Category: Travel

Exploring Cuenca’s Cliff-Facing Old Town in Spain

Manuel Marquez MDCertified with the International Tour Management Institute, Manuel Marquez, MD is a well-known tour director who works with Insight Vacations by Destination America. One of the destinations Manuel Marquez, MD has led private tours to is Spain, including specifically in Barcelona, Madrid, and Cuenca.

Situated in Castilla-La Mancha, within day-trip distance from Madrid, Cuenca encompasses an ancient walled city on a ridge and a lower new city. At the heart of the old city is a 12th century cathedral that was built on the site of a mosque and represents one of the earliest examples of Gothic architecture in Spain. Numerous additions over the centuries mean that the church now offers an enervating melange of contrasting styles, from Baroque to neo-Gothic.

Another highlight is the stone-hewn Casas Colgadas or “hanging houses” which date back to the 14th century. Precipitously lining the cliffs of the old town, the houses feature distinctive wooden balconies. One highlight for visitors is a casa that has been transformed into an abstract art gallery that perfectly complements the airy setting.

Located across the St Pablo Bridge from the Casas Colgadas, the 16th-century monastery Parador de Cuenca is another “must-see” that has been transformed into gallery space focused on local artist Gustavo Torner and a high-end hotel.

Cultural Groups in Croatia


The Preservation of Panamanian Indigenous Tribes


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Panamanian Indigenous Tribes

Manuel Marquez, MD, shares his love of travel and history as a tour director and travel guide. Prior to entering his current profession, the Harvard graduate spent more than 25 years as a primary care physician, medical director, and executive officer with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Buenaventura Medical Group. Throughout his career, Dr. Manuel Marquez has supported numerous organizations, including Native Future, a group dedicated to the support of indigenous tribes in Panama.

Established in 2004, Native Future works alongside three indigenous groups – the Wounaan, the Ngabe, and the Bugle – with the goal of improving education and protecting land rights. In addition to preserving the cultures of these native peoples, the organization strives to ensure that the precious ecosystems on which they reside are not lost to exploitative industrialization.

The land rights initiatives established by Native Future have enabled the high school graduation of a Wounaan man, whose testimony aided in the approval of Panama Law 72 to protect native land. The organization has also helped the Wounaan people map their lands and document their protection efforts against clearcutting and other damaging practices.

Thanks in part to the assistance of Native Future, three Wounaan communities have received government-approved titles; six more are awaiting recognition.

Packing for International Travel

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International Travel

A certified tour director, Manuel Marquez, MD, has guided travelers through numerous countries across South America, North America, and Europe. Manuel Marquez, MD, has also embarked on many international trips of his own and has accumulated a knowledge base not only of the destinations themselves but also of the necessary logistics a traveler should consider to make the most of their trip.

When visiting international destinations, there are a multitude of variables to consider. Packing can be especially challenging for someone who is not familiar with the climate or temperature of a new destination, so research is helpful. Travelers should also be aware of whether they should bring a power adapter, familiar toiletries, or other necessities that may be difficult to find in a particular location.

Most travelers also prefer not to be taken by surprise when it comes to clothing. It’s not necessary to bring an entire wardrobe; in fact, many find it helpful to choose numerous outfits for a trip and then bring half of what they have laid out. Items that should make the cut are those that the traveler can wear multiple times and layer to create different outfits.

The traveler should also take care to include clothing for different settings. Experienced travelers know to bring one nice outfit and at least one pair of sturdy shoes for every trip, regardless of itinerary.

Bulky items are best worn on the plane, and absolute necessities belong in a carry-on. This is true for medication, a change of clothes, and anything else one could not live without if luggage does not arrive at the same time as the plane. This may not happen, but it is always good to be prepared.

Benefits of Group Travel

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Group Travel

As a tour director with Insight Vacations, Manuel Marquez, MD, leads group motor coach tours across the United States, providing on-board commentary throughout the itinerary. During the journey, Manuel Marquez, MD, strives to help each traveler bond with others and make the most of the group experience.

Although many travelers are devotees of independent exploration, a group tour can offer many benefits not available to those who venture out unaccompanied. One of the major benefits is the convenience and comfort of allowing an experienced professional to make decisions about destinations and time frames. This is particularly beneficial when the tour guide is a local expert or has experienced the destination in depth, as such a person can provide a unique kind of informed insight.

The tour leader can also help the group to let go of old habits and embrace new experiences. A traveler may come to a destination that he or she would not have chosen individually, but that reveals unique insights about the country or culture that the group is visiting. A tour leader may also be able to connect the group with special visits or programs to which the tour company has access, though such experiences are not available to members of the general public.

Finally, the group tour provides each traveler with readily available companionship and community. Group members can bond over their visit to a grand and picturesque destination, share their reflections about the day, and even help one another to open up and make new connections.

Insight Vacations – Frogmore Plantation


Insight Vacations pic

Insight Vacations

Currently serving as tour director and traveling concierge for Insight Vacations, Manuel Marquez, MD, provides motor coach tours of New England fall foliage, the Mississippi River basin, and Western national parks. Manuel Marquez has also directed tours in Cuba and in New Orleans.

Insight Vacations offers a Southern Grace tour for four days in New Orleans, where spectators visit several local historic sites. One of the stops on the Southern Grace tour in New Orleans is the Frogmore Plantation.

Built in the mid-19th century, Frogmore Plantation is an 1800-acre working cotton plantation that produces 900 bales of cotton per day with its modernized cotton gin manufacturing facility. This tour offers insight into the life of slaves and lessons on the Civil War. Listed as a “must see site” by Rand McNally, Frogmore has also received the Rural Tourism Award and was rated as one of the top three attractions for tourists in the Arkansas/Lousiana/Mississippi tri-state area by Southern Traveler Magazine.

Studies of Hydrothermal Systems Under Yellowstone National Park

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Hydrothermal Systems

Manuel Marquez, MD has had a lengthy career in health care management and currently engages with Travel Corporation-affiliated Insight Vacations as tour director. Among the trips he has led are those taking in the Southwest’s national parks, as well as Yellowstone National Park.

As reported in the New York Times, Yellowstone National Park stands as a hotbed of current research activity, as Danish and American scientists seek to map the system that controls flow of hydrothermal features such as Old Faithful. Research teams have undertaken helicopter flights above Yellowstone, with the aircraft equipped with a large-scale electromagnetic system. Acting in much the same way as an x-ray on the human body, the system pinpoints areas where heated water flows under the land surface.

An area of focus is in understanding major hydrothermal explosions that periodically arise in the park. These involve subterranean pockets of boiling water experiencing an abrupt pressure shift that turns the water into steam and creates activity such as geysers. Researchers expect that this project will further refine their knowledge of how complex volcanic systems operate.