Wonderful Wednesday 25/09/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

In search of Indian Summer.

Photo left Rene Schwietzke, centre Vermont USA right Vermont by Chensiyuan

Though well-known and undeniably beautiful, US’s New England doesn’t have the monopoly on leaf-peeping. There are more options to see and enjoy burning red-orange-gold forests and crunch through fallen leaves.

But first what is Indian Summer? An early American writer described Indian Summer well when he wrote, “The air is perfectly quiescent and all is stillness, as if Nature, after her exertions during the Summer, were now at rest.” This passage belongs to the writer John Bradbury and was written nearly an “eternity” ago, back in 1817. Indian Summer can best be defined as any spell of warm, quiet, hazy weather that may occur in September and October (or even early November), depending on location and wheather conditions.

And where does the term come from? Does it refer to the last hunt before winter of the early native Indians or did these Indians make use of the dry, hazy weather to attack the whites before the hard winter set in? During the years several theories have emerged yet none has actually been proven.

So where to go for the best Indian Summer?

Canada puts on quite a show and is as beautiful but less crowded than New England. In Quebec, Indian Summer arrives early, lasting 2-3 weeks from mid/late September to early/mid October. In Algoma county, northeastern Ontario, you can hop on a train and be treated to some of the most spectacular fall colour in North America.The leaves peak around the end of September and beginning of October.

Photo left Quebec Canada, right Catskill Mountains, USA

New England in the US is all about Indian Summer and picking the best place is tough. But anyhow, either go to New Hampshire’s White Mountains to see some brilliant red maple leaves or, closer to New York, the Catskill Mountains – where those in the know go to fish, hike or meditate (there are three monasteries – two Tibetan and one Zen) in a countryside fiery with colour.
Best time to visit is around early October. New Hampshire even has a cool tool where you can follow the actual course of the Indian Summer. The New Hampshire Foliage Tracker http://www.visitnh.gov/4-seasons/fall-harvest/foliage/foliage-tracker.aspx

Zooitje 112Closer to home, visit the pretty town of Cesky Krumlov in the south of the Czech Republic and go for a hike in its surrounding parks and forests.

Or head to France to see vineyards in autumn colours, while nipping your glass of the local nectar.

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Photo: immediately above Domaine Faiveley, Loire Valley by Graig Drollett and above left Cesky Krumlov surroundings by Jacobien Viets

In Japan autumn spreads from north to south during the month of September. Mount Norikura in the northern Japanese Alps is one of the first places to see the autumn colors. Nara, the first capital of Japan – near Kyoto – also makes a great Indian Summer spot.

Photos: Nara Park, Tanzan shrine and autumn colored Norikura by Hiroaki Kaneko.

Enough to not despair. Go and enjoy autumn, a last coulorful burst before the cold winter starts.

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

PS – I meant to credit all photographers of the pictures used, but – despite my best efforts – I have not been able to find all the names and licenses. If they’re yours, I’d love to add your name, or I’ll happily take them down – whatever you prefer.  

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Wonderful Wednesday 28/8/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Sunny Valencia, catch the last rays of sunshine and explore a surprising city.

Valencia is the third biggest city in Spain but does’t feel like it. Easy to explore, with stunning old and new architecture, parks, a flourishing restaurant scene, great shops and miles of beach, Valencia is a easy going Mediterranean city.

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Wander through the Ciudad Vieja, with attractions such as Word Heritage La Lonja, a15th-century silk exchange and one of the best examples of Gothic civil architecture in Europe, Mercado Central, one of the largest food markets in Europe, in art noveau style, and of course the Cathedral. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Cathedral stands on the site of a Roman temple and a mosque, mixing Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles. Between its walls, it conserves and protects not only paintings by Goya but also one of Christianity’s most important treasures, a chalice offered to the cathedral by King Alfonso V of Aragon in 1436, dating from the 1st century, which is supposed to be the chalice used in the Last Supper, the Holy Grail.

Then head over to the modern Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias, designed by Calatrava and now housing six futuristic buildings, surrounded by clear water (no swimming allowed…).

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End the day with a walk through the Turia Gardens, in an old river bed transformed into a long park, where locals walk, run, skateboard and ride bikes or a dip in the sea at one of Valencia’s beaches.

And if you are in to it, take a day trip to nearby Brunol to take part in La Tomatina, the biggest tomato throwing festival in the world. It takes place today, each year on the last Wednesday of August. Not for the faint hearted….

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

Wonderful Wednesday 17/7/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Off to see The Great Migration from Tanzania into Kenya.

Photo taken by Thomson Safaris guest, Patti Sandoval, during her Signature Thomson Safari in October 2012Foto Thomson Safaris

One of the greatest spectacles in the natural world: the migration of over two million herbivores with about 200 000 zebra and 500 000 Thomson’s gazelle behind the main players… 1.5 million wildebeest!

Each year the troupes gather up their young and start their long trek from Tanzania’s Serengeti Plain, further north to Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. They follow the rain, in search of food and water. Their journey runs clockwise and the animals cover a distance of nearly 3000 kilometers.

wildebeestmigration2

One of the most spectacular sights is when the herds cross the Grumeti River (Tanzania) and the Mara River (Kenya) from July through September. Not without danger; crocodiles are lying quietly in the water waiting for the weak and feeble animals that can’t cope with the strong currents or lose their mothers.

A very tough journey.

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly  series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

JacobienTravels in Het Reis Café

dubbel uitnodigingOp zondag 17 en 24 maart is JacobienTravels in Het Reis Café in Amsterdam!

Het Reis Café organiseert thema middagen in de sfeervolle reisboekhandel Pied à Terre in Amsterdam.

Aan de hand van het thema Natuur brengen per middag vijf gespecialiseerde reisorganisaties hun reizen onder uw aandacht, te beginnen met korte presentaties over een selectie van hun reizen.

Aansluitend kunt u met hen, en wellicht met andere reisliefhebbers, van gedachten wisselen over uw volgende reis en ontdekken wat de reisorganisaties nog meer aanbieden. En dit alles onder het genot van een lekker drankje en hapje.

Aanmelden via de website van Het Reis Café http://www.hetreiscafe.com

Graag tot dan!

Happy Diwali!

Today, November 13, 2012, is the most important day of the 5 day Diwali festival, celebrated all over India. Read about it on JacobienTravels Facebook Page or below.

Diwali

The Diwali festival – also known as the Festival of Lights – is one of the most popular festivals in India and marks the victory of brightness over darkness, of good over evil. The date is set by the Hindu calender and depends on the cycle of the moon. People light tiny diyas (small clay lamps) to illuminate their homes with bright light and create colourful designs on the floors of their livingrooms and courtyards . Because of the lights, fireworks and sweets involved, it’s a great favourite with children.

Although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India, The Times of India summed up the modern meaning of Diwali:

“Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, what the festival of lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple – and some not so simple – joys of life”.

 

The Happy Olympics

Douze points pour l’ Angleterre – Twelve points for the United Kingdom!

IOC President Jacques Rogge declared the London 2012 Olympic Games “happy and glorious”. London 2012 promised a party and delivered!

It was like living in a big happy bubble with all these different nationalities supporting their favourites, thousands of volunteers cheering the crowds, cheerful military and jolly police agents.

Transportation ran pretty efficient and, despite all security measures, the atmosphere both in town and in the venues was great.

The Brits really showed themselves at their best, very friendly and of course with their famous dry humour. The Queen (just before her Olympic jump) and Mr Bean stealed the show at the Opening Ceremony.

And of course many many memorable sports moments.

Have a look at some pictures (from the pirvate collection of Ingrid Guepin and Jacobien Viets). I hope you enjoy!

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