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Galápagos Close-Up: Rábida Island

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Rábida Island is relatively small, with steep rocky cliffs and only one beach where it is possible to land. The distinctive deep red color of its sand is due to the high iron content in the lava. The island is known for these maroon beaches and its abundance of birds. (The small black bird mid-photo above is a penguin!) Continue reading “Galápagos Close-Up: Rábida Island”

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Galápagos Close-Up: Isabela

While many people associate the Galápagos with Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution, what they may not realize is that the islands themselves evolve over time as well.   The tectonic plates that caused the volcanic eruptions that became islands continue to move eastward at the rate of a few inches a year.  Continue reading “Galápagos Close-Up: Isabela”

Easy Holiday Sugar Cookie Recipe and Tips

Originally posted on Mostess:
Happy holidays, Mostess readers! I’m excited to share the results of my three-year obsession with perfecting the sugar cookie. It’s a long post, because I wanted to share all my tips and techniques for success. If you are well-versed in Sugarcookiedom and “just want the recipe already!” then skip on down to the bottom of the post. For novices and baking nerds… Continue reading Easy Holiday Sugar Cookie Recipe and Tips

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Foodie Friday | Russia

Food was not the primary focus of our trip to Russia but it was the unexpected star. We ate phenomenal fresh and marinated fish, wonderful mushroom dishes celebrating autumn and some of the most delicious desserts I have eaten anywhere.  Read on for the highlights and a list of restaurants where you can sample these delights.

Moscow

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Suguday of Whitefish with Hrenovuha (Horseradish Vodka)

We had barely checked into our hotel when it was time for lunch at Savva in the historical Metropol Hotel (where Amor Towles’ novel A Gentleman in Moscow takes place — a great read).  Continue reading “Foodie Friday | Russia”

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The Glorious City of St. Petersburg | Part II

As someone who grew up during the Cold War and its aftermath, the splendor of Russia’s churches and palaces was a revelation.  I read enough Tolstoy and Chekhov to know that religious institutions played a major roll pre-1917, but in St. Petersburg as in Moscow, their beauty and stature were impressive to behold.

Continue reading “The Glorious City of St. Petersburg | Part II”

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St. Petersburg | Catherine Palace

Named the for the widow of Peter the Great, Catherine Palace  is in Tsarkoe Selo, about an hour inland from St. Petersburg.  The original palace was built in 1717, but the current building was designed by Bartholomeo Rastrelli , architect of  St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace,  at the request of Empress Elizabeth . Continue reading “St. Petersburg | Catherine Palace”

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Seven Wonders of The Galápagos

There are few places in the world more “wonder-full” than the Galápagos Islands. A magical combination of wilderness (only three of the 19 islands have any resident population of the human kind) and wildlife, activities in the archipelago are strictly regulated by the Ecuadorian government and its National Park Service  in order to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  I cannot think of another place I have visited where a picture is indeed worth more than a thousand words. Accordingly, my Galápagos posts will present a photographic record of a week beyond my imagination — with a few fun facts thrown in. As an introduction, here are seven of the infinite wonders we saw in just one week.  Continue reading “Seven Wonders of The Galápagos”

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Palaces and Fountains of Peterhof

In 1703, Peter the Great (1672-1725) moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg where the city was built on a series of islands in the Neva River. (The city was named in honor of St. Peter, not its founder as is often assumed.) However, the river near the capital was too shallow for commercial traffic or warships, necessitating the construction of a fortress and port further west.   Peter designed a palace complex at Peterhof, on the Gulf of Finland, including his beloved summer retreat Monplaisir. From this strategic location, he could see the Kronstadt fortress as well as the city of St. Petersburg. Continue reading “Palaces and Fountains of Peterhof”

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The Glorious City of St. Petersburg, pt I

We took the high speed train from Moscow and arrived in St. Petersburg at night which allowed us the optimal amount of time in both cities. The train was extremely comfortable – as nice as the Shinkansen and Eurostar. The stations in both cities are centrally located which makes travel that way the best choice. Continue reading “The Glorious City of St. Petersburg, pt I”