I admit it-I have an obsession with all things made by master glass artist Dale Chihuly. I love the vibrant colors, the movement, and yes, the engineering and science that it takes to make his towering art installations. Throughout my travels, I go out of my way to see his work if it is on display nearby. So, when I was in London this summer, I made it a point to have a date with the Chihuly glass exhibit at Kew Gardens.
There are over 1000 years of history in this photo. The round church in the background is the Rotonda di San Lorenzo in the city of Mantua, Italy. This is the oldest church in this UNESCO designated city, built in the late 11th century, and still has some of the original frescoes visible inside. The red Vespa in the foreground is another classic Italian legacy, but only since the 1940’s.
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On a recent visit to Marrakesh, I had the opportunity to experience a day trip to Essaoura from Marrakech, Morocco. I was surprised to find that this coastal town was so much more relaxed and laid back than Marrakech. Even with a short day in Essaouira, I discovered that its beach vibe felt more akin to being in the Caribbean than on the African coast.
Visiting the UNESCO heritage site of Ait Bn Haddou was a stop on my three day trip to the Sahara from Marrakesh, Morocco. Ait Ben Haddou is a well preserved and restored example of a ksar, that is, a collection of traditional earthen houses surrounded by a defensive wall and protective corner towers. Here is my experience of Ait Ben Haddou in photos.
On the way to the Sahara desert, we made a brief stop at the Ait-Ben-Haddou UNESCO site. The site is recognized as a great example of a ksar, a collection of earthen dwellings built behind defensive walls which are reinforced by angle towers. At one time, the village was part of a thriving commercial trading route between the Sudan and Marrakesh. Today however, the site has been abandoned except for tourists, hawkers selling their wares, and the film industry. The guides make sure to let you know that the movie Gladiator and scenes in The Game of Thrones were filmed here.
My Sahara Desert experience was hosted by Merzouga Luxury Desert Camps. All content is my own.
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You’ll see Whirling Dervish performances advertised throughout Istanbul, offering an evening of entertainment. But for an authentic experience, I chose to attend a true Mevlevi religious ritual at the Galata Dervish Monastery.
Enjoying a hamam, or Turkish bath in Istanbul is a unique experience in Turkey. I wanted to try it on my first visit to Istanbul, but to do so, I would have to set aside my inhibitions about being seen naked by strangers. Could I do that?
I know I have a typical American hang up about public nudity. Hollywood may show a lot of bare skin, but that’s not me on that screen. Plus, at my age, I feel like I am losing both the battle of the bulge and the battle with gravity. I am not sure that I really should subject the world to seeing my body without clothes on.
Paris has the Palace of Versailles. Vienna has the Hofburg Palace. London has Buckingham Palace. In Istanbul, it is Topkapi Palace that was the opulent home to the Sultan rulers of the Ottoman Empire and their female entourage for almost 400 years. Learn about what went on behind the walls of the Topkapi Palace harem.
To step through the door into Hagia Irene in Istanbul is to step through a time portal back to fourth century Constantinople. Before the more famous Hagia Sofia was built, Hagia Irene served as the main church for the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Hagia Irene also served as a model for the construction of the Hagia Sofia next door.
The first time I ever heard the Islamic call to prayer was in Istanbul on my first visit in 2016. The sun was starting to set as I was taking a break on a bench in the hippodrome area in front of the Blue Mosque. The tulips were in full bloom and the scent of hyacinths was wafting on the early evening breeze.