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My Travels

"For my part I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel's sake.  The great affair is to move, to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly, to come down off the feather-bed of civilization and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints."

Robert Louis Stevenson


Tibet - 2018

I make it to the roof of the world and to the seat of Tibetan Bud-dhism. The two oxygen cylinders I am given come in handy. Lhasa does not disappoint with its iconic Potala Palace, its monks and monasteries but it is the devotion of the Tibetan people that inspires awe. These good people spend their days turning prayer wheels, walking the kora and prostrating themselves in front of the temple. Out of the city, we travel to a pass at 5,190 m then on to Namtso Lake at 4,760 m stopping en route to meet yak-herding nomads.

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Mongolia - 2018

A memorable destination is Mongolia with its proud people, military traditions and exotic processions during Naadam. Where else in the world would you see soldiers dressed in Genghis Khan look-alike uniforms and where else would you witness a kids' horse race of 10 kms for 3-12 year olds?! Locals, in their finery, bring yet more splendour to this multi-coloured event. An evening at the theatre to hear throat singing and the National Orchestra playing classics on Mongolian instruments is the finishing touch.

Mongolia's terrain is unusual - vast tracts of treeless grassland known as steppes dotted by round white portable gers.  Such a dwelling becomes our accommodation each night as we travel west of Ulaan-baatar to Kharkhorin, imperial city of Genghis Khan.  On the way, we ride a camel, the two-humped variety, visit a nomadic family and play with bows and arrows. At Kharkhorin, we pose as Mongolian royalty beside the temple wall.  In the other direction, east of the city, we visit the mighty steel statue and connect with golden eagles.

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Russia - 2018

Russia is complex; the east is nothing like the west and to understand Russia, both must be visited. Influenced by Europe, the iconic cities of St Petersburg and Moscow are brilliant jewels.  I arrive in SPB four days ahead of the tour and walk my feet off - so much to see! After a tour of the Hermitage, an overnight train lands us in Moscow where we visit Tretyakov Gallery, Red Square, Lenin's Mausoleum, St Basil's Church, the Metro, Cosmonauts' Museum, Stalin's Bunker and the Kremlin where we watch the President's Guard in action.  

We travel through cities and towns for four days and four nights on a basic train from Moscow to Irkutsk in East Siberia. The railside birch forests make for boring scenery. We survive on packaged food pur-chased from kiosks when we halt at stations.  After 5,200 kms, we reach sophisticated Irkutsk; visit an ancient Siberian village then drive to Listvyanka and Lake Baikal, deepest lake in the world.  Returning to Irkutsk, we board another overnight train to reach the Mongolian border. It takes 3.5 hrs to circumnavigate the bottom end of the lake!

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Sri Lanka - 2016

Temples and old colonial buildings grace the country's capital, Colombo. In the southwest corner of Sri Lanka, quirky Unawatuna and its beach lie close to the old Portuguese and Dutch fortification known as Galle Fort.  On the south coast, stick fishermen find a novel way to catch fish while further east, Yala Wildlife Reserve is home to herds of buffalo, elephant, deer, monkeys, the mugger crocodile and leopard. Just north of Galle, world famous Singharaja NP provides a biodiversity hotspot with some exquisite birdlife.

In the heart of the country lies the ancient kingdom of Kandy with its artificial lake and acclaimed Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. From here, we visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and the monolith of Sigirya, an impressive archaeological site, then enjoy entertainment by local dancers.  The temperature drops dramatically as we move on to the highlands and Nuwara Eliya famed for its red brick Post Office built by the Brits. An unforgettable train ride takes us through a stun-ning landscape of tea plantations. And then there is the python..!   

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Lapland - 2016

Steeped in snow, just below the Arctic Circle lies Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. It is December. A strange but beautiful light fills the sky betwixt night and day, the latter very brief. Suitably attired in our padded snow suits, we venture out on reindeer sleigh rides, try our hand at ice fishing and take a team of huskies through a snow-clad forest.  During a snowmobile outing on a frozen river, yours truly driving, the temperature falls to -30° C!  Santa greets us, we take a meal in a kota (wigwam) and see the Northern Lights yet again!

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Iceland - 2016

Reykjavik, whose church is built like basalt columns, is the gateway to Iceland's attractions - Gullfoss, the magnificent waterfall, Strokkur, the only erupting hot spring and Pingvellir NP, the best place to walk through the gap created by the tectonic drift.  The south coast has black sand beaches, basalt columns, more waterfalls and glaciers while vast lava fields are to be found on Snaefellnes Peninsula. Get to know the sturdy Icelandic horse, crawl along a lava tube and bathe in the Blue Lagoon. You might just see the Northern Lights - I did!

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Antarctica - 2015

A three night voyage finds us at Elephant Island where Shackleton's men were stranded for four months. We are unable to land due to severe katabatic winds which can so easily overturn a zodiac. The failed Endurance Expedition has become a larger-than-life testament to heroism and human endurance and, having crossed these atrocious seas myself, albeit in a large motor-powered vessel with every comfort imaginable, I don't know how Shackleton made it to South Georgia in a rowboat, but he did.  In the yellow light of dawn next day, we cruise into the Antarctic Sound on the Peninsula, as still as a millpond.

The massive B15 tabular iceberg broke off the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000. Fifteen years later, a fraction of it - B15Y, sixteen kms long - is right here almost blocking our entry into the Sound.  We kayak close to it and to the Adele penguins who get about on mobile ice floes. They are a true Antarctic penguin and not found anywhere else. Travelling south, we reach D'Hainault Island in Mikkelsen Harbour, a great place for a trek and the study of Gentoos. With all this deep snow around, it is difficult to find anywhere to land but finally in Cierva

Cove, we pull up onto boulders to say that we have officially stood or sat on mainland Antarctica! Cuverville Island down the Gerlache Strait is where we spot several Weddell seals and where, in our zodiacs, we are transported into another world; a wonderland of the most stupendous green ice formations. Neko Harbour in Andvord Bay offers another challenging hike to peer down over a glacier.  It is here that we find Gentoo penguins engaged in their most captivating courting and mating rituals.  Neko Harbour is the most southerly point

on the Peninsula for us and deserves celebration - we party on deck! First stop on our voyage north is Deception Island so called because it is a volcanic caldera, not an island.  Here are the remnants of Whalers Bay whaling station. No geothermal pools here though, just very chilly waters for those of us who dare to do the Polar Plunge!   And then we are off to Half Moon Island where we meet a colony of Chinstrap penguins and one solitary Macaroni!  After six glorious days, we are safely across the Drake Passage and docked at the pier in Ushaia. 

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Falklands and South Georgia - 2015

A journey that surpasses all other journeys on this planet earns the label "The Trip of a Lifetime".  At the end of October, Great Petrels and Black-browed Albatross follow our ship as we depart Puerto Madryn in Argentina for the West Falklands. Our hosts at West Point Is off the West Falklands spoil us with a magnificent morning tea which we earn hiking in bitter winds over open grasslands to Devil's Nose.  To our surprise and delight, here is a huge rookery of Black-browed Albatross and their little companions, the Rockhopper penguins. We take our leave and head east with Commersons, then later Peales, dolph-ins bow riding the ship. (Both photos taken by Philip Stone, our on-board professional photographer.) The capital, Stanley, awaits us with open arms, very chilly open arms.  In fact, we see one solitary Mag-ellanic penguin on our visit to Gypsy Cove; all the rest are sensibly huddled up in their burrows.  They don't like snow blizzards any more than we do!  Stanley, oozing in history, is British in every sense of the word.  Before we leave, we partake of a hearty lunch at one of the many union-jack flying British pubs!

As we depart the Falklands, we are in for a very rough ride for several days as we pass through a storm cell.  Our companions this time are the Royal Albatross and the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross.  Land ahoy! - And there she is, South Georgia in all her glory.  Spring is very late this year and the weather is pretty grim with blizzards but nothing can detract from the superb wildlife encounters that this island has to offer.  A welcome committee of King penguins greets us on Salisbury Plain in the Bay of Isles and yes, they do march.  Hidden away at the back of the colony are 10-month-old woolly babies, almost fully grown.  The King penguins live side by side with some of the ugliest creatures on earth, the Elephant seals. The males reach up to 6.5m and spend their time sleeping, grunting, feeding and fighting. Most of them have battle scars around their necks.  See photo of female, over 4m long, moving down the beach.

Awaiting us at the end of our climb up onto Prion Island is a chick of the Wandering Albatross. Still on its nest and just under a year old, it frequently tests its wings in readiness for flight (3m wing span!).  Whistle Cove at Fortuna Bay is our next destination followed by Stromness Bay guarded by Fur seals, which incidentally are far more aggressive than Elephant seals, where rusted and disintegrating buildings are testament to the once flourishing whaling industry.  It was here that Shackleton, following his arduous passage from Elephant Is, came knocking on the door of the manager's villa, which still exists, to seek help for his stranded men.  We walk 'In the Steps of Shackleton' to and from the waterfall where he descended into this bay after crossing mountainous South Georgia from the southern shore. What a man!

Our first fine day is at St Andrews Bay, below.  South Georgia has over 450,000 pairs of breeding King penguins and here is the largest colony at 150,000 pairs.  The vision is pure spectacle.  Fine weather means kayaking which we do in the company of waterborne Elephant seals.  A family of Orcas is en-countered as we sail from St Andrews Bay to Cumberland East Bay and King Edward Point where the ship has to clear customs.  Our final port of call on South Georgia is the old whaling station of Grytviken where the corroding structures and ships remain mostly intact. The tiny church prefabricated in Norway by the Norwegian whalers has been refurbished and is still sometimes used.  It was here that a service was held for Sir Ernest H Shackleton when he died on board a ship on his next expedition to South Georgia.  He is buried here in the tiny cemetery.  As is the custom, we raise charged glasses and toast "The Boss" at his graveside.  A small building houses a replica of the J (James) Caird in which Shackleton and five others made that epic journey here from Elephant Island which is where I am going next ....

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Chile, Easter Island and Patagonia - 2015

A flight north alongside the snow-capped Andes takes you from bustling Santiago to the adobe township of San Pedro de Atacama. Renowned for its dry climate and clear skies, the Atacama Desert is not only the home of ALMA (astronomic observatory) but also the place to see Laguna Chaxa, the world's third largest salt pan; the amazing geysers of El Tatio at 4,320m and the Valley of the Moon where absolutely nothing grows. Santiago also offers a visit to Chile's Isla de Pascua/Rapa Nui aka Easter Island, albeit a 5 hour flight away.

Labelled the world's most remote island, Rapa Nui is covered in Moai (500 of them) and shrouded in mystery. They know who made them and why, how and where but one question remains: "How did they get them from the quarry to the sites?" Well, they walked them of course!

For stunning scenery, head south to Patagonia (Chile and Argentina) where natural wonders abound. One of few advancing glaciers is Per-ito Moreno visited from El Calafate in Argentina.    Provision has been

made for the visitor to view this wonder from all angles including a boat ride to the wall. Travelling west into Chile, there is only one way of getting to Torres del Paine N P and that is by road. It is worth every bit of the journey. The hotel is literally dwarfed by the Torres del Paine massif itself.  The park offers mountains, glaciers, glacial lakes, trekking, horse riding, waterfalls, guanacos, rheas, bird life and alpine flowers galore. Top that off with a trip south to Punta Arenas and Isla Magdalena to meet a huge colony of Magellanic penguins!   

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Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia and Borneo - 2013

Lord Buddha certainly made his mark in Burma. Millions of images and thousands of pagodas from the classic gold stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon to the ancient brick shrines of Bagan and the lavish temple tumbling down Mandalay Hill.  In the hills north of Mandalay, a tour of the Colonial Hill Station is done in style in quaint two-person carriages. Further east on the Shan Plateau, the Inthar live on stilts above Inle Lake; their fishermen paddle with their legs and once a year, a festival adds a splash of colour to the waters. The long-necked women of the Padaung tribe happily charge camera fees to raise funds for their villages.

Outside Kuala Lumpur, a silver leaf monkey is about to take off on a motor bike - cute eh? A tour of Petronas Twin Towers does not disappoint but the highlight of my visit to KL is discovering that the wooden house I stayed in during my overland journey 'London to Australia' in 1973 still exists.  Not only that; it remains in the family and I know the lady of the house. A surprise visit with an incredible outcome!

Island of Borneo - Brunei may have stunning mosques and the largest water village but Sarawak and Sabah still cling to their traditions of bamboo longhouses decorated with baskets of skulls. Like tribal head hunting, rubber trees are a thing of the past too and in their place are extensive palm oil plantations. Fortunately, there remains enough jungle - just - to support the gangly 'man of the forest', the orang-utan; his weird cousin, the proboscis monkey, and the flying lemur. Gomantong Caves are home to millions of swiftlets that make their nests from saliva.  These nests are harvested and turned into the famous Birds' Nest Soup!

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Oman, UAE, Jordan and Israel - 2011

Dubai, Arabia's answer to Las Vegas, has added to its list of 'bling' architecture, the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa at 828m while Abu Dhabi lays claim to some of the grandest designs - Sheik Zayed Mosque, Emirates Palace Hotel and of course, Yas Island's Ferrari World. Oman on the other hand, while moving rapidly into the 21stC, is keen to honour its past by restoring its castles and preserving old mud brick homes and spice souqs. Underground water helps its towns thrive whether on dry sand or beneath the mountains. Everywhere, there are plantations and under the date palms, locals gather on Fridays for the 'goat market'. 

Jordan's major drawcard is of course, Petra where yours truly decided to descend the steep steps from the monastery on mule back; never again! Besides the classic Roman ruins of Jerash and marvellous mos-aics of Madaba, this country offers several aquatic experiences: the Red Sea, Dead Sea and the Turkish Bath.  The latter an absolute must after a camel trek across Wadi Rum and a night with the Bedouins.

Treasures abound in Israel:  the white city of Tel Aviv; the Roman ruins of Caesarea with Herod's Hippodrome still in place and the ongoing excavations of Akko in the north revealing an entire Crusader City.  Then there's Jericho in Palestine, one of the oldest and lowest cities on earth; further south, Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and unforgettable Masada, the hilltop fortress city with an astounding history. And add to these the Christian sites of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lake Galilee where one can take a cruise on the Jesus boat. But of all these treasures, the fairest jewel is surely Jerusalem.

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Namibia and South Africa - 2009/2010

Namibia entices the tourist with self-drive holidays.  Southwest of Windhoek is the Namib Naukluft Park, home to the world's largest sand dunes.  Swakopmund on the coast provides an opportunity to ride the dunes on quad bikes and meet the Herero women who wear cow-horned hats.  The unusual Himba tribe outside Kamanjab use smoke and ochre, not water to cleanse themselves. At Otjitwaronga, the Cheetah Conservation Fund  is worth a visit while Etosha N P, the highlight, provides abundant wildlife viewing and sensational scenes over the pan. There's still plenty to remind you of Namibia's Germ-an history including the beautiful 'castle' we stayed in.

Next stop was Cape Town with its mandatory cable car ride up Table Mountain.  You can admire the Cape flora at Kirstenbosch or delight in verdant wineries around Stellenbosch punctuated by bold Cape Dutch architecture.   Down on the peninsula, historic Simonstown is home to a fleet of modern war ships. Along the Garden Route north of George, Oudtshoorn is a convenient base for touring the Cango Caves and checking out one of the local Ostrich Show Farms.   Take in a Zulu show at Durban then drive to the Drakensberg Mountains; stunning peaks and interesting cave paintings by the San people (Bushmen).  A must-see in Pretoria is the Voortrekker Monument.  In the vicinity of Johannesburg lies the 'Cradle of Humankind' itself; 16 caves where fossils of great significance have been discovered.  Little Foot and Mrs Ples dug out of Sterkfontein - Do they offer proof of our earliest ancestor, the ape-man?  

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Cambodia and Vietnam - 2008/2009

Despite grim reminders of a gruesome past (the shrine at right contains thousands of skulls and bones retrieved from the Killing Fields), for most, Cambodia conjures up 'magnificence'.  The humanitarian disaster of the Khmer Rouge regime has failed to compromise the awe of Angkor, an Empire erected by Kings between the 9th and 13th centuries. With timeless grandeur,  Angkor's temples remain:  the mysterious Bayon with its huge stone faces; the Elephant Terrace; sprawling Angkor Wat and my favourite, Ta Phrom, where stonework and Fig trees have combined to create a setting eerie enough for a movie.

Frenzied Ho Chi Minh City rattles the nerves with its three million motorbikes; an early escape is called for. The Mekong Delta down south offers a tapestry of sights of life on the waterways or there’s a visit to the village of Cu Chi famous for its tunnels occupied by the Viet Cong.  Here Yours truly takes on the challenge and emerges having crawled through miniscule black passageways at a depth of eight metres! 

The ancient trading port of Hoi An lures the traveller with its quaint oriental buildings now home to cottage crafts like lantern-making and further north, Hanoi impresses.  It’s a city with Parisian grace, spacious parks and an unusual theatrical experience: Water Puppets.  Still further north near the Chinese border, the highlands of Sapa are home to a diverse mix of ethnic groups such as the Red Dzao and Black Dzao (seen here) and there’s no better way of ending a visit to Vietnam than taking an overnight cruise on a Junk in spectacular Ha Long Bay.

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South America (Peru and Galapagos) - 2007/2008

Peru offers more than Machu Picchu alone.  Archaeol-ogical sites abound including pre-Inca pyramids outside Lima. South, at Nazca, take a flight over the enigmatic Nazca Lines followed by a visit to Chauchilla cemetery where Inca mummies rest in desert tombs.  Enjoy the beautiful colonial architecture of Arequipa and Cusco and a side trip to Colca Canyon through llama country where local attire is unique. And then there's Puno, Lake Titicaca, those amazing reed islands and the shy veiled ladies of Amantani Island ... and much more. A three-week adventure tour of Peru did not disappoint!

Before heading off to Buenos Aires, Iguaçu Falls and Rio de Janeiro, I spent a week in Ecuador for the prime purpose of visiting the Galapagos Islands, home to the Giant Galapagos Tortoise.  These volcanic islands support thousands of sea lions, abundant birdlife - some quirky species, too! - and grotesque and gaudy iguanas.  Not a cheap destination but worth every cent.  With no history of slaughter or exploitation by man, these trusting creatures provide a very personal and unique wildlife encounter.

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Eastern Europe - 2006

Europe is never high on my list of destinations with its hordes of tourists and an unforgiving exchange rate but a winter cruise along the Danube did sound charming.  With a few of Eastern Europe's capitals thrown in, it became a gem of a journey.  Budapest, oft referred to as the 'Paris of the East' provided a dramatic starting point followed by quaint and quirky Bratislava, Slovakia's small and utterly adorable 'big city'.  In classical Vienna, the home of strings and sopranos, we began our journey along the water, taking in such treasures as Melk Abbey, Grein, Salzburg and the medieval settlements of Passau, Regensburg and Nuremberg. Thick gloves and woolly hats  made perfect souvenirs from the Christmas Market stalls while roasted chestnuts and Gluhwein warded off the bitter cold.  Finally, we travelled overland to Prague, perhaps the most stunning of all the cities and in true winter fashion, it snowed.

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Rwanda/Uganda - 2005

I could easily empathize with  Dian Fossey's fascination and love for her Mountain Gorillas when I came within six feet of Agashya, the Silverback during an unforgettable tracking experience in the virgin jungles of Rwanda. Just look at his expression as he peels bamboo!


One of the females came so close, I could have touched her but was not allowed to. Her longing look said it all: "Please come and play, won't you?"   She did not see me as a threat nor I her. 

Rwanda offered the ultimate Gorilla viewing experience. Uganda was rewarding too but its sightings were more distant.  Kibale Forest in Uganda was the prime location for spotting hundreds of noisy, hyperactive Chimpanzees.  And from Kampala, I took a boat across Lake Victoria to Ngamba Island, now a sanctuary for orphaned chimps.


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China - 2005

The Longsheng area of Southern China is home to some of China's fascinating minority groups. The Yao women are famous for never cutting their hair. From Longsheng, we travelled to Yangshuo where we cycled amidst the striking limestone pinnacles of Guilin.  A 3-day cruise on the Yangtze River through the mighty locks of the Three Gorges Project Hydroelectric Dam brought its own unique day trips to the Stone Pagoda and into a tributary, the Shennong Stream.  We visited Xi'an of Terracotta Warriors' fame and finally Beijing, taking in Tiananmen Square and the expansive Forbidden Palace.  A brilliant finale was hiking a remote and only partially restored section of the Great Wall for 12 kms from Jinshanling then returning to Beijing to watch, in amazement, the Chinese Acrobats.

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NZ Milford Track - 2004


I returned to New Zealand in December with younger son, Mark, to attempt the famous Milford Track.  We were in good spirits at the start.  Alas, no one has control over the area's unpredictable weather. It changed dramatically for us at the Summit on Day 3 and  we arrived at Dumpling Hut absolutely sodden. 

On Day 4, we watched our backpacks fly off in a cargo net hooked onto a chopper's belly then we ourselves were evacuated to the other side of the swollen Arthur River. No, we weren't taken out of the Park!  Instead, we had to endure three hours of drudgery, hiking in unremitting rain, ducking under waterfalls and sloshing through water up to our knees - an unpleasant and memorable experience.  Next day, we were bobbing about in sea kayaks on a wet and wild Milford Sound.

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New Caledonia - 2004

The South Pacific conjures up balmy tropical islands where time is ruled only by the sun. 

What better way to explore this paradise than on board a Cruise Ship.  A friend and I set sail in September for New Caledonia calling at Poum, Noumea, Lifou and the Isle of Pines.  I've never had such a relaxing and fun holiday! P&O's 'Pacific Sky' lies moored off Divine Island (right).


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Kenya/Tanzania - 2003

My first ever visit to the African continent was in 2003 where, apart from discovering Egypt, I took in a two-week safari of Kenya and Tanzania following a quick trip to Zimbabwe and the famed Victoria Falls. Why hadn't I come here sooner?  What an incredible part of the world.   A safari is anything but relaxing in the heat, with the dust and on  badly rutted and corrugated roads but it is also the very essence of adventure. Vast savannahs teamed with extraordinary wild life; we watched with bated breath while a leopard stalked and killed its prey; we spied a cheetah on a mound, tensed and ready for the chase; two buffalos were in a head-lock and noisy hippos thrashed about in the river.  In both Kenya and Tanzania, we visited the dung-hut villages of the Maasai and learned the mysterious ways of a proud people.

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Greece - 2003

From Egypt to Greece.  When people mention Greece, they think of Athens and the Acropolis.  But mainland Greece is full of treasures such as the Corinth Canal, the archaeological site of Mycenae, the amphitheatre of Epidavros, Olympia and mountainous Delphi. The most spectacular sight, however, was the amazing Byzantine Monasteries of Meteora perched atop striking stone pinnacles.  No visit to Greece is complete without a little island hopping.  We sampled Paros and Naxos as well as the acclaimed Mykonos and Santorini before returning to our special spot in Athens, the Plaka.

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Egypt - 2003

Egypt is undoubtedly the Greatest Archaeological Site in the world and a 'must-see' for everyone.  Its endless treasures begin at the Cairo Museum with its relics and mummies.  They end in the south at Abu Simbel, a temple built by Ramses II, the famous pharaoh whose enormous statue is pictured above. We rode donkeys from the Nile to visit the tombs in the Valley of the Kings - a novel experience!


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Norway - 2003

There is no doubt in my mind that Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  It is simply picture-perfect.  It is also one of the most expensive.  By train and coach, I travelled from Stockholm to Trondheim and from there worked my way down the coast to Bergen, making sure I took excursions into the pristine valleys and along the fjords where pretty hamlets tumbled down to the water's edge. I adored Bergen steeped in Hansas history, its fish market and nearby home of Edvard Grieg and Oslo with its Kon-Tiki and Viking museums and world famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump.

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Sweden - 2003

Stockholm is often referred to as the 'Venice of the North'.  Treasures abound in this Scandinavian capital including Gamla Stan, the old quarter with its cobbled streets and tall ochre-coloured buildings.  Palaces, statues, fountains and stately waterside buildings line an impressive waterway that opens into the vast Stockholm Archipelago.  Then add numerous museums, of which the most famous would be the Vasa Museum housing a galleon from 1628.  She was raised from the seabed in 1961 and restored to perfection - she's a beauty!  In southern Sweden, the area of Skaane, previously a part of Denmark, is home to some very Danish towns and castles (below).

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Greenland - 2003

Not too many adventurers make it to Greenland, the land of ice, but the extra effort and cost from Denmark was well worth it.  A fascinating people who spend half of every year in darkness so that it was nothing strange to see someone up on scaffolding painting his house at 2 o'clock in the morning during my summer visit.  The sun did not set.  I will never forget cruising around the base of icebergs in the ice fjord at midnight drinking champagne!

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Denmark - 2003

Next stop - Copenhagen. Due to my Danish ancestry, I have a special affinity for this country. This was my second trip to Denmark for the purpose of taking photographs to include in my Family History Book resulting in five years of genealogical research. The book is now in several repositories in Denmark. An unexpected outcome of my research was finding living relatives, very distant cousins, descended from my Great Great Grandfather's sister (pictured here).


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America - 2003

I then flew from Calgary to Las Vegas where I bonded with my hire car, slowly.   We teetered nervously out of LV into the most rugged and alien landscape I have ever seen .. Cowboys and Indians were everywhere!  Starting from Kanab, we - my Chrysler Neon and I - visited Zion NP, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon (North rim), Lake Powell, Grand Canyon (South rim), Monument Valley, Sedona, Death Valley and Yosemite NP.  A flight was the only way to truly appreciate the Grand Canyon.  After a week alone in the low and high deserts, my soul was uplifted by the sight of Yosemite, green and gushing.  How people tolerate living in Nevada, I will never know!

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Canada - 2003

In May 2003, I began my 5-month world trip commencing in Vancouver (the rhododendrons were out in Stanley Park) with the Rocky Mountaineer Rail journey to Banff.  It was snowing when I arrived and nearby Lake Louise was still frozen.  I ventured off to the Columbia Icefields. Not only was the scenery impressive, so was the abundant wildlife. Sightings included big horn sheep, elk, moose, arctic ground squirrels, a chipmunk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, a mountain goat, coyotes and, on an evening outing to Jasper's thermal springs, a black bear by the roadside with triplets!  

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Fiji - 2001

In February, we flew to Nadi for a short break on the Coral Coast. We stayed in a delightful bungalow park overlooking a coral reef lagoon. Landscapes were lush, seascapes were magical especially after a storm.  We visited several islands and took in a day tour to a sacred cave last used by a tribe of Cannibals. An obscure entranceway meant crawling on hands and knees under an overhang in water! We befriended our Fijian maid who invited us to her village for a meal, a lovo, where food is cooked for some time buried in the earth.  It was so juicy and tender.

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Nepal - 2000

 If you book a Himalayan Adventure that is rated 'easy', don't be fooled!  Each trekking adventure in Nepal is demanding; it is the degree that differs. Despite the challenge, the rewards are plentiful - it's as far removed from modern life as could be possible with stunning scenery and lovely people.  We did the Annapurna Range; more attractive than the Everest side and set out after a few days in Kathmandu. This is one of the poorest capital cities in the world. If you remove the vehicles, what is left is medieval. From Kathmandu, we travelled south to the plains of Nepal and Chitwan National Park where we spotted the one-horned rhino and endured a hair-raising moment on the back of a bathing elephant!

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Thailand - 1998

No, this was not Bangkok; I had been there before.  This was an unusual adventure out of Chiang Mai in the heart of remote Northern Thailand. We accessed the deeply forested region by jeep and elephant and hiked, staying overnight in different homes belonging to the Karen hill tribe. We slept on the wooden floor with their pigs and chickens beneath us. Life was simple. Our return to civilization was via bamboo raft down a local river.


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Ireland - 1998

Despite living next door to Ireland for many years, it wasn't until 1998 that my visit was realized - all the way from Australia!  A pretty destination comprising historic buildings, castles, lots o' colour, an eccentric culture, great music, peat bogs, stone walls and majestic cliffs.  Dublin was gorgeous too.

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New Zealand - 1997

We flew to Auckland to board the Magic Bus. North Island began with glow-worm caves then Rotorua's geothermal activity - boiling mud, coloured pools, steaming craters and thundering geysers; past Lake Taupo and Huka Falls to rolling hills and the green meadows of Turangi beside the Tongariro River.  We did the one-day hike across volcanic Mt Tongariro - awesome.  Invited to a Maori Hangi and concert.  South Island began with a complete change of scenery as we entered the Marlborough Sound and drove to Nelson.   Westport was the start of our journey down the mysterious west coast.  Stopped to pan for gold at Ross then on to Franz Joseph - did a spot of glacier walking which is certainly not for the faint-hearted!  Arrived Queenstown; action-packed with white water rafting and the Shotover Jet speedboat ride.  Overland to Dunedin and Christchurch then north along the east coast to Kaikoura where we donned wetsuits and spent an hour snorkelling with curious fur seals.  Love NZ!

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Bali - 1997

Australians love to go to Bali to shop and lie on the beach.  I decided to see if there was anything else to do! I found day excursions to temples, some with resident monkeys.  I discovered an adventure into the rain forests of the north; I joined a bicycle tour to cycle from an elevated volcanic region downhill through picturesque villages to Ubud.  And I tried my hand at WWRafting where I almost came unstuck!


Antonio - one of Bali's many persistent pedlars.

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Japan - 1994

This was a stopover on a trip back to UK. Somewhere between the era of Hijackers and the new age of Terrorism, there was a tiny space of complacency. It was then that I seized the moment to shake hands with two JAL pilots in the cockpit and take this photo of a mountain range in Russia. 


Tokyo was a vast concrete conurbation, a thrilling city with its own brand of cosmopolitan magnetism. I attended a Geisha Show and the Kabuki Theatre and Tokyo's shopping was divine. But a train journey north into the Japanese Alps during January's snow-clad winter, provided a far better insight into Japan's history.  Beautiful Lake Chuzenji, ice sculptures and the magnificent Toshogu Shrine, mausoleum to the 17th century Shoguns, made Nikko an unforgettable detour. 

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UK to OZ Overland - 1973/74

I was tired of the dreary weather, buses never running on time and public phone boxes, victims of vandalism.  When my landlord informed us we would have to move because he wished to redecorate the house, I decided to leave the country.  On October 9th 1973, I jumped into a car, a Peugeot 504, with two guys I barely knew and we set off from London on an adventure half-way around the world.  It certainly had its moments - being robbed in Turkey and spending time in an Afghan jail.

Here is a list of the countries we travelled through:

Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Persia (Iran), Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Malaysia.  We arrived in Australia at the beginning of January 1974.

Alas, the photos are old transparencies and as yet, I do not have the means to scan  them.

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© Copyright 2006 Elizabeth Dowler
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This site was last updated: 06/10/2018

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