Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
In Bhutan, outside of Paro, our group climbed up the rocky cliffs to visit the Taktsang monastery. Popularly known as the "Tiger's Nest," the monastery was first built in 1692 around a cave where the great Buddhist Vajrayana practitioner Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) meditated for three years.
Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Now I know: Montenegro is the hidden jewel of the Adriatic Sea. Our first glimpse into this country's beauty began with a two-hour, early morning sail through the scenic fjords of Kotor. As the Sea Cloud II headed toward the harbor, I could hear "oohs" and "aahs" from my fellow passengers. None of us imagined Montenegro would be so majestic and lush.
Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
On our first day in Nepal we visited the Swayambhunath Stupa, a monument that, while founded in the fifth century to house the relics of the Buddha, has since undergone many restorations funded by the devout.
Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
We've spent the last few days of our trip in and around the city of Arles. The nearby region of the Camargue, also known as the Rhone Delta, is where the Rhone River ends and the Mediterranean Sea begins. Its salty marshland is renowned for its wild, white horses and pink flamingos.
Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
We're in the sunny region of Provence (not considered part of France until the fifteenth century), and we recently visited the former papal palace in Avignon, which housed seven successive popes during the fourteenth century (for various reasons). Much of the palace was ruined during the French Revolution, but you can still get a sense of the scale of the rooms and the richness of the decor. One original painted ceiling has managed to survive for seven hundred years!
Posted: Monday, October 7, 2013
We've spent a very plesant few days in Burgundy aboard the MS AmaDagio, stopping in towns such as Dijon and Beaune to see medieval treasures.
Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
After a perfectly delightful day at sea, we arrived at Saranda, Albania. Our day's excursion included a bus tour through Saranda and other local Albanian communities to Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and newly declared national park.
Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
As we continue our journey around Sicily, today we landed in the beautiful port of Palermo and were transported some 1,500 years ahead of where we were yesterday, to the great Norman rule of the island. Our first stop was the Royal Norman Palace, with its exquisite mosaics. Before arriving, our Met lecturer, Frank Dabell, mentioned that these mosaics rival Ravenna. He was absolutely right. Beautifully preserved and grand in scale, the Palatine Chapel is simply breathtaking. And because we are on Sicily, the decoration is an extraordinary example of the synthesis of the diverse cultures—Latin Christian, Greek Christian, Byzantine, and Arab—coming together to create a particularly Norman style in this gorgeous personal chapel. It is what our lecturer called "variety within unity." A true Sicilian experience!
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The Sea Cloud is transporting us across the sea and back in time, to the land of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, the Greeks and the Romans. Sicily is as magical and majestic as I imagined. While yesterday we witnessed a landscape I can only describe as brutal, yet punctuated by churches that were as baroquely ornate as wedding cakes, today we sailed into the port at Agrigento and walked through the so-called Valley of the Temples, home to some of the greatest Greek temples still in existence. Along a sloping hill amid a landscape of almond and pistachio trees, rosemary, jasmine, and pear cactus, stand breathtaking monuments to the greatness of Greek architecture. Agrigento is worth any traveler's time, and for lovers of ancient culture, it is definitely a must-see.