The appeal of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul may get lost in the crush of politicians and delegates this week, but the region has everything one could want in a major urban area, and a lot more. I’m biased, of course, because I grew up there and visit every summer and feel I know the place well. But former Minneapolis Star Tribune Travel Editor Catherine Watson knows it better than I do. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times she presents a menu of best options for a quick visit. If you have more time, get on a bicycle and cycle along the Mississippi River, or around the Chain of Lakes and along Minnehaha Creek to Minnehaha Falls. Or, compare some of the cities’ fine parks, as I did in an essay from a visit a few years ago, “A Tale of Two Parks.” Continue reading »
The 118 islands and atolls of French Polynesia are sprinkled across an expanse of South Pacific Ocean half the size of the United States. Most visitors use Air Tahiti to get around the territory’s five archipelagoes but it’s also possible to travel by boat. The wharves of Motu Uta in the capital city Papeete bustle with supply ships loading for Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Tubuai, and a host of other outer islands. Deck space is available on most vessels and fares are low thanks to French government subsidies. Service from Tahiti to the Leeward Islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Bora Bora is three times a week on several different ships. I usually fly to Bora Bora the same day I arrive in French Polynesia and island hop my way back to Papeete by cargo boat.
Of course, there are also frequent tourist cruises from Tahiti to Bora Bora on luxury vessels such as the Paul Gauguin. In my opinion however, the most unforgettable cruise of them all is the 14-day voyage from Tahiti to the six inhabited islands of the Marquesas Islands aboard the passenger-carrying freighter Aranui. Continue reading »