.All Trips / Hawaii / North America

Wahiawa Botanical Garden, Oahu

00 Wahiawa Botanical Garden

I’m fond of exploring parks and libraries in the cities I visit, for different reasons.  Libraries are fun because I love and collect books, and because the quality of a city’s libraries tells me a lot about that city’s priorities.  Parks are places of escape, especially appealing in largest busiest cities because I quickly tire of wall-to-wall concrete.  An oasis of green is an amazing balm for the soul.

While visiting Oahu recently we  stopped by the Wahiawa Botanical Garden situated in a small town on the outskirts of Honolulu (and a convenient stop on the way to the Dole Plantation or the North Shore).  It’s one of five small parks under the supervision of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens and is …

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Europe / Ireland

National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, Dublin

026 Dublin National Museum of Ireland Archaeology — The Tara Brooch, 8th century, Meath Co

Today we’ll pay a visit to the Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, situated on Kildare Street.  The Archaeology Museum is housed in an elegant dome-capped building designed by Thomas Newenham Deane and his son, Thomas Manly Deane, and was opened in 1890.  There are thousands of items on exhibit in the museum (from a collection of more than 2 million artifacts) outlining the unfolding history and treasures of Ireland, a country so very rich in history (less so in treasure).  Despite the extensive collection, the museum is well organized.  It’s easy to navigate and fun to explore.  You’ll need at least a half day for an introductory visit — much longer if you want to linger and thoroughly study the things you’ll …

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.All Trips / Hawaii / North America

Signs of Waikiki

04 Signs of Waikiki

There’s a lot you can tell about a city simply by looking at small things, like its signage or public art.  Every city has unique and interesting shops and landmarks that add to its personality.

Today I’d like to share with you some of the signage and street art we saw in Waikiki Beach on a recent visit.   Waikiki is a fairly unique place.  Almost exclusively catering to tourists, the facilities and services are aimed at its thousands of visitors.  Still, you’ll see some of Honolulu’s many citizens enjoying the sand on the beach, or having dinner at one of the restaurants, or walking by the beach.  Surfing and paddle-boarding are especially popular because of how sweet the waves are as they break on the coral reef …

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.All Trips / North America / Ontario

Exploring Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Toronto

037 Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.  Dangerous Lagoon  07-2014

One of Toronto’s newest big attractions is Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, with underwater creatures and habitats from across the globe.   It’s in a fabulous location, on the harborfront adjoining the CN Tower, Rogers Center and the Convention Center.  The aquarium is said to be the largest in North America (with more tank capacity than even the Monterey Bay aquarium, making it one of the top five by size in the world).  It has a great architectural design reminding me of a massive whale with it’s mouth open ready to gobble up the tourist throngs and their cash.  The complex is massive and sprawling, at 12,500 sq m (135,000 sq ft) and with 5.7 million liters …

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.All Trips / Argentina / South America

Nowhere is a Place: Visiting Patagonia, 1) El Calafate, Argentina

074 Sunset in El Calafante

While they look extraterrestrial, those aren’t flying saucers or wormholes in the sky; rather, they’re some of the most unusual cloud formations I’ve ever seen.  The above image (and more in the photos below) was captured at dusk my first night in Patagonia and it affirmed my desire to visit this corner of the world.  It had taken 20 years, but I finally made it!  The breath-taking and sometimes surreal and barren landscapes of Patagonia are unlike any other!

Many people don’t know where ‘Patagonia’ is, or consider it just the name of a famous outdoor clothing brand.  My first in depth exposure to Patagonia (the southern portion of South America) came from reading the book, “Nowhere is a Place“, written …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

A Stroll through the Betty Ford Alpine Garden, Vail, Colorado

001 Betty Ford Alpine Garden 09-2014

The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is the world’s highest botanical garden, situated at the foot of Vail Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, in gorgeous Vail Valley.  The Garden rests at an altitude of 8,200 feet (2,500 m) and is named in honor of former First Lady Betty, the wife of President Gerald Ford.  The Fords had a home in Vail as the President was an avid skier, and both were very active in the Vail community.  Ford Park consists of this alpine garden, a fairly large amphitheater complex, a children’s play area and a large grass field for soccer and such.  As you’d expect, these attractions are very popular in the warm Rocky Mountain summers.

While it’s currently likely under a blanket of snow, …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

Signs of Toronto

02 Signs of Toronto, Queen Street.  CP 24 News

Toronto is one of Canada’s great cities.  Often called the “New York of the North” (I presume as a complement), it’s a fun place to visit.  There’s lots to see and do in Toronto, from the amazing CN Tower which soars 1815 ft (553 m) into the clouds, to enjoying great architecture,  to endulging in a large assortmant of great restaurants and markets.  We’ll be discussing Toronto in more depth in the coming months.

Today I’d like to introduce you to Toronto through a series of photos taken while walking around the city’s many neighborhoods, and showing you some of the its signage and ads.  I’m always fascinating by the glimpses these images can provide into a city’s character.  This post …

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

Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver, B.C.

084 Granville Island Market, 10-2014

One of my favorite markets anywhere is the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.  Situated on a piece of reclaimed land, it’s become a peninsula and is an island in name only.  It adjoins False Creek and Burrard Inlet south of downtown Vancouver and is one of those places everyone visiting Vancouver for a few days should see.  It’s not the prettiest setting, not the fanciest facility, but is a colorful venue with a wonderful assortment of food and eateries, and personable vendors (you’d expect no less from Canadians, eh?)

In the early 1900s, Granville Island was an industrial setting and not at all gentrified.  The island was home to factories, plants and sawmills.  After the second World War, …

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