Les Baux, France and the Carrieres de Lumieres

Entering the old stone quarry, I had no idea what to expect. The guide from the luxury Viking River Cruise ship only said to bring a sweater, as it can get cold inside (and he wanted to surprise us!). Little did I know it would be one of the highlights of my southern France tour onboard the Viking River Cruise. The entrance was through the


Chicken on the Run Near Lake Charles, Louisiana

Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once. - Chris Rose To really understand what a Chicken Run is, you must understand the cultural significance of the above statement. Zydeco music was playing by a live band in the back of a parade-like


King Cakes Origin and Recipes

I recently was on a trip to Lake Charles, Lousiana for Mardi Gras where I encountered the making of a King Cake! "A what, I asked?" Being from the South, you would think I would have heard of all the desserts out there but never had I heard those words before. There are some words related to food that we eat knowing nothing more than it tastes delicious!


Venice – Behind the Mask

  I’m a collector of masks. On display in my home are over 30 masks carefully carted back as my treasures from visits to faraway lands. So naturally, heading to Venice, I was keen on picking up a few Venice masks to add to my collection. I timed my visit to be there during the last three days of the Carnival of Venice so as


Quotes on Patriotism: Republic Day in Istanbul, Turkey

  The flag of Istanbul, Turkey Quotes on Patriotism: Republic Day in Istanbul While I was in Istanbul, it was a national holiday known as Republic Day, and the flags of Turkey were out in full force. It was the best display of patriotism I have ever encountered. The flags of Istanbul, Turkey  There was a religious holiday going on as well,


Myanmar’s Water Dwellers of Inle Lake

Myanmar Burma Travelers to Myanmar are there to explore the thousands of pagodas and temples that characterize this country (formerly known as Burma).  That’s a given.  But not to be missed is the surreal watery world of Inle Lake, famous for its natural beauty, glassy waters, and inhabited by Inthas, the native lake-dwellers known as the Myanmar' Water Dwellers of Inle Lake. Photo by


Mystical Myanmar

"I'm going without expectations."- Donnie Sexton Photo by Donnie Sexton Myanmar Pagoda Photo That was my mantra when I stepped off the plane in Yangon, Myanmar.  To be honest, I had googled a few images from this Southeast Asia destination to get a sense of what kind of photos I could come home with since I was traveling with a group of photographers


The Color Block Favelas of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Travel to Indonesia I think back in my mind as I traveled to Indonesia, and it races to the morning when I had a chance to escape the stunningly refurbished and luxury 1918 Phoenix Hotel in all its glory. Travel to Indonesia I walked only about five blocks from the hotel when I had to get a police escort in order to actually cross the


Travel to Indonesia to learn the Art of Batik

  I noticed the wrinkles in his face as he stood mute, lips tightly pressed against each other with the skin on his neck muscles taut. He was a thin man, like the ones I typically see when I travel to Indonesia. He was demonstrating one part of the process of the art form of Batik, in the third world workshop facility. I am dripping


Wanderings Through Istanbul, Turkey

Wanderings Through Istanbul, Turkey It is an early weekday morning as I stare out the window of my yellow taxi passing a multitude of red and blue celebration flags. No matter how often I visit exotic Istanbul, Turkey, I always feel like there is something majestic and mysterious about it. Something wafting in the air that makes this place different than all the rest. Maybe


Behind the Scenes: Cancun Xcaret’s Espectacular

One by one, they would climb the 17 dingy white stairs to the tiny crowded, dimly-lit room. They needed to get out of the sweltering heat and were dressed in the brightest blues, vibrant yellows and heart-stopping red colors. Never have I seen such a stunningly beautiful group of women with matching beads and flowers in their hair. The men came too, fewer, but they


Postcards to a Little Boy : Holocaust Memorial

  As I enter the Holocaust Memorial, an Israel Museum in Jerusalem, I am overwhelmed with it as a space. The Israel Museum has a well-thought-out architecture that leads you down the path of the Jews during the holocaust, which is a horrific time in our world’s history. The triangular-shaped Holocaust Memorial is made of cold-to-the-touch, gray concrete and takes you literally on a path


I’ve Got the French Blues!

“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” — Vincent Van Gogh I’ve Got The French Blues! I dream in color, vivid dreams of French Blue that swirl around in my head. Imagine an artist’s brush, dipping first in the dark tones of blue and then in the lighter ones and smearing them onto a canvas. I look deeply at the details of the


Journey Through Champagne France

  Renoir House, Champagne, France Take Journey through Champagne France I found that in only a quick jaunt from Paris, in the Champagne France region that borders Burgundy, there lies a tiny slice of heaven known as Essoyes. According to Jean Renoir, "There is no other place like it in the whole wide world. There I spent the best years of my childhood."And


Traveling to Avila – The Walled City of Spain

The Most Charming Walled City in Spain Are you a fan of walled cities? If you are, then you should head to Avila, Spain in the Castilla y Leon (Castles and Lions) province of Spain. Located just about an hour and a half drive from the Madrid Bajaras airport, it’s a city waiting to be discovered. This walled city is also known as the “City of Knights” which


Carnival – Enchanting Creatures Lurking in the Black Forest

Carnival in the Black Forest of Germany (Part 1 link) Carnival - Enchanting creatures lurking in the Black Forest Snap, Whip, Crack! The parade has begun with over 4000 “fools” who have gathered at the entrance to the old Black Gate and make their way down the parade route. The characters of the Black Forest begin to come alive as they perform a


Sounds from the Black Forest, Germany

Sounds from the Black Forest, Germany Sounds from the Black Forest, Germany:  I bring you sounds from the Black Forest, Germany: Cuckoo, Cuckoo, Cuckoo! Deep in Germany’s Black Forest is where fairy tales were born. The Brothers Grimm stories came alive during my recent visit here, where traditions and customs are still very much alive. I actually saw Cinderella herself, as well as


Bollenhut – The Traditional German Hat from the Black Forest

  Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee) Have you heard of Black Forest, Germany’s traditional Bollenhut Hat? I hadn’t either until my first visit there. Once you see it, you will be very curious about it, as it is quite unusual. Black Forest, Germany’s Traditional Bollenhut Hat People all over the world who have been to the Black Forest know the hat as


Kitschy Florida Roadside Attractions: St Augustine, FL

As the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is rich in history, architecture, and charm, yet it still has those kitschy Florida roadside attractions that Florida is so famous for. With places like Flagler College (yes, a college can be a tourist attraction!) to Castillo de San Marcos Fort, it is a city worth exploring. It just wouldn’t be America if it wasn’t


Spa Break for Two!

All of us have felt like we’ve lost control over our lives at some point. Last year, USA Today reported that 35% of Americans feel their lives have become more stressful than the previous year. Whether it’s from work, relationships, or changing family life, taking some time away from your cares is a tonic for us all, and if you’re looking to give yourself some real self-care, a


A Traditional Farmhouse: Liminka, Finland

By Cacinda Maloney How on earth can I write a story about Finland without the mention of a sauna experience?  I don’t believe I can and this time will be no exception. I dove into the culture and history of the Finnish sauna on my last trip to Helsinki that you can read about here.  The immersion into the culture of a Finnish sauna is


Maakalla Island: Finding Peace in Western Finland

  Maakalla Island, Finland There was a quiet stillness unlike anything I had experienced before. I knew that Maakalla Island of Western Finland was remote, but the eeriness I felt upon stepping off the boat gave me a bit of a shiver. Stepping onto Maakalla Island, Finland It was mid-August and so the weather was picture-perfect for today, as soon, no


Walking to Sweden: Finland’s Kvarken Archipelago

  Vaasa, Finland map Vaasa - Gateway to the West Arriving in Vaasa, Finland, I was ready for an adventure and Finland does not disappoint. Vaasa is the gateway to the western side of the country.  This is where the narrowest part of the Gulf of Bothnia is connected to Finland by their longest bridge, the Replot, in the Baltic Sea. The


Food, Friendship and Wine: LeMarche Region, Italy

  Academia del Padlòt at Palazzo Donati kitchen Homemade, handmade pasta Coradella – lamb’s liver with garlic Deep in the caverns of a palatial kitchen, we sang and laughed, as we tasted the flavorful homemade food, high in the hills of Mercatello sul Metauro, Italy.  I heard the sounds of many languages, laughter, and songs, as I popped fava


The Lost Art of Print Blocking in Carpegna, Italy: Regenerated

This post won the award by Italy Magazine as the best blog post on an art and culture blog for 2014!  The Lost Art of Print Blocking in Carpegna, Italy: Regenerated Carpegna, Italy Rumbling down the road, past the emerald green pastures, dirt, and signs in Italian, I knew I was up for this adventure. The roads became tinier and tinier as we


Luxury Tuscany, Italy: A Journey for the Soul

Luxury Tuscany, Italy:  A Journey for the Soul Montestigliano is a place for the soul, a place of rest, a place of comfort. It is not just a trip you take, but a journey that takes you. A journey to see how others live, how life functions, not in your own country; but in a completely different way of life. Here, there is life like


Deep into the Secret Lair of Siena’s Contrade System

The Palio - Tensions in the crowd grow wild as one by one the horses appear with their barebacked jockeys on the track and take to the line. The church has already blessed these horses and their riders prior to their arrival.  It is the peak of the social calendar, a horserace that completes 3 laps around the town center in Siena, Italy. The Palio  


Killarney National Park, Ireland – Life As It Once Was

I am a city girl, even though I grew up in a small town, I have been living the city life now longer and officially have adapted to large city living; although I do appreciate the beauty and simple life of the country. Ireland Countryside So imagine my surprise on a recent trip to Ireland when I was taken aback by remnants of


An Italian Violin Maker: By Hand

Luigi Lombardi's Garden to his Violin Shop in Forli, Italy La Bottega del Legno: The Wood Shop in Forli, Italy La Bottega del Legno - Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy The Violin The year was 1943 and it was blistering cold.  The conditions were unbearable and he struggled with making it yet another day.  Days ran into more days


Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum and Museum – Oslo

The 60 something, certified tour guide with the short, wavy hair saw me immediately as I came out of the elevator.  She had been canceled due to a tight schedule by a few US Congressmen, who were in town doing business and was assigned to me as my guide of Oslo. "So, what do you want to do first?" she asked.  "Well, I heard about this place,


Swinging in a Ballhaus in Berlin, Germany

The German dance floor of Clarchens Ballhaus has seen it all, from the tango in 1913 to the Cuban Rumba (banned by the Nazis) to the Macarena and, more recently, was actually used as a set for a Quentin Tarantino film! But in all honestly, it was one of the best experiences I ever had while in Berlin traveling. Truly, it is one of the


Reflections of the Wall of Berlin

Wall of Berlin “There are four kinds of people in the world, Ms. Harper. Those who build walls. Those who protect walls. Those who breach walls. And those who tear down walls. Much of life is discovering who you are. When you find out, you also realize there are places you can no longer go, things you can no longer do, words you can no


Turkey, Land of the Bizarre and the Bazaar

  Things to do in Turkey A trip to Turkey is like a trip through history. As a bridge between the East and the West, empires ranging from the Ottomans to the Romans have inhabited this land. Turkey has seen some of the world’s most remarkable figures pass through, including Julius Caesar and St. Paul. That said, Turkey is still a mystery to many Westerners,


The apples in Spain fall mainly on the plain

  Apples in the countryside of Spain, Costa Brava I was zipping along on my electric bike in the countryside of Catalonia Spain between Peratallada and Pals.  I was way ahead of the rest of the group.  The wind was breezing thru my hair, putting little wisps of strands of hair on my face.  I felt like a kid again!  Pump, pump, pump,


Cistern Istanbul

Cistern Istanbul Cistern Istanbul is an extraordinary subterranean structure, built by Justinian in 532 AD. It is the largest surviving Byzantine cistern in İstanbul City. Apparently, there are several cisterns in Istanbul. It is now one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. It is especially popular during the summer when its cavernous depths stay wonderfully cool. The line to get in is a little

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