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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…
Wild parties by the sea, jazzed up bars and fancy restaurants with a little bit of Eastern exoticism seem to define Bali these days. With a reputation that now seems more seedy than serene; this once tropical oasis appears to be losing its hold as one of the most coveted beach locales in the world. As a child, I had visited Bali and had fallen in love with its warm hospitality, wide expanses of tranquil paddy fields, glorious local cuisine, stretches of fine sandy beaches and mystical Hinduism. It was a land filled with endless wonder and I simply refused to give up on it. When my in-laws, aunts and uncles decided to visit Asia for the very first time, I was determined to find and show them the Bali I remembered. So, began a journey of nostalgia in a land still filled with marvel. The key to unlocking the…
"You want to see the jewels of Jasper National Park! I suggest you take two tours: one to the Columbia Icefields and the other to Maligne Lake. They are two gems set in one of the most beautiful spots on earth," a resident of the town of Jasper advised when I asked him what were the most important sites to see during our four day stay in one of Canada's most charming parks. I thought of these renowned attractions as we settled down in our luxury abode, the Fairmount Jasper Park Lodge. I was thrilled with its picturesque panoramic setting. It was conducive to dreaming of traveling to the Columbia Icefields with their glaciers virtually as old as time itself and Maligne Lake, the charming jewel of Jasper National Park. We began our vacation by exploring the mountain resort town of Jasper nestled in the bosom of the Rockies. It…
Thursday, 23 August 2012

Seeing Sabah’s Orangutans

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Mount Kinabalu, at 13,455 feet above sea level, is the world's twentieth highest mountain. Its peak often pokes its head above the clouds whilst its lower parts are shrouded with mist from the surrounding rain forest, which, in turn, rise and mingle into spectacular cloud formations. Sited in Sabah, Borneo, it draws both novice and experienced rock climbers from many countries, challenging them to tackle its formidable faces and traverses. This author was much too old to join those eager to try, those folk who awoke at three a.m., donned their gear and in the tropical temperature, began their quest to reach the summit (where numbing cold awaits) and return to base before what was left of the day's light turned itself off. My tour of Sabah was to be much less strenuous. I wanted to witness and savor some of the other tourist attractions that the country could offer, just…
Sunday, 29 April 2012

Viceroy Bali

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The Viceroy in Ubud, Bali was one of the highlights of our lengthy trip throughout Southeast Asia and Indonesia. With its gracious staff,  newly built bungalows, and magical location – it definitely scores a 10. Upon arrival we were greeted with cool towels and welcome drinks by the friendly bell hops and explained the lay of the land by the helpful front desk staff. We were then taken down to our villa in a golf cart and shown around. We had a Deluxe Terrace Villa and it was beautiful. Our own plunge pool awaited us complete with a balé (lovely little open-air pavilion) perched above it. The room itself had a sitting area, king size bed loaded with pillows, walk in closet, huge marble bathroom with a walk-in shower and soaking tub built for two. The design was a mix of Balinese and European and we had a thick thatched…
The Venetian and The Palazzo, the world’s largest Five Diamond resorts, magically transformed into the most majestic winter surroundings Las Vegas has ever seen, creating Winter in Venice. An outdoor wonderland complete with a skating rink, charming string lights, brilliantly lit trees, holiday music, holiday treats, and displays set the scene. We were greeted by colorful characters wandering the property, spreading good cheer; we were dazzled by a spectacular light show performance; we were blessed with Santa's presence during the Santa Story Readings; we indulged in chocolate chips cookies and milk; we relaxed at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub; and we gazed into our future together while being serenaded by a gondolier. Winter in Venice made romance and our wildest imagination collide during our four night stay at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, Nevada.Located in the front of the resort, Doge's Palace offered plenty to see and experience. Surrounded by 30 larger-than-life snowflakes, ranging from 48 to 72 inches in diameter, more than 2,000…

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