Friday, November 20, 2015

Secluded Paradise on St. Lucia's Anse Mamin

St. Lucia is an island that epitomizes the idea of paradise. From striking views of the Pitons twin peaks to lush rain forests and surreal beaches, this island overflows with natural beauty. So I guess I should have been prepared when I arrived in the village of Soufriere at Anse Chastanet Resort and was greeted with a three walled room that showcased the vistas up close. I'll do a post about my room later but non-stop gazing out at that stunning landscape made me think that I had absorbed all the perfection possible. I was so wrong. After hopping a water taxi to Anse Mamin, about 10 minutes north of Anse Chastanet, my mouth dropped. A tiny black sand beach surrounded with cerulean waves and only a handful of people unfolded before me. It looked like a Gauguin painting, it was so unspoiled and tranquil.

An open air kitchen served up what was reported to be "the world's best burger," to be enjoyed under palapas with views of the sea. I ordered the fish burger on traditional johnny cakes doused with banana ketchup and accompanied by plantain chips.

I honestly don't remember what it tasted like. I think it was good but the beach was such a distraction that all I could do was take a few bites so that I could finish and dive into the water. And I remember what the water was like. It was warm and enveloping, with only a few fish joining me. The canopy of palm trees waved as I floated out of the water and laid out on the soft black sand. It was paradise indeed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Next Stop: Lovely St. Lucia

I'm so grateful to be returning to one of my favorite islands--stunning St. Lucia. This time, I'll be focusing on wellness and active adventures on the island. I'll be trying Snuba and jungle biking for the first time and re-visiting the Soufriere mud baths. I'm also really excited about going back to the legendary Gros Islet jump up street party, I have lots of fond memories of the music and warm locals there. Hopefully, I'll also get a chance to talk to an herbalist about traditional Lucian remedies. My press trip is sponsored by the St. Lucia Tourism Board, which has re-vamped their travel focus since I was last on the island two years ago. I expect to have many new discoveries at this charming locale so please stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

4 Places to Capture Chicago Music

I've been writing for a slew of new publications this year, including a few international sites. I was excited to be contacted by Brilliant Noise Media to craft a story about the best places to hear classic Chicago music for London's Heathrow site, Good to Go. You know I was pumped about sharing Windy City sounds! I supplied details about where to hear signature Chicago blues and jazz. Check out my post here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Prague's Astronomical Clock

Prague is famous for its medieval architecture and one of the most unusual landmarks is the astronomical clock in the middle of the Old Town square. I have to admit, although I'd heard about the castles and Charles Bridge, I had never heard anything about this clock. But there it was, an imposing structure in the middle of the historic square, with hordes of tourists surrounding it.

I learned that the clock is 605 years old and has been working non-stop for all of those centuries. All the excitement is centered around wooden figures of the apostles,which appear in windows every hour. Some of the statues also move, with the death figure beckoning to a Turkish man, who shakes his head and a miserly man with a money bag shaking a stick. Sounds cool. But as I gathered with the crowd at 4 pm, I didn't see any of that. I saw the windows open and I suppose I glimpsed the apostles but it all happened so quickly that I can't say I did for sure. It literally only lasted for a few seconds and I stood there, as the crowds moved away, waiting for more. But that was it so it's no surprise that I was underwhelmed by the astronomical clock. What I did enjoy was the view after I climbed the tower, below. Have you have any travel experiences that weren't what you expected?

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Fall Day in the Czech Republic

The beauty of Prague and the nearby towns of Telc and Trebic was staggering. Castles, pristine medieval architecture and monuments filled every other street. The weather was chilly and rainy but that didn't seem to affect the vistas. Golden leaves covered the cobblestones and courtyards and the rain glistened off the buildings, making them look even more fairy tale-like. It was a lot to absorb since there is so much history connected with all these sights. I walked for miles through each town and besides the beauty, I was struck by the friendliness of the Czechs. Despite a dour reputation, my experience is that Czech people are helpful and proud of their heritage. I learned a lot and I'll be taking you along as I relive my Czech journey.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Next Stop: Prague

I'm headed to the "City of 100 Spires" and I couldn't be more excited. I'll be exploring the fascinating history of Prague and surrounding towns, courtesy of Czech Tourism. The focus will be the castles and chateaux that make the city so striking but I'll also visit  the UNESCO Heritage Site of Telc and its historic Jewish quarter, the catacombs of Jihlava  and of course, the famous Charles Bridge. I've even pulled out my dusty copy of  The Unbearable Lightness of Being, to finally start reading it in Milan Kundera's home country and inspiration.  So look out for posts on Prague literary inspirations as well as the landscape and history.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bob Marley's Kingston House Part I

There's no person that has done more to promote Jamaica and her culture than Robert Nesta Marley. My exploration of Kingston and Port Antonio involved many standout experiences but I have to start with the island's most famous son. The Kingston house that Bob lived in during the height of his career has been transformed into a museum. It holds his recording studio, gold and platinum records,original bedroom and an eerie hologram image.

Photos aren't allowed inside but there's more than enough to document outside.  The bronze statue of Bob stands atop of a painting of his "three little birds" the I-Threes backing group that consisted of Judy Mowatt, Bob's wife Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths. On the side of the structure are paintings of significant Rastafari figures: Haile Selassie who represents God and Marcus Garvey, the Jamaica born cultural activist.

Lions representing Selassie's lion of Judah flank both sides of the statue. There were several more outside images that are important to Bob's legacy and I'll share them in the second part of this post.