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The Galápagos Islands are composed of 127 islands, of which four have permanent residents. We were very fortunate to have experienced this UNESCO World Heritage Center, merely one thousand kilometers from mainland Ecuador. Our Galapagos National Park guide Billy made this slow travel adventure especially interesting and informative for us. He was extremely knowledgeable, a keen observer of all the flora and fauna on each island, and possessed a wonderful sense of humor. Our first few days we explored the island of San Cristobal, where Darwin first set foot during his voyage in 1835, and now has a population of between 5,500-6,000 residents. Punta Pitt and Cerro Brujo were very special: Sea lions, pelicans, seagulls and a birder heaven. All three species of boobies- blue-footed, red- footed, and Nazca were represented here. Two species of frigate birds, finches, mockingbirds and Yellow Warblers. Cerro Brujo is one of the finest beaches…
Wednesday, 01 January 2020

Paradise Cove Resort, Fiji

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Tucked into the Yasawa Islands is a beautiful resort with the most welcoming staff who learn your name almost as soon as you arrive. You'll likely get there on the Yasawa Flyer which is part ferry, part day cruise meandering through these lovely islands - and the main transfer system in the Yasawas. When the boat stops in the deep water near each island the speed boats of the hotels or homestays pull up to it and collect their passengers. We were whisked off to the shore while our luggage was retrieved by a different small boat and were led up to the bar area where the staff sang us a welcome song and gave us a glass of tropical juice before being shown to our rooms where our luggage was already waiting. Our room was in 'The Cove' - an adult only area with two pools and multiple sun…
Saturday, 01 September 2018

Idyllic Indonesia: 'The Slow Life'

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As I sit here on the infinity edge of the three tiered pool, which is the center piece of this cliff side property overlooking Maggis Bay, I realize what an untapped treasure this eastern part of the beautiful Hindu island of Bali is. I am visiting Amankila, a part of the 5 hotels bouquet in Indonesia offered by Aman Resorts, for the Aman junkies! The resorts have developed a loyal fan base of travelers who decide their vacations according to the global 'Amanmap'. The hotel is about a 90 minute smooth drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport and perched on top of a hill. The solitude seeks you as you enter with panoramic views of the ocean. When I arrived at the library they were serving afternoon tea and I had a Balinese ginger tea while my partner tried the local luwak coffee. While we savored this with Klepon…
Sunday, 01 July 2018

Montauk and the Yachts

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What is it about walking along a dock full of yachts that makes living on water tempting? I’ve never been much of a boat person but the allure of the Montauk Yacht Club is much more than, to put it simply, the boats. After a lengthy 3-hour stretch from Manhattan, you know you’re close to arriving when you feel the inescapable need to stop the car and stretch your legs. Before you know it, you’re passing through the Hamptons, a beautiful and seemingly haphazard littering of fancy storefronts and slow paced Manhattanites strolling the sidewalks like dizzy bees waking up for spring. You almost want to break for a quick bite while passing The Golden Pear Café, its alluring corner spot with patrons pouring out, perfectly prepared avocado toast and eggs, fresh spinach and juicy fruit all very tempting. But the road ahead beckons and it’s worth the extra 30-min…
Saturday, 30 December 2017

Fairmont Safari Club, Maasai Mara, Kenya

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Maasai Mara Tented Camp was a real indulgence – we had gone on safari in Tanzania and in Kenya's Ambosoli Park and had stayed in places that ranged from decent to very good, but nothing like this. We had a beautifully decorated tent overlooking the river with a fancy bathroom and large outdoor enclosed shower with a view (also an indoor shower if you prefer). The rugged tent kept out the monkeys that liked to sit on our front porch and had a large canopy bed and even a Nespresso machine. There were lots of hippos in the river and there were viewing platforms in various spots overlooking where they congregated. They were very loud, especially around 4 am when they were getting back in the water after a long night of foraging. There were a number of crocodiles in the river too and they would sun themselves on the…
Sunday, 01 May 2016

The Emirates Experience

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I recently flew Emirates Airline from Chicago to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The first leg of the trip was about 13 hours, from Chicago to Dubai. Although I was in coach, the Emirates flight attendants were very attentive. Plus, the seats were comfortable and each seat had its own TV with more than 100 channels and movies. The food was amazing, not just for airline food; and, there was free wine. The flight attendants came around a few times in between meals with snacks, including chocolate bars and apples. In the back of the plane, there were different drinks poured, which you could help yourself to. The airport in Dubai was very large, yet very clean. It was about a 15-minute walk from our gate to the customs desk. Since I hold a U.S. passport, I could have gone through the express customs lane. However, I wanted the passport stamp,…
Mesmerizing, intoxicating, breathtaking. These are just some of the words describing Italy’s Amalfi Coast. But, when we visited for the first time, we were more than awed, we were speechless. We lived in Italy for three years; in Naples, actually. But, the Amalfi Coast was always one of our favorite places to visit. It bewitched us with its medieval crusader watchtowers, sheer, craggy coastline, mysterious grottos and mountains plunging into the sea. Its stunning, majestic beauty showcasing pastel-hued villages terraced into its steep hillsides and expansive vistas over turquoise waters allured us. Luxuriant gardens exploding in rich colors of red and coral drew us into its spell. It was amore-love at first site! The magnificent Costiera Amalfitana as the Italians call it is widely considered Italy's most scenic stretch of coastline. Its legendary beauty has inspired artists, writers and musicians for centuries. This is the mythical home of the sirens…
Monday, 31 August 2015

The “Other” London

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I've been to London 6 times. Four were as a single woman, when I’d planned every detail out to the nth degree. I had set times for getting up, going to bed and in between, 2 major and 2 minor sites to visit per day. I wore myself out, but did get to see all the important tourist sites in Greater London….from The Tower to the Silver Vaults to Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park to Westminster Abbey – where I had to restrain myself from impulsively and inexplicably flinging my body over Mary Queen of Scots’ tomb. I ventured as far out as Windsor, Eton, Bath and Hampton Court which were all well worth the short train rides. I’d always stayed in Knightsbridge, despite the higher prices, because…well, isn’t that where one should stay? And frankly, twice my company paid the boutique hotel price as I was there for 3…
Have you ever traveled somewhere and felt an immediate change in your emotional and spiritual aura? Where you felt happier, more alive and more yourself than you’ve ever felt before? There’s something special about that place but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, and you think, “there’s something I like about you.” I have, but it hurts my heart to say a place I love is a place that others refuse to visit. It is a place defined by its dark past, not given a chance to prove its development and incredible beauty. Don’t we all deserve a second chance? Bogotá prides itself as the largest city in Colombia and one of the largest in Latin America. At 8,660 feet above sea level, I stand amongst the clouds both literally and figuratively. On a brisk and misty day, I gaze over the entire city from my…
Saturday, 01 February 2014

Singapore: The Year of the Horse

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Fine art photographer and author Barry Epstein reveals some exciting things to do in Singapore that may persuade you visit. It seemed that my Singaporean wife and I were walking for miles in one of the many shopping malls in Singapore that clearly defined a new level of upscale. We were in the exotic Marina Bay Sands complex with its shopping, casino, convention center, science museum and more that has reshaped Singapore’s skyline since it opened in 2010. We had just come down from the 56th floor viewing platform that overlooks the central business district and the harbor. But you don’t need to spend the S$25 for the Sky Park viewing platform as you can see across to the beautiful Singapore business skyline from the ground floor in the shopping mall. You can walk through Louis Vutton store to get the best view and its free (although you will be…

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