Cleopatra bathed in the Antique Pool at Hierapolis--before a great earthquake knocked several pillars into the pool. Fed by natural spring, the warm water is said to have healing qualities. My kids and I enjoyed the bubbles; they stick to skin and give the water a sharp taste. After trekking through many ancient cities, these columns were far more fascinating to me underwater.
We trekked up the travertines of Pamukkale, hiked the ancient sites of Hierapolis (which include a large amphitheater and a Martyrium where St. Phillip is said to have been martyred and later buried--and an interesting octagonal structure was built). We ended the day swimming in the Antique Pool--a relaxing way to end the sun-infused, hike-filled day. The crowds in the pool were thinner by that hour, too. We hiked down the hill, again past the beautiful white travertines, as yummy yellow light disappeared behind...
San Francisco, Mexico (called San Pancho by the locals) is a great place to spend a week. It's a tiny town on the beach near Puerta Vallarta and it's not tourist-y at all so you can really experience Mexican culture. Great Place to take the family!
People flock to Macau to gamble. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's a shame when time at the roulette wheel takes away from exploring what is otherwise a brilliant little colonial-era treasure. Macau's old cobbled streets are brimming with charm and throwback delights, and the restaurants outside of the casinos are a revelation - Hong Kong gets all the press, while Macau may indeed be China's coastal food marvel. Take a stroll through any of these old twisting alleyways and see what I mean.
For some, Angkor Wat epitomizes the Cambodian travel experience. The ancient ruins at Angkor stand as one of mankind's greatest engineering achievements, best experienced as day breaks - so long as you beat the tourist hordes to a good spot across the lake.
Many have traveled to Lake Niassa in between Malawi and Mozambique. beautiful fresh water lake with largest amount of indigenous fish of any lake in the world. the lodge was started by a cool guy from South Africa and has created an amazing, rustic group of chalets on the shores of lake niassa. much of the power is by solar and there is a huge emphasis on renewable energy. amazing dinners on beach and tons of trekking in the bush, not too mention crystal clear water for snorkeling. From Malawi Fly from Lilongwe to Likoma Island , then you'll be taken in a boat across lake to the lodge. about $250 for hour flight to Likoma, $60 for the 40 minute boat ride. the people and villages around are all part of the operation with farmers and cultural emphasis part of the design. the owners empower the locals with education and inclusion in many aspects of the tourism in a responsible way. the...
The island nation of Maldives is said to be the smallest country in Asia, in both population and land area. It may also be the prettiest. The flight approach to the airport in the capital city of Male, is the most beautiful I've experienced. During my stay at the Paradise Island Resort, I took an excursion to the nearby island of Dhonveli. Here I enjoyed the beauty of these bungalows at the Chaaya Island Dhonveli Resort. The colors were mesmerizing.
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka has existed since 1975. It cares for elephants that are injured, or without Mothers. It is regarded as the home of the biggest herd of elephants in the world. While visiting the Orphanage, you can see the elephants being fed, but the highlight for many is the morning trip the elephants make to the Maha Oya River. There they bathe, play and drink water. I spent a fascinating hour or more watching these elephants in the river. Truly amazing to see this many elephants in one place.
The pot-holed dirt road into the small fishing town of Hopkins Village dead ends at this pier that seems to go into an endless horizon. After hiking through jungles and driving through the lush mountains of the Hummingbird Highway, this was a refreshing site to stumble upon.
South East Asia's most popular form of transportation between islands is the long-tail boat, or Reua Hang Yao. These large wooden canoes are powered by a second hand car engine with a propeller mounted on a moveable pole that extends out into the water, like a tail, and allows the driver to steer. Affixed to the front of the boat are colorful scarves that blow in the wind as you race across the waves towards the next beautiful beach.
When you think Iguassu, you think thundering falls, the Garganta do Diablo, or simply the soaking of unending mist. Perhaps one of my real highlights was sitting in a pool of mud before I even got to see the falls...
Opting to walk the track from the mini train station to the Devil's Throat proved to be the best - and most humid - option. After trying to reach out to species upon species of butterflies in front of us, on our backpacks and in our hair, I was on the verge of giving up until I saw this...
A collection of the most beautiful butterflies sitting serenly in the aftermatch of a shower. Of course, they too didn't play ball, so, much to the dismay of my companion I plonked myself down in the mud puddle and simply waited. And waited. And waited. My perserverence finally paid off when they came fluttering back one by one, and eventually I managed to snap this photo... before it...
When you visit Java it's very easy to forget that the region has been ruled by Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms, because of the strong presence of Islam on the island today. However, visiting Central Java allows you to explore the ruins of these kingdoms still standing today. Next to Borobudur, Prambanan is the next best set of ruins and is an example of Hindu architecture, whereas Borobudur is Buddhist. The best place to base yourself for exploring this region is Yogyakarta.
It’s hard to believe as I pour a cup of crisp white grains into boiling water that they began their journey to the stove in a place as serene as the terraced hills at Longsheng, outside Guilin, China. The Longji rice terraces cover the rolling hills in brilliant green, fading into a blue haze. All around is the sound of water running through a series of troughs from one terrace down to another, down to another. A local woman with a traditional style of hair, uncut since birth, will guide you through the gentle beauty of the terraced maze. For me, I’ve never looked at rice quite the same again.
Jamaica is redefining the ‘wet bar’ with The Pelican Bar, located just off of Treasure Beach in the South West of the island nation. The rustic wooden bar is built on a sand bank about a quarter mile out in the Caribbean Sea.
We chartered a fishing boat from the wonderful Jakes Guesthouse for a 20-minute sunset trip to The Pelican. The owner, Floyd, mixed us rum and Ting, a grapefruit soda and sold us Red Stripe beer, which we drank while dangling our feet off the dock. Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins or pelicans on our trip.
We met a Canadian/Jamaican resident who told us The Pelican Bar was completely destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The owner of Jake’s Guesthouse donated wood while other neighbors helped rebuild the wet watering hole.
In the hills above Asheville, NC, the Biltmore House stands as one of the finest examples of Gilded Age architecture. Built by the Vanderbilt family in the 1890's, it is the largest house in the U.S. Entire rooms and ceilings were transplanted from Europe to furnish this Renaissance-style 'chateau' in the southern Appalachians--'instant history.'
Much of the estate had been clear-cut in the 19th century; the Vanderbilts carefully re-forested the grounds and today it blends into its Blue Ridge mountain surroundings seamlessly. This 'house' is a world apart from the smaller-scale charm of the log-cabins and banjos you might typically associate with the region. Schoolchildren from throughout the South have been coming here for decades on field-trips--much cheaper than a plane ticket to Europe...and a wonderful place to escape from the summer heat in the lowland South.
“Old Guermessa is up there,” the locals advised us when we asked, pointing to a rocky hilltop. Needing the 4wd capability of our rented pickup truck, we climbed the steep path. The afternoon was sliding into evening, turning the abandoned traditional ksar village a golden hue. In the arid climate, the homes dug into the hillsides had not deteriorated; inside we found books, school papers, lanterns, suitcases, tomato tins, accounting ledgers, olive press equipment, clothing and more, as if the people had moved out only yesterday. I’ve always wished I was an explorer in the Golden Age of Exploration, discovering ancient “lost” cities. This day seemed like a dream come true. While in reality the population now lives only a short distance away from this traditional village, they could have been miles and centuries away.
Dawn in Varanasi lights up the bathers and worshipers along the storied Ghats. It's a flashlight on the stairs that lead to cleansing and devotion. I joined a boat ride at sunrise to be a member of the audience to Varanasi's morning rituals.
Fly to Amman, rent a car, buy a map, go explore anywhere you want, uninhibited, get on your plane home, and then tell all your friends freaking amazing your trip was and you haven't even talked about Petra yet.
It isn't just desert, that's for sure. But if you want desert, it's some of the most amazing that you'd ever see.
Do you best to get lost and ask some friendly Bedouin for directions - you'll probably end up eating dinner under a tent in the red-sand desert. While someone near you roast coffee beans in the desert night, you'll be looking at the black sky trying to figure out how that country put more stars in it.
Why it's good as a photographer
You are free to pretty much explore most places that you'd want to explore. It's safe, all locals are helpful, and having a camera out is expected.
Endless things to photograph.
The light is incredible.
Go for Petra, stay for - Wadi Rum,...
Yemen is really a mystical place and old Sana'a is the heart of it. It's a special place and you know it; you feel the pressure to be in the now. There really isn't anything like this city in the world. It's a sensory overload. A constant commotion of sights, sounds and smells that literally transport you to another time. 6 hours spent in this ancient city today and I never saw a westerner. The medieval souk is a discordance of shop owners calls, billowing silks, walls of olive soap, mountains of dates, overflowing bags of cardamom, burning frankincense, the list goes on. This is the real farmers market.
From the vaulted stone ceilings, shafts of filtered sunlight beam down onto the crowds. The smell of baking bread fills the air and the spices totally tickle the nose. The alleys twist and turn in every direction (some no wider than two people) to picturesque mosques, and murmuring...
I traveled to Iceland in September 2011 with my mother en route to Norway. I had time to visit the Blue Lagoon and experience the amazing 100 degree waters in the spa and enjoy these hyper-real blue colors. The creamy blue of the water contrasted perfectly with blue of the sky. I write a blog on color and was awed by this site.
Our wonderful host, Luka at the Garni Hotel Berc, told us we shouldn't miss out on the beautiful bridge and boardwalk hike at the nearby Vintgar Gorge- he was right! What a gem. The water was so deep and the most surreal aquamarine I've ever seen.
Sure lots of folks visit the land of the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro or Zanzibar (oh Zanzibar) but few venture over to the Lake Victoria side. Mwanza will be your starting point (daily flights from Nairobi and Dar) and it's a unique, even-for-Africa, cross-cultural experience - mainly a Indian influence. The coast line is worth exploring, the fish markets are great, the fresh-caught fish is superb, and the locals are very open to your visit along the way.
I recommend this little explored region.
Summer in India (its monsoon season) with our three kids had too many highlights to count. But our first stop in Udaipur left such an impression, it deserves special recognition.
Located in the state of Rajastan, Udaipur and its Lake Pichola are a welcome oasis in the midst of the desert and sweltering heat.
Our city tour began with a top notch guide who taught us more in the first 5 minute introduction about Indian culture than we could ever learn from a book. We arrived at the City Palace with the kids hot and whiny until they learned about the elephant parking and the cages for leopard and tiger hunting. As we toured the palace built in the 16th century (the North end of the palace continues to be the residence of the royal family, the self acclaimed longest running dynasty in Asia) and heard story after story of palace life, I couldn't decide which was more interesting - the...
This has to be the most colorful thing I've ever seen in a cemetery.
In the town of Dolores Hidalgo in central Mexico, singer José Alfredo Jiménez (1926-1973), "El Rey," is memorialized by this sombrero-and-serape tomb. The names of some of his many hit songs are inlaid in the mosaic bands.
Death be not proud...
The Agra Fort, built by rulers of the Mughal empire, is a sight to behold. It's sandstone walls and white marble interior will hold you in awe. But before you go, be sure to find your way to the back of the Fort and catch the view of it's sister monument, the Taj Mahal off in the distance.
Amritsar is a popular tourist destination in India and people from all over the world come here to see The Golden Temple.
But once you're done admiring the beauty of the temple, walk around and observe. Look at how almost every individual is genuinely willing to serve you. Right from taking your shoes before you enter the temple, to washing utensils of those who have just finished their free lunch at the 'Langar'. They volunteer at the temple because they believe that service of any kind here is service to The Almighty.
P.S - Do not miss to visit the temple at night. Brilliant experience!
A tourist floating up the Nile in Southern Egypt in a felucca (traditional sailboat) is full of wonder: What discoveries will the temples at Abu Simbel bring? The Temple of Isis? What is life like onboard the huge (and expensive) cruise boats that leave us in their wake? The tall, lateen-rigged felucca sails are quite the sight when they’re maneuvered to duck under bridges—but when and why were these adjustable rigs originally used on this river? …And what if we just kept going south, past Aswan, past Abu Simbel, into Sudan? How far could we go before the river became impassable in this wooden boat?
But what does Captain Yaheya wonder about on his daily commute? Drifting along the Nile each day, transporting tourists, does he give a second thought to the river’s historic significance or his country’s ancient temples? What is his take on the cruisers and their/his rich passengers? Does...