Marie Claude Arnott

Daytime Christmas scenery at the Opryland (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Feeling the Christmas Spirit at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee

Streams of lights fall like incandescent snowflakes. Among them, characters of children’s books and cartoons hang from small-scale hot-air balloons and parachutes. Only Santa can bring more excitement at the Opryland Hotel. You might not deck your Read More

Taputapuatea Marea is the second most important archaeological site in all of Polynesia (Photo: MCArnott)

Exploring Life on Raiatea Island: A Cruise Shore Excursion in French Polynesia

Ambling through the untidy streets of Papeete, I find myself wondering what happened to the once blissfully depicted capital of French Polynesia. I know the cruise will take us to moss-laden jagged mountains, teeming marine life and stilted Read More

Halloween-style jail in the Joan of Arc Garden in Québec City (Photo: MCArnott)

Hounding Halloween Ghosts in Québec City, Canada

A giant spider crawls on the side of an office building. A sailing ship has run aground in front of Québec City Hall. Halloween decorations set the tone for our family visit to Québec City, with grandchildren in tow. Ships have a lot to do with Read More

The construction of the Taj Mahal in the 17-th century took 22 years (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Focusing on the White Marble of the Taj Mahal

The grand finale of my trip to India is neither a massive fort nor a sumptuous palace, instead, it's a mausoleum: the Taj Mahal. For some of the Indian celebrities interviewed on the occasion of its 350th anniversary (in 2004) the love story was the Read More

Pontoon at Norman Reef, Queensland, Australia (With permission: Great Adventure Tours)

Boating from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef

When we asked friends from Brisbane and Sydney what’s the best time to visit Australia we hoped they would say March, which is the only time we had available for our trip. Instead, they said September to November. Our timing to go to the Great Read More

Carving at the Trees of Mystery park in Klamath, California (Photo MCArnott)

Pondering Old Growth Forests at the Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California

I am looking at the top of a tree that is so tall, I have to hug it to keep my balance. Let's do the math: It was a seedling around the time Christopher Columbus discovered America. Before the 1800s, the American Northwest was still a dangerous Read More

Players and caddies ride on a golf cart at Nirwana Bali (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Teeing-off over Rice Paddies at Nirwana Golf Club in Bali, Indonesia

She briefly scouts the fairway and points to my ball, in a narrow ditch along a rice paddy. All eyes are on me as I give it my best shot. When a splash of mud squirts in all directions including mine, I am miffed. Yet, my caddy smiles and my Read More

1920 Fowler Road Locomotive (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Attending the Traditional Cart Marking Ceremony in London, England

What do Montgomery’s Rolls Royce and a butcher’s handcart have in common? They appeared in a London ritual dating back to 1667: Cart Marking. The first time I heard the name of this ceremony -- Cart Marking Under the Worshipful Company of Carmen Read More

Detail of a frog symbol on a pole at the Vancouver Airport (Credit: MCArnott)

Learning about Totem Poles in Vancouver, British Columbia

Bulging eyes at the top gaze at the horizon, a grinning mouth bares teeth at the base of the pole. A bear? A wolf? The various symbols engraved in the wood still hold mystery, and a few misconceptions, about Canadian aboriginal culture. Fortunately, Read More

Yellow-eyed penguin in nest (Courtesy Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust)

Searching for the Yellow-eyed Penguin in New Zealand

The word “maybe” is out. We might see some, but there is no guarantee. Do we still want to go? We do. A guide points us toward our transportation, an 8-wheel-drive Argo. We'll be taking this vehicle, a cross between a tractor and a boat, to see the Read More

The beginning of the Centennial Seawall in Dundarave

Walking the Centennial Seawall of West Vancouver in British Columbia

I can’t say that I would take up dancing in the rain, but I am enjoying its drumming sound on my umbrella as my wellies (read: Wellington boots) splash in puddles. I have not completely adapted to the rainforest climate of the Pacific Northwest, Read More


Visiting the Oakland Zoo in the San Francisco Bay Area

The elephants remind me of a story about a female pachyderm that lived at the then-downtown Oakland Zoo. "Effie" was so used to seeing the owner's family stroll on the grounds that one day she did what family members do: Help push the baby's Read More

Orange jellyfish at Vancouver Aquarium

Visiting the Vancouver Aquarium of British Columbia, Canada

The creature has no bones, no heart, no brain and no eyes. Shredded ribbons of white jelly seem to drift away from its flamboyant bell-shaped body. The orange jellyfish is one of the fascinating exhibits of the Vancouver Aquarium. Like most people Read More

Ficus Pumilia (Creeping Fig) at Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como.

Boating to Villa del Balbianello’s Garden on Lake Como

  I am sitting on a taxi-boat instead of walking through a trail from the Lenno dock to Villa del Balbianello on the wooded promontory. The trail is closed on Mondays. Things must happen for a reason because glimpsing the villa through Read More

Feeding fish underwater with a tube in Moorea's lagoon.

Walking Underwater in Moorea, French Polynesia

I am staring at the eighty-pound helmet that will encapsulate my head: Will it be as weightless underwater as I am told? And the stingrays are on my mind too: One killed the Australian diver and conservationist Steve Irwin. I am only partially Read More

Moroccan Berber jewellery and textile at Boutique Majid (Credit: MCArnott)

Shopping for Moroccan Traditional Jewelry and Textiles in Tangier

The front door is massive and studded with nails meant to repel assailants instead of welcoming visitors. It opens on what are now the treasured artifacts of such old times: colorful textiles, bright wood trunks, attractive vintage clothing, gleaming Read More

Children experience the force of nature with Pheena the fin whale (Credit: MCArnott)

Visiting the Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science with Children in California

Watching a turtle chomping on a strawberry is a far cry from inventing the idea of a cyclotron smashing particles. But they are both aspects of science, and as such, have a place at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California, located in the Read More

Sunrise on Uluru (Credit: MCArnott)

Greeting the Sunrise at Uluru in Australia Red Centre

I feel as if I am part of an entourage waiting for the awakening of the Sun King. Except that here at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (aka Ayers Rock), cameras, tripods, binoculars and phones are contemporary evidence that the real sun is rising. And Read More

Curvy Traditional Wood Tray (Credit: MCArnott)

Learning Aboriginal Survival Skills in the Australian Outback

When my husband demonstrated surprising skills at throwing a spear, I thought that we might have a chance to survive, should we ever get stranded  in the Australian Desert. But a guided walk in the bush gave me plenty of food for thought: It turns Read More

Dot Painting by Aboriginal Artist Margaret Curtis (Credit: MCArnott)

Interpreting the Aboriginal Dot Paintings of Australia

Dots everywhere -- Since I arrived in Sydney they follow me like curious eyeballs. They peek from every shop through vibrant boomerangs, didgeridoos and other crafts and souvenirs. Surely, there must be more to them than polka dots... Back to School Read More