.All Trips / Europe / Italy

Da Vinci’s Magnificent Last Supper, Milan

00 Last Supper

One of the main reasons we picked Milan as a travel destination was our desire to see Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest work, the “Last Supper”.
It’s not easy getting the opportunity to see this masterpiece in person.  There are a limited number of timed tickets issued for viewing of the Last Supper, so it is vital that you try to reserve your tickets just after they are issued because they sell out  quickly — often within a day or so of being released.  I got up in the middle of the night to buy ours — successfully, thank goodness.  If you can’t arrange the purchase of your tickets in advance, it is likely you can take a city tour in Milan …

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.All Trips / Europe / Poland

St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow

00 St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow

There are a lot of old and interesting sites in Krakow, which was spared bomb damage in the World Wars, but St. Mary’s Basilica is a special place.  Second only to the Wawel Cathedral — which is considered Poland’s National Cathedral — St Mary’s is one of the city’s most important churches.  It’s situated on the city’s large central Market Square which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The exterior of the building is impressive, both by day and at night.
A church has been on this site of St. Mary’s for over 800 years, but the current building was constructed in Gothic style on the burned ruins of the prior Romanesque church, that church having been destroyed in 1241.  This …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 4, 2020: Reflections of the Alpenglow, Lake Louise

Plain of Five Glaciers Hike with Evan and Sami (110)

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be at the right place at just the right time.
We’d been hiking in Lake Louise, doing its famous Plain of Six Glaciers hike.  The weather had been pretty nice — some threatening clouds but mostly a pleasant day.  We enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Chateau Lake Louise and as we getting ready to leave stopped for one final look at that iconic scene of Lake Louise framed by Mount Victoria and its glaciers.
We were looking west, and Mount Victoria faces east, so it was in shadow.  The clouds above the mountain were catching the pretty light of the distant sun as it hit the Pacific horizon, the so-called “Alpenglow”.
The lake was so …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 28, 2020: Dogwood, Yosemite National Park

00 Dogwood Yosemite

When I make plans to visit California’s Yosemite National Park I target my trip for mid-to-late May.  Mostly this is because the snow melt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is at its peak and the park’s waterfalls are overflowing and amazing.
A second reason for a late spring arrival is to see the dogwoods bloom.  There are two types of dogwoods: 1) a small ground plant (not the one I’m talking about) and, 2) trees that grow up to 30 feet tall having flowers about 3 inches wide.
Yosemite has many mountain dogwoods which are beautiful in bloom, as you can see.  Dogwoods are especially plentiful around the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, but are quite common along most of the park …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 7, 2020: Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park

Banff area, summer 2014 (106) Vermillion Lakes

One of the iconic images of the Canadian Rockies is that of the Vermillion Lakes, with the distinctive mass of Mt. Rundle rising in the distance, and Sulphur Mountain to the right.
Vermillion Lakes are three interlinked lakes which lie just outside the Banff townsite.  The lakes are partially fed by warm water from the Sulphur mountain hot springs, which provides a somewhat sheltered micro-environment for animals in the cold winter months, so you’ll often spot wildlife in the area.
The lakes are popular with hikers, and canoes and kayaks can often be seen on the calm waters.  It’s a nice place to enjoy sunrise or sunset, or just to take in the lovely views.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Polonnaruwa (89)

The medieval ruins of Polonnaruwa are located in east-central Sri Lanka.
During my last trip to Sri Lanka I revisited Polonnaruwa as I’d only been there on one prior occasion.  During that prior visit, Polonnaruwa was at the fringes of the front in the country’s lingering Civil War, and not considered safe, so we didn’t stay any longer than necessary to visit the highlights of the ruined city.

UNESCO Marker, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

UNESCO Marker, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka


This trip was done at a more relaxed pace.  We spent two nights in the Polonnaruwa at a charming small hotel adjacent to the ruins, got to celebrate Sri Lankan New Year with the hotel owners, staff and guests, and I had a leisurely day to explore the ruins. 
Polonnaruwa is part of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 24, 2020: Lake Agnes, Banff National Park

01 Lake Agnes

One of the most popular day hikes in the Lake Louise area of Banff National Park is to visit Lake Agnes.  A 3.5 km trail through the forest on the north side of the lake gains 400 m (1300 ft) from Lake Louise’s shore to reach the hanging valley containing Lake Agnes.
Lake Agnes is beautifully framed by rugged snow and ice covered mountains.  It sits at 2135 m (7005 ft).  Lake Agnes was named after Canada’s First Lady, Agnes MacDonald, wife of Canada’s first Prime Minister.
One of the highlights of visiting Lake Agnes is to enjoy a snack or meal at its tea-house.  Established in 1905, the Lake Agnes tea-house serves a large assortment of tea but also home made …

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.All Trips / Asia / India

A Day at Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

17 Humayun’s Tomb (54)

The building of Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb was actually undertaken in 1565 by his Persian-born widow, Hamida Banu Begum, nine years after the great man died.  She selected the site of the monument, on the banks of the Yamuna River, and the Persian architect who designed it.  The monument took seven years to build and shows a strong Persian influence, including it’s gardens divided into four parts by walkways or flowing water.  It was the first garden-tomb in India.

The massive mausoleum is constructed of red sandstone interspersed with white marble, while the inner tomb itself is made of marble. The platform of the mausoleum is 7 meters tall, while the height of the building’s impressive marble dome is 47 meters.  …

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