Articles

Happiness in Hippo Land

It’s about 2am when I scare myself by remembering that hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa.

I’ve been taking photos all day of at least 30 hippos in the river right in front of my lodge, especially when they lumbered their enormous frames out of the water and onto an island in the middle. They’re huge, solid things with massive mouths and a lot of attitude. Now these nocturnal feeders are hungry for …

Savoring the San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands affords visitors to the greater Seattle area the opportunity for a quick overnight or weekend connection with the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. On these islands, which are located about three and half hours from Seattle, nature lovers can unwind sans the kitsch that characterizes those seaside island communities marketing themselves to the tourist trade.

The first part of this journey is getting to the islands. While 172 named islands …

A city alive with history

Quebec is one of the safest cities on the world, especially for women, my new friend tells me.

That’s lucky, I think, because I’ve just jumped into his car and we’re driving up into deserted forests. If I disappear, nobody will ever know why.

All such thoughts vanish as my impromptu tour guide Philippe Guerriere starts telling me about the battles that raged in Quebec between French and English soldiers, leaving a stunning legacy of …

Wild, Watery and Wonderful

It seems unlikely that anything could be thrilling enough to waylay me when I’m walking to Victoria Falls, already armed with a rain coat and a silly grin.

But when the hotel gardener I’m breezing past says: “Hello, do you want to see the giraffes?” it stops me in my tracks.

I’ve never had an offer like that before, so I instantly say yes and follow him into the scrubby bushes.

I’d already seen zebra …

Eating London’s Soho

Whilst eating my way around the square mile of Soho I got to meet some of its food heroes – the people who create the greatest food in the capital. Like a gin-infused meat pie at The London Gin Club, La Bodega Negra’s modern-day twist on tacos, the Spanish ham at Enrique Tomas, Basque Country ‘aperitifs’ at Pix Bar, Dim Sum tea pairing at Opium – and the ultimate in Italian hot chocolate at Said.…

Following the Sound of Music in Austria

It’s been over 50 years since The Sound of Music was released (1965). Everyone remembers Julie Andrews singing “The Hills Are Alive,” but not many know the Alps behind her are. They are in Austria, along with the rest of locations used for the movie. It was the home for the real von Trapp Family and it’s possible to relive one of the world’s favorite family films during a tour in that European country.

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Foreigners win with South Africa’s financial woes

If you ever think about how politics influences your travel, it’s probably because you want to avoid war or terrorism. I never imagined politicians could affect travel by making a currency so weak that you should jump on a plane and go immediately, because a country has become so cheap to visit.

Well – say hello to South Africa! Come and experience amazing safaris, be awed by Table Mountain, pay homage to Nelson Mandela and …

There’s More to Las Vegas than Casinos…

Casinos?

Ca’seen them.

Yes, the megalith casinos keep getting bigger and bigger and they will likely always be the top draw for Vegas visitors. But when you are suffering from casino fatigue, and can’t take even one minute more of the atmosphere of smoke, sweat and desperation, take a look inside any of three museums that cry out “Vegas” but have nothing – okay, let’s say little – to do with casinos.

 

The Mob

The Fabled Colonial Key West

Key West is described as the southernmost city giving visitors a taste of the Caribbean without even leaving the US. The tourist board even states Key West is a “unique tropical island city.” However it is defined, Key West is alluring, entertaining and peaceful all at the same time with sightseeing tours conducted on conch trains down roads lined with Colonial houses.

The Conch Train

One of the coolest things to see is the conch …

The Hotel that Rose From the Ashes

Gnarled chunks of solid silver  mounted in a picture frame are the only evidence that an elegant hotel near Cape Town isn’t the same building it used to be. The silver was once an ornate chair, destroyed along with 70% of the hotel when fires ravaged the Cape peninsular in South Africa in March. The main lodge and several bedrooms of the Tintswalo Atlantic Hotel were reduced to nothing but a yard high pile of …

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

There they are, on full display in front of you: George Washington’s legendary false teeth, looking more like Johnny Rotten’s. The uppers aren’t that worse for wear, but the lowers have gaps that one could drive a truck through. But they are not made of wood as many believe. The first president’s choppers were crafted from the combination of elephant ivory, human teeth, and cow teeth.

Despite the shoddy state of the stained dentures, Washington …

Salimat Hari Raya

While traveling in Asia this last summer, my wife and I had the unique opportunity to visit Malaysia and to celebrate the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with Dayang, a Malaysian friend of ours. The fast-breaking festival, known as “Eid al-Fitr” in other parts of the Islamic world, is called “Hari Raya Eidal-fitri” (literally: day of celebrating Eid al-Fitr), or simply “Raya”, in Malaysia. During the month of Ramadan, practicing Muslims around …

A Pilgrimage to Bob Dylan’s Minnesota

How does it feel?

A little breezy, actually. Standing on a modest hilltop overlooking the Hull-Rust open pit iron mine, where Bob Dylan, then Bob Zimmerman, used to ride his bicycle with his friends, it is easy to see how his youth in Hibbing, Minnesota influenced Dylan’s work. This endless iron mine pit is the largest in the world. Locals refer to it as the man-made Grand Canyon.

When it was determined about a century …

20 Years After Terror Attack, Oklahoma City Museum Undergoes Expansion

A lot has happened since the pictures of devastation from the usually quiet municipality of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA made headlines 20 years ago. Heart-wrenching images of a bombed office building and broken bodies, the kind we are used to seeing from the Middle East and not the American Midwest, were on television screens and in newspapers in parts of the world that never knew Oklahoma City existed. The date was April 19, 1995. The …