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Photo thanks to Humphrey Muleba With around 2.4 billion people in the world living with 60 miles of the coastline, according to information from the U.N.’s Ocean Conference, there are a lot of beaches that tend to be pretty crowded. While not all popular beaches are bad places to go, sometimes you want a more private, quiet experience to enjoy the wonders of the ocean. These are some of the best unique, secluded beaches you should consider checking out this year. Playa Arcos, Costa Rica The name of this beach translates to “arch beach” in English, and it’s a stunning ocean area that you can get to by hiking through Ballena National Park. Adventurous travelers will love that the beach is next to rainforests and rugged cliffs. Plus, you might see some amazing marine wildlife in this protected marine park, and there are even rock caves and hidden waterfalls to…
Photo by Rod Long There are currently 2,670 named islands in Alaska and several unnamed islands that make up the largest state in America. Although they have a population of fewer than 800,000 people, twice as many people visit Alaska each year for business and pleasure. These islands are so large that many of the mountains found in Alaska are scattered among them. On the mountain tops you will find snow-covered peaks and inactive volcanoes. Beautiful little houses are nestled in the valleys where you can spend the night. Chichagof Island Chichagof is the fifth largest island in North America with its terrain ranging from snow-capped mountains to white sandy beaches. This island offers plenty of tourist options, from the small towns near the docks on the northeastern coast to the Ziprider – the world’s longest zip line. Visitors from all over the world come to watch the humpback whales…
Tuesday, 01 January 2019

The Last Wild Miles of Glen Canyon

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I have dreamed of floating the Colorado River through towering red rock walls, past hanging canyons, and shorelines dotted with wildlife and petroglyphs. I did not want to have to spend a week camping or going through dangerous rapids or hiking down three thousand feet. Glen Canyon was the answer to my dream. The 15 miles of the Colorado River that stretches between the Glen Canyon Dam and Lee’s Ferry is a trip for everyone. This is the last wild section of the canyon that was mostly buried by the deep blue waters of Lake Powell. This stretch of the river is smooth and calm. It allows you to take in the towering walls of Navajo Sandstone that reach over 1000 feet up into the sky. You see how nature has used water and wind to carve its own rock sculptures into the cliffs. Wild Horses, Bighorn Sheep and several…
Thursday, 01 November 2018

“Pure Barry” Cycling in Scotland

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Just a few minutes earlier standing among the blooming foxgloves, bluebells, and buttercups and holding our bikes next to the path overlooking the lake (or loch as it's known in Scotland) I had remarked to my companions that if there was a heaven it wouldn't be much different than this. The sun had come out, there were a few puffy white clouds left in the brilliant blue sky, and it had warmed to around 70 degrees. It was a perfect day to cycle around Loch Katrine in Scotland's Trossachs region, a romantic area of sparkling lakes, tree-covered hills, and welcoming villages, and we had finished a delicious lunch and were enjoying a leisurely ride. It was turning into a fantastic day! As we turned to get back on our bikes we watched an orange and black butterfly flutter in the ferns next to the path. It reminded us of my…
Saturday, 01 September 2018

Comparing Tuscany and Provence

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We spent two months (October & November) driving about 3,500 kilometers in both Tuscany and Provence. After extensively exploring both we considered these questions: How does Tuscany differ from Provence? Conversely, how are they similar? Our unavoidable bias and unscientific observations are indeed noted. (1) We found the Provence countryside, landscape and topography much more diverse with more vineyards than Tuscany. (2) Missing in large parts in Provence towns and villages are the piazzas that are found in Tuscany. (3) The churches in typical Provençal villages were mostly near the top of the hill, not at a focal point at the center of Tuscan towns and villages. Provençal churches were always closed except on Sundays. Tuscan churches were open parts of the day and many contained some bits of fresco, paintings or sculpture. (4) Between French and Italian cuisine it is still a toss-up! There is such a wide range…
A visit to two cities of the ancient rulers of the Yucatan: Kohuhlich & Tulum The vines covered the grey stones with a lattice work of green. The cries of the howler monkeys from the trees sounded a warning to residents long gone. I climbed up narrow and steep steps of the temple toward the sky. You could almost imagine the priests of the temple looking out over the whole city from their vantage point at the top of the Temple of Masks at Kohuhlich. This old Mayan city sits near the border with Belize in southern Yucatan, Mexico, and is slowly being recovered from the jungle which has been trying to envelope it for hundreds of years. The cloudy sky made the green of the jungle seem more luminous and the ruins more ominous. You enter the city along a dirt trail and the first structure you see is…
There was no doubt about it. We were well and truly lost. Our coach was due to collect us in 20 minutes, and we had no idea where we were, let alone how to find our way back to our pick-up point at the magnificently ornate 17th Century Trastevere Arch. We were on the first leg of our tour of Italy, and the trip to the flea market at Porta Portese in Rome seemed like a great idea at the time, especially to seasoned bargain hunters like us. Open from 6:30am to 2pm every Sunday, the market is a sprawling mass of stalls spilling through the bohemian Trastevere area of the Eternal City. Manned by traders from all over the countryside, you can find and haggle for all kinds of goods here, from clothes and jewelry to cheap plastic electrical items and rather dubious looking antiques. Bargain hunting Italians in…
Saturday, 30 December 2017

Montenegro: Land of Adventure

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It was a little unsettling when we received word that the cycling tour in Montenegro we had put a deposit on was cancelled due to insufficient sign-ups. It was just a week before we were to leave for Europe and now we had nowhere to stay and no plans for our time in Montenegro. What to do? Thank goodness for the Internet. We found and reserved hotel rooms, and then contacted tour companies in Montenegro. We heard right away from two of them; one was booked for the week and couldn’t help us, but the other was happy to put a schedule together. Marko, who heads Active Travels Montenegro, asked us what we wanted to do and what restrictions we had. Cycling, hiking, and kayaking we told him – with really no limits. Oh, and maybe a boat trip … and how about swimming in the Adriatic Sea? No problem,…
My wife and I were seeking a vacation destination in March, after the typical long Chicago winter with its mostly grey skies each day. We wanted a place that would incorporate historical/cultural sights, unique and interesting scenery, relaxation—which in our case happens to be water sports—particularly snorkeling or diving, and that extra something that is different than places we have been to in the past. Because we allocated 12 days for the trip, including 2 travel days, we didn’t want to fly half way around the world. Curacao & Bonaire perfectly satisfied these requirements. Both islands, situated between 40-50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, offered desert scenery filled with giant cactus gardens (as opposed to the more common lush rain forests one sees on other Caribbean islands), historical plantations to visit and a UNESCO World Heritage site—Willemstad—the capital of Curacao that offered many interesting cultural sites and museums, and…
Wednesday, 01 November 2017

London through the Eyes of a Cabbie

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There is much to see in London and taxi driver, Dominic Shannon, will help you take it in – from a unique perspective. From the moment you enter his cab you embark on an adventure; not just moving around the city, but observing it. Shannon has been photographing London for years, capturing thousands of moments in time, from vistas to vagrants, and he gladly shares his views with his customers. It started with a traffic accident when Shannon, a former boxer and family man from Camden, wished he had a way to record the positioning of the involved cars, so he bought a disposable, then moved up to a smart phone, and finally to a point-and-shoot camera. Today, he takes photos primarily from the cab of his taxi, often leaning on or shooting into the rearview mirror. Taken together, his photos are an extraordinary collage of an amazing city. As…

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