Blog_a2 Special Related Posts

Berlin: Fahrelnissa Zeid - retrospective of her vivid paintings
Berlin: Gianni Versace retrospective fashion show
Myanmar: Elephant camp excursion
Big Game in Africa: Namibia's Cruel "Trophy Services"
Ireland: Surviving in St. John's Castle

Ireland: Surviving in St. John's Castle

Compared to the times of the 13th century, when King John's Castle was built, we live in very peaceful times. Imagine having to live in this castle, nay, fortress in order to save your life. [Read more...]Read more...
Ireland:  The legend of Irish Coffee comes alive in Foynes
A Picasso in the kitchen - the Hunt Museum in Limerick
Ireland:  Almost 400 years of fun at the "Durty Nelly's" pub in Bunratty
Ireland: A grand place to stay - Adare Manor
Ireland:  the dramatic Cliffs of Moher
Ireland: The imposing Bunratty Castle
London: The 100th Chelsea Flower Show

London: The 100th Chelsea Flower Show

Attending the Chelsea Flower Show has been a very pleasant ritual for the last twelve years in the month of May.Read more...
London:  At the Hermès Festival des Métiers - how luxury gets made
“65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel”

“65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel”

Recently, I was asked to contribute a chapter for a book. Titled “65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel”...Read more...
Japan: Nagasaki's Atomic Bomb Museum
Japan:  Dolls everywhere - the Hina-Matsuri Festival
Japan: The amazing 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa
Kanazawa, gold-leaf capital of Japan

Kanazawa, gold-leaf capital of Japan

Have you ever seen a gossamer-thin leaf of gold? Blow on it ever so lightly and it will fly away, catching the sunshine, if you are lucky, and creating an ephemeral moment of magic.Read more...
Kanazawa, Japan:  A city devoted to ART
Ode to a department store – Tokyu Hands
Japan: The artistry of straw
Croatia:  Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic
Estonia: a frightening experience in Tallinn's KUMU museum
Japan:  Endless views of Mt. Fuji
Japan:  Adachi Museum of Art near Matsue
Japan:  Tottori sand dunes
Japan: Sapporo to Nagano on the Twilight Express sleeper
Japan: How to get to the Snow Monkeys
Japan: A visit to see the Snow Monkeys!
Japan: Asahikawa's Ice Festival
Japan: Otaru's lights and lanterns
Japan:  Sapporo's Snow Festival
Japan: Tokyo to Sapporo with the Hokutosei sleeper train
Japan: "Incense" used as a game
Japan: Tokyo National Museum
Japan: Delicious white strawberries!
Japan: Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Japan: Tokyo Bird Carver's Club
Japan: Tokyo's "cat cafes"
Berlin: Pret à Diner temporary restaurant
Nice: Where queens and artists meet
Madrid: Tapa stop at Mercado San Miguel
Denmark:  The taming of Freetown Christiania
Iceland:  Volcano-walking on Krafla
Iceland: Drangey Island, a puffin paradise
Iceland:  Hotpooling with heroes
Iceland:  Surprising Sauðárkrókur
Iceland: Akureyri Botanical Garden
Berlin: Fashion Week walks
The world of cruises
Japan: Kyoto fleamarket around a temple
France: Stay in a Château and feel like a princess!
Berlin: Cherry blossoms replace barbed wire
Thailand: Spending a day with tigers
Honeymooner's paradise
South Africa: Tenikwa Center for "Lesser Cats"
South Africa: Mudbath for elephants at the Addo National Park
Malaysia: Blue Mansion Hotel in Penang
Malaysia: Tropical Spice Garden experience
Malaysia: Beautiful Penang Butterfly Farm
Bangkok to Penang: 24 hour International Express Train
China: Beijing's Song Tang Zhai Museum, a taste of hutong history
China:  Life in Beijing
China: The eternal Forbidden City
China:  Great crowds at the Great Wall
China:  "Turandot" revisited in Beijing
Australia: Far North Queensland
Australia: Delights of "the Hunter"
Australia: Paronella Park - a Spaniard's dream
Australia: The magic of the Great Barrier Reef
Australia: Daylesford and Hepburn Springs
Sydney:  Museums
Sydney: Views at every turn
Rotorua:  The compleat hot springs experience
Rotorua:  learn to love that smell of sulphur!
Auckland: City of Views
Auckland:  Elephants in the skies -  the Civic Theatre
 Santiago:  Palacio Cousiño - grand living for a grand family
Santiago:  Museum of Pre-Columbian art
Santiago:  Museo de la Moda
Where did the day go?
Pet peeve - literally
Easter Island:  Paradise in peril
Santiago: Museo Ralli Latin American art
Santiago:  Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Valdivia:  town of rivers, beer and chocolates
Hot springs, Chilean style
Fresia - no, not the flower
No thumbnail available
Iguazú:  waterfalls and (tame) wildlife
Argentina: Saltos de Moconá waterfalls in Misiones
Buenos Aires: A bookworm's idea of heaven!
A night out in Buenos Aires
Market Day in Tblisi, Georgia
Tblisi, Georgia
Tblisi Botanical Gardens
Kaffee and Kuchen with Goethe and Schiller
No thumbnail available
Austria: Training Creativity in Salzburg

Berlin: Fahrelnissa Zeid – retrospective of her vivid paintings

Fahrelnissa Zeid – an unknown name? You are not the only one, I hadn’t heard of her either. Now, however, the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin is showing a comprehensive retrospective of her work until April 9, 2018 and it is well worth visiting.

, , , , , ,

Berlin: Gianni Versace retrospective fashion show

From now until April 13, 2018, there is a retrospective with about 300 of his originals being shown in Berlin at the Kronprinzenpalais on the Unter den Linden Boulevard.

, , , , , ,

Myanmar: Elephant camp excursion

Caring about the wellbeing of all animals, I was very hesitant about this excursion. How would the animals be handled? Would I perceive the Mahouts (holders) as being cruel to the elephants? What are the living conditions of the elephants like? And so forth.

, , , , ,

Big Game in Africa: Namibia’s Cruel “Trophy Services”

The last thing I expected to see while driving along the road connecting Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and the international airport was a life size pink and purple elephant alongside the road. Is it art? Advertising? A little further along is an extra large sign, this time with the words “Taxidermy Souvenirs” pointing up a [...]

,

Ireland: Surviving in St. John’s Castle

Compared to the times of the 13th century, when King John’s Castle was built, we live in very peaceful times. Imagine having to live in this castle, nay, fortress in order to save your life. [Read more…]

, , , ,

Ireland: The legend of Irish Coffee comes alive in Foynes

Irish coffee – that delicious hot drink combining coffee, good whiskey and cream – has become such a classic nowadays, that it hardly raises an eyebrow anymore. In fact, one might say that it has fallen out of fashion even. But once you try it, especially on a wet and cold evening, you will quickly […]

, , , , ,

A Picasso in the kitchen – the Hunt Museum in Limerick

With my penchant for museums, I was enchanted to visit the Hunt Museum in Limerick. Has nothing to do with hunting but everything with one of the greatest private collections of art and antiques in Ireland, right up to the the 20th century. John and Gertrude Hunt were antique dealers and art historians and started, [...]

, , , ,

Ireland: Almost 400 years of fun at the “Durty Nelly’s” pub in Bunratty

Although I admit to loving taking in the sights, visiting museums, gardens and the like, but I also love to eat and drink well, especially in a place that is so full of tradition as this pub. This is the original Durty Nelly's in Bunratty and always fun. In fact, it is a little bit of a [...]

, , , , ,

Ireland: A grand place to stay – Adare Manor

Grand houses always also tell grand stories. In this case, it is a story of physical pain and a way to overcome it: The 2nd Earl of Dunraven, a man full of energy and used to spending a lot of time enjoying the chase of the hunt, was laid low with severe gout. Adare Manor [...]

, , , , , ,

Ireland: the dramatic Cliffs of Moher

There is absolutely no indication, while driving down a narrow country lane in County Clare, that you are about to come upon Ireland’s Nr. 1 natural attraction, the Cliffs of Moher. So narrow is the lane, that oncoming traffic has to squeeze by. But no matter, once you arrive, the natural grandeur of the scenery [...]

, ,

Ireland: The imposing Bunratty Castle

There is nothing dainty about this square Norman castle. Throughout the centuries, it was meant to keep agressors out and so it did: by its surrounding moat (now no longer in existence), by its drawbridge, by the heavy wrought iron drop gate, by the impenetrable slit window opening meant to hold a shooting bow and [...]

, , ,

London: The 100th Chelsea Flower Show

Attending the Chelsea Flower Show has been a very pleasant ritual for the last twelve years in the month of May.

, , , ,

London: At the Hermès Festival des Métiers – how luxury gets made

Hermès .... synonym for luxury scarves, bags, porcelain, saddles.  You might or might not like their style, but there is no doubt about it:  as far as craftsmanship is concerned, they are tops.  When I saw that a traveling show of meeting their craftspeople was on at the Saatchi Gallery, I made a point to [...]

, ,

“65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel”

Recently, I was asked to contribute a chapter for a book. Titled “65 Things to Do When You Retire: Travel”…

, , ,

Japan: Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum

It is the two-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Japan today.  We all know that it was not only the quake and the tsunami that followed that caused such devastating destruction, but also the damage to the atomic reactors in Fukushima.  Before March 11, 2011, I dare say that no one knew about Fukushima.  [...]

, , , ,

Japan: Dolls everywhere – the Hina-Matsuri Festival

Dolls, dolls, dolls everywhere!  From small and plain to very fancy, I kept seeing them everywhere. So I investigated:  starting in February and up to March 3, families and businesses display their often handed-down-through-generations dolls in honor of “Hina Matsuri Festival” on March 3, also called the “Doll’s Festival” or “Girls’ Day”.  The tradition goes […]

, , , ,

Japan: The amazing 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa

The relatively small city of Kanazawa is full of surprises.  The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is a revelation, for example.  There are works by world famous artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Leandro Erlich, James Turrell, Anish Kapoor, Jan Fabre and Patrick Blanc. Not only is the art shown on par with New York, [...]

, , ,

Kanazawa, gold-leaf capital of Japan

Have you ever seen a gossamer-thin leaf of gold? Blow on it ever so lightly and it will fly away, catching the sunshine, if you are lucky, and creating an ephemeral moment of magic.

, ,

Kanazawa, Japan: A city devoted to ART

Where else but in Kanazawa is there a giant brass tea kettle to greet your arrival at the super modern train station? ART is written in capital letters everywhere you look in the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture.  In fact, I compare it to Florence, Italy, where ART is also part of its historical heritage and [...]

, , , ,

Ode to a department store – Tokyu Hands

Make your gift special with one of these lovely boxes Chocolate paper cups, also good for mini-muffins, cheese balls …. Silicon cups and forms for cookies, chocolates, ice cubes … How to make a child’s lunchbox more appealing… Make rice balls in the shape of a cat, Mickey Mouse, stars… Insoles of all kinds House [...]

, , , , , ,

Japan: The artistry of straw

The country and culture that has given us Ikebana – that ever-so-sophisticated art of arranging flowers – has also created an artful way of keeping trees and bushes from falling apart under the weight of snow. When you consider, that every one of these trees is wrapped and strapped by hand twice a year - [...]

, ,

Croatia: Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic

If you are in a hurry, you can see Dubrovnik in 30 minutes and check it off your UNESCO World Heritage sites on top of that. That’s how long it takes to walk at a leisurely pace the 400 meters of its main street, the Stradun, from the Pile to the Ploce city gates - [...]

, ,

Estonia: a frightening experience in Tallinn’s KUMU museum

The KUMU contemporary art museum in Tallinn, Estonia, is one of those iconic buildings you don’t forget:  clean lines, generous spaces, windows that catch as much light as possible.  No wonder Finnish architect Pekka Vapaavuori’s design won the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award in 2008.  So whenever I visit Tallinn, I always make [...]

, , , ,

Japan: Endless views of Mt. Fuji

Fuji-san (as the Japanese reverently refer to their iconic highest mountain) is like a little child – it demands attention:  I am here, I want you to look at me, pay attention to me, to my moods, to my cloud hat, to the sun’s rays as they caress my cake-frosting top, to the wind as [...]

, ,

Japan: Adachi Museum of Art near Matsue

The Adachi Museum is one of those pearls you find in the Japanese countryside.  Easily reachable from Matsue, it is certainly worth a visit if you are interested in Japanese gardens and art, in that order. Founded in 1980 by Adachi Zenko, a self-made merchant millionaire, garden and art lover as well as philosopher, Adachi [...]

, ,

Japan: Tottori sand dunes

When you think of Japan, sand dunes and beaches are not the first thing that come to mind.  And yet, they do exist!  Tottori, a small city on the West Coast, can boast to being the home to Japan’s largest sand dunes, stretching an impressive 10 km along the coast, at times up to 2 [...]

, ,

Japan: Sapporo to Nagano on the Twilight Express sleeper

Riding overnight trains must also be a special experience for Japanese.  As I sit in the very comfortable and spacious salon car, with its linden-green upholstered sofas and oversize panoramic windows, the merchandise cart comes along.  The attendant hands out a menue-like card showing all the items available, branded especially for the Twilight Express. A [...]

, , , ,

Japan: How to get to the Snow Monkeys

The journey to see the monkeys is half the fun, but involves some planning.  Think of it as a day excursion and be sure to allow time.  A snowy day is ideal because the chances of seeing many monkeys in the water are good – afer all, they want to get warm!  On a nice [...]

, , , , , ,

Japan: A visit to see the Snow Monkeys!

When the baby monkey gazed up at me from the safe folds of her mother’s warm embrace, well, who wouldn’t melt?  Ever since seeing a report on TV about the red-faced Macaque monkeys enjoying the natural volcanic hot springs near Nagano, I had wanted to visit them. And now I was here, communing mutely with [...]

, , , ,

Japan: Asahikawa’s Ice Festival

Asahikawa in central Hokkaido will not win the “prettiest town” prize by a long shot, neither in summer nor in winter.  Its main claim to fame is being a rail hub for the northern Japanese island, about 80 minutes by train from Sapporo. It also boasts an “Ice Festival” with snow figures and ice sculptures, [...]

, , ,

Japan: Otaru’s lights and lanterns

Once a flourishing port specializing in the herring trade, Otaru, on Hokkaido’s west coast and about an hour’s train ride from Sapporo, has found out that the tourist trade is far more profitable these days. Since Otaru has a picturesque canal lined with old warehouses, why not make an “Illuminated Night Path” with lanterns on [...]

, , , ,

Japan: Sapporo’s Snow Festival

What started out over 60 years ago as a school boy fun pastime is now a full fledged Snow and Ice Festival in Sapporo, Japan, during early February every year.  Innocent snowmen with button eyes, a carrot nose and a shawl belong to the past.   Now there is corporate sponsorship for monumental structures, intricately carved, [...]

, , , ,

Japan: Tokyo to Sapporo with the Hokutosei sleeper train

For holders of the JR Railpass, this is a good option to get from Tokyo to Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido.  The Hokutosei is a tokkyu limited sleeper express and leaves at 7 p.m. from Ueno Station,  arriving the next morning at 11:15 a.m. in Sapporo.  That is about 17 hours, but there [...]

, , , , , ,

Japan: “Incense” used as a game

Does incense bring up memories of flower power dresses and, hey man, being sooo laid back in groovy psychedelic pads? Or of the strict rites of the Catholic Church and young altar servers swaying the thurible to the monotonous rhythm of the priest’s lithurgy?  Not so in Japan. From about the 14th century onwards, a [...]

, , ,

Japan: Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park is housed in an impressive building from the early 1930’s featuring elements of what is called the “emperor’s crown style” – a mix of Western Art Deco and Eastern sweeping forms.  Two stories of well displayed and lit materials, with plenty of opportunities for resting, this museum was […]

, ,

Japan: Delicious white strawberries!

Ever on the lookout for new gourmet taste sensations, I found these white strawberries in Tokyo’s famous wholesale Tsukiji food market.  Beautifully packaged, as they should be for the price of 800 Yen for 6 strawberries in early February (that’s about $10 or 8 Euro).  Amazingly, they really tasted like strawberries, as did the red [...]

, , ,

Japan: Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

It was a perfect early Spring day:  sunshine and temperatures of about 10 degrees.  Time to stroll through one of Tokyo’s largest city center parks. The early narcissus were in full bloom under the still barren cherry tree branches, attracting avid photographers. Also out were early Ume (plum) blossoms, which attracted some cute green finches. [...]

, , ,

Japan: Tokyo Bird Carver’s Club

Ornithologists are a breed apart.  And ornithologists who are also wood carvers surely form a distinct sub-category.  In Tokyo, the “Bird Carver's Club” exhibited its masterpieces at the Shinjuku-gyoen Garden.  And masterworks they were: from the right proportions to the distinctive details of each species, each piece was astonishingly life-like.  The hours of study, contemplation [...]

, , , ,

Japan: Tokyo’s “cat cafes”

By now it is a known fact that pets can help to combat stress symptoms. So it is a logical conclusion to combine two pleasurable activities in order to achieve a positive result: have a tea or coffee break and pet a cat to feel relaxed.  The Japanese solution:  visit a “Cat Cafe”. Cashier cat [...]

, , ,

Berlin: Pret à Diner temporary restaurant

Berlin is known for its temporary installations in out of the way places– boutiques, events, galleries, restaurants. When three top chefs combine forces under the catchy name of “Pret à diner” and present exotic sounding menues for just 35 days in the cavernous rooms of the old mint, I listened up. Sure enough, reservations were [...]

, , ,

Nice: Where queens and artists meet

Have you ever wondered where Queen Victoria went on vacation? Well, starting in 1882, she often travelled with her entourage of over one hundred persons to the French Riviera.  Menton and Nice became favorite spots.  And, of course, a Queen does not just stay anywhere. So, way up the hill in Nice, the Excelsior Hotel [...]

, , ,

Madrid: Tapa stop at Mercado San Miguel

Sightseeing makes hungry, as we all know.  And what nicer way to have a snack than to go to a market, especially a newly restored Beaux-Art period one right in the center of Madrid, off the Plaza Mayor. Meringue mountains Sweet temptations Colorful macaroons Savory seafood snacks … and a good chilled wine…. Portly pumpkins [...]

, , , ,

Denmark: The taming of Freetown Christiania

Walking through the famous “Freetown Christiania” on a wet November afternoon in Copenhagen was anticlimactic.  Here we were in the self-declared autonomous neighborhood that had caused such an uproar because it pronounced itself outside of the law in the early 70s, where cannabis was and still is freely available for sale, the epitomy of living [...]

, , , ,

Iceland: Volcano-walking on Krafla

After all the impossible-to-pronounce names in Iceland, a simple one:  Krafla.  Simple name, powerful landscape.  Always windy. Not a tree in sight.  At most, earth-hugging miniature purple flowers, several types of moss and very pretty white pompons atop green stalks.  Krafla is a volcanic area and a geothermal powerstation in the north of Iceland, near [...]

, , ,

Iceland: Drangey Island, a puffin paradise

Even the islands around Iceland are volcanic in origin.  So, too, Drangey, a 180 meter high steep-cliffed, tuff-stone blob of about 20 hectares in diameter, that is the remnant of a 700,000 year old volcano dominating the Skagafjoerdur fjord in the north of Iceland.  Now uninhabited (except for a small cottage for bird catchers), it [...]

, , , ,

Iceland: Hotpooling with heroes

Although the north west region of Iceland was only permanently settled by Norwegians in the mid 19th century, a natural hot pool located about 18 km north of the town of Saudhakrokur was already mentioned as being enjoyed by the great outlaw hero Grettir, protagonist of Grettis Saga, one of the famous Icelandic sagas from [...]

, , , ,

Iceland: Surprising Sauðárkrókur

Pronounced Saudhárkrókur or Sauthárkrókur it literally means sheep-river-hook and refers to the place where the river Sauðá meets the ocean.  The sand on the river banks is of the finest quality, super fine as any sand found in the Caribbean, only it demonstrates its volcanic heritage by being dark grey in color. Nowadays Sauðárkrókur is [...]

, , , , ,

Iceland: Akureyri Botanical Garden

Just 100 km south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland’s second largest town Akureyri (pop. approx. 20,000) boasts a mostly ice-free port and one of the most charming Botanical Gardens I have visited so far.   My visit at the beginning of August coincided with the explosive bloom of thousands of delphiniums in a rainbow of blue [...]

, , ,

Berlin: Fashion Week walks

Women’s “tabi” shoe by Asics Okatabi sneaker by Asics, hand-dyed indigo Japanese artists in Berlin enjoying a break Tokyo?  No! Berlin!  It is Fashion Week and there is fashion on and off catwalks all over town.  This is a pop-up art installation in a grafitti-covered storefront on spunky Tor Strasse in the Mitte district by [...]

,

The world of cruises

Cruise liner in Sydney Harbour After my recently completed 257 day around the world trip, there was only one mode of transportation that I had not used:  cruise ships.  Simply the idea of not packing/unpacking and to be taken to a destination is utterly appealing! I think I have saved the best for last and [...]

,

Japan: Kyoto fleamarket around a temple

Voices hushed, feet in socks shuffling softly on tatami mats, sandalwood smoke from incense sticks,  heads bowed in ancestral prayer ...  not so at the Kyoto temple fleamarket: a cacophony of voices, from shrill to shriller, boom to bass, everyone trying to overtrump the other and all with the same message: “buy me”. Hundreds of [...]

, , , ,

France: Stay in a Château and feel like a princess!

The Loire region of France is world famous for its castles.  Château de la Barre has that something extra:  from the minute you turn into the park and its curving road, past the gate-keeper’s lodge, past the sheep grazing under the centuries-old cedar of Lebanon, the imposing plane and walnut trees, and arriving at the [...]

, , , ,

Berlin: Cherry blossoms replace barbed wire

The death trail that once marked the Berlin Wall is alive and well ... with cherry blossoms.  Every year around the beginning of May, over 1400 cherry trees burst into bloom along this stretch of the erstwhile mined no-man’s land. Now it fills visitors with joy instead of dread. Berlin Wall Walk with cherry blossoms [...]

, , , ,

Thailand: Spending a day with tigers

Poachers had killed the female tiger but left the new-born cub to fend for itself.  Passing villagers found it whimpering in the bush and decided to take it to the newly established temple near Kanchanaburi, Thailand.  Little did the Buddhist monks realize that they were embarking on a unique venture in 1994 with that very [...]

, , , ,

Honeymooner’s paradise

Honeymoons – what a wonderful time to explore a new country!  And New Zealand is a place that offers it all:  beaches, mountains, hot springs, culture, adventure.  I don’t want to sound like the official tourism marketing agency, but it is true, this country does offer everything to honeymooners of all ages, by the way. [...]

, , ,

South Africa: Tenikwa Center for “Lesser Cats”

Do you, like most people who speak Spanish, think that “caracal” is a misspelling for “caracol” (snail)?  Well, it isn’t.  A caracal is one of the endangered wild cats of South Africa, about the size of a cocker spaniel dog, with beautiful face markings and big, dark ears, very shy and, unfortunately, fast becoming rarer [...]

, , , ,

South Africa: Mudbath for elephants at the Addo National Park

Off on an adventure alone! A 3-yr. old bachelor lion on his morning round Sights set on the watering hole They are about to do the can-can Exploring the bush Family of elephants Mom following offspring The biggest male in this herd At the watering hole Youngster following his mom Joining the others Hanging out [...]

, , , , ,

Malaysia: Blue Mansion Hotel in Penang

Stepping inside the cool front hall of the Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion is like stepping into a bygone era. It is easy to imagine the soft padded footsteps of wives, concubines, children, relatives, servants, and hangers-on scurrying in long silk gowns through the high-ceilinged rooms, most likely whispering intrigues behind intricately carved ivory fans. [...]

, , , ,

Malaysia: Tropical Spice Garden experience

Have you actually ever seen the tree from which the cinammon bark comes?  Or tasted fresh nutmeg juice (deliciously refreshing, by the way)?  These and many other delights await the visitor of the Tropical Spice Garden on Penang Island. A platterful of fresh spices Water is an essential part of the garden “Cat’s whiskers” – [...]

, , , , ,

Malaysia: Beautiful Penang Butterfly Farm

One of my main reasons for coming to Penang (other than meeting up with a cousin who is sailing around the world), was to visit the Butterfly Farm. I had read about it back in the 90s and now my dream has come true. Hmm… this nectar tastes good Indoor landscape at the Butterfly Farm [...]

, , , ,

Bangkok to Penang: 24 hour International Express Train

Nowadays, the internet is the source of instant information and this is especially true for travel news.  I forget how I found www.seat61.com but in no time, I was intrigued by the very detailed account of how to get from Bangkok to Butterworth, which is the railway station to get to Georgetown on Penang Island [...]

, , , , , , , , ,

China: Beijing’s Song Tang Zhai Museum, a taste of hutong history

Everywhere, including Beijing, the saying  “one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure” is true.  Li Songtang, now in his 60s, started collecting architectural details of houses being torn down mainly during the 70s modernisation push.  He now has a collection of over 10,000 items of  carved lintels, gates, screens, garden statuary, etc., of which about [...]

, ,

China: Life in Beijing

One of the great megalopolis of this world, Beijing never ceases to surprise me.  Even though the number of skyscrapers has easily quadrupled since the first time I visited in 1995, you can still find quiet corners where it seems as if time has stood still.  But believe me, it hasn’t.  Not here. If anything, [...]

, ,

China: The eternal Forbidden City

As disenchanted as I was with the visit to the Great Wall, the thrill of visiting the Forbidden City for the umpteenth time is always there.  For all its vastness, there is always a nook or cranny that can be discovered anew; always an around-the-corner detail that enchants the eye. A contemporary “little emperor” The [...]

, , , , ,

China: Great crowds at the Great Wall

No matter what one is going to say about the Great Wall, it all sounds like a cliché and the facts are so easily researched that it would be stating the obvious. So what is there left to say? Hazy panoramic view Useful tip: Take the gondola up … and down Cheerfully climbing the wall [...]

, , , , ,

China: “Turandot” revisited in Beijing

Not planned, but welcome nonetheless:  A quick week in Beijing, my old stomping ground.  The occasion was a visit to a new production of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Turandot” by the same directing/designing team that I had worked with in 1997/98 for “Turandot in the Forbidden City”:  Zhang Yimou, Chen Weiya, Zeng Li and Gao Guangjian. [...]

, , ,

Australia: Far North Queensland

As my blessed mother would say “it happens in the best of homes” when something went wrong.  She certainly did not have a complete computer crash – and an external hard drive back-up! - in mind, but that is what I had to contend with, at the end of my trip to Australia.  I won’t [...]

, , , , ,

Australia: Delights of “the Hunter”

The northern Hemisphere is getting ready for the golden colors of Autumn, but in Australia, Spring is being welcomed with open arms.  So, too, at the Hunter Valley Gardens.  This 25 ha. (60 acre) privately owned, themed garden was created from scratch in 1998 and opened to the public in 2003.  By far the most [...]

, , , , ,

Australia: Paronella Park – a Spaniard’s dream

Hearing of my Spanish (well, Argentine) roots, my friends decided that I must see how one Spaniard fulfilled his dream... Ruins of the “castle” Decorative water fountain 47 steps form the Grand Staircase The home of the Paronellas, now museum A wedding in the 1940s The former ballroom/movie theater The turret makes it into a [...]

, , , , ,

Australia: The magic of the Great Barrier Reef

When I dutifully booked an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, I did so more out of a sense of duty of having to visit this one of Australia’s most iconic destinations.  I owed it to myself, I said, since I am in FNQ – Far Northern Queensland – as the locals call [...]

, , , ,

Australia: Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

No, I didn’t find any alluvial gold in Daylesford, an easy two-hour drive north-west of Melbourne.  Unfortunately, the days of panning the river bed for gold are over.  But back in the 1850s, it was gold that made this small city rich, along with a host of others along the so-called Goldfields Touring Route (Ballarat, [...]

, , , , , ,

Sydney: Museums

Being a museum mouse, I do try to visit at least a few representative ones in each city.  In Sydney, it has been the Museum of Contemporary Art, centrally located right next door to Circular Quay, in the building from 1952 formerly occupied by the Maritime Services Board. Art Gallery of NSW – one of [...]

, , , ,

Sydney: Views at every turn

At the risk of stating the obvious, Sydney really is a beautiful city.  Wherever you turn, a panoramic view opens – of the harbour, a cove, a bay, an inlet, a beach, a bridge, a point, a head, a park, a dip, a summit feature, etc. etc. And from very many places –  a glimpse [...]

, , , , ,

Rotorua: The compleat hot springs experience

My forays to the New Zealand hot springs were by far the most fun of my around-the-world trip so far.  I admit to being a spa-water-mud addict and will gladly spring into any naturally hot thermal waters anywhere.  But four hot springs/spas in four days – I really felt like having a gourmet feast!  And [...]

, , , ,

Rotorua: learn to love that smell of sulphur!

Did you know New Zealand has more than 100 natural hot springs?  I didn’t.  So I was thrilled to find out that most of them are located in the North Island especially in the area around Lake Rotorua, an easy under-three-hour drive from Auckland.  If you arrive in the evening, as I did, you know [...]

, , , ,

Auckland: City of Views

While not the capital of New Zealand, it is the country's largest city with 1.4 million inhabitants (roughly 31% of the entire country's population).  The central city area is located on an isthmus between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, boasting two harbours on two separate major bodies of water. Marina with Auckland skyline [...]

, , , ,

Auckland: Elephants in the skies – the Civic Theatre

Picture this:  Auckland, New Zealand, prior to 1929. Stores only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday to Friday, few restaurants not open late. Although the first commercial film was shown at the Opera House in Auckland in 1896 and there were over 600 cinemas in New Zealand by the 1920s (a statistic states [...]

, , ,

Santiago: Palacio Cousiño – grand living for a grand family

As with so much of society in South America, fashions in European culture and art set the tone in the 19th century.  This very strong influence and orientation is seen just as much in Santiago as in other capitals of the continents on the Southern Hemisphere.  The Palacio Cousiño is no exception.  It was built [...]

, , ,

Santiago: Museum of Pre-Columbian art

The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino is touted as one of the finest museums for Pre-Columbian art in the world. The heart of the collection comes from over 50 years of a passion for collecting beautiful artefacts of all pre-Columbian cultures by Sergio Larraín García-Moreno, a Chilean avant-gardist architect. The museum, a collaboration of his [...]

, ,

Santiago: Museo de la Moda

Applause for private initiative! This museum grew out of a son's admiration for his mother's sense of style and fashion.  It probably also helped that the family's business had to do with the textile industry.  At any rate, the Museo de la Moda, established in 2006 by Jorge Yarur Bascuñan, is located in the former [...]

, ,

Where did the day go?

Crossing the date-line doesn't hurt, in fact, you don't feel it at all.  It's all just on paper and in your head:  taking off from Santiago de Chile at 22:50 on Monday and arriving in Auckland, New Zealand at 4 in the morning on Wednesday.  Actual flying time:  13.5 hours, roughly the same as Frankfurt [...]

, , , ,

Pet peeve – literally

What is it about people who get pets, mostly dogs or cats,  and then dispose of them like so much garbage? And then these poor animals have to fend for themselves, scavenging for food in garbage cans, procreating, getting sick, maybe even spreading disease.  Not to mention having to stake out and defend their territory. [...]

, , ,

Easter Island: Paradise in peril

The mystery of its culture, its remote location in the middle of the Pacific, the Thor Heyerdahl book I had read as a youngster, all these factors and more had contributed to my really looking forward to visiting the Easter Island - the navel of the world, as the Rapa Nuis call it. A very [...]

, , , , , ,

Santiago: Museo Ralli Latin American art

Hidden away in the exclusive Viracura neighborhood, on a quiet side street corner, is a sprawling red building with simple lines and wide stairs leading up to glass doors.  Entering the light-filled lobby, I find I am the only visitor this winter morning. Friendly staff take my coat and invite me to take as many [...]

, , , ,

Santiago: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

The museum of fine arts - Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes - is housed in a magnificent palace dating back to 1910, reminiscent of the Petit Palais in Paris: ornate wrought-iron gates open onto a central hall, caryatid columns hold the filigree-boned ironwork central glass cuppola (imported from Belgium in 1907). Shiny black granite tiles [...]

, , , ,

Valdivia: town of rivers, beer and chocolates

What a beautiful place this city must be during the summer months!  Surrounded by three rivers and countless inlets, coves and baylets, it reminded me of the Puget Sound region around Seattle, only on a slightly smaller scale.   Now, during the winter, we were lucky to get a couple of hours of sunshine (more...) A [...]

, , , , , ,

Hot springs, Chilean style

My friends know that I am a hot springs addict, so it is normal for me to drive almost 200 km in order to visit the best of the region.  And this, I was told, is Huife, close to the Villarica lake and volcano.  So off I set with my swimsuit, flip flops and towels [...]

, , , , ,

Fresia – no, not the flower

Don't even think of looking it up on a map.  Suffice it to say that it is a God-forsaken town of approx. 12.000 inhabitants about 1000 km south of Santiago. There is a legend that it was named after the wife of a Mapuche chieftain who was taken prisoner by the Spaniards in the 16th [...]

, ,

Chile: Taking the overnight bus to Temuco

After a short hop-skip-and jump flight from Buenos Aires to Santiago, I finally arrived in a country where I have never been and which has been on my list of places to visit for a long time - Chile.  Always a sense of new adventure, of expectation, of how-will-I-like-it, of new hunting grounds.  Small hitch [...]

, , ,

Iguazú: waterfalls and (tame) wildlife

These world famous waterfalls bubble over with superlatives:  70 meters high, 275 different falls, located in a National Park declared Patrimony of Mankind by UNESCO, etc. etc.  For me, it was seeing the coatís (a type of raccoon) up-close that proved to be the highlight.  And the butterflies, of course (more...) The drama of water [...]

, , ,

Argentina: Saltos de Moconá waterfalls in Misiones

The "Saltos de Moconá" is a series of waterfalls of the river Uruguay, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, accessible from the Argentine province of Misiones at the small town of El Soberbio (more...) Vista of the waterfally along the Rio Uruguay Getting the “gomón” ready Our captain, Carlos-Arturo Jungle along the Rio Uruguay [...]

, , , , ,

Buenos Aires: A bookworm’s idea of heaven!

Bookworm alert!  For all who, like me, cannot resist a good bookstore (worse than going into a candy store), Buenos Aires has a special treat:  The "Ateneo Grand Splendid" centrally situated on Avenida Santa Fé has been rated 2nd best in the world by the British newspaper "The Guardian" in a 2008 survey (more...) Over [...]

, , , , , ,

A night out in Buenos Aires

Valeria Lima You don't necessarily come here for the food, nor for the sound of the tinny sounding piano.  You do come to this place because of the atmosphere oozing from the aged bricks and to enjoy the nightly changing program of classic and modern tango/jazz/vocals/Argentine  soul. On the night I attended, the young Uruguayan [...]

, , , ,

Market Day in Tblisi, Georgia

In many places around the world, also in Tblisi, Saturday means market day. And what a market it is! Seldom have I visited a market that is more sprawling, more crowded, more appealing to all the senses, more "real". Not only does it encompass the official market space, but the dry goods and flea market [...]

, ,

Tblisi, Georgia

The old fort ruins, enhanced by lilacs Carpets and rugs everywhere Cakes, coffee and literature have always gone well together Perfect Romeo & Juliet balcony Bygone glory Paradjanov in flight The explanation given for most all flights arriving and departing in the middle of the night in Tblisi, Georgia is that the landing fees are [...]

, ,

Tblisi Botanical Gardens

The Tblisi Botanical Garden is one of the oldest ones in the world, if you consider that the grounds it occupies were once, 400 years ago, the site of the royal Seidabadi Gardens.  Since 1809 there are records of its herbarium and as of 1845 it has been officially denominated a botanical garden.  It occupies [...]

, , , ,

Kaffee and Kuchen with Goethe and Schiller

Weimar and Goethe are to the German speaking world what Shakespeare and Stratford-on-Avon are to the English speaking world. (more...) Weimar Kaffee Roesterei The Ginkgo Museum on the main square The Thuringian National State Opera & Theater Get off here for Weimar! Elaborately renovated building Elaborate frieze detail on a building Picturesque alley Owls are [...]

, , , , , ,

Hotels in Weimar, Germany

For anyone interested in the German classics, this charming town is a must-see.  Stay at the Elephant Hotel, now a member of the Sheraton Luxury Hotel Collection right on the central market square, or the elegant Russischer Hof on the Goetheplatz.  In addition, there are many smaller historic buildings that have been converted into hotels [...]

, , , , ,

Austria: Training Creativity in Salzburg

Creativity can be expressed in so many ways.  In order to unlock the secret depths of our creativity, I invited my friend Peter to come with me to a session led by Johanna Hartung in Salzburg.   She is an abstract artist, art therapist and has trained extensively as a psychotherapist.  I had met her last [...]

, , , ,

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close