Archive for the ‘top articles’ Category
The flight to Fiji aboard Fiji Airways was a relatively quick 10 hour jaunt across the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles. We landed at Nadi (pronounced Nandi) around 5 a.m. when it was still dark out. As we de-planed, the sun began to rise, and I began to adjust to the warm, tropical humidity seeping in all around me. All of us bleary eyed travelers were greeted by a welcome trio dressed in tropical shirts and leis, strumming their guitars and singing cheerfully while shouting “Bula!” (hello in Fijian) in between songs.
Fiji is simply unlike any other island nation in the world. If you’re seeking tropical beaches and white powdered sand, you’ll definitely find that here. World-class diving—check. Spectacular surfing—check. Pampering & spas, eco-tours, and luxury resorts? Check, check, and check. But there’s something about Fiji that sets it apart from all the world’s other splendid tropical destinations: the Fijian people.
Once you step off the plane, you’ll most definitely be greeted by a hearty “bula!” (pronounced boo-lah). Like the Hawaiian word aloha, bula has a variety of meanings. It means hello, and also welcome. “Bula bula” means hello and welcome. Literally bula means “life,” but when used as a greeting it’s a blessing of happiness and good health. Most importantly, it must be said with an invisible exclamation mark at the end of it.
Looking for something fun and freaky to do on Halloween in San Francisco? Get your science geek on at the California Academy of Science’s annual Halloween bash “Creatures of the NightLife.” You can wander among the reptiles in the rainforest, watch butterflies flap all around you under the glass domes, and stroll through the deep blue waters of the aquarium among costumed revelers as DJs spin tunes. Enjoy monster cocktails or take in a show in the planetarium.
Budapest, Hungary—take two. My train rolled into this magical city, known locally as “Budapesht,” for the second time in 15 years. The Hungarian capital, divided by the Danube river into the districts of Buda and Pest, was as picturesque as I remembered it from decades ago, although the city itself had undergone major changes since my initial visit. Back then, I remembered a quality of darkness—both in spirit and physical appearance. Buildings were stained black. The city was a bit rough around the edges—a little bit seedy you could say—and there was a certain heaviness of spirit in the air. It was also winter, with fleeting hours of daylight and a frigid bite in the air. The impression was very much one of recovery from the aftermath of soviet occupation.
Step Back in Time in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is pure storybook Germany. This city is a maze of winding cobblestone streets filled with crooked half-timbered buildings that look like they’ve been plucked right out of a fairytale. Encircled by old town walls made of stone, the city still retains its distinct medieval feel. There are old clock towers, fancy wrought iron signs, and flower pots spilling with blooms.
The Romantic Road
Although Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small town, it’s far from off the tourist radar. This is due in part to its strategic location along the Romantische Straße, or “Romantic Road,” a title created by travel agents to describe the 220 mile stretch of highway between Würzburg and Füssen in southern Germany, which is filled with quintessential German towns and castles. Formerly a trade route in medieval times, the Romantic Road now serves as a principal tourist artery though Southern Germany.
Slow Down and Taste the Wine in Bacharach: Germany’s Rhine Valley Hideaway
Germany produces some of the best white wines in the world. The Middle Rhine Valley is a storybook paradise of crumbling castles and vineyards clinging to cliffs peppered with small towns. The best way to see the Rhine Valley is either by train, boat, or bike—all routes that hug the river for spectacular views. Out of the small towns that line the Middle Rhine Valley, Bacharach is our top pick for an overnight stay.
With the city taking its name from Bacchus, the God of wine, Bacharach has long been a trading center for wine. During the Middle Ages the rocky bottleneck in the Rhine River near Bacharach wasn’t navigable to big ships, so wine had to be transported on small boats to be loaded onto big ships in Bacharach’s harbor. Needless to say, the town prospered. These days big ships pass right by Bacharach without stopping, but it’s the tourist boats that now flood this quiet town. Outside tourist season, Bacharach is peaceful and sleepy, the perfect place to wander among half-timbered leaning buildings.
When people plan a trip to Germany, most head for Berlin. Hightail it to Munich. Fly into Frankfurt. Head for picturesque Heidelberg. All good options…but Germany is also brimming with small towns that are perfect for slowing down, soaking up the history of a place, discovering lesser visited art treasures, and simply enjoying the finer things in life—by which I mean food and wine, of course. The following series of articles will highlight 3 dynamic cities to add to your next Germany travel itinerary.
Delve into Art in the Franconian Wine City of Würzburg
Würzburg is known for great wine and great art. Located in Franconian wine country, Würzburg is filled with wine bars and a skyline dominated by rolling vineyards. Here wine lovers will find everything from vineyard hikes to wine festivals and plenty of wineries and cellars to visit for wine tastings.
Richard Diebenkorn is one of my absolute favorite artists. His large scale canvases are flooded with bold colors that combine to form a uniquely beautiful whole. Seeming to glisten with light, his paintings often hover between the realms of complete abstraction and mildly figurative compositions. Yet all of Diebenkorn’s colorful canvases are tied together by the same energetically-charged quality of raw emotion that continuously plays out alongside an ever-present in-depth exploration of color and light.
With so many great wineries surrounding the Bay Area, travelers to San Francisco will definitely want to find their way out to wine country. But where to start? Napa? Sonoma? Calistoga? We discovered the perfect weekend retreat in northern Sonoma County: The Farmhouse Inn.
Europe is filled with castles, but none quite invoke the fairytale romance we all imagine as children than the spellbinding castles of Bavaria. Two castles stand out among all the world’s top castles: Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle.
Castle #1: Hohenschwangau Castle
Hohenschwangau is perched above Swan Lake, and was the childhood home of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The castle was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria, and is all original, decorated with scenes from medieval legends and poetry, the walls reading like giant storybooks. Translating roughly to “castle of the village of the swan,” this beautiful castle should be visited first before you set your eyes on nearby Neuschwanstein Castle, which is even more impressive.