County’s Chambers partner for Peru & Machu Picchu adventure Reply

IRCOUNTY CHAMBER LOGOSEBASTIAN CHAMBER LOGOThe Indian River County and Sebastian River Area Chambers of Commerce are in their fourth year of a series of travel opportunities to their members and area residents. The first 2016 trip is Peru & Machu Picchu scheduled for April.

The nine day trip travel price of $4,295 per person (double occupancy) includes roundtrip airfare from Miami to Lima, Peru. In addition to accommodations, the trip includes 16 meals, 2 inner country flights, expert guides, a professional tour director, and all other transit, sightseeing and attractions admission costs per the itinerary. More…

County attorneys present All Aboard Florida status to the Economic Development Council Reply

Assistant County Attorney Kate Cotner at the EDC meeting

Assistant County Attorney Kate Cotner at the EDC meeting

MILT THOMAS

At the May 20 Economic Development Council meeting, County Attorney Dylan Reingold and Assistant County Attorney Kate Cotner presented an update on All Aboard Florida (AAF) that clarified what we know about the proposed project and more importantly, what we do not know.

We do know that the plan calls for 16 high-speed passenger trains to make four stops: Orlando, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. The route from Orlando to Cocoa along the 528 Bee Line Highway does not pass through any municipalities and would require all new tracks. Between Cocoa and Miami, however, existing FEC tracks will be used alongside a new parallel track. It will pass through many municipalities and railroad crossings (114 crossings in Palm Beach County alone). More…

Celebrating Thanksgiving and all that made it possible Reply

The holiday spirit is on display everywhere - in downtown Saigon, Vietnam

The holiday spirit is on display everywhere – in downtown Saigon, Vietnam

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

Tis the season to be thankful and I, for one, want to start my thanks by waking up this morning to 45 degree weather as I let the dogs out. I mean, if you can’t have snow on Christmas, at least have chilly weather on Thanksgiving. Of course, not too chilly. This is Vero Beach and people don’t come here to be cold.

I was actually happy to see all the stores decorated for Christmas, colorful lighting all over town, the sound of Christmas music in every public building, people out shopping. That doesn’t seem worthy of a Thanksgiving message, but I am talking about Saigon, Vietnam, a communist country (at least nominally).

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Meanwhile, back in Vietnam…. Reply

Magnificent limestone formations give Halong Bay its well-earned reputation as a natural wonder of the world

Magnificent limestone formations give Halong Bay its well-earned reputation as a natural wonder of the world

MILT THOMAS

I haven’t written for a while for two reasons. First, because of our re-routed trip to avoid Typhoon Haiyan, we have had to make up ground, which means many long days on a bus going from site to site, late dinners, short nights and back on the bus. We have only spent more than one night at a hotel three times, twice at the beginning of the trip. The other reason I haven’t written is because of the bronchial infection and fever I developed as a result of the first reason.

It didn’t help that when we stayed a night at the Phong Ha National Park, we went on a nighttime game drive in an open truck and it rained buckets, soaking us to the skin. All the “game” we saw as a result of thus sacrifice were three deer behinds, two porcupines a burrowing and an owl in a pine tree. Merry Christmas. More…

One event defines an ancient kingdom 1

Ngoc Son Temple in Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple in Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi

MILT THOMAS

Hanoi, capitol city of Vietnam, was the first stop on my adventure. It is a city of 3.5 million people, surprisingly up to date considering it was probably the poorest country in Asia 20 years ago. It’s easy to get into Vietnamese politics, but I’m saving that for later. Let’s just say they have done an excellent job of rebuilding, but like China, the price is a smoggy mist that hangs over the city, at least during the five days I was there. That is more than enough time to see Hanoi, which is an odd mix of free enterprise and a government-driven nostalgia for communism. I hope they don’t censor this before it gets to you.

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Elephants in the room 2

10-elephants grazing botswana

MILT THOMAS

It seems only appropriate that Indian River County became home for the National Elephant Center. After all, our county is heavily Republican and the GOP symbol is an elephant. Originally, the Elephant Center was supposed to be located in St. Lucie County, but then there are many more Democrats in St. Lucie County, so the elephants would probably have felt out of place. If they ever establish a national donkey center, St. Lucie County should be first choice, hands down.

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Vero to the Caribbean PART TWO 1

MiltThomas head shot 2011smaller

MILT THOMAS

The quality of a cruise is supposed to reflect the quality of a cruise line, but that is not always the case. For instance, if you are looking for a low end, bargain-priced trip, there are plenty available, but you may end up floating adrift at sea or washed up on a reef. And as a friend of mine once said about cheap cruise vacations, the passengers look like they had been beamed up by a flying saucer over Walmart and deposited on the ship.

The cruise that my wife and I took for our 30th wedding anniversary was not one of the cheap variety. We arrived at 11:30 a.m. on April 1st and should have known the date was no coincidence.

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Vero to the Caribbean Part One Reply

MiltThomas head shot 2011smallerMILT THOMAS

In case you are wondering why I haven’t appeared on this site the past ten days, my wife and I are on our anniversary cruise in the Eastern Caribbean. My intent was to write as I go, like I did in February while I was in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. But, dare I say, cruises are relatively mundane and don’t normally afford the same kind of opportunities for relatable moments.

On this trip, the average age of passengers was deceased. Obviously, my wife and I were well below the average. We have toured some interesting places, like St. Maarten/St. Martin, which is the smallest island in the world ever partitioned into two different countries. Our port was on the Dutch side and we took a taxi to the French side, a drive of about six miles. Legend has it that a Frenchman and a Dutchman decided to divide the island by running from opposite shores until they met in the middle. Apparently the Frenchman ran faster.

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Don’t believe those travel guides 1

IV.012713Milt ThomasMILT THOMAS

I know InsideVero.com is a local news magazine, but since I have already written about my last trip to Egypt and Dubai, and I am on my way to the Eastern Caribbean this week, I thought I would relate one travel experience that would have been funnier if it didn’t make me sick. It was my first trip to equatorial Africa and several other Vero folks were with me, but not on the portion I am about to relate. It was one of those side trips you read about in travel guides – a Mombasa to Nairobi train ride like the Orient Express.

I flew to Mombasa with my tour operator friend, Hamdy (recall the Radisson Blu story?). We would spend a night at a beachfront hotel and then take the train back next evening.

While there, I bought a $300 gold necklace for my wife in the historic Old Town. Next morning, I woke up with textbook symptoms of malaria, even though I had been taking anti-malarial pills through the entire Africa trip.

Since this was my first time on the Indian Ocean, I decided a little beach time might make me feel better. The water was glass calm punctuated with moored speed boats and ancient Arab dhows resting side by side. Off in the distance, beyond the calm water was a barrier reef and beyond that, an angry surf. I walked on the beach a while, took a swim and went back to the room, maybe 45 minutes altogether. But it was 45 minutes in the sweltering equatorial sun, and as I stepped into the shower, I realized this was the worst sunburn of my life, complementing my malaria symptoms. Now it came time for the train ride.

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Conditions in Egypt not what they appear Reply

Egyptian family meal

Egyptian family meal

BY MILT THOMAS

“Believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see.”

That saying has always been attributed to Confucius, but it could certainly apply to the situation in Egypt today. In the ten days since I first arrived, I have received numerous emails from friends and family warning me of the terrible problems here in Egypt. More…

Major weather event hits Egypt Reply

Traffic jam on road to Alexandria

Traffic jam on road to Alexandria

BY MILT THOMAS

EDITOR’S NOTE: InsideVero Contributing Editor, Milt Thomas, is traveling in the Middle East, and will be corresponding with our readers as he journeys to Egypt to the United Arib Emirates

Blame it on global warming or Judgement Day, but a major weather event hit Egypt yesterday – it rained. Normally, Egypt gets one to two inches of rain a year, but it seems like the entire annual rainfall came yesterday (even lightning and thunder today!). In a country more famous for dust than rain, nothing slows life down more than a combination of both. Dust becomes mud and while it cleans the air, it creates a mess on the ground. Of course yesterday is the day I went to Alexandria, a two and a half hour drive on good weather days. I accompanied ten other adults and five small kids in one mini-bus to attend an engagement party involving their relatives in the northern Mediterranean city. We left Kafr el Arbain around noon and arrived at the destination in Alexandria at five. More…