Tag Archives: Explore

Germany

Train travel from Zurich to Frankfurt with a stop in Stuttgart.

Winter has set in. No wonder German’s crave sunshine. It’s cold and dreary. Thank goodness the countryside is so charming and picturesque.

Snow quietly blanketed the green grass and fall leaves – it altered our plans just a bit. We love winter, but started out with summer clothes. Layering has it’s limits.

Perhaps it’s time to fly west…

*click to enlarge photos

Zurich

The train ride from Milan to Zurich was picturesque to say the least – Lake Como, Lake Lugano and the snow swept Alps. Simply striking.

Switzerland may be the most beautiful country in the world according to this author.

Zurich, in northern Switzerland, is the third most expensive city in the world (CNBC) and all lit up for the Christmas season.

Brrr… it’s cold and it’s only the beginning of December. Lured by the Christmas lights on the famous Bahnhofstrasse (one of the world’s most exclusive shopping areas) we bundled up and headed to Central Altstadt (Old Town) on the Limmat River to find the Christmas market. Charmed by the historic buildings, the silvery river and lit up bridges we walked until our toes froze like little marbles.

*click to enlarge photos

Beirut, Lebanon

Scheduled a quick trip since the Prime Minister just resigned and we were not sure about the political climate in the country.  Unfortunately, our continued colds depleted any energy to truly explore.

The Corniche Beirut esplanade hugs the St. George Bay and highlights the beautiful Mediterranean – a perfect place for a stroll. On Beirut’s western most tip is the famous Rock of Raouché or Pigeon’s Rock which stands tall in the turquoise waters and nearby ocean front condos and war marked buildings stand side by side.

It is a tenuous time for Lebanon. The world waits to see…

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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – where tourism is in it’s infancy after the end of a 30 year civil war in 2009. Beautiful scenery, UNESCO World Heritage sites, super friendly people and flavorful food make this country a must see.

It feels like India without the hectic, overcrowded atmosphere.

Trains clank and shuffle through rainforests to stunning beaches. Slow travel. In contrast the tuk tuks buzzing around as if they were on a race track jockeying for a first place finish.

*click on any photo to enlarge.

Bats the size of eagles and the sounds of thousands of crows ring in your ears no matter where you are – both giving you the sense that Alfred Hitchcock must be filming nearby. My mother’s fear of birds would have left her horrified.

Colombo’s (capital city) historic landmarks include Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple housing a Hair Relic of Lord Buddha and Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara where Buddha visited Sri Lanka his third and final visit – 8 years after gaining enlightenment. The peacefulness and custom of leaving flowers as gifts left a lasting impression.

The temple’s elephants left us feeling like children.

 

Kandy’s UNESCO Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic found us unprepared for their dress code. I brought a scarf which was too sheer, my skirt which covered my knees too short, Bill’s Buddha t-shirt blasphemous and his shorts just a wee big too short. For $2 we rented colorful sarongs and made the Buddha gods happy.

The monkeys around Kandy Lake were charming for all of 5 minutes until we realized what pesky animals they really are – stealing food from people and attacking with vigor.

Galle is a stunning beach town at the southern tip of Sri Lanka attracting hundreds of surfers.

Unfortunately, I was sick and spent the whole time in bed – missing out on photographing the famous stilt fishermen. Next time…

Hello Singapore

WOW – was the first word and impression that came to mind as we travelled from the airport to our hotel. Immaculately clean, beautiful roadways surrounded by luscious greenery. A city like I’ve never seen before. As we neared the downtown corridor phenomenal architecture appeared through the trees. WOW.

We were told by friends that either lived in Singapore or travelled there that everything was new – all of it’s history removed and the laws are strict. I expected a homogenous city and was super surprised to find quite the opposite.

Singapore was a 3rd world country – a seaport – wild, dirty, poor. In 1965 the country gained it’s independence from British rule and became a 1st world country in a single generation. Now the most expensive in the world.

Population 4,000,000 – 2,000,000 Singaporeans and 2,000,000 expats. The religious makeup of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian co-exist perfectly and have no influence on the government.

Home to one of the world’s busiest ports – it’s also a major transportation hub and tourist destination.

Most of the city was leveled and built from scratch however areas such as Little India,  Chinatown and Little Arab still remain intact.

The diversity of nationalities have created the best food court. For some reason wines from America were not available and the countries represented were sold at a premium.

We’re going back.  Generally we use Hong Kong as our hub but will use Singapore next time – after we save some jingo.

 

 

 

 

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Brunei – an independent and Muslim enclave (two separate pieces actually) on the Island of Borneo surrounded by Malaysia and Indonesia.  Governed religiously by a 600 year bloodline of Sultans, it has since its 1984 independence from Great Britain been governed politically by the same man as King.  The current King/Sultan ( Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam), 71, has served as Sultan for 50 years this week.

The population of 440,000 is 78% Sunni, 15% Buddhist and 6% Christian. Guest workers from neighboring countries provide most of the low skilled work force. Taxis are scare since most everyone own cars.

Kampong Ayer – Water Village (referred to as Venice of the East) are wooden homes built on stilts housing approx. 10% of the population. A bustling community with taxi boats buzzing about.

Oil and gas provide for perhaps the highest standard of living in the developed world, but the application of Sharia law (e.g. death for blasphemy and blatant sexual discrimination) moderate the praise for this clean, healthy little country.

Click on photo to enlarge.

 

 

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Snap shots from Cebu

10,000 Roses Cafe located in Day-as, Cordova, Lapu-Lapu City. A real gathering place day and night.

Close up Roses

Lantaw Floating Restaurant in the Background

A man and his outrigger. Mactan

Mangrove tree in the breakwater in front of the Costa Bella Hotel.

Fun in the sun. Kon Tiki Marina, Mactan, Cebu

Lantaw Floating Restaurant in Cordova next to the 10,000 Roses Cafe

San Pedro Fort in Cebu City, Phiippines

Balloon time in Cebu City

Lighting candles at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú

The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú

Magellan’s Cross – per wikipedia: Magellan’s Cross is a Christian cross planted by Portuguese and Spanish explorers as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan upon arriving in Cebu in the Philippines on (depending on source) 15 March 1521.[1][2] This cross is housed in a chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño on Magallanes Street just in front of the city center of Cebu City. A sign below the cross describes the original cross as encased inside the wooden cross that is found in the center of the chapel. This is to protect the original cross from people who chipped away parts of the cross for souvenir purposes in the belief that the cross possesses miraculous powers.[3] Some people, however, believe that the original cross has been destroyed or disappeared after Magellan’s death and the cross is a replica that was planted there by the Spaniards after they successfully Christianized the Philippines.

Jellies

Faded Glory