Extraordinary Findings in the World of Travel
Vol. 2 | January 2020
Thailand: Meeting the Buddha on the Road
Belgium: Carnivals Ireland Flanders around the Off-Season Battlefields World
Getting the Most Value Out of Travel
EXTRAORDINARY FINDINGS IN TRAVEL
“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
Richard B. Earls
Spend some time with the quote from Kurt Vonnegut above. How many times have you traveled off the well-worn path, taken a left instead of a right in a maze of streets, visited a destination unexpectedly and walked into an amazing experience? Often, the unplanned, unexpected part of the journey is the most rewarding, what you remember most from the trip. Your passion for travel renewed, you begin thinking about the next trip, and the next. You know you will live some important part of your life on the road.
We take our role as your travel advisor with the greatest of honor and humility. People entrust us with their vacations, their dreams, travel plans, their travel ambitions. We, in turn, access the tools at hand and endeavor to make your dreams come true. Our most obvious tools are our experience, relationships with suppliers, and a sense of detail and customer service. Each step of the research we do for you is devoted to you and your sense of well-being. Know travel professionals envision their role as the opportunity to be passionate not just about travel, but about your travel. We want to ensure attention to every detail for you, to assist you in making great travel purchasing decisions, to coach you toward achieving whatever you most desire out of travel. And, on occasion, we want to do a lot more than you expect. Every time you think of travel, I want you to think of our dedication to your adventures. We will do everything possible to assist you in dancing your way through your journeys! 2 || Terra Travelers
EDITOR AUTHORS e. dawson richards Nadia Ali Travel Hippy Cindy-Lou Dale Isabel Lea Ann Fessenden Steve Winston Susan Campbell Sue King
EDITORIAL & CREATIVE DESIGN Mariana Saca
MARKETING EXECUTIVES Randi White
CIRCULATION & SUBSCRIPTION Brooke Van Wyk Taylor Enos Mariana Saca
CUSTOMER SERVICE Erin von Scherrer
Terra Travelers seeks to inspire a community of likeminded individuals that respect the road, respect the people we visit, and those with whom we travel.
60 Second Geography: Juneau, Alaska Alaska is the land of nature. Pristine forests line glasslike lakes, glaciers jut from chilled waters where whales play along shores. Juneau, Alaska’s capital, has no roads connecting it to the rest of Alaska or North America; though it accessible by plane and ferry. This makes it the perfect getaway, in the truest sense of the word—a place to realize the coexistence of humans and nature in harmony.
rainforests. These forests are full of old-growth trees dating back 400 years. Along with the great views of a rolling tree line, the traveler can also sometimes spot animals in their day-to-day activity. Speaking of animals, a trip to Admirality Island will do the visitor well. Often referred to as “Fortress of the Bears,” Admirality Island lets the traveler visit a protected habitat of approximately 1,500 brown bears. • A popular cruise port • Outdoor activities are where Juneau, and the city with a quaint feel, surrounding area, shines the most. The traveler can Juneau is a sight to kayak along coasts showcasing lush forests and snowbehold for lovers of tipped mountains. But even more impressive are the travel, nature, and glaciers, specifically the Mendenhall Glacier. The awe of adventure. The natural realizing the grand size of this glacier from a canoe is an world is never far from experience to not be missed. For those that love to fish, where the traveler will stay in Juneau. Whale watching Juneau is an amazing place to catch salmon and halibut is a favorite of most visitors, as humpback whales return while taking in the sights from fully equipped boats. from their migration to Hawaii in the winter. Not only are • The downtown area of Juneau lies at the very foot of they seen meandering and playing through the waters Mount Juneau, with a waterway that cruise ships and near Juneau, but the newly birthed calves join the ferries use on the other side. Juneau is a prime location parents in a delightful display of nature at its finest. for those that wish to see untouched and unsoiled nature • But humpback whales aren’t the only ones having fun in up close. the water. Orca whales, Dall’s porpoises, sea lions, and harbor seals are found along the coasts of rainforests and glaciers. There’s nothing quite like experiencing marine life of all kinds reveling in their lives from a boat tour around Juneau. • On land, Juneau is full of gorgeous and serene forests mostly untouched by the modern world. A popular activity for many travelers is to zipline through the canopies of Terra Travelers || 3
5 CARNIVALS AROUND THE WORLD
MEETING THE BUDDHA ON THE ROAD The Emerald Buddha is only 26 inches high and has three sets of gold seasonal costumes.
INTO THE ARCTIC
When the pavement ends just north of Fairbanks, so does the traffic.
The scenery is still stunning, the people are still Irish (and maybe more so, relieved of the pressure of so many tourists) and the pub life is especially warm and friendly. 4 || Terra Travelers
TRAVEL IQ: Tips for the Solo Woman Traveler
Along the entire 255 mile underground track, some forty Underground Stations have fallen into disuse.
THE CARIBBEAN AND ALL THAT JAZZ
CURACAO’S COLORFUL KALEIDOSCOPE OF ADVENTURES
THE HEALING BATHS OF ST. LUCIA The first pool directly below the waterfall was no deeper than 3 or 4 feet. I slid in and felt the volcano- heated mineral waters sweep over my body.
BELGIUM: FLANDER’S BATTLEFIELDS
MYSTICS & LEGENDS OF GLASTONBURY
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Bringing History To Life Delve deep into this defining time in American History as you explore battlefields, monuments, and museums led by our historians.
Exquisite Regional Cuisine This journey is perfect for food lovers who relish the blend of American, French, and Southern influences on dishes native to the region.
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Terra Travelers || 5
As we gathered in the Fairbanks offices of the Northern Alaska Tour Company – 17 half-awake people in the dim summer light at 4:30 am. – there was a palpable sense of excitement. My wife and I were carrying layers of polar clothing (at least, as “polar” as you can find in Florida!). And so were the sleepy collection of 15 other Americans, Aussies, and New Zealanders gathered around the coffee machine in an effort to wake up. I was about to check an item off my “bucket list.” Even as a young child, I had devoured everything I could read about the exploits of the Arctic explorers. And now, I was about to become one. Our destination is the Arctic Circle. Or, to be precise, a fuel-stop/bar/trading-post/ general-store at a junction called Coldfoot (pop. 10), about 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle. And we’ll be going there by bus, and returning to Fairbanks by bush plane. As our 17 polar explorers boarded the bus, my wife and I tossed our polar layers across two empty seats, piled our food on top of them, and made ourselves comfortable for the ten-hour ride. If you’ve ever seen the History Channel series called “Ice Road Truckers,” you know the road. It’s the Dalton Highway, threading 6 || Terra Travelers
the thousand miles from Anchorage to the North Slope oil fields, through hundreds of thousands of square-miles of Arctic tundra and jagged peaks.
“It’s driven every day by some of the toughest men and women in the world, who brave 20-foot snow drifts, 100-below-zero temperatures, and white-out blizzards in winter, and, in summer, a winding, rocky road on which the only signs of human life
are occasional roadside outhouses painted with funny messages and three ramshackle, colorful trading posts where you can get hot coffee, food, and some additional “polar” wear if you need it.” When the pavement ends just north of Fairbanks, so does the auto traffic. For the next nine hours, we’ll be riding on a sort of home-made road. And the only vehicles we’ll see will be the occasional oil tankers speeding
Arctic by us in their rush to get back to the North Slope to pick up another load. It doesn’t take long after leaving Fairbanks before you come upon the Alaska oil pipeline. We’ll drive alongside of it pretty much the rest of the trip. It runs 5-10 feet off the ground, looping over an Arctic quilt of ice-blue rivers, grassy mountains, forests, and mud flats. After a while, the driver stops the bus, and we go outside to touch the pipeline and take some photos. Every hour or two we stop at one of the isolated trading
posts to pick up coffee or use a bathroom (or one of those colorful outhouses if there’s no bathroom). As the hours go by, the landscape changes from tall, green mountains and rolling woodlands to shorter, rockier mountains with fewer trees and grass; more rolling, open land; and small trees that look like their growth has been stunted. We cross the bridge over the mighty Yukon River, which is bordered by huge gray mud flats. Our guide/driver notes that there are a few Native villages in
the interior, but no roads to get there (which is why bush planes and pilots are the lifelines of these villages.) As the hours pass, the anticipation of reaching the Arctic builds. Then, finally, we arrive at the marker for the Arctic Circle! We get off the bus and it’s surprisingly warm. We take the obligatory photos at the marker, of course, and then several of us chat with the older couple who volunteer for the Department of the Interior. It occurs to me that we’re probably the only people Terra Travelers || 7
they’ve seen all day. As we continue north, a shout alerts everyone on the bus – there are two bears to our left! Then we see another one a while later, this time on the right. And later on, yet another excited shout; a lone wolf is watching us intently from a rocky promontory looming over the road to our right. An hour later we stop again, this time to explore some stark granite outcroppings emerging from the tundra and the permafrost, the permanent layer of ice only a foot beneath the surface in Alaska. As we lamber over the dramatic rock formations, we’re attacked by hordes of mosquitoes intent on making us their lunch.
Before we get back on the bus for the short trip to the airplane strip, I stand alone for 15-20 minutes, taking in the vastness and emptiness of this place. And I’m shocked by the absence of something I had expected to see a lot of – snow! There is none. Nor is there any ice. None. Yes, it’s August, but even in August the rest of Alaska is filled with snow-capped mountains and ice fields and glaciers. But not the Arctic. “The Great White North” upon which I’m gazing is definitely “great”, but it sure ain’t white! The Arctic – at least in August – is nothing like I had imagined. A few months from “Standing here, you may as now, temperatures here will well be on the moon. Nothing approach 100-below. The drifts really grows here. The bushes from whipped snow will be as and small trees are gone. The high as the lone building and tundra is covered by isolated the two trailers, and the tanker drivers who stop here for a warm tufts of short, emaciated coffee will have just experienced grass. The jagged, rocky dangers the rest of us can’t even mountains are bare.” imagine. But not in August! Soon, we’re winging back Other than the buzz of the toward Fairbanks in a 9-seat mosquitoes, there’s no sound Piper Chieftain aircraft, operated either. This land seems to flow by a bush pilot who normally on without end in the loudest flies supplies to isolated Native silence I’ve ever heard. villages. We have to wear An hour later, we arrive at Coldfoot and step out of the bus headphones, otherwise the noise from the engines – only – into a balmy 70 degrees! And a couple of feet away – would off comes the rest of whatever be too much for us. You almost polar wear we still had on. have to shout to be heard by the We’re in the middle of the person in the single-seat across enormous Brooks Range now, with brownish-green mountains the (very narrow!) aisle. We bob surrounding this tiny “settlement” and weave in between huge mountains – with plenty of snow of a few trailers and wooden on them – and over winding homes, home to the “Pop. 10” who man the gas pump and the silver rivers. And we can even look down and see a couple of beer tap and the general store. 8 || Terra Travelers
those isolated Native villages sitting on the banks of rivers which provide a large part of the local diet. After 80 minutes – as opposed to the ten-hour bus trip that took us to the Arctic Circle – we can see the distant gleam of Fairbanks’ buildings up ahead, and soon we’re touching down at the airfield. As we do, I realize that it’s going to take a long time to process what I saw and experienced on this day. But I’ve crossed off an item I’ve had on my Bucket List since long before any of us had ever heard the term “Bucket List”!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Winston I’ve written/contributed to 16 books...and just sent my 17th off to my publisher. And my articles have appeared in major media all over the world, among them The New York Times, “Business Week,” “Travel & Leisure,” “Men’s Health,” The Jerusalem Post, The Irish Times, “LaMark International” (Brazil), “Donde” (Spanish-speaking Latin America), and The Associated Press.
OVERVIEW: Views of spellbinding scenery. Stories of maritime towns and picture-book villages. Ancient castles steeped in history, and country inns full of character. The further we go into Southern Ireland’s enchanting landscapes, the deeper you’ll fall under its spell! TOUR ITINERARY: Day 1: Dublin - Kildare - Ennis Day 2: Ennis - Cliffs of Moher - Killarney Day 3: Killarney - Ring of Kerry - Killarney Day 4: Killarney - Kenmare - Kinsale Day 5: Kinsale Day 6: Kinsale - Waterford Day 7: Waterford - Avoca - Dublin TOUR INCLUSIONS: » 6 Nights » 9 Meals - 6 breakfasts, 3 dinners » Hotel » Driver
FROM US $2,019.00 pp Contact us for more details and start planning your trip! *Certain restrictions apply. Itinerary, savings and schedules subject to change. Valid only on new bookings.
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Ireland Off-Seas E
veryone wants to go to Ireland, and it seems that everyone wants to go in the summer. Now don’t get me wrong, there is much good to be said about the warm days of summer on the greenest of islands. However, fall, winter, and spring offer their own special charms, as well as being amazingly affordable times to travel.
“The scenery is still stunning, the people are still Irish (and maybe more so, relieved of the pressure of so many tourists) and the pub life is especially warm and friendly.” 10 || Terra Travelers
Most destinations have a prime season for travel that coincides with excellent weather. Throughout this “peak season”, the crowds tend to be heavy and the prices high. Ireland’s peak season is the summer months: mid-June through mid-September. When the weather is typically less than balmy, destinations experience a “shoulder season” and a “low season.” Shoulder season in Ireland is April, May, early June and early October. Shoulder season has the distinct advantage of retaining many summer travel perks: longer days, good weather and extended shopping hours. Low season is November through March – the winter-weather months in Ireland.
Rates and crowds lessen proportionally as you travel farther from the warmer months. Airfares are often hundreds of dollars below peak season rates, and hotels offer bargain discounts. But for many, one of the best advantages of traveling in the so-called “off season” is that it’s much easier to enjoy and absorb Ireland’s renowned culture and avoid getting lost in crowds of tourists. Off-season visitors often find that their hosts, hoteliers and shop keepers engage easily in conversation and provide individual attention, increasing the odds for a fascinating and flawless vacation. Off-peak Ireland is one of the best travel bargains worldwide… short daylight hours and cool weather
provide a new, moody perspective on the country. Celtic architecture and cool seascapes fill mornings of exploration, and crisp afternoons call for cozy Irish sweaters and refuge in a warm pub, where visitors mix with the locals. One of the great attractions of Ireland is that many of its amazing sites are in the wide-open: the cliffs and shores, castles, cathedrals and great stone circles are accessible throughout the year. The countryside, too, holds its famous green, even in the winter when visitors can trace the landscape of long stone walls against a leafless sky and emeraldcolored hillsides. To ensure your comfort while you wander through Ireland, bring heavy sweaters and outdoor clothing and hats. Warm, comfortable (and preferably waterproof) shoes are a must, and pack turtlenecks and windbreakers for good measure. The good news is that because Ireland is situated on the eastern Atlantic side of the Gulf Stream, temperatures are typically more moderate than in continental Europe. Ireland’s average winter temperature is a relatively mild 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Ireland can be equally enjoyed through a fully escorted or independent tour, and often at additional savings over already low rates. A good travel agent familiar with Ireland is the best resource for planning your off-season itinerary to ensure that you experience the best aspects of traveling during this time. Travel agents can connect you to highly regarded tour operators who are financially sound and have a reliable history of taking care of the agent’s clients. In fact, Tourism Ireland has a group of destination specialists that can set you down in Dublin in real style.
So pack a sweater and have the Emerald Isle to yourself! ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Travel Hippy Travel Hippy is a slightly road worn, cranky individual setting out to spend all of his children’s inheritance on travel. He is especially fond of the music, pubs and people of Northern Europe and Ireland, though he’s been spotted in Peru and Thailand as well. Terra Travelers || 11
Carnivals around the World
People from all over the world tend to seek out vacations where they can bask in the sun and enjoy a climate thatâ€™s much hotter than then they are used to on a daily basis. But how about you double your pleasure by visiting your chosen destination when they celebrate carnival? Carnival around the world is one of the biggest street parties at any given destination. People flood the city streets in colorful costumes that showcase the culture and heritage.
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Nadia Ali Carnival in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro Ranked as one of the best carnivals in the world, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro happens just before Lent. Famous for its samba beat and barely-there female costumes, millions of people descend to Rio to partake in the festivities. Rio essentially shuts down to facilitate the carnival, which has a traditional start where
the symbolic city keys to the king of carnivals, also known as Rei Momo. Then carnival is underway as the Samba Schoolâ€™s Parade makes its way to the Sambadrome. The parade is made up bright and colorful costumed masqueraders who perform traditional Brazilian dances and sing either on the street or on elaborate floats. The sound of samba drums and Bahia music fills the air, whistles blow in time with the rhythm and four days of revelry begins.
Carnival in London, Notting Hill
their way through the streets following huge music trucks that vibrate the very ground with bass that booms in your heart. Most of the masqueraders are made up by females who are dressed in sequins, feathers and glitter similar to that of cabaret/ showgirls. To ensure you want a costume you will need to look online from about September when the bands launch their new costume designs. The schedule leading up to the two days of carnival are filled with allinclusive premium fetes where you can get to see the artistes perform live. The Carnival Steel Pan competition takes place prior to the carnival too. For spectators you can book at seat at the Grandstand at the Queens Park Savannah where the masqueraders bands dance
On the August Bank holiday, Notting Hill in London plays host to the biggest carnival in Europe. The Caribbean community has been building on its Caribbean roots since 1966, when the first carnival took place. Today, it attracts crowds in excess of one million, featuring at least 60 bands that take to the streets in lavish costumes. When you are not partying, there is a plethora of West Indian dishes such as jerk chicken, callaloo, rice and peas, and curry chicken and roti which is readily available from vendors. Guest artistes fly from the Caribbean to play on the music trucks. Some of the big names are Allison Hinds from Barbados and Machel Montano from Trinidad, but there are cross the stage in all their glory. some many genres of music you can expect to hear soca, calypso, Carnival in New reggae and even dance-hall.
are beads, stuffed toys and a trinket flying through the air to onlookers outstretched hands ready to rumble to claim it as theirs. Many of the krewes (parade bands) dress in full costumes of green, purple and gold which are the official Mardi Gras colors. The music playing is diverse featuring ragtime, Dixieland, brass bands and even Indian chants. There is definitely a lot to see in this exuberant carnival.
Carnival in Venice Carnevale di Venezia – Venice, Italy
The Carnival of Venice (Carnevale di Venezia) is located in the Italian city of Venice. It is a Lent related carnival and has about 3 million visitors. The attraction of this carnival is its use of baroque masks. There are about seven styles of masks Orleans, Mardi Gras, to choose from full face to halfmask to masks with beaks. The New Orleans, USA Carnival in Trinidad masks are judged in a contest known as the most beautiful and Tobago – The French quarter in New mask (la maschera più bella) and Orleans marks Mardi Gras. It is Caribbean is open to anyone. It takes place a celebration that is rooted in medieval Europe history. Today it in St. Mark’s Square where there The twin islands of Trinidad is a mixture of flambeaux, beads, is a carnival parade. There is and Tobago host the biggest also a boat procession along the doubloons and super krewe carnival celebration in the Grand Canal. balls which lasts for two weeks Caribbean which concludes at Lent. Known as the birthplace of concluding on Shrove Tuesday. calypso and the steel pan, these Most tourists head to instruments are represented on Bourbon Street which is a hive ABOUT THE AUTHOR: the road during the two-day of activity. Here, you can view parade and in the big carnival Nadia Ali the most outrageous costumes fetes on the run up to the big Nadia Ali is a freelance writer on display including drag and days. The capital city of Port born in London, UK and now leather. The marching band of Spain is where most tourists lives in the Caribbean. Her parades, masked riders and head to with less taking part in work has been published elaborate floats journey down Tobago’s carnival celebration. both online and in print. St Charles Avenue. There The masqueraders make Terra Travelers || 13
angkok is a city that reveals itself one street, one alley and path at a time. After two weeks I continued to venture further each day, walking and taking tuk-tuks to different sections of the city, keeping my bearing by knowing where the Chao Phraya river was situated relative to my location at all times. The Chao Phraya was my main transportation route each day as I visited by water taxi the many temples in the city in a quest to see the city and acquaint myself with its twists and turns. I was on my own for a longish weekend, without a guide, and I was in search of Buddhas. Not THE Buddha, but some of the amazing statues of the Buddha situated in the “wats,” or Buddhist temples, in the city. It takes only a few minutes in Bangkok to be awash in the Buddhist culture everywhere present, visible in the city’s temples, spirit houses and yellow and orange robed monks. More than 95% of the population is Buddhist and every male Thai is a monk for at least some brief period of their life before the age of 20, typically for 2 - 3 months. Nationwide, there are more than 30,000 temples in Thailand and many of these house monks. Buddhism arrived as early as 250 BC and mixed with animistic Chinese beliefs. The Thai King is the primary patron of Buddhism and the monarchy inextricably intertwines with belief. The historical Buddha lived 500 years before Christ in Nepal and
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was born with the name Siddhartha Emerald Buddha. The gold seasonal Gautama into a royal family. There are many, many, many Buddha images in Bangkok, too numerous to count but absolutely a wonder to experience. Here are my top four, the ones that now travel with me as I think back to the time I spent in Bangkok. On my first visit to Bangkok, almost 20 years ago, I visited the temple Wat Phra Kaeo, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha located inside the walls of the Grand Palace. The Temple is situated on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. Though the Royal Family no longer lives in the Grand Palace, many official state functions and ceremonies are still held on the grounds. The Emerald Buddha is Thailand’s most revered Buddha image and many legends surround its history, beginning in 1434 when, according to the story, lightening hit a tree in a northern province near Chiang Rai and the Buddha was found inside the tree coated in stucco which peeled off to reveal an emerald green jade statue.
“The Emerald Buddha is only 26 inches high and has three sets of gold seasonal costumes.”
e. dawson ric
clothing is changed by the King of Thailand three times a year in a Shoes are removed as visitors to venerable, sacred ceremony. the wat enter into the room with My original plan was to visit the the diminutive statue set high on most interesting Buddha images in a pedestal. Worshipers kneel or sit Bangkok, but realized only two hours quietly before the Buddha image. Appropriate dress is important, and away was Thailand’s largest Buddha. shorts, tights, singles, sweatshirt and What I hadn’t counted on was the series of hops it would take to cover fisherman trousers are not allowed. the distance. The Great Buddha is It is important never to point at a Buddha image with your feet. Shoes located in Wat Muang in Ang Thong are removed as you enter the temple. province north of Bangkok, and if you have your own transportation, With the exception of the King or two hours is close to correct once another member of the Royal Family, you are free of the traffic-snarling no one is allowed to touch the roadways of Bangkok. I, however,
MEETING THE BUDDHA ON THE ROAD
chards was without personal transportation and had to rely on a mini-bus from Monchit Terminal to a bus terminal in Ang Thong. From there, you can take a tuk-tuk or a motorbike to Wat Muang. On the approach to Wat Muang, in the rural countryside, the Great Buddha towers in the sky, 93 meters tall. Started in 1990, the Great Buddha took 18 years to construct. “The Pro Buddha Maha
Nawamin is the ninth tallest statue in the world.”
The surrounding temple complex is large and contains a market and food stalls. Steps at the base of the statue allow visitors to touch the image’s right had for good luck. Around the Buddha is “Hell Garden” featuring statues of gods, souls and demons from Buddhist Hell. Graphic depictions of torture and punishment, with half-human creatures and people being cooked in the fires of Hell, tongues ripped out or suspended above the flames make for a cheery memory. It was my first exposure to this side of Buddhism which I had always imagined as somehow more peaceful and tranquil
than the hell-fire and brimstone images I carry from my Southern Baptist childhood in North Carolina. In 1954, a building was constructed at Wat Traimit to house a plaster stucco Buddha statue that weighed an incredible 5.5 tons. As workers hoisted the statue to work around it, the ropes broke, and the massive Buddha fell to the ground. Instead of shattering, however, the plaster parted from the solid gold Buddha hidden underneath. Almost 10 feet tall, the statue is assembled in nine separate sections which fit tightly together. Terra Travelers || 15
A key at its base allows the statue to be disassembled for transport. Not much is known of its actual history prior to the discovery of its true nature. It is believed to have been cast in the 13th Century. The Buddha sits cross-legged, with one hand reaching down in the “touching the earth” posture. During its history, it survived many factious invasions and while other statues were being stolen, the stucco coating of the Gold Buddha concealed its value and secured its return to Bangkok from the countryside.
school for Thai massage and visitors can obtain a skilled session on the spot, though there is often a wait. The main temple structure is surrounded by smaller chapels. There are more than 1,000 Buddha images at Wat Pho, more than enough to satisfy my search for the Buddha on my short Bangkok stay.
“Finally, we come to my favorite Buddha, the one I found most fascinating to look at, to study and to walk around from all angles.”
gold-leaf, the statue is massive, 46 meters long and 15 meters tall. The feet of the great statue are literally imprinted. 108 bowls line the walls, and visitors drop coins in the bowls In Wat Pho, just behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is a to obtain karmic merit, the resulting giant Buddha, laying on its side, its noise of the coins falling against the arm holding its head up as though bowls echoing in the large room. Wat Pho, the temple housing lounging on the dais. The statue’s the Reclining Buddha, is one of the posture symbolizes the Buddha’s oldest temples in Bangkok and is entry into Nirvana and the end to the cycle of death and re-birth, also a public school, specializing in religion and science. Here, too, is a the end of suffering. Covered in
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: e. dawson richards e. dawson richards is an oft-quoted travel and fiction writer living in Tallahassee, Florida and always looking for his next airline ticket and gig. 16 || Terra Travelers
THAILAND Exploring Amazing
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For honeymooners who wish to celebrate their love on a memorable journey with extra touches of luxury and indulgence, while exploring the best of Thailand Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Phuket - this itinerary is pure hedonistic perfection. Nights of luxe accommodation and days of private touring will make a Thai honeymoon the trip of a lifetime, together.
Thailand is an island lover’s dream, but choosing which island to visit can be confusing. With this island hopper, you’ll have time on three different - but equally wonderful - islands.
Inclusions: • Three nights Bangkok • Three nights Chiang Mai • Four nights Phuket • Full-day tour of Bangkok • Full-day tour of Ayutthaya • Chao Phraya River dinner cruise • Full-day tour of an Elephant Spa • Full-day tour of Chiang Mai • Speedboat tour to Phi Phi and several other Andaman Islands • 17 Meals: 10 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 dinners • Round trip transfers
Inclusions: • Two nights Bangkok • Two nights Chiang Rai • Three nights’ Chiang Mai accommodation • Three nights Phuket • Full-day tour of Bangkok • Tour transfer from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai with stop at Wat Rong Khun • Elephant Sanctuary visit • Full-day tour of Chiang Mai • Private morning speedboat cruise to Phang Nga Bay • 16 Meals: 10 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners • Round trip transfers
Inclusions: • 3 nights accommodation on Koh Tao • 3 nights accommodation on Koh Phangan • 3 nights accommodation on Koh Samui • Speedboat transfers between islands • Breakfast daily
Contact your travel agent for more details and start planning your trip! *Price per person based on double occupancy. Please call for our current prices. Prices are current at time of posting and may differ when you book your travel and are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed.
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Tips for the Solo Woman Traveler
There’s no excuse for a woman traveler not to hit the road solo. Solo travel can be extremely rewarding, as well as liberating. This is a great time for introspection and reconnecting with yourself. When you’re traveling on your own, there’s no need to make compromises on travel schedules and itineraries or even restaurant choices, as you get to make all the decisions. It’s also easier to make new friends, as a solo traveler is more approachable than a couple, or group of travelers. However, in some countries, a lone female traveler can be seen as an oddity and object of curiosity. For this reason, a woman traveling on her own can attract unwanted attention and can be considered to be an easy target, so a few precautions are necessary. Some common sense and basic safety precautions can go a long way to staying safe while on the road and making a solo trip enjoyable.
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Do your research Make sure you Leave a copy of before you arrive know where you’re your itinerary, hotel in a new place so staying before you details, passport, you know what to arrive in a new visas and credit Before answering a expect. How far is city. If you haven’t cards with a friend Don’t hesitate to knock at the door, the city center from been able to book or family member ask to change hotel ask who’s there. the airport or train accommodation at home. Make rooms or floors if Call the reception station? What are in advance, find a note of your bank’s you don’t feel safe desk if you’re not the transportation place to stay before emergency help line or comfortable sure who’s on the options available? dark. Plan to arrive for lost or stolen because of loud other side of the Which areas of the in the morning or cards. Leave any or indiscreet door. Use the “Do city are considered during the day valuables in the neighbors. Not Disturb” sign for unsafe? What are so that you won’t hotel safe while added privacy. the local customs have to wander you’re out seeing when it comes to the streets at night the sights. dress and attitudes looking for a room. towards women?
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Don’t tell anyone you’re traveling alone. Say that you’ve come to visit a friend or that you’re accompanying your husband on a business trip.
Use the hotel bell desk to book a taxi so that there’s a record of your name, pick up location When exploring and destination. isolated areas, If you’re using find someone to an external taxi accompany you, company, leave preferably a fellow the name of the woman traveler or a company at the family. reception desk with details of when you plan to return to the hotel. Only use licensed cabs.
Be sensitive to social norms and customs and dress accordingly. Don’t draw attention to yourself through the way you dress. Realize that bare shoulders can be considered inappropriate in some cultures even if this seems absurd to you.
Look and act confident and walk like you know where you’re going. Just like you would at home, use your common sense and most importantly, trust your instincts. They’re usually right!
6 7 8 910 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isabel
Isabel learned at a young age that life is more interesting when lived elsewhere. She left her native Canada and has lived in five different countries on three different continents before settling in South India five years ago. She writes about the arts and travel for a variety of publications and shares her observations on everyday life in South India on her blog, India Outside My Window.
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via an entrance at surface level. An innumerable amount of documents need to be studied before any development can take place as a detailed map of the tunnels and the capital’s subterranean innards does not exist. The Cut and Cover stretch of track shared by the Metropolitan & District Line between Paddington and Bayswater predates electrification. The steam locomotives that served those lines needed to surface periodically to vent off steam and smoke. When riding this line, you may spot flashes of daylight as, when developing this stretch of the line, it became necessary to demolish numbers 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens – part of an up-market street of terraced houses. This demolition would have formed a break in the uniform row of homes and was met with council Along the entire 255 resistance. So it was decided to mile underground track, build a false facade which matched some forty Underground the houses on either side of the Stations have fallen into break, and use the gap behind the disuse. facade as a steam venting point. The illusion is quite effective – Several remain almost intact, the painted windows and doors trapped in a sooty time capsule have a similar appearance to the of the era when they were closed. Aldwych, for example, is at the end surrounding buildings. The abandoned tunnels of a disused railway siding, right in and passageways on London’s the heart of London; Down Street, where Churchill held several WW2 Underground network on the whole, don’t lead off to secret government cabinet meetings; and Brompton laboratories nor are there secret Road which was used as a WW2 tunnels to Buckingham Palace or anti-aircraft command center – military maps can still be found on the Houses of Commons. Many of these tunnels are remnants of the their underground walls today. early days of the stations. During the Second World War Vauxhall Cross is a fictitious the platform levels of St. Mary’s station in the James Bond film ‘Die (Whitechapel Road) were bricked Another Day’ and Broadcasting up and used as an air raid shelters. Rooms were created by bricking up House does not have a secret the platform which is still accessible platform on the Bakerloo Line for ew passengers careering between tube stations know there is an underground city beneath London. In the 19th century, digging under-water deep-level tunnels was hazardous. Numerous attempts to cross the Thames underground had failed, with many lives lost. Today, the East London Line uses the Brunell’s Thames Tunnel, being the first successful under-Thames crossing. When steam traction was exchanged for electricity, deeper tunnels could be dug using compressed air and a large circular drilling shield, which were then lined with cast iron rings. Tunnels were speedily mined and many stations were built on each of the lines created, most of which are still in use today.
the BBC. When the underground network was first devised and built, escalators had not yet been invented. As such, access to all the deeper stations could only be made with elevators. The invention of the passenger escalator was one of the innovations that made deep level underground stations possible. In fact, almost all the deep level stations on the Central, Piccadilly and Northern lines were originally built for access via elevator, with a spiral emergency staircase built in a secondary smaller vertical shaft. As the use of the stations increased and escalators became more widely available, most of the busy stations were converted for escalator use. This left the lift shafts and their access tunnels abandoned. Many such lift shafts and tunnels can still be found – at Shepherd’s Bush station on the Central Line, St. Paul’s or South Kensignton’s Piccadilly Line. As Northern Line congestion increased in the ’30s, a plan was developed to build a second tunnel that would act as an express route beneath the existing Waterloo branch of the Northern Line. These plans were shelved at the outset of WW2 and work began in 1940 on building deep level bomb shelters. Ten shelters accommodating some 8,000 bunk beds were built. However, several were reassigned to the military, as General Eisenhower used the Goodge Street tunnel as the HQ of America’s wartime operations in Europe.
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During the 1930s three subterranean civil defense strongholds were installed in north London and ‘the hole in the ground’ was excavated under the Treasury in Westminster to provide secure space for top politicians and civil servants. Four subterranean fortresses were built more recently beneath central London to house vital government activities in event of nuclear war; the northern section of Kingsway Tram Tunnel has been equipped as an emergency control center should London be faced with a major disaster.
There are, allegedly, passengers at the Museum. But on the same who appear and disappear, tales of night the film was released, two strange reflections and reports of folk women disappeared from the who feel they’re not entirely alone, platform at Holborn – the next even though there is no one else in station along from the British the vicinity. Museum. Unusual markings were • A 15-strong TV crew recently later found on the walls of the looked into reports of the closed station and more sightings supernatural beneath the lively of the ghost were reported. West End at Aldwych, one of • Hat-maker Anne Naylor was London’s disused stations, where murdered on Farringdon station it is said to be haunted by an in 1758 by her boss and his actress from the old Royal Strand daughter. Some claim to still hear Theatre that stood above the her screams on the platform. station. In fact, my guide stated • People living close to Highgate that, like me, the film crew went station still claim to hear eerie down as non-believers in ghosts sounds from an abandoned warAlthough Tower Subway and creepy things and again, like time cutting. was not strictly part of me, returned reformed. I was • South Kensington – Their have the Underground System, down there alone with my guide been reported sightings of a train it was the worlds’ first and can honestly say I’ve never screeching through the station underground railway. felt more afraid in my life. I could with an ear-piercing whistle, hear whispers and I felt ‘things’ with a guard hanging off the side. Constructed using the circular brushing up against me! Both disappeared into the tunnel, drilling shield, it housed a single • At Elephant and Castle Station, never to be seen again. carriage, which was cable operated there have been reported and used as a shuttle service between sightings of a pretty girl who the two banks of the Thames. walks the length of the last train, Apart from being used as an air only to disappear before she gets ABOUT THE AUTHOR: raid shelter during the Second World to the front. Cindy-Lou Dale War, Aldwych also stored priceless • At Covent Garden a tall man in art pieces from the British Museum. a frock coat and a top hat has Cindy-Lou Dale is a freelance Today Aldwych is being been spotted on the platform for writer who originates from a small maintained by London Underground the past 50 years. The figure is farming community in Southern mainly as a museum piece and film said to be actor William Terris, Africa, which possibly contributed set. The ticket hall is frequently hired murdered near the Adelphi to her adventurous spirit and led out for art exhibitions, book launches Theatre at Christmas 1897. her to become an internationally and private parties. • Before the British Museum acclaimed photojournalist. Her Sightings of ghosts and strange station closed in 1933, the ghost career has moved her around the experiences have always formed part of an ancient Egyptian, dressed world but currently she lives in a of Tube legends. It’s not surprising in a loincloth and head-dress picture postcard village in England, given that the railway is nearly 150 would appear late at night. This surrounded by rolling green hills and years old and more than 255 miles tale takes a stranger turn when ancient parish churches. Her work is long – much of it in dark tunnels and the black and white thriller, featured in numerous international along routes that pass near or under Bulldog Jack, was made in 1935. magazines, including TIME and sites that mark significant events in It included a secret tunnel from National Geographic. London’s history. the station to the Egyptian room
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H e a r t
E n g l a n d
OVERVIEW: Neolithic man, Roman forces, celebrated writers and contemporary filmmakers have all made a mark on England’s heartland. This tour follows their tracks - covering Wiltshire’s ancient stone circles and movie-set good looks, Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’ and Bath’s incredible architecture. TOUR ITINERARY: Day 1: London -Oxford - Cotswolds Day 2: Cotswolds - Stratford-upon-Avon- Cotswolds Day 3: Cotswolds - Lacock - Bath Day 4: Bath Day 5: Bath - Longleat - Avebury - London TOUR INCLUSIONS: • 4 Nights • 6 Meals • Hotel • Driver
F R O M U S $ 1 , 5 3 7. 6 5 p p *Certain restrictions apply. Itinerary, savings and schedules subject to change. Valid only on new bookings.
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THE CARIBBEAN and All that Jazz The Caribbean is one of the most popular regions to host jazz festivals with almost thirty to date happening in and around the island chain. The festivals have managed to attract international artists such as Earth, Wind and Fire, John Legend, Chakka Khan, Emel Sande, and even Sting! Unlike Jazz festivals in other parts of the world held in huge concrete venues, when it comes to the Caribbean you can count on jazz under the stars set a backdrop of palm trees and seascape under a balmy, starry sky. The festivals are more intimate with less of a crowd and are in an informal setting where you can get up and walk around, grab a bite to eat and even walk up to the stage just to capture that great photo. There are a growing number of Caribbean islands with their own jazz festival, here are just a few.
sound of African-jazz. So, catch a two-hour flight to attend this musical concert of Spanish and African sound.
ST. LUCIA JAZZ FESTIVAL
The first and longest running jazz festival, St Lucia attracts top music makers from around the world. Some of the big names include Marc Anthony, Air Supply, Dionne Warwick, Kool and the Gang, Diana Ross and even the Jacksons have performed. The show also encourages the diverse sound of reggae, calypso and soca of the local acts to take to the stage. Held at a number of venues around the island, the backdrop of the Pigeon Island National Landmark is one of the best sets in the Atlantic Ocean. It is primarily held in the month of May and has the added attraction of an arts component where dance, art, theatre, fashion and literature all come PUERTO RICO HEINEKEN JAZZFEST together. It is known as the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest and is held ARUBA: CARIBBEAN SEA JAZZ at the Tito Puente Amphitheater, FESTIVAL San Juan and lasts for four Aruba offers the Caribbean Sea nights. It caters to the Latin side Jazz Festival which is held for of jazz featuring Puerto Rican the duration of two days around music styles and rhythms. It September or October every seeks to infuse the jazz beat year. It is of course an outdoor with the sophistication musical festival that takes place at style of Latin artistes. A featured unique venues typically tropical artist was Puerto Rican, William with palm trees, sandy beaches Cepeda who introduced the and opens to gorgeous sunsets. 24 || Terra Travelers
Each year Erik Eman the festival director takes the festival to new levels incorporating more musicians from the global and local stages to mesmerize crowds. Now, in existence for more than ten years it attracts more than 8,000 jazz lovers to its shores. Patrons can take part in poetry, art and dance programs.
CURACAO NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL
This annual jazz festival is a great excuse to go see Curacao, reminiscent of Holland, with its famous colorful architecture in Willemstad. The festival is held at the Curaçao World Trade Center in Piscadera Bay in the capital city. It has attracted big names from the world of entertainment such as Chris Brown, Tom Jones, Gladys Knight, and Pharrell Williams. You will need to check with the website to find out when the next jazz festival is scheduled.
TOBAGO JAZZ FESTIVAL
The tiny island of Tobago plays host to the ‘Tobago Jazz Festival.’ It takes place at various venues across the island and culminates at the openair beach venue known as the Pigeon Point Heritage Park. Artists such as Dionne Warwick, John Legend, Lauryn Hill and Kool and the Gang have graced
Nadia Ali the stage in Tobago. And, on a twin island known for its carnival patrons can expect to be entertained by the biggest calypso and soca artists.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC JAZZ FEST
This four night festival takes place at various venues such as Puerta Plata, Santiago and SosĂşa. It features a mix of international stars and local artists. It has been the host to artists from as far as Israel to Chile to the USA. The concert always has its finale night on one of the beautiful beaches of Cabarete. A big part of the festival is the educational aspect which gives opportunities for those less fortunate to learn about music through workshops and programs. The jazz festivals of the Caribbean happen at various times of the year with almost all making use of their picturesque scenery and open air venues. These festivals offer not just the sound of jazz by international artists but also showcase local talent and artists from fellow islands. You also get to sample a taste of the island with its signature dishes and drinks. So, check out the festivals and celebrate all thatâ€™s jazz in the Caribbean islands.
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hances are good if you have ever looked up the Caribbean island of Curacao, you would have seen a photo similar to this one above- a rainbow of restored 18th century Dutch colonial buildings lining the harbor. It’s certainly this island’s most famous landmark in its capital city of Willemstad. They call it the “handelskade”- meaning waterfront harbor- and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. Willemstad is indeed worth carving out a day or two of your Curacao holiday to explore, and not to be missed are some of its most unique attractions. The Kura Hulanda Museum, the Rif Fort restored fortress now an entertainment complex, the Maritime Museum, the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel- the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere- are just a few of them. But beyond the historic and cosmopolitan downtown core lies a vast wealth of other pleasurable pastimes to discover on this enchanting outpost. 26 || Terra Travelers
Sensational Seaside Escapades!
With 38 stunning white sand beaches, and a few secret ones, you’re bound to find a seaside spot to suit your style and mood. Party beaches, snorkeling beaches, picnic beaches, diving beaches, dining beaches,romantic escape beaches, even shopping beaches…Curacao has them all. And the Renaissance Curacao downtown even has a man- made infinity beach on site! Rent a car and go beach hopping from one end of the island to the other.
Marine Life Encounters Galore
The seas surrounding Curacao are chock full of healthy reefs and marine life, but you can really get up close and personal with some cool characters at Curacao Sea Aquarium where education about our underwater friends is paramount. The entire complex is fed by natural sea water and among the many opps to cavort with marine life are snorkeling with dolphins, handfeeding sharks, rays and sea turtles underwater, and
Curacao’s Colorful Kaleidoscope of Adventures interacting with sea lions. They also offer a seriously epic adventure via a 4-person bubble CuraSub that goes 1,000 ft, below- the same kind James Cameron used to film Titanic scenes.
Snorkeling and Diving
reveal incredible scenes of untamed seaside nature. Most of the interior including Shete Boka are protected preserve parks. Guided tours are available to all. There is so much to discover on this island, that you really need at least two weeks holiday there!
Many of the beaches have great snorkeling and diving right offshore, but if you really want to get into the underwater universe, a guided boat tour is best. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Campbell GOWEST Diving at the furthest west point of the island Susan Campbell is a freelance travel & lifestyle (Westpunt) also offers a extremely surreal adventure to writer based in Montreal. She enjoys writing about “The Blue Room” an underwater sea cave that appears her beautiful home country Canada, but as soon neon blue from within. as the first snowflake falls, she becomes a heatInterior Treasures seeking missile bound for Caribbean getaways and One might be very surprised at the Curacao countryside, island comforts in an effort to stay warm. Susan very arid, cacti-studded and scrubby and centered specializes in the Dutch Caribbean with hundreds around the island’s highest peak Mt. Christoffel, yet it of articles to her credit covering every facet of has a stark beauty all of its own. And a trip to the wild their boundless attractions, but has every tropical northern shore of Shete Boka (seven inlets) will also island on the planet emblazoned on her bucket list. Terra Travelers || 27
The Healing Baths of St. Lucia
Lea Ann Fessenden
After years of reading about the island of St Lucia, her emerald twin mountains jutting from the sea and the delicious mineral waterfalls throughout the island, I was excited to finally have the opportunity to jump in and partake in its wonder. My friend had discovered a magical spot and was anxious to take me there, near the village of Soufriere. We started our journey near the southern tip of this avocado-shaped island. The old white station wagon we borrowed seemed as anxious as we were to head out, or maybe that was just a timing problem. In any case, we stopped at a little family run bakery in Choiseul for local bread and juice.
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“And I still don’t understand why it’s nearly impossible to get a decent cup of coffee on an island which was once known for it’s coffee bean production, but who was I to quibble when there was fresh mango juice available.”
Just a few hundred yards away, there was a local crafts shop which made my friend slam on the brakes. We saw, we fondled, then we purchased small bags of locally grown nutmeg and cinnamon as well as giant hand woven baskets and place-mats. They told me to bring my antique English stool and they would reweave it for me for a good price. But right then, we had a mission
to accomplish and the only thing that could slow us down were the children in their crisp school uniforms reluctantly shuffling across the road to their classes or meandering goats and dogs. As we continued the drive, we seemed to be getting higher and higher into the verdant, green mountains and seemingly closer and closer to heaven. We drove straight into soft, white, billowy clouds and were encompassed by their charm. In between flashes of deep green banana trees and shocking pink bougainvillea, we would catch glimpses of the sapphire blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. I decided if this wasn’t heaven then I must have entered a Gauguin painting.
The road twisted and turned past ancient plantations, some restored to their original brilliance, others not so much. My mind kept slipping into the 1800’s when slaves were brought from Africa and then India. Almost everyone here had descended from one of these two groups, largely the former, and still worked hard for their meager wages. Men continued to toil in the fields with machetes as their only tools and women still stitched together their children’s clothes and washed them on rocks in the nearby rushing rivers. Many of these southern villages have only seen electricity in the past ten years, some still do not have power or running water, except that which streams down from the mountaintops after a heavy rain. Finally, the sign we had been looking for – Jalousie Plantation with an arrow pointing to the left. We turned and followed the road examining everything around us with child-like amazement and anticipation. Suddenly we see the sign signaling our arrival – Piton Falls. We parked in their small dirt parking lot and gathered our beach bag and towels. We seemed to be the only visitors this early in the morning and that suited us just fine. A caretaker manned the little house at the entrance and we happily paid our $5EC (about $2US). A big box held about a dozen long straight tree branches which I later realized were walking sticks to help us balance ourselves down the steep pathway to the healing waters. Only later did I come to this conclusion and made a
note to myself to get one the next time I visited. As we followed the pathway, we were entertained by gardens of fruit and nut trees as well as rare, exotic tropical plants occasionally labeled with their names on small wooden signs. After about 10 minutes of this we finally climbed a steep hill and, to our amazement, we saw tall copper colored rocks with steamy rushes of water falling into a nice big pool. We had our swim suits under our clothes so we quickly peeled away our tops and shorts, slipped out of our sandals and stored our gear on a nearby rock wall. Heaven was waiting for us.
vanish along with my aching muscles in these medicinal, mineral rich waters. I headed to the deeper waters at the end of the pool and floated for over an hour in a trance-like state. I was certainly relaxed until my friend woke me from my reverie when she screamed as she jumped into a third pool of much cooler water. Ah yes, the hot plunge, cold “The first pool directly below plunge thing. Once that initial shock the waterfall was no deeper wears off, it is quite invigorating. than 3 or 4 feet. I slid in and And the perfect way to end a perfect felt the volcano- heated mineral day? A short drive back the way we waters sweep over my body.” came led us to Ladera Resort where we It was delicious, but the best was yet to come. We laughed like children, hiked up to their bar situated perfectly so happy to have finally made it to this between the Gros Piton and the Petit Piton mountains and watched the sun ancient bathing spot nestled into the set with spicy rum punches sprinkled Piton Mountains. It was the perfect generously with fresh nutmeg. It just place for hikers to rest their weary doesn’t get much better than that. bones after a day of exploring these sacred stones. With little preamble, I made my ABOUT THE AUTHOR: way to a rock ledge just below the falls Lea Ann Fessenden where I sat like the star of a shampoo Lea Ann fell in love with travel by the commercial and let the rushing waters age of two when this little Dallas-ite splash over my head and body. It was sat on the backseat floorboard of the everything I had hoped it would be. The family station wagon charting every only sounds mile traveled throughout the United we could hear States on paper maps. When she is not were of wild writing for online travel sites such as: birds singing Gadling, USA TODAY, Travels, Travel and the sound Research Online, Caribbean Property of splashing and Lifestyle Magazine, Farespotter water. and Hotels.com, she enjoys playing Whatever in St Lucia’s waterfalls and beaches, cares and learning about the island’s fascinating worries I had history and struggles to learn the local suddenly language, Patois. seemed to Terra Travelers || 29
Flanders Battlefields W
anting to explore Flanders’ WW1 poppy fields and old battlegrounds? I tapped in the GPS coordinates for Dover – just a stone throw from London only 82 miles away. In Dover I took a ferry which deposited me across the English Channel in France’s Calais 90 minutes later. I planned to explore the territories where The Great War had been fought and to see the appalling conditions in which the soldiers lived and the immaculate cemeteries where many were laid to rest. Just 45 minutes from Calais, in southern Flanders, is the town of Ypres (pronounced Eeper), a name forever linked with the martyrdom of the British Army during WW1. Ypres is also known as the site of three major battles of the First World War– the most famous being the five-month Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. I met an expert on the subject at De Oude Kaasmakerij in Passendale. Freddy Declerck, an amiable fellow and Chairman of the Passchendaele Society (Lt Cdr Belgian Navy, retired). He knew much about the Great War and of the Ypres Salient battlefields in particular. Over a Westmalle Trappist beer and some of the Belgium’s finest cheeses he told that here, barely a few kilometers outside of Ypres city center, that this particular battlefield had claimed the lives of more than 500,000 soldiers. The beautifully 30 || Terra Travelers
manicured Passendale countryside we were looking across held the bodies of more than 50,000 yet to be found. “During the Great War,” Declerck said, “the Ypres Salient was an area of Allied (British and Belgian) held land surrounded on three sides by the German front line. It formed the northern-most section of the Western Front. Holding Ypres was vital for the Allies in their bid to prevent the Germans gaining control of all the Channel ports and Great Britain, just a few miles across the channel. As a result, the city became the focus of several major battles in the Salient and was subjected to continuous bombardment by German artillery for most of the war. By 1918, little remained of the town but shattered ruins surrounded by muddy shellpocked fields.” He looked to the horizon, gulping back emotions. “When counting the cost of human lives,” Declerck said, “this must surely be the most valuable piece of real estate in the world as near 250,000 British soldiers were lost trying to capture the ruined village of Passchendaele and the few kilometers of shell blasted mud around it.” We visited numerous WW1 sites, as well as the Passchendaele Memorial Museum, for a personal trench experience. Although there
are around 150 Commonwealth war cemeteries in the Ypres Salient region, emotionally I could only cope with seeing three. We began at the with the Tyne Cot Cemetery, with nearly 12,000 graves, it is the largest British war cemetery in the world. During WW1, Poperinge was part of unoccupied Belgium. Immediately behind the front line, we found the soberly beautiful Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, the largest WW1 hospital cemetery. Here too was the simple Germany military cemetery of Langemark. The sculptures of four bronze soldiers seemed to reflect the haunting sorrow of +44,000 soldiers buried there– most in mass graves. We stopped off at Café La Poupée, a popular haunt amongst WW1 officers who all fell for the charms of the proprietor’s beautiful redhead daughter, Ginger. Over a St. Bernardus Abbey beer Declerck spoke of the nearby Talbot House. “In 1915, army chaplain Tuby Clayton and Neville Talbot opened the famous wartime Club, Talbot House. Here soldiers of all rank came to relax. Now it’s a historic building open to the public, complete with war-time relics and artifacts. It still offers inexpensive war-time accommodations.” My sensibilities now overdosed on senseless death, we returned to Ypres. Declerck reminded me that this was a city reduced to rubble during the war then fittingly rebuilt using German repatriation funds.
We lunched on the terrace of De Waterpoort, devouring moules and frites whilst discussing the city’s numerous Renaissance and Gothic structures. The impressive Cloth Hall Belfry and Town Hall, with its row of pointed arched-crossed windows, demanded a visit. We visited Saint-Martin’s Cathedral where Count Robert of Bethune, the Lion of Flanders, is buried and SaintGeorge’s Memorial Church, which
holds individual memories of WW1. Later I checked into Ypres’ Main Street Hotel, a luxury six-bed boutique hotel that merges quirky with bespoke and antique. Decorated with crystal, silk, and stained glass Ypres’ Main Street Hotel offers the best Flemish champagne breakfast you could imagine. Over a welcome drink (and chocolate cake) my hostess, Carine Declercq, suggested a visit to the
Menin Gate. “Amongst the most famous of all Ypres sites is the Menin Gate monument which displays the names of near 55,000 soldiers missing in action. Every evening since 1928 at precisely 8pm, the Last Post is sounded to commemorate the fallen.” It truly is an emotional experience and a must-do for all war historians. Terra Travelers || 31
Mystics and Legends of Glastonbury
lthough the name of Glastonbury is synonymous with one of the world’s most famous music festivals, there is more to the tiny Somerset town than the annual gathering of peace and love at nearby Worthy Farm. With a population of approximately 9,000, Glastonbury brims with myths and legends. It’s a meeting point for some of England’s most important “ley lines” – the metaphysical connections which link ancient spiritual sites around the world. In addition to tourists, the town attracts a hotch-potch of hippies, artists, druids and pagans. There are fascinating historical sites to explore and High Street is lined with a bounty of funky cafes to chill in and colorful new-age stores to peruse. I had a feeling that this would be my kind of place and after an incredible weekend 32 || Terra Travelers
at Glastonbury Festival, I made tracks of global delights from Pad Thai to to this captivating town. veggie tagine, watched the sun set from the stone circle and danced with Hare Krishnas. I basked in the unique The Festival About seven miles from town, the Glasto atmosphere and the weekend came to an end all-to-soon. Rather metropolis of Glastonbury Festival than returning directly to the ‘real rises from the fields each year, world’, I decided to ease my way attracting 200,000 revellers. The back gently by spending a couple of festival started back in 1970 when T.Rex was the headliner and tickets days discovering Glastonbury’s other were a mere £1.00. These days, such side. acts as Beyonce and Coldplay take to Glastonbury Tor the stage and a ticket sets you back You can’t miss Glastonbury’s £250.00 for the weekend. Despite most well-known landmark as you the hefty price tag and growth of approach the town. St. Michael’s commercialism, the festival has always maintained its commitment to Tower sits atop the mysterious Glastonbury Tor. At 521 feet high and counterculture. My weekend at Glastonbury was with 500 steps, it was a challenging undoubtedly the pinnacle of my year. hike after the excesses of the weekend, but worth it for the sense of I spent three days rocking out to tranquility and panoramic views over everything from an obscure zydeco the green pastures of Somerset. band to Kylie. I sampled a range
Sue King The lonely roofless tower is the sole remaining part of a 14th century church. The story goes that it is the gateway to Avalon, The Land of the Dead, from the King Arthur legend. Others believe that Jesus Christ visited Glastonbury as a young man and that Joseph returned to the site after the crucifixion to bury the Holy Grail. Evidence of pagan and Christian settlements exist and remains dating back to the Neolithic era have been discovered. The purpose of the seven terraces which encircle the hill remain a mystery, but are thought to have spiritual significance.
The White Spring
At the foot of the Tor, I paid a visit to The White Spring, which is located in a Victorian
stone pump house. Built to collect natural spring water, a ley line runs through the building and there are shrines dedicated to The Fairy King, Our Lady of Avalon and the Celtic Fire Goddess. As I approached, I could hear the chants of pagans coming from within. The interior was incredibly atmospheric. It was dark apart from the light that streamed in through the door and the glow of flickering candles that decorated the shrines and adorned the walls. I sat on one of the benches, taking time to soak up the ambiance and listen to the sound of the trickling water. Behind the building, there is a large pool where the spring water collects. Naked bathing is allowed, and the water is believed to have healing properties.
Chalice Well and Glastonbury Gardens
As the White Spring is known for its white deposits of calcite, the nearby Chalice Well is stained a vibrant red from iron oxide deposits. The gardens which surround the well are a peaceful and serene sanctuary with an abundance of paths leading to nooks, crannies and seating for meditation and reflection. I spent an hour or so in the gardens and before I left, I refilled my bottle with refreshing water from the spring.
The ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey are steeped in legend, one of them being that King Arthur and his wife, Geneviève, are buried in the grounds. Apparently, the bodies were discovered by monks and a sign
marks the supposed burial site. Although a shell of its former self, it wasn’t difficult to imagine how life was back in the day when the building was one of the wealthiest and most prestigious abbeys in the country. Both Gothic and Romanesque in style, the abbey was originally built in the 7th century. King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of abbeys throughout England in the 15th century and the abbey was practically destroyed. The octagonal Abbot’s Kitchen is the only building fully intact and offers a fascinating insight into a medieval England. Surrounded by majestic trees and lush countryside, Glastonbury Abbey is an essential stop for those who grew up on the intriguing legends of King Arthur as I did. There was certainly an element of magic about the enigmatic ancient monastery.
Somerset Rural Life Museum
This impressive museum traces the history of life in rural Somerset. Situated below The Tor, the well-presented exhibits tells of work carried out in the home as well as the fields. Contemporary buildings merge seamlessly with a 14th century barn in which the galleries are housed. On the grounds, there are sculptures and trails to explore. My personal highlight was the horse sculpture in the courtyard, skilfully welded together from scrap metal. At the end of my visit, I enjoyed a cup of tea accompanied by a tasty scone in the courtyard at the Old Barn Café whilst taking in a superb view of Glastonbury Tor.
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Eating and Shopping
Chilling out in the many cafes is a popular pastime for both locals and visitors. Hundred Monkeys Cafe serves organic, locally sourced dishes and I devoured a hearty Full English Breakfast on my first morning in town. Rainbow’s End Café was Glastonbury’s original vegetarian eatery and you can’t fail to notice its bright green and yellow exterior. At the rear of the café, there is a charming courtyard and I can personally recommend the scrumptious homemade carrot cake. High Street is home to an eclectic range of shops, many brandishing names like ‘Cat and Cauldron’ and ‘Natural Earthling’. The quirky Speaking Tree Bookshop is crammed with esoteric titles, while Star Child entices customers in with aromas of incense, candles and essential
oils which waft in the air. Happy Glastonbury is a gift shop which sells crystals, cards, jewelery and various other new age paraphernalia. Along the street, I passed an artist creating a beautiful chalk mandala on the sidewalk and a busker playing a hand-drum. Being a hippie at heart, I was in my element and spent hours browsing through the weird and wonderful shops and absorbing Glastonbury’s very distinctive vibe.
Houses of Parliament. Participants parade through the streets in extravagant costumes, bands play, and carts are spectacularly illuminated by tens of thousands of lights. I made a mental note to try and return one year for the pageant.
Ashrams, Retreats and the Premier Inn
There are a variety of accommodation choices in the area. Naturally, this being Glastonbury, there are plenty The West Country Carnival of alternative options which include Although I was in town at the ashrams and retreats. At the other end wrong time of the year, I was told of the spectrum, a Premier Inn and about the West Country Carnival Travel Lodge both offer reasonably by locals– a parade which visits priced rooms. I stayed at The Moon Glastonbury in November and in the Apple, a B&B in a cozy has its roots in Bonfire Night. The 1870’s cottage run by the friendly event, which takes place annually in Tor and Julie. A perfect base, it was England celebrates the foiled attempt within walking distance to all of of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Glastonbury’s attractions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue King Sue is from Brighton on the south coast of England and is passionate about travel and adventure. She has been backpacking and housesitting her way around the world since 2012 and has lived or traveled in over fifty countries. Sue has written articles and guides for a wide range of travel magazines and websites. 34 || Terra Travelers
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