“Eat an onion from each new place you visit to adjust your body to the local cuisine.” — Words of wisdom from one of our guides on the subtle appreciation of eating one’s way through Iran.
Traditional Iranian cuisine combines the savory of fresh herbs and spices like saffron, merges it with the sweet of pomegranate, barberry and cinnamon and tops it all off with a flourish of nuts, dried fruits and beans. The result: not to present one distinct flavor, but to serve up layers that keep the taste buds guessing as to what is and what’s coming next.
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Spice mountains, Shiraz bazaar.
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 »
“If you look up, at just the right time, you’ll see a peacock on the ceiling,” our guide, Javad, explained as he walked us under the gilded and tiled dome of Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran.
We craned our necks, searching for just the right angle. With the aid of sunlight passing through a nearby window, an image of a peacock — previously unseen, now tail shimmering — was revealed to us brush strokes. Intermittent cries of “Oh!” indicated when everyone in the room “got it.” Continue Reading »
Upon hearing the news of the recent earthquakes near Tabriz in Northwest Iran, my mind went immediately to the time we spent in that region last November, including a day trip from Tabriz to the village of Kandovan where people live in fairy chimneys, caves made from volcanic ash deposited thousands of years ago. Continue Reading »
When most people think about the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada, Egypt they likely imagine relaxing on the beach, scuba diving, adventuring in the desert, golfing, and lounging at a big resort. Hurghada does have all of that.
Rarely, however, does one think about fresh markets and a taste of local Egyptian culture. It’s there in Hurghada, if only you look hard enough. Continue Reading »
Whales with legs? In the desert?
That’s what you’ll find in the Valley of the Whales (Wadi El-Hitan) in Fayoum, Egypt. More accurately, you’ll find the over 35 million year-old fossilized remains of whales with short legs, appendages marking their evolution from land mammals to sea mammals. Continue Reading »
Do you remember learning about ancient Egypt in elementary school?
I do. I recall images of Cleopatra, mummies, hieroglyphics, and women with black bobbed hair and men dressed in kilts, all strutting. I remember pyramids that seemed too big to be real, as if aliens must have been the ones to deposit them in the middle of the desert.
And I remember an episode of Asterix and Obelix, a favorite childhood comic book of mine, where Obelix climbs onto the Sphinx, hangs on the nose and breaks it off. In response, all the vendors chip the noses off their ceramic Sphinx replicas to be sure they’d match.
Then I had the chance to see it all – the pyramids and the Sphinx after the nose job — in real life. Continue Reading »
Although the Saladin Citadel in Cairo was built in the 12th century to help protect the city from the Crusaders, the Muhammad Ali Mosque came much later, in the 19th century. Built in the architectural style of the Ottomans, the mosque has a feeling of wide open grandeur punctuated by chandeliers and cupolas.
Sit on the carpet in middle for as long as you need. Look up, look around and enjoy the peacefulness of the place. Continue Reading »
We’re headed again to Egypt, this time to experience a taste of what it can offer in the way of adventure and adrenaline travel.
We will also present at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Travel and Media conference. There, we will tie a real-time case study of this Egypt experience together with some of our prior travel experience to demonstrate the value to destinations of digital storytelling and engaging travel bloggers during challenging news cycles.
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Iran is again catching its share of headlines. So it seemed as good a time as any to share the story of our exit from the country at the end of last year — hopping a train en route from Tehran across the border to Turkey, then all the way to Istanbul. One of the finest and most surprising segments of our around-the-world journey.
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