Krampus at the Christmas Market in Munich

Don’t miss the 2018 Krampus run around the Munich Christmas market. It is scheduled for December 9th from 3-5 PM and for December 23rd from 4-5 PM.

Ah, it’s December and the Christmas markets in Bavaria are in full swing. The Alps are shrouded in cool mist and half-timbered houses are decked out in twinkly lights and boughs of mistletoe. Locals are huddled ’round their fires drinking hot glühwein as holiday tunes float through the air.

Suddenly, the sound of synchronized cracking whips break the silence. Groups of Krampus and Perchten, Christmas devils and fur-clad Alpine monsters armed with bundles of twigs, rush into the crowded streets. The fiendish Christmas beasts dance through the crowds chasing rotten children and whipping them with stinging bundles of twigs. Adults laugh and stuff themselves with gingerbread as children run screaming in all directions. Yeah, Christmas in Germany has a bit of an edge. Continue…

Leaning Towers of Danba

Danba Three Towers

Danba (丹巴) is a small town along the border of the Tibetan and Qiang ethnic regions of Sichuan. It is known to adventure travelers for the ancient Qiang watchtowers that cling to the steep slopes of the surrounding mountain valleys.

In order to get up close and personal with these impressive monuments, we hired a driver and headed out into the villages of Zhonglu and Suopo near Danba. After roaming the terraced cornfields and orchards, we casually strolled by houses with towers waiting for an invitation. Hilariously, there weren’t many Continue…

31 Crazy Tokyo Experiences

Fun in Tokyo

Evolving post – more to come!

We came to Japan for the specific goal of diving into the country’s legendary craziness. We had visions of pouty Lolitas posing in front of multi-story video screens, robots performing the Nutcracker, warehouse-scale electronic sushi emporiums, and Gozilla peeking over a skyscraper down upon the city’s legendary street culture. Did we find it? Absolutely, it’s everything we ever dreamt of and more.

Over time, we have been building the ultimate list of quirky, crazy, weird, wild and wonderful activities, a sort of must-do menu of fun and kitschy Tokyo delights. Hai, dozo! Continue…

Big Cats and Where We Actually Saw Them

Tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park, India

Big cats are the ultimate wildlife thrill. In national parks and wilderness regions around the globe, hikers scan the hills and forests for fleeting glimpses of these elusive creatures. Successfully spotting wild cats requires equal parts effort and luck. As you can see from this post, we have put in the effort and we have had A LOT of luck.

In all, we have spotted 12 different types of wild cats, big and small. The pictures below represent 25 years of travel and trekking. They also represent a tremendous amount of good fortune and even better timing. While most of the big cat posts on the web have been cobbled together by people in a cubicle, this list is based on our experiences and our sightings. So if you are interested in fantastic beasts and where to find them, start reading. Continue…

Things to Do in Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Grandmother and granddaughter at Tambomachay near Cusco

Many tourists whoosh through Cusco and the Sacred Valley on a whirlwind itinerary which leaves their heads spinning. While some might be content to shoot through as they tick off items on their bucket list, Peru’s most famous city and its surrounding valleys offer up a virtual smorgasbord of activities for those with longer attention spans.

During our more than two months in the area, we’ve had some time to get acquainted with not-so-little Qosq’o (Quechua name). What we’ve discovered is one of South America’s most unique and appealing towns in one of the continent’s most unique and appealing regions. No wonder UNESCO declared Cusco a World Heritage Site. Here’s just a tiny sample of all the great things to do in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Continue…

El Nido, Palawan: 100 Ways to Kill Coral

El Nido's Coral: Crown-of-thorns Starfish

We first published this article on El Nido’s coral destruction in 2010 after our month-long visit to Palawan. Sadly, eight years later, we are still getting comments from travelers confirming further environmental degradation. Read on to find out what causes the coral destruction and make sure to check out the comments below documenting the state of El Nido’s corals in 2018.

Above water, the Bacuit Archipelago is one of the most stunning places on the planet. Below the surface of its perfectly turquoise waters, it’s a different story. A story of neglect, corruption, mismanagement and ignorance.

It is estimated that only 1% of the Philippines’ coral is still in pristine condition. Sewage run-off, anchor damage, shore erosion, a crown-of-thorns starfish infestation, and overfishing are some of the more typical culprits. And, of course, coral bleaching due to global warming is a huge problem. But to kill that much coral, you need to employ some of the more destructive practices such as Continue…

Florence’s Museums: Making Reservations for the Uffizi, Accademia and More

 Uffizi Gallery: Botticelli's The Birth of Venus

OK, you’ve made your way to Florence – the dream of a lifetime – and you want to visit the city’s incredible works of art and architecture. You walk up to the entrance of the Uffizi Gallery and ask a guard where you can buy a ticket. And he just laughs hysterically in your face. Suddenly, you notice there’s a line with hundreds of annoyed people who have been waiting for hours.

Florence Is Not a City for the Unprepared

Before you come to Florence, you need to do some basic homework, especially if you are showing up in the peak season. You don’t just walk up to the Uffizi museum, buy a ticket, and enter. After all, Uffizi Gallery tickets are popular. And even those magic (and somewhat pricey) Firenze Cards may not be the best option for everyone. To help you out, we’ve put together some quick tips and links to get you started. In our “Plan Your Trip to Florence” section, we also included a few tour recommendations for visitors interested in an expert guide. Continue…

Reveling in Taroudant

Riad Maryam feast

We came for Morocco’s best preserved city wall and wished we had stayed longer for the food. Yes, Taroudant regularly makes it into lists of the world’s top walled cities (and you know I love those.) It’s stunning pisé walls studded with crenelated towers and gates stretch for eight kilometers. We explored them in one of the local horse-drawn caleches and wound our way through the fortified kasbah district on foot thinking that the fabulous fortifications would be the highlight of our visit to the city. But that was before we found Riad Maryam. Continue…

Kyoto Autumn Leaves: Japan’s Most Colorful Season

Kyoto autumn leaves at the Eikando Temple

I’ll admit that our trip to Japan was a bit last minute, but that doesn’t mean our timing was totally random. For years, we’ve been wanting to experience one of the country’s most stunning natural spectacles, the Technicolor fall foliage season. Autumn leaves? Don’t you mean cherry blossoms?

No, while most Westerners associate the country with the world famous spring cherry blossoms, many Asian tourists are equally drawn to Japan’s gorgeous fall colors, which for religious and cultural reasons have become something quite unlike anything else on the planet. Continue…

Extraordinary Nazca – Much More Than Lines

Extraordinary Nazca Lines: Nazca Hummingbird

The Nazca Lines have been associated with everything from aliens to Atlantis; they are certainly one of the world’s most mysterious creations. All that fame, intrigue and media attention means that the name Nazca has now become synonymous with the lines. But many people don’t realize that Nazca refers to a town, a region, and even an ancient culture. That culture left behind much more than lines.

Bucketlisters and speedy travelers shooting through Peru often spend half a day in Nazca, do a quick flight over the Nazca Lines, and hightail it on to Arequipa, Cusco or Lima. GIGANTIC MISTAKE. Nazca is a fascinating region which deserves far more attention. Thomas and I spent six days here, and this is just a bit of what we discovered Continue…