As the top of the hour nears in Prague, crowds gather in front of the Astronomical Clock on Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square) and wait for the show to begin — all in a ritual that’s happened almost daily for six hundred years of the clock’s life.
The first attention goes to the twelve apostles that emerge from the little window at the top. They go around in a circle as if to bless the hour. One level down in the zodiac section of the clock the skeleton rings the bell to measure our lifetime, indicating that we have one less hour of life. Around the skeleton, other figures representing the sins of vanity, greed and extravagance shake their heads, a humorous indication that they are not ready to go, ready to die.
But our personal favorite part of the Prague astronomical clock show occurs at the very end. Continue Reading »
We were on our way north, making the long return journey from south of the Antarctic Circle to our final destination in Ushuaia, Argentina. The captain announced that we would soon be going through the Lemaire Channel, a narrow passage strait in northern Antarctica framed by steep cliffs and icebergs.
Everyone aboard ship was invited on deck and to the bridge to appreciate the view. One of the benefits of our vessel, the G Adventures MS Expedition, was an “open bridge” policy that allowed, within reason and safety, visits with the captain and his crew during our journey. Once on the bridge, we took in the instrument panel, complete with various monitors, scopes and blinking bits. It didn’t take long to determine that the instruments indicated there was a lot more to the icebergs underwater than above the surface. Continue Reading »
When late afternoon falls and the day comes to a close in Southern Namibia, a ritual begins: the sundowner.
Prepare yourself by four-wheeling it to an overlook, high perch, or just about anywhere you can catch the sunset bathe the vastness of the Namibian desert landscape.
Then wait. Continue Reading »
As Christmas and the new year approaches, we’d like to wish you and yours a very happy holidays from an unusually warm Berlin!
Just about this time of year, we’re often reminded of one of our first Christmases together in Europe and a lesson we learned about the benefits of understanding limits and letting go. Continue Reading »
The town of Ubud, Bali. Away from its polished main streets you’ll find little alleyways like this, narrow walkways cast, ditches cut on each side. Because of the tropical climate, plants grow and weeds sprout in just about every corner, crack and crevice. Balinese traditional homes, sprawled in giant courtyards, line the sides.
Take a stroll, pay close attention, and you may even find an ornate Balinese gate like the one pictured here. Though it looks more like an entrance to a Balinese Hindu temple than a home, it’s “only” a local family courtyard just a few doors down from a home stay where we gathered some rest for two weeks.
Look closer still, and you’ll see Ganesh holding court from inside the gate.
Open up the panorama to full screen and enjoy! Continue Reading »
Whether you’ve been to Machu Picchu or not, chances are that the most common images you’ve seen of it carry a familiar quality about them. Sometimes it takes looking at something iconic from a different perspective, however, to broaden your understanding and appreciation of what it might have taken to create all that’s behind the icon. And so it is with Machu Picchu in Peru.
Machu Picchu is impressive from just about every view, but the perspective in the panorama below provides a visual on what “perched high on a mountain ridge” really means. Continue Reading »
Off the southwestern corner of Ireland, pitched west of the coast of County Kerry, sit two little islands, one of which has a 600-step stone staircase that appears to wind straight into the sky. Those stairs, it is told, were built by monks who long, long time ago cast themselves away from civilization in order to meditate, study and pray.
This is the island of Skellig Michael.
And we were fortunate enough to see it in a rather unusual state: one of pure, unadulterated sunshine on the most magnificent of Irish autumn days. Continue Reading »
Yazd, a historically Zoroastrian town and a sort of desert outpost that took in people fleeing persecution and wars in other parts of the country, is one of our favorite cities in Iran. Its old city is almost entirely built in brown-red adobe clay, helping to blend it into the surrounding desert landscape and to keep its building interiors cool.
Ones eyes adapt to this mono-color, after which the bright turquoise and intricate Persian Islamic design in the Jameh Mosque will make you feel like you’ve put on 3-D glasses. Gaze at the mosque’s designs long enough and they’ll dizzy you, pull you in and play tricks on your eyes as you try to discern the calligraphy, symmetry and symbolism buried within.
Open up the panorama below and take a spin around the almost 900-year old mosque, Continue Reading »
First day of our Markha Valley trek. We weren’t quite certain what to expect for the remaining six days of trekking through the Himalayas, but we were sure the following day would be steep and uphill, to 4,950 meters/16,200 feet. So on our first day on the trail we were relieved to find relative flatness, to lose ourselves in the red rocks of the canyon around us and to look off into the distance of the climb that awaited us.
Open the panorama to full screen to join us on that first day of our Markha Valley trek. Continue Reading »
Cape Town. You may come for beauty, but you’ll leave with a story.
Cape Town, a city we had heard so much about over the years, but for so many reasons never took the opportunity to visit – until recently. Like most, we were originally attracted to Cape Town for its natural beauty – think Table Rock cut by coastlines – but we also knew there was more behind that exterior. Continue Reading »