“Let go of the banana, lady!”, shouted the Balinese guard.
The lady-tourist wouldn’t give up fighting for her banana, bought at the forest entrance. She absolutely wanted to feed the baby monkey, not the heavy papa that had climbed on her back as quick as a lean lizard.
“Let it go!”, shouted one more time the guard, trying to save her from being bitten. Finally the lady listened, saddened she couldn’t feed the baby monkey, while the big papa was already gulping down the small fruit.
Monkeys in the Sacred Forest, Ubud, Bali.
Any time of the day you pass through the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, in Ubud, Bali, you can spot this episode. Day in and day out tourists flock to see the playful macaque monkeys jump around and seem to enjoy being stolen food from their hands and backpacks.
The access to the Sacred Forest is a short walk uphill from our hotel. But the macaque monkeys claimed their playground way before the forest entrance, on the narrow streets, stealing food from the warung terraces. Continue reading
A weekend in Milano is all you need.
Strolling under the glass arches of Vittorio Emanuele Gallery, the sun waves “hello” from the other side, while the Baroque buildings whisper untold stories about forgotten dukes and princesses.
The massive wooden gates of red-brick Neo-Classical Palazzo di Brera stand behind, tall and quiet, like an appointed castle-guard, as we enter the inner court.
The symmetrical arches of the Main Central Station, in their signature Art Deco-style, embrace me as I rush through them to catch a local train.
A weekend in Milano is all you need.
Two days of walking around the narrow streets and on the large corso boulevards to figure it all out. The palaces and basilicas, the opera and the central mansions, they all have fallen behind. Continue reading
Popular for family holidays, Blanes, the small resort on Spain’s Costa Brava, has all the beach amenities you’d expect. Long stretch of sand, turquoise-green translucent sea, nearby water park, even hidden calas, or rocky golfs, for the more laid-back traveller.
However, the resort has more to offer than beaches and 300-days-per-year sunshine. One hour north of Barcelona, tucked around a rocky, winding shore, Blanes has some surprises in its sand-sprinkled sleeves.
One of them is the botanical garden Mar i Murtra. Leaving below the golden beaches and the old town, and after a short twisting climb up the San Juan hill, the white reception building welcomes you. Travellers looking to discover mediterranean, American or South-African nature turn to this four-hectare partially hidden garden. Continue reading
It’s August, and the blazing heat is rolling over rooftops and hidden alleys. It’s that time of the year again when Barcelona’s artsy district, Gracia, holds its summer festival, festa major.
The city, otherwise depleted of locals, away in cool country homes and nearby beach towns, fills up almost miraculously for a few days around St. Mary’s Assumption, on the 15th of August. Tourists alike mix with the locals to experience this almost 200-year-old Spanish fiesta. Continue reading
As he sees us strolling towards him, the hotel attendant puts his hands together before his chest, in a small prayer sign, and smiling he cheerfully says “good morning!”. It’s breakfast time and we’re trying to chase away the drowsiness from our muscles. But he’s been awake for 3 hours already.
A Life Guided by the Sun
The Balinese wake up together with the sunrise, around 6 am every morning. As a Western visitor, partially jet-lagged and with the vacation “hat” on, you feel like you’re interrupting an ongoing movie scene. You’ve entered a bit too late after the “action!” sign has been snapped and are trying to catch up as the Balinese are already in their daily errands, long past their rice-porridge breakfast. Continue reading
Today, everyone I know is a skilled photographer, mainly thanks to the numerous photo retouching programs out there. With this holiday period, it seems the world-perfect-photos multiply by the day. Silly me, I thought people travel to wake up to new sunrises, to taste unfamiliar food, to practice their foreign language skills. But it seems, more and more, we travel to take beautiful photos and bring them back home, as proud proof that our egotistical little self has, indeed, stepped on foreign lands.
We are so busy looking through the lens that we forget to observe… reality. Many tourists probably go back home, only to discover from the photos taken, that they’ve overpassed some remarkable scenery.
I’m not against photo taking. On the contrary, I am too playing with my camera perhaps more than necessary at times.
But I nostalgically recall the period when Continue reading
Living in one of the most attractive places for summer tourism, we are almost guaranteed to be inundated in Barcelona by the hordes of tourists taking over the city. Thanks to Gaudi’s famous architecture, the sights are high up on the to-do list. But gazing at the views in the sizzling heat of summer reminds tourists there is even a better way of spending time on this Mediterranean coast: at the beach.
Whether it’s the inner-city over 4km of shoreline, or the Continue reading