Hydra by night. A perfect long weekend getaway. In mid-September, the heat backs off and the water is still warm. A long trek or two gives good coverage of the island. Food is excellent, especially if fish and seafood are your thing and you don't mind feta, local cheeses, and Greek wine. Throw in an afternoon boat ride along the southwestern shore, a few dips in the Gulf of Hydra, some late afternoon strolls and a lie-in or two and you'll have the makings for a perfect shoulder/mid-season break.
Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral, one of the main landmarks of Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. The city stands as a crossroads of culture and history -- from its beginnings as Russian garrison outpost to the intersection of Turkestan, Central Asia and even Dungan culture of western China. This diversity spills into the town markets, its cuisine and daily life. More on Karakol up on the blog (link in profile).
Catch the morning train! From our Colombo bound train, from the hill town of Ella, via Kandy. School kids pull over to allow our train to pass before heading back into the tracks. We did our share of track-walking, too. Sri Lankan trains (as trains in general), are arguably the finest way to move about and visually absorb the country. Cheap, too...you can travel across the country for a couple of dollars, and just down the line for as little as 6 cents!
Inside the rock fortress and ancient city of Sigiriya, a 5th century bit of urban planning in central Sri Lanka. Also called Lion Rock for its gateway in the form of a gigantic lion (only the huge paws remain.) Lions feature prominently in Sri Lankan myths and creation stories even though they last roamed the place about 39,000 years ago.
Tea garden walk to Lipton's Seat. Everywhere tea bushes. And on this day, mist that combines just so with the aroma of ripe tea drawn from sun-baked top leaves in the early morning. We mainly took the road from the town of Dambatenne (and its tea factory), for the beauty and interaction with local people. Later, we ducked into the short-cuts through the gardens on the return. #SriLanka
Reservoir dawn. All sorts of early morning light play. Taken on the edge of Maskeliya Lake, Central Sri Lanka. A crucial tuk-tuk stop en route from Adam's Peak (Delhousie) and Maskeliya. In these woods run everything from barking deer (yes, that's what they're called), mongoose and families of wild boar -- all of which we encountered on our 2AM ride out to climb the peak.
Pilgrims and prayer flags, the sunrise descent from Adam's Peak (Sri Padaya), Sri Lanka. You set off at 2AM for a 3-hour walk up the steep path and staircase, encountering chanting pilgrims in both directions. The idea for most visitors: to arrive at the summit temple for sunrise. Although the sunrise was remarkable, the beauty of the shifting view over lakes and cloud banks in the early morning light of the descent is what we'll never forget.
Every evening, I close the light and bend it just so.
In a retreat of my own in southern Sri Lanka, my evening ritual included parking myself at the confluence of breaks, a strip of sand carved by the day's waves. Sunsets like snowflakes, no two evening's images were ever the same.
Southern Sri Lanka, home base for the last several days. The plan: beach hopping around the town of Tangalle. Instead, I hopped between my bungalow and this sprawling, secluded wonder. One the more beautiful beaches I've experienced. Rest and decompression: good for body and mind.
Happy 2017 from Wrocław, Poland! As fireworks and light shows turn the sky electric, it occurs to me that we humans have the power to transform the real to surreal. May we use our energy in this next year to the better. All our best to you and yours in the coming year!