"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca you must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences."
- Constantine Peter Cavafy "Ithaca"
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©2008 Ruth Kozak

ARCHIVES: MEMOIRS



THE FRANKINCENSE SOUK IN SALALAH, Oman
by Chris Brauer

Down the beach, the sky was full of circling birds. They squawked and shrieked to show their disapproval at being denied free food while they took turns swooping towards a crowd of young Omani men pulling enormous nets out of the water with the help of small Toyota trucks that sunk into the sand. The men, dressed in mundus and various shirts, jerseys and dishdashas, yelled out encouragement.


EXPLORING STARRY NIGHTS: A TRAVELER’S MEMOIR
by Maureen Moss

Every night before going to bed I go out onto my terrace to look up at the sky. Almost every night of the year I see thousands of stars above me, and I give thanks for my beautiful home in my own corner of heaven. And of course I always recall other nights when I’ve gazed up at this breathtaking display. Here are some of the most memorable times.


EXPLORING TULA’S TOLTEC HISTORY - Mexico
by Zach Lindsey

Tula (sometimes called Tollan) outside the present-day city of Tula de Allende a couple hours away from Mexico City, was once home to the Toltec people. When Toltec potters worked en masse here, a great power had recently fallen, the city of Teotihuacan. Toltec leaders used the power vacuum in the region to become the new leaders


FRIENDS AMONG STRANGERS: Georgia, USA
by Mickey Kulp

Recently, I traveled to Fort Yargo State Park to meet some members of the Fort Yargo Living History Society, a group of volunteers who are dedicated to using period tools, clothing, and techniques to give visitors a peek at Georgia frontier life in the 1790s. They strive for accuracy, and they mean it.


MY FIRST VACATION ALONE — IN PARIS! France
by Elizabeth von Pier

All my life I have traveled with someone. First it was my husband, then after he died, various friends and family. So this was my first solo trip (at the age of sixty-something!). I rented an apartment for two weeks in Paris, and set out for the adventure of a lifetime.


FRIENDS AMONG STRANGERS: Georgia, USA
by Mickey Kulp

Recently, I traveled to Fort Yargo State Park to meet some members of the Fort Yargo Living History Society, a group of volunteers who are dedicated to using period tools, clothing, and techniques to give visitors a peek at Georgia frontier life in the 1790s. They strive for accuracy, and they mean it.


THE CHRISTMAS TREE BUILT FOR A TOWN ON THE SEA: Washington State, USA
by Jami Savage

Anacortes is a beautiful coastal community located in the northwest corner of Washington, USA. Surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean, this small town’s connections to the sea can be seen on every corner. The town and the ocean have been strong allies for over the past 100 years - and this year they decided to really celebrate this connection in a very special way.


ANDERSONVILLE CEMETERY – “IS THIS HELL?” - Georgia, USA
by Hannah Murray

Andersonville, a former Prisoner of War site for Union soldiers, currently sits on Highway 49, almost in the middle of nowhere. The park operates the National Prisoner of War Museum, a unique and fascinating place that is designed to resemble a prison itself.


EXPLORING THE ANCIENT MAYAN CITY OF EK BALAM: Yucatan
by Emese Fromm

As I was standing on top of the Acropolis, the tallest building in Ek Balam, my first thought was "I stood on top of this when it was just a pile of rocks, covered with vegetation".I really enjoyed talking about my older adventures at the same site, when it was just rubble.


A WEEKEND ROAD-TRIP TO THE SKAGIT VALLEY: Washington State, USA
by W. Ruth Kozak

A friend and I set off on a weekend road trip across the US border from Vancouver BC to visit some historic locations in Washington State. Our fun-filled road trip lasted four days and every moment of it was a special delight. If you are visiting the Pacific Northwest it’s worth taking the trip.


HISTORICAL TRAVEL IN MALLORCA: Castello d’Alaro, Spain
by Tal Donahue

Driving north from Palma on the MA13, towards the Castello d’Alaro, the Tramantuna mountain range instantly alters any preconceptions tourists have of this island of Mallorca. The surrounding rural countryside is frequented, for the most part, only by intrepid cyclists practicing for La Tour.


EXPLORING FLANDERS FIELDS: Belgium
by Bram Reusen

This little Western European country surely packs a punch. It is a country with a long and rich history, with cities dating from Roman times, ancient battlefields and a phenomenal cuisine. The country’s most well-known export products all have to do with food: waffles, beer and chocolate.


THE SANDS OF SAVARY: British Columbia, Canada
by Glen Cowley

We crested the knoll and were rewarded. Below us ran drift-wood artistry crafted along the tanned body of a broad beach welcoming the incoming tide. Not a soul in sight. Welcome to Savary Island; originally named “Ayhus” by the Sliammon (Tla'amin) First Nation people, meaning double-headed serpent.


KABALE - LIFTED UP AND DUSTED OFF: Uganda, Africa
by Wayne Gatley

Fine red powder coats the dashboard, floor and seats of the Toyota Ipsum as our team of twelve Vancouverites bounce along the rutted road from the Rwandan border to Kabale. Terraced, fertile fields and banana palms dwarf the one-room, mud houses that cluster at crossroads.


A TIME IN THE NORTH: Northumberland and Cumbria, England
by Jean Pidgley

Some thirty years ago I repeated a walk when on holiday with family in Yorkshire, which I had done often in my teens. Yorkshire, a lovely county and a favourite of mine, allows easy access to lovely dales and outstanding moorland and to the wilds of Northumberland and Cumbria.


HOW LONDON BRIDGE CAME TO LAKE HAVASU: Arizona, United States
by Lesley Hebert

In 1967 I was working in London. To me, London Bridge was an unremarkable piece of masonry blackened by 136 years of coal smoke belching from London chimneys but I found the idea of selling the bridge quite bizarre. Who on earth, I wondered, would buy this dirty pile of old stones?


TO BAYEUX AND BEYOND - MEMORIES OF D-DAY: France
by Joan Boxall

What does it mean to be a descendant of war veterans? Do I carry their torch, as poet-soldier Dr. John McCrae, suggested in ‘Flanders Fields’? Do I carry it high and not break faith? The summer of 2012, my husband and I went to Bayeux, Normandy.


CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS IN EUROPE: Germany, Austria & Slovenia
by Larry Zaletel

It may not be the best time of the year to visit Europe, however there are fewer crowds, airplanes are under booked, and automobile rentals cost less. Experience a European Christmas in Germany, Austria, and Slovenia.


RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK – THE GARH OF TIGERS
India - by Shweta Bhardwaj

“There it is! I see it” The atmosphere became tenser. I looked at our guide, he was quiet too. He pointed towards the trees and bushes across the lake and said “yes, looks like he is planning to charge and make a kill”.


OF WATER AND ROCK: A ROAD TRIP THROUGH THE ROCKIES
Western Canada - by Glen Cowley

It has been called the most beautiful drive in the World. And it is but a small part of the God's carven world of the seven Canadian National and B. C. Provincial Parks hugging the Rocky Mountains' Great Divide.


ON THE LI WITH SNOW AND ME
China - by Karen Pacheco

We depart early for our four-hour river journey from Guilin to Yangshuo. Tourist vans and buses fill the adjacent parking lot. Hundreds line up for tickets. A fleet of boats nestled in the harbour braces for the throngs. Once aboard, we navigate towards the front of the two-level boat where others gather, cameras clicking.


A WALK IN THE CLOUDS IN LANSDOWNE
India - by Shweta Bhardwaj

Lansdowne is a small hill station situated in Pauri Garwal district in Uttarakhand, India. A hill station where mornings and evenings give you your magical moments of walking in the clouds. A place where you are fully connected with nature and its ways. Still untouched by the modern tourism industry, this place was originally a popular hill station for Britishers (during pre-independence).

A DIVIDED ISLAND
Cyprus - by Giuseppe Raudino

The island of Cyprus is divided into two parts, despite the international community that does not approve of this division. I dare to say that the Turkish North and the Greek South have a huge number of things in common, way more numerous than differences, and the day all Cypriots will focus only on the common things the island will be again one and united.

ENJOYING A WHIRLWIND TOUR OF ENGLAND
England - by Chris Herbert

Rising to very un-English like weather (read “sunny”) the three of us headed for Petersfield, south of London. During our stay this would be our home away from home. Founded in the 12th century by William Fitz Robert the second Earl of Gloucester as a market town, Petersfield grew in importance because of its location on a direct route north to London and south to the coast.

DISCOVERING SAMOA
Samoa - by Clare Gleeson

In 1997 Western Samoa was renamed Samoa. It consists of the two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i plus many smaller ones. Samoa is relaxed and casual, warm and sunny with friendly people, none of whom are in a hurry. You can go to Samoa to enjoy the beaches and unwind, but there’s also plenty to see and do. I was keen to find what remained of its colonial history.

A HOLIDAY IN TORBAY
England - by Matthew Adams

During one summer, I took a holiday in the seaside town of Paignton, one of three towns in Torbay alongside Brixham and Torquay. It is part of a supposed English Riviera that has miles of sandy beaches, and some great coastal landscapes. Aside from soaking up the sun on Paignton's beaches, soak up the history at Torbay's museums, steam railway, Oldway Mansion and Berry Head.

WAR AND PEACE
Vietnam - by Barry Truter

Hanoi is a contrast of old and new with some intriguing contradictions. The National Museum is housed in an old colonial building. The 900 year old Temple of Literature was a center of Confucian learning and thought. The French-era Opera House is beautifully appointed ... and located opposite the Hanoi stock exchange in a square that includes a Gucci store and the Hanoi Hilton.

IMPRISONED ON NORFOLK ISLAND
Australia - by Clare Gleeson

Norfolk Island, a self-governing territory of Australia is small, only 8 kms by 5kms. It was a popular holiday destination in the 1970s and 1980s. The shops are still there, now rather jaded, but what drew me to Norfolk was its history, in particular its history as a penal colony and as a second home for the Pitcairn Islanders.

THE LOST VILLAGES OF EAST ANGLIA
England - by Helen Moat

East Anglia is England’s little Holland. You know you’ve reached the farmlands of East Anglia when the pungent stench of root vegetables hit your nostrils. There are pockets of softer, rolling countryside as well, but mainly East Anglia is flat, very flat. It’s a hostile landscape, the kind of place where you have to be tough and insular to survive.

THERE IS EITHER LIBERTY OR DEATH, AND IF I CANNOT HAVE ONE, I WILL HAVE THE OTHER
Boone Hall Plantation, South Carolina USA - by Hannah Murray

As a British person travelling in the Deep South, a new world of history, food and adventure lay before me. I wanted to see as many historical sites as possible within my six-week trip, and Boone Hall Plantation was in my top five places to see. The best destinations are those that stir the soul, pull at the heartstrings or blow us away with their beauty. For me, Boone Hall managed to do all three.

I TRAVELED TO BERGEN
Norway - by Marc Latham

Bergen’s beautiful location on Norway’s south-western tip; gateway to Norway’s two UNESCO natural heritage fjords; has almost daily rain. Moreover, the precipitation regularly falls as hail and snow even in May. However, I also saw how beautiful the water looked sweeping the air from Vagen bay to Mount Ulriken; the highest of the seven mountains circling Bergen’s UNESCO cultural heritage Bryggen docks.

CLIMBING SRI PADA: THE SACRED MOUNTAIN
Sri Lanka - by Helen Moat

The mountain rises out of the rainforest an emerald pyramid. I look at its sheer vertical flanks that stretch upwards on and on until they puncture the sky high above and I wonder: What have I let myself in for? This is Sri Pada, also known as Adam’s Peak. It is the only mountain in the world to be venerated by four major world religions: by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

THE MERRY CEMETERY IN MARAMURES
Romania - by Iolanda Scripca

In the twenty-four years of my life I spent in Romania, I never had the occasion to visit a unique place in Transylvania called the Merry Cemetery. I called my childhood friend in Romania and asked if she wanted to join me on an adventure that would take us from Bucuresti to Maramures, a region way up north, in Transylvania. It is said that if you do not visit Maramures you do not know the real Romania.

DISCOVERING COLOMBIA’S LOST CITY
South America - by Luke Maguire Armstrong

Our group grabs the packs from the top of the Jeep’s rusty roof before we set off for Colombia’s Lost City. We watch the jeep disappear down the muddy road. It's the last sign of civilization we'll see for a week. Our guide, Tunyi, begins the six-day trek by telling us about eight tourists who were kidnapped on September 15th, 2003 by the National Liberation Army (ELN) on the same trail we are taking.

REMOTE IRISH VILLAGE KEEPER OF CANADIAN MEMORIAL
Ireland- by Anna Marie D’Angelo

In a tiny village in southwest Ireland on the Atlantic is a memorial to the victims of the Air India bombing, Canada's worst mass murder terrorist attack. The memorial in West Cork's tiny Ahakista village to 329 people who died on June 23, 1985 doesn’t seem to be known to many people in Ireland where tragedies are forever remembered in bronze works such as the Famine Memorial in Dublin.

VOLCANIC REMAINS
São Miguel, Azores - by Dene Bebbington

We're on the island of São Miguel, known as the green island. It's the largest of the nine islands in the Azores archipelago – Madeira's quiet cousins farther out in the mighty Atlantic. Though it stuck, the name Azores is actually a misnomer from when the sailors who discovered the islands mistook buzzards for goshawks – the word açores is plural for goshawk in Portuguese.

BHUL BHULAYAH – AN UNUSUAL WONDER!
India - by Renuka Singh

The mystery, the hidden truths and the mystic, all of it put together defines Lucknow’s Bada Imambada. Bhool Bhulayah (a part of the Imambada) is a fascinating labyrinth built by Asaf-ud-Daula (Nawab of Lucknow) in the 17th century. It’s located in the old area of Lucknow. To begin with, it’s one of the most underrated historical sites in the world!

MEMORIES OF A TRAGIC PAST
Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland - by Wynne Crombie

We were part of a continuous line of visitors from around the world who did not need a Silence sign. The only noise came from the shuffling of feet. We were on a tour of Poland and had been visiting Krakow. After making the one hour drive from Krakow, we arrived at Auschwitz I. (Auschwitz II or Birkenau, is a mile away). Admission is free.

AN UNUSUAL ADVENTURE IN ROME
Italy - by Doris Gregory

On that stifling July day, the elevator was packed with hot, sweaty people. We had just come down after viewing the Eternal City from the top of St. Peter’s. "Come on, Wayne," I ordered, "Move!" "I can’t," he said. "My arm’s stuck!" Evidently his arm had been resting on the elevator door. When the door opened and slid into its pocket, it had taken his arm with it

A HUI HOU … TILL WE MEET AGAIN
Hawaii - by Denise Rogers

Is it worth it? Oh yes. We land, retrieve our luggage and walk out into the sunshine. The Trades are blowing; those wonderful, gentle breezes that caress the palm trees and carry the scent of plumeria, just one of the many flowers that grow in the Islands. I can feel my body letting go of all the stressors. We are back on Maui.

EXPLORING THE BADLANDS
Alberta, Canada by Robin Konstabaris

In front of the Dinosaur Museum there was a T-Rex so large we could climb steps inside and six or seven people could gaze out of it's mouth for a sweeping view of the town with the Badlands behind it. “This is the last thing you would see if eaten by the giant T-Rex of Drumheller,” I said.

OUR OREGON COAST ROAD TRIP
USA by Chris Hiebert

There’s a chill in the air. A river of rain washes down the living room window. Curled up in front of the fire a hot cup of Earl Grey tea in hand, Sandra asks “What if we return to the Oregon Coast? Remember the beautiful sunsets and that first glimpse of the ocean through the trees?” she adds. “And of course the people we met.” I had to agree those are the joys of travel.

THE KISPIOX VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL
British Columbia, Canada - by Glen Cowley

The hills are alive with music in North Central British Columbia. Wending through forests, echoing off mountains and flowing with river and stream; music and song find perfect harmony in a setting inspiring even in its silence. The Kispiox Valley Music Festival was celebrating its 18th annual birthday but for us it was experience number one.

THE SPICE ISLAND
Grenada - by Larry Zeletel

Grenada was one of the ports of call during a cruise our cruise ship made in 1978 shortly before the 1979 communist revolution. The ship was only in port for a short time period so I didn’t have a chance to really see and explore the island, but recently I was lucky enough to return. Grenada is known as the “Island of Spice” and produces 1/3 of the world’s nutmeg.

PLAYING IN PETRA
Jordan - by Becky Garrison

When I came upon the Indiana Jones gift and coffee shops and the Titanic Coffee Shop situated at the entrance to Petra, I got the giggles. Looks like some folks might want to make a buck out of Jordan's #1 tourist attraction. After passing by a slew of guide trying to "assist" the tourists, I set off on a sandy path. Soon we passed what would be the first of many tombs to come.

FLYING ON THE 600
France - by Glen Cowley

I wondered if Ferrari made buses as our sardinized mass of humanity rocked unsteadily within the belly of the beast that is the 600 bus. Snaking up from starry eyed Cannes to Grasse, of perfume fame, past the gourmet renowned medieval town of Mougins, the blue Mediterranean its constant backdrop, our bus was guided expertly by a driver skilled enough to dare the race roads of Monaco.

READING FOR HENRY VIII
Oxford, England - by James G. Brueggermann

I'm in a rented morning suit, minus the hat. Looking down the slender nave of a church finished eight hundred years ago, with a man in a full suit of armor lying carved in stone one room over, I'm trying to get used to the idea that I'm supposed to read in here. Out loud, in public. We're early, on purpose.

THE MYSTERY OF OTUT-TUN
Palenque, Mexico - by W. Ruth Kozak

It is then that I wake from my sleep, but the dream, so vivid and real haunted me. Who was the man, Cho-oc Buhlum? Where was that place? Why was he sending me away? It wasn't until nearly a year later in a place thousands of miles away in south-eastern Mexico that I would find some of the answers.

THE JEAN-MICHEL COUSTEAU FIJI ISLANDS RESORT
Fiji, South Pacific - by Mari Kane

As we emerge from our van in front of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, I hear music. Outside, a Fijian guy is playing guitar and singing a welcome home song. Beside him, a Fijian woman is offering us colorful drinks with tiny umbrellas. I want to wave them away with an "aw garsh, ya shouldn't have," until I realize that every guest is serenaded upon arrival.

REACHING FOR HEAVEN
Meteora, Greece - by W. Ruth Kozak

On a bright May afternoon, I travel by train across the lush Thessaly Plain in central Greece. Suddenly, out of the plain, gigantic spires of rock emerge, some higher than 400 meters, their strange shapes jutting up out of the fertile soil. Nothing I have seen in pictures has prepared me for this sight. Few places I have seen in Greece are so intensely dramatic.

HAWAII'S OUTER SHORES
United States of America

My wife Annie and I are immersing ourselves in the history and culture of Hawaii's less crowded "outer" shores, far from the lights and traffic of Waikiki. It is like opening a Russian doll, so many hidden dimensions ar revealed. We keep getting vivid glimpses of long-vanished ways of life.

RESORTING TO THE ARCANE
Muktinath, Nepal

Well over a half century ago the inveterate British mountaineer and travel writer, H.W. 'Bill' Tilman (b.1898), was the first European to trek across some of the highest parts of Nepal. To be sure, it is an alluring and austere place, but why did he call it a "resort"?

A ROAD TRIP TO VISIT RAIGAD FORT
India

When Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj calls, you just get up and go. The excitement at visiting a place that I had been trying to visit for the past twelve years, but somehow had never managed to do so, for a variety of reasons, was palpable. We finally reached Pachad at the base of the famous Fort Raigad.

A SLOVAK FAMILY SOJOURN
Slovakia

My wife I are visiting the Spis region in northeastern Slovakia, which is for her the “old country.” This makes the trip a special occasion
returning to her roots, getting to know the rich culture, stunning traditional architecture and spectacular landscape that her parents and grand-parents left behind.

DOIN’ DHAKA
Bangladesh

Virginia had read my expat piece about rickshaws in The Oldie, and liked it. In her e-mail she explained that she had been in Dhaka a few years ago, and had bought some rickshaw art - paintings on tin plate. She had given them away. Would I be able to find someone who could locate some?

FISHING IN KARELIA
Russia

It depends on the person. Karelia is not sunny and friendly most of the days. It can be rather rigorous and austere. Nevertheless it recharges you with vital energy, makes one strive for life, be grateful for small favors made by nature and notice sun even during rainy days.

VIEW FROM THE MALL
In London for the Royal Wedding

One third of the world’s population tuned in to watch the Royal Wedding coverage on TV, and nearly one million people took to the streets of London on Friday April 29th, 2011 just to be at the epicenter of all the festivities. Luckily for me, I was one of those people.

KNOCKING ON WISCONSIN’S DOOR
Door County, Wisconsin

The area received its name from the French, when it was dubbed Porte de Mortes (or “Door to Death”), because of the treacherous strait between the peninsula and the islands off its northern end, which today is the resting place of countless sunken ships. Door County also boasts multiple white sand beaches that line Lake Michigan.

MEGALITHIC PASSAGE TOMB
Knowth, Ireland

I boarded the small bus from the Visitor Centre which had taken our group to Newgrange, a huge megalithic passage tomb. The Visitor Centre acts as a gateway to the Bru na Boinne area, the bend of the Boyne River. In this area lie three Neolithic (4000-2500 BC) Passage Tombs—Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth built over an area of 10 square kilometres.

ON A SPECIAL QUEST
Karaganda, Kazakhistan

When my husband and I first flew into Karaganda, Kazakhstan, the first thing I noticed was the smell. The warm breezes blowing in from the vast Kazakh steppe and over the tarmac smelled almost like the air of my family's farm, located half way around the world in the high mountain deserts of Utah.

THE VENETIAN CASTLES OF THE PELOPONNESE
Greece

Hidden on the slopes of a great rock known as the Gibraltar of Greece, Monemvasia is one of those rare treasures that tourists usually by-pass. It's a magical experience visiting this little medieval site. The entire town is walled and invisible from the shore. The steep rock, crowned with its Venetian fortress, is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway.

BRINGING IN THE LIGHT WITH THE WINTER SOLSTICE
Newgrange, Ireland

I struggled against the wind and rain as I carried a knapsack and pulled a suitcase up the steep incline from the parking lot towards Newgrange, one of the Passage Burial Tombs in east coastal Ireland. My red umbrella continued to turn inside out. I felt constantly confronted yet also exhilarated with this fierce encounter with an early autumn storm.

HORSING AROUND IN ARGENTINA
Patagonia

‘Andrés, do horses like being ridden?’ I ask Andrés, our guide. We are riding in the Parque National Nahuel Huapi, in Argentine Patagonia, just above Villa la Angostura, and between Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes. ‘I think they’d rather be grazing in a field,” Andreas replies. “But once you decide to ride, you have to play by the rules. Talk to her! Kick her! Use the stick!’

THE COALPITS OF WALES
A Tribute to My Family’s Heritage

Kitted out in a helmet, cap lamp, battery pack and a miner’s belt, I enter the pit-cage and descend 90 meters to a world of shafts, coal faces and underground roadways. Guided by a good-natured ex-miner guide, I am about to experience a real sense of life in the coalpit.

RHODES LESS TRAVELED
Rhodes Island, Greece

Despite its size, Rhodes is an Island of understated charms. Ask sometone to name a famous Acropolis and the answer will doubtless be Athens. Enquire of a Greek party island and they are likely to respond with Mykonos. Yet unbeknown to many, Rhodes has its own ancient ruins to rival the mainland capital, as well as its own dusk-till-dawn party town.

THE MYSTERIOUS GREAT SERPENT MOUND
Ohio, USA

The rolling hills of Southern Ohio surround me in all directions. My husband and I travel along the secluded wilderness below the Great Serpent Mound. From head to tail the Serpent measures 1,330 feet in length and three feet in width.

A PLACE THAT DOES NOT EXIST
Georgia, Abkhazia

I started walking back across the Inguri River Bridge, which separates the post-Soviet Republic of Georgia from what once used to be a prime tourist destination in the former USSR, Abkhazia. The bridge’s halfway point boasts a statue of a gun with a twisted barrel ... I could hardly think of a more ironic place for housing this embodiment of peace.

CYCLING IN BRUSSELS - “A VÉLO, MESDAMES!
Belgium

It was ‘car-free Sunday’ when I arrived in Brussels. From dawn till dusk, no motorized vehicles were allowed into the city centre, apart from public transport. The streets filled up with smiling happy cyclists, trikers, Nordic walkers, roller-bladers, joggers and strollers. What a great opportunity to explore my new surroundings!

FRANCE
Biking On The Canal Du Midi

We were planning a long camping trip to France. We had dreamed for years of hiring a boat on the Canal du Midi but were always put off by the expense, so my partner came up with the idea of cycling its length
inexpensive, a good way to see the countryside, meet the people and great exercise.

IN TIMES OF DISASTER
Sri Lanka

It’s January 12, 2010—5 years after the tsunami tore into Asian countries around the Indian Ocean, an earthquake, magnitude of 7, affects millions in Haiti
200,000 dead; 250,000 injured; over two million homeless with the rainy season upon them.

SERENE, SOOTHING AND SALUBRIOUS SAPUTARA
Gujarat, India

Hill stations have always fascinated me. My family and I have been fortunate to visit some of India’s best known hill stations ranging from Tawang in the Eastern Himalayas to Shimla, Nubra Valley and beyond. Having experienced first hand the joys of visiting the quintessential Himalayan hill stations of India, we decided to alter our hill sojourn a bit and gave the less commercialized Saputara a try.

TSUNAMI! A STORY OF SURVIVAL
Phi Phi Island, Thailand

I wake, underwater, drowning again. My limbs are free. I look above into darkness. I’m down deep. The weight of the water crushes me. Debris boxes me in. I turn left…everything is black. I turn right…there’s a faint circle of light. Instinct guides me to swim! Swim! Swim for your life! Adrenaline fuels me and I sever a path through the filthy, now motionless, water.

THE TRINITY SITE - WHERE THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB WAS EXPLODED
New Mexico

Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975, the Trinity Site is near the north end of the Jornada del Muerto desert. This desert name often translates as “journey of the dead man,” the name the Spanish conquistadors gave to the 1660s northerly route from Mexico. The origin of the code name “Trinity” is uncertain.

SIGATOKA RIVER - SAFARI TO FIJIAN VILLAGE
The Fiji Islands

The 120 kilometre Sigatoka River flows between the central and western mountain ranges to the coast of Viti Levu, the largest of Fiji’s 333 islands. It is the major means of transportation to this part of the island’s interior. Emerald hills of lush tropical growth and shimmering marble cliffs that had seemingly been sliced by a mighty sculptor’s tool pass us by.

TOSSING & TURNING WITH THE LEMP MANSION SPOOKS
St. Louis, Missouri

The thirty-three room mansion that is the focus of so much ghostly activity today was bought in 1876 by the Lemps. William’s daughter Hilda married Gustav Pabst of Milwaukee, creating a powerful beer alliance in 1897. But the good times for the Lemps were about to end, and tragedy would begin to assault the family.

TENERIFE - A FUN-FILLED FIESTA
Canary Islands, Spain

While whizzing along Tenerife's scenic west coast, a sea of flags and gently swaying streamers entices us to stop. It was a fiesta in honour of La Virgen de Candelaria, the Canary Islands patron saint. A coastal town, Alcala changed its name to Candelaria (meaning Candle Mass) when the saint’s image was washed up Chimisay beach.

LOVER’S SPAT WITH THE ETERNAL CITY
Rome, Italy

I love Rome so much I live there two months every year. But last year, Roma morphed from lover to spouse who no longer strived to satisfy, much less delight me. I did not have an aha! moment, that moved my passion for Roma to the echoes of Medieval bells and memories of riso gelato. It was good while it lasted. And then it was over.

AMONG THE LIONS
Gir, India

Sasan Gir, land of the wild and the free, the savage and the beautiful, where endless dry and arid grasslands are rife with game. Lions prowl there, magnificent lions with imposing manes. A stunning variety of some of the magnificent specimens of wildlife found anywhere else on earth are here in Sasan Gir.

WALKING THE WALLS INTO ANTIQUITY
Dubrovnik, Croatia

My husband and I had one goal in mind when we visited Croatia
to stroll Dubrovnik’s magnificent walls. But first, we had to immerse ourselves into the atmosphere of that ancient city that had come into existence between AD 598 and 615.

PASSEGGIATA
Strolling Through Italy

In Italy, life proceeds at its own pace and with its own rhythm. When a hotel manager says that the room will be ready, “In ten minutes,” he doesn’t mean by the clock. He means, “In a little while,” an indeterminate amount of time. Maybe it will be soon but more likely later. Once we accept this, we relax.

AFRICA - THE CLIFFS OF BANDIAGARA
Bandiagara, Mali

Dogon Country denotes a region of roughly 400,000 hectares, following the Bandiagara Escarpment, an astonishing line of cliffs which climbs up to 500m at its highest points in 150 km. The stunning views from the top went for miles. Savannah went all the way to the horizon, or sand, or rock. The area felt at times impossibly remote, but it was one of Mali’s first tourist groups.

THE PEDDLERS OF THE HANGZHOU NIGHT MARKET
Hangzhou, China

It is the low season for tourism, so other than myself there are only a few westerners out this evening. Vendors beckon with cries of “Hello, hello!” and “CD, DVD!” They are relentless, thrusting cracked plates and crumbling vases in my face as they scream, “Ming Dynasty!”

AWAY FROM HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Athens, Greece

Christmas in 1983 was the first time I had ever spent Christmas away from my family. I couldn’t have been any farther away from Vancouver, Canada than Athens, Greece. It looked as though it would be a dismal time. Donald and Barry became my saviors, cheering me with their Irish humor and lively music.

A CIVIL WAR CAMP ADVENTURE
Petersburg, Virginia

My husband John and I signed up for the Civil War Adventure Camp, part of the Pamplin Historical Park. I volunteered for the Army of the Potomac and John joined the Army of the Confederacy. Regardless of the visions of glory when enlisting, this quickly faded with the intensity of the training and experiencing the horror of war, albeit a ‘mock’ war.

GHOSTS OF SOUTHERN SASKATCHEWAN
Canada

Saskatchewan is crisscrossed with a myriad of highways so the choice of routes seemed endless. Old Wives appealed to me because of the legend I had heard surrounding its name. Many years ago there was an encampment of Cree at this site. Further away in the hills the Blackfoot were waiting to attack.

THE TALL SHIPS RACES
Liverpool, England

Around a million visitors were expected to descend on Liverpool’s World Heritage waterfront between the 18th and 21st July to watch the ceremonies and departure of The Tall Ships’ Races 2008. The fleet of tall ships, that is both spectacular and unique, was the largest ever to grace British waters, being made up of around 70 vessels.

DISCOVERING ONE OF MEXICO’S BEST KEPT SECRETS
Melaque, Mexico

Oscar bound the hind legs of a long-horned Brahma cow, poured 100%-proof sugarcane alcohol and Ibarra Mexican chocolate into a tin mug, shoved it under the cow’s teat and began milking. Offering us a round of steaming frothy mixture, the farmer chuckled and said “Good Latte! Si?”

SURVIVING CYCLONE NARGIS
Mayanmar

When dawn broke, the gardens were a spectacle of utter devastation
royal palms chopped in half; bougainvillea trellises collapsed into the swimming pool; hundreds of ridge tiles shooting off the roofs and crashing into the pool and as far as the lake. The lake itself appeared through the dawn like an ocean, with waves streaking across it as the cyclone circled overhead.

POURQUOI? Oswiecim, Poland
It was the beginning of February and the weather was predictably Polish; snowing and –10 degrees C. It stopped snowing on my arrival at the small town of Oswiecim, which was a quaint and isolated town for most of its 700 years history until the twentieth century when it gained notoriety by its German name, Auschwitz.

THE GHOST OF BELGRAVIA
London, England

On a rainy morning in June 1922, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, dressed in full military regalia complete with a ceremonial sword, returned to his home at 36 Eaton Place, Belgravia after dedicating a war memorial. He was about to enter his house when two armed gunmen approached him from behind and shot him nine times. Sir Henry died on his doorstep.

THE WEDDING, ETHIOPIAN STYLE
Abdurafi, Ethiopia

It’s wedding season in Abdurafi, Ethiopia. Wedding season comes but once a year, and lasts for two months only. Raise a flag, kill a goat, beat a drum, invite the neighbours and get yourself a wife!

THE SURREAL LIFE
My Memoirs of Saudi Arabia

As I saw the police approach the taxi I was riding in with my handsome male companion on that lonely desert highway, my heart started to pound. Images of my passport with a deportation stamp “PROSITUTION” flashed thru my mind.

WHEN IN ROME
Rome, Italy

We had arrived in Rome yesterday, and in a spasm of enthusiasm Leah and I signed up for a personal guided tour of the city. As I lie stiffly in the cramped hotel bed, basting in perspiration, I dimly recall signing up for an eight o’clock walking tour. It’s now seven. I am disoriented, and the elephant tap-dancing on my head suggests a mammoth hangover.