No Safety Rails on the Reservation

Sky-walking over the Grand Canyon

Not many bridges are in the shape of a horseshoe, which brings to mind the fact that most bridge engineers have not dealt with the problems of building one. And, most bridges aren’t see-through; they are usually constructed of metal, or, at the Read More

Souvenir Stand on 5th Avenida

The Shopping ’til You Drop Tour of Antigua, Guatemala

We all have our weaknesses, and one of mine is souvenirs. Admittedly, it’s not the most masculine of traits, not the one I like to write to the guys back home about, but I’ve spent many a traveling afternoon scouring markets and engaging in Read More

Tree roots grow over a temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia by Bicycle

I'm covered in sweat. Sweat is pouring down my back under my t-shirt, and my hair is soaked. I don't mind the sweat, because I'm looking at my favorite temple in the Angkor Archaeological Park so far: Ta Phrom. Unfortunately there are about a million Read More

The orange trees of Cordoba's Alcazar

Walking Beside the Orange Trees at Córdoba’s Alcazar

The gardens of Córdoba’s Alcazar may be smaller than those of rival palaces in Seville and Granada, but they are still impressive. Even in the rain. I had walked through Córdoba’s UNESCO listed historic centre, from the magnificent La Mezquita and Read More

Group of traditionally dressed vendors of acarajé in Brazil (©photocoen)

Admiring Brazil’s Traditional Baianas de Acarajé in Salvador da Bahia

Amidst a crowd of typical, T-shirts-and-jeans-wearing Brazilians, a black woman stood out. She wore an intricate, white, lace bodice covered with necklaces above a dark-blue, billowing skirt and a white piece of cloth artistically wrapped around her Read More

No matter where you look in Ouro Prêto, you'll always see at least one church (©Coen Wubbels)

Being Enchanted by Brazil’s Best-Preserved Colonial Town of Ouro Prêto

Around 1700 gold was discovered in the state of Minas Gerais. In 1711 Vila Rica de Ouro Prêto (Rich City of Black Gold) was founded, which soon became the capital of the state and epicenter of Brazil's biggest gold rush. Thousands of slaves dug out Read More

The Great Clash of Nature-001

Sleeping like Monks in the Caves of Goreme in Cappadocia

As an independent traveler, it happens every so often: You find yourself walking beside a road in the middle of the desert, cars whizzing by you with little regard, no more than a bottle of water and a book in your bag. It was that way one afternoon Read More

View of Sugar Loaf from Cristo Redentor Statue (©Coen Wubbels)

Marveling from the Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Thus far thick traffic and having to watch my back had made me wary of the city but after a leisurely walk up the Sugar Loaf, I took in the view and suddenly understood the spell that visitors as well as Cariocas – Rio de Janeiro's residents – fall Read More

The cast iron and masonry work on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales are more than 200 years old. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier c 2013)

Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northeast Wales

From my vantage point in the field below, the structure rising from the riverbed looks like a bridge—a magnificent one, certainly, with graceful 200-year-old stone and iron arches. But wait a minute and an incongruous sight appears: A boat slowly 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

Arches of La Mezquita, Seville

Exploring Cordoba’s Mezquita: the Mosque that Became a Cathedral

The cavernous space of La Mezquita in Cordoba makes me think of Russian dolls. Standing right in the middle of the 8th century mosque is a perfectly formed Renaissance cathedral. What is more, the mosque grew out of an earlier Visigoth church, which Read More

Mayan Pyramid Rising into View
(courtesy of Emma Gallagher)

Entering Tikal, Jungle Heart of the Maya Empire

From atop Temple IV, above the trees of the jungle, the noisy morning sounds of animals went on for ages. “Little” Cesar, our tour guide, had instructed us all just to listen. “Don’t talk,” he said, holding his hand next to his head as if Einstein Read More

Long brown building with many pointed spires and a giant clock tower at the right hand end, on the far side of a broad river

Pondering Power at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, England

When in London, listen to the stones. The Tower of London says, "Power comes from the King and his army." Westminster Abbey says, "Power comes from God." You would expect the Houses of Parliament to say, "Power comes from the people", but that's not Read More

Stone wall with a carved row of flowers and leaves, at each end there is a strange best. One looks like a bat and the other is more like a snarling lion.

Searching for Souls at Westminster Abbey, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, England

Why visit Westminster Abbey? Occasionally I go to indulge my private delusions of grandeur. Before I can be crowned Queen of England, approximately a billion people will have to die. Then, when I'm first in line, I'll follow tradition and have my own Read More

A prisoner's cell, Robben Island, Cape Town (Ann Burnett 2013)

Following the Footsteps of Prisoners, Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa

The ferry to Robben Island from Cape Town takes only 30 minutes but at the end of it we were in a different world. A harsh landscape, bleak and  devoid of trees, greeted us at the quay where a tour bus took us to the prison in the center of the Read More

The estancia of Jesús María stands out for its wrought iron fence and gratings (©Coen Wubbels)

Exploring the Jesuit Estancias in Córdoba, Argentina

When in the 16th century the Jesuits came to Argentina, they founded schools and universities in Córdoba, an area today referred to as the Jesuit Block. In order to finance these institutions estancias were set up in the surrounding areas, where Read More

Skyline of the Tower of London showing light coloured walls and many towers

Finding the Bodies and the Loot at the Tower of London, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, England

The Tower of London is an architectural bully, a big tough bouncer at the door of England’s history. Don’t worry, the people at the Tower are lovely and helpful. But the walls themselves? They were built to keep the likes of you and me in our Read More

Ruins of abandoned houses, St. Kilda (Copyright Stillman Rogers Photography)

Stepping into the Past on Scotland’s St. Kilda Archipelago, a UNESCO Site

The taste of salt was strong on the wind as we sailed past cliffs that dropped to a wave-dashed tumble of stones below. Beyond this cluster of cliff-bound islands known as St. Kilda, open Atlantic stretched to the gray line of the horizon. The Read More

The decorated walls and carved pillars characterize Bolivia's Jesuit Missions (©Coen Wubbels)

Touring the Jesuit Missions in La Gran Chiquitania of East Bolivia

150 kilometers of unpaved road meander through thick forest and cattle ranches in eastern Bolivia. The road takes me to my third Jesuit Mission: Santa Ana. It's the smallest of the six missions that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Gran Read More

Walking here is utterly peaceful (©Karin-Marijke Vis)

Running through Brazil’s Colonial Town of Goiás Velha, a UNESCO Site

Running through a town? What kind of way of exploring a place is that, you may ask. Did I get to see anything at all? Yes, I did. In fact, running through Goiás Velha was exactly what made my visit to this 17th century, colonial town Read More

According to the neighbor the most beautiful building in the city (©Coen Wubbels)

Studying the Art of Azulejos in São Luís, Brazil’s City of Tiles

In the doorway stands an elderly man. Our eyes meet and I shake his hand. "You are lucky to live in such a beautiful building. What an incredibly tiled façade your home has," I comment. For the past couple of hours I have been strolling through the Read More

The Great Wall of China

Standing Sentinel on the Great Wall, Badaling, China

The last of the fall color was about to disappear from the trees growing in the shelter of the Great Wall. "A really awful place to be a sentry in winter," I said. My companion nodded. We were looking out from one of the many watch towers Read More

Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Exploring the Historic City of Ayutthaya, Thailand, by Bicycle

As I park my bicycle next to a 7/11 and a collection of souvenir shops, I realize Ayutthaya is not going to be the step back in time I hoped it would be. It feels more like a history theme park. Before I came to Ayutthaya – the old capital of Read More

An example where Oscar Niemeyer's architecture and Burle Marx's landscape garden complement each other (©Coen Wubbels)

Appreciating Modern Architecture in Brazil’s Capital of Brasília

"Why would you want to go to Brasília? It is an ugly city that lacks a soul," is the most common remark I have heard from Brazilians about their capital. Despite these discouraging words I decided to visit the city and judge for myself. My Read More

Sailing past the Pitons, St. Lucia

Sailing from Soufriere, St. Lucia, Under the Shadow of the Pitons

"Look! It's happening! Wait, watch for it!" The excitement on the catamaran is palpable, and we strain our eyes to the horizon where the last tiny pinpoint of an orange sun is just about to dip below the horizon. We are hoping to see the legendary Read More

What is vegetation and what is the reflection? (©Coen Wubbels)

Boating Through the Flooded Forest of Anavilhanas in the Brazilian Amazon

I feel as if I am looking at a scene in the cartoon of Jack and the Beanstalk. The tree trunk is a good three meters wide, and as I look up, I see that the tree divides into three immensely thick branches that reach high into the sky, as if they are Read More

If you climb to the top of the Giralda Tower, you'll enjoy prime views of Sevilla.

Exploring Sevilla’s Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias

Slowly and steadily, the line of people plods upward. Sighing, panting, gasping, straining. The woman in front of me desperately wants to commiserate with me about this relatively arduous trek, but I don’t speak French. Finally, she holds up three Read More

Caernarfon Castle from the sea

Visiting the Historic Castle of Caernarfon, North Wales

I never get tired of castles. It’s just as well because North Wales is full of them, some crumbling away on overgrown mountainsides, others preening themselves for the visitor. There are so many, and of such quality, that four of them have gone and Read More

Catwalk to watch the Garganta do Diablo from up close (©Coen Wubbels)

Watching a 360-degree Rainbow in Iguaçu National Park, Brazil

The waterfalls of Iguaçu have been credited with all kinds of superlatives: the best, the highest, the largest, the most spectacular, the deepest, the most impressive. They create expectations and because my partner Coen and I like to get what we Read More

Machu Picchu seen from Huayna Picchu

Hiking Above Machu Picchu: Peru’s Huayna Picchu Climb

Machu Picchu is almost a cliché on Bucket Lists. It’s the most famous destination in South America. Still, I wanted to spend my Christmas birthday there. Some friends said "don’t bother, it’s been overrun. You won’t be able to see the stones because Read More

The First View of China's Terra Cotta Warriors in Pit One. (Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis)

Taking a Day Trip from Beijing to the Terra Cotta Warriors at Xi An

I was pushed by the crowd around me all the way to the edge of the pit. Once there, I stopped and stared entranced by the sight of the thousands of warriors, trapped in time in their glass domed building. The first five corridors alone covered more Read More

The Narrow Gauge Train to Darjeeling, North India (©photocoen)

Taking a Narrow Gauge Train to Darjeeling, India

It's still dark when we walk downhill to the train station. Although the train will only leave at seven, we have been advised to arrive an hour early, as there are few seats. The Sikkim narrow gauge diesel train runs all the way up from the town Read More

angkor_wat_sunrise

Exploring the Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia

I'm looking at the Hindu god Vishnu, whose legs are being massaged by his wife Laksmi. The sculpture is lying in a stream in a tropical forest and is surrounded by twittering birds and fluttering butterflies. The sight is utterly peaceful. It's the Read More