Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Vacation to Please Your Taste Buds

Sure, Petra (right) is a top attraction in Jordan and the Middle East. But your visit there can be more than ruins, archeology and history. You can learn about Jordanian cuisine.

International Expeditions, which specializes in nature travel, has expanded many of its 2011 itineraries to include additional opportunities for guests to exercise their taste buds.

A just-released study by Travel Guard North America found that 27 percent of travelers ages 55 and over were traveling to explore new cuisines. “It’s important to remember that food is a large part of culture the world over,” said Bill Robison, IE’s Director of Product Development. “Trying local cuisine is a great way to experience a country.”
Highlights of the new focus on food include:
-- Dining at Anh Tuyet’s — a restaurant featured on Anthony Bourdain’s television series No Reservations — as part of IE's 16-day Laos & Vietnam vacation.·
-- Working alongside local women to prepare traditional Jordanian dishes and glimpse of the secrets behind the famous regional cuisine of the Levant at Petra Kitchen during the Wings Over the Nile journey.
-- An exclusive sunset meal at the International Miraflores Restaurant overlooking the Miraflores Locks — a Frommer’s Top 5 Panama dining experience — while on a Panama tour.
Travelers on IE’s popular Amazon River cruise regularly dine on fish and fruit purchased from villagers during daily excursions while aboard the 28-guest La Amatista riverboat, and even learn to cook piranha as well as traditional Peruvian favorites.
“By eating outside of hotels and ‘tourist’ areas, supporting local restaurants and buying local foods, we’re contributing to the local economy,” Robison said. “Plus, locally grown food tends to be fresher and tastier, often coming from farm to plate on the same day.”

For more information or to request a nature travel guide, visit

Yellowstone's Other Attractions

The late-summer opening of a new visitors' center at the Old Faithful geyser has drawn new attention to Yellowstone National Park, the first national park and one that owes its existence partly to the wonder that is Old Faithful.
There are, however, many other natural wonders at Yellowstone, most of them related to the geothermal activity that bubbles barely beneath the park's surface.
One of these is Morning Glory Pool, above, a hot spring in the park's Upper Geyser Basin. Its color comes from bacteria in the water. It sometimes erupts as a geyser, but that's very rare.
There's more hot -- or at least warm -- water at the Firehole River Swimming Area, an old-fashioned swimming hole heated by hot springs and geysers. There's a deep warm pool surrounded by tall cliffs. There is a current, but it's not strong enough to put average swimmers at risk, and there are spots with no current at all.
Mammoth Hot Springs are another natural wonder: a tall series of natural terraces covered with calcium deposits.
These don't scratch the surface of the things to see and experience at Yellowstone.
If you're early enough or lucky enough, you can stay in one of the park's lodges. If you're forced to stay outside the park, you'll find a lot of motels in West Yellowstone, Mont.
My family and I have stayed at Chico Hot Springs resort, north of Yellowstone. It has an excellent restaurant and a range of spa services.
Before you visit Yellowstone itself, visit it online by clicking here.
The Other Park in the Neighborhood
Don't forget that another wonderful national park is just to the south, Grand Teton National Park. Jackson, Wyoming, is a good base for exploring Grand Teton. For lodging suggestions there, click here.