Browsing All Posts filed under »World«

“Thank You For Your Service.” What Do You Really Mean By That?

September 18, 2017

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Instead of a thank-you, I’d like something different:  I want you to pay attention, stay informed, and get politically involved.   In recent years, more veterans are letting us know that they find it a little off-putting to be thanked for their service. The exact reasons vary, but I have my own, so count me […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Gorillas in Our Midst

September 13, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   The world is still in semi-darkness when we were awakened at 6am in the almost unknown country of Africa’s Rwanda, settled into vehicles, and off to what can only be described as one of the most magical encounters on our planet. To be honest, I do not believe I slept last […]

Stop With the Plastic Already!! The Plastic Convenience Trash Nation

September 4, 2017

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Or maybe, the Plastic Convenience Trash Planet. Maybe, following last week’s rant about the hazards of plastic clamshell packaging, I have been sensitized to plastic packaging in general.  We have really gotten to the point of the ludicrous.  Somebody, please… make it stop! The other day I discovered that there is such a thing as […]

Joan Larsen’s Most Breathtaking Moments in Travel: Killer Whales Come Up for Air

August 30, 2017

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By Joan Larsen It’s a rare moment to capture: whales taking a breather as they swim under polar ice. ANTARCTICA – In the Ross Sea portion of Antarctica, the American McMurdo base has been clothed in darkness for six months. Those “wintering over” spend that time frozen in by the ice until the spring months of […]

Joan Larsen’s Adventures: Exploring Australia’s Land of the Never-Never

August 23, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Flying by small plane, low over Australia’s Northern Territory, we are present- day Crocodile Dundees, wanting to be one of the first to go exploring a desert world that most travelers will never see. Our delightful, agreeable pilot seemed more than happy to chase down the only large inhabitants in the empty […]

Fun and Disaster with Foreign Languages

August 21, 2017

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I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. “This book was expensive!” he said.  “I’m sorry,” I replied, “but we just don’t talk like that.” Language-translating machines like Google Translate or Babelfish are handy for small, simple things like finding a bathroom, but they are no replacement for a fluent, bilingual human being.   Just […]

Gypsies, Stereotypes, Offense, and Truth

July 31, 2017

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Back in the days when parents still told their children fairy tales and scary stories at bedtime, the old saw about Gypsies stealing children was a staple (one famous example was Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Esmeralda had been kidnapped by Gypsies as a child).  I had never given the idea […]

Joan Larsen’s Hidden Wonders: The “Must-See” French Gardens of Marqueyssac

July 19, 2017

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by Joan Larsen   The French are good at keeping secrets.   .  . and it has taken me years to discover France’s southwest region of Dordogne with its spectacular panoramas in every direction.  But it is here that one of the most beautiful and romantic gardens of France is located. Sitting high above the Dordogne […]

Joan Larsen’s Secret Places: My Glorious Love Affair in Zermatt

July 12, 2017

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By Joan Larsen An unusual love story – the kind you hope for, dream of – has to have had “beginnings”. My mother’s dreams for her only daughter were not wealth and fame. She was a romantic, believing – showing – that when you had love, combined with a romantic life, that life could be […]

Joan Larsen in Wildest Africa: Climbing the Dune

June 28, 2017

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By Joan Larsen As a child, I whirled the big round globe that graced our living room, with a single finger choosing the countries I would go to when I grew up.  For so many of us, the pictures in National Geographic  fed our dreams… dreams that danced in our heads, refusing to go away.  […]

Please, No More Tourism to Cultlike, Repressive Dictatorships Like North Korea

June 26, 2017

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We originally published this article on 2 January 2015.  At that moment, there were no Americans in North Korean custody, thanks to an embarrassing and expensive mission by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to retrieve the last two American prisoners in late 2014.  Thus, we implored the American traveling public to adopt a New […]

Joan Larsen Introduces Friar Moustache: The Stray Dog Adopted as the Newest Friar in a Bolivian Monastery

May 17, 2017

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From Joan Larsen, a story to delight you ! Meet Friar Bigotón (Friar Moustache), the stray schnauzer, who just became a member of the St. Francis Monastery in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The saint, after which the Franciscan order was established, is known as the patron saint of animals there.  So it is only natural that the […]

Jeanne Henriques: Lounging on a Private Longboat – A Woman’s Extraordinary Photo Journey In Gorgeous Laos

May 3, 2017

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A most special treat this week for all of us . . . and the warmest of introductions to our guest blogger, Jeanne Henriques – someone I call a very dear friend from afar, writer and photographer extraordinaire. Jeanne not only writes like a dream, but leads and writes about the most extraordinary life I have […]

Vitas, the Man With the Five-Octave Voice

May 1, 2017

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His name is Vitaliy Vladasovich Grachyov, but you can call him Vitas.  He was born in Latvia, raised in Ukraine, sings in Russian, and is wildly popular in China.  When I say “wildly popular,” I mean, he draws crowds of fainting girls worthy of the Beatles’ heyday.  Here is a video of crowd reactions, shot […]

Joan Larsen in Canada’s Wildest Places: Very Close Encounters With the Rutting Elk

April 26, 2017

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By Joan Larsen The shriek started off like the creak of a rusty hinge and shifted to a cross between a whistle and a screaming jazz horn – with the volume set on 11.  A group of geese hurried into the air, scared skyward.  We almost levitated, too, the first time we heard it. It […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Here Comes the Sun… Living a Charmed Life on Marlon Brando’s Private Island

March 29, 2017

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By Joan Larsen A lifetime ago . . . or so it seems . . . romance was said to begin and end in the paradise of French Polynesia.  And so, with the help and encouragement of then famed author James Michener – a friend who made us believers, my love and I found ourselves […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Living in the Clouds – Reaching Guoliang, China on One of the World’s Scariest Roads

March 22, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   Before the road was built in the mid-1970s, the only access to the village of Guoliang – high in the Taihang Mountains of China – was a very precarious path called “The Sky Ladder” – 720 mountain steps cut into a very steep cliff.  It definitely kept visitors out.  In fact, […]

Joan Larsen’s High Adventures: Deep In Australia’s Jungles – Learning to Love a Frilled Dragon

March 15, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Still young and very adventurous on our first month-long journey to Australia – travelling on unpaved dusty roads to be one of the first to discover the wild places of the country’s Top End – had been dreamed about for years. It was a bit more rugged than we had been told […]

Joan Larsen Remembers: Leaving a Piece of My Heart in Patagonia

March 8, 2017

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By Joan Larsen I am so sure that I speak for all of us when I say that we come to a point when we need a change of scene… and we need it now.  “Please,” I will say, “let the world go away!”  Whether we go far or near, we need time and we […]

Joan Larsen’s Secret Wonders – In Photos: Africa’s Mighty Victoria Falls, One of the Seven Wonders

March 1, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Sometime in your life, you should stay at a grand British colonial hotel befitting of the grand old days.  And sometime, too, you should see one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World,  the stunning Victoria Falls in southern Africa. Tranquil, shaded, with a chorus of frogs in the courtyards, with […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Ghostly Remains – Drama On The Ice

January 18, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   Each time I return to Antarctica, it is, of course, an ever changing panorama of breathtaking beauty – always, always with unexpected encounters with animals and nature that seem to touch my heart. Only there have I come to expect the unexpected. A largely unreported story of the sinking of a […]

Joan Larsen Presents: The Most Magical Holiday Season

December 21, 2016

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by Joan Larsen The years spent in our lovely decorated home waiting for Santa to make his magical, glorious appearance are long past.  The close-knit family of our childhoods seem to have scattered in all directions now. Changes in tradition never seem to be easy.  But after more thought, more talk than you might believe, […]

Not Your Average Holiday Movie… “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale”

December 19, 2016

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In the mood for some Christmas entertainment that isn’t all gooey-saccharine-sweet?  How about a Christmas horror movie? If you don’t mind subtitles and can take it as the silly comedy-horror show that it is, check out the Finnish movie, Rare Exports:  A Christmas Tale.  You don’t want this Santa coming down your chimney. There are […]

Joan Larsen Presents in Photos: The Call of the Wild – the Unknown Story of Jack London Lake in Eastern Russia

November 16, 2016

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By Joan Larsen Among the world’s hidden secrets, the one that has only now been found in the Russian Far East — in the country’s little-known Magadan region – stands out for a unique beauty rarely seen on our Earth.  Its unusual name:  Jack London Lake.  Imagine its waters crystal clear and very cold – […]

Joan Larsen’s Special Places: A Floating World – Breathtaking Images of Antarctica’s Summer

November 9, 2016

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By Joan Larsen I believe I speak for all of us on this planet when I say that – for far too long – we have been stirred daily with a world in turmoil.  .  . a situation not likely to end anytime soon.  We are not the carefree people we once were.  .  . […]

A Halloween Treat: Robbie Burns’ “Tam O’Shanter”

October 31, 2016

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Perhaps you are familiar with Cutty Sark Scotch Whiskey, with the ship on the label.  You may know that the liquor is named for the Cutty Sark, a clipper built in 1869 for the tea trade, and later used in the wool trade.  She was fast, holding the speed record from Australia to Britain for […]

Joan Larsen Presents: In Photos – Searching for the World’s Most Unusual Trees

October 26, 2016

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By Joan Larsen I admit. . . searching for trees usually is way down the list of things we plan to do in life. Way down. But then – then – I actually spent the night in a nest, a so-called human nest lodged in a tree in Big Sur, California. If you are “into” […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Living Through a Rogue Wave in the World’s High Arctic

October 19, 2016

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By Joan Larsen ee ee Even now, more than a decade later, that wave – a wave coming out of nowhere, heading toward our ship with such incredible speed out of nowhere –will forever remain indelibly in our minds. All of those passengers on our ship that were with me that day were seemingly mesmerized by […]

Joan Larsen Presents Wayne Ranney: Kingdom of Bhutan – Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery

October 12, 2016

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Paradise.  Eden.  In all of south-east Asia, Bhutan remains the secret sanctuary of sanity and peace.  I have been reluctant to share my secret as, frankly, I have wanted it for myself – and managed to keep it that way for some years.  The beautiful quotation from the master, P.G. Wodehouse, is one I find […]

In Honor of Columbus Day: That Yummy Columbian Exchange

October 10, 2016

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When I lived in Europe, I once had the chance to stay in one of the older homes in Zurich.  The keystone above the doorway was engraved with “1402.”  “Oh, was this house built in 1402?”  I asked, impressed with its age.  “No,” came the reply, “It was renovated in 1402.”  Wow!  As I lay […]

In Honor of Oktoberfest: Trachtenmoden!

October 3, 2016

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This weekend marks the final days of Oktoberfest 2016.  Who hasn’t heard of this annual German festival, with its beer and bratwurst, its oom-pah bands and fest tents, its dirndl-clad women and lederhosen-clad men performing traditional Bavarian dances? When we were in Germany, we never did go to the “big Oktoberfest” in Munich.  What many folks […]