All posts/entries, for now, from 15+ years of global travel.
“From South Africa to North Korea, Canada to Greece, I somehow found the time to travel 10 countries in 2017 (yes, Kosovo is a country), a rather convenient number for the purpose of an end-of-year review. So here are 10 from 10, ten pictures from ten countries presented in chronological order from the year in travel & photography that was 2017.”
“… the US probably warrants more than one epic once-in-a-lifetime road trip experience. So, and a year-plus after our 9,500+ mile US Road Trip 2016, we’re hitting the US road once again. Welcome to Epic US Road Trip part II, the 2017 edition… this one is all about history; music; (more of) the Deep South; and rural drives and leaf peeping the vibrant hues of a New England fall/autumn. And yes, it’s gonna be epic all over again.”
“The ruefulness of the tragedy that was the infamous Civil War Battle of Gettysburg… stepping back in time among the Amish of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country. Reliving the birth of the nation in historic Philadelphia… stepping out on the iconic boardwalk of New Jersey’s brassy Atlantic City… Quaint little Delaware. The nautical niceties of Maryland’s Annapolis. And the instantly-recognisable monuments, those venerated altars to democracy, in Washington D.C. 450-plus miles, four days and as many states.”
“Three days. Three days of being monitored. Three days of being chaperoned, guided, led to see only what I was supposed to see, the very best of what the North Korean capital is prepared to divulge to sceptical foreign eyes. Three days of eating where I was told and when I was told. Three days of being surprised, being impressed, being awed… Three days of a surreal buzz the likes of which I’ve never experienced before.”
“The bridge, what’s left of it a well preserved and a popular tourist attraction, ends abruptly in a mass of twisted metal about half way across the river, a abundance of Chinese flags, piped revolutionary music and a huge screen looping Korea War footage there to accompany you as you peer the rest of the way into the curiosity that is North Korea, the world’s very last Stalinist dictatorship.”
“It’s people getting in my way, always in my fuckin’ way, as is their want; it’s their country, after all, and I’m the impostor. It’s barriers and mass crowd control. It’s a very visible police presence and people in officialdom… seemingly standing around doing absolutely nothing while actually policing subjugation and overseeing mass societal conformity…It’s basically the same as it always was, the ever-present push to modernise aside, on this my 7th visit to the capital of the world’s superpower wannabe…”
”Conscious that any visit these days could be my last, I’ve made a point on this sweaty saunter down memory lane of revisiting & photographing places & landmarks that I’ve photographed many times over the years. I’ve also gotten acquainted & photographed landmarks that weren’t even around when last I was. Dynamic Seoul – a city slogan – indeed.”
”A poignant bridge to nowhere; rusting Korean War remnants; a polished but deserted train station; infiltrating The Third Infiltration Tunnel; & trying to espy the illusion of activity in a North Korean propaganda village.”
“The spectacular topography of the 88 km² bay… means there isn’t a whole lot of room in which to squeeze those picturesque Medieval walled Old Towns. There’s even less room for roads. But roads there are and with a shoreline of some 110 kilometers that equates to over 100 kilometres of winding, one-lane, water-hugging driving delights while skirting the feet of steep mountains. It’s a geographical setting rivalled by very few places on earth, if any.”
“And what an approach it was, the steep, narrow hairpin-happy P1 snaking up the hills behind Kotor providing epic Bay of Kotor vistas. I lost count of the amount of times I stopped to savour the views on the so-called Kotor Serpentine, and that was even before I reached the the lofty heights of the highest mausoleum in the world.”
“Budva, the Montenegrin Miami, may be the place to come for an all-night Adriatic Coast party come the summer months, but even through a hangover I suspect one will still appreciate the town’s gorgeous walled Old Town (yes, of course Budva has one of those), its beaches and its setting on Montenegro’s stunning 30-kilometre-long Riviera coast.”
“While I’m glad I stopped by, there’s really not a whole lot to see in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, the few hours it took me this afternoon to walk a loop of the city from the bus station and back again more than sufficient time to sample what is on offer. The city, Europe’s newest capital city and one of its smallest, doesn’t attract too many of my ilk, that much plainly obvious.”
“Cape Town’s spectacular geographical setting and all the outdoorsy adventure options that that presents might by itself be enough to lure some, but the region’s vineyards, agreeable climate, beaches, European colonial-era architecture (& history) and epic coastal drives, among other attractions, would, I’d imagine, deter very few.”
Epic indeed. Thirty-six days of driving 9,510 miles through 26 States. Exploring the US, the world’s ultimate road-trippin’ destination, as it’s meant to be explored.
Wisconsin & Minnesota – Days 1-3 (of 36) – 700 Miles (of 9,510)
North & South Dakota – Days 4-6 (of 36) – 1,084 Miles (of 9,510)
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, & Northern Utah – Days 7-10 (of 36) – 1,123 Miles (of 9,510)
Southern Utah, Arizona & New Mexico – Days 11-15 – 1,337 Miles (of 9,510)
Colorado – Days 16 & 17 – 647 Miles (of 9,510)
Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri & Arkansas – Days 18-22 – 1,726 Miles (of 9,510)
Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama & Georgia – Days 22-25 – 941 Miles (of 9,510)
Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia & West Virginia – Days 26-29 – 819 Miles (of 9,510)
Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana & Illinois – Days 30-36 – 1,134 Miles (of 9,510)
Once famously split in two, Berlin, the present-day trendsetting & historic German capital, is both hip & worn, lively & dull, a city of exhilarating extremes.
Made famous in a Fairy Tale & boasting one of Europe’s most beautiful town squares, red-brick-heavy Bremen, the home of Beck’s Beer, packs quite a punch.
Red-lit hookers & coffee shop hash get all the attention, but the Venice of the North also boasts great museums, stunning architecture and of course that UNESCO-listed cobweb of canals.
The charming, canal-ringed & maybe-a-bit-too-idyllic home of the world-famous blue-&-white hand painted Delftware pottery.
Poor Belgium doesn’t get a very good rap. I don’t know why. It has awesome medieval Old Towns, chocolate, waffles, beer & Flemish Renaissance architecture. Between the Belgian Big 4 of Brussels, Ghent, Bruges & Antwerp, there’s a lot to see, and a lot to like. Boring? No way.
Forty-eight weeks, 5 continents, 38 countries & territories. Hundreds of good pictures, thousands of bad ones. The epic year that was.
From the vast Amazon Basin in the north to the hedonism of the flamboyant city carnivals, seeing all there is to see in Brazil, Latin America’s largest country, would take a lifetime. Maybe two. Here’s a bite-sized sampling for starters.
Iconic & alluring with world-renowned landmarks & place names. Yes Rio is cool, Rio is beautiful, but it’s not the utopia it seems from elevated vantage points.
The capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, a colourful European-influenced city renowned for its friendly gaucho hospitality.
”OK so there’s not a whole lot around here that will deter too many for too long, but there’s an unmistakably cool vibe on the straight grid of streets that is the Uruguayan capital, a riot of 19th-Century Neoclassical architecture and one of the best cities on the continent in which to tuck into a steak.”
“It gets all the Colonia attention, and rightly so. A grid of enchanting streets on a small peninsula jutting into the Rio de la Plata, this UNESCO-listed region is made for exploring. You won’t get lost (trust me, it’s too small for that), but you’ll have fun meandering from one plaza to another along cobbled & shaded streets, checking out pastel-coloured tile-and-stucco colonial houses, ye olde churches and ancient fortifications.”
The White Continent, the driest, windiest, highest & coldest continent on earth, the world’s ultimate once-in-a-lifetime travel destination.
It’s pretty remote down here, a desolate archipelago shivering off the southern tip of the South American continent, a burden jointly administered by Chile & by Argentina.
A 2,400 km² protected wilderness of mountains, lakes, rivers and glaciers deep in Patagonia, a magnet for the outdoorsy type & the undisputed highlight of South America’s Southern Cone for many.
An exploration of the 4,300-kilometre-long, laid-back, colourful, hospitable, straitlaced, isolated & largely remote South American anomaly.
Dual exchange rates, European influence, Che & Messi, border two-stepping, Lake District splendour, Patagonia steppe, the end of the world & tango. Criss-crossing Argentina before reaching the (very) bottom.
An exploration of Enchanting Easter Island, one of the most remote inhabited islands on the planet & universally famous as the home of the massive monolithic moai statues.
UNESCO-listed Jesuit Missions, quirky Asuncion, a mighty big dam & Illegal border crossings. Paraguay, the so-called Heart of South America, the landlocked republic that’s somewhat off the region’s well-trodden Gringo Trail.
The Tibet of the Americas, the highest, most isolated, most rugged & most indigenous country in South America.
A pictorial recap of north to south travels through Peru, one of the world’s richest heritages topped by the legacy of the Inca Empire.
The volcanic Galapagos archipelago off the Ecuadorian coast. Darwin’s natural laboratory of evolution and probably the world’s premier wildlife destination famed for its unrivaled array of wondrous endemic birds, mammals, reptiles & plants.
The Equator. The Galapagos. The Rain Forest. The Avenue Of Volcanoes. Some Of South America’s Best Colonial Architecture. Ecuador has it all, and then some.
Twenty-eight images from a north-south, 2,000 kilometre, 10-day, 6-stop jaunt through Colombia, one of South America’s most photogenic countries.
Money problems & rough-around-the-edges Maracaibo. A visit to Venezuela, or more precisely Maracaibo, the county’s second city & an introduction to South America that was always going quick, but turned out to be even quicker than planned.
Fifty-nine days, nine countries & (only) three missed inter-island flights. Saying goodbye to the sun, sea & sand after two months of Lesser & Greater Antilles island-hoppin’.
“Curacao’s capital of Willemstad is a gorgeous UNESCO-listed architectural treat that’s awash with pastel-coloured colonial buildings. Needless to say, it’s a rather photogenic location, no matter where you look.”
”Good for a day (or two at most) of exploration and the capital of the twin-island southern Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, Port of Spain is hot, green, bustling & world-renowned for its region-best Carnival, but somewhat aesthetically challenged & short on must-see sights.”