The “White Zulu” of South Africa: A Tribute to Johnny Clegg

    Nelson Mandela.  Desmond Tutu.  These two must be among the biggest names of our time. Both proudly South African.  Both closely connected to Cape Town.  Both statesmen of the world.  And both at the heart of the stories we’ll […]

    Ukraine Tour Day 5 – Day of Contrasts in Chortitza

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader We started our day today at Eichenfeld, now Dubovka, the sight of a terrible massacre in 1919 by Makhno’s anarchist peasant army.  We stopped on the side of a field where a moving monument […]

    Italy tour – Ciao Italy!

    By Len Friesen, tour leader So it has come to this, as it does with all trips and all good things.  We have reached the end of our time together.  We head for the airport in Milan in about […]

    Italy Tour – In the Aftermath of the Notre Dame fire

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader In the Aftermath of the Notre Dame fire: The fire that devastated Notre Dame yesterday is a reminder of how fragile our supposedly “timeless treasures” are.  Beautiful structures can last a thousand years, then […]

    Italy Tour – Venice

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader We have shaped the tour thus far around a key premise:  “Rome, Assisi, and Florence may be Italian cities but they are really world cities.  They are part of all of our heritage.” But […]

    Italy Tour – Florence: Michelangelo, and the Italian Masters

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader We were out the door early this morning as we visited the Academia Gallery.  There we saw Michelangelo’s “David” as we told the story of this remarkable monument.  But we also saw the 4 […]

    Italy Tour – Leaving Assisi. Sitting at the Train Station. Waiting for the Train to Florence.

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader So we’re waiting at the Assisi train station, which really isn’t in Assisi.  We’re waiting for the train that will take us to Florence for the next stop on our most excellent journey.  People […]

    Italy Tour – The Splendour of Assisi

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader I missed a day of blogging and feel as if I am a month behind… so much happens on a trip like this. But yesterday we said good-bye to Rome, a city packed more […]

    Italy Tour – Catholic Rome

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader Today was set aside for “Catholic” Rome.  This meant an early morning start as we made our way (by city bus, then a walk) to St. Peter’s Basilica.   We got there early enough to […]

    Italy Tour – Rome: Ancient Rome, baroque Rome

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader This has been the kind of day (as often happens on TourMagination tours actually) when I’m going to find it hard to write a blog.  It won’t be easy because the day has been […]

    Italy Tour – Rome, the Eternal City

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader So we have arrived and our group is now fully engaged.  We gathered in Rome early today from the east coast of Canada to the west of both Canada and the US, and some […]

    Italy Tour – From Anticipation to Reality

    By Len Friesen, tour leader So this is the first blog entry for TourMagination’s “Bella Terra” Italy trip for 2019.  That’s perhaps odd as the trip hasn’t started yet(!).   In fact, we only head for the airport later this […]

    Treasures of Russia tour, end of the last day in Russia

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader I was in the Kremlin with our group today on the Russia extension.  While there I kept seeing rather large groups of tourists come and go, often in numbers of 50 and more. I […]

    Treasures of Russia tour, second update

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader Our last full day.  I’ve been reading a verse or four from the Bible for each of our days in Ukraine and Russia.  Each portion has been chosen to speak to that particular day, […]

    Ukraine, Day 4 – From Kiev to Zaporozhye

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader Here is when the full weight of this trip hit home for us as a group.  We had left Kiev very early this morning via train for Dnipro, arriving at about noon today.  After a […]

    Ukraine, Day 2 – Kiev

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader What a day!  We started it with a tour of the very heart of Kiev (actually we started it with breakfast, and that’s not to be silly; it is more to comment on how […]

    Ukraine Tour, Day 1 – Kiev

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader So our trip is up and running, even if one final couple is still scheduled to join us later today in Kiev. Here’s what is already clear from this group of TourMaginationites: We’ve gathered […]

    South Africa Tour – Final Day in Cape Town

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader This is the day of departures.  In fact, it has already happened as Lois and Nancy departed for the airport and a Durban add-on about 2 hours ago.  There is a certain melancholy in […]

    South Africa Tour – Winery tours

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader Today was a rather different day as we left the Cape for the winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  Located about an hour north of Cape Town itself, the region is noted for its world-famous […]

    South Africa Tour – A visit to the capes

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader It’s not often that you get to stand at the bottom of a continent, but that was the case today for our tour group.  Today was our day to drive down to the two […]

    South Africa Tour – Robben Island and Cape Town Waterfront

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader Today we visited Robben Island, 5 miles off Cape Town in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  The place  and setting is full of contrasts.  On the one hand, it is in a […]

    South Africa Tour – Safari and Cape Town

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader 7 August 2018 This is our second day at Chisomo River Lodge, a 19,000 hectare peace of beauty on the outskirts of Kruger National Park.  We arrived yesterday, but I didn’t send an installment […]

    South Africa 2018: The First Installment

    By Len Friesen, Tour Leader It’s amazing how much TourMagination tours always feel like family reunions when they gather.  That’s how it felt today as we gathered in Johannesburg after a couple of sleepless nights en route.  But spirits were […]

    Russia Tour 2017: Touring Moscow

    Friday, October 13, 2017 Today was a rather conventional day in Moscow, but that only tells half the story. The conventional part was the first half of the day when we went to the Moscow Kremlin and toured the […]

    Farewell from Russia

    by Len Friesen, tour leader   I have just returned from a long walk through the heart of St. Petersburg, a city that has played such a powerful role in my life over many years.  My TourMagination group has […]

    Cathedral of the Spilled Blood to Peter & Paul

    by Len Friesen, tour leader   It is our second morning in St. Petersburg, and it is striking how quickly members of our group have gotten a feel for this majestic city of canals, rivers, and palaces. Typical of […]

    Moscow and St Petersburg

    By Len Friesen, tour leader   We had a bit of a bus city tour on Friday morning:  from the Kremlin to the Bolshoi Theatre to St. Basil’s.  We then toured the Kremlin itself, that great fortress at the […]

    Three terrific snapshots, three countries

    by Len Friesen, tour leader   It’s been a magical if slightly sleep-deprived 36 hours or so.  I’ll summarize in three snapshots: 1.  The first snapshot:  Our final banquet in Zaporozhe seems to have barely happened, but it was […]

    A flying start to the Russia & Ukraine tour

    by Len Friesen, tour leader   Prelude: Our Ukraine/Russia tour for 2017 is off to a flying start.  We came to Zaporozhzhe by many paths, such that yesterday was our first real meeting time:  but one and all should […]

    Last Words

    The TM Russia/Ukraine trip is at an end, and our lovely group has begun to scatter across European airports.  Before we parted I asked participants to briefly type out personal highlights.  They summarize what was a remarkably rich time […]

    Not Quite the Last Blog, but Almost

    Well, it is so strange how trips draw to a close.  In this case we’ve enjoyed a Sunday of a relatively relaxed pace, one that has seen us spread out all over the city and region.  Some went to […]

    Homecoming (II)

    It’s difficult to summarize this day, just as with all the others.  What might I highlight?  It could be the emotional joy it gives all of us see one in our group find the home of their parents or […]

    Homecoming (I)

    As spectacular as Moscow and St. Petersburg are there is something very special about the Zaporozhye area.  This morning after a brief night and following a true travel day we were ready to explore Chortitza.  Spirits were high as […]

    Have Plane, Will Travel

    Well, this was a day for plane travel as the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has made it almost impossible to travel between the two countries.  So we made our way very early this morning from Moscow to Munich to […]

    Up Late, Up Early, but Still.

    I think that there’s something about TourMagination that is very special, and it’s the way that it creates moving communities.  It’s happened before (and I’m delighted to see that Donna is one of many past fellow-travelers who is following […]

    Two Moscows: Mother Russia and Red Russia

    Red Square.  The Kremlin.  St. Basil’s Cathedral.  Ivan the Terrible.  Lenin.  Stalin.  It’s hard to grasp how many places and names are directly associated with this great city.  We’ve returned from a busy day in which we say both […]

    Goodbye. Hello.

    We awoke this morning in St. Petersburg for our final morning there. So many of the participants commented on how they had come to feel quite safe to go out on their own in St. Petersburg; so many had […]

    Last days in St Petersburg

    Saturday: A Day of Sharp Contrasts We started the day by taking the Hydrofoil from the Winter Square Palace Embankment out to Peterhof on the Gulf of Finland. This great summer palace of the Tsars was created on the […]

    A City of Imperial Proportion

    Another fine day is in the books.  It started with a mini-tour of St. Petersburg, an imperial city that defies any quick tour.  Our hotel is ideally situated to see this potpourri  of castles, canals and rivers.  The famed Winter […]

    Many Roads, One Meeting Place

    The Russia Ukraine tour is underway!  We met up over the past two days at various places:  Toronto, Vienna, the St. Petersburg airport and even one person (Caroline) who was waiting for us at our hotel in this great city […]