Tag Archives: must see

Golden Gate & Golden State.

Hi everyone!

I’d always dreamed of one day walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco – and recently, I’m glad to report, that that dream came true! Traversing the Bay took about an hour (with plenty of stops to soak up the views and take some photos) – from south to north (where I met my fellow frequent travel partner T.T., who was also in a rental car).

Golden Gate, San Francisco

More: Coming next – Muir Woods & Point Reyes..

New Zealand-2013. Days 3-5. Geysers, volcanoes, a frying pan lake, and pancake rocks.

Day 3. Geothermality.

At last! The time has come to move onto the most interesting bit (at least, for me!) of NZ – of which there happens to be plenty.

Our route was planned thus: from underwhelm-ness, via mid-whelmness, and on to overwhelm-ness, along hundreds of miles of road surrounded on both sides by luxurious landscapes and a continuation of the inevitable – scads of sheep.

Our third day in NZ served up the following for our touristic pleasure: geysers, hot springs, cauldrons, pot holes, fumaroles, and other assorted volcanisms and geothermality – all unconditionally mandatory for visiting and studying more closely.

New Zealand, Geyser Pohutu

More: Geysers, volcanoes, a frying pan lake, and pancake rocks…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

New Zealand: The Kamchatka Challenger. Introduction.

Towards the back end of last year, a group of like-minded souls – yours truly included – suddenly decided to drop everything – well, most things – and carefully study the country that calls itself New Zealand. But why? And who are these like-minded souls? These questions, and others, will be answered right here, right now…

New Zealand

More: 2 x 30+ hour sets of flights, 6000+ km traveled on NZ roads, and 17 days in NZ …

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Morocco: +1.

Salam folks!

My list of the countries in the world I’ve been to has just had a +1 – Morocco. My total now comes to 72, including Antarctica. Kind of sluggish plusses of late being added to this list, but I guess that’s mathematically unavoidable the longer the list gets, and of course the list takes no account of the multiple repeat trips I make to a handful of countries…

So here I am in Morocco – in the city of Marrakesh (sometimes referred to as Marrakech, but never Marakesh/Marakech!). We had our annual European Partners’ Conference here. We normally have this somewhere on the European shores of the Mediterranean, but this year we fancied having it over the other side of that pond – on African shores. The conference was great – dynamic, fun, useful, interesting and entertaining. And an F1 replica racing car was present for the occasion.

But that’s all you’re getting re the business bit of the trip. Now for the cultural bit…

More: Morocco – a very interesting place …

The Grand Canyon State – Continued.

Northern Arizona is famous for its astounding landscapes. In a relatively small area that can be covered in a car in just two or three hours there are three unique red rock formations.

First, there’s the world famous Monument Valley, offering breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views. Alas, we didn’t manage to get up close to it ourselves – only flying over it on a plane; but that was still enough to overload the senses with the place’s grandiosity.

Second, there’s Antelope Canyon. This is a mind-blowing slot-canyon – a big crevice in red sandstone. This is how it looked:

More: And regarding the third …

Kamchatka-2012, Day 0.

Howdy all, from the village of Paratunka! Here we’re at a small hotel that has warm water springs in its grounds that flow into natural swimming pools. All ecological, none of that horrid chlorine, and great fun! Paratunka is near the end tip of Kamchatka, in the far-far-far-east of Russia. The hotel was nothing special, but that didn’t matter. The only things that did matter were the nice warm temperature and freshness of the water in the hotel’s pools.

Kamchatka Hotel

Read on: Kamchatka-2012, Day 0.

A Very Old City.

Jerusalem, the Living City, is older than almost all others that have survived to the present day, older even than Rome, and a couple of millennia older than some of the world’s oldest cities. Only a few others can boast of such a history… the likes of Jericho, Babylon and Yerevan, for instance. But it’s surely true to say that Jerusalem is the oldest among the “big ticket” world cities, and as such it’s one of those places you have to explore at least once in this life. And it’s not just a place for strolling the streets – it’s worth descending underground, since the caves are now open for visitors. I was there recently – these are old sewage tunnels which were discovered not so long ago, enmeshing the whole city like a web. They are more than 2,000 years old!

Jerusalem Tunnels

More: Exploring the history …

The Masada Fortress.

Finally, after years of dreaming, I got the chance to visit!

Masada is the name of a ruined ancient fortress on the top of a 450 m mountain on the Israeli shore of the Dead Sea. It is notorious for a legend of the mass suicide of a thousand of Jews hiding there from Roman troops. After the Jewish revolt against Rome (1st century AD), was suppressed and Jerusalem fell into Roman hands, a group of surviving rebels settled in the fortress together with their families. The Romans besieged Masada but failed to capture it protected by forbidding vertical cliffs. Besides, the food and water supply seemed set to last for years. In the end, the Romans made a huge embankment in the lowest part of those fortifying cliffs, rolled in a battering ram and broke through a wall. Having realized the hopelessness of the situation, the besieged Jews chose death instead of slavery.

According to legend, a dozen warriors were selected and charged with slaughtering the others – including women and children – before destroyed food supplies and burning down the wooden buildings. Amid the carnage, they drew lots and one was left to stab his comrades in arms and, finally, himself (thereby committing a great sin). That’s how the story goes, and the evidence suggests it’s true. At least the remains of the fortress and embankment remain to the present day, adding weight to the story. Archeologists have even found earthen bowls with names – maybe these were the very vessels used to choose which warrior would be left to slay his comrades and finally himself. For the rest of the story see here.

Masada

More: A legend or a history? …

Euro-Volcano.

There are hardly active volcanoes in Europe; well, not including those unpronounceable ones in Iceland, that is. Mainland European volcanoes are to be found only in Santorini in Greece and in Italy. And it’s of course Mount Etna that’s the champion in terms of height (but not necessarily on other attributes – Santorini is much more colorful and generally far more impressive to look at).

So, Mount Etna. It’s only a few hours from any point in Europe, so if any Europeans reading this still haven’t been to a real smoking volcano, Mount Etna’s for you for your first volcano visit. It’s always advisable to wait for the next eruption to ensure the experience is a maximally intense Magical Mystery Tour, but here eruptions are real frequent – so you shouldn’t have too long to wait. So off you pop – to Sicily!

The one con: they don’t let you get to the very top! Eh, what’s that all about? What a let-down! The wide area around the peak’s surrounded by a white rope barrier and you’re not allowed to cross it, so taking in the breathtaking fantastical landscapes here is possible only from a cordoned-off tourist viewing area well below the summit.

There’s an attendant pro though: it’s possible to step over or go around the “barrier”, and no one seems to keep watch so you can get away with it! Naughty!

Mount Etna

More: volcanic caves and Godfather background …

A Great Ocean Road Trip.

G’day!

The Great Ocean Road, Australia. I can now say I’ve been there, traveled that, got the… confirmation: it’s another must-see place in the world. And +1 to my list…

Great Ocean Road

So just what is the Great Ocean Road? Surprisingly, it’s a road. It’s also great, as in both great – super, and great – long; and it mostly hugs the ocean shore. It was built in the early part of the last century along a stretch of the craggy coast of the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. It’s rich in heritage, incredibly curvy, and offers breathtaking views from the road itself and also just off it a little inland – you just need to leave the road a hundred meters or so to get extra special views at the right, marked places.

More: a two-way trip…