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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”

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Foodie Friday | Head over Heels for Herring

My gustatory life before Russia did not include herring, or at least not the succulent mouthwatering fish I grew to crave during my time there. Any previous encounters were most likely at overladen buffet tables, with some mysterious white sauce and not of a very high standard. From our first dinner in Moscow and for the next eight days, I made sure to have herring at … Continue reading Foodie Friday | Head over Heels for Herring

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Moscow | More Highlights

In addition to the spectacular churches within the Kremlin  Moscow | Red Square and the Kremlin), there are numerous exquisite examples of Moscow Baroque architecture throughout the city. We spent several hours exploring the Novodevichy Convent and adjacent cemetery and there is a reason they are the third most-visited site in Moscow. Continue reading “Moscow | More Highlights”

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Helsinki Hello

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Helsinki may be the most-bike friendly city on earth (or in the universe as far as we know)! This was my second visit there and while it was brief (not even 24 hours), it was action packed. We arrived from Tallinn (36 Hours in Tallinn, Estonia) via hdyrofoil in a quick 90 minutes.  After rolling our suitcases to the elegant Hotel Kamp (where Justin Bieber was also staying that night – cue screaming teeny boppers outside our windows), we jumped on bikes for a five hour tour with our Finnish friend Tuire  (photo credit Jim Hunt). Continue reading “Helsinki Hello”

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36 Hours in Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn has been on my radar for over a decade, ever since I first read about this beautifully preserved medieval city. Founded in the mid-13th century, and located on the Gulf of Finland, it is a great place to spend a weekend if you happen to be in the neighborhood on a tour of the Baltic States, or on your way to or from Russia (our case).  Fun fact: Skype was founded here which is one example of how this medieval city is most modern as well! Continue reading “36 Hours in Tallinn, Estonia”

Travel Tips | Leaving Tomorrow, Packing Today

I grew up with a mom who packed for a trip over days, even weeks, depositing potential pieces on the guest room bed as she selected them. Once departure was imminent, the culling began. Traveling today is easier in many ways (long security lines notwithstanding), but the days of checking suitcases are gone (see Pack Light and Carry On), so I now implement a modified version of her process.  Continue reading “Travel Tips | Leaving Tomorrow, Packing Today”