A fun and innovative winery near Stellenbosch, South Africa uses a 1,000-strong duck brigade to help eradicate vineyard pests.
In South Africa’s Cape Winelands, winemakers at the Vergenoegd Wine Estate have all their ducks in a row — literally.
More than 1,000 Indian runner ducks can be found on the estate. These feathered friends have been an integral part of the winery’s pest management program for decades, as they gobble up snails, slugs, and bugs from the vineyard.
Today, daily parades featuring the animals attract visitors — young and old — to the wine farm’s scenic grounds near Stellenbosch.
Continue reading “Waddling Winemakers on Parade in Stellenbosch, South Africa”
The southern French city of Arles has ties to the Ancient Romans and Van Gogh. It’s also home to some enchanting windows.
Arles, France circa 1888: If you were to peek through the window at 2 Place Lamartine about this time, it’s likely you would’ve seen Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh at work in his studio. Van Gogh lived in Arles for about one year, spending part of that time in a building that’s since been called the Yellow House.
Continue reading “The Windows of Arles, France”
The Mediterranean island of Malta is awash in color. But its blue details might be the most captivating of them all.
With perpetually-blue skies and a location in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta naturally seems defined by the color blue.
If you’re a fan of blue, as I am (it’s my favorite hue), you’ll be delighted to find that it’s often Malta’s color of choice for much more, including its classic doorways, wooden balconies, and traditional fishing boats.
We called this southern European country home for twelve months; it’s hard to believe that two years have passed since we left it!
During our year in Malta, there were certainly moments when we were “feeling blue” — whether because of challenging neighbors (who let their children run wild until the wee hours of the morning!), or pollution, or notoriously-bad traffic.
However, in hindsight, it’s the happy memories that we made in Malta that remain at the forefront of my mind, like when we went sailing, or watched locals harvest sparkling sea salt, or took part in festa celebrations, or met a world-famous diving dog named Titti.
In this piece, I’ve focused on Malta’s blue accents, including the island’s sky, sea, architecture, and other details. I hope you enjoy the series!
Continue reading “Shades of Blue: Capturing the Island of Malta in Azure & Indigo”
Paying homage to Heidelberg, Germany, my home for a decade.
The German city of Heidelberg is perhaps best known for its romantic castle ruins, its highly esteemed university, and its Old Town, which is studded with mostly baroque architecture.
Having lived in Heidelberg for 10 years, the city means additional things to me though.
It’s where I held some of my first real world jobs, where I came to know myself, and where my husband and I were married. The city also served as the backdrop for introductions to new friends, as well as meet-ups with loved ones from back home who made the journey overseas to see me. It was my launching pad for exploring new lands, my window on the world for an entire decade.
I left Heidelberg in 2011, and for six years, I didn’t return “home.” However earlier this month, Shawn and I made a return visit to this special city on the Neckar River.
Continue reading “The Windows of Heidelberg, Germany”
Magnificent Lake Skadar is the largest lake in Southern Europe. It is also home to a dazzling array of wildlife.
Having emerged from the long mountain tunnel that separates Lake Skadar National Park from Montenegro’s coastline, the landscape was decidedly different. Gone were glimpses of the expansive Adriatic. In its place was Lake Skadar, Southern Europe’s largest lake.
Continue reading “Montenegro’s Lake Skadar National Park: A Day Trip and Boat Ride”
Volunteers in the coastal city of Split, Croatia are dedicated to saving the country’s remaining donkey population.
In a pine-shaded park overlooking the sea in Split, Croatia, a fuzzy donkey emerges among a cluster of joggers, dog-walkers, and families.
The passersby stop and smile, delighted to encounter such a creature in Croatia’s second-largest city. Some people snap photos of the grey donkey with their phones. A father and his young son ask the animal’s handler if they can stroke the animal’s muzzle. Eventually, the donkey wanders off, searching for the ideal patch of greenery to nibble upon. She seems content when she finds a grazing place. It has commanding views of the sparkling Adriatic Sea and neighboring islands.
With a short attention span, the donkey trots off again, stopping next to an abandoned phone booth. Seemingly unrelated at first, the juxtaposition of the two is symbolic in that both animal and booth were once considered essential in daily life. Today, in most parts of the world, they’ve both been rendered obsolete by technology.
Not long ago, donkeys were commonplace in the Mediterranean — beasts of burden that sometimes carried weight greater than their own. They toted water and food and helped to mill grain. But today, because of new forms of transport, the animals’ numbers have shrunk dramatically. By some accounts they are approaching extinction in their native environments.
Continue reading “A Sanctuary for the Lovable and Threatened Donkeys of Split, Croatia”
One of Thailand’s most popular ancient sites, Sukhothai boasts atmospheric temple ruins and UNESCO World Heritage status.
The thermometer flirted with 40°C (104°F) as we wandered from one marvelous temple to another in Thailand’s Sukhothai Historical Park. The scent of frangipani blooms danced in the air, and powdery dirt coated my skin from my knees to my toes.
All was quiet. It was a refreshing change from the bustling markets and hectic streetscapes of the city.
I tried to imagine what these grounds would have looked like 700 years earlier, when the Sukothai Kingdom was at its apex and this was the capital of the Thai Empire. Back then, Sukhothai had around 80,000 residents.
Continue reading “Finding Tranquility in Thailand: Exploring Sukhothai Historical Park”
The Provençal city of Orange, France plays host to formidable Ancient Roman architecture — and the mighty mistral.
I’d read about Provence’s unforgiving mistral wind, and now I was battling it in the Ancient Roman theater in Orange, France.
The sky was a clear, brilliant blue on this autumn day, but frigid gusts grew stronger the higher I climbed. Struggling to maintain my footing, I tried to channel lessons learned from years of doing balancing poses on a yoga mat. I could taste a grit in my mouth, the dust of limestone ground down over the millennia.
Continue reading “Blown Away by Orange, France: An Afternoon Admiring the Roman Theater and Triumphal Arch”