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The Wild Rugged Beaches of Sonoma

October 10, 2013

Once over the Golden Gate bridge continue onto highway 1, the infamous coast highway past quaint seaside towns of Bodega Bay, Timber Cove, Jenner and Gualala. You will pass some of the most breathtaking beaches in California.

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Halong Bay, Vietnam

October 10, 2013

Halong bay is north of Hanoi and a registered World Heritage site. A fantastic place of huge rocky islands called ‘karsts’ that jutt up out of the bay, thousands of them, all trying to out do each other in size or sheer magnificence.

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The Flea Market of St-Ouen de Clignancourt, Paris

October 9, 2013

Need a Louis XVI giltwood bergère or a mid-century modern coffee table? A bust of Apollo or a granite carved sphinx? Want a 18th century sun-burst mirror with real age spots or a full set of marble stair pulled out of an old chateau?

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The Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon

October 9, 2013

The Musée des Beaux-Arts is located in the centre of the ancient town of Dijon, in what used to be the palace of the Valois Dukes of Burgundy. The architecture is stunning, with its high mansard roof and neo-classical trimmings, it was created slap bang in that last century when the ancien regime was floundering and the flames of revolutionary fervour were being fanned.

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Dawn in Paradise – The Santuary, Thailand

October 8, 2013

Yes, I’ve been to paradise. From what I’ve seen of the world so far, I would have to say that Thailand still has places that are a little bit of paradise on earth.

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The Louvre Egyptian Collection, Paris

October 8, 2013

The Louvre Egyptian Collection, Paris

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Saturday Market At The Ferry Building

October 5, 2013

I love the Saturday market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Outside is a veritable explosion of street traders selling all kinds of things, nearer to the building are a number of outdoor restaurants.

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The Doge’s Palace Under Water

October 4, 2013

The first time I saw Venice, it was in November, time of floods when the water rises and infiltrates St. Mark’s square. We were there for three days and each day the water rose higher until eventually they put up a rough scaffolding of wooden tables lashed together on which you could walk without having to wade through three feet of canal dredge.

River I

The Wild Wicklow Mountains

October 4, 2013

The Wicklow mountains are said to be thick with gold. They’re the first thing you see when you fly into Dublin, with the strangely sloping conical head of the Sugar Loaf rearing up majestically in the distance.

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Lost in Languedoc

October 4, 2013

The countryside is studded with tiny villages that act like the hearts at the centre of the great arteries that connect the amazing wineries of Languedoc, a kind of Frida Kahlo painting complete with angel topped sparkling fountains and tiny scrolls bearing inscriptions and dedications to viticulture’s long gone great and dead, each more picturesque than the last,

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Poulnabrone Dolmen, Connemara

October 4, 2013

The Celts were a strange lot. Like the Egyptians, they believed the afterlife was a transition to something else, so created elaborate tombs to house their kings and queens.

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The High Chaparral, New Mexico

October 4, 2013

I remember an old tv show called, The High Chaparral. Until I visited New Mexico, I had no idea what a ‘chaparral’ was. Or what I thought it should be. It so happens that chaparral proper only exists in parts of California and northern Baja

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Winter Trees & Statues in the Luxembourg Gardens

October 4, 2013

Paris. Fabulous. But the great places are usually very crowded. I like to go in the dead of winter when the trees are all bare and black and shaking again the frigid wind.

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Venice: An Artist’s Dream

October 3, 2013

Think of Venice, think of Casanova, artist of love. He lived here for years until he was forced to flee after being imprisoned for years in the Doge’s Palace for committing many ‘public outrages against the holy religion.’

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Nha Trang, the Vietnamese Riviera

October 3, 2013

I took a bus from Ho Chi Mhin city to the jewel of the Vietnamese riviera, Nha Trang. The road was extremely bumpy, there apparently being no money in Vietnam for road renovation and improvement.

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Temple Trailing in Tuc-tuc Hell

October 3, 2013

Bangkok, in search of temples. Outside the Grand Palace I met the person who turned out to be my host for the next four hours, a tuc-tuc driver who told me his first lie of the day, that the Grande Palace was not open until 12.30, but in the meantime he could take me to a few places (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more).

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Lipstick on Your Tombstone

October 3, 2013

Ah, to be buried in Père Lachaise!! What more could you want? Jim Morrisson nearly went apoplectic trying to get the Parisian authorities to allow him to be buried there, and eventually succeeded, and, if his grave isn’t the most ideally situated, lost as it is behind a gigantic edifice to some French writer, it is still one of the most visited.

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Trim By Name

October 2, 2013

Trim by name, not by nature, for this sprawling mass of old masonry known as Trim Castle cries out for Hugh de Lacy, its original owner, to come back from the grave and set things right.

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Koh Lipe, Thailand: The Most Beautiful Beach in the World

October 2, 2013

I had seen a postcard of this beach before I ever came to it, and I thought, no, it couldn’t be that beautiful.

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The Amazing Carved Goddesses of Angkor Wat

October 2, 2013

Resplendent, smiling, wreathed in writhing snakes and adorned with skulls and talismans, the amazing carved goddesses gaze down from the ancient walls of the replica of the universe that is Angkor Wat.

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The Colour and the Chaos: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok

October 2, 2013

Leaving Bangkok was more a sweet than bitter experience. The day before I went to the Damnoen Saduak, the tour mini van spending an hour collecting people

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Moyle Abbey Graveyard under a Gibbous Moon

October 2, 2013

I like graveyards. The spookier the better. I like the cracked and crusted tombstones, the coverings of moss and ivy, the degraded stone and crumbling facings.

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Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

October 2, 2013

Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is in a suburb of Bangkok, right beside the Grand Palace.

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Marooned Boat in Westport, Mayo

October 2, 2013

Westport is one of the most beautiful places in the world. When I arrived, the tide was out, marooning a number of boats amid the sand and bladderwrack.

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Camel Rock, Tesuque, New Mexico

October 2, 2013

An amazing camel shaped rock sits off the road at Pojoque, between Santa Fe and Espanola in New Mexico.

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The Beach on Ko Phi Phi Le

October 2, 2013

Everyone wants to go to ‘The Beach’. Leonardo Dicaprio has a lot to answer for.

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San Pablo Flea

October 2, 2013

This place rocks. When I moved to the area I practically furnished my apartment with the great stuff to be had here.

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Bob Marley and the Hornbill

October 2, 2013

Sometimes you amble unawares into the most truly astonishing scenarios, that in retrospect seem like something out of a strange and beautiful dream.

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Skulls and Silence: The Legacy of Pol Pot

October 2, 2013

Some people say they can’t sleep in Cambodia. I must say I slept pretty well but had very strange dreams.

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Pigeon Point Lighthouse As The Fog Rolls In

October 2, 2013

The day was beautiful, clear blue Californian skies. But out on the bay the fog had other plans.

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On the Road to Sally Gap With A Storm Coming In

October 2, 2013

The road to Sally Gap in the Wicklow mountains cuts a swathe through the russet blanket bog with its furze of stunted trees and unfathomable purple heather.

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The Queen of Sapa

October 2, 2013

The Hmong women of Sapa are a strange breed of delightful entrepreneurs, possessed of ridiculous amounts of guile, persistence and charm when it comes to flogging you the many trinkets they carry around with them.

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The Seduction of Venice

October 2, 2013

Gazing across from St. Mark’s square to the Isola di Saint Georgio, through a line of bobbing gondolas bedded down in their royal blue coverlets, the distant island seems to float on the very air like some ancient Xanadu from the demented mind of a drug addled poet,

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Overlook Trail to McWay Falls, Big Sur

October 2, 2013

Sur. I have very special memories of this place. It is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever been to, even though it has suffered at the hands of tourism in recent years.

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Prague, Bastion of My Dreams

October 2, 2013

Prague erupts like something out of Hans Christian Anderson, all spires and turrets and red tiled rooftops.

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The Marquis de Lacoste

October 2, 2013

‘Lust’s passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes.’ Thus spake the Marquis de Sade, perhaps while surveying the Luberon valley from one of his château’s windows in the hill town of Lacoste.

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Jardin Melancholia, Marrakech

October 2, 2013

Jaques Majorelle, after spending years trekking through the deserts and mountains of northern Africa, settled for a while in Marrakech and created a most beautiful garden on the Rue Yves Saint Laurent.

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Tango on the Steps of the Santa Maria della Salute

October 2, 2013

It’s true. Once a month, Argentinian Tango invades the steps of the Santa Maria della Salute basilica in Venice, with the moon flooding the scene and people gancho and volcada to their hearts content.

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The Saddest Pharaoh Ever

October 2, 2013

I love the Egyptian Museum at the Louvre. In fact, no matter how many times I vow to see some of the many other galleries, I always end up here, surrounded by canopic jars and vividly-coloured shabti statues.

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Delectables of Montmartre

October 2, 2013

My favourite arrondissement of Paris, Montmartre is lively and informal, buzzing with people sitting in cafes and eating the many delectables on offer.

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The False Gargoyles of Notre Dame de Dijon

October 2, 2013

What an amazing impression the gargoyles of Notre Dame in Dijon make, leering down at you with grotesque stone faces.

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The Great Sphinx Greets the Morning Sun

October 2, 2013

To call a visit to the Great Sphinx of Giza a highlight of one’s life has to be one of the all time biggest understatements.

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In the Fortress of the Albigensians

October 2, 2013

Carcassonne looks like it was cut out of an animator’s scrapbook of fantastic castles. But this is the real thing.

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Canal du Midi, Languedoc Roussillon

October 2, 2013

They call it an incredible feat of civil engineering. They say it is one of the longest canal systems in the world, the most spectacular man-made waterway.

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Venice: City of a Thousand Churches

October 2, 2013

If you don’t like churches, don’t go to Venice. There must be a thousand, from tiny little niche tabernacles to huge crumbling domed cathedrals.

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In the Land of Lavender

October 1, 2013

In the early hours of a summer morning I visited the Cistercian Abbey of Sénanque in Provence near the crumbling hill town of Gordes. It was completely silent, with not a soul about.

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The Marble Temple, Bangkok

October 1, 2013

Wat Benchamabophit gleams white and gold in the late morning sun, two huge singhas (lions) guarding the entrance to the Bot (ordination hall).

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Indian Street Food In Berkeley

October 1, 2013

Apparently, ‘chaat’ is Indian street food, but it literally means, to lick. That’s what you’ll be doing at Vik’s Chaat Corner & Market on 4th Street in Berkeley.

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The Girl From Ipanema

October 1, 2013

When I came upon this scene on the Haad Tien beach on Koh Phangan, I immediately thought of The Girl From Ipanema, even though we were hundreds of miles away from the crowded beaches of Rio, were in fact on a quiet beach owned by The Sanctuary, a fantastic spa resort in Thailand.