beaten path countries in the world.

Montenegro Visit: -

Morocco Visit: 2009-11
2010-04-12 - In November, 2009 my wife and I visited some friends in Morocco. We spent time both in Casablanca and Rabat. We really enjoyed our trip to Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, dwelling place of the king, ancient trade city, and much much more. Rabat has large, tree lined streets which almost give the impression that you were in any Mediterranean city, until you reach the edge of the Royal Palace, a huge walled section of town which belongs to the King of Morocco.
We were impressed on how clean and modern the city looked. First, we drove to the Chellah Necropolis. An impressive looking fortress, built on top of the ancient Roman town of Sala. Surrounded by an ancient wall, it was built in the 14th century by Abu l-Hasanm, a Merinid sultan. The site includes the ruins of a mosque, a zawiya, and royal tombs, including that of Abu l-Hasan himself. Today, the ruins of the minaret is a home to storks, and there are still some nice gardens and interesting places to explore. Well work a visit if you are in Rabat.
Afterward, we went along the river to the Hassan Tower and the Mohammed V Mausoleum. As you enter the courtyard which contains the Hassan Tower, you are greeted by ceremonial horse guards, uniformed in bright red, they are the ceremonial guards of the Kings Tomb. The Hassan Tower is a minaret built in the 12th century for a mosque which was never finished. A huge courtyard with hundreds of columns show where the mosque was planned. Standing next to the tower you have a wonderful view of the sea, and the main cities of Rabat and Sale. Turning away from the sea, you see the Mosque and Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the grandfather of the present day king of Morocco. A beautiful site, which richly dressed ceremonial guards at each entrance. Inside you looked down at the casket where Mohammed V lies in state. An important monument to the nation of Morocco. Next we went to the old medina of Rabat. A medina is the old section of the city, and usually contains the shopping district. Finally we wandered around the Kasbah of the Udayas, a UNESCO world heritage site.
In Casablanca, we wondered many parts of the city, including a visit to the Grand Mosque, the seashore, and both the old and new medina.We indeed plan on returning to visit more of this incredibaly facinating country.

New Hampshire Visit: -

Northern Ireland Visit: -

Nova Scotia Visit: -

Palau Visit: -

Panama (mainland) Visit: -

Peru Visit: -

Portugal Visit: -

Prince Edward Island Visit: -

Queensland Visit: -

Sarawak Visit: -

Slovakia Visit: -

Society Islands Visit: -

St. Barths Visit: -

St. Lucia Visit: 2009-2
2010-04-12 - St Lucia is one of our favorite islands in the Caribbean. The beautiful rugged landscape is dotted with green rainforest, cascading waterfalls, quaint villages. and small sandy beaches. The atmosphere is laid back and the people friendly people seem to ooze with that Caribbean charm. In fact a typical saying on the island is "no pressure, no problem", a motto they seem to relish to the full. Belinda and I have been to St Lucia 3 times, once staying a week at a Sandals resort, and twice again aboard the Royal Clipper anchoring at Rodney Bay, Marigot Bay and Soufriere.
Our first trip, was in February 2005, and it was the first time we decided to take a "winter vacation" since we lived in Pennsylvania. However, a few days before we were to leave, Belinda fell down the basement stairs and fractured both her ankles. But not to be detoured, she insisted we come, even on crutches and air-casts on both legs. However, we did enjoy the warm weather and beautiful beach. We stayed at Sandals Regency La Toc, a beautiful all inclusive resort. which essentially was an all inclusive, and unfortunately didn't go far because of Belinda's legs. Michael sent scuba diving at various locations around St. Lucia, including between the two Pitons. All in all, these winter vacations will become a habit.
The second trip was aboard the Royal Clipper, the largest ship in the Star Clippers fleet, a where we docked in Rodney Bay. This was during our Windward Island sail in February 2008. During this stopover, we went horseback riding of Cap Point. The ride was both inland and on the beach. We enjoy horseback riding and always try and ride when we have a chance. It was a beautiful ride on a beautiful island.
On the third trip, in February 2009, we again were aboard the Royal Clipper, but this time we anchored more along the southern part of the island. We spent the morning at Marigot bay, which is a beautiful small inlet, a marina, a small store and shopping area, and a group of beautiful villas and apartments dotting the hillside. We really liked the area. In the afternoon, we sailed south, anchoring off the village of Soufriere, practically in the shadow of Petit Piton. The Pitons are a World Heritage area, which are the typical postcard image of the island. Belinda took a trip inland, visiting some beautiful areas and gardens including the Soufriere volcanic area, and various waterfalls. Michael wandered the town, and we caught up with each other in the late afternoon.
With the overall beauty, charm and Caribbean people, we love the "no pressure, no problem" attitude of this island paradise.

Vatican City Visit: 2006-12
2010-04-13 - During our trip to Rome, the Eternal City, in December, 2006, we spent a day visiting the land of the "Holy See". The Vatican is the smallest independent country in the world. It has it's own government and postal system. Unfortunately no stamp in the passport, but no customs nonsense either. After visiting the main Basilica of St Peter (which we have been to before), we headed over to the Vatican museum. It was very crowded, think of the mall at Christmastime, only with more people. Despite the hoards, we managed to see some of the famous sites and masterpieces, including the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately the Raphael's rooms were closed. Sensory overload does not begin to describe how you feel when you visit the Museum. Walls, ceilings, rooms, halls which go on and on, completely covered with more masterpieces than you can count. It would probably take years just to enjoy each one. Alas, no audience with the Pope, but since we are not Catholic, we got over it.

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