Mumbai



This is my first taste of India, flavors I am certain will remain in my palate for a lifetime. The sights are intense amidst a cacophony of honking horns, in a city that is over-populated and under-nourished. Today I spent a feverishly hot afternoon at the Prince of Wales Museum gaining a bit of insight as to the beginnings of this enchantingly intricate culture. Tomorrow New Delhi awaits, where I will meet with my dear friends Kanika and Azfar…

Sydney

 ‘I could live here’. These are the words that most often exit my lips, as I journey to so many vibrant and culturally rich cities of the world. Sydney is quite the ideal place to live, there is something inspiring about being so close to the sea. An enticing city bordered by tranquil beaches, my favorites being Manly and Bondi. There I experienced a perfect day: the morning began with a yoga class. Upon finding inner balance I retreated to the sea for a surf lesson. With a little practice and resolve I stood on the board, what a high! I am still a bit weary of those commanding waves but I have found a new sensation. the day of fortuitous pleasures continues…the afternoon was spent indulging in Shiraz at Darling Harbor (any place with the name darling must have a certain charm to it!). In the evening I enjoyed my first Eastern European opera in the most stunning opera house, ‘Rusalka’ by Dvorak. And this was only one day of many.

an aboriginal soul



‘To understand your highest self you must live in that rhythm’, as did William Ricketts, an eccentric artist who lived and worked at Mt Dandenong until 1993, at the age of ninety-four. He felt a deep connection to the desert people of the Pitjantjara and Arrernte, as though he were one himself, perhaps in a past life. Walking through his sanctuary amidst this visual poetry of over 90 ceramic sculptures in which the human and natural spirit become one, I could feel his love and devotion to these people and the environment. An inner peace filled me in this space created by a single man who believed in something with a rare, soulful passion.

Melbourne


My introduction to Melbourne began with a 20k bike tour of a city which has become one of my favorites (the list is growing!). Amidst all the culture and refinement there is a relaxed attitute in this city which is considered one of the most livable in the world. South Yarra became our home, a great neighborhood for dining and shopping. Near this vicinity lives my friend Jeremy with whom we wined and dined as often as possible. I was grew very fond of Fitzroy, filled with a modern bohemian vibe. Melbourne possesses much international art, as well as an immigration museum that proved most insightful as to the history of this country so detached from the rest of the world. Most of all I fell in love with the koalas, simply adorable!!

ready, set, fly!


Today I experienced the feeling of flight, 12,000 feet above the snow-capped Southern Alps of New Zealand. My first sky-dive! I can barely describe the sensation of sitting aboard a plane, strapped to a complete stranger who I put my full faith and trust in, peering out the window at the most magestic views, knowing that in moments I will be floating above such splendor. This is perhaps the most stimulating 45 seconds of a high that is difficult to put into words. I lost my breath as we so casually fell out of the plane into the inviting sky. The parachute all too quickly opened as I floated back to earth, ending the physical sensation while the soul continued to soar. This feeling I will keep with me for the length of this journey…and yes, I am addicted to this high and desire to jump again! For the moment I will remain safely on ground.


fit for a queen



Queenstown is a place where dreams are born. Every morning I wake up to views of ‘The Remarkables’, the mountains overlooking Lake Wakatipu. The scenes look much like a painting, with hues of grays and blues that appear to be created from a well mixed palette. I can sit and gaze for hours with the many thoughts that have taken residence in my head, as the clouds pass by the mountains reminding me that I am still in fact on this earth. One afternoon we rode in the gondola to the top of the mountain and zipped around the crisp air in a luge. What an adrenaline filled joy ride! This is indeed one of the most spectacular places on this earth that I have had the privilege to acquaint myself with.

Auckland



We arrived in Auckland after several long flights with a stopover in LA where my most kind friend Monica collected us. Following a little shopping spree for items we thought we could not live without (small guilty pleasures!) We flew off again. Thank you Monica!

Auckland is a small city filled with a calm energy, and the most delightful Kiwis! Our time there was brief, one evening I ventured to Viaduct Harbour, a scenic part of town filled with fine eateries and pubs, as well as views of the sunset. One afternoon was spent on Waiheke Island, the island of wine. I tasted several Pinot Noirs, the specialty of the region. On another note of hedonism, I indulged in the best homemade chocolate in a trendy part of town called Parnell. This of course is all part of my savouring of the local tastes! Here too is where I experienced my first encounter with a casino at the Sky Tower. How deprived I have been all these years! I could barely pull myself away from those sneaky machines which seemed to entice me with several wins prior to ridding me of any ‘spare change’ in my pockets. What (innocent) fun!

the time inbetween…

Tomorrow begins a long journey as we bid farewell to one continent and g’day to another. In three days time we will feel the air of New Zealand followed by Australia. How strange and wonderful is the sensation of travel! I dearly value this time inbetween. Time to sit and reflect upon that which has been seen and felt. The fortuitous experiences that have settled into memories. This cherished time is often spent high above the space where these memories were created. Sitting aboard a plane, a temporary vessel where time seems to stand still. It is within this moments that I bask in the anticipation of what is to come in the chapters ahead, as I smile in fond recollection at the pages that have already been written.

Santiago


I was not sure what to expect arriving in Santiago, Chile, other than great wine. It is a rather non-descript city. A safe and comfortable place to live and work where you can enjoy a good quality of life. There is a European flair here, particularly in my favorite bohemian neighborhood, Bellavista, with many outdoor cafes and galleries. That is where we found the home of Pablo Naruda, as well as beautiful murals exhibiting his likeness and poetry. He was quite a witty man and had a most particular design sensibility. His home was created to feel as though you are on a boat, crooked floors, low ceilings, circular windows…ironically, he was afraid of the sea.

the awe of Machu Picchu

I am certain that Machu Picchu will become the eighth wonder of the world, this lost Incan city, where women were valued on intellect and often held as high (if not higher) a court than men. What wise people! With lungs filled with awe I entered this world, and mine no longer seemed to exist. The air was crisp as a light rain fell. Clouds formed a delicate halo over the mountain peaks. I tried to imagine the lives lived so many years ago. I felt great peace amidst this Incan land, a city where now only the Alpacas found shelter. Cuzco itself is a glorious city, the oldest inhabited city of the continent, very much alive with locals and visitors alike. I was taken with its charm and beauty, though it is driven highly by tourism and aggressive street vendors. We toured many of the ruins of this Incan city and dined in a traditional Peruvian eatery where ceviche was our appetizer and Andean music and dancers our entree. What a pleasure it is to indulge in the local tastes and sounds!

During our two days in Lima we stayed in Miraflores, an elegant part of the city not far from the beach. Plaza de Armas, in the heart of central Lima, was a beautiful central square exhibiting a royal fountain. It was Cuzco however, that left the grandest impression. As I journey to Santiago, my thoughts remain with the Incas…

Monserrate

There are moments in life when a sensation is felt that remains with you forever. I experienced such a moment atop the Cerro de Monserrate, the mountain overlooking the city center. The air was crisp as the sun was bidding us farewell, welcoming the city lights below, soon to be joined by a sky of stars. The melodies of Enya sounded from the church where complete serenity was found.

Bogota!


Arriving in Bogota left me breathless, literally. Bogota is located 2600 meters above sea level, bordered by the mountain peaks of Mt Monserrate and Mt Guadalupe. I did not know what to expect in this city that sounds of salsa and tastes of coffee, home to several close friends, one of whom joined me on this chapter of my journey, my dear Dave! He placed us safely in the north of the city, near the eateries and nightlife of parque 93. But it was not until I ventured to the center of the city, the old world sector of La Candelaria that I fell in love with Bogota. The streets are cobbled and the buildings are filled with color and charm. This is where most of the political buildings are located, providing perhaps a false sense of safety amidst the many armed guards. Here too are the museums, namely the Museo del Oro (gold museum) which was most impressive, revealing more than 34,000 gold pieces from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. One of the richest art collections of South America is found at the Donacion Botero, housing the works of Fernando Botero, the most prominent artist of this vibrant land.

com emocao!


We decided to be proper tourists for a day and left the sanctity of our beach town for the sand dunes of Ponta Negra near Natal. With strong emotion, ‘com emocao’ as the Brazilians say, we had quite a ride in our little buggy, as our driver sped over the dunes and through the beaches (literally!). Genipabu was the most beautiful, I have become quite a connoissier in the last few weeks. It was our last beach day together, as Fabio departed for Jericoacoara’s windsurfing haven and we flew off to Bogota…

Praia da Pipa


I wonder how many times I will feel the sensation of paradise. here in Praia da Pipa life is very tranquil, surrounded by the sounds of the sea. This is a little beach town not far from Natal, a place frequented by foreigners seeking a place to relax, surf, and watch the sunset. And of course there is the nightly street party with all the life and energy that is so typically Brazilian. Every day the sights and sounds create a beautiful composition similar to the day before. This sensation of deja vu feels quite comforting as it brings a little bit of stability to a transient life. Yesterday I experienced a moment of awe at the sight of dolphins swimming by just feet away from my kayak. Tomorrow another adventure awaits, the sand dunes of Ponta Negra…

sleepy town of Olinda

As a cultural aside, we spent a few days in Olinda, one of Brazil’s best preserved colonial cities, filled with churches and artists ateliers, revealing Olinda as a historic bohemian city of pastel colors and cobblestones streets. A perfect momentary refuge from many days of beaches and nights of carousing. Until Praia da Pipa where the beach life continues…



Fernando de Noronha



I am on an island virtually untouched by man. Some of the most beautiful beaches I have seen, surrounded by cliffs and a nature you cannot capture in words or photos. It is very underpopulated here, as only about 400 people are allowed on the island at once. So much for the nightlife! This is truly a hidden paradise. Sooji and I are traveling with Fabio our Italian friend, and now driver. Our days are spent driving around in a buggy exploring the 12 beaches, snorkeling, tanning (yes we are VERY tan!!), eating lots of moqueca and grilled fish. It has become a simple existance, and indeed a happy one. This afternoon we will return to Recife and find our way to Olinda, an old colonial village…

Salvador da Bahia


Salvador da Bahia was Brazil´s first capital and the most African influenced city, where blacks preserved the roots of their African culture. This is very evident in the rich, vibrant music and art, seen and heard around every street corner in the restored historical neighborhood of Pelhourinho. We saw the very popular local band Timbalada at which performance Caetano Veloso made a guest appearance. We felt much like brazilians!! We also became acqainted with the orixas, Afro-Brazilian gods very elaborately carved in wood, seen at the Museo Afro-Braziliero. After spending 3 days in the intense heat and energy of Salvador, we joined the sea turtles at a small ecological beach resort, Praia do Forte. This is where a national project, Tamar, is working with local communities to preserve sea turtle breeding grounds, as they are an endangered species. Turtles are such fascinating creatures!

Arraial d’Ajuda


To the tunes of DJ Tiesto Sooji and I boarded a bus for a 24 hour ride…to head north, to the region of Bahia. our last days in Rio proved that Rio de Janeiro is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world (from what I have seen thus far). We spent an evening in Lapa, a historic part of the city where we experienced Rio Scenario, a most impressively designed antique store turned restaurant/lounge with live samba band and such good energy! What amazing ambiance!! We also spent an afternoon in Santa Teresa which is filled with ateliers and a great artistic flair. Playing the role of a tourist (and in search of a little redemption) I went to see Corcovado, the christ, the largest art deco sculpture in the world. the views of the city were incredible! And then it was time to leave. My greatest challenge will be not to become attached to the places I visit, not to mention the people I meet…

And now, we have found another paradise near Porto Seguro, a little beach village with much elegance and some of the most gorgeous beaches, called Arraial d’Ajuda. It is perhaps the St. Tropez of Brazil? They say God is Brazilian…

Rio in the rain…


There exists a beautiful quietude in Rio as a light rain falls and the beachgoers take shelter in the shopping malls and many of Ipanema’s corner cafes. Rather than indulge in an afternoon of caiparinhas, or yet another one, I decided to experience art in it’s simplest form, at the International Museum of Naive Art, the largest collection of folk art in the world. ‘A naive artist paints dipping the brush in his heart’. Much is said through these anarchist poets of the brush. Following this visual stimulation was a grand feast with friends. Have I mentioned the meat yet? Tomorrow I am hoping for a little sunshine, but there are worse places for daydreaming in the rain…

Rio!! Happy New Year!

I have often wondered about Rio de Janeiro, this city that makes everyone’s eyes light up. And now my curiosity can be satisfied. We arrived here on the 29th, and in very little time I felt the incredible energy and vibrancy here. Samba fills the sea air in this city which feels much like a tropical jungle with urban detail. Last night we had a delectible meal at a churrascaria in Ipamena Beach near our apartment, how much steak can a mortal eat?? Alot!! The feast was followed by the experience of a Samba school, these brazilians can dance! Tonight is new years eve. Clad in white we shall make our way to Ipanema beach, where a Johnny from NYC is hosting a grand soiree overlooking the crowds and revelry down below. Happy New Year Rio style!

Jose Ignacio: paradise found

On December 23rd we took the buquebus from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, and in a ’58 Chevy Impala (interesting random detail to add to the experience of it all) we made our way to a little town called Jose Ignacio, about 30 miles from Punta Del Este in Uruguay. Our home became a thatched roof cabin of sorts, just minutes from the beach. I fell in love with this place and the simple beautiful life there. Christmas eve dinner was spent at La Huella, as was Christmas lunch, dinner and all meals to follow. How tasty was the food and drink, all of it felt much like a dream. Our hosts Guido and Antonio were most gracious and time was indeed well spent in this hidden paradise.

the adventure begins in Buenos Aires…

On december 10th I landed in Buenos Aires, one of my 5 favorite cities. Though I have about 30 more to become acquainted with in the many months ahead, I am certain BA will remain high on the list. It’s a perfect place to call home for 3 weeks, so full of life and culture, latin style. I feel like a movie star with the affordability of it all. BA is so rich with sights, sounds, tastes and fabulous shopping! Recoleta Cemetery is most magestic, replete with old souls and cats. We spent an evening at the elegant Feina Hotel, designed by Phillip Starck, as well as Sucre, one of our many fine dining experiences. Life was grand! Our apartment in Palermo Viejo was complete with a rooftop jacuzzi and gorgeous views of the city. After taking a few spanish classes to brush up on my language skills, as well as a tango class, I felt like a Portena, well, almost. I will definitely return for more!

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