• G’day Mate!

    Sydney, Australia…what a magnificent arrival into this gorgeous city!

    At 5:15 am, I woke up extra early to witness our sunrise sail in to Sydney harbour…it was a thrill to make it 8,527 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean and see that famed Opera House now within reach in the near distance! The skyline appeared closer and closer and I rushed to the bow of the ship to soak in the miraculous view that unfolded before me…

    As the pilot boat guided us through the waterfront, a welcome committee greeted our arrival: a large school of Dolphins leaped in and out of the water towards the ship and we all erupted with excitement! It must of been 25 or more of these beautiful creatures putting on the best welcome we could have to Australia!

    The fiery sun started to rise higher and higher over the city and the colors continued to change as if it were being painted with the boldness of an artist’s brush!

    As the ship steered its way in front of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, we docked into our spot in the middle of some of the most famous sights in the world at Circular Quay! What a view and what a city!

    This part of the journey is over as we disembark into the city of Sydney to start a whole new adventure!

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  • Adventure Island!

    Vanuatu…today turned into an adventure day! Climbing a waterfall was just the beginning of my action packed day in the South Pacific!

    I told my driver I wanted to go somewhere unique and not so overrun with tourists! He suggested we go to other side of the island of Efate to Turtle Bay and Eton…

    Vanuatu is renowned for it’s natural environment and boasts coral seas abundantly full of marine life! Snorkeling and Scuba Diving are world class and very special here. I am not a scuba diver, but I am game today for some sort of “soft adventure”!

    Turtle Bay is a marine sanctuary that is teaming with incredible sea life in a coral reef that appears like a bright blue spot of heaven from ashore. There is a community here that lives in grass huts along the shore who help care for the sea’s fragile creatures. That includes raising delicate sea turtles.

    One part of the beach has a sheltered coral swimming hole teaming with shark and large turtles! I am encouraged to dive in to swim amongst these small friendly sharks and feed and ride the large turtles! What?!?!

    I am handed some fruit and in I go…these grand turtles race toward me ready to feast! I hold the fruit slices out and the turtles go for it….I hear a scream “watch your fingers!” from one of the natives watching me! I get more comfortable until I can go actually go full on swimming amongst these magnificent creatures…the shark couldn’t be bothered, but the turtle allow me to ride their shells! What a rush!

    Afterward I head out to snorkel with bread in hand to feed the fish! I get out in the water and I am swarmed with a huge school of every imaginable color of fish! I panic, throw the bread into the sea, fish are literally jumping to grab the pieces, and I race back to shore, heart pounding! Oh my god…I practically hyperventilate! A group of locals are laughing in the sand at me…

    Well I tried but I guess I am not too brave…but I will remember this the rest of my life! What a cool experience on this remote island a world away from home!

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  • Water without Falling!

    Mele Cascade Waterfall, Vanuatu…instead of only beaching it today, I thought a trip to the rainforest jungle of Vanuatu would be an interesting change of pace!

    This lush jungle is rich with every kind of leaf and plant…I can hear the sound of falling water, but where is it?

    A 20 minute climb through tree root steps, pools of water, and dense vegetation…yikes! I huff and puff through the natural obstacle course in the thick humid heat…

    I realize my flip flops aren’t gonna work, so I go it as the locals do…barefoot! Up and over algae covered rocks, through water rapids, and up mini falls until I reached an oasis in the middle of the dense jungle!

    The falls are beautiful and people are diving in the deep pools at their base. I am not that daring! I just wanna get out of there without slipping and breaking a bone or being swept downhill in the current!

    What a hike with such a beautiful reward at the end! Going back down wasn’t much easier, but I admired the huge bamboos and the small pools on the way down!

    Another testament to nature’s unbelievable beauty!

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  • Done Wright!

    Chicago, Illinois…I have travelled the world and yet so close to where I grew up is an area I took for granted for its sights and major contribution to the world of style and architecture…Oak Park is the home of Frank Lloyd Wright and the district bearing his name is a showcase for his brilliance that launched Prairie style architecture! This area served as his laboratory for him to experiment and develop his world renowned and beloved style.

    It’s a feast of housing style that lines the historic streets. I have driven by many times in my younger life and didn’t appreciate the magnitude of the impact and importance of this small artistic suburb! It’s breathtaking to walk these streets and see the different homes that explore this style of architecture.

    Beautiful modernist lines, a pre art deco vibe, and brilliant use of woodwork and masonry.

    Sometimes the best sights are not a world away, but right under your nose! We just need to slow down and take them in…20120923-113025.jpg

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  • A Dutch Treat!

    Cape Town, South Africa…today was my last full day in this place that I have been totally taken by. I travelled a short distance out of Cape Town to the historical settlement of Stellenbosch. Set in the famous South African wine region by the same name, this valley is revered for its wine making and the beauty of this small Dutch town that dates back centuries.

    The second oldest European settlement in the province after Cape Town. Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 during the period of control by the Dutch East India Company. Hence the Dutch architecture that makes up the beauty of the town which is full of homes and cottages that are all finished with a striking white-lime wash with black hatch roofing. The area is set in the Jonkershoek Valley and is full of rolling vineyards and the town itself became known as the City of Oaks, due to the large number of grand Oak Trees that line the streets. These oaks were originally planted to provide the wood for the wine barrels so they would not need to be imported…but these Oaks grew too porous to be used and now are beloved and protected parts of Stellenbosch!

    Dorp Street is lined with beautiful cottages and a myriad of little shops and cafes. You can definitely spend an afternoon here strolling the shops and galleries and some of the regions most acclaimed restaurants are situated on vineyards in the nearby valley!

    It is a testament to the entire area of the Western Cape that so much beauty is housed in a relatively close distance…a week here and I have discovered gem after gem. Each day I am in awe of another site that captivates the senses! Stellenbosch was just icing on the delicious cake of my time here! I understand why this region is a favorite of locals for weddings…I can totally picture nuptials in one of the many grand vineyards that line the road to Stellenbosch!

    Cape Town may be a long way away from home, but definitely a place everyone should put on their list!
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  • A Day on the Sand!

    Cape Town, South Africa…summer weather descended on Cape Town today with sun glaring down and temps rising above 80 degrees making for a perfect Saturday! Captonians do one thing when the weather gets nice; they go to the beach…

    There is no shortage of stunning sand beaches here! No need to travel far as the beautiful people flock to the sand on the other side of Table Mountain within the confines of Cape Town…no need for a big trek to find this city’s glorious beaches!

    The fashion crowd goes to Clifton beach…there are 4 beaches here nestled between the rocks. I choose beach 3, as it known as the must-visit beach and the unofficial gay beach! Small yet beautiful, the beach is set in a small alcove, a long winding set of steps below the main road. The waves are amazing to watch but even more relaxing to hear as they crash ashore! I set up my spot and rent a umbrella, soon enough I am snoring away under the South African sun…Suddenly I am awakened by the screaming of other beach goers as I am simultaneously swept away in a massive frigid wave that takes over most of the sand. I am drenched, but luckily my iPhone was saved, I retreat to the rocky edge to be safe from the aggressive sea! Locals laugh at my and other’s beach goers unfortunate circumstances and I have to feign stupidity with my water logged towel, bag, and clothes…a cute dog runs over to comfort my embarrassment! He becomes my new beach buddy! Swimming really isn’t part of beach life as the water gets colder as the seasons switch to warmer.

    After enough sun, I stroll to Camps Bay, the bustling wide sand beach with an array of “be seen” celebrity haunts that line the beach…I settle in to a cafe for a late lunch and watch beautiful Capetonians stroll by and local Afrikaans entertain along the busy thoroughfare! I realize this city is a blend of San Francisco but with better weather, the urban beach culture of Sydney, and the body beauty vibe of Los Angeles!

    But comparisons aside, Cape Town is a true original! Sitting on the beach of Camp’s Bay with Table Mountain’s “Twelve Apostles” named grand buttresses behind me…I really can’t think of another place like this!

    This is just a preview of what the coming summer months must be like here! I can understand why weekends start at noon on Fridays year round! I too would have a problem focusing on work on Fridays knowing the beauty of this city is calling!

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  • Grape Nuts!

    Cape Town, South Africa…I took off today to the famous vineyards of South Africa. This region is known for it’s many fine wines, so I thought, if anything, it would be a beautiful outing into the countryside!

    I am not a wine connoisseur, well honestly I don’t drink it at all…but it’s an experience! So let’s try it!

    It’s an absolutely stunning area filled with grand estates set amidst rolling fields that slope up the mountainside. The blue skies make a perfect backdrop for this verdant area of wineries! It is early Spring, so the grapes are just beginning their season’s growth hence the barren branches.

    We arrive at the vineyard estate of Groot Constantia…this historical wine farm was founded in the late 1600’s! Originally, the grapes were brought over from Dutch vineyards and over the centuries this has become a world class wine region.

    Part of the stop is a wine tasting of their award winning vintages…oh boy, 7-8 glasses of wine and a few crackers to balance it! I am gonna need a burger to counteract all this alcohol!

    I sample all the different flavors and I am educated by my pourer on the subtle flavors and harmonies…I taste Groot Constantia’s famous Sauvignon Blanc amongst many others!

    I am totally drunk and in my stupor I am totally enamored by the underwater diving duck…now I am seeing things? Do ducks really submerge themselves head first? Hmmm…I took a pick just to make sure I wasn’t imagining…

    We arrive at another winery, Eagles Nest, and I decide I better sit this one out! For now I’ll just take in the stunning scenery and work off this drunken feeling…20120912-152149.jpg20120912-152246.jpg20120912-152342.jpg20120912-152424.jpg20120912-152446.jpg20120912-152601.jpg

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