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PHOTO: Salto Grande Waterfall in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

The tour guide promised the trail to Salto Grande Waterfall in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park was easy. “Just a 20 minute walk,” he said. As a casual aside, he advised us to take our jackets, as it “might be a little windy up there.” The first 15 minutes were a breeze. A graveled path led through a field of flower-strewn tall grass, with the famous horns of the Cordillera Paine Massif peeking over the top. A stretch of turquoise river came into view and the thunderous... The post PHOTO: ...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Chile, Patagonia, South America, Cultural Travel, Torres Del Paine, Torres del Paine National Park, Torres del Paine National Park Chile, Cordillera Paine Massif, Salto Grande Waterfall


PHOTO: Lago Nordenskjold Viewpoint in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

What struck me most about Torres del Paine National Park in the Patagonian region of Chile were the colors. Depending upon the angle of the sun, the mountains of the Cordillera Paine Massif range from the deepest black to pale gray, lavender, and Wedgwood blue. As the sun sets, abundant feldspar in the granite flanks reflect iridescent orange patches. Add snowy peaks and grass covered foothills, and the mountains of Torres del Paine become a veritable rocky rainbow. Even the name of the park is ...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Chile, Patagonia, South America, Cultural Travel, Patagonian, Torres Del Paine, Torres del Paine National Park, Paine, Wedgwood, Torres del Paine National Park Chile, Cordillera Paine Massif


PHOTO: Guanaco Surveys its Domain in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

When my tour van entered Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonian Chile, our guide enlisted us as wildlife spotters. She ticked off some of the species we might see. The Patagonian Puma is the most sought after sighting, however they are reclusive and usually stay far away from the only road through the park. But if we had sharp eyes we might spot one of two varieties of fox; the small, endangered Huemul deer; Andean Condors; Southern Crested Caracaras (a large bird of prey); the Patagonian ...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Chile, Patagonia, South America, Cultural Travel, Torres, Torres Del Paine, Paine National Park, Guanaco, Patagonian Chile, Torres del Paine National Park Chile, Patagonian Puma, Southern Crested Caracaras


PHOTO: Waterfront in the Town of Puerto Natales, Chile

The pretty little town of Puerto Natales is perhaps best known as the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park in the Patagonian region of Chile. But I discovered an intriguing backstory. The town is located on the Señoret Channel, which connects Última Esperanza Sound with Bahía Desengaño, eventually leading to the Straits of Magellan and the Atlantic Ocean. Última Esperanza translates to “last hope,” while Desengaño translates to “disillusionment” or “disenchantment.” I stood on the shores of...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Chile, Patagonia, South America, Cultural Travel, Magellan, Patagonian, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales Chile, Señoret Channel, Bahía Desengaño, Atlantic Ocean Última Esperanza


PHOTO: View from Geiranger Skywalk, atop Dalsnibba Mountain in Norway

A still photo can barely convey the magnificence of the Norwegian landscape, but this view from the Geiranger Skywalk, perched on the craggy peak of Dalsnibba Mountain, comes close. We’d driven to the top along a ribbon of winding road, a portion of which can be seen at the bottom of the valley. Mesmerized by an otherworldly landscape of warped rocks and deep blue glacial lakes, conversation virtually stopped in the bus. We scrambled from side to side, snapping photos of one spectacular view aft...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Norway, Cultural Travel, Dalsnibba, Geiranger Skywalk, Dalsnibba Mountain


PHOTO: Seven Sisters Waterfall in Geiranger Fjord, Norway

It’s a tale of eternal, unrequited love. Deep within Geiranger Fjord, Seven Sisters waterfall plummets from vertical cliffs into the ultramarine waters of Norway’s most stunning gorge. The name of the waterfall is no mystery. In times of heavy rainfall, its twining strands resemble the hair of seven women. Directly across the fjord another waterfall gazes longingly at the sisters. Legend says that this second cascade, known as “The Suitor,” asked one of the sisters for her hand in marriage. When...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Norway, Waterfalls, Cultural Travel, Geiranger, Fjords, Geiranger Fjord Norway, Geiranger Fjord Seven Sisters


PHOTO: Riding a Troll Car to the Foot of Norway’s Briksdal Glacier

Glaciers might be a dime a dozen in Norway, but I know of no other place in the world where I could get to one in a “Troll Car.” Actually, these 7-seater open-air buggies have only been transporting tourists to the foot of the Briksdal Glacier since 2004. For 100 years prior to that, farmers carted visitors through the fjord by horse and carriage. The weather was grey and threatening rain on the day my Collette tour group arrived, but I wasn’t about to let a little bit... The post PHOTO: Riding ...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Norway, Glaciers, Cultural Travel, Collette, Briksdal


PHOTO: Götaplatsen, the Main Square and Cultural Heart of Gothenburg, Sweden

With only a couple of hours to explore Gothenburg, Sweden, I struggled over how to spend my time. My Collette tour manager had suggested a boat tour of the canals that lace the city. Never one to follow the crowds, I instead decided on a self-guided walking tour of the city center. Beginning at the bridge over the Kungsportsbron canal, I strolled down Avenyn, the main boulevard in Gothenburg. Scores of shops, restaurants, galleries, and clubs lined the broad avenue on its gently rising path to G...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Sweden, Culture, Gothenburg, Cultural Travel, Gothenburg Sweden, Collette, Main Square, Avenyn, Götaplatsen


PHOTO: Freezing My Butt Off at the Stockholm ICEBAR

I’m definitely not a fan of being cold, so I thought twice about visiting the Stockholm ICEBAR during my Spectacular Scandinavia tour with Collette. I’d heard the walls were built of ice, likewise the bar stools were made of ice. Heck, even the drink glasses were carved from ice! And of course the bar must be maintained at below-freezing temperatures to keep all that ice in a solid state (23 degrees Fahrenheit, to be precise). But in the end, the idea of an entire bar built of ice... The post PH...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Sweden, Culture, Stockholm, Cultural Travel, Collette, Ice bar, ICEBAR, Stockholm ICEBAR


PHOTO: Member of Swedish Royal Guards Stands Sentry at the Royal Palace

The Swedish Royal Guards have been protecting the Royal Family for nearly 500 years. First assembled in 1523, the guards were initially tasked with maintaining law and order in the city of Stockholm and serving as fire-fighters. Over time, their mandate was narrowed. Today the 50-60 soldiers who serve in the Royal Guards are responsible safeguarding the Royal Palace of Stockholm and Drottningholm Palace. They also act as an honorary guard to King Carl XVI Gustav when required, as well as perform...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Sweden, Culture, Stockholm, Cultural Travel, Royal Palace, Carl XVI Gustav, Royal Guards, Swedish Royal Guards, Royal Palace of Stockholm


PHOTO: A Dark and Brooding Frederiksborg Palace in Hillerød, Denmark

Though I’m usually quite lucky with weather during my travels, an occasional storm is unavoidable. But inclement weather isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it evokes a mood that seems perfectly suited to a site, and that’s exactly what happened during my tour of Frederiksborg Palace. Within moments of our arrival, thunder rumbled overhead and fat drops began to splatter the gravel. Cruel clouds roiled and descended upon the palace. Surrounded by bruised light, the green copper roof and spires ...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Denmark, Copenhagen, Cultural Travel, Frederiksborg Palace


PHOTO: View Down Frederiksholms Kanal in Copenhagen, Denmark

This view down Frederiksholms Kanal is one of the prettiest sights in Copenhagen. The canal runs along one side of the small island of Slotsholmen, which is home to Christiansborg Palace and the Royal Stables. The Prince’s Mansion (upper left) once served as the official residence of the Crown Prince of Denmark. Today it houses the National Museum of Denmark. The three-arched Storm Bridge at center is named after the “Storm on Copenhagen,” a military action that occurred during the 17th century ...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Denmark, Copenhagen, Cultural Travel, Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen Denmark, National Museum of Denmark, Frederiksholms Kanal, Slotsholmen, Prince s Mansion


PHOTO: Copenhagen Harbour, From Industrial Eyesore to Recreational Wonderland

Since its founding, Copenhagen, Denmark, has been inextricably linked to water. The earliest written mention of the Danish capital is found in a 12th century book, which referred to the city as “Merchants’ Harbour.” This was undoubtedly a reference to the waterway we now know as Copenhagen Harbour. This broad and sheltered inlet, which provides the best approach to the Baltic Sea in all of Europe, allowed Copenhagen to develop into a powerful trading center. Unfortunately, as the city grew and p...
Tags: Travel, Europe, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Denmark, Copenhagen, Baltic Sea, Cultural Travel, Copenhagen Denmark


PHOTO: Sun Sets Over Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza, Italy

Midway between the cities of Venice and Verona in northern Italy, lies a third “V” – the tiny town of Vicenza. Though smaller and lesser known that its more famous neighbors, Vicenza nonetheless packs a punch in terms of history, culture, and especially architecture. In 1994, Vicenza was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its concentration of buildings designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. But in my opinion no other place displays the city’s beauty better than its centra...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Unesco, Italy, Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Piazza, Cultural Travel, Vicenza Italy, Andrea Palladio, Piazza dei Signori


PHOTO: Strolling Along the Shore of Lake Garda in Peschiera del Garda, Italy

I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of the Lakes District in Italy. The roots of my fascination may lie in the many movies that have been filmed there. Casino Royale, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, A Month By the Lake, Ocean’s Twelve, and Man on Fire, among others, were all filmed at Lake Como. Though I’d previously spent time at Lake Lugano in southern Switzerland, and viewed Lake Como from a bus on my way to take the famous Bernina Express train to... The post PHOTO: Strolling...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Italy, Switzerland, Cultural Travel, Lake Garda, Bernina Express, Lake Lugano, Lakes District, PESCHIERA DEL GARDA Italy, Lake Ocean


PHOTO: A Sobering Visit to Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany

We humans are fascinated by disasters. We find it impossible to look away from a car wreck. When a disaster of enormous consequence occurs, our first impulse is to tell someone. Cable news stations are acutely aware of this tendency; they capitalize upon it with round-the-clock coverage of hurricanes, mass shootings, and terrorist attacks. For the most part, I believe it would be healthier not to be quite so fascinated with such events. However, I also believe that some disasters must never be f...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Germany, Culture, Munich, Bavaria, Cultural Travel, Munich Germany, Dachau, Dachau Concentration Camp


PHOTO: Neuschwanstein Castle – The Inspiration Behind Disney’s Famous Castle

There is no mistaking the resemblance between Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland in California. Built in 1886 by King Ludwig II, the fairy tale castle was for years rumored to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney. That rumor was finally confirmed in 2012. A Disneyland representative admitted to an Orange County Register reporter that Walt Disney and his wife had visited Neuschwanstein Castle prior to the construction of Disneyland. It was i...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Germany, Disney, Culture, Disneyland, Castle, Walt Disney, Cultural Travel, Orange County Register, Bavaria Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle, Ludwig, California Built


PHOTO: Oberbaum Bridge across the River Spree in Berlin, Germany

The city of Berlin is a dichotomy. It’s not particularly pretty, but I venture to say there are few cities more interesting than Berlin. It is filled with art galleries, museums, and is a magnet for creative types. Unlike Germans in the rest of the country, who tend to be more reserved, Berliners are famous for their ribald sense of humor. Of course, during the years when the Berlin Wall divided the city, East and West Berlin were a study in contrasts. The wall may be gone, but... The post PHOTO...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Germany, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Culture, Cultural Travel, Berlin Germany, West Berlin, River Spree, Oberbaum Bridge


PHOTO: Auspicious Buddhist Symbols on the Roof of Phuntsoling Monastery in Tibet

On day seven of my overland journey through Tibet, we turned off the main highway and followed a narrow lane to the remote Phuntsoling Monastery. This little-known monastery was built in 1615 by great master Jonang Taranatha. He espoused the concept of Shentong, a hard-to-grasp ideology based on the idea that the Buddha-mind is ultimately empty, even though all forms are empty illusions. The Jonang teachings were not looked upon favorably by the four main Buddhist traditions. As a result, in the...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, China, Culture, Buddhism, Cultural Travel, Buddha, Buddhist, Shentong, Phuntsoling Monastery, Jonang Taranatha He


PHOTO: Gyantse Dzong, an Ancient Tibetan Fortress in Southern Tibet

For nearly 800 years, the walls of Gyantse Dzong (Gyantse Fortress) have scrabbled down a barren outcropping of stone just outside the town of Gyantse. Built as the seat of government for this county in southern Tibet, it originally held the office of the county magistrate, a scripture hall, Buddhist worship hall, and sundry storehouses. Over the ensuing centuries the complex was expanded, taking on the role of fortress to protect the important trading center of Gyantse against invaders. Indeed,...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, China, Culture, Fortress, Cultural Travel, Buddhist, Southern Tibet, Gyantse, Gyantse Dzong, Gyantse Fortress, Gyantse Built


PHOTO: Sunset Illuminates Mount Everest in Tibet

From the moment I booked my Overland Tibet Tour, I worried how I would handle the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau. I begin to suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) the moment I reach an altitude of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). I become nauseous, my stomach feels like it is flipping upside down, my head starts throbbing incessantly, and I gasp for breath. Not usually willing to take prescription drugs unless absolutely necessary, I decided to take the advice of my tour operator and get a ...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, China, Culture, Mount Everest, Base Camp, Cultural Travel, EBC, Sunset Illuminates Mount Everest


PHOTO: Women in Traditional Tibetan Clothing at Sakya Monastery in Tibet

The women pictured above are arriving at Sakya Monastery in the small village of Sakya, Tibet. As is customary, they wear their hair in long braids, which are sometimes coiled around the head like a crown. All of the women are wearing traditional Tibetan clothing, which consists of a long, loose-fitting woolen robe called a chuba, layered over a wool or raw silk blouse. The traditional striped aprons, cinched at the waist, indicate that they are married. Each woman then personalizes her outfit w...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, China, Culture, Cultural Travel, Sakya Monastery, Tibetan Clothing, Tibetan women, Sakya Tibet


PHOTO: Magnificent Vista of Mount Everest from Geu La Pass in Tibet

I take great pride in saying that I have personally taken almost every photo that is featured in this blog. Though it’s uncommon for me to include the work of another photographer, I’m making a rare exception in this case, with good reason. During my recent tour of Tibet, I had the great good fortune to travel with Jeff Overs, a BBC News stills photographer. For years, Jeff has taken still shots of world leaders, news events, and gorgeous landscapes around the world. Though he is semi-retired, h...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, China, BBC News, Culture, Mount Everest, Cultural Travel, Jeff, Jeff Overs, Geu La Pass


PHOTO: Shakyamuni Buddha Statue at Pelkor Chode Monastery in Gyantse, Tibet

I didn’t notice him at first. But as my eyes adjusted to the darkness inside the Assembly Hall at Pelkor Chode Monastery, I caught a movement. A maroon-robed monk stood at the base of the massive bronze statue of Shakyamuni. He moved serenely, refilling flickering oil lamps set between delicate yak butter sculptures. It wasn’t surprising that I hadn’t noticed him. The monk was Lilliputian compared to the 26-foot high bronze of the Historical Buddha. Built during the early 15th century, Pelkor Ch...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Tibet, China, Culture, Cultural Travel, Assembly Hall, Gyantse, Shakyamuni Buddha Statue, Pelkor Chode Monastery, Gyantse Tibet, Pelkor Chode


PHOTO: Shop in Old Lhasa Offers an Eclectic Mix of Merchandise

Never one to follow the crowds, I wandered away from busy Barkhor Square in Lhasa, Tibet. I had completed an obligatory Kora (clockwise circuit) of the Jokhang Temple, dodging prostrating pilgrims and crowds of tourists, but now the back streets beckoned. Just a block from the temple the teeming crowds dissipated and I was the only foreigner in sight. Tibetan women in traditional striped aprons sat on stoops, twirling prayer wheels and muttering mantras. Toddlers with sagging diapers waddled aft...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, Shopping, China, Culture, Cultural Travel, Lhasa, Jokhang Temple, Lhasa Tibet, Old Lhasa, Barkhor Square


PHOTO: Yamdrok Lake, Jewel of the High Tibetan Plateau

Tibetans believe that lakes are the abodes of protective deities and therefore invested with special spiritual powers. Yamdrok Lake, located approximately between the capital of Lhasa and the town of Gyantse, is considered one of the most sacred bodies of water in Tibet. Local folklore relates that a fairy maiden was concerned that nine small lakes were in danger of drying up. Worried that creatures in the lakes would die, she threw 350 grams of gold into the air, recited a mantra, and merged al...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, China, Culture, Cultural Travel, Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Yamdrok Lake Jewel


PHOTO: Smudge on the Nose of a Tibetan Child is a Form of Protection

All across Tibet, I spied kids with black marks on their noses, like this young boy at Sera Monastery in Lhasa. Our guide explained that in Tibetan Buddhism folk tradition, placing a smudge of soot on the nose of a child is believed to ensure good sleep and provide protection. Parents routinely bring their children to the monastery where monks apply the mark, using soot that has deposited on the walls from the long-term burning of butter lamps. I was curious about the “protection” part of the be...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Tibet, China, Culture, Cultural Travel, Lhasa, Sera Monastery, Tibetan Buddhism


PHOTO: Climbing to the Top of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet – What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

I’d seen it in pictures, of course. The magnificent Potala Palace, rising vertically from its perch atop Red Mountain in the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. This number one destination on my travel wish list had long eluded me. Until now. After years of waiting, I had finally made it to the exotic kingdom that some believe to by the mythical Shangri-La. I stood on a viewing platform across the street from the iconic edifice and drank in its 13 stories, the inward-sloping walls that measure up to....
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Tibet, China, Culture, Cultural Travel, Lhasa, Red Mountain, Potala Palace, Lhasa Tibet


PHOTO: Thailand’s Traditional King Ka-La Dance

Decked out in spectacular fan-shaped costumes, a troupe of Thai dancers at the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival performed the traditional King Ka-La folk dance. Their mincing steps and fluttering arms so perfectly mimicked the movements of birds that I seriously thought they might take flight. Traditional dance is an important cultural art form in Thailand, especially in the north, seat of the historic Lanna Kingdom that preceded present-day Thailand. No festival or important event is considered comple...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Thailand, Cultural Travel, Chiang Mai, Lanna Kingdom, Bo Sang, King Ka-La Dance


PHOTO: The “Floating” Kota Kinabalu City Mosque in Sabah, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque was the highlight of my half-day tour of Kota Kinabalu (KK), capital of the Malaysian State of Sabah on the island of Borneo. The mirror image of the mosque reflected in its surrounding lagoon has earned it the nickname “floating mosque.” Knowing my tour would include a stop at an important Islamic religious site, I had dressed respectfully in long pants and short-sleeved T-shirt. Upon arrival, however, I found I had not dressed conservatively enough. Women are required...
Tags: Travel, Daily Photo, Photography, Culture, Malaysia, Mosque, Sabah, Borneo, Kota Kinabalu, Cultural Travel, Sabah Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, Malaysian State of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu KK