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Senior Travel Newsletter: nature, cruise, barging, volunteer vacations.
Senior travel newsletter: nature travel, educational, cultural, volunteer, cruise and barging vacations worldwide.
New stories, December 1, 2016 
TravelWatch: Senior Travel Newsletter.

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1. 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation led by Martin Luther in Germany. Learn about incredible events and activities planned throughout the country during the coming year.
2. What would stop you traveling in 2017? According to a survey of Baby Boomers and BB travel bloggers, not much except an incapacitating personal health issue or a war zone. Check out the thoughtful answers.
3. Travel with a Challenge is already getting questions from readers about exploring the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain in 2017. Travelers may walk, cycle, ride a horse, self-drive a chosen route or take a multi-day luxury train journey to appreciate the region in different ways.
4. Thirty years ago, the wreck of the “unsinkable” Titanic ocean liner was discovered 12,000 feet down on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. To mark this discovery, a respected tour operator has launched five new tours of Ireland, all of which include time spent learning about the ship’s construction in Northern Ireland.
5. A round of applause for prominent booking website, TripAdvisor, which has just announced that it will no longer sell tickets to some wild animal attractions. Learn more about this important initiative.

Before planning your next adventure, you may compare accommodation alternatives with sites such as www.trivago.com or use their data base for further information about your destination and read traveler hotel reviews.

Check Travel Golf Guide. Play golf in Algarve.

Germany Celebrates the Reformation Anniversary
Following in the Footsteps of Martin Luther
Martin Luther, the theological founder of the Reformation movement, will be at the center of a whole host of events and exhibitions in 2017 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In addition to the national exhibitions and events, which will be running throughout much of the year, other events will also shed light on various aspects of Luther’s life and the birth of the Reformation in Germany.
Lutherhaus, Eisenach, Germany where Martin Luther lived during his school days.
Monastery in Erfurt, Germany where Martin Luther became a monk.
Left: The Lutherhaus in Eisenach is one of the oldest surviving half-timbered houses in Thuringia. Tradition holds that Martin Luther lived there with the Cotta family during his schooldays from 1498 to 1501. Since 1956, the Lutherhaus has been run as a cultural history museum. © Thüringen Tourismus
Right: The city of Erfurt was where Martin Luther studied and became a monk. The monastery complex of the Augustinian Hermits was built around 1300 and pays tribute to Martin Luther with a new exhibition. On November 10 each year, Erfurt still celebrates Martin Luther’s birthday
© Thüringen Tourismus
Should you plan to visit Germany in 2017, starting in April or May 2017, watch for numerous exhibitions and events starting in April or May entitled: ‘The Luther Effect. Protestantism 500 Years in the World’ (Berlin); ‘Luther and the Germans’ (Wartburg Castle, Eisenach); and a Luther choir pop oratorio on tour throughout the Germany. This musical extravaganza, presenting 1,500 to 2,500 voices and a symphony orchestra, brings to the stage a musical version of the story of Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Eight Luther routes have been developed that cover the whole of Germany. They link 42 places associated with the life and work of the great reformer and provide independent travelers with a useful framework for planning their tours. The start and end points, and the destinations along the way, are easy to reach by bus, train, car or bike.
Wartburg Castle, Germany, where Martin Luther lived.
Martin Luther's 95 Theses, Wittenberg, Germany.
Left: From 1521 to 1522, Martin Luther lived in a small room at the Wartburg castle and translated the New Testament into the German language. This cell is known as “Luther’s room” and can be visited by travelers as part of a castle tour. © Anna Lena Thamm
Right: In the city of Wittenberg, Luther’s Ninety-five Theses were written by Martin Luther in 1517, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation. He is said to have posted the theses on the door of All Saints' (or Castle) Church in Wittenberg. Today visitors may see this document cast in bronze.
© IMG Sachsen Anhalt
On a visit to Germany’s Luther Country, travelers can follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther by exploring various towns and cities where the rebel monk, professor and church reformer spent crucial stages of his life. From his birth and death place of Eisleben, to Erfurt, where he lived for six years as a monk, to Eisenach, where Martin Luther found refuge at magnificent Wartburg Castle, to, of course, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, where he nailed the 95 theses on to the door of the castle church on October 31, 1517.

More Martin Luther events and information are can be found at the following websites: germany.travel, Luther 2017 and r2017.org.
What would stop you traveling in 2017?
"37 BABY BOOMER TRAVEL BLOGGERS & 100 SENIOR TRAVELERS SHARE THEIR TRAVEL FEARS IN 2017" is a headline that caught my attention recently. This research was carried out for the Baby Boomer travel website, To Travel Too, https://totraveltoo.com, started by Jane (58) and Duncan (60) Dempster-Smith in 2015.

“We have been on the road now for three years,” says Jane, “and one question we are always asked is “Are you scared when you travel, you are on and off planes, buses and trains and travel to some countries that well … aren’t just that safe anymore?”
Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith in Florence, Italy.
Jane and Duncan in Florence, Italy.
With 2017 looming and new travel plans in place, the Australia-based couple reached out to the owners of the top 37 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers and websites and asked them a single question: “What is the one fear that would prevent you from travelling in 2017?”
Jane Dempster-Smith house-sitting three dogs.
You may be surprised by the thoughtful replies posted. I know that I was. I was also surprised by the number of websites in the lineup that speak to the travel interests and challenges of the Baby Boomer generation which is surely the most traveled in the planet’s history. The article is quite a resource in itself!
House sitting assignments in Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama help stretch the Dempster-Smith travel budget, but most often they come with furry responsibilities.
Jane, with her husband Duncan, also offer advice to Baby Boomers on how to get off the treadmill and make a dent in that travel bucket list without having to declare financial insolvency. In 2016 they have traveled to Thailand, Spain, Sweden, France, Montenegro, Croatia and taken a repositioning cruise to Panama where they are currently house sitting till January 2017. Check out two insightful feature articles about house sitting + travel in our Travel Article Library.
Images courtesy of To Travel Too.

Did you know? In 1940, it would have cost one year’s wages to fly from London to New York. By today’s average wage or salary in the western world, it costs just a few days’ pay to make the same journey.

It’s that Time of Year to Consider the Camino and Northern Spain!
Without a doubt, our web magazine’s collection of feature articles describing the art of walking northern Spain’s Camino de Santiago have remained our most popular destination stories over more than a decade. Some readers are keen to tackle this historic pilgrimage independently, but the vast majority appreciate some support and organization in making this transformational experience happen. That’s why we are delighted to introduce readers to Spain is More, www.spainismore.com, a small-group tour planner and custom tour designer with its roots firmly planted in Northern Spain. The Camino runs right past the front door of its offices in Leon!
Walkers on the Camino de Santiago route across Northern Spain.
Camino de Santiago walkers number in the hundreds of thousands annually.
Leon Cathedral on the Camino de Santiago route, Northern Spain.
While Spain is More has a deep knowledge of all destinations from the Basque Country near the Pyrenees Mountains through the province of Cantabria to Asturias and Galicia in the northwest, the Camino de Santiago, on foot or by bicycle, is a prime specialty of the company. It prides itself on customizing itineraries to individual clients and being on call 24 hours a day during each booked holiday.
Leon Cathedral on the Camino de Santiago route is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
Cies Islands in Galacia, Northern Spain.
“While less familiar to visitors than other parts of the country, Northern Spain satisfies even the most demanding and adventurous guest because the area is incredibly varied,” says Spain is More co-owner, Virginia Fernandez de Vega. “We can recommend amazing beaches, high mountains, beautiful castles and deeply historic towns. We only work with authentic quality accommodation, restaurants and activity providers, and we expect an extraordinary level of service from our partners so that guests may experience the very best of Northern Spain.”
The Romans called the Cíes Islands in Galicia, 'the islands of the Gods'. To this day, they are an idyllic paradise in Northern Spain.
Here’s something original … a choice of three luxury multi-day train journeys through Northern Spain. For example, "El Transcatabrico" is one of the world’s luxury train journeys taking the long way around between Leon and Santiago de Compostela while following a route that showcases the highlights of Northern Spain. Daily excursions range from the prehistoric Altamira caves to Bilbao’s architecturally-quirky Guggenheim Museum.
Avila with medieval city walls.
Spain is More has created many ways to experience the Spanish Camino following the traditional route or lesser-known routes. All routes are customized to each traveler and Spain is More is among only a few companies offering the full package including flight (optional), transport in Spain, charming hotels, individual stage-length and a beautiful and comprehensive guidebook.
Nicknamed the “city of stones and saints,” Avila is known for having complete and prominent medieval city walls.
Spain is More offers a wide variety of self-drive options in Northern Spain, such as the well-paced option from Bilbao to Santiago de Compostela including car, hotels and an English guidebook. Spain is More also works with the famous Parador hotels – how about an exciting Parador hotel route along the Northern Coast, also known as the Costa Verde or Green Coast, that allows guests to sleep with history each night?

Check out our #1 most popular collection of Camino feature articles, offering many perspectives on experiencing this famous pilgrimage route.
Images courtesy of Spain is More.
Collette offers Titanic themes in New Tours of Ireland
Thirty years ago, the remains of the 73-year-old RMS Titanic were discovered 12,000 feet down on the ocean floor, east of Newfoundland. In 1912, the ship leaving from South Hampton destined for the U.S., struck an iceberg and took 1,500 innocent lives to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. One could only brood over the vastness of this catastrophic iceberg that defeated the promising unsinkable ship.
Titanic Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Titanic Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Veteran tour operator, Collette, www.gocollette.com, has recently announced five new Ireland tours that will each incorporate the story of the Titanic. Ranging between 10 and 12 days each, the tours are all quite different from one another, covering different counties, but they all include a visit to the Titanic Museum in Northern Ireland showcasing full reconstructions and interactive features, and the cranes named “Samson” and “Goliath,” which built the mighty Titanic.
In the 12-day Shades of Ireland featuring Northern Ireland tour expect a visit to the House of Waterford Crystal, the Ring of Kerry and a visit with an Irish family on their dairy farm. In the 12-day Exploring Scotland and Ireland tour participants get to take one of the world’s most breathtaking rail journeys along the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland, and visit fine gardens at Glenveagh Castle.
Kylemore Abbey in Ireland's County Galway.
Kylemore Abbey, County Galway
Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery.
Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery.
Irish whiskey has to be a highlight for many Ireland-bound visitors, so an 11-day Countryside of the Emerald Isle tour includes some time well spent at the Jameson’s Distillery plus a two-night stay at the regal Bellingham Castle. While the 10-day St. Patrick’s Ireland tour focuses on some of the religious history and well-preserved sites associated with Ireland’s patron saint.
Collette tour in Ireland.
A jaunting car ride takes visitors by Muckross House, Kilarney, County Kerry.
Dublin, Ireland walking street view.
Streets of Ireland’s capital, Dublin.
The Spirit of the Emerald Isle tour rounds out the five options with travel to West Cork’s Wild Atlantic Way, a visit to the famous Irish National stud farm, a ride in a traditional Irish jaunting car and a visit to “rollicking” Dublin.

Back in 1918 when Jack Collette started the company, the first tour to ever run was made up of a jitney bus of travelers that left Boston, Massachusetts headed for Florida. This three-week adventure cost just $61.50! Few could have foreseen that nearly 100 years later, that same company would be taking guests from around the world to all seven continents with comprehensive land tours, river cruises, rail journeys, small group tours, family trips, garden holidays and more.
Photos courtesy of Collette.
TripAdvisor to ban ticket sales for some animal attractions
TripAdvisor has announced it will stop promoting and selling attractions that offer experiences with wild animals or endangered species held in captivity. These include activities such as elephant rides, swimming with dolphins, whales or stingrays, and tiger petting (with a partially sedated tiger) some of which have previously been sold on TripAdvisor’s activities service, Viator. TripAdvisor has also set up a wildlife tourism information portal, in collaboration with animal welfare groups to make site users more aware of animal welfare issues. Ultimately, it is the educated traveler who declines to patronize tour operators who include such entertainments and attractions that will bring about serious change.
Wild leopard on Indian Subcontinent.
On the Indian subcontinent, Big Cats are best observed in their natural habitat, not in captivity, unless they are being rehabilitated from injuries or have been orphaned, or are part of protective conservation efforts in respected reserves.
Debbie Kindness/Incredible Indian Tours
"We believe the end result of our efforts will be enabling travelers to make more thoughtful choices about whether to visit an animal attraction and to write more meaningful reviews about those attractions," said TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer.
The new policy will be fully implemented by early 2017 and affected service providers will be able to appeal any blacklisting to prove they can adhere to the new policy. Tickets for zoos and aquariums will still be available to book along with certain voluntourism projects at animal reserves.

TripAdvisor spent several months in consultation with animal welfare groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Global Wildlife Conservation to devise the new policy.

"TripAdvisor is a leader in the industry and we understand and applaud that this is a precedent-setting move," Stephanie Shaw, corporate liaison officer at PETA. "TripAdvisor's competitors and others within the travel industry will take note of this, and we hope and expect that many other companies will follow."
Two Indian snake charmers with cobra.
Snakes are not charmed by their captive entertainment experience in India. Among other things, their mouths are often sewn shut or their fangs painfully extracted. Alison Gardner
"TripAdvisor is a leader in the industry and we understand and applaud that this is a precedent-setting move," Stephanie Shaw, corporate liaison officer at PETA. "TripAdvisor's competitors and others within the travel industry will take note of this, and we hope and expect that many other companies will follow."
Our web magazine’s Travel Article Library hosts a timely article about Intrepid Travel’s initiatives with regard to Asian elephant protection. With a strong focus on travel to India and Nepal, Incredible Indian Tours is also taking progressive steps to eliminate animals as entertainment from its itineraries. In addition, owner Debbie Kindness is educating the company’s in-country travel partners as well as guests to find alternative ways of offering authentic experiences to visitors without exploiting animals.

To learn more, check out the WILDLIFE.NOT ENTERTAINERS website, and Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFT).
Can you recommend a tour operator or organization that is helping to change the way in which animals and tourists interact? If so, we would like to hear about it, and possibly even publicize their actions.
Asian elephant enjoys time at an animal rescue center.
At a rescue center, this elephant gets a little loving encouragement. World Animal Protection


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