Go Out On The Boat Or Dip Your Feet In The Water?

Picture of a dock in Fakarava Tahiti showing boats in the water.

A dock leads you out to cool, clear waters. The water is so clear that it easily shows the white sand underneath. Farther out you see boats drifting lazily in water that’s dark blue.

The sun’s rays are playfully bouncing off the ripples in the water and at the end of the dock is a boat, inviting you to join the others for a carefree day out on the ocean.

And that does sound good. But for me I wouldn’t mind just to sit on the lower dock, put my feet in that lovely water, and soak in the sun for an afternoon.

Picture of a map of Fakarava Tahiti showing the main tourist attractions of the island.The beautiful picture is above of a little island called Fakarava in Tahiti.

Known for it’s clean, unspoiled beauty, there’s less than 500 people living there and the area is so relatively untouched that it’s been designated a world bio reserve for the preservation of rare species.

Tourists looking for an out of the way travel destination come here to see the wildlife ad scuba dive the clear, smooth waters.

Everything revolves around the water and the biggest problem of the day for travelers is often having to decide whether to go out in a boat or dip your feet in the water. Now that’s a problem that I wouldn’t mind having :).

May 3, 2013

Gornergrat Bahn: A Leisurely Train Ride Through The Mountains

Picture out the window of a train car of the Gornergrat Bahn, a railway in the Alps Mountains.I loved this picture as soon as I saw it.

It immediately conjured up a sense of taking a leisurely trip through the mountains. All the while sipping coffee and munching on snacks, snapping pictures out the side window from time to time but mainly just enjoying the surroundings and crisp mountain air.

I recognized the mountain peak in the background as the world famous Matterhorn of the Alps mountain range, but didn’t know anything else about what I figured must be a spectacular train ride.

Turns out this train is part of the Gornergrat Bahn, a railway that goes to a part of the Alps that overlooks a glacier called Gorner Glacier.

Some people take the Gornergrat Bahn mostly to take in the stunning views, and who could blame them?

But once they do get to the station at the top they have the option of getting some other kinds of recreation in as well. A bit of skiing, nice meals at a restaurant, some shopping in at a little mall, and even staying in Switzerland’s highest hotel –the Kulmhotel Gornergrat– which apparently has some cool observatories at the top.

Picture of the Gornergrat train station with views of the Gornergrat Glacier and the Matterhorn.For other people the train ride and station is only a prelude to their real adventure. They use Gornergrat Station as a jumping off point for a backpacking trip deeper into the mountains.

That sounds like a pretty awesome time to me :D.

The best part is that you’d have a nice leisurely train ride on the way to the station that would help you get into the mindset for backpacking. And on the way back, a nice relaxing train ride to decompress from your adventure and get a last bit of mountain scenery in before your trip is over.

May 2, 2013

The Smallest Castle In The World?

Picture of the Broadway Tower located on Beacon Hill in the UK.Usually when you think of a castle what comes to mind are images of huge intimidating walls that stretch for miles and are surrounded by a deep moat.

But this castle is entirely different.

Each of the walls are barely more wide than the windows that peer out of them, and the only thing surrounding the structure is a nice green lawn. In fact it looks like you could walk all the way around the building without even breaking a sweat.

When I first saw the picture of this castle I thought ‘Is that the smallest castle in the world or what?’ and I was curious as to who would build such a place and…why lol.

It turns out this little castle is called the Broadway Tower and it’s located in Worchestershire, England. There’s many rumors and legends about how the Broadway Tower came to be built but the most popular ones are about a wealthy local woman named Lady Coventry.

Picture of the stars in the night sky to illustrate what Lady Coventry and her love interest the young astronomer would have seen from the top of Broadway Tower.It’s said that Lady Coventry decided to build this castle on a whim because she wanted to know if beacons lit on a certain hill could be seen from her house 22 miles away.

An architect was hired and this little castle built and yes, the beacon could be seen quite clearly from her house.

Another legend says that Lady Coventry wanted the castle built so that she could continue to woo a dashing young astronomer that she was in love with. The idea was the top of the tower would be a place that she and the astronomer could *ahem* gaze at the stars together on clear nights.

Regardless of why it was built I wouldn’t mind seeing the Broadway Tower in person and exploring whatever rooms it might have. I wonder if this is one of those places that once you get inside it’s bigger than you’d expect or if it would live up to the first impression of being the smallest castle in the world.

What do you think, would you visit the Broadway Tower if you had the chance?

March 5, 2013

Travel By Tiger To A Hidden Monastery

Picture of a Buddhist monastery on the side of a mountain.Imagine what it would feel like to turn a corner out on some hiking trail and then suddenly see this amazing building in the distance.

Like something out of a strange dream, the white walls seem to have grown right out of the sheer cliffs of the mountain. What a scary adventure it must have been for the people who hauled the materials up the mountainside and then build this place.

And maybe even pretty scary for the people who live there now, those golden rooftops sit right under boulders that look ready to break off at any moment!

When I first saw this picture I immediately thought it was some Buddhist monastery in Tibet, which ended up being a pretty close guess. Turns out it’s a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan and is known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

The unusual name comes from a legend that says the founder of the monastery flew from Tibet to that spot on the mountainside on the back of a tigress. He then did some intense meditation in one of the caves there and afterwards emerged in 8 incarnated forms, making the site a holy place for Buddhists and devotees of the guru.

I’m not sure exactly what 8 incarnated forms means but maybe that’s what you need to survive living on the edge of cliffs like that. I don’t have a magic tiger but I’d definitely visit that monastery if I had the change, if only just to see what it looks like on the inside and meet the people who live in such a magical environment.

(Picture by Soham Banerjee, thank you.)

March 2, 2013