Why and How We Hire Local Travel Agencies

When we pack our bags and hit the trail, Rick and I enjoy traveling by ourselves, or sometimes with longtime travel buddies Eva and Suresh. A lot of preparation goes into a travel adventure long before we board the plane. On trips to destinations that are culturally more familiar, like North America and most of Europe, we do our own trip planning––what to see, how to get there, and where to sleep. In non-Western countries, private tour companies provide us with professional

Three Stunning Churches Exemplify the Byzantine Painted Monasteries of Romania

Moldovita Church shows off its exterior Biblical murals

Bucovina is the home of eight fifteenth and sixteenth century UNESCO World Heritage Painted Monasteries, collectively considered one of the world’s great Byzantine art treasures. Richly colored graphic scenes of dramatic Biblical events and the holy men, angels, and demons who oversaw them decorate both their interior and exterior walls and ceilings. Priests intended these scenes, here and at all the monasteries, to scare the wits out of illiterate villagers, inspiring them to lead pious lives.

El Peñol Erupts from Colombia’s Landscape

El Peñol thrusts itself into my vision, a regal mountain of granite standing alone on the horizon.

El Peñol, a 656-foot granite rock, juts out of the earth. No ordinary rock, El Peñol, a Colombian National Monument, attracts thousands of people daily, many who climb the 708 steps for spectacular views of the region. On its top, vendors sell handicrafts, trinkets, and tee-shirts. One pays for the privilege of experiencing a panorama of the countryside with about a five-dollar admission fee at the bottom of the stairs.

Guatapé, Colombia Embodies an Explosion of a Crayola Crayons Box

Originally a farming town, Guatapé’s future changed forever with the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the 1970s that catapulted the town’s importance as the chief electric production center in the country. The dam created an endless network of interconnecting lakes, with hotels, exclusive homes, marinas and other recreational facilities. At the same time, it secured Guatapé’s prominence as a tourist destination.

From Colombia to the Philadelphia Flower Show: An Industry is Blossoming

Our first morning in Colombia. We arrived in Bogotá yesterday late afternoon, and we’re ready to explore this capital city with our guide Tomás Vargas. Eleven-and-a- half million metropolitan residents fill an eastern Andean plateau at an 8600-foot elevation, and oxygen-sparce air challenges breathing for us sea level dwellers. Our driver deposits the three of us at the entrance to Paloquemao Market.

“The Clark” and Mass MoCA––Two Outstanding Art Institutions Along the Mohawk Trail

After Olana, we headed east on NY-Route 66 towards Western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains to peep at the changing leaves of the deciduous forests. I covered that extraordinary experience at the beginning of this series. We didn’t expect to also enjoy impressive and provocative art as well at two lauded art institutions along MA-Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail.

Storm King Art Center Embodies Monumentality

The grounds at Storm King

Back to the beginning of our week-long road trip that began in New York’s Hudson Valley, the Storm King Art Center set a high bar for our expectations over the next six days. Located near West Point Military Academy on the river’s west bank, this 500-acre pastoral landscape of woodlands, wildflower and native grasses…

Eye-Popping Fall Scenery Dazzles Along the Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail Berkshires

Red maples, red oaks, sugar maples, sweetgums, sassafras trees, and ashes are among the most colorful October show-offs. The 69-mile Mohawk Trail now Route 2, winds its way from the New York border in northwestern Massachusetts east to Millers Falls on the Connecticut River. Indeed, originally the trail was a major east/west footpath for the Mohawk and other Native American tribes.

A Fall Road Trip to the Hudson Valley and Berkshires Stimulates the Senses

A Fall Road Trip to the Hudson Valley and Berkshires

The Valley holds substantial riches. Majestic rolling landscapes form the banks of the river. quaint towns and villages charm travelers. Stately mansions of the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s rich and famous industrialists and a former U.S. president dot the river’s east side. Historic formal and contemporary gardens exemplify horticultural excellence. Public and private collections of historic and contemporary art surprise and excite visitors.

June is Gardeners’ Most Celebrated Month

Forever Susan lilies

“June is bustin’ out all over!” So goes the refrain of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s tune from the Broadway musical Carousel. For weddings, Father’s Day, high school graduations, and now the annual celebration of emancipation from slavery, June brings the most beautiful weather of the year.

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