Following the monarchs to Mexico

By Phil Marty, Special to Tribune Newspapers

We're all used to seeing the occasional monarch butterfly flitting about in the summer. And maybe you've visited a butterfly garden and seen them in greater numbers. But that can't compare to the experience of visiting Mexico's central highlands, where millions of monarchs migrate each year. There they cover the trees and other foliage in a carpet of orange and black. Natural Habitat Adventures offers six- and seven-day trips from January through early March to enjoy the spectacle. Both trips include outings, generally by horseback, into butterfly sanctuaries in the vicinity of the mountain village of Angangueo, west of Mexico City. The longer trip is aimed at photographers and includes an additional sanctuary visit plus tips from photography experts. In addition to the butterflies, there also is the chance to experience the culture of the mountain villages. The photography-related trip is priced from $3,495 per person double occupancy, and the other trip is from $2,995. Info: 800-543-8917,

How rail outraces jets

The popularity of train travel in the U.S. in contemporary times lags far behind planes or cars, but not so in Europe and much of the rest of the world. The people at Rail Europe, not surprisingly, think trains are far superior to air or highway travel. They have put together an infographic that compares the amount of time eaten up by traveling between popular European destinations when using these three modes. For instance, they say that traveling from city center to city center, the trip from London to Paris takes 2 hours and 15 minutes by rail, plus another 10 to 30 minutes for check-in. Flying, they claim, would take 4 hours and 50 minutes, which includes the estimated transfer and check-in times. Their estimate for a car or motor coach comes in at 5 hours and 10 minutes. Check out their other time estimates and more on rail travel at

European holiday cruises

If cruising Europe during the holiday season has an appeal for you, CroisiEurope has plenty of options, and they're very reasonably priced. They range from three to six days, making for either a nice getaway or an add-on to a longer stay in Europe. There are 11 trips in locations such as Belgium, southern France and northeastern Italy that will have you celebrating Christmas on the Continent. If you prefer to be home at Christmas, you can sample one of the six itineraries that will have you visiting Christmas markets before the holiday. Or ring in the new year with one of 11 itineraries. Find the Christmas markets cruises at, the Christmas itineraries at and New Year's at or call 800-768-7232.

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