.All Trips / Czech Republic / Europe

Strahov Monastery, Prague

Prague 2010 041.  Strahov Monastery

One of the great things about visiting a city like Prague is having the opportunity to see and explore so many interesting historic sites.  As an example, the Strahov Monastary.

The Monastery has beautiful architecture and a picturesque setting near Prague Castle, but it is best know for its lavish library of ancient texts and manuscripts.  So elegant is this library that it was used for filming scenes in the movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  There’s also an interesting small church to explore, the Basilica of the Assumption of our Lady.  And an excellent monastic brewery at which to enjoy another of the monks’ creative endeavours.

Strahov is one of the oldest monasteries of the Premonstratensian Order in the world, operational nearly continously …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

022 St. Lawrence Market.  Toronto 7-2014

I’ve a fondness for visiting Farmers’ Markets in my travels.  One of the finest markets I’ve ever been to is the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.  This market was recognized by National Geographic as the “world’s best food market” in 2012.  It’s one of two main markets in Toronto, the other being the Kensington Market.

The quality of the food in the market is superb.  Extremely fresh produce, meat, seafood and a wonderful assortment of cheeses and baked goods.  Much of the food is locally grown, often in farms north of Toronto but also the Niagara peninsula, and it’s supplemented with seafood from the maritime provinces and St. Lawrence seaway.  Many of the cheeses are made in Quebec but there are …

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Two Restaurants worth visiting in Recoleta (Buenos Aires)

005 Grilled vegetables — amazingly good

 1) Buenos Aires Grill — an excellent Parilla
Dining is, of course, a huge part of traveling.  Experiencing a culture by visiting a restaurant and consuming its food is an excellent way to connect with that place — trying to understand the menu (always best to visit restaurants that don’t hand you an all English translation as these are where the locals eat), trying to converse and build a bond with a waiter, and finally enjoying the meal itself.  Usually these experiences jell into a wonderful experience although sometimes they don’t.

Among the finest food you can eat in Argentina (at least for those who are omnivores or carnivores) is its beef.  Argentine beef is grown on the pampas, is free …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

Flatirons Vista Loop Hike, Boulder, Colorado

001 Flatiron Vista Loop Trail 09-2014

One of my favorite regions to hike is anywhere near the transition between the great Central Plains and the Rocky Mountains.  The region offers opportunity to explore several ecosystems and to enjoy grand panoramic views of the mountains and a seemingly endless prairie, with relatively little effort due to the flatness of the plains.

Flatirons Vista Trail offers a hike that’s custom-tailored to the above description.  It’s just south of the college city of Boulder, Colorado (where my youngest son is currently a postgrad in physics), immediately off Highway 93, and is a loop trail that  offers great views of Boulder’s famous Flatirons.  There’s lots of parking (for a fee for non-residents, so bring small bills with you).  The trail is quite …

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.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

Magnificent Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

010a Takkakaw Falls 07-2014

There are hundreds of amazing places in the Canadian Rockies.  Beautiful lakes and rivers, wonderful mountain peaks and breath-taking vistas from high alpine meadows.  Yoho National Park, in eastern British Columbia, straddles the continental divide on Alberta’s border and not only is a place of great beauty but geologic significance as it is home to the legendary Burgess Shale Formation.  Yoho derives its name (not from a Johnny Depp pirate song but) from the Cree language, meaning “Awe and Wonder”.

The crown gem of this beautiful area, in my humble opinion, is Takakkaw Falls which thunders as it pours into the Yoho Valley not unlike the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley.  Takakkaw Falls has a total drop of 384m (1260 ft) …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Hiking in Horseshoe Canyon; an introduction to Alberta’s Badlands

008 Horseshoe Canyon 06-2014

Most of the hikes I’ve featured on this blog are in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, with good reason.  The scenery in these mountains is truly spectacular, the altitude not overly taxing, and the long summer days are usually dry and sunny.  But there’s a lot more to Alberta than its Rocky Mountains.  Most of the province is actually composed of vast rolling prairies within which you’ll find limited regions known as “the Badlands”.  The Badlands are one of the most unique ecosystems in Alberta, a mostly treeless environment that offers expansive and colorful vistas of eroded, banded mesas, buttes, and coulees.

The easiest place to explore the Badlands is at Horseshoe Canyon, just over an hour’s drive north of Calgary, near Drumheller, …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

John Steinbeck Country: 2) Salinas. The National Steinbeck Center

001a Steinbeck Museum, Salinas 5-2014 intro

John Steinbeck is one of the greatest writers in American history and certainly a favorite of mine.  This is the second installment in a series describing my visit to John Steinbeck country.  In part one we looked at John Steinbeck’s boyhood home in Salinas.  This post discusses the other significant Steinbeck attraction in Salinas, the National Steinbeck Center, a museum focusing on the life, times and writings of its most famous citizen.

The Steinbeck Center Foundation was established in 1983 and fifteen years later (June 27, 1998) the center itself was finished and opened to the public.  The center is the most significant archives of Steinbeck’s work anywhere, and presents Steinbeck’s life, its formative processes and significant events, and of course …

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.All Trips / Asia / Nepal

Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

012 Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu

Swayambunath Temple, in Kathmandu, Nepal, is one of the most important sites in this ancient city.  It is known as the “Monkey Temple” because of the large number of (mean spirited) monkeys that have all but taken over this complex (and are said to be “holy monkeys”).

Swayambhunath is an ancient complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley.  Most approach it via a long uphill climb of 365 steps (one for each day of the year), past thousands of Buddhist prayer flags that set the atmosphere for the complex ahead.  Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims ascend these steps and begin a clockwise walk around the stupa at the center of this ancient site.

The Swayambhunath complex dates to …

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