Polynesia, still idyllic By Sunny...

A MEMORABLE PLACE

April 15, 2001

A MEMORABLE PLACE

Polynesia, still idyllic

By Sunny and Walter Rudolph

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

My husband is an 84-year-old retired graphic artist, and he drew this Tahiti scene (right) for our personalized Christmas card. We have prepared our own cards for 48 years using scenes from trips along with religious and family themes.

One of our most memorable vacations was our two-week cruise to French Polynesia. We visited four ports in the Hawaiian Islands, then made our way south to Christmas Island, Bora Bora, Moorea and Papeete, Tahiti.

We enjoyed the native dances and drumming, the islanders' unusual tattooing customs and the tropical scenery, especially the jagged mountains and the incredible beauty of the turquoise water in the lagoons.

We spent four lazy days at sea, sunning on our balcony or taking part in numerous shipboard activities with travelers from all over the world.

Our favorite island was Moorea, which is not as primitive as Bora Bora or as commercial as Tahiti. We would love to return to this island of white-sand beaches. We would stay a week or two in one of the over-the-water bungalows on stilts at a Moorea resort like Bali Hai. Many of the bungalows have glass floors, allowing close observation of the colorful fish that could easily become your swimming partners.

It's a long plane ride, but Moorea may be reached by flying directly to Tahiti from California and then taking a 17-mile ferry or a short plane ride to Moorea.

Our advice is to make your travel plans soon. In a few years, these charming, sparsely developed islands will undoubtedly become crowded and commercialized in the same way as other idyllic islands around the world.

The Rudolphs live in Perry Hall.

MY BEST SHOT

Town on the top

By George Bowers, Pikesville

My friends and I visited Civita di Bagnoregio, a tiny hill town in Italy occupied by fewer than 50 people. It can only be reached by a footbridge, so there are no automobiles. We spent several hours exploring the medieval streets and taking in the wonderful views. This picture was taken from a restaurant across the valley.

READERS RECOMMEND

Arizona

Larry Horwitz, Baltimore

"Sedona, Ariz., was a revelation. I had carried visions of mesas, canyons and endless sky in my mind since childhood -- it was the setting for all the cowboy movies and TV shows of my childhood. My wife, Becky, and I joined an organized horseback excursion to get even more of the Old-West feeling."

Nebraska, Velva Grebe, Lutherville

"The Platte River in central Nebraska is a stopping-off point for 500,000 sandhill cranes to rest and refuel on their migration from Texas and northern Mexico to their breeding grounds on the tundras of Alaska and Siberia. Watching these magnificent birds with wingspans of 6 feet is a truly spectacular sight."

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