A “Pure Ceylon Tea” experience in Sri Lanka

Sri LankaNo trip to Sri Lanka is complete without at least a pass through the country’s glorious central hill country. Go one better, though, and take your time: chug past tea plantations on one of the world’s great train rides–stop off to visit a tea factory–and spend a few nights in the cool, misty realm of a former British hill station. During our month-long stay in Sri Lanka, Tom and I did all of these things. Here are five indelible memories of our travels through Sri Lanka’s “pure Ceylon tea” country. Continue reading

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The slow train to Ella, Sri Lanka

Sri LankaThere is no hurrying a Sri Lankan hill country train, nor would you want to. The joy is in the going, the landscape that glides by, and the fact that you’re sharing the world of the people who live in this special place. You can travel from Kandy to Ella in one go (and vice versa), but we suggest breaking the seven-hour journey and slowing down even more. Continue reading

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Living like a local in Lisbon

Alcântara's Praça CalvárioWhen we decided to return to Portugal for a month-long stay, Anita and I wanted to be based in Lisbon, but away from much-touristed Alfama. After some looking around the internet, we settled on an apartment in Alcântara, and looked forward to our view of the Tagus, easy access to transport, and a creative vibe. We found all these things and more. Continue reading

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In an Alentejo bakery, the way of family

Alentejo bakery

Portugal food stories are all about traditions, and very often, family traditions, emanating from home kitchens. And those stories can be found in the most unlikely, out-of-the-way places. In an Alentejo bakery, we had an opportunity to meet three generations of a family whose baked goods start out small and travel big, making the journey from Portel to Lisbon and beyond. Continue reading

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Bacalhau: Portugal’s “faithful friend”

codfishFor a country with abundant seafood right on its Atlantic doorstep, it can seem a bit wacky to a visitor that the Portuguese are obsessed with a fish not found in nearby waters, but thousands of miles away. Or that they wax nostalgic for salted fish when sublimely fresh is all around them. But it’s a fact: they do! Although we’d not previously been big fans of codfish, Tom and I have now tried bacalhau in numerous preparations, and are developing an appreciation for King Codfish as we travel around Portugal.

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Every day a spa day in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Ayurvedic treatments at the Amaya Hills spaAfter two weeks of fabulous temples, wildlife viewing and more in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Tom and I headed for Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city. Spice village en route? Check. Temple of the Tooth? Check. Tea Museum? Check. Kandy had much more to offer, but we were about out of energy for sightseeing. So, it was time to take a break. What better place to do this, than the hills above the busting city? Continue reading

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A taste of Setúbal, Portugal

Memory chapel near the Our Lady of the Cape Church in SesimbraAt the beginning of the 20th century, Portugal’s fishing industry was centered in what is now the Peninsula of Setúbal. The sardine factories have moved elsewhere since then, and nowadays the district’s ports–along with a stunning coastline and the hilly countryside–serve tourism. After traveling around Portugal for several weeks, Tom and I chose Setúbal as our base for exploring new territory within easy reach of Lisbon. Continue reading

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Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof in black and white

"Rolling Horse"Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station of the German capital, was inaugurated in May 2006, and is the largest rail junction in Europe. The modern station, with its clean lines and all the amenities needed by a traveler, was designed to represent old and new train travel in Berlin. When Anita and I traveled to Berlin a few weeks ago, we took a tour of the station and liked what we saw. Continue reading

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Wiesbaden’s Rheingauer Weinwoche

Wiesbaden“Wine–enjoyed in moderation–heals and comforts with its strength and warmth.” These words from the 11th-century Benedictine nun Hildegard von Bingen ring true year-round in Germany’s Rheingau winegrowing region. Once a year, though, they resonate more than usual in the former spa town of Wiesbaden, when the beautiful little city sets up the “world’s longest wine bar” in its historic center, and showcases the wines and culinary specialties of the area’s vintners and food producers. Continue reading

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Minho “heart and soul” in Ponte de Lima, Portugal

medieval bridgeThe Lima valley, in Portugal’s northern Minho region, with its ancient towns and Romanesque churches, takes a traveler on a meandering route from the mountains of Peneda-Gerês to the sea at Viana do Castelo. Along the way, the easy-going town of Ponte de Lima sits comfortably beside the river. It’s a wonderful starting point for exploring the hilly north of Portugal, and was one our favorite stops on our recent tour of Portugal. Continue reading

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