It is unlikely that the soaring altitude and sheer magnificence of the Andes Mountains, inspired “Stairway to Heaven.” This signature work of the virtuoso rock band Led Zepplin is arguably the best rock ballad oh, maybe Ever. Those guitar riffs live on, even if Lake Titicaca isn’t their spirtual home.
However, the lake, situated in the Andes at an elevation of 12, 500 feet (3800 meters), does seem a likely rest stop along the imagined “stairway.”
If not a Stairway, Lake Titicaca is definitely a sanctuary.
Incas conquered (and often enslaved) other tribes, as they built an empire the length of the Andes. Legend has it that the Uru people living along the lake sought sanctuary from Incan rule by building floating reed islands on the lake, out of reach of their hostile neighbors. Today, the Uros continue to live and thrive in their island-based communities.
Visiting the Uros community is kind of travel experience Yampu Tours does so well; authentic, respectful of local cultures and traditions. Knowledgable guides who speak the local languages. In the case of the Uros, the language is Aymara. (Most of the indigenous Andeans speak Quechua, the language of the Incas.
The single day trip to Lake Titicaca was part of a 10-day epic experience in Peru with Yampu. Another segment of the Yampu trip is chronicled here.
Getting to Lake Titicaca
Traveling from Cusco along the spine of South America is a good 8-hour journey overland. One can fly to Puno but the trade-off is to miss the stark, arid beauty of the high desert mountains. The vast expanse of “nothing” is, in itself, something special. Yampu’s organization and attention to detail made the trip bearable in a luxury coach.
The world isn’t uniformly gorgeous, but it is uniformly intriguing. The Andean highlands are like the surface of the moon; endless rock and sand. You don’t want to live there, but it is worth the drive to see it.
Besides, you need to humble brag on Instagram. On a flyover, you’d miss this the dwindling glacier, the woman with her pet alpaca and the welcome to the Abra la Raya mountain pass.
At a bit over 14,000 feet (elevation noted in meters), you feel lightheaded, your heart pounds. You begin to think that you are indeed “knock, knock knockin’ on heaven’s door.”
From there it was quite literally “downhill” into our luxurious base for the next two nights. Given the elevation, we were encouraged to rest. A good idea in my estimation. I welcomed the hotel’s ready supply of oxygen, wheeled bedside.
Floating islands – a place to call home.
The Uru people in Peru, living along Lake Titicaca, took to the water as a defense against the troubling Incas. They fashioned boats using totora reads from the lake and constructed a network of islands Today, they use motor launches to ferry tourists to the islands, about three miles out onto the lake.
To create the islands, blocks of reeds are cut below the water line to include the buoyant and thickly intertwined roots. The blocks are lashed together forming floating platforms and anchored to the bottom of the lake.
Reeds are spread on the platform. The surface is spongy, sort of like walking on a waterbed. As the reeds dry out, they become quite brittle and are replaced with a fresh layer, about every three months. On the other hand, during the rainy season, the reeds rot quickly and the replacement is more frequent.
Modern Life on the floating islands
About 200 people of Uros descent still live on the islands, maintaining the traditional lifestyle. The larger islands house about 10 families; the smaller ones one or two extended families. Each island lasts about 30 years.
Today, solar panels rise above the thatched roofs; outboard engines replace the long oars and traditional sails. Young children attend school on the larger islands and then more advanced education on the mainland.
Tourism is thriving – Uros even has its own passport stamp – for a small charge of course. Sign me up! I was there, 11 October 2018.
It may very well be that tourism to the floating islands is restricted in the future. The reeds are fragile and the increased foot traffic takes its toll. Each step, each footfall, sinks about 2-4″ into the island’s spongy surface reeds, depending on the person’s weight and other factors. A plan for sustainable tourism to the region is in order.
That said, Lake Titicaca’s floating islands are very special place; warm people inviting you into their homes and lives, if only for a little while. Go now, and go with Yampu.
What is Peru’s Sacred Valley? Machu Picchu always grabs the headlines as the Andean destination of dreamers, scholars and intrepid tourists. Retracing the Inca Trail and the steps of the early 20th century explorers who “discovered” the “Lost City” has become almost a rite of passage for second gen hipsters.
The Sacred Valley is a beautiful sixty-mile stretch roughly following the Urubamba River, filled with Incan history and lore. From the Incan capital of Cusco in the dry Andean plateau (altiplano) it descends, literally, into the high jungle of Machu Picchu.
To my mind, this part of Peru should not be overlooked. Done right, visiting the Sacred Valley offers the increasingly rare chance to glimpse and even experience an authentic local culture, built upon ancient belief systems that still resonate today and serve as a touch point to our humanity.
How to See the Sacred Valley
As a baby-boomer traveler, I wanted a thoroughly planned itinerary including hotel bookings, in-country transportation and a friendly face greeting me at each leg. I’m a pretty intrepid traveler, but the assurance of on-the-ground assistance is hugely important.
I called in the pros. Yampu Tours. They delivered. Flawlessly.
I knew I wasn’t going to hike the Inca Trail. Or, heaven forbid, camp. I need a few (say, 4) stars after the hotel name. Further, I need local guides, courteous and flexible, yet knowledgeable beyond the prepared text. I need to trust their knowledge to feel connected to the people and land I’m visiting.
My goal was an experiential, multi-dimensional trip, not just check off bucket list items.
(Note: this is the first installment of a series on my Peru trip with Yampu)
Yampu put together a terrific itinerary. Trustworthy, local guides who grew up in the area and whose native tongue is Quechan, the ancient language of the Incas. Throughout the trip, each guide provided his/her soulful backstory of growing up in the Andean highlands. I understood how, in just a generation or two, traditional lifestyles are now inextricably linked to the modern world.
You don’t get this kind of insight with just any guide. Yampu has found the best.
So, I recruited two friends, seasoned travelers, and we, as a group of three adventurers, set off.
The “Must Experience” Destinations in the Sacred Valley
MORAY: Experimental farming, the Inca Way
The Inca Empire, at its apex between the 13th to 16th centuries, stretched from modern-day Ecuador to Argentina, from the Pacific coast to the Andes peaks. It’s a harsh landscape with little arable land.
Once conquered, managing a population of nearly 8 million people, scattered over thousands of miles of inhospitable territory, required ingenious military and organizational strategies. The Incas figured it all out brilliantly.
The Incas excelled in harnessing a region of climatic zones ranging from coastal plains to high desert. They developed agricultural labs such as the one found in the archeological complex of Moray. The development of sustainable agriculture was vital to their success.
In this amphitheater of concentric circles, the temperature can differ by as much as 27 degrees (Fahrenheit) from top to bottom. Testing crops in these different micro-climates provided valuable information on successful agriculture production across the Incan empire.
They refined varieties of quinoa in high elevations and developed over three thousand varieties of potatoes. They grew maize of rainbow hues, big kernel stuff, tasty but starchy. It is the basis of a fermented corn brew called chicha de jora.
I didn’t drink any chicha; a bit strong and sweet for my taste. However, if you’re into homebrew, here’s the insider recipe.
Chinchero is the mythical home of the rainbow in Andean lore and a handicraft/weaving capital. I fell hard for the doe-eyed llamas and alpacas.
Even llamas get dressed up in the colors of the rainbow
The wool from the alpaca is, of course, legendary for its use in fine knitwear. Here’s a tiny example of goods I bought for grownups and kids. The little mitts are for my granddaughter.
Fingerless gloves with llama motif and a wonderfully soft baby alpaca scarf.
Unfortunately, we missed Chinchero’s traditional Sunday handicraft market. This photo essay captures the vibrancy of the marketplace. Indeed, it’s a reason to return!
However, we did see a fascinating demonstration of wool dying with local vegetable dyes. Talk about artisanal!
The women explained the process from the start – the fur of the alpaca (left). On the right, the natural alpaca wool ready for dyeing.
The Maras Salt Ponds
The salt ponds aren’t an official Wonder of the World, but they should be. Eons ago the region was a seabed. Volcanic and geo-rumblings ultimately forced the Andes to rise and form the spine of South America. Meanwhile, seawater was locked within the rock.
It is still trickling out.
Pre-Columbia tribes harnessed the salty water trickling out of a mountain spring around 200AD. Later, the Incan Empire used this precious commodity trading for cocoa leaves from the jungle.
The stream feeds an ingenious system of small canals that in turn fill thousands of small, vertigo-inducing ponds perched on the hillside. Each basin is about 15 feet square (3 meters) and shallow, about a foot (30 cm.) deep.
When a pond is full, the notch is closed, diverting water to another basin. As the water evaporates, the salt is scraped off, bagged and carried in several kilo bags along narrow paths to the cooperative’s depot. It is hard manual labor done at an elevation of 11,000 feet.
The salt is available at the co-op shop (and across Peru). It has a lovely pink tinge, a very salty taste, and is renown for its curative properties. It’s high in calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron, used as an effective treatment for skin conditions and swelling.
(Traveler hack: if you can’t get to Maras, this remarkable salt is available on Amazon.)
Ollantaytambo and the Huilloc Community
Ollantaytambo – Architecture in the Incan tradition
The ruins at Ollantaytambo, built by in the 1400s under the leadership of Incan empire builder Pachacutec (1438-1471), who went on to create Machu Picchu. The ruins are thought to be of religious and strategic importance.
Visiting the ruins is a beautiful precursor to Machu Picchu. It’s a bit smaller, not as busy and sets the stage for the remarkable engineering brilliance of the Incas.
Further, their engineering expertise is readily apparent. The Incan ingenious design for interlocking stone blocks gives their buildings resilience in earthquakes. Seven hundred years and the construction is still “rock solid.”
Incan doorways are a trapezoid shape. Narrower at the top places the pressure on the base of the opening, not the top.
Evident, too, is the very advanced water distribution system. This remnant of the intricate canal system at the Ollantaytambo pays tribute to the Inca engineering genius.
A Huilloc Community Welcome
To my mind, the real value of a tour/travel agency is their ability to connect you with an experience you couldn’t do otherwise.
Participating in another culture was a hands-on lesson in gratitude and humility.
We visited the rural Huilloc (pronounced “Wee-oak”) community, to participate in Chakra or agriculture. Roles and dress are traditional, so Linda and I slipped into woolen skirts, hats, and ponchos. Geoff, the guy in our small tribe, donned the male attire.
After introductions, we enjoyed delicious mint tea and a crunchy peanut-like snack.
We joined in dancing accompanied by pan flute and strings played by the men. Everybody participated: the kids, the teens, men, women. What first seemed awkward on our part quickly gave away to the graciousness of our hosts.
However, our visit took us deeper. Geoff practiced traditional farming with a hoe/plow tool, still in use today to plant potatoes, a diet staple.
Linda and I toured the kitchen, where potatoes were on the boil.
I was shown how to stoke the fire (blowing through a hollow log). Later, the lady of the house turned me around and, filling a cloth square about the size of a large scarf with the potatoes, she tied it around my shoulders. I was to carry this to the stream where we had a picnic with the family.
By this time, we were pretty comfortable with one another and chatted as friends do. Through our guide, we learned everyone’s ages and roles, and they learned ours.
They heard about our grandchildren (and gamely complimented the pictures); we learned the road to their village was recently paved making the weekly 24 km walk to the market far easier.
The kids played, the teen boy talked about his wish for a cell phone (that’s pretty universal) and the young woman spoke wistfully of her upcoming marriage.
The elder of the family, with his bottle of homebrewed chicha, poured the first draught on to the ground. It’s the Incan practice of giving thanks to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, for her bounty.
A beautiful, simple expression of gratitude. Grace is such a simple thing – why don’t we do more to incorporate it our 1st world privileged lives?
Lunch, 3 courses, was served in a dining room clearly meant for visitors. Corn soup, chicken, a vegetable dish and sweet pudding for dessert. The room was too dark for pictures; the meal simple and delicious.
Prepping to Go
Before I embarked on the trip, I did plenty of research which I chronicled here and here.
Now, with 20/20 hindsight I mostly agree with my pre-trip expectations. Except Peru was more magnificent, more profound than I dreamed.
More attention will be given to the topic of altitude in further installments of my Peruvian adventure, but suffice to say that hydration is super, super important. Especially if you live at or near sea level.
Here are a few tips for staying hydrated while traveling, but what about before you leave?
About a week before departure, I made a conscious effort to drink at least a liter of water per day, the minimum of what I thought I’d need while in the high Andean plateau. I landed in Lima (sea level) but then went directly to Cusco and from there by car to the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley ranges from 6,000-11,000 feet, much higher than my home turf.
I arrived in Peru hydrated, and never had to play catch-up. It proved to be a wise choice. Drink up, my friends.
(Not Quite) Required Reading
I’m a huge fan of reading up on a destination before visiting. And not just travel books or online material. That’s helpful in the planning stage, but not, ahem, the whole story.
To understand a country, to get into its veins, you need their literature, the voice of their authors. For Peru-bound travelers, there’s no better resource than Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa.
Essayist, novelist, short story writer, his work is legendary.
I loved this one, even though I wasn’t traveling to the Amazon. I found it a thoughtful approach to engaging with indigenous people, a factor very much part of today’s discussion surrounding economic development in Peru.
Here are some other recommendations. I carried the Reader with me and found it an invaluable resource in sorting out the tidal wave of information washing over each day.
If you have the time or inclination for just one book before traveling to Peru, make it this one. A collection of essays, short stories, legends and biographies, this provides a look at the diversity that makes Peru so fascinating.
This one is on every list of must-reads on Peru. Focusing on the history of the Incas, it retraces the steps of Hiram Bingham, the early 20th-century explorer. Clever and funny, it will make you glad you’re not planning a modern-day tramp across the Sacred Valley.
The seminal work of Hiram Bingham. You might as well read his first-hand account, written soon after his 1911 exploration that made him famous for “discovering” Manchu Picchu.
The Upshot/Final Thoughts
Peru clocked 3.3 million tourists in 2017. The growth of international tourism is expected to rise by 8.5% in 2018, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The district government and local communities are only recently awake to the economic benefits of cultural tourism. It is still in its infancy but holds transformational promise. Plans afoot will inalterably change the character of the place. One hopes the commercial development, based on tourism, will be thoughtful; respecting the area’s ecosystems and preserving the inhabitants’ unique heritage.
The economic alternative – migration to the larger cities – threatens to render the region, indeed, “lost.” And by that, I don’t mean overgrown with vegetation.
My advice: see the Sacred Valley soon. The cable cars are coming. The tourist buses will get bigger and more frequent.
Finally, book through an experienced tour provider such as Yampu. You can customize your trip to your liking and come away with a remarkable experience you couldn’t do on your own.
Your Quechan is probably not as good as your tourist Spanish.
N.B. 3 Score & More will receive a slight commission from links to Amazon, at no additional cost to you.
Editor’s note: this post was originally published on Medium.com
It’s mid-August. In Italy, the country is on holiday. It’s planned. It’s anticipated, and it’s savored. The pinnacle of the month-long kick-back is August 15th, the public holiday of Ferragosto.
Being Italian, it conveniently coincides with the important Catholic feast of the Assumption of St. Mary.
Long before the Church took control of the calendar and the holidays, the Roman emperor Augustus introduced, in18 BCE, Feriae Augusti a late summer break after the extended period of intense summer labor in the fields.
A planned break after long labor: that’s living by intention.
Apparently not everyone can take August off. But everyone CAN (and does) take a day — August 15th — for a long lunch, copious wine and rest. That’s Ferragosto
In 2008, Italian filmmaker Gianni DiGregorio won “Best First Film” at the Venice Film Festival for this charming portrayal of a man caught in the vise of Ferragosto gone wrong.
In this spoof, the middle-aged son of an aging aristocratic mother is conned into looking after the mums of various others on this holiest of summer holidays.
Everyone in the film, it appears, is living with Intention. Except for our hero, and yet, even he managed it in the end.
In America, we react to August and to life.
We Americans tend to take the latter half of August as it comes, with an eye to Autumn. We tend to start thinking about back-to-school, maybe the last beach trip. We tend to react to the close of summer, rather than celebrate it.
By the time Labor Day rolls around, we’ve circled back to summer: school has already started, the consumption cycle is all about Autumn. It’s the last hurrah. But still, it’s a reaction. It’s not living by intention.
We’re always forward-looking and reacting to what comes our way. Do we plan? Yes, for retirement, children’s education, a house, a car.
But I posit that as a society, we’re lousy at living by Intention.
The commitment to living by Intention
I’ve been troubled by this flopping around, reacting to everything. My life seems chaotic, putting out fires — metaphorically — in every aspect of my life.
The subconscious cycle, he explains, blurs the distinction between the body and the mind. We go on autopilot. We react.
I’m not so sure about the morning routine making me a millionaire. Actually, other factors must come into play for that to happen.
But I get his point. I get that living with intention takes conscious effort. It takes conscious effort to effect change in behavior.
I’m sold. I’m on the other side of 65, but I am convinced there are more (again, metaphorical) mountains to climb. I know what I’d like to become. I can see it.
But I’m often either too lazy or too frightened to step out of my very established comfort zone to go for it.
Here’s the 4–1–1: It won’t happen unless I break out of my own self-imposed jail.
It won’t happen unless I subject myself to the uncertainty and accept less predictability.
It won’t happen unless I accept the chance I won’t make it (except I know I will if I try).
Finally, It won’t happen unless I try stuff I’ve never done, explore the unknown. Simply put, the unknown is my vision.
I’m just scared.
Moving forward with Intention
I don’t want to hang the “Closed” sign on my life. Not yet.
I’m taking some of Ben’s suggestions to begin to organize my life around them.
I’m following the basics of his Evening and Morning routine. I can see early on that setting up the following day eliminates floundering; you merely get stuff done because you know what needs to be done.
I won’t do everything, of course. We each need to work this out for ourselves, for our personalities, for our objectives.
That said, I don’t want my life to be a series of random acts responding to stimuli. I want a plan, dammit!
And I am committed to doing new things. Going new places. At least once a week. Getting out of my head.
I’m seeing how organization can keep the nonsense crap from invading my purpose and intention.
I wrote recently about crabgrass and writing. Now I think it’s bigger than that. I don’t want the crabgrass of life to overtake my proverbial garden the garden being my hopes and dreams. My own “garden of desire.”
Editor’s note: this post was first published on Medium.
Travel is important at any time in life. Travel gets you out of your shell, your culture, your background, your self-imposed confines.
At a young age, travel exposes you to the world, whether across the state, across the country or around the globe.
Later in life, and particularly in retirement, time seems to speed up, to enter a different continuum. Travel seems more urgent, the experience is more alive and somehow, more profound.
The distance and the destination are not critical, it’s the fact that you’re doing it at all.
Travel in retirement keeps you sharp
You have lots of ways to spend your time and resources once you hit retirement. A trip is just one option. But it keeps you actively engaged in life’s “game.” Regardless of whether you choose a full package such as a tour or a cruise, or more independent travel, the dynamics are similar.
Travel takes you out of your comfort zone. It’s always about the new experience, even if it’s a place you’ve been to before. Travel is fresh, a dash of the unknown. In retirement, that’s an excellent thing. You didn’t retire to sit passively, did you? I didn’t think so.
Being out of your “comfort zone” doesn’t mean traipsing around the unknown. It just means putting a toe outside of your routine and widen the net of experience.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
The upshot? Your comfort zone — the space you occupy in physical, mental and emotional states — just got bigger. Remember, there are no “foreign lands.”
Travel requires social and communication skills.
You need to interact with people you meet. That runs the gamut from service personnel, fellow travelers of your choosing or locals you meet along the way. You need to be able to communicate your needs and preferences. You’ll want to chat up your seat-mate on the tour, relive the day with your traveling companions (yes, even your spouse!), and discuss where-to next.
All this takes considerable cognitive power, social engagement and, sometimes, “attitude adjustment” (another term for patience).
Just keep your cool. You can do this. You’re not the old codger your children think you are.
Travel keeps you self-aware. When traveling you have a heightened awareness of your surroundings.
As the British-born author, Aldous Huxley famously said,
There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.
Travel in retirement is about keeping those “doors of perception” open, wide open, between the known and the unknown.
This is the best time of your life to explore your “unknowns.”
You have the luxury of unhurried time. It’s one of life’s greatest gifts.
Travel in retirement is a huge part of life-long learning
Life-long learning is not only huge, and travel in retirement makes it fun and actionable.
If you’ve researched your destination, figured out the best way to travel that suited your budget, interests, any limitations, that’s learning.
You can up your tech game: Did you learn at least a phrase in another language, thanks to an app like Duolingo? Did you download a travel app? Did you use Google Maps or some other direction-finding software to get from Point A to Point B?
What assumptions were challenged?
What did you come back knowing you didn’t know before? What “doors of perception” were opened as a result of your travel, or the preparation for it?
That’s life-long learning.
Travel in retirement gives you information and experiences to share.
Coming back from travel, you’re a different “you.” It’s nearly impossible to have a travel experience and not have something stick
Unless you’re like my Aunt Flo. She and Uncle Art traveled the world in retirement, thanks to his life-long career with United Air Lines.
She was the “Teflon traveler” because nothing, and I mean nothing, stuck.They would go on a whim, world-wide on trips with other United-retirees, and come back emotionally void from the experience.
“It was nice,” she’d say. But it didn’t penetrate, it didn’t stick. She didn’t feel it.
I am indebted to my aunt and uncle for my travel curiosity. They took me along on a tour to Scandinavia when I was 15, in the early 1960’s. By luck, some Australian girls my age were on the tour, too. We remained pen pals for decades, long before email. That interaction is still a sweet memory. It stuck.
Please don’t be like dear Aunt Flo. Make travel “stick.”
Let travel make you a more interesting person. Travel doesn’t need to be far, or exotic. It needn’t be expensive. But the experience will make you a more interesting person. You’ll have more to talk about. Even pictures to share.
You’ll even have bragging rights.
And the best part? Travel in retirement emboldens you to do more.
Editor’s note: This post was published originally on Medium.
Dorset, like all of England, is a haven for walkers. It pairs fitness with some of the most idyllic scenery on earth. There is terrain to suit every fitness level and every quest for an aerobic challenge.
About two hours by train from London, Dorset combines aquamarine sea vistas with the pastoral beauty of Shakespeare’s “blessed plot.”
In a nation acutely aware of those blessings, a good bit of Dorset is designated as an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
This coastal walk is part of the famed Southwest Coast Path, which in its entirety is 630 miles around the western tip of England.
This 5-day stint covered the “Jurassic Coast” — from Lyme Regis to Lulworth Cove, beyond Weymouth — a total of about 45 miles.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
The success of any hiking or walking trip the trip is defined by variables such as weather, trail conditions, the unforeseen injury. Mitigate any possible downside of the unexpected with a plan.
Winging it is good; I love on-the-fly. But I also like knowing where I’m going to lay my head each night, and how my luggage is going to get from point A to point B. There is enough drama and adventure on the trail.
Organize with a professional
Self-guided tour companies provide structure and guidance that takes the guesswork out of the experience. Encounter Walking is a very professional provider.
When we got stuck along the trail, befuddled by the map the second day out, there was a phone number and a helpful voice at the other end.
When to go to Dorset
Mid-June which, despite an early heat wave, gave us the untrammeled beauty of early summer. That said, all the places in the northern hemisphere are lovely in September/October. Dorset glows at that time of year.
However, the Dorset coast is a tourist magnet. High summer, July and especially August, is the ‘season’ so set your expectations: packed restaurants, impatient crowds, increasingly frazzled staff.
“Shoulder” seasons are highly recommended. Late autumn would be stunning.
What to expect in Dorset
Terrain — The maps/itinerary are very clear as to the difficulty of the topography. Most fall into the “mild” to “moderate” range with some steep patches. While the “ascent” is not remarkable, the long, slow climbs are challenging.
A good part of the trail leaving Lyme Regis is along the beach, under the famed Jurassic Coast cliffs. It makes for a pebbly, unstable ground underfoot, slow and tiring. This section is also stunningly beautiful, and it’s possible to pick up a fossil or two if you’re eagle-eyed.
Weather — Coastal weather is often fickle but, it’s important to understand that this walk is very exposed to the elements. There is little shade from the blazing sun, little protection from rain and wind.
Facilities — are few and far between on the trail. Be prepared if necessary, to “go” behind a dune or other secluded spot. As ever, good trail etiquette is “carry in/carry out” so, be prepared!
The trail runs through private pasture land. At points, you’ll be next to, or in some cases among, sheep or cattle.
It’s a very different concept to American hikers/walkers who would not dream of “trespassing” on private land. In the U.K. it is permissible. There is an unspoken pact with the cows: you leave them alone and they leave you alone.
What to bring to Dorset
Maps/guides Maps/guides If you work with a comprehensive trip organizer, you’ll have a precise itinerary, essential phone numbers, general maps. The trail is well marked, so additional material (like the famous British Ordnance Survey maps) isn’t necessary.
Proper gear This is more than a “sneaker” walk; bring good quality, lightweight hiking boots. You’ll cover a range of terrain, from muddy pastures to pebbly beaches.
A good, comfortable backpack. Even though you’re just out for the day, you’ll need more than a “fanny pack.” Find a comfy, small backpack; the kind with the mesh holders for water, or other things you want handy, is a plus.
Snacks because nothing is worse than being hungry on the trail. Or, hitting lunchtime with no lunch in sight. Have protein bars, hard candy (chocolate melts), maybe an apple.
A walking stick is one of my necessities. I use a telescope model that fits into luggage for overseas flights. It helps with balance, getting over difficult terrain, and is as useful uphill as downhill. They are easy to find at outfitters; the good ones are pricey.
You need to be prepared for varying weather conditions: rain gear, shorts, long sleeve shirts, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen. If your luggage is transported daily you needn’t carry all this stuff. Having it with you means you can be prepared for any weather.
Tissues for a runny nose and for when nature calls. Small plastic bags with a “zip” closure for tissue storage until you reach a trash bin. Pre-moistened wipes are useful and take up little room. Bring insulated, refillable water bottles. It’s imperative to stay hydrated, and buying water along the trail is an annoyance.
Highlights of Walk, Lyme Regis to Lulworth Cove.
We started this adventure in Lyme Regis, spending a few days at this durable seaside resort. For well-heeled Londoners in the 19th Century, Lyme Regis was a “go-to” summer destination.
“A very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.”
It’s as true today as it was back then. Below, the garden path she was said to have strolled.
The town’s other claim to fame is being the epicenter of England’s early proving ground for the Evolution vs Creation debate, raging in 19th C intellectual circles.
Mary Anning (1799–1847), a self-educated fossil hunter and collector, was eventually credited with the first discovery of the plesiosaur, who roamed these parts during the Jurassic era. In her time, Mary endured intellectual and gender bias by the more “learned” men at the British Museum but now has her due.
We left Lyme Regis, walking along the shoreline and up across the “Golden Cap” toward the town of Eype.
It was a strenuous 9 miles in scorching heat, with gorgeous views but no relief from the sun. It was a relief to find this welcome sweet on the pillow at the hotel.
Day 2 Eype to Abbotsbury an eleven mile stretch of easy to moderate terrain, but difficult underfoot on the pebbly beach.
Walking under the dramatic cliffs, but no fossils to be found.
Day 3 took us from Abbotsbury to Weymouth, thirteen miles over easy terrain. Here the challenge here was the lack of amenities: no rest stops or places to buy lunch. We were slower than planned, and should have anticipated the need to carry a sandwich. Live and learn. Snacks filled in. Water was crucial!
Day 4, Weymouth to Lulworth Cove. It was a strenuous thirteen miles to Lulworth, but perhaps the most dramatic scenery of all. The highlight is the spectacular limestone arch known as the Durdle Door. The steep incline covering 1.25 miles or so is worth the slog.
If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), you know travel can be a challenge. But it doesn’t mean you’re stuck at home!
With the following pro tips, and proper RA management, the best of travel is there for you.
Quick Facts About RA
RA, disease of the auto-immune system commonly affecting joints in fingers, wrists, ankles, knees and joints. It is a chronic condition, meaning it can “flare” or recede.
Over a million people in the U.S.are diagnosed with RA, predominately women. It is most commonly detected in the prime travel years, between the ages of 40-60.
Curiously, RA is symmetrical; it affects joints on both sides of the body. With pain or stiffness in your right knee or ankle, chances are you’ll feel it in on your left side, too.
With treatment and self-care, traveling with RA is very manageable. So, pack your bags and book that adventure. An RA diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t see the world!
Managing RA When Traveling
For solid advice, we turn to the experts in the video below.
Dr. Grace C. Wright, a noted Rheumatologist and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine.
With her is Maria an RA patient, sharing her experiences as a traveler with RA. Maria has built a successful company and active lifestyle and wishes to be presented by first name only.
5 Top Tips for Travelers with RA
Stay hydrated! Make sure you have a water bottle handy at all times, especially in dry conditions (such as long flights).
Get comfy! Use a neck pillow, stretch out, get up and move around in a plane or train as soon as it is safe to do so. Frequent rest stops while driving long distances will help keep stiffness at bay.
Rx: plenty of rest. Agood sleep routine is very important! Time changes can disrupt your sleep patterns, so use the first few days to get into a good sleep rhythm.
Balance exercise and rest. In addition to a good night’s sleep, be sure to balance rest and exercise. It’s easy, when traveling, to push onward to that next shop, the next museum. Schedule rest periods during the day, to help manage joint inflammation when walking.
Warm/cold therapies. As Maria notes in the interviews, a warm soak can work wonders when traveling. Heat, or massage, will serve to reduce minor inflammation. Cold therapies such as an ice bag, will help relieve more acute pain and inflammation.
We get to retirement, or close, and the siren song of travel beckons. But to travel solo?
Finally, the planets are aligned: time, treasure (ok, budget treasure), and a talent for discovery. We want to go, and yet lingering doubt perceived roadblocks. No one wants to go where you want to go.
A travel partner becomes unable to go.A recent loss alters the course of your life, not to mention travel plans.
It doesn’t take much to upend rickety self-confidence.
“Travel solo at my age? I don’t think so.” So goes the refrain in your head.
Try this refrain instead:”Travel solo at my age? Why the hell not?!”
Need some reasons to pack those bags? Read on.
You set the budget
If you want to go luxury, then go luxury. Some of the best travel I’ve done has been on a more restrained budget, allowing me to see more of the “real” destination, not just a fancy hotel.
Perhaps counter-intuitive, but true in my experience.
Tour companies and travel agents are happy to accommodate you and mix and match to meet your budget. Often, they will cite a “base price,” and you can tweak from there.
A firm I’ve used, and heartily recommend for their customization, is Yampu Tours. They offer a wealth of travel experiences, at every price point.
The best part? A travel consultant pop-up window will greet you on their website. Honestly, it’s a chance to talk to a real human about what you might want to do, where you might like go. Even if you have no real idea.
Another tour company that specializes in solo women travelers is Overseas Adventure Travel. And the dreaded single supplement? Nope, gone.
You set the destination
Think about it — there are probably 3–4 (ok, maybe more) places you’ve secretly wanted to go. For a variety of reasons it didn’t work: no interest from spouse, friend, family. No time. You put it off.
That’s what I’m here to say: in your 60’s the “putting it off” is no longer a valid excuse.
Now, my friend is your time. So think about that place you’ve always wanted to go because the help is there to make it happen.
You set the itinerary
Maybe the best part of travel at 60+, and particularly a solo journey, is that you needn’t answer to anyone. If you want to spa, go for it. Tours, soaking up the local culture, language classes.
Introduce yourself to the world. It is waiting to meet you.
It needn’t be the entire trip, but if the opportunity to interact with the local population — and with children, especially — resonates with you, there are ample opportunities to fold that into your experience.
It’s just one of the many advantages of solo travel. Your trip, your terms.
Is solo travel the ultimate self-indulgence?
Some would say so. I’d say that by the time you’ve reached your early 60’s you’ve earned the right to make your own decisions. Chart your course.
This doesn’t mean you are abandoning your family or your commitment to those things important to your life.
It does mean that you are answering to your self, to your wishes, and perhaps to the fulfillment of a life’s dream.It’s not selfishness, it’s self-affirmation.
It does mean that you are bold enough, confident enough to strike out on your own.
Good for you!
Take that kernel of self-truth, listen to your inner voice that says, “I’d like to see Hawaii” and book it. Rarely, if ever, does your intuition lie.
It comes down to this:
If the choice is between going solo and not going at all, there is only one answer: book the trip.
And please become a 3 Score Traveler by posting a photo on Instagram: @3scoreandmore.
In the meantime, let me know how the planning goes.
Copyright 2018 3 Score & More All rights reserved
An earlier version of this article appeared on Medium.com
On bustling Ocean Avenue in Miami’s South Beach, there is a 1940’s era hotel called The Betsy.
3 Score’s guest blogger Paula Forman shared her experience there in 2017. This time I joined her and two other friends for a mid-winter get-away. It was the tonic we needed, but for reasons that surprised me. Ready for an update?