Crazy for Córdoba

Visigoths, Romans and Moors – Oh My! That was what I wanted to call this post, but for those unfamiliar with The Wizard of Oz, it might have fallen flat – and that would be terrible, for I am on a mission to convince everyone to visit Córdoba and its amazing Mezquita Catédral – just not all at once.

Triumphal Arch Better
14th Century Gate of the Bridge

Córdoba is the only city in the world with four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it is an easy day-trip from Seville by car or regularly scheduled trains. Continue reading “Crazy for Córdoba”

Sublime Seville

Real Alcázar Seville Entrance
Entrance to the Alcázar Palace

I can’t wait to go back to Seville and spend another week – or even longer! Seville’s compact nature, strategic position on the Guadalqivir river and history dating to the 10th century CE is reflected in the Moorish influences juxtaposed with Castillian, ancient  architecture with contemporary throughout this lovely city. Continue reading “Sublime Seville”

Granada |Postcard from the Alhambra

Patio de Comares
Patio de los Arrayanes – Court of the Myrtles

“There is no greater tragedy than that of a blind man in Granada”

This saying is variously attributed to Anonymous and to Francisco Asís de Icaza, a Mexican poet who lived in Spain in the early 20th century. It is as true today as it was when I first visited 20 years ago.  I advise starting your time there with a full day at the Alhambra – the UNESCO World Heritage site that for over 1100 years has reigned over the city.  Continue reading “Granada |Postcard from the Alhambra”

Bhutan |The Tiger’s Nest

I wouldn’t say we saved the best for last; every day of our trip was full of wonders. However, Paro Taktsang, or Tiger’s Nest, is certainly iconic.  World-renowned for its breathtaking beauty and its perilous perch, the temple complex sits 3120 meters above the valley floor. We were able to see it from afar and  our final day in the kingdom, we rose extra early to begin our trek to see it up close and personal. Continue reading “Bhutan |The Tiger’s Nest”

Bhutan | Expect the Unexpected

“Let the trip take us where it will” was the unofficial motto of our time in Bhutan and the advice our guides gave us on our first day.  Our travel from Gangtey to Bumthang was a case in point.  Not every visitor to Bhutan makes the trek to Bumthang and for good reason: the highway is not for the faint of heart.  Early and heavy rains meant that we encountered two major landslides and the five-hour drive from Gangtey to Bumthang (under 200 km) took almost 12.  Continue reading “Bhutan | Expect the Unexpected”

Bhutan | The Road to Phobjika Valley

Phobjika_Road2Gangtey
Driving over Pelela Pass

Maybe the Beatles had Bhutan in mind when they composed “The Long and Winding Road.” Certainly, the East West highway (and I use that term advisedly) lives up to that description.  We spent many hours on serpentine roads with steep inclines and precipitous drop-offs as we traveled up and over the Pelela Pass (11,200 feet) on our way from Punakha to the Phobjika Valley. Continue reading “Bhutan | The Road to Phobjika Valley”

Bhutan | Picture Perfect Punakha

108 Stupas Dochula Pass BhutanThe three-hour drive from Paro to Punakha crosses over Dochula Pass at 3100 meters – site of the Druk Wangyal Chortens. The 108 chortens (stupas) commemorate Bhutanese soldiers who died in the 2003 war against insurgents from India. Punakha Valley and Mo ChhuThe vast majority of photos I had seen prior to visiting Bhutan were of monasteries and mountains. The incredibly fertile valleys and lush landscapes were a total surprise. Punakha is located at 1200 meters which makes it an ideal first stop for flat landers (those who reside near or at sea level). There are two major rivers: the Mo (mother) and Pho (father) that provide ample water for irrigation.  Continue reading “Bhutan | Picture Perfect Punakha”

Bhutan | Preview of Coming Attractions

The Kingdom of Bhutan has been on my must see list for 25 years.  When I first heard about this jewel of a country nestled in the Himalayas between India and China, it had only recently opened to tourism.  While it took me much longer than expected to finally  make the trip, it was well worth the wait!  Continue reading “Bhutan | Preview of Coming Attractions”