When I was 14, reading Jules Verne's In Search of the Castaways, Patagonia felt prohibitively far and unreachable. Little did I know that one day I would be hiking its rugged trails and drinking from its glacier lakes. Turns out, it's relatively easy to get to Patagonia. It's leaving that's the hard part.
Russian cuisine isn't popular internationally like French, Italian or Chinese. I've never heard anyone craving Russian food the way people all over the world crave sushi, butter chicken or wood oven pizza. Here's my theory: while some dishes - like shashlik (shish kebab) - are universally tasty, there are too many other dishes in Russian cuisine that are unusual and often don't resonate with western palates.
Here are just a few of my favourites that non-Russians would probably pass on.
A "pearl" in guardian lion's mouth is there for fun. It's small enough so you can roll it around but large enough to ever be removed. To have this effect, the pearl has to be carved inside the mouth, which is a show of craftsmanship.
China is full of cute little details like this. So it's my pleasure to introduce Chinese installment of "Paying Attention".
The main reason for us to travel to Xi'an was the City Walls. I though it was the coolest thing to be able to ride a bike on this 14km-long historic structure that circles the downtown.
Time travel exists. But it doesn't have to be dangerous or daring. In Ontario, you can easily time travel while staying 100% safe and still enjoying the 21st century standards for plumbing. Why not give it a chance then?
What you are about to see is really off the beaten path. To get there, you would have to fly to Moscow, make your way to Voronezh - the nearest large city, then get in a car and drive for another 3 hours to a small settlement of maybe fifty homes.
Turtles in plastic buckets. Badminton matches at 6 am. Laundry on bamboo sticks... This is not how I imagined Shanghai preparing for my trip. Then we landed and went for a walk...
They didn't call it Red Square for nothing. I mean, it's red. It's really all red - the towers of the Kremlin, the elaborate Saint Basil's cathedral, the state museum, the Resurrection Gate... Yet it's not the color that gave the square its name. In archaic Russian, "red" also meant "beautiful" and beautiful it is!
You are in for a treat - inside are 18 pictures taken at the square this July.
Living in Southern Ontario, I am not exposed to a lot of extreme environments. On one hand, it's nice to know that I will probably never die from a tsunami, a volcano eruption, or a land slide. And chances are my high-rise will never be destroyed by an avalanche, a flood, or a tornado. On the other hand, it's sort of a boring setting to live in. The forests and lakes in the vicinity of 3-4 hours from Toronto seem to be all the same. Yeah, we have Niagara Falls, of course, but after a while the novelty wears out...
That's why it absolutely blew my mind when one summer day last year I came out of a forest trail to a white boulder beach with clear azure water. This water had such an intense blue color that pines felt less natural there than, say, palms. The place had a strong Caribbean vibe. Yet there it was - the biggest discovery of the year, right here in Ontario.
Who said that New York is all about money, sex and stress? It's Spring in New York - my favourite city of all - and love is in the air! True, the Big Apple can come off as cynical, greedy, even soulless, but in the three days that I've spent walking New York's busy streets, I came across many different manifestations of love. Here's some evidence.