Smart Travels: Mexico City and Ixtapa
Mexico City, the world's largest metropolis, is modern, crowded, cosmopolitan, and steeped in tradition. Rudy begins with Mexico's ancient roots just outside the city at pre-Aztec Teotihuacán. The superb National Museum of Anthropology provides more insights into ancient Mexico. For modern day excitement, we hang out at the Zocolo, the world's second largest square and the center of national life since the Aztec era. Finally we head beach-ward to the resorts of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo on the Mexican Riviera. Tips on getting around and water sports.
Smart Travels: Guadalajara & Puerto Vallarta
Guadalajara is alive with the music of mariachis, flowers, colonial architecture, and passionate artists. Rudy explores the rich history and culture of “The Most Mexican of Cities.” Art and artists are an important part of Guadalajara and Rudy takes it all in from the papier-mâché piñatas to the dramatic murals of Orozco. Rudy tours a tequila factory, learns about margaritas and samples the best of traditional Mexican cooking. Then it's an easy hop to the coast where Puerto Vallarta's traditional charm still survives next to its new resorts.
Smart Travels: New Zealand’s North Island
With spectacular seismic activity, fascinating plant and animal life, and to-die-for natural beauty, New Zealand is a traveler’s dream. In the Bay of Islands, Rudy kayaks along the North’s most glorious coastline. A Maori guide shows us where local tribes signed a controversial treaty with European settlers. Known as the country’s bread basket, Hawke’s Bay offers bike rides through fruit and olive groves, and a town with one of the highest concentrations of art deco buildings in the world. Tips on oyster shucking and olive oil.
Smart Travels: New Zealand’s South Island
The South Island of New Zealand weaves Kiwi culture with scenic splendor. The vast vineyards of Marlborough helped bring this country’s wines to the world stage. At a local artists’ colony, Rudy gets a crash course in Maori bone carving. The breathtaking city of Queenstown draws adventure enthusiasts from around the world. We brave white-water rapids on river boards and ride a hot air balloon for soaring views of “Lord of the Rings” country. Tips on Maori crafts and eating mussels.
Smart Travels: Queensland, Australia
Sun-washed beaches, chic beachside towns, cliffs and rainforests and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is the ultimate outdoor adventure. We begin north of Brisbane along the sunshine coast, exploring sand dune covered islands, coastal towns and parks. Then we fly north to Cairns, the gateway to the coral, multicolored sea life and azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Tips on avoiding poisonous creatures and diving.
Smart Travels: Sydney
Australia’s stunning metropolis, Sydney seduces with its glorious harbor, carefree attitude and sunny beaches. From the Opera house to the Harbor Bridge to Circular Quay Rudy basks in the sights along the harbor. Then, it’s pub hopping in the old Rocks quarter, admiring aboriginal art, and a watery adventure at the aquarium. Excursions take us surfing at Bondi beach and exploring the cliffs and rainforests of the Blue Mountains. Tips on eating well and best beaches.
Smart Travels: Hong Kong
We get a Pacific Rim rush when we visit energetic, ever-changing Hong Kong. On a famous Star Ferry, Rudy savors one of the most majestic skylines on earth. Here, where ancient tradition cozies up to ultramodern, we take in monasteries, Chinese herbs and a city obsessed with shopping. The island of Lantau features one of the world’s largest statues of Buddha. And in the fishing village of Sai Kung, Rudy feasts on freshly caught seafood. Tips on markets and feng shui.
Smart Travels: Shanghai
China’s new powerhouse, Shanghai dazzles with fantastic skyscrapers, non-stop shopping and delicious dining. From traditional Tai Chi in the parks and teahouses to market madness and tumbling acrobats, Rudy explores tradition and modernity in this burgeoning city. Excursions to the gardens of Suzhou and the canal town Zhouzhuang bring the ancient past alive. Tips on getting around and eating well.
Smart Travels: Vancouver & Victoria, British Columbia
As Canada’s door to the Pacific Rim, Vancouver is a vibrant mix of European heritage and Asian cultures. In this vital, young and dynamic city Rudy explores the mix of cultures that inspires world-class cuisine, a spirited night life and modern Asian shopping centers. Nature is ever-present and Rudy visits a temperate rainforest and rides a gondola to the top of a mountain just minutes from downtown. A spectacular ferry ride to Victoria brings Rudy to a bastion of British Heritage where he enjoy afternoon tea, visit the beautiful Butchart Gardens and dine on seaweed plucked from the seashore.
Smart Travels: Seattle
A hip, happening urban center surrounded by natural beauty, Seattle combines city life with the great outdoors. Rudy explores the vibrant downtown, samples microbrews and lattes, noses around Seattle’s neighborhoods and hops aboard a ferry. Excursions take us hiking at magnificent Mount Rainier and boating through the San Juan Islands in search of whales. Tips on great seafood and getting outfitted for the outdoors.
Smart Travels: San Francisco
The port city of San Francisco revels in art, diversity and food. Chinatown is a feast for the senses, and the city’s new Asian Art Museum a must-see. We get savvy on sourdough and tour notorious Alcatraz Island. A stroll through the Haight neighborhood harkens back to the “Summer of Love”, and the Italian cafes of North Beach serve up a dollop of hospitality with their espresso. Crossing the Golden Gate, Rudy heads to Napa Valley wine country for a relaxing mud bath and some off-beat garden art. Tips on vegetarian food and wine-tasting.
Smart Travels: Oahu and Kauai
Sunning, swimming, surfing and boating at Waikiki Beach are just the start in Honolulu. Rudy explores Hawaii’s Polynesian roots at the venerable Bishop Museum, remembers WWII history at Pearl Harbor, and pays homage to King Kamehameha. From Oahu we head north to Kauai, "The Garden Island" whose sheer beauty screams "tropical paradise". Rudy hikes the Waimea Canyon and kayaks past traditional Hawaiian villages. The Allerton Gardens show off rare tropical plants, and restored homes of planters recall days when sugar was king.
Smart Travels: Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island
The cultures of the Pacific converge on the breathtaking islands of Hawaii. This trip Rudy begins on Maui, where he braves the twisting road to Hana with its cascading waterfalls and tropical splendor. Fire-knife dancers light up the night sky, and we sway to the rhythms of hula and slack-key guitar. Later, Rudy hops over to Hawaii’s Big Island for ancient petroglyphs and a helicopter tour of the world’s most active volcano. Tips on snorkeling and golfing.
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