That morning I had climbed up the mountain called Pedra Bonita (Little Rock) where hang gliders jump off the edge of a cliff to a 1600 ft drop over Tijuca National Park.
The tandem flights require you to literally run and leap off a wooden platform into the abyss.
Standing on the edge of the wooden ramp, I surveyed the stunning expanse of ocean and the city below. I was in Rio, staring at the most amazing view and shaking in my socks.
After much much deliberation I took the plunge. My knuckles were white but as I left the ground my face broke out in a spontaneous smile.
I was weightless. The crisp wind hit my forehead and bit my lips.
On my way down, I looked down on the lush canopy of Tijuca park, Sugar loaf Mountain in the far distance, the cloud enveloped statue of Christ the Redeemer and hovered over the Atlantic Ocean before landing on a small strip of soft sand called Pepino Beach....
At the central fish market in the ancient Moroccan coastal city of Essaouira, table after white table is piled high with the catch of the day. Each table displays only one variety, with the lack of strong smells speaking to the freshness of the fish. Merchants frequently hose down their tables and the ancient stone street below, creating a briny slurry customers slog through while choosing their dinners. Happy stray cats weave around legs and alight upon the fish carts, looking for the occasional tossed scrap or turned back. If you don't have the means to cook your own, head to the fish carts that ring the water side of the square, where you can haggle for the fish you want, walk a few steps to one of the open air restaurants, and have it cleaned, grilled and served to you faster than you can say "winner, winner fresh fish dinner."
The Patallacta ruins along the Peruvian Inca Trail undoubtedly are stunning. You feel in awe and perplexed when seeing them, it's like viewing a real life sized puzzle. The whole trail is full of experiences so magical you almost hear the native pan flutes beckoning you further on your journey. Never in life have I been one to find beauty only in what others deem worthy, so travel is no exception. It wasn't as if there was a crowd that day at the ruins that forced me away, conversely- the whole vista was peaceful and full of solitude. The beauty of the moment, not to mention the accomplishment of arriving further on my expedition made me breathe deep to take it in. Not just the ruins, but the entire portrait. Sure, I could have taken a bus right to the famed Machu Picchu, but I would have missed the contentment and beauty of just watching as the animals graze..and that is what I...
Shortly after we arrived in Plaça del Pi in Barcelona's Barri Gòtic, so did a parade of gigantes and castellers. The latter (who name comes from the Catalonian word for castles) climb upon one another to build human towers. The tradition goes back to the late 1700s and enlivens local holiday festivals. The castles we witnessed were modest in comparison to those of the region's more practiced and touring ensembles (http://bit.ly/GH1kk7), but they inspired much delight in the spontaneously gathered audience.
Renting a holiday house, outside our home Country, would be a complete new experience for us, and we were a little bit concerned about that.
The result, on the other hand, was wonderful and we recommend that to anyone who is in doubt.
Besides the amazing house, which was located in a beautiful medieval Burgo with a fortified wall, on the top of an astonishing hill surrounded by fields of wine grapes, we received from our landlords the kindest hospitality.
Staying in Monteriggioni has exceeded all our expectations: Beautiful landscapes, exceptional wine and food, perfect location. We used our castle as central base to explore many of the fantastic cities surrounding us, under Tuscan skies. Siena, San Gimignano, Florença, Montepulciano, Montalcino and Lucca were some of the cities we had the pleasure to visit.
Our recommendations: when visiting Tuscany dont miss the good fresh Pecorino...
I travelled to the Nanhua Buddhist temple in Bronkhorstspruit, expecting to take a tour around and see something different.
Peace, calm and serenity are some of the enlightened characteristics I experienced here.
Aside from the main temple, the surrounding carvings and stone work are a sight in themselves
After visiting the main temple, visitors are able to leave lanterns as offerings to the Buddha in exchange for granting you good luck and and prosperity
This little girl was the family potato inspector this day.
The legendary Pisac Marketplace on Sundays. Just a short taxi ride from Cusco, this place is filled with everything you can imagine. It is split into two areas, one being the art, textiles & souvenirs, and the other side being a food market where the locals bring their produce to sell/trade. There are vendors who serve boiled or fried corn with seasoning, which is excellent! Don't be surprised to see a cow head sitting next to a bowl full of fresh fish. You can easily walk away from this place with all of the gifts you would want to bring home for your loved ones.
After visiting the market, check out the ruins of the old fortress & terraces which overlook the town.
In the town of Corniglia, one of the towns of the Cinque Terre, this curious kitty emerged from this ancient window as if it was his job to check and see if the laundry was dry.....
Had the opportunity to wander around some of the beautiful towns of the Cinque Terre in 2010. We stayed in Vernazza and then hiked to a couple of the other towns. In Corniglia, we enjoyed a delicious lunch and then walked around the town where this beautiful scene, so distinctly Italian, presented itself to my camera.
Too my first ariel yoga class. I wanted to sleep in my floating cocoon for awhile after.
A typical sight at the Pisac marketplace on Sundays. Either you come as a tourist to buy souvenirs such as wool hats, purses, belts, artwork & jewelry, or, you come to buy food. Pictured here is the food market with the goods area in the background. This woman was butchering a cow behind the table and selling every last piece. All around her are vendors selling vegetables, fruits, grains, meat & fish.
The Pisac market is a fascinating place to visit, and really gives you a sense of how Peruvians live. It is a short taxi ride from Cusco, and most taxi drivers will stay until you are finished walking through the market.
Roaming the streets of Istanbul, and back alleys all over Turkey are mounds of Turkish delight confections. Some look as though they may have been boxed to sell when Bekir Effendi, the inventory of Turkish delights started up at the end of the 1700's in Turkey. Armed with a keen eye and an even better nose in Istanbul's historic Spice Bazaar, I found the grand daddy of them all-pistachio "mountains."
Walking in one of Seoul's newer neighborhoods south of the Han River, this unlikely art caught my eye: a sculpture of backpack-toting gorilla climbing up an apartment building.
The Gangnam district of Seoul has splashes of whimsy among the new glass-and-steel high-rises. Rice paddies just a couple of decades ago, this area has become one of the trendiest areas of South Korea's capital.
Walking in Seoul on a rainy day, I looked up from the obstacle course of puddles and saw this parking 'guardian?' 'attendant?' 'demon?' The scowl, the creepily realistic wrinkled fingers of the hands in a prayer (!) pose--I fumbled my iPhone out of my pocket while balancing my umbrella--just had to take this snapshot of some unexpected and unlikely art. This was my last day of a month-long stay in Korea, and I continued to find the unexpected...
New Zealand, although quickly becoming a tourist hot spot, is still a country populated by farmers. There are more sheep than people on the islands, and most towns have a local “farmers market” on the weekend where they sell their crops.
While in the small up-and-coming wine region of Blenheim on NZ’s south island, we spent a wonderful sunny Saturday morning at the neighborhood market. It was just an empty plot of dirt on a street corner during the week, but came alive on Saturdays with food, music and drinks provided by the locals. I loved this sign someone had painted for the weekly event. Because the country is so isolated, the people are used to needing and enjoying each others’ support to keep their farms thriving.
Not only can you find wonderful small farmers markets in each town, you’ll often find vendors set up alongside the road in various places. It’s a great way to stop and...
One overcast day in Hoi An, my husband and I wandered down to the river and found a lady and her 2 young daughters willing to row us about 30 minutes up river, to a pottery-making village we had read about.
When we arrived, the little girls decided to be our impromptu guides. They led us from house to house, where we watched villagers at their craft. As we were nearing the end of our “tour,” we wandered past a house where a very old woman was sitting on the ground, shaping a jar on a small wooden wheel. She smiled warmly and waved us in. We watched in amazement as she expertly shaped and smoothed each jar. Fortunately for us, a younger woman there spoke English and told us that the woman was her 88 year-old grandmother! She told us every generation of her family learns this skill and participates in one way or another.
I wandered around the make-shift shelves displaying their work, and...
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or La Boqueria, is a must-stop for all foodies visiting Barcelona. The covered market consists of more than 200 stalls selling all sorts of seafood, meat, vegetables, and fruits. Those with weak stomachs should avoid the meat section where butchers (many of them women) hawk all sorts of exotic cuts from pig's trotters to tripe. I felt just a tinge of guilt when I ordered a few slices of jamón ibérico and looked down to see these cute piggies starting at me through the glass butcher case.
I was fortunate enough to be in Bali recently for some work, and I had some free time to explore around the island..(when there wasn't any good surf...!) A couple hours from Kuta Beach (main beach in Bali) there are a bunch of beautiful villages and rice paddies with picturesque sunbeams shooting through the clouds and intermittent rain cooling you down in the sultry humid air. I came along the village of Tegalalang, a small village known for its wood work and bamboo art... Many pieces of wood art line the road into the village and you'll have many options to choose from, but remember if you see something you like, snatch it up and try not to haggle too much for the equivalent of 50 cents savings... that 50 cents means much more to them than it does to most travelers passing through. I love all markets around the world and it's so fun strolling through villages and seeing the local...
On our way to Tanzania we had a 12 hour layover in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Airlines provided a shuttle, room for the day, meals, and day visas (at no charge) to me and the group of students I was taking to Tanzania. After driving through a city and seeing 6 story buildings under construction using hand lashed wooden poles for scaffolding, people on cells phones walking with goats down the street, and hunched over women carrying 12 foot long bundles of sticks for fuel on their backs with satelitte dishes in the background, we reached the Beshale Hotel. From our window we could see a large mosque, traffic heavy roads, dirt paths, people, animals, and this large ferris wheel. The incongruity of modern and primitive, with this piece of colorful frivolity smack in the middle of it all, stuck out like a sore thumb in a place where it seemed nothing would surprise us anymore.
Coming down from one of Central Vietnam's famed Marble Mountains--or Ngũ Hành Sơn ("Five Elements Mountains"--we passed this garage, seemingly guarded by the statues and busts arrayed around the entrance and terraced up hillside. The mountains, offering spectacular views of the Da Nang region, are full of caves, many of them sanctified with shrines, altars, and sculptures. They were also a longstanding source of quarried marble and limestone for stone carvers, such as the one who parked his car in his own well-protected cave.
In huge cities of the world it is impossible to stay on course and see everything you want to. I have found the longer I travel the more obsessed I become with finding local grocery stores and better yet, open air markets. Here you get to know about the textiles, art, and cuisine of your destination quickly. One of my most favorites was the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey. Located in Fatih, in the neighborhood of Eminönü- you get a wonderful illustration of Asia and Europe colliding. Traditional mint tea and rugs adjacent to Vans footwear and the Beatles albums line the corridors. Arriving late, we were concerned we'd miss out, but the dimly lit chambers emptied to streets lined with fresh produce, meats and delicious nuts that were open until late into the evening.
The collaborative efforts of Pemberton BC's North Arm Farm (whose amazing proprietor is also the town mayor) and Whistler's unparalleled Araxi Restaurant resulted in this unforgettable dining experience.
With majestic Mount Currie as the backdrop, we dined on delicacies from the farm as well as local BC salmon, beef, cheese and, of course, wine! The farm is playing host again to an Outstanding in the Field dinner in July 2012.
The beautiful and colorful skyline of Ho Chi Minh city from our room at the Nguyen Khang Hotel.
My wife and I had the pleasure of having two guides during our visit to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh). Our two old friends were able to show us the Vietnamese ropes and boy were we grateful.
Our hotel room was a perfect refuge to wait out a storm. A deck of cards some cold beer and friends are all you need to get through a storm.
Nguyen Khang Hotel is on the Pham Ngu Lao street, district 1.
(283/25 Pham Ngu Lao street, Dist 1
Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam)
On a trip to Berlin, this photo of my son was taken. One of the great things about Europe is the deserts and these were home made brownies. I don't remember who took this photo however it is one of my all time favorites. You can see his sad face. I just had to give him not just one but two brownies.
From the upper floors on the north side of 'The Plaza' hotel in central Seoul, this is the view up Sejong-ro, the city's historical main axis.
Reopened in 2010 after extensive renovation and redesign by the Italian designer Guido Ciompi, this is Seoul's luxury boutique hotel in the middle of it all. Toward the end of our trip to Korea, my wife and I decided to splurge on a night here.
We didn't have time to enjoy all of the hotel's amenities, but the spa and artisanal French bakery were on our list. In room, everything (including drapes and curtains) was 'remote-controllable' from a bed-side touch-screen phone.
Perhaps one of The Plaza's greatest amenities is its central location. After my wife's spa treatment, but before catching the direct bus from the hotel to the airport, we were able to go for a walk in the garden of 15th-century Deoksu-gung palace across the street...(The basement...
The open plaza area in front of the Sejong Cultural Center was a frequent visiting spot for me when I lived in Seoul. In the summer months the cool water was a relaxing spot to wet your feet and watch children running through the musically choreographed fountains.
I would take the bus to get to this area but the best way by subway is to look for Gwanghwamun Station on the Purple Line, Exits 2 and 3 are best. Once you've gotten enough rest and are ready for more sightseeing walk down past this fountain and you will see Gwanghwamun (gate) and Gyeongbokgung (palace), both are must see attractions in Seoul.
At night time this fountain and plaza are more appealing as colorful lights adorn the grounds.
I wanted to get as far away from "civilization" as possible. I thought riding an elephant in the jungle of Laos might appease that sentiment.
Our safety briefing: "You ride with her, jump on back, ride in river. Water is wet."
They usually ask most people to ride on the side-by-side chair perched high up on the elephant's back. But after he noticed my swollen calves and figured I could hold on to anything he had me slide down onto its neck. It actually felt more secure than sitting on that teetering chair. Riding through the lush river valley in water up to the animal's ears, listening to the deep thrum of the elephant's breathing, I felt I left civilization and arrived at "nowhere" simultaneously.