Thursday, December 1, 2016

Next Stop: Maui

It's been a  year of non-stop travel adventures but I'm excited that my last trip of the year will surround me with the natural beauty of Maui. The Maui Visitors and Conventions Bureau have invited me to explore the ecological initiatives and natural landscapes of the island. I'll be taking in the legendarily stunning sunrise at Haleakala National Park, and hiking through portions of the park, pictured above. I'm going to visit a taro farm, which is the essential ingredient of the Hawaiian staple of poi. Native plant reserves and the Honolua Bay Marine Preserve will be another feature of my trip as well as a ride in a traditional outrigger canoe. Of course, I'll  also be going to a luau and sampling noted Maui cuisine. Please look out for photos and posts next week! Aloha!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Castro's Impact From A Cuban Perspective

BBC World News: "A Cuban in London" Mario Lopez Goicoechea reflects upon and remembers Fidel Castro Part 1 from Jamsheda on Vimeo.

The passing of Fidel Castro has stirred up intense emotions from every corner of the globe but I was thrilled to see my blogger friend Mario from A Cuban in London explain Castro's influence from the too rarely heard Cuban perspective on the BBC. Listen and learn.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tranquility Wrapped In Blue

I've never seen a place that embodied its tag line more perfectly than Anguilla. This little island is literally wrapped in impossibly blue water that melts into an equally blue sky. Just looking at these photos will decompress stress levels by 100 percent.

I was lucky enough to spend three days straight on Sandy Island, which is a little slip of sand off the coast of Anguilla. This pretty islet was the day time location for the Livin in The Sun music fest, where I soaked up the blue and listened to live DJs mix music all day. Yes, it was a very difficult situation.

The tranquility and beauty just overtakes you in Anguilla. The island has a quiet allure that doesn't need hype or giant resorts. It's an under-the-radar refuge that I miss already.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Next Stop: Anguilla

It's been a rough week so I'm especially excited to head to the gorgeous British Caribbean island of Anguilla. It would be enough just to experience the laid back culture and famous beaches of Anguilla but I'm going to be covering the inaugural Livin In The Sun Music Festival. The three day event kicks off this weekend and focuses on DJ's from around the world playing on Anguilla's pristine beaches. The multi-sensory experience combines music, art and since Anguilla is considered the Caribbean's culinary capital, food. I can't even wrap my head around all of the highlights but I'm looking forward to exploring a few of the island's 33 beaches, sampling local dishes and hearing DJ's from Italy, France, South African and Anguilla. The head-liner is Walshy Fire of Major Lazer so I don't expect to be off my feet very much. Please stay tuned for posts and videos!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Kyoto's Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Japan is filled with so many arresting sights. There were a lot of special experiences, so it's hard to choose where to start but I think it's always good to start with nature. One of the most iconic images of Japan is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

The grove towers with bamboo trees that play against the light pouring through the slender trunks. It would be the perfect place to meditate and take in the sound of the stalks swaying back and forth but I was there on a national Japanese holiday. It was culture day, which meant masses of locals were in the grove, strolling and taking photos. I saw loads of kimono clad girls and saffron robed monks but it was hard to focus on the magic of the experience.

The glimpse of serenity that I found was when I stood in front of this graveyard on the other side of the grove. The crowds just headed down the path as I paused and looked at the tombstones. I think that being buried near a bamboo grove is probably one of the most peaceful final resting places and it was there that the grove held the most tranquility.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Next Stop: Japan

For my latest adventure, I'll be exploring the beautiful and complex culture of Japan. I'm excited to be hopping the ANA Airlines inaugural flight from Chicago to Tokyo. My base will be the historic Imperial Hotel Tokyo, which has ties to Frank Lloyd Wright and my Oak Park neighborhood, so I can't wait to see another perspective of his architectural style. The hotel is noted for its elegance and service; I'll  even be assigned an attendant!  I'm looking forward to experiencing a  Japanese tea ceremony as well as a Shinto wedding. I'll also visit Kyoto and tour some of the city's famous shrines and landscapes. In between, I hope to visit Harajuku, a Kabuki theater performance and stroll the Imperial Palace gardens, pictured above.  Please stay tuned for posts and videos, maybe I'll even make it to one of those crazy pet cafes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Beauty of Portugal's Pena Palace

I had been warned about the high energy of the stunning mountain town of Sintra. My guide Eddie told me that I would be able to feel the elevated vibrations as soon as I entered and he was right. I was heady with Sintra's special energy and the narrow cobblestone streets and 18th century architecture charmed me even more.  But nobody prepared me for the spectacular beauty of Pena Palace, perched on a craggy peak above the town.

The photos of the 18th century palace, built as a summer home by Portugal's King Ferdinand II, only hint at the magic. I don't think I closed my mouth during the whole time I visited the UNESCO landmark. I've seen a lot of castles and none except the mighty Alhambra have captured me like this.

Vibrant colors, intricate tiling, sculpture, stained glass and sweeping design entranced me at every turn.

Inside, the tapestries, crystals and carved furniture were nice but there's something about the views and mountain air that make the outside of Pena Palace just jaw-dropping. Have you ever been to Sintra?