Dr. Hoffer's Travel WebSite      This site was last updated 12/26/18

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Our trips through Countries and Regions of EUROPE

3 Month Trips, one country at a time

Scroll Down to Maps & Click on the Map of the Country to Read the  Diarios


Gabriel Garcia Marquez in "Living to Tell the Tale"

Click on the links below for each trip description with photos

Working on All the Trips one page at a time, after each trip has 10 pages.





GREECE Trip 2017

 2 Pages Done


10 Pages Done


10 Pages Done

EAST EU 2011

11 Pages Done

PARIS 2010

11 Pages Done

 WEST EU 2009

11 Pages Done


11 Pages Done





20 Years

30 Countries

3 Years Driving



 38 Pages Done


 44 Pages Done

 IBERIA 2001

57 Pages Done

Need to Fix Photos

ITALY  2000

 2 Pages Done


44 Pages Done

5 Redone

 ITALY  1997

  2 Pages Done




Marcia EGYPT 2008

 Nothing Done

Ken HOLLAND 1974

 Nothing Done


Hungary Yugoslavia

1 Page Done

Below are the Flags of the Countries & Cities We Have Visited so far.  How Many Can You Recognize?

This is a one mile run in Carmel with my 12 year old granddaughter, Kaylin in 2012. Carmel Run

She is now almost 19 and in college.

Below is my 1st YouTube Posting of my tribute to Kitty, ours sons' Godmother. She is the baby in the famous John Wayne 1939 movie "Stagecoach".


  As of 2017 we have thoroughly toured all the areas colored in tan or in blue. 



The trip Diarios are written by Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

("diary" in Italian is "Diario")

            These are my writings and photos during three-month trips taken by my wife, Marcia, and I every other year starting in 1997.  In 2017, after 16 years of doing this, we have spent 3.1 years driving through Europe and have visited 30 countries.  We have now visited most everything west of Belarus except Romania and Malta.  Our interest in further east is not high.

        My original goal was to spend three months every summer primarily in one country or region on each trip to learn as much as we could about the people, culture, history, language, food, art and heritage of that country's people.  I think we succeeded.

        On our first trip in 1997, instead of sending postcards, I decided it would be quicker to write a little diary description of where we had been and what we had seen and experienced and send it by email to oour kids and friends.  Being in Italy, I called them "Diarios."  Since I was also reading about the history and culture of the people, I flavored it with some of that.  Then I started adding a few pictures.

        I originally started writing them for our kids (Kristin, Jeffrey, and Kevin, below left) but it turned out they seldom read them.  I later discovered they were thoroughly read by Marcia's mother (Eleanor Wasgatt) in Rockland, Maine (who had never been to Europe) and my Aunt Elsie Holmes in Westminster in Orange County, CA.  They both told me how much they enjoyed reading them.

Unfortunately, we lost both of them in 2004.

   Eleanor Wasgatt                      Elsie Holmes       

 Aspen, CO 1983

KEVIN '72 (left)

JEFFREY '75 (middle)

KRISTIN '78 (right)




Vince Daukis


        Soon relatives, friends and colleagues asked me to include them in the email list which kept growing.  A problem arose in 2001 when AOL began considering me a spammer because of the number and frequency of the emails I was sending.  AOL shut me down 3 separate times requiring calls to the US to turn it back on.  The 4th time, they closed my AOL account.  Over the years of having a cappuccino at Diedrich's Coffee I became friends with a fellow customer, Vince Daukis (right), a computer expert with IBM.  He said he enjoyed the Diarios very much and exasperated after the 2001 trip, Vince  was kind enough to agree to disperse the emails through his IBM account allowing me to only have to send the one email and package of photos to him through AOL.

        After doing this for the whole 2003 Scandinavia trip and the France 2005 trip, Vince persuaded me and helped me set up this website and taught me how to edit and work on it using FrontPage 2003 (now abandoned by Microsoft).  He did a fairly good job, I think.  Now this website has become my hobby and even with its problems I am still using it.




        Our 1997 trip wasn't really our first to Europe; but our third.  After we were married in Rockland, Maine on May 30, 1970, our honeymoon was a flight to Frankfurt, Germany and then to Ljubljana (Slovenia) and ending in Belgrade (Serbia,) Yugoslavia.  At that time Yugoslavia was a combined Communist country ruled by Broz Tito.  We rented a Japanese car and drove to Budapest, Hungary [my paternal grandmother was born there] and while toasting with glasses of Tokay wine on the banks of the Danube, we promised each other that if our marriage lasted 25 years we would return here for our wedding anniversary.  Over the ensuing two week trip, we drove to Lake Balaton (Hungary), Zagreb, Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik (Croatia), to Sarajevo and Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and back to Belgrade.  Both countries were communist but Hungary was much more severe, since Tito made Yugoslavia less restrictive.  Hungary was ruled by dictator Janos Kadar.  Needless to say we didn't get back for our 25th anniversary but in the middle of our 1997 Italy trip we drove to Budapest and did celebrate our 27th anniversary there.  When we checked into our hotel on May 30th, they did not have anything but twin beds.  When I told them our story, the Marriot staff put us into the Presidential Suite (for one night only) and sent us up a bottle of champagne.  It was quite an experience.  Now that we are in our 48th year, we need to plan to return for our 50th anniversary.

TRIP #2 Ken to Holland

        In November of 1974, I had been asked to give my first public lecture on IOL power calculation.  To gain credibility regarding my subject, I felt I needed to visit the ophthalmologists in Europe who originated these techniques.  None one in the U.S was doing it.  Marcia was 8 months pregnant with our 2nd son, Jeffrey and she was not allowed to fly, so an optician named Walter Fadden wanted to accompany me since he had never been outside the US.  We flew from LAX to Amsterdam, Holland and spent 2 days there.  We rented a car and drove to Groningen to visit Dr. Jan Worst and then to Terneuzen to visit Dr. Cornelius Binkhorst.  We later took a side trip to Meunster, Germany to see Prof. Dr. Hermann Gernet.  We then decided to drive to the Brussels airport and fly to Zurich, Switzerland and then on to Rome with a stopover in Milano.  The flight over the Alps was grueling and on arrival I had a horrible earache and was treated by a hotel doctor.  We toured some of the sites and visited the Vatican.  Our greatest experience was the fettuccini Alfredo at Alfredo's Originale.  We flew back to Brussels and drove back to Amsterdam for our return flight home.  When I returned, I decided to give up flying for a while and soon discovered my love of taking Amtrak trains for all my long distance trips in the US.  Not flying gave me a good excuse not to have to accede to every request made to me to lecture around the country and around the world.  I was home watching my kids grow up for the next 23 years.   I have never regretted that decision.  Thirty-five years later, in 2009, we visited Dr. Jan Worst and his lovely wife Anika and stayed at their summer home in Norg, Holland for 3 days.  We had a wonderful time,

TRIP #3 Marcia to England

        In the summer of 1995, Kristin (our youngest) wanted to do a month at Oxford University in England between her junior and senior year in high school.  When she was finished, Marcia wanted to go and pick her up and bring her home.  After she was finished with Oxford, they traveled to Scotland and visited Edinborough and the Isle of Skye and then returned to England and visited Bath and London before returning home.  Two years later we go on our Italy trip and then Marcia's choice for our next trip was to the British Isles.

TRIP #4 Marcia to Egypt

        Marcia and our daughter Kristin went to Egypt in November 2008.



                 Dimitrii & Tania in San Francisco 1997

            Throughout these Diarios, you will hear mention of my Russian eye surgeon friend living in Italy, Dimitrii Dementiev MD (Dima) and his darling wife, Tatiana.  They did so much to make our trip in Italy special and have been extremely wonderful on all our subsequent trips.  You can read how we first met in the Italy 1997 Diario #1.  In 1999, I became their daughter Anastasia's godfather (Padrino.)  Below right is a photo at the Baptismo; Anastasia Dementieva is the little one in front of me.  We have stayed at their house in Arese and/or Zoagli on every one of our EU trips.  Dimitrii met us in Moscow in 2003 to show us his native city for three days.  They attended Kevin and Gisele's wedding in Rome during our Germany trip in 2007.  In 2010-11 Anastasia lived with us for one year while attending St. Monica's High School here in Santa Monica.  Tania stayed here with her while we were in the EU for five weeks in 2010.  Below are photos of Anastasia with our grandchildren Kaylin ('00), Erik ('09) and Anabella ('03) (left), one with little Erik (center) and another with Kevin's wife, Gisele and little Wesley ('09) (right).  She became part of our family and we all miss her since she has gone back to Italy.  After her experience here in the US, she decided to attend the American High School in Milano when she got back home.  She was on the Honor List there and later graduated from Northeastern University (international studies) in Boston.  We got to see her there in April 2014 (below far right).


            We had a chance to visit with her in Boston in 2015 (below).  She is now working for TV station in London.  We are very proud of her.


            In April 2016, her parents brought her with them to the ASCRS Meeting in LA and she was able to meet with our grandchildren [Kaylin ('00) seated with dog Barkley ('16), Anabella ('03) standing and Erik ('09)] at our home.  We met them again in Monterey where we were introduced to her new fiancÚe, Isaia Kriger (below right, on the left), who is an architecture graduate she met at Northeastern University in Boston.


            They were married in Lerici, Italy (map above) on September 29, 2018 and we were very sad we couldn't attend.  It is near Cinque Terre in Liguria and known as  the place where the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned.


            From three years old when we met her, she has grown into a beautiful bride (below left) and even more beautiful person.  Dima looks very proud escorting her (center left), beaming during the ceremony (center right) and the whole family including his oldest daughter, Daria, and her two little daughters (left of Dima).  [Photos from Dima]

Brian & Krisha with us in Stockholm 2003 

             We first met Brian Thornhill in England at the beginning of our 1999 UK trip, along with his friend Krisha Ford.  He graciously invited us to stay for a week at his home in Thurgaton near Nottingham.  In 2001, while traveling in Iberia we stayed at his other home in Orba, Spain where he shuttled us to and from the ferry for our excursion to the Balearic islands of Ibiza  and Majorca.  In 2003, they flew to meet us in Stockholm (photo right) for several days (they had never been there).  In 2005 on our trip to France, Brian met us in St-Malo for three great days in Normandy with his new friend Alexandra White (below, with Marcia and Brian in Santa Monica).

            Brian and Alex visited us in Santa Monica in 2004 and we took them both to Carmel and to see the Sequoia trees.  They attended Kevin and Gisele's wedding in Rome during our Germany trip in 2007.  They also came to visit us in Barcelona when we were there in 2009 and we spent three days with them in Brno, Czech Republic in 2011.  We spent the whole time seeing Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia with them in 2013.  We always have fun with them.  In December 2014, they came to Santa Monica, 10 years later, and were married here at our house.  In both 2015 , we spent three days at their home in Orba, Spain.  In 2017, we spent two great days with them in Sophia, Bulgaria.

                        Marcia & Irene in Cordoba, 2001

     We met Irene Calatayud the night before her birthday in Barcelona Spain on August 8, 2001.  After midnight it became her birthday and we celebrated.  She, along with her friend Manuel Cortinas, guided most of our trip through Spain, suggesting the best places to visit and booking some of our hotels.  Our trip would not have been the same without them.  During our trip, she flew to meet us in Bilbao and again, a month later in Cordoba (we were there three days after 9/11).  In 2003, she flew to Moscow to be there with us for three days (she had never been there) and she also flew to Copenhagen for a few days with us there.  In 2005, during our trip to France, we drove from San Sebastian, Spain to her home in Manzanares (west of Madrid) and had a wonderful visit with her for three days.  She has visited us in Santa Monica and Carmel.  She was also at Kevin's wedding in 2007 with her new friend, Carlos Palomino, MD, an eye surgeon from Madrid.  We visited with her again when we were in Barcelona in 2009 and we spent time together in 2011 in Vienna.  We were witnesses at their wedding in NYC at the Spanish Consulate in Manhattan on August 9, 2012 (her birthday.)   We stayed at her house in Madrid in 2015.  She is an elegant, gracious lady and we our proud to be her friend.  We owe her so much.

                                                               Irene with us at Ground Zero in Manhattan             Manuel & Marcia in Barcelona 2001

        Dimitrii, Tania, Brian, Alex, and Irene have all visited us here in Santa Monica over the years.  This allowed them the opportunity to meet and get to know the rest of our family, especially our grandchildren.

            I first met Bo ("Boo") Phillipson MD many years ago through the International Intraocular Implant Club (IIIC).  He is a famous professor and practicing ophthalmologist in Stockholm and has been very involved with European eye societies.  We had the pleasure of visiting with him and his lovely wife, Agneta (also a physician) at the beginning of our travels through Sweden in July 2003.  They were so helpful in completely revamping our planned schedule for touring their country.  They also invited us to join them for a traditional Swedish family crayfish dinner at their country house in Rork in central Sweden.  We will be forever grateful to them for our outstanding Swedish experience, which is reflected in the Diarios of Sweden.

            In the very beginning of our trip through France on, July 6, 2005, while having dinner in an Italian restaurant in the city of FrÚjus in Provence, we met Serge Guerchon sitting at the table next to us (below).  He is from Nice and runs an import/export business [A.C.R. Trading].  When we told him we were just at the beginning of our trip to explore all of France, he set about drawing a map of the country on a napkin and named all the places we just had to see.  We followed most all his recommendations thoroughly and it made all the difference in the quality of our adventure.  Many of these places we had never heard of.  We are very grateful to him for having done this.

            We also got a chance to see him again in 2009 when we arrived in Nice before getting on our cruise ship at the end of our West EU trip.  Not only did he pack and ship all the extra stuff we didn't want to take on the plane home, but he helped us drop off the BMW at the Harms shipping location in Nice and recommended an honest limo driver to take us to the cruise boarding dock in Monte Carlo.  We paid half what my friend Larry paid for the same cab ride.  We did have a chance to take Serge to dinner in the Nice's old town and meet his lovely daughters.  He is really a great friend.

            A very interesting side story is that when we met in 2005, I had never envisioned that my Diarios would become a website.  I started the website after returning in September 2005 and did not have Serge's email address so I had no way of letting him know about it.  Six months later while doing the Diario page on Besancon, I made mention that we would never have come here if it wasn't for Serge.  Since I had his phone number, I decided to call him and thank him for all his advice.  When I mentioned the website, he said he knew all about it.  I was astounded.  How could he have known?  He said he was told about it by a friend of his in China who had seen his picture on my Diario page about Frejus.  Unbelievable!  Above are photos of Serge and his daughter Stephanie.  Above left is (L-R) Sabine, Marcia, the owner of La Pierre Bise restaurant in Nice, Sara and Serge.

            In 2007, as I was thinking about our upcoming trip through Germany, I contacted a colleague from Munich that I have known for many years, Thomas Neuhann MD (right).  He is a highly respected eye surgeon in Germany, in Europe and internationally.  I asked him if he would consider laying out a plan of "must see" places for us to see in Germany.  At the next ASCRS meeting in San Diego he handed me a bunch of papers and maps of different parts of Germany and there it all was: a thorough plan to see the important things in this large country.  We weren't able to cover all his recommendations but we did about 90% of them.  Most of these places we had never heard of and might not have stumbled on.  Then in 2010, he gave me all the places I must see in completing a tour of his city of Munich.  We had a fun dinner with him the night before we flew home in 2017.  We are deeply indebted to him for all the time he took from his busy practice to do this for us.

            On our honeymoon trip to Yugoslavia and Hungary in 1970, we had the greatest time in the capital city of Budapest because of Gedeon Borsa and his wife Mary (photo left, 1970), who showed us all over this beautiful city.  He was the Director of the National Art Museum in this deeply communist country.  We met him because of an emergency room visit.  During my residency in Detroit, I moonlighted at night at a suburban hospital covering the emergency room, night call and wound up delivering a number of babies.  One night in the ER, I was treating this very lovely Hungarian-American lady (Ethel Palfi) and mentioned I was going to Hungary for my honeymoon.  She was very excited about it and insisted that I contact her close friend Gedeon when I arrived.  Just lucky I guess for how it turned out; a personal guide through a Communist city.

            When we returned to Budapest in 1997, we got a chance to meet up with them again, but we all were a lot older.  Thank you Mary and Gedeon for the special memories.  He was too ill to allow a visit during our time in Budapest in 2011.

            I have known John Shammas MD since the early 1970's.  We worked together in the field of IOL power calculation and put courses on for our colleagues.  When we participated in the formation of the IOL Power Club in San Sebastian, Spain in 2005 (see below,) John asked why we shouldn't meet a few days in advance in some interesting place.  I chose Biarritz at the end of our 2005 France trip and we had a great time together with his wife Najwa who is a pediatrician (and takes care of our grandchildren Wesley ('09) and Madeleine ('14)).  We visited the the handprints in the prehistoric caves south of Toulouse (left.)  In 2007 at the end of our Germany trip we repeated this on the island of Sylt (right, below) and in 2009 at the end of our West EU trip we did it again in Annecy and FrÚjus, France.  In 2010 they met us in Munich and joined us for the Oberammergau Passion Play before our IPC meeting in Venice.  In 2011, they met us for 3 great days in Prague, Czech Republic and went with us to the cities of Plzen, Karlovy Vary, Karlstein Castle and the Budweiser brewery in Ceske Budejovic.  It isn't often you find friends that are fun to travel with; we have had great times together.

            Marcia and I have to thank our friend Gianni Paoletti (on the right, below) for his great advice to us in early 1997.  He is the owner and renowned chef of Peppone's Ristorante in Brentwood (near Santa Monica) [11628 Barrington Court, +1-310-476-7379.]  We have been dining there since he first opened in the 1970s.  When we told him we were about to take our first three month trip and we were going to Italy, he told us to buy a BMW,* pick it up in Munich and then drive it everywhere we wanted to go on our schedule thus eliminating buses and trains.  We weren't sure whether to do it or not but finally decided to.  As it turned out, it made all the difference in the quality of the trip for us.  We could either use the car after it was shipped back or sell it.

            He also met us in Alba, Italy (the Asti wine region) and on 7/19/97, took us to meet famous vintners such as Pio Boffo of the famous Pio Cesare winery and also took us to a wonderful lunch at Belvedere [Piazza Castello 5, +39-01-735-0190] in La Morra. (below.)  He started the Paoletti Winery in Napa Valley (right), run by his lovely wife Lilia (above left), which produces fabulous wines at reasonable prices.  We have appreciated his friendship and his advise has always been spot on.

            Above is the view of the Barolo wine region from the restaurant near Asti and below; the exterior and interior.


            More recently we have to thank another famous restaurateur, Wolfgang Puck (on the left, way above).  We have been eating at his wonderful place in Santa Monica called Chinois [2709 Main St.,  +1-310-392-9025] (estb. 1983), his 2nd restaurant and in our opinion his best, for over 30 years.  One night before our 2011 East EU trip he told us we had to visit his birthplace city of Klagenfurt, Austria and also visit the best Austrian wine regions.  Later he set us up with Claudia Blau in Vienna who made many recommendations for us that made this experience just wonderful.  So from 1997 to 2011, great advice from two smart master chefs.

*BMW European Delivery Program: You buy the car from a BMW dealer in the US and pay for it in advance.  You give them the exact dates of pick-up and drop-off.  You pick up the car in Munich which is provided with 3 months of German insurance, registration and license plates.  When finished traveling in the EU, you drop it off at a Harms Shipping agent in any major city in the EU.  Shipping is included.  Your car arrives at your home dealership six weeks after drop-off.

            Finally, the five friends I have made in the field of IOL power calculation over these many years formed a group called the IOL Power Club.  Our first meeting was in September 2005 in San Sebastian, Spain.  Back row (L-R): Sverker Norrby PhD of Sweden and Holland, John Shammas MD of Los Angeles, CA and Wolfgang Haigis PhD of WŘrzburg, Germany.  Front row (L-R): Jaime Aramberri MD of San Sebastian, Spain, me, and Thomas Olsen MD of Aarhus, Denmark.  Each year we have met for scientific discussion and social events.  Our 2nd meeting was in Carmel, CA and the 3rd was in Aarhus.  In 2008, our 4th meeting was in St. Pete Beach, FL then our 5th was in Roses, Spain.  In 2010 our 6th meeting was in Venice, Italy and our 7th meeting in 2011 was in WŘrzburg, Germany.  Our 8th meeting was in Memphis and Nashville, TN and our 9th was in Haarlem, Holland.

            After that meeting, Dr. Norrby retired from everything including the Club and  Giacomo Savini MD of Bologna, Italy was elected to replace him.  Giacomo and I first met in 2007 and over the ensuing decade we have published together over fifty peer-reviewed ophthalmology journal publications.  In 2017, we had a wonderful three day visit with he and his wife Giovanna in Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomite mountains in northeast Italy, which we had never gotten a chance to visit before.

            Our 10th IPC meeting was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and to celebrate our 10th birthday, we returned to San Sebastian, Spain for our 11th meeting.  We held our 12th meeting in New Orleans, LA and our 13th meeting was in Athens, Greece.  Our 14th was returning to St. Pete Beach after 10 years.  These EU trips usually culminate at a meeting of the IPC.  We will not travel to the EU for at least until 2021 so our 15th will be in Napa Valley in 2019 and our 16th will be in Rockland, ME in 2020.

            Marcia and I always greatly enjoy our time with them and their wives.


 The three people I most wanted to meet


           President Ronald Reagan in Los Angeles in 1994                                                     Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1997


Radio Host Rush Limbaugh in in 2003

            I have been listening to him since Marcia's mother turned me on to his radio program in Maine in 1985.  I finally met and shook hands with Rush while he was playing golf on the 8th hole at the Pebble Beach Country Club during the AT&T Pro-AM Golf Tournament in February of 2003.  He was nice enough to sign (right) my entry badge (left.)  I'm sorry no one photographed us.



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We Have Now Toured All the Major Countries in Western Europe

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´┐Ż Copyright 2012     Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD