Obrigado

Within the first few hours of my arrival, I was reminded of the friendliness and hospitality of the Portugese people. And this would be the case for my whole 10-day visit. Obrigado – Thank you! Upon arrival in Lisbon, I went straight to the Oriente train station to catch the high speed three hour Alfa Pendular train to Porto Campanha station. I only had one night to spend in Porto and I stayed at the Intercontinental Porto – Palacio das Cardosas. The hotel is well located (beside the famous São Bento Station) and service was very friendly and professional. An…

Lisbon 2.0

Almost to the date four years later, I am back in Lisbon. The beauty of not getting to see all sights on the first visit is that there are more new things to see upon one’s return. Convento do Cormo (or the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) was built between 1389 and 1423 in the Gothic style. Considered by many to be Lisbon’s loveliest church, this convent has not had a roof since it fell in during the 1755 earthquake. A lawn now covers what was once the main nave.  Mannerist and baroque architecture dominate the São Roque Church,…

Douro Valley

Located in North Portugal, Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site approximately 100 kms east of Porto. The Douro Wine Region Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world known for producing its cultural treasure – the strong and sweet Port wine. The region has been attracting international wine aficionados since the 18th century and the terraced fields on either side of the Douro River is a wonder to look at. The Douro River is the highest-flow river of the Iberian Peninsula. It rises in Soria Province, central Spain, meanders south briefly then flows generally west through the…

Chillax

Tofino is definitely a great place for a much needed “chill + relax”. From Vancouver Harbour, I took a one hour scenic seaplane flight to Tofino Harbour. Do note that the seaplane flights are very weather dependent (particularly fog), so be prepared to adjust your schedules. From the dock, it is a short 6 minute drive to The Wickannish Inn. Fondly called The Wick by locals, this Relais & Chateux hotel lives up to all the hype and accolades it has been getting. Located on a rocky edge at the northern cape of Chesterman Beach, the hotel is casually rustic…

Tofino

Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, the village of Tofino is situated within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. Surrounded by the vast expanse of the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region, the town is a popular year-round destination which attracts surfers, storm-watchers, and nature-lovers, among others. Being homebound for more than 18 months made me crave to be close to nature – and to be reunited with the Pacific Ocean is a bonus. Meares Island – Big Tree Trail Meares Island is one of the islands surounding Tofino that features old growth…

Maʿal-salāmah مَع السَلامة

“With Peace” in Arabic and a formal expression of goodbye. I say goodbye – it has definitely been one incredible and breathtaking experience to visit Egypt. Manial Palace, a former royal residence. was built for Prince Mohammed Ali Tawfiq, a descendant of Egypt’s famed ruler Mohammed Ali, and the uncle of King Farouk. It was constructed between 1899 and 1929. During this trip, I stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence. Though the hotel (there are two Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo) may have been built nearly 20 years ago, it maintains a timeless appeal and…

Karnak & Luxor Temples

Luxor is often called the world’s greatest open-air museum and there might be nothing in the world that compares to the scale and grandeur of the monuments that have survived from ancient Thebes. After the pyramids of Giza, Karnak is Egypt’s most important pharaonic site. Excavations over the years have gradually uncovered the original structure of the temple complex, which was built over a 1,300-year period. Luxor Temple is an elegant example of Pharaonic temple architecture. The temple was largely completed by the 18th-Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III and added to during the reign of Ramses II in the 19th Dynasty.

Thebes

Modern Luxor grew out of the ruins of Thebes, once the capital of ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC). The Temple of Hatshepsut rises out of the desert in a series of terraces that merge with the sheer limestone cliffs behind. Discovered only in the mid-19th century, and still being restored by the Polish Mission.

Luxor

Luxor has the greatest concentration of ancient monuments in Egypt. An hour’s flight from Cairo, one can spend a week here, although I was only able to spend a full day. The remote, barren Valley of the Kings was the necropolis of the New Kingdom pharaohs. The dramatic corridors and burial chambers are adorned with symbolic accounts of the journey through the underworld and ritual paintings to assist the pharaohs in the afterlife. The Valley of the Queens lies to the southwest of the Valley of the Kings and holds the tombs of many royal wives and children.

Cairo

Set on the Nile River, Cairo is a mega-city of of more than 20 million people, making it the most populous city in the Middle East and the second most populous in Africa — and it feels like it. The capital of Egypt is not an easy city, as it is loud, clogged and frenetic – and it might take a while to get used to the cacophony. But it is a small price to pay to experience the energy of the Mother of the World.