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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, August 1, 2016 
TravelWatch: Senior Travel Newsletter.

What's on the Travel News Menu for YOU Today
Senior travel nature vacations, cruise and barging vacations, volunteer vacations worldwide & much more! Would you like to be notified of each bi-monthly issue as it is launched? Click here to add your email to our TravelWatch newsletter notification list. [See our Privacy Policy]

1. Ranch vacations are for everyone … that means whether you ride or not, whether you have children or not, whether you travel solo or as a couple, whether you’re 25 or 75 years old. Check out our story and the ranch vacation resources we highlight.
2. Rome, The Eternal City, is a bucket list travel destination for sure, but what to see and do can be a challenge. We’ve discovered a clear, lean website guide that will make you fall in love with the city’s highlights and hidden treasures alike.
3. Need a little help navigating the world’s airports gate to gate, through security and customs clearance? Travel with a Challenge’s globe-trotting editor shares her personal introduction to “Medical Assistance Service” offered by many airlines to those who are getting a little creaky. No means test required!
4. Quebec City in Canada’s La Belle Province is a jewel of historic destinations in North America, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only walled city north of Mexico. Check out its latest travel-related awards.
5. Did you know that America’s National Park Service is 100 years old in August 2016? Learn about its growth to a present 59 national parks, and about a new photo-rich book that celebrates this milestone.

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.

Before You Consider a Ranch Vacation, Consult the Ultimate Resource
Two authoritative websites, www.top50ranches.com and www.ranchweb.com focus on what truly is one of America’s most iconic homegrown experiences – the dude ranch vacation. Dude ranches gained widespread popularity in the 1920’s with the establishment of the National Dude Ranchers’ Association in 1926. In more recent decades, ranches in Canada, and other countries have established a fine reputation on the delivery of ranch vacations.

Today they are more popular than ever with adults, solo travelers and multi-generational families, offering a haven from urban, industrial and technical worlds; down-home cooking; the joy of bonding with a mount suited to a guest’s temperament and riding ability; and always the beauty of the natural world.
Girl and horse at Echo Valley Ranch and Spa on ranch vacation.
Echo Valley Ranch & Spa in British Columbia, Canada. Echo Valley Ranch & Spa
Gene Kilgore, world's leading authority on ranch vacations.
Gene Kilgore.
“Ranch life remains one of the last authentic traditions in a landscape of technology where everything is instantaneous and ‘virtual’ in reality. A dude ranch vacation is a down to earth thing that helps us all reconnect with the natural rhythm of the earth,” explains Gene Kilgore, the world’s leading authority on ranch vacations.

Kilgore brings over three decades of passion for ranch vacations via his advisory involvement in and endorsement of these two web sites. He has visited and personally vetted most of the properties represented, while also serving as goodwill ambassador to the ranches, bringing his knowledge of the needs of ever-more-discerning travelers to the ranchers. For the prospective ranch visitor, whether solo, in a group or with family, the knowledge and experience incorporated in these two online resources is invaluable.
A ranch vacation in New Zealand.
Beaumont High Country Ranch in New Zealand.
 Beaumont High Country Ranch
Founded in 2011, www.top50ranches.com focuses on where to locate and then what to expect when it comes to the world’s top dude, guest, working and luxury ranch vacations in the United States and Canada as well as Argentina, Mexico and New Zealand. Guest options have never been greater – you may mix up horses with fly fishing for trout, trap shoot, swim and dedicated children’s programs. Guests may assist with cattle drives and branding activities; or they can opt to just be pampered in world-class scenery. Some operations are large, offering accommodation and activities for up to 225 guests; others are small, providing hospitality to just six guests at a time. The website provides all the details.
The site outlines special ranch offers, events and opportunities as well. For example, Wyoming’s Bitterroot Ranch features a world-class riding program geared exclusively to advanced and intermediate riders, and Colorado’s High Lonesome Ranch caters to an older crowd offering adult-only weeks during the summer. South of the border, Rancho Los Baños offers a Mexican Corrida in November so that guests can experience a genuine Mexican roundup with vaqueros (cowboys), horses, cattle, lots of drives and cattle work on a 30,000 acre property in the foothills of the Sierra Madres.

This site also offers a no-fee advice option on line or by phone for travelers seeking a little extra help in choosing the right ranch for their party.
Yoga can be offered on a ranch vacation.
Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado offers
a yoga program.
 Vista Verde Ranch
Girl and toddler on horseback, ranch vacations.
Evening around outdoor fire on a ranch vacation.
Left: Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana, U.S.A. Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge

Right: Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort in British Columbia, Canada. Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort
Founded in 1995 and regularly updated, www.ranchweb.com offers an array of dude ranches in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Canada. Arranged alphabetically by destination, these ranches can also be organized by number of guests accommodated at one time, the activities, and if they are family friendly. A multitude of activities range from horseback riding and instruction (novice to advanced,) fishing (expert fly fishing guides on site), hiking, swimming, archery, shooting, rodeos, games, cattle drives, mountain biking … and the list goes on. Several dude ranches offer specialty themes, such as photography, art, birding, cooking, wine tasting, and father-son and mother-daughter bonding adventures. Potential guests of businesses listed on this site may also contact a Ranchweb Concierge Service for additional assistance in sorting through the myriad of options including always-changing travel options now being listed into 2017.

The expert behind each website, Gene Kilgore, is also the best-selling author of nine editions of Ranch Vacations: The Leading Guide to Guest, Resort, Fly Fishing, and Winter Ranches.” The 197-page 2016 edition outlines over 100 ranch possibilities for those looking for a romantic getaway, multi-generational and family vacation or for many other occasions. The book makes an excellent travel planner and guide, and can be obtained online at Amazon.com.
Banner image at the top of this TravelWatch newsletter page is courtesy of Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge.
When in Rome … there are 121 Super Things to See and Do!
No need to panic … on a wonderful, well organized, and brilliantly illustrated Rome travel webpage, www.medcruiseguide.com/things-to-do-in-rome, you may pick and choose from 18 categories, going straight to the themes that reflect your passions or curiosity and detour past those that don’t get you excited at all. As the title of the list fairly declares, this is The Ultimate Guide.
Pizza cooking lessons on a food tour in Rome, Italy. Inside Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy.
Left: Head to a Roman pizzeria and learn how to make a pizza like an Italian! exploder/Pixabay/CC0
Right: The Vatican Museums contain the works of art collected by the Popes throughout history, and are among the top museums of the world, rivaling the likes of the Louvre in Paris. Steve Collis/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
No category will overwhelm you with detail (the single accompanying photo that highlights most of the 121 suggestions is often as large as the succinct write-up and hotlink), and the number of options recommended under each category is usually about six. You’ll be able to pick your to-do list for the day in about ten minutes.
Colosseum, Rome, Italy. Assisi, Italy.
Left: The Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater in the world. Sean MacEntee/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Right: The UNESCO World Heritage-protected Assisi is well known as the birth place of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Italy. Michela Simoncini/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
In addition to the expected recommendations of churches, museums, bars, cafes, restaurants and best shopping streets/markets, you may want to consider the list of exquisite parks and gardens to cool down in a green environment, especially if you are visiting during Rome’s blistering summer months. Or if you are in a learning mode, you can’t go wrong with a food tour where you get to make your own Italian dish. Ancient Ruins include the must-see Colosseum and Pantheon, but some lesser-known beauties as well.

As the author of this compilation advises, “Grab a cappuccino, sit back and dive into the Eternal City.”
A TravelWatch Editor Confession!
I have traveled all my life, walking (and sometimes even sprinting) endless miles in large airports, dragging carry-on luggage between flights, shuffling along in snaking lineups to pass through security checks, and experiencing uncountable Customs & Immigration interviews in different countries while presenting my passport for inspection and stamping. A journey in May 2016 radically changed all that.

With a chronic sciatic nerve injury affecting both legs and feet and my early 2017 booking for hip replacement surgery, I decided to request travel assistance from my airline between seven Canadian and European flights in my round trip itinerary. I can walk off any plane unassisted, but distance is my enemy, especially between vast international and domestic terminals in some of the world’s largest airports.
Photo of airport wheelchair.
In my case, the phone booking of this wonderful “Medical Assistance Service” was found on the company’s website and completed a month ahead, but any booking must be done at least 48 hours in advance. There was no demand for proof of need though I did have a doctor’s letter with me as evidence of my afflictions! Stepping out the door of each plane at each airport connection, there was either a waiting driver and wheelchair or a golf cart with my name attached to it. This turned a usually slow, painful journey into pure bliss.
When the actual travel day in May came, Air Canada and its Star Alliance partner, Lufthansa, were incredibly efficient with all my paperwork preceding me at the airline check-in counter as I was whisked from one gate to another. I put this service to the test once again in June with a trip from Canada’s west coast to Washington, DC, through four airports. Air Canada and its partner United Airlines worked together, quite seamlessly!

Even though my husband is still up for a good walk any time, he too loved the service which every “accompanying” person in the party also benefits from when the special assist client is registered as I was. A big bonus is that you and your party go through the security and customs procedures very quickly via the special designation cue that aircraft staff use.

Anyone with mobility issues should give this generous free service a try so they may keep on traveling without the pain and anxiety of airport transfers and perhaps even missing a flight connection. Once you are in the hands of these travel assistance angels, all is well.

Did you know? Food tastes different in an airplane because of the pressurized cabin. For example, our ability to perceive salty tastes is weakened, so tomato juice tastes sweet.

Québec City Top-Rated by Travel + Leisure for 2016
There are so many reasons to fall in love with Québec City, a jewel on the St Lawrence River in Canada’s "La Belle Province". Apparently the readers of Travel + Leisure think so too, naming it the best destination city in Canada in their World’s Best Awards for 2016.

According to Travel + Leisure, “Québec City has a Parisian feel, with its narrow, cobblestone streets and European-influenced architecture. It has been on the World’s Best Cities list for more than a decade, thanks in part to its friendly locals who don’t laugh at tourists’ attempts to resurrect their high school French.”
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is an iconic 611-room and suites landmark overlooking the port and river below. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Funicular between upper and lower historic Quebec City, Canada.
Perhaps most famous for its winter carnival (January 27 to February 12, 2017), the city is truly a year round destination with a diverse collection of accommodations, so many activities and events for all ages and interests, and an historic center that is designated a World Heritage treasure by UNESCO. Old Québec is the only walled city north of Mexico.
Right: A glass-wrapped funicular, originally opened in 1879, smoothly shunts visitors day and evening between the upper and lower Old Québec in two minutes flat. Peter Gardner
Dating from Québec City’s earliest days in the 1600s, Auberge du Trésor offers an amazing central square location, accommodations and delicious fare.
Alison Gardner
Auberge du Tresor, an historic in in Quebec City, Canada.
I confess that I never tire of walking its cobbled streets and taking the funicular between the upper town and the old port district on the river front below. As the cradle of French civilization in North America, it is a living history lesson with a remarkable mix of architecture, heritage, art, and culture. The best way to take in the entire view of the impressive upper and lower heritage in one camera frame is to catch the small ferry from the Québec City waterfront across the St Lawrence River to Lévis, navigating just over half a mile/one kilometer from one river bank to the other.
Clearly Travel + Leisure readers are not the only seasoned travelers to set their sights on Québec City. In 2015, Conde Nast Traveler readers rated Québec City as one of the 20 world’s best cities for food (I second that!), and also in 2015, the Port of Québec received a much-coveted “Best Destination Experience” award from Cruise Insight Awards.
America’s Admirable National Parks System is 100 Years Old!
In their most positive framework, birthdays should be a time to celebrate the past and look forward to the future. That is certainly the case with the birth of the American National Park system created by an act of Congress on August 25, 1916. Yellowstone National Park was the first one declared, while today there are 59 national parks, among the best known being Yosemite in California, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Everglades National Park in Florida. The largest is the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve which includes the much-visited cruise ship destination of Glacier Bay in Alaska. At 13,200,000 acres (53,000 sq km), it comprises over 16 percent of the entire system. Click on this map to check out all the parks on a very navigation-friendly website.
Cover of Wild America by David Muench and Roly Smith.
The book’s 2016 publication marks the centenary of the US federal law that established the world’s first National Park Service. Roly Smith traces the origin of the national park idea from English poet William Wordsworth through the work of Scottish-born conservationist and Sierra Club co-founder John Muir. Smith's engaging travel narrative describes his favourite experiences and touching on the history of each natural treasure featured. The 21 chapters are divided between 18 National Parks throughout the United States as well as several protected areas.

Outdoor writer, Roly Smith, and wilderness photographer, David Muench, have collaborated to create a modest-sized book, Wild America, that won’t take over your coffee table but it will catch the attention of your guests if you leave it there for them to pick up! This educational and personal contribution does a great job of celebrating their 21 personal choices of America’s National Parks. Share their experiences, in words and 90 stunning photographs.

Wild America: A personal celebration of the
National Parks
by David Muench and Roly Smith.
Published by Interlink Books, July 2016 Hardback,
100 pages, US$21.95, ISBN 978-1-56656-73-7
For sale in bookshops and through internet
booksellers such as Amazon.
David Muench is America’s leading landscape photographer, and Roly Smith is the author of over 80 books on walking and the countryside.

This senior travel newsletter is part of the path-breaking Travel with a Challenge website, a travel magazine hosting timely articles and advice about educational adventure travel, and unique destinations for planning stimulating journeys worldwide. Explore the website via the navigation menu below. See our Privacy Policy.
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