UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Bucket List

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Visiting Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

As I approached the magnificent building from the west, a banner above the entrance door announced the forthcoming Victorian Hot Rod Association’s 50th anniversary show. The banner looked glaringly incongruous. Yet it emphasised the fact that here Read More

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Exploring Naracoorte Caves, South Australia’s World Heritage Site

Having booked an afternoon tour of the Naracoorte Caves, we drove the 200-plus kilometres from Hall’s Gap, in the Grampian Mountains, as fast as safety and the law allowed. Brendan, our son did the driving. Therese and I just clung to the seats. We Read More

Interior Wieskirche Church, Germany (Photo credit: Amy S Eckert, c 2013)

Admiring Germany’s Wieskirche Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site

If there is a perfect example of Bavarian rococo architecture, the Wieskirche Church is probably it. Set among verdant, rolling Alpine foothills, surrounded by Bavarian farms and accessible by narrow country roads, the Wieskirche also comes Read More

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Visiting the Durham Home of the Prince Bishops

It is difficult to imagine a defensive structure more strategically situated. Guarded by steep slopes descending to an almost complete loop of the River Wear, Durham Castle remained impregnable for eight centuries. Yet even this fortress is dwarfed Read More

View from Finch Bay Hotel, Galápagos Islands (©photocoen)

Sharing Breakfast with Darwin’s Finches on the Galápagos Islands

I was the only guest left in the dining room. Two Darwin's finches hopped on a chair before zeroing in on a bowl with freshly cut papaya, watermelon and pineapple on the breakfast buffet. When Natalia, one of the cooks, spotted the birds, she Read More

Traditional hat maker in Quito (©photocoen)

What to Buy in Ecuador: Shopping for Artisanal Souvenirs in Quito

"Do you know ortiga?" Doña Rosa asked? Fortunately, I did so I knew it would sting a bit. She rolled up my sleeve and held my hand in hers. She took a handful of fresh stinging nettle leaves and rubbed them over my lower arm and hand, which would Read More

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings Museum, Unteruhldingen, Germany (Photo credit: Amy S Eckert, c 2013)

Discovering Prehistoric German Dwellings, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Alpine chalets. Half-timbered wood-and-stucco houses. Long house-and-barn combos brimming with flower boxes. I had seen hundreds of these houses in southern Germany and Switzerland, in the Alpine landscape surrounding Lake Constance. Houses Read More

Day trip with the Sea Lion to Paltra Sur (©photocoen)

Snorkeling with Sharks in the Galápagos Islands

"Shark!" I was facedown in the water, following a schools of surgeonfish weaving their way among the rocks, yet the word registered loud and clear. I looked up and saw my partner Coen waving frantically, pointing to something underneath his body. Read More

Calle de Suspiros (©photocoen).

Strolling Around Uruguay’s Most Scenic Village: Colonia del Sacramento

I pick up the thermos and fill up the gourd with mate, a popular herbal tea in Uruguay. It's a drink you share with others, so I hand the gourd to my partner Coen, who takes one last photograph before he sits down next to me. We're sitting on a Read More

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

Connecting with the White Marble of the Taj Mahal

  The grand finale of my trip to India is neither a massive fort nor a sumptuous palace,  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 Read More

Maulbronn Monastery (photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Ba.-Wü.)

Uncovering 860 Years of History at UNESCO Site Maulbronn Monastery

The road snakes through the German countryside, through forested hills and past tiny sparkling lakes in Baden-Württemberg. It’s a region famous for Germany´s Black Forest, the kind of place I always hope for when I plan a trip to Germany. Towns lie 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, they said September to November, not March when we had planned to go. Our timing to experience the Great Barrier Reef wasn't the best either. The Lonely Planet Read More

Where the Tooth Relic is kept. (Roberta Sotonoff)

Attending the Perahera Festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Tammattam drums throb in the distance. The steady boom, boom, boom of these small-sized, kettle-like drums grow louder. Their rhythm is almost hypnotic. Then comes the sound of cracking whips. A troupe snaps them to the drum beats. For the next four Read More

Roman Baths

Walking With the Ancients at the Roman Baths, Bath, England

“It isn’t fair,” says the elderly Roman rather tipsily. “We aren’t invaders. Who on earth comes wanting to fight?” He swigs from his stone bottle and offers it, a little unsteadily, to the camera-laden tourist sitting beside him on the stone Read More

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Discovering the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge, Shropshire

The picturesque escarpment of Wenlock Edge, inspiration of poetry and music, offers no hint that it was once an industrial cauldron. My wife, a friend, and I were traveling to discover the clangorous bustling past of a region that some call the Read More

Stones at Avebury

Uncovering the Mystery of Avebury’s Stones

A group of people, standing in pairs at the centre of the stone circle, perform a solemn ritual with exaggerated hand movements and stamping on scraps of paper. Perhaps an obscure Wiccan ceremony, or just a bonding exercise. Such sights are 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

Coba Cover Photo

Climbing Mexico’s Tallest Mayan Pyramid at Coba

Chichen Itza may be the most famous ancient Mayan city in the Yucatan Pennisula. It may have garnered all the big titles, like New World Wonder, but that doesn’t change the fact that the older Mayan site of Coba, the region’s capital before Chichen 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

The entrance through the Passion facade (Ann Burnett)

Awe-struck at the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Barcelona, Spain

Our first view of the Sagrada Familia is from the top of Montjuic Hill at the end of the funicular ride up from the Ave Paral.lel. My eyes sweep over the panorama below Barcelona, and then, rising above it, the unmistakeable shape of Gaudi’s Read More

The Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Learning about Scotland’s History in the Edinburgh Castle

It started raining as soon as I entered the Edinburgh Castle, even though the sky had looked bright when I climbed up the hill. Tip for visitors: Bring an umbrella, the weather changes quickly in Scotland. The Edinburgh Castle has stood on a Read More

Taking the waters

Taking Tea and the Waters at the Pump Room, Bath, England

You’d think after a lifetime of drinking tea I’d be undeterred by thorny problems of etiquette. But here in the elegant, eighteenth-century Pump Room in Bath I’m suddenly overcome by nerves. Because, as anyone who’s ever picked up a Regency romance Read More

Chac Mool Waiting for the Sun

Calling Quetzals at Chichen Itza in Mexico

We are standing at the foot at El Castillo, near the bottom of the staircase famous for producing a snake-like shadow on the equinox, and taking turns clapping, looking satisfied at one another, and inviting the next person to take a turn. Through Read More

'Roman Legionaries', Housesteads Fort

Following the Roman Legions Along Hadrian’s Wall

As I left the car park at the side of Cawfields Quarry, I was glad of the breeze, for the day promised to be hot. I followed the footpath along the pond’s edge, past the tall quarry face and gently uphill to the walls of Milecastle 42. The section of Read More

View of Machu Picchu from Mountain Machu Picchu (©photocoen)

Climbing the Machu Picchu Mountain in Peru

As Peru was going to be the next country on my itinerary in South America, I read the Buckettripper account of my colleague Grace Lichtenstein about climbing the Huayna Picchu, one of the mountains at the famous Machu Picchu ruins, with specific Read More

Almshouses, Bruges

Stepping Back in Time in the Almshouses and Beguinages of Bruges, Belgium

I must be honest. I’d never heard of a beguinage (or begijnhof, in Flemish) until I came to Bruges. Somehow the concept passed me by in my preliminary pass through the guidebook: I was too busy getting excited about bell towers, boat trips and Read More

Decorated ceiling

Imagining the Lives of the Harem Women at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace

The surroundings are stunning. Sumptuous Ottoman architecture, Moorish arches, and Iznik tile mosaics. This was where the Sultan lived with his numerous wives, children and concubines, and I am trying to imagine what it must have been like to live Read More

The rugged black-sand beach of Rosalie Bay

Tuning into Dominica at Rosalie Bay Eco-Resort

I ended up with a riverside suite at Rosalie Bay boutique eco-resort, rather than a room oceanside. I was immediately glad it worked out that way. The view and chortling of the rocky Rosalie River was soothing and oh-so apropos for the mountainous Read More

Sydney Opera House (photo: Anthony Toole)

Being Overwhelmed by a Concert at the Sydney Opera House

Even before we had left England I had booked seats for the concert, even though I had no idea what the performance would be: The Opera House website gave only the title, The Shock of The New, and the information that the programme would only be Read More

Boat trips are popular in picturesque Bruges

Discovering the City of Bruges (Brugge), Belgium, by Boat

“Where are you from?” roars the boat’s captain into the microphone. He rattles out our various nationalities. French, Flemish, Dutch, Welsh, Scottish, Turkish, Spanish. “No Germans?” he bellows. “Excellent!” And then to ease our collective wince he Read More