"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca you must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences."
- Constantine Peter Cavafy "Ithaca"
home
historic / archaeological
culture
art / literary
exotic adventures
travel memoirs
fascinating cities
archives
submissions
about us
ruth's travel blog
links
contact
©2008 Ruth Kozak
ARCHIVES: ART / LITERARY



FLOWER POWER AT THE LALBAGH BOTANICAL GARDENS, BENGALURU: India
by Rashmi Gopal Lao

If you love flowers and feel like what Luther Burbank says, you must visit Bengaluru’s bi-annual flower show at Lalbagh Botanical gardens, easily one of the city’s best known landmarks. The show that coincides with India’s Republic Day (26-Jan) and Independence Day every year is usually a 10 day long extravaganza of everything related to flowers.


STEP INTO THE MAGNIFICENT ARCHITECTURE OF ANCIENT BAOLIS STEP WELLS: India
by Papiya Banerjeeby

Baolis are step wells or reservoirs which were used in ancient India for conserving and storing water. The ruling clans of India, over the ages, have made many such baolis all across the states. Separate baolis were made for bathing and drinking purposes. Steps were made so that when the water levels go down; people would walk to the well and draw water.


FONTAINEBLEAU, THE OTHER VERSAILLES: France
by Christine Sarikas

I had come to Fontainebleau doubtful of the merits of visiting French palaces. On my first visit to France I had toured Versailles, and any notions I had had of sweeping across luxurious rooms were dashed when my feet hit the expansive gravel entrance and I was bumped aside by a tour leader holding an umbrella high above her head.


CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR IN JAPAN: Japan
by Leslie Hebert

Although less than 1% of the Japanese population is Christian, and December 25 is not a public holiday, Japanese retailers have eagerly adopted the commercial aspects of the season. Some Japanese put up Christmas trees in their homes and exchange gifts, and it is popular to eat “Christmas chicken” from Kentucky Fried Chicken.


A FEISTY SOUTHERN LADY FINDS KINSHIP AND INSPIRATION FROM DENVER ICON MOLLY BROWN: Denver, Colorado
by Connie Pearson

Margaret (Molly) Brown died at the age of 65 – the exact age that I am now – but she made such a big splash in her ocean of influence that surviving the sinking of the Titanic was only a small piece of her powerful life story.I chose to take a taxi from my downtown hotel and visit the Molly Brown House Museum.


MONUMENT TO AN EMPEROR: Paris
by Jett & Kathryn Britnell

Beneath the golden vault of the Eglise du Dome Church lie the remains of the slight statured Corsican who became France's greatest soldier. Within his massive crypt, Napoléon’s mystique looms large in death as it did during his lifetime.


AESCULAPIUS IN ROME: Italy
by Anne Harrison

In the middle of the Tiber lies the picturesque Isola Tiberina. The island embraces two millennia of Roman history, for it has been important to Rome from her beginnings as a small river-side settlement through to her growth into the Eternal City.


THE OTHER FRIDA KAHLO HOUSE: San Ángel, Mexico City
by Ellen Johnston

It’s one of the most famous artistic residences on this continent — Frida Kahlo’s “Blue House”, in Mexico City. Visitors who might otherwise avoid the grime and congestion of “el Distrito Federal” flock here in droves, not only to catch a glimpse of the artist’s life, but also to enjoy the small pleasures of the neighborhood.


GARCIA LORCA’S ANDALUCIA: Spain
by Ellen Johnston

García Lorca’s words are evocative of the place he came from: Andalucía, Spain’s arid southern-most region. It’s no surprise then that García Lorca was inspired by this place, and even more specifically by Granada, home of Flamenco, the last holdout of Moorish Spain, and the city in which he lived a large part of his life.


BRONTE COUNTRY REDISCOVERED: England
by Magdalena Zenaida

If you love Wuthering Heights devoutly, the words “bed and breakfast” can inspire fear. Would the broad beamed ceilings and mossy walls be protected, or would they be swallowed up into an upscale conversion? Bronte’s “Thrushcross Grange”, or Ponden Hall, is exactly as its hero and heroine would have it.


A HISTORIC STROLL THROUGH STEINBECK’S CANNERY ROW: California, USA
by Leslie Jones

If you head to Monterey’s historic Cannery Row in the middle of the week (preferably during the off-season), you might turn a bit nostalgic especially if you are a Steinbeck fan. Visuals from Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday and frequent mentionings of Doc Rickett’s marine laboratory still remain. These are special characters and places I fell in love with a very long time ago.


RETRACING THE FOOTSTEPS OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY: Key West Florida, USA
by Edward Quan

My journey to experience more of Hemingway’s legendary life began with a flight to sun filled Miami, home to some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in America. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, located in Old Town district of Key West Florida, is the farthest southern point in the continental United States.


SIX PLACES TO FIND GRAHAM GREENE IN SAIGON: Vietnam
by Anne Harrison

Having spent a few years living in the city, Graham Greene’s The Quiet American is in many ways his homage to Saigon. Despite a somber tone colored by the knowledge of what is to come, Greene’s love of Saigon and her people shines throughout the novel.


IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF DANTE: Florence, Italy
by Anne Harrison

Dante began The Divine Comedy in 1308, while exiled from his beloved Florence. Dante never returned to his native city; even the tomb built for him in 1829 in Sante Croce remains empty. Yet were Dante to return to Florence today, much of the city would be familiar to him.


TERRA COTTA WARRIORS
China - by Keith Kellett

One day, in 1974, a group of Chinese farmers near the city of Xi’an set out to dig a well. What they found was to become world famous, and some of their finds would tour the major cities, for as many people as possible to see. Instead of water, they came face to face with a soldier. Not a miniature soldier, but a life-sized model, in terra cotta.


LAISSEZ LE BON TEMPS ROULEZ!
The French Quarter Festival in New Orleans - by Paul Norton

I have been inexplicably drawn to its music and culture of New Orleans for most of my adult life. It’s a fascinating city, full of contradictions such as the enthusiastic celebrations of God and Satan that surround you all the time. It was so jam-packed with music, colourful characters and unforgettable oddities that it was impossible to see enough. My one regret? We only set aside one week to see this place.


THE SECRET WORLD OF NARNI
Italy by - Sarah Humphreys

Horrors more evil than The White Witch and her army of beasts lurk beneath the stones of this ancient town which were only unearthed relatively recently. In 1979, a group of young potholers began to explore a crevice in the ruins of an abandoned convent. The friends were astonished to discover an underground grotto containing a well-preserved 13th century church.


LITERARY LONDON: VIRGINIA WOOLF’S BLOOMSBURY
England - by Lynn Smith

Several months ago, on a visit to London, I opted to take such a tour and chose the Bloomsbury walking tour as I have always been fascinated by Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group. I met the tour guide outside Russell Square Underground and we began the two hour walk from there. It was a beautiful summer’s day.

MOROCCAN RHYTHMS: THE GNAOUA WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
Morocco, Africa - by Ellen Johnston

Some people will try to tell you that this is not Africa. But when the Gnaoua World Music Festival kicks off every June in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, its African heart emerges – beating strongly to the rhythms of the drums and three-string basses of the West African slaves who arrived here centuries ago.

IT’S THE REAL THING
Florence, Italy - by Peppa Martin

I am amused and entertained by the wooing of passersby that ensues, the waltz of gestures and pivots, the come-hither looks. Economic casualty aside, I presume the pride of owning an un-Burberry outweighs the pesky oppression of jail. Yesterday, I watched them in front of the Prada store, selling fake Prada bags. Some laugh, some applaud, I cringe.

PAULINE JOHNSON: A MOHAWK PRINCESS POET
Vancouver, Canada - by W. Ruth Kozak

If you visit my city, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, you are sure to spend some time in one of Vancouver’s unique tourist attractions, Stanley Park. The park became the favorite haunt of an Indian princess/poet, Pauline Johnson, the first Native Indian to be published in Canada. Her book “The White Wampum” gained her high literary standing.

ROAD TRIPPIN' WITH TOM & HUCK
(The Mark Twain Tour) U.S.A. - by Mike Marino

Think Twain, think Hannibal, Missouri. Think Twain, think Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. All of the various places that have been ingrained in literature and carved into the fertile imagination of young boys and girls since the publication of these two books, are based on real life characters of their creator, Mark Twain.

A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES: MEMORIES OF DYLAN THOMAS
by W. Ruth Kozak

In 2014 Swansea, Wales is celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the English languages most distinctive voices. The year-long celebration will honour the works and legacy of Dylan Thomas. Dylan Thomas has been acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century.

FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA’S GRENADA
Andalucia, Spain - by Ellen Johnston

García Lorca came from Andalucía, Spain’s arid southern-most region. Perched on the Mediterranean and looking towards North Africa, Andalucía has never forgotten its Moorish past, nor its legacy of multiculturalism – part Jewish, part Gypsy, part Arab, part Berber and, of course, part Spanish.

JULIET’S VERONA
Italy - by Sarah Humphreys

“Fair Verona” is brimming with historical and artistic treasures. However, it is the home of a fictional character which attracts the largest number of visitors. Each year, thousands of romantics head for “Casa di Giulietta”, (“Juliet’s House”), a 13th century building which has been claimed as the probable home of the young girl who inspired the greatest love story of all time.

POETRY AND POLITICS
Monemvasia, Greece - by W. Ruth Kozak

Ritsos was one of Greece most beloved poets and is considered one of the five great Greek poets of the twentieth century. He won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1956 and was named a Golden Wreath Laureate in 1985. Although much of the old “lower” town is in ruins, the family home of Yannis Ritsos has been restored and turned into a museum. There is a monument to the poet outside the house.

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE POET, LORD BYRON
Greece - by W. Ruth Kozak

Byron first visited Greece in 1809, landing in the town of Parga. From there he went north to Ioannina where the infamous Ali Pasha held sway. While there he visited the Pasha who had an even shadier reputation with women than the poet. It was during his stay that Byron began his autobiographical narrative poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which commemorated his meeting with Ali Pasha who had lavished hospitality on him.

A VISIT TO KAREN BLIXEN’S FARM
Kenya, Africa - by Marcia Walker

Often, as a teenager, before drifting off to sleep, the first lines of her novel floated through my mind: “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.” I read Out of Africa, Karen Blixen’s memoir chronicling the struggles on her Kenyan coffee farm, when I was sixteen. I had not read the book in years but her farm, her Africa, had become part of the geography of my mind. A place forged out of teenage longing.

LA DOLCE MORTE: AN EX-PAT PILGRIMAGE IN ROME
Italy - by Ellen Johnston

The sun stopped shining and the rain came in, as if it knew where I was going – past the Palatine Hill and the Coliseum to the subway, which would take me to Piramide station in the un-touristed south of the city – Rome, that is. The station is named for the nearby Pyramid of Cestius, built in 18-12 B.C. as a tomb for a forgotten local magistrate, a piece of folly that marks the entrance to far more hallowed ground.

MAKING MUSIC IN CARLSBAD
California, USA - by Karin Leperi

When I found out that the Museum of Making Music was about a stone’s throw from Legoland California Resort & Sea Life Aquarium in Carlsbad, I decided to make some time and check out the story on making music. A hidden jewel, it’s a treasure trove of a century of musical instruments and innovations that shaped American popular music.

ITALY’S FATAL GIFT OF BEAUTY
Portovenere and the Gulf of Poets - By Sarah Humphreys

“Italia! Oh Italia! Thou who hast the fatal gift of Beauty,” Nowhere does Byron’s tribute to Italy ring more true than in “The Gulf of Poets” on the Ligurian coast, where Percy Bysshe Shelley was drowned in 1822. It is said that the spirit of the English Romantic poet still lives on between the inlets and promontories of this bewitching cove. It is easy to see why

THE DEVIL OF PRAGUE
The Czech Republic - - By Luke Maguire Armstrong

The “Devil” has died. Or at least the one who lived on Prague’s Charles Bridge has. His death adds another chapter to the dense history the bridge has shared. On the edge of the bridge he set up shop where he thought he belonged, next to the other artists selling their creations to eager tourists in front of the Mala Strana tower.

VISITING NERUDA’S HOUSES
Chile, South America - By W. Ruth Kozak

As a diplomat and ambassador for Chile, Neruda travelled to many countries. He collected mementos of all his journeys and these souvenirs, decorate the rooms. Neruda was fascinated by the sea, although he didn’t like to sail on it, and each of his houses are built in a ship motif.

MEXICO CITY BLUES
FOLLOWING THE BEAT TRAIL - By Ellen Johnston

Mexico City has always attracted artists, activists, intellectuals and writers. Over sixty years ago, first William Burroughs, then Jack Kerouac, came to Mexico City, searching for freedom, beauty and surreal inspiration in its storied, hallowed streets.

KERMIT BEWARE! AT THE FROG MUSEUM Switzerland
The Estavayer-le-Lac Frog Museum by Karin Leperi

Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street and Jeremy Fisher (a frog from the beloved Beatrix Potter book series) should best beware if ever in Switzerland. That is, unless these endearing childhood frog characters want to run the risk of being captured, gutted, and then stuffed with grains of sand – ultimately to be posed in humanesque-type poses doing very “unfroggy-like” things.

THE LOST WORLD OF ARKWRIGHT
England by Helen Moat

Richard Arkwright was an opportunist, designer, engineer, entrepreneur, ruthless negotiator, business magpie and self-made man, who developed amongst other things the spinning frame, the water frame and carding engine. He established the great mills that still line Britain’s waterways. It was Arkwright who created the modern factory.

THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and His Creator - By Robert Hale

The “Story of Rudolph” takes place in the “holy city” of Chicago. In 1939, the powers-that-be at the gigantic catalog and retail company Montgomery Ward were looking for a story that the company could print and give away to children at Christmastime. Robert L. May, one of Ward’s copywriters was assigned the task.

BENJAMIN DISRAELI AND COSMOPOLITAN JERUSALEM
Israel - by Talisker Donahue

Benjamin Disraeli visited Jerusalem in 1831, at the age of twenty six, hoping to find inspiration for his novel Alroy. The weather was glorious and Disraeli dined “every day on the roof of [his] house by moonlight” after playing at the intrepid nineteenth century tourist and respectable British pilgrim.

VISITING JANE AUSTEN ON A MOTORBIKE
England - by Darlene Foster

Our delightful visit to England included Yorkshire and North Wales. Viewing the countryside with its stone hedges and ancient castles was made even more enjoyable as we hurtled down narrow roads on a motorcycle. We were on our way to visit my hero, Jane Austen! My dear husband had planned this as a surprise for me.

EXPLORING O. HENRY'S AUSTIN
USA, Texas - by Laura Roberts

Located in Austin, Texas, the O. Henry Museum is an unassuming bungalow situated just a short walk from the city's modern glass convention center and its shiny new metro rail service. The cream-colored Queen Anne style cottage at 409 East 5th Street resembles many of Austin’s quaint and cozy historic homes, but the major difference is that a famous writer once lived here.

THE QUEST FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS
Ireland and Scotland - by Troy Herrick

After six years, I arrived in Dublin under gray overcast skies. The quest was about to be completed; the circle was about to be closed and loose ends tied together. I was all set to gaze upon the most decorated manuscript to survive from the Early Middle Ages in Europe – the Book of Kells.

A TALL TALE
THE STORY OF PAUL BUNYAN
Minnesota, U.S.A. - by Norman A. Rubin

The story of Paul Bunyan, together with Babe the Blue Ox richly rooted in history and tradition, is now considered to be one of America's greatest folk tales; and so be it. This legendary superman and woodsman, hero of the early logging days, was born in Bemidji, Minnesota.

LA BIBLIOTECA MALATESTIANA, EUROPE'S FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY
Cesena, Italy - by Susan Zuckerman

In a spectacular fire in Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose, the library of a medieval abbey burns to the ground. The library on which this fictional one was based, however, is still completely intact
La Biblioteca Malatestiana, Europe's first public library and the pride of Cesena, Italy.

IMPRESSIONS OF HOMER’S ITHAKA
Ithaka, Greece - By W. Ruth Kozak

As the ferry sets sail across the straits, a pod of dolphins frolic alongside. The white limestone cliffs of Ithaka's shoreline are striped by eerie silvery pink and blue lights. I think of Odysseus' wife, Penelope, and how she waited all those years for him to return I will not soon forget this journey. Ithaka is a place that will draw me back again too.

THE GUTENBURG MUSEUM
WHERE PRINTED WORD BEGAN
Mainz, Germany - By W. Ruth Kozak

When I was an aspiring young journalist fresh out of high school working in a newspaper editorial department, my most prize possession was an old Underwood typewriter. The printed word has always meant a lot to me, so when I visited Mainz, Germany recently, I made a point of visiting the Gutenburg Museum to have a look at the world's first printing press.

STUMBLING INTO DICKENS' WORLD of WILTON’S MUSIC HALL
London, England - By Helen Moat

As the London traffic hums faintly in the distance, I stop outside an old crumbling building, the walls oozing patchy brick-red and mustard-yellow; a cracked wooden double door bearing the last remnants of faded paint. It feels as if I have stumbled into a Dickensian scene. Wilton's, the world's oldest surviving music hall, was opened in 1858.

A ROMANTIC TALE OF THE MUSKETEERS
Maastricht, The Netherlands

I was sitting in a cafe in Maastricht, and was rather intrigued by the name. Grand Cafe D'Artagnan. Even if you haven't read the books, the name has been familiar to movie-goers since 1921. Further enquiries revealed that he'd been killed here, during the Siege of Maastricht in 1673, during the Franco-Dutch War, and his statue still stands in Maastricht.

THE LEGEND OF THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
The Movie That Saved Katharine Hepburn’s Career

The Philadelphia Story was shot in only eight weeks during the summer of 1940. Hepburn's gamble had paid off. Almost overnight she was back on top of the Hollywood hierarchy, a position she would occupy for the remainder of her sixty year career. She went on to garner a total of twelve Academy Award nominations, and is the only four time Oscar winner for a lead role.

A WEEK IN PROVENCE
France

When Catherine Cordelle told me she had found an artist's residency in Provence that was willing to have me for a couple weeks, I was thrilled. I had read Peter Mayle's 'A Year in Provence' some years before and was enthralled by the prospect of experiencing the lifestyle he had written so amusingly and evocatively about.

PABLO NERUDA'S ROMANTIC HIDEAWAY
Atlantida,Uruguay

Were he alive today, exiled Chilean rebel poet Pablo Neruda would have appreciated Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. This folksy leader, a rebel from the same era as Neruda, would have welcomed the poet with open arms, and Neruda would surely return the embrace.

THE AMAZING MAZE OF SIDON’S MEDINA
Lebanon

Saida, or Sidon is of course very, very old, about 4000 years to be precise. One of the most important Phoenician city states Sidon has a long history of art, craft and trade. The skills of her craftsmen were even praised by Homer.

AN ODYSSEY IN THE IONIAN ISLANDS
Greece

The Ionian Islands of Greece’s west coast, have inspired poets like Homer, Sappho, Cavafy and Lord Byron. The sea here is so transparent you can see straight into the depths. The wind has eroded the shoreline to form sheer cliffs and extraordinary caves where once pirates lurked and often hid their treasures.

THE MAGIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
Colon, Michigan

Greg Bordner smiles as he recalls how Colon, Michigan, a sleepy Midwest village surrounded by Amish farms, became The Magic Capital of the World and home to one of the largest magic events on the planet. The entire town celebrates its heritage during the festival.

THE MEMORIAL HALL MUSEUM
Historic Deerfield, Mass

A 'Living Museum' is a cultural institution that is dedicated to conserving our common heritage for the benefit of all generations, past, present and future. The Memorial Hall Museum, the oldest in the country, is a fine example of a living museum. It chronicles the history and reflects the history of New England.

CASTLES, COW BELLS AND BICYCLES
Kundle, Austria

Never one to follow the beaten path I took the road less traveled and emailed embassies for wood-carving schools across the globe. A reply from the Austrian embassy intrigued me, it told of Kundle, a picturesque town in Austria and a Master Carver.

BOWERS MUSEUM
TREASURES IN THE SANDS OF TIME
Santa Ana, California

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to find yourself in another time, almost in another world. Last July, I viewed the Secrets of the Silk Road Exhibition at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California and stepped 3800 years into the past to the days of life along the Silk Road.

GAUDI’S BARCELONA
Spain

Certainly the buildings were different. Nature, it is said, abhors a straight line. So did Gaudi; the builders, glaziers and carpenters of Barcelona must have hated him. But, we didn’t stop at either of them. We were on our way to the Güell Park, where some of the best of Gaudi’s work is to be seen. Indeed, Gaudi used to live here, in a pink, fairy-tale house which is now the Gaudi Museum.

FOLLOWING MONET’S IMPRESSIONS OF ÉTRETAT
Normandy

I had always dreamed of seeing the scenes Claude Monet portrayed on the canvases with my own eyes. The natural beauty itself is one reason. But the yearning to see through the master’s secrets of colors, brush strokes and representation was even stronger. Normandy was one of the ideal areas to pursue my impressionistic dream.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF CHENNAI AND AREA TREASURES
Tamil Nadu, India

Our mixed experiences of landmark churches, ancient temples, ashrams, specialty crafts of various areas, and pocket of French flavour, was made even more incredible with the hospitality of friendly localsa. I concur with Rick’s succinct summation, “India just keeps getting better.”

ELIZABETHAN LONDON
England

Some cities have grown continuously through the ages. They're like onions, layer on layer of skin which you can unpeel all the way back to the foundations. Rome is like that, for instance, or Venice. But London was scarred forever by one single disruptive event – the Great Fire which laid the city waste in 1666.

DRESDEN CHURCHES, SURVIVORS OF WWII
Germany

Rising from the Heap of World War II destruction in Dresden, Germany, are three magnificent churches. The subject of the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse-Five describes walking amongst the ruins as if walking on the moon. Recently, I visited three of these Dresden churches, survivors of the World War II destruction.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Before James Bond, There was The Man in Lincoln’s Nose

Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest remains one of the most entertaining motion pictures of all time. It pops up repeatedly on lists of Greatest American Movies and thanks largely to Turner Classic Movies, is possibly the most televised of all Hitchcock films. Odd then, that one of his most famous pictures started as a vague notion about a guy hanging from Abraham Lincoln’s nose.

THE PETRIE MUSEUM - EVERYDAY LIFE OF ANCIENT EGYPT
London, England

To get the sand of Ancient Egypt right between your toes, you'll need to visit the Petrie Museum. Sir Flinders Petrie was the first professor of Egyptology in the UK, and is considered one of the founders of scientific archaeology. He'd been appalled by the destruction of ancient artefacts, and was concerned to save what he could.

THE TRADITION, THE JOY AND THE JAZZ CONTINUE
At The Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy

The morning light strikes the 13th Century Italian city of Perugia, not like a symphonic chord, but rather like a series of soft notes, slowly turning the grey cobblestones pink and gold as the Umbrian sun rises over the ancient buildings. The jazz arrives in a similar fashion.

ENGLAND
A Literary Stay In London

London, city of Shakespeare, has an illustrious literary history. If you’re taking a trip to England’s capital on the trail of your favourite writers, you might like to stay in a hotel with some kind of literary connection. There are several of these to be discovered if you know where to look.

THE SURREAL LIFE
Catalonia, Spain

A house with a dragon’s back. Lantern-lit trees with eerie faces. Turrets made of giant eggs. It may sound like a fairy tale kingdom, but it all actually exists in Catalonia. The seemingly unreal certainly abounds in the capital city of Barcelona and surrounding communities.

DISCOVERING A TREASURE IN ST. THOMAS
The Virgin Islands

Climbing the 99 steps towards Black Beard’s Castle in the center of Charlote Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas, my eyes met with an unexpected sign
World Amber Museum and a tiny arrow underneath. Naturally, my curiosity was aroused and I followed the arrow to find out what it was all about.

WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE
Rome, Italy

I have heard that Fausto delle Chiaie displays his work every day in Rome’s Piazza Augusto Imperatore, between Emperor Augustus’ Mausoleum and the Ara Pacis Museum, and I have come to seek him out. He turns and looks quizzically at me.

A “DO-IT-YOURSELF” ANGELS AND DEMONS TOUR OF ROME
Italy

The success of the movie Angels and Demons has had a major impact on sightseeing in Rome. The cost usually exceeds €50 per person. Alternatively, you can take the two-day “do-it-yourself” tour and visit all of the movie locations.

THE ICON PAINTER
Greece

The success of the movie Angels and Demons has had a major impact on sightseeing in Rome. The cost usually exceeds €50 per person. Alternatively, you can take the two-day “do-it-yourself” tour and visit all of the movie locations.

CASAPUEBLO
Punta Ballena, Uruguay

Carlos Paez Vilaró, the artist, spent thirty years developing his unique home/hotel/museum/studio from a shack into Casapueblo, the massive, rambling, white-domed creation it is today. As in his paintings, there are no straight lines in this unique cliff-hugging structure.

SHERLOCK HOLMES
Extraordinary Career Of Fiction’s Most Famous Consulting Detective

Throughout generations loyal fans have followed the career of the fictional amateur detective Sherlock Holmes, thrilled at his ability of solving criminal cases through his adept sleuthing."Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot”, was the cry heard in the exploits of Sherlock Holmes.

WRITING-ON-STONE PROVINCIAL PARK
Alberta Canada

"The Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park" situates as the earth splits, cracking the dusty plains open to reveal layers of ancient geography—sandstone scrubbed by rain and wind and glacier and who knows what violent or persistent acts of nature.

IN SEARCH OF THE BRONTE SPIRIT - Haworth, England
I came to Haworth, as many do, in search of ghosts. I came, in the words of Virginia Woolf, "as though [I were] to meet some long-separated friend, who might have changed in the interval—so clear an image of Haworth had [I] from print and picture."

THE STONE-SHAPERS OF MAHABALIPURAM
Tamil Nadu, India

Mamallapuram is all about sculpture, old and new; history and mythology as is the old bespectacled guide in a crisp white veshti, who has been standing at the very spot at the gateway of the town for the past 31 years, heralding tourists with his trademark “I can show you Mamallapuram. Want a guide?

MAS A TIERRA - ROBINSON CRUSOE ISLAND
The Chiliean Juan Ferandez Archipelago

In 1705 a Scottish sailor Alexander Selkrik was shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean. The story of the hardships endured by this mariner inspired the writer Daniel Defoe to write the classic novel Robinson Crusoe, which we are all familiar. In 1966, the Chilean government named the location Robinson Crusoe Island.

CHANGING THE ARTISTIC FACE OF MOSCOW
Sculptor Zurab Tsereteli

Moscow has its own chief sculptor who has changed the architectural layout of the Russian capital. His name is Zurab Tsereteli. Whether or not he has made Moscow more beautiful only spoilt it are heated debates that will last for ever.

AGATHA CHRISTIE - SETTING THE SCENE IN DEVON
Devon, England

It's hard to imagine Devon as the inspiration for murder. This rural county, the fourth largest in England, is better known to most for its rolling hills and Devonshire cream teas. But no fewer than fifteen of Agatha Christie's crime novels are set in Devon, or have specific connections with the county.

SEARCHING FOR SHAKESPEARE’S MACBETH
Scotland

The Scottish highlands are rugged mountains, thick forests and lush green glens. Overcast skies, cold blustery winds and thick mists add a haunting quality to the region. In this environment, the supernatural doesn’t seem so outlandish – it is almost expected.

THE KING OF RAGTIME - SCOTT JOPLIN
St. Louis, Missouri USA

The only home where Scott Joplin ever lived that still stands is a humble yet handsome, brick, walk-up flat on Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis. It is open as a state historic site, serving both as a tribute to Joplin and perhaps the nation’s most significant monument to this truly American musical genre.

A TREK TO THE TOP OF DENMARK
Northern Denmark

Two seas meet with a vengeance at the northern tip of Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula. “You’ll see huge sand dunes, two seas that come together, and incredible art.” What a sales pitch. My daughter Paula and I couldn’t resist.

VISITING JANE AUSTIN’S HAUNTS
Hampshire, England

Hampshire is a truly remarkable corner of the English countryside with historic towns, boasting rich cultural heritage and small picture-postcard villages. The most famous person from Hampshire is undoubtedly the writer, Jane Austen, (Sense and Sensibility; Pride and Prejudice; Northanger Abbey). Jane was born in the small hamlet of Steventon in 1775.

CHARLES DICKENS
A REAL FATHER CHRISTMAS
England

His name is synonymous with Christmas and for many may conjure up visions of plum pudding and a warm fireside. In fact, Charles Dickens probably has more influence on the way we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual (except one). It was Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories that rekindled the joy of Christmas across Britain and America.

A REMEMBRANCE DAY MEMORIAL
Ypres, Belgium

The author of the poignant, well-known poem 'In Flanders Fields' was Lt. Col. John Alexander McCrae, a soldier from Guelph Ontario. And still today, on Remembrance Day, November 11th, this beautiful poem resonates to remind us all of the tragedy of war.

A FORMER SOVIET CITY WITH A EUROPEAN HEART
Riga, Latvia

In 1997, the old town of Riga was made a World Heritage site by Unesco. I explored those neat streets in a cold November afternoon. Old buildings and beautiful monuments stood behind every corner. I crossed the Daugava river to have a look at the wonderful skyline of this city, which impressed me with its sharp and long towers.

BELFAST’S HISTORIC CAVE HILL
Belfast, Ireland

When the first rays of sunlight break through the cold early morning mist, to reveal the uppermost peaks of Belfast’s Cave Hill, it’s easy for me to see why it’s said to have inspired Jonathan Swift to write his most well known novel, Gulliver’s Travels.

WALL POEMS
Leiden, Holland

As I walked in the historic center of Leiden, the Netherlands, I noticed some words written on a wall. It was neither a commercial advertisement nor a street sign. As I stepped closer I had a wonderful surprise
it was a poem. “The poems, which were written in many different languages, are meant to be for everybody” the initiators of this project explained.

TALES OF THE YUKON
The Yukon International Storytelling Festival

After two long hours thumbing for a ride outside the small Alaskan town of Skagway while holding a large cardboard flap reading “Whitehorse”, a small dusty car pulled over. It was the first chapter of my trip to Whitehorse’s annual and nineteenth Yukon storytelling festival.

WASHINGTON IRVING’S SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND WELL
Sleepy Hollow, NY

Literature fans who call New York State home are fortunate. Our country’s first internationally known author “wrote” his legacy in two of Gotham’s most lush spots
the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains. Washington Irving (1783 – 1859) authored two of the most renowned tales in ALL of literature.

IVORY AS ART
Erbach, Germany

In the central German town of Erbach Count Franz I of Erbach brought a new skill to his subjects - the art of ivory carving. In 1783, he founded the Ivory Carvers Guild of Erbach. The town rapidly moved toward prosperity, testimony of which is given by the town itself and the local museums.

TOURING THE THAMES
The Architectural Jewels of London

England's Thames River is one of the most celebrated bodies of water in the world. The section that runs through London and its outskirts has inspired artists for centuries. On my last trip to London, I discovered the reasons for its reputation when I toured the river.

ENGLAND'S PROTESTANT DAUGHTER
Anne Askew

During a recent trip to England, armed with an appropriate amount of knowledge, I toured from Devon and Cornwall, to London and Kent and came face-to-face with many of the English Reformation sites, including sites dedicated to many of the martyrs, both Catholic and Protestant, executed for their beliefs.

THE RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo

The 10th Anniversary of the annual, three-day Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) was held in mid July 2007 in the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, 45 minutes drive outside of Kuching, Sarawak on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo.

PAYING IN WORDS FOR A PRICELESS EXPERIENCE
Avila, Spain

You lie back on the crisp, cool sheets of your king-sized bed. Your room is spacious and elegant
a television, writing desk, and telephone are among the amenities provided. Do you think this type of extravagance is out of the typical student’s budget?

ART IN A TROPICAL GARDEN
Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia

Tucked away on an small acreage just outside of Kuala Lumpur, a Malaysian architect, Hijjas Kasturi and his Australian wife, Angela, have developed a lush garden paradise retreat for artists and writers.