Archive for the ‘travel’ Category
I recently had the chance to catch Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring show, “Amaluna” under the blue and gold striped big top next to San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Unlike the big Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil productions held in huge, glossy theaters, this traveling show embodied the casual atmosphere of a circus while providing a magical theatrical gathering. The scent of freshly-popped popcorn wafted through the air, and the theater was intimate, with stadium seating radiating outwards from a central stage. Best of all, due to the small scale, there really wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
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.
Greek food is the best food in the world. On the Greek islands, everything is absolutely fresh, and you can taste this freshness. Literally everywhere I ate in Greece was a momentous culinary experience, and each time I thought the food couldn’t get any better—it did. One of the most memorable restaurants I visited was Dionysos in Atlantis Restaurant on the island of Santorini. Here are a few quick snapshots from my first meal there…
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.
Don’t these mountains look absolutely surreal? Insanely enough, they are actually real. These photos are from Zhangye Danxia Geological Park in Gansu Province, China (a remote region in northern central China). The intense color of the mountains are the result of red sandstone and layers upon layers of mineral deposits that were sculpted by the rain and wind over thousands of years to form pure rainbow perfection. (No doubt a little Photoshop action contributed to their stunning beauty as well.) Amazing.
London is filled with magnificent places to enjoy afternoon tea. Join us as we explore 3 standout spots in the city:
Dorset Square Hotel
The Potting Shed Bar & Restaurant at Dorset Square Hotel features an airy glass ceiling that fills the restaurant with natural light while the playful interior design lends an elegant, modern style. Afternoon tea here is particularly lovely, with tea served in beautiful floral dish-ware. Starting at £19.50 per person, you get scones with homemade jam and clotted cream accompanied by sweets like lemon tarts, carrot cake, and chocolate fruit-infused brownies. The finger sandwiches are creative as well, featuring tiger prawns, rare roast beef with horseradish crème fraiche, smoked trout with cucumber and lemon, and my personal favorite: truffled egg and cress.
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.