Travel with Jan Weekly Digest

Travel with Jan Weekly Digest

Óbidos: Castles




May 18, 2013 

I’ll never forget the exact moment.  Noon, July 5, 2000. 

My first solo adventure.  Central Europe.  Slovakia.  From Košice to Spiš.  I was driving north through the countryside. 

And then, there it was!  To my right, on a hilltop brooding over the landscape.  Enormous.  Imposing.  Inspiring.  The nine hundred year old ruins.  Spišský hrad.  Spiš Castle. 

Out loud I spoke, “This is why I travel.  This is what I came to Europe to see!” * 

Kagoshima: Sakurajima Volcano

Kagoshima 鹿児島市


February 20, 2014

My dear fellow volcanologists,

Am I an “Expert” in Geology?

I did struggle through Geology 101 as an undergraduate.   I have devoured books by John McFee and Simon Winchester.

Years ago in Java, Indonesia, I traveled to Mount Bromo, when at dawn, the volcano puts on its display of fire and brimstone. 

Most recently, in Ecuador, I watched from afar as the volcano called Volcán Tungurahua lived up to its name: “Throat of Fire.”

So, does all that make me an expert in volcanology, plate tectonics and the Ring of Fire?

Kagoshima: The Sengan-en Villa


Kyosho Island

Kagoshima Prefecture


February 20, 2014

My dear friends,

All is can say is …“Ah!”

The weather here: Sunny. Mild. Shed a layer of sweaters.

Forget the north.  Forget Tokyo.  Forget the cold and the snow!

I’m an independent traveler.   I checked the map.  I booked a ticket.  At Kyoto I boarded the “Super Express” to Kagoshima (4 hours) – the southernmost metropolis on the main islands of Japan. (pop 605,640)




February 22, 2014

Dear Friends,

Ten years ago in Vietnam, I made a stop at the Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City.  During the Vietnam War, the tunnels formed a network of military strongholds that housed up to 16,000 Viet Minh for months at a time.  Only 6,000 survived the relentless bombing.  Some put the figure at much less.  Thousands of civilians also died in the vicinity.

Kyoto: Higashiyama

Southern Higashiyama



February 18, 2014


My friend Larry recommended a website that a friend of his recommended.   So I followed their advice and strolled through the traditional neighborhood of Southern Higashiyama with its temples, shrines, gardens and parks.  I even found a hillside cemetery.   In several tourist shops, young girls in red kimonos dispense green tea to the tourists.  I wandered into a small art gallery and ….  

Kyoto: Arashiyama - Neat and Tidy




February 19, 2014

My Friends, 

No matter where I go in Japan – on a crowded city street, a subway platform or the subway train itself, a bus, public park or the busy grounds of a festival or tourist attraction - I find not one, not one scrap of paper anywhere.  Not one discarded candy wrapper, not one stray cigarette butt tossed in the street.