One of the things that surprised me when I traveled in the Middle East earlier this year was that there are some really good wines made in that part of the world. Both Lebanon and Israel have a series of good wineries, but I was most pleasantly surprised by the Zumot Winery in Jordan. There were some wines here that would retail for $60-100, if the label said Napa Valley.
Globetrooper News: Around The World
I was lucky enough to get to the Monte Carlo train station while it was almost empty one afternoon this summer, so I had a chance to take some longer exposure shots and turn them into HDR photos. I hope you enjoy them, as it is one of the prettier stations I went to on the Ultimate Train Challenge.
In Zagreb, Croatia I randomly walked into the Museum of Broken Relationships thinking that it would make the subject of a funny post lightly making light of the subject matter. An hour later I walked out thinking it was perhaps the best museum I have ever been to. It was breathtaking in its emotional connection to me.
The Damascus Souk is simply my favorite market in the world. It is huge. Simply huge. And the variety of products you can see and buy there is immense. Here are just a few of my hundreds of photographs I took on my last trip there, before things blew up in Syria.
After going to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, I thought my close encounters with animal races were over, but no. The Running of the Donkeys happens at the end of a lovely three day festival in the small down of Sali on an island off the Croatian Coast. As you can tell from the pictures, it is a blast.
I recently attended a travel blogger conference in Innsbruck in the Austrian Alps. A full and interesting program, lots of inspiration and great fun to meet up with fellow bloggers and writers. Hats off to Oliver and Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU) for a well-organised event.
It’s early evening in the village surrounding Qala’at al-Bahrain. The creatively decorated houses remind me of pictures in fairy-tales, especially through the filter of the setting sun. Five horsemen appear out of the dusk in front of the silhouette of a large 16th century Portuguese fort. This is home to Iranians, says Aziz, my guide for the evening. This is a shia village.
Good things to do in St Moritz in autumn:
1) Stroll around gorgeous St Moritz Lake.
2) At Hotel Waldhaus am See, imagine people having a picnic by the lake, chatting, resting, bathing – 100 years ago.
3) Try the yummy local nut cake, Nusstorte.
4) Take the cable car to Corviglia and on to Piz Nair. Walk back down and look out for cute marmots along the mountainside.
The British Museum is one of my faves. The question remains, though – should many of its artefacts be returned to its country of origin? The magnificent Rosetta Stone probably belongs, if not in Rosetta, at least in Egypt. I think it would be fantastic in the new library in Alexandria.
Discovered 212 years ago in the present-day town of el-Rashid (near Alexandria) by Napoleon’s soldiers, the black granite stone was surrendered to Britain after his defeat. When French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion translated the text, he solved one of the world’s great mysteries: how to read the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians.
On the Fjærland Fjord, Mundal Hotel is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. This family-owned hotel has creaking stairs, a great turret bed room, a library, a billiards room, a music room, deep leather chairs by the fireplace – and books; not just in the library but everywhere. Wherever you go in Fjærland, you’ll find books; indoors and outdoors, along the streets, in barns and in boat sheds. Four kilometres of second-hand and antiquarian books are for sale, mostly on a trust system: take the book you fancy and put money in the tin.
I’m in Pyramiden, once a showcase of the Soviet Union, a perfect mining community, set between mountains, glaciers and fjords in the Svalbard archipelago. Today, it’s an Arctic ghost town! The decision to abandon the settlement was sudden, its implementation even more so. The inhabitants were given just hours to pack their bags and leave. Remnants of that hasty departure are visible everywhere.
Every Thursday, Ashley and Jason Bartner organizes pizza night at their agriturismo. And it doesn’t hurt to have a chef in charge, a chef with years of experience working at top notch restaurants in New York and San Francisco.
Jason believes in the slow food movement, in cooking with the seasons and keeping it simple. You won’t find pizzas with everything here. Instead, each pizza has just a few ingredients, all fresh from the local meat and cheese market and from the garden.
Situated right outside Luxor, Karnak Temple is the largest ancient religious site in the world. An impressive avenue of ram-headed sphinxes connects it with Luxor Temple. Karnak is a place of records: everything here seems to be the biggest and tallest. Its scale defies description. The first pylon (gate) alone is 42 metres high (like a 14-storey building) and 118 metres wide. Ancient Egypt must have been in awe of its builders.
Barentsburg, you say? Where on earth… ? The Svalbard archipelago has four settlements of significant size, one of them is Russian. Norway has sovereignty over the archipelago, but the Treaty of Svalbard ensures all parties equal access to scientific and economic activities in the islands. Barentsburg is Russia’s last remaining settlement in the Arctic.
We’re not too demanding. Before heading to state #49, we wanted Alaska to deliver in only three key areas: incredible camping, beautiful hiking and glaciers galore.
Did we ever get it.
Mong Kok in Hong Kong is a densely packed area of gritty tenement buildings, bustling markets, hotels rented by the hour and Chinese medicine pharmacies alongside spangly electronics shops selling the latest gear. It’s a place where Hong Kongers live, work and shop. The crowds are intense, the traffic frenetic, but it feels alive and vibrant. Take a look at these photos to learn more.
Kyoto has a long history of shojin ryori, the vegetarian cuisine that the Zen Buddhist monks eat in temples in Japan. A cooking class is a great way to learn more about these fascinating dishes which feature many unusual ingredients.
I have been to the Running of the Bulls, but now that I have been to the Running of the Donkeys… I think my travel life is almost complete. At least when it comes to animals and racing. This was from a festival on a small island in Croatia and it was such a weird and fun day. I hope you enjoy the post and the many odd photographs.
Eating is an important part of experiencing Hong Kong and although items like pig’s blood, chicken’s feet and shark fin often feature on menus, with a little planning vegetarians can eat well too. This guide shares the best place to find vegetarian dim sum in Hong Kong and other tasty eats.
Lebanon is a tiny country that shocks you in many ways. Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, sights packed into everywhere in this tiny place. And one of the biggest surprises while I was there… really good wine. I got to taste a number of different wines from places in the Bekaa Valley when I was there and here is the story from one of them.
Most long-distance transport in Egypt seems to be in convoy, often with more than 100 busses, one after the other. So is our journey from Hurghada to Luxor. We break twice during the four hours. As we drive through the Red Sea Mountains, darkness descends. The driver doesn’t switch the headlamps on …
At 78 degrees N – a mere 12 degrees from the North Pole – Longyearbyen is as far north as I’ve ever been. Svalbard is more commonly referred to as Spitsbergen in English. Spitsbergen is in fact the name of the largest island in the group, but Svalbard is the name of the entire archipelago. Svalbard is rugged, absurdly beautiful and has more polar bears than humans. This is Arctic wild country.
Where can you find a man poking his head up through a hole in the street, a paparazzi photographer peeking around a corner, a Napoleonic soldier on a bench in the old town, and a beloved local 20th century personality? In Bratislava, that’s where.
What first springs to mind when you hear the name Kiev? Capital of the Ukraine? You’re right, of course. Some might think of Chernobyl 1986, one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. If you’re into pop culture, Kiev was venue of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005. Politics? Perhaps the Orange Revolution of 2004 comes to mind?
Oyggjarvegur, the old mountain road from Torshavn, the tiny capital of the Faroes, towards the northern islands, is spectacular. But then, nothing less is to be expected in the world’s best island-destination. In places, there are no barriers between us and a 1000-foot drop into the chilling waters of the North Atlantic fjord. We edge slowly towards the deliciously dizzying chasm.
Skopje isn’t what leaps to mind when you think of European cities, is it? It’s probably among the lesser known capitals, perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mother Theresa. So what can you see and do in Macedonia’s little capital? Here are my notes, from a lazy April Saturday night and a long Sunday morning. Skopje’s Stone Bridge is a major landmark. On one side of the bridge is the modern Macedonia Square, on the other is the old bazaar and Ottoman Skopje.
I was in Vancouver for the last few games of the Stanley Cup (Hockey) finals this year and it was interesting, to say the least. Vancouver is one of my favorite towns in the world with some of the best people around, but a few crazy idiots really cast a lot of shame down on this great town that night.