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Photo of the Day – Banje Beach Dubrovnik, Croatia

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Banje Beach Dubrovnik, Croatia

Famously described by George Benard Shaw as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the charming Old Town of Dubrovnik was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1979. Just outside the historic City Walls, you might even have picturesque Banje Beach all to yourself if you visit during the mild winter months (like I did on RTW #2). In the scorching months of summertime, however, you’ll be lucky to find a spot on the sand as Banje Beach is the place to see and be seen for the European jetset. But whether you spend your days lounging seaside or walking the City Walls, Dubrovnik is a city that never fails to inspire. And for my money, the blissfully uncrowded winter months are the best time to visit.

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Photo of the Day – Petra Monastery, Jordan

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Petra Monastery, Jordan

Inhabited since prehistoric times, this ancient Nabataean city has been described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” and the Petra Monastery is one of its most impressive sights. Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, the vast city was quite literally carved into the sheer, dusky-pink rock face by its industrious Arab inhabitants more than 2,000 years ago. After entering through the Siq – a narrow gorge almost a mile long with dazzling colors and rock formations – you catch your first glimpse of the magnificent Treasury. Wind your way through the rest of the city in the morning hours before attempting the afternoon hour-long hike up 800 steps to the Monastery. The beautifully-carved, massive building is definitely worth the climb. A day trip to Petra from nearby Amman was one of the highlights of my 5th annual trip around the world.

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Photo of the Day – Vina del Mar Chile

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Vina del Mar Chile

Founded in 1874 as a weekend retreat for the wealthy elite from Santiago, most Chileans refer to the city simply as “Viña.” The golden beaches, manicured lawns and elegant resorts of Vina del Mar, Chile are a stark contrast to the nearby colorful but ramshackle town of Valparaiso. Both cities are easily reachable from Santiago via a 90-minute drive through Chile’s beautiful Casablanca wine region. But what’s the rush? Take your time on the drive and stop to taste some of Chile’s most famous exports like I did on RTW #6. When you eventually arrive at the sun-kissed beaches of Vina del Mar, don’t spend all of your time on the sand – a visit to the vertical town of Valparaiso next door is a must.

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Photo of the Day – Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Just a few miles east of Portland, the Columbia River Gorge divides the US state of Washington and Oregon in an 80 miles stretch of towering cliffs and dramatic vistas. The area’s 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side make it the largest concentration of high falls in North America. Perhaps the most spectacular waterfall along the Columbia River Gorge – and the most-visited attraction in Oregon – Multnomah Falls plunges 620’ from the top of Larch Mountain in two sheer sections. Dividing the falls in the middle, the Benson Bridge was completed in 1914 and named for Simon Benson, a philanthropist who donated 300 acres around the falls for a park. In 1925, the Multnomah Falls Lodge was built in the “Cascadian” architecture style in response to the growing tourism along the Historic Highway. While it’s not possible to stay overnight at the lodge today, it still contains a gift shop and a restaurant with jaw-dropping views of the falls.

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Photo of the Day – Magens Bay St Thomas, USVI

Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Magens Bay St Thomas, USVI

The first two times I visited St Thomas, I didn’t actually see that much of it. Two of my best friends got married there years ago but I barely got out of the resort to see much of the island. And a few years later, when my cruise ship stopped there, I hopped a ferry over to St. John and never looked back. But on my most recent visit, I decided that a tour around St. Thomas was in order. After a ride through town, a visit to a rum distillery and stops at a few lookout points, the tour ended with a little time on one of the Caribbean’s most famous beaches – Magens Bay St Thomas. While the tour itself was okay, I was again reminded why I never do group tours – too much chaos and being told what to do (I’ve never been good at that!). And though the sweeping views of Magens Bay from above were impressive, I am sorry to say that once I arrived at the actual beach, it was a bit of a letdown. Nothing at all like the pristine beauty of Trunk Bay in St. John, right next door. Regardless, it was a nice enough day for a cruise ship stop but all things considered I much prefer the peace and tranquility of nearby St. John. 

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Photo of the Day – Sky Tower Auckland, New Zealand

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Sky Tower Auckland, New Zealand

In the heart of the city’s Central Business District, the Sky Tower Auckland soars more than 1,000ft over the city below making it the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Part of the vast casino/hotel/entertainment complex known as SkyCity, Auckland’s most recognizable feature is a draw for tourists and adventure-seekers alike. For the less adventurous (like me), visit the observation deck, have a drink in the Sky Lounge or dine at Auckland’s only revolving restaurant. For the daredevil, try the Sky Walk around the Tower’s outer pergola for unsurpassed 360-degree views of the city. Or for the truly adventurous, take a leap of faith with a base-jump by wire off the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand.

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Photo of the Day – Morning Alms Luang Prabang, Laos

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Morning Alms Luang Prabang, Laos

Situated at the juncture of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers, the colorfully-serene city of Luang Prabang has emerged as the most prominent showpiece in a country only open to tourism since 1989. This former Royal capital remains the main center for Buddhist learning in Laos and though there are many tourists, they are still outnumbered by orange-robed monks. Climb the steps up Mount Phu Si for 360 degree views or visit the sprawling night market. But, whatever you do, don’t sleep in. Just before dawn, the streets are lined with local residents awaiting the daily procession of monks for morning alms Luang Prabang style. As the sun rises, hundreds of monks emerge – seemingly out of nowhere – to fill their alms bowls. In less than an hour, they disappear as quickly as they appeared.  Witnessing the beauty of this tradition in Laos was one of my most awe-inspiring travel moments.

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