While Cambodia’s relatively recent past is dark and grim, its ancient history provides an inspiring counterpoint. Over one thousand years ago, the Khmer empire was at the apex of its power and it controlled much of what is now Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. All that now remains are the incredible temples of Angkor, and even in the hottest season they are crawling with tourists – including us.
We spent three weeks in Istanbul. Like every other place we have been, we could have spent much more time digging deeper and exploring the innumerable hidden corners of this enchanting city.
An iconic image that appears in all the travel magazines for Turkey is the white terraces of Pamukkale, or the “cotton castle” in Turkish. Over the ages, hot water springs have deposited calcium carbonate down the hillside, thus creating pools in which people have bathed for thousands of years. In fact, at the top of Pamukkale lie the Greco-Roman and Byzantine ruins of the city of Hierapolis; beginning in the 2nd century BC, the Romans used the hot springs as a spa as the waters were believed to cure all sorts of ailments. Clearly the Romans knew a good thing when they had it! Continue reading
Let me take you back 2,000 years.
We can’t come to Greece and not visit at least one island. Can we? Of course not. So, from Athens we jumped on a small plane and headed for the island of Rhodes, which is one of the Dodecanese islands (the furthest east group of Greek islands). We had contemplated taking a boat but when we learned that it would be an 18 hour ferry trip (and did we mention that Eva gets motion sick?), and would be almost twice the price, it was a no brainer. Continue reading
Eleven million people and 140 million olive trees. That’s Greece: a rocky, mountainous landscape covered with olive and orange trees with houses and whole towns built into cliffsides. An earthquake every two weeks or so (we felt two), economic turmoil, and still they hang on. If nothing else, Greeks are tenacious. Continue reading
The carnival masks are everywhere, from the street vendors to the stores. They are the enduring symbol of Venice, the playful city. Continue reading
Two nights in Milan … was just about enough. Continue reading
From Toulouse we made our way east towards the walled city of Carcasonne – a UNESCO World Heritage site. We have played the board game, Carcasonne, so the kids were familiar with the name, but I don’t think they ever quite anticipated how truly magical it is. Walking along the walls and ramparts was absolutely wonderful, but as many others before us have pointed out, the central part of the city is completely overrun with tourist shops selling all manner of things. The kids were highly critical of this, but when I asked them what should otherwise be there, no simple answer was put forward. We talked about the need for a city such as that to generate revenue in order to maintain itself and there was subsequently general agreement that perhaps capitalizing on the tourist trade might be the only viable option.
The beauty of France is that everywhere we go, we find interesting buildings and sites. Case in point is the little town of Trélazé, just outside of Angers, we stumbled upon when looking for a place to stay. Not a town that would otherwise have drawn our interest, we were intrigued to learn that it was famous for its blue slate. Extensively used throughout the region, it could be seen on the roofs, paths and in the garden walls of the houses and chateaus for which the Loire Valley is famous. Continue reading