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Explore The Elements: EARTH, FIRE, WATER and AIR

  Explore the Elements is a Photo Contest from Thomas Cook that has invited writers and photographers to showcase the images they’ve captured on their travels. The challenge is to submit photos that capture the essence of each of the elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air. I have accepted that challenge. Although it is not a voting contest, please let me know if you think my images are worthy of consideration by the judges. The judges will choose the best photos in each category. The top prize is a 5000 pounds travel fund! We could really use that to bring you stories of our … More…

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Heal Thyself in a Roman Turkish Bath House

  It seems that Hungary sits over a steaming inferno of water…   Hungary has a reputation for having the best Roman Turkish bath houses in Europe.   People from all over Europe, as well as from other parts of the world, visit their famous medicinal hot springs.   Thermal baths are literally spread all over the country. There are over 140 registered thermal baths in Hungary and over 1300 thermal springs.   The city of Budapest holds the title of having the most thermal and medicinal springs than any other city in the world.   The Roman Turkish bath houses are … More…

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Venice: The Grand Seduction

  The approach to Venice by train is seductive in itself…    Just seeing a city floating on water is astonishing. How did they do that? Why did they do that?   Apparently it wasn’t intentional. It happened sometime around the fall of the Roman Empire when the mainland was invaded and the residents escaped to the protected lagoon of Venice.    Venice is a maze of tiny cobbled streets and narrow alleys, ribbon-like canals, singing gondoliers, graceful little arched bridges, and thousands of masquarade-like art shops.    There is nothing more memorable than the golden sound of the gondolier’s song lilting through the … More…

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A Secret French Village

This time the waiter at the restaurant spoke English. He was actually from Ireland, travelled all over the world, and ended up in Southern France. He was very helpful when we asked what we could see that was close by, and suggested Vieux Village (Old Town), though most of Marignane and Vitrolles, he said, are industrial areas. He also mentioned a path behind our hotel leading down to the marsh where there are flamingoes and a beach.   We ordered coffee. Lesson One – coffee is a tiny cup of very strong espresso. They add water if you say Coffee … More…

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Flying Across Jungle Treetops

  While we were still enjoying the lovely town and relaxing atmosphere of Granada, Nicaragua, we wanted to see the Volcano Mombacho, still active we had been told, as well as the cloud forest in the mountains and to experience the jungle zip line.   We were both a little worried about the zip line and whether we could manage climbing a makeshift ladder, 100 metres up a tree! But embarrassed to admit it, we bought the tour and determined to try.   Both tours were private tours with only the tour guides and the two of us. Nice.   First … More…

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Full Moon Over Beijing

  The Chinese people were warm and sweet, smiling beguilingly at Westerners, offering quick assistance, showing deep respect, bowing slightly, and always using “you first” gestures.   A Chinese acquaintance told me that the government is very strict that the people make Westerners feel welcome, but I sensed, especially outside of Beijing and the tourist places, that people felt flattered and privileged to know, talk to, or have a picture taken with a Westerner. It seemed as if one gained status to have some personal contact with a Westerner. Several times I was invited to stand affectionately close to a … More…

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Lost in Summer Palaces And Temples of Heaven

  The parks in Beijing are simply stunning!     They make parks in Canada look embarrassingly simple.   Beijing’s parks are full of themed areas with separate pathways leading to separate areas within the larger park. Each one is set in a magnificent and serene setting and unique theme.   With ponds and streams, hills and valleys, glades and gardens, rare trees, unusual flowers, the landscapes were choreographed to reflect each specific theme.   Even the scent of each theme area seemed to match the theme.  With impressive displays of wisteria, bamboo, peonies, orchids, cherry blossoms and apple blossoms, ancient cypress trees, pine … More…

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