Our first day in Cuba, we were bussed out to a model community within the tropical rainforest in the western part of the island. (Seems like this is on the list for all tour groups as we saw busses come and go all morning.) While we got our orientation and listened to a local group offer some great music, we were offered a rum-based cocktail (10am). I declined. But looking up, I saw this roof made of thatched palm fronds. Nothing is wasted in Cuba. Except maybe the tourists who didn’t decline that breakfast mojito.
December 11, 2013
On the morning we docked at the Canary Island of Tenerife, Dr. Blake and I hopped on a spiffy new tramvia and rode 45 minutes up into the mountains to the beautifully restored city of San Cristóbal de la Laguna. With its narrow streets and vibrant colors, it reminded me of parts of Havana. And I said as much to a nice woman in the tourist office where we’d gone to get a map. She teasingly corrected me, saying, “La Laguna does not look like Havana. Havana looks like La Laguna.” So noted.
December 10, 2013
Inside the city’s large central market. But it’s not so crowded on a Monday; many of the stalls (especially the fish and seafood ones) don’t bother opening. But enough do that it’s always worth a visit. Portuguese is not one of my best languages, but I know a little. Mostly “menu Portuguese.” And it’s often close enough to Spanish or Italian so that I can read it sometimes. How about you? How many of the categories listed above can you make out?
December 9, 2013
December 8, 2013
Our first day out of Istanbul was spent cruising the Dardanelles. And one of the perks of cruising with Windstar is that the ships have an “open bridge” policy. Except when the ship is in port or is dealing with an issue, the bridge is open to passengers to inspect. Here’s Dr. Blake checking out the instruments and computer screens aboard the Wind Surf. You can just make out the whitecaps on the choppy sea. But what you can’t see are the crew members who seem to take a genuine interest in answering questions and pointing out how the instruments work. The real-time maps showing where the ship is are my favorites.
December 7, 2013
Who likes to walk through foreign cities at night? I do, I do! And Istanbul may be the best city in which to do that. Here along the pedestrian-only (allegedly; there is a small tram that rides up and down the one-mile street; oh, and delivery trucks, too, and some other cars) Istiklal Caddesi, people are always on the move, 24 hours a day. But I think the best time to stroll here is between 9-11pm. There’s always a palpable sense of something exciting about to happen. In a good way.
December 6, 2013
Our wonderful lunch in Morocco’s capital on that nation’s Independence Day. (So enthralled were we by this dish that I only remembered to take the photo after we’d eaten half of it.) As Paula Wolfert, the authority on Moroccan cuisine, says in her definitive The Food of Morocco: “Chicken with lemon and olives is one of the great combinations in Moroccan cookery, the dish that most often seduces foreigners and turns them into devotees of Moroccan tagines.” Sold!