Peter Greenberg is one of the most popular travel writers in America. He’s the travel expert for “CBS This Morning” and he does the “Eye on Travel” series for CBS Radio. He also produces and hosts a television series, “The Royal Tour,” for public broadcasting. The series features world leaders giving Greenberg a personal tour of their country.
In 2014, Greenberg spent eight days with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a tour of Israel, an unprecedented concession by the busy leader to a single TV production. Earlier this year, Greenberg was a featured speaker at the Travel and Adventure Show at the Galleria Convention Center. The AJT spoke to him about the busy travel season ahead and some of his favored destinations.
AJT: First, we wanted to know how a travel writer who is always on the go spent his time when the pandemic made travel difficult or impossible?
PG: If there’s one thing the pandemic forced us to do, and I think it was a great thing, it forced us to rediscover our own country. It forced us to rediscover our own communities. I’ve lived in the same building in New York since I was six months old. And I thought I knew my neighborhood. Was I wrong? Because during the pandemic, my wife and I would walk. And because we had the time to do it and we…are not willing to even take a taxi. I learned so much about my own city just by walking and looking. I think there are so many communities and cities in America that are considered flyover cities that can be done that way because they have so much to offer.
AJT: Now that airports are crowded again, what are some of your favorite foreign destinations?
PG: My basic way of operating is to follow the power of the U.S. dollar. You know, the U.S. dollar is at its strongest point against many foreign currencies in over 20 years, against the South African rand, against the euro, against the British pound, against the Turkish lira, against the Argentinean peso. I mean, what we’re talking about is the effective 30 to 40 percent discount on your real cost of travel just because you’re paying in dollars. We haven’t had that kind of wonderful experience in a long time.
AJT: Prices are high in Israel, though. Are they lower elsewhere in the Mediterranean?
PG: I was recently in Turkey. To give you an idea of the power of the dollar, every time I travel somewhere, I always stop en route to my hotel at a supermarket, and I load up because I will be damned if I use the minibar. In Turkey, I went to the supermarket and my wife and I loaded up, literally, two shopping carts and my total bill was $15. A cab ride from downtown Istanbul to the airport, which is longer than New York to JFK, is $5. They devalued their currency, which means it’s terrible for them. But from a traveler perspective, it’s a great buyer’s market, not just in Turkey, but in all those countries I mentioned. And a great time to go.
AJT: Where else in the Mediterranean?
PG: Morocco is amazing, Casablanca’s a little overrated, but Fez and, of course, Marrakesh, are amazing. And if you really want to have fun, go to Tangier, and take the shortest flight in the world to Gibraltar. It’s seven and a half minutes. And Gibraltar is amazing. You know, you can use Morocco as a destination. You can also use it as a hub.
AJT: What about Spain? There’s so much history there.
PG: There are the usual suspects of Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. I like northwestern Spain. Nobody ever goes there to the Galicia area. Beautiful. Of course, in the northeastern part of Spain, there’s Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum. Phenomenal. And the best time to go is September when many tourists have left and it’s the best weather.
AJT: You were a long-time bachelor who married late in life. That was four years ago, just about nine months before the pandemic. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
PG: Well, I travel 450,000 miles a year. So, when it came time to honeymoon, we stayed home, and we had the best honeymoon. We didn’t have to schlep through an airport, and it was delightful. I have a summerhouse on Fire Island of New York. Thank G-d for my parents who built it. And that’s where we went. And it was the most delightful, peaceful, romantic honeymoon you could ever imagine, because…for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to get on a plane.