Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far

Image

 Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far.

“The shattered wall,
the broken tower
have a story to tell –
from the touchstones of ruins
and ancient texts
we make a pilgrimage.” Michael Alexander,

Architectural ruins connect us to the past and bring history alive. There is something about visiting the sites of these ancient civilizations that fascinates me. You can see the potential that people all over the world and thousands of years ago had for greatness. Some of these amazing structures were built long before all the machinery, transport and communication tools that we have now. 

 Peru, Machu Picchu

The purpose of Machu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site.  The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu (it takes four days  of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow-capped mountains because that is what they worshipped .How they transported all that granite up there  remains a mystery. It is believed that they quarried  it on site. No other civilization has managed to assemble so many colossal stone blocks so seamlessly cut with stones or bronze.  There is no mortar holding them together and they are earthquake-proof constructions.

 Chile, Easter Island, Rapa Nui Park

Who carved such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms? The missionary’s stories, the explorer’s diaries, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s bones and the Rapa Nui oral tradition have all revealed something of the story. No one agrees on any of the answers to these questions. Archaeologists have proposed methods for moving the statues, using various combinations of log rollers, sledges and ropes .In the Rapa Nui oral tradition, the Moai were infused with mana, a spiritual force from the ancestors and the Moai walked.The Rapa Nui stories make just as much sense of the unknown as the scientific theories. There is no proof that it did not happen that way.

Turkey, Cappodocia

The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions  years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities. Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.

Turkey, Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus was built in the tenth century. It was a large city (over 250,000 inhabitants in the first century BC) and a major port for trade routes into Asia Minor. Ephesus was known in antiquity for its sacred shrines, the most famous being the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (only foundations and sculptural fragments remain). Ephesus came under Roman control in 129 BC, and continued to prosper under Emperor Augustus as capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was also an important centre of early Christianity and its greatest Christian monument was the 4th century church of St. John the Evangelist.

 Turkey, Pergamon

Pergamon was one of the key Roman cities of Anatolia and the well-preserved remains hint at the grand spectacle that the city was during its glory days. Excavations reach back to the second century B.C. It  has one of the largest libraries in the world and one of the steepest theatres.

Cambodia, Ta Prohm 

Yes,Ta Prohm is the temple where Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Ta Promh has been left the way it was originally found.  It was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The jungle had completely engulfed the entire complex when it was discovered in the last century. It was amazing to see how the massive trees have grown around and atop the structures, their roots seemingly strangling and holding up the temple’s towers and other buildings.

Cambodia, Angor Wat

Angor Wat is the largest temple in the world and the world’s largest religious building constructed of stone. It is often described as one of the most extraordinary architectural creations ever built, with its intricate bas-reliefs, strange acoustics and magnificent soaring towers. It was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Angkor Wat was shifted from Hindu to Buddhist use sometime around the late 13th century. The temple is still used by Buddhists today. It is architecturally and artistically breathtaking. No photograph can capture the immensity of this monument.

Jordan, Petra

 Petra is a city of rose-colored stone, carved out of rock by the Nabateans in the third century BC. Like Macchu Picchu, there isn’t a lot of information known about it. It is one of the dryest places on earth and how they got water for the thirty thousand people who lived here is a mystery. Stephen Spielberg brought it to us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

Thailand, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was the old capital of the Thai kingdom from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.  The site resembles a  graveyard of temples,  headless Buddhas (beheaded by the Burmese in the thirteenth century) and ruins showing what it might have looked like.

Myanmar, Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. From the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan kingdom. During the kingdom’s height between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Mexico, Tulum

The ancient walled city perched on the edge of a cliff in Quintana Roo overlooking the Caribbean ocean was a major trading and religious centre between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. Tulum was built to be a seaport fortress, with steep ocean cliffs providing protection from the East, and a large limestone wall enclosing the rest of the city on three sides. 

Acropolis, Greece

The Acropolis looms over Athens, and is impossible not to recognize.This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the fifth century, Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon temple was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war who planted the first olive tree on this very spot to found the city of Athens.

Italy, Colosseum

The Colosseum has been regarded as an iconic symbol of Rome since the Middle Ages.  Built in eighty A.D, it is a massive structure and is the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. Being able to seat close to 50,000 spectators, it was the premier venue for wild beast shows and bloody gladiator combat.

Italy, Forum

Once the centre of public and political life in Ancient Rome, the Forum is a sprawling labyrinth of ancient ruins, including the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals. You’re standing in the very center of the ancient city, surrounded by the remains of famous temples and political buildings. The people of Rome saw the funeral of Julius Caesar here, along with the execution of Cicero and countless triumphal processions.

 Italy, Pantheon

The Pantheon was built as a temple dedicated to the worship of  Roman gods. In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV and Emperor Phocas converted it into the Christian church we see today. The Pantheon is considered a rotunda, a circular drum structure. Perfect mathematically, the Pantheon’s dome has an opening in the center.  In fact, the Pantheon in Rome still holds the world record for having the largest unsupported concrete dome.

Croatia, Diocletians Palace 

Diocletian’s Palace was built in the fourth century as a retirement seaside residence for the Roman Emperor, his family and seven hundred or so servants and guards in Split. The rectangular structure (520 x 620 feet) was two stories, fronted the sea and was built more like a fort than a palace. It is the most complete Roman ruins of a palace in existence today. It is not a museum .Three thousand people live and work on the grounds and there are many shops and restaurants. It is best seen when not besieged  by cruise ships.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Advertisements

Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

Image

Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Mark Twain

As everyone knows, smoking is cool. But it can also kill you and is addictive and expensive, which is much worse than looking cool for a minute.

Bucking the worldwide trend, smokers are increasing in Montenegro. Forty per cent of adults smoke making them the “coolest” country on the list. Even when laws are enacted, they are rarely enforced in a culture where coffee and cigarettes are the norm.

While smoking is declining across Europe, a growing number of young Belarusians are turning to cigarettes due to lax regulations and low prices. Cheap cigarettes from Belarus are also being smuggled into Western Europe.

It is very difficult to enforce anti smoking laws in Lebanon where smoking is somewhat of a cultural tradition.The law that banned indoor smoking irritated many Lebanese accustomed to shishas and cigarettes at restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs.

Greece is a nicotine addicts’s paradise. Smoking regulations in Greece have not been enforced in a country where rules like this are meant to be broken.

One third of the population of Russia smokes. Up to 400,000 Russians die each year from tobacco-related causes. This could be stopped through tougher regulations, but tobacco producers have blocked all efforts for years, successfully lobbying their interests with the ruling United Russia party.

Tobacco is one of the leading causes of death in Slovenia. The average age to start smoking is fifteen and a half years old.

Belgians love to smoke and stores selling cheap cigarettes have opened on the Belgian Franco border. There is a growing trade in smuggled cigarettes in Europe and an equally illegal growth of sales over the internet. Cigarettes are much cheaper in Belgium than neighboring countries. Many bars and restaurants ignore the smoking ban.

Jordan rates highly as far as smoking countries in the Middle East go. The ban on smoking in public places is not enforced.It is easier to fight drug use than cigarettes here. Cigarette smoking is highest among the poor population. Having coffee and cigarettes with friends and family is deeply rooted in Jordanian culture.

img_2219

China is home to three hundred million smokers, more than any other country. There is a lack of national legislation to ban smoking in workplaces. The national ban has been delayed because of the influence of the Chinese tobacco industry and its influence on government revenue. Some Local municipalities have banned smoking in the workplace but it is hard to enforce

Almost half the adult population smokes in Bosnia Herzegovina. Cigarettes are cheaper than Europe and Asia. Smokers fight the government against anti smoking legislation. Any bans are not enforced and teenagers smoke at least half a pack of cigarettes a day.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Warsan Shire

Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,  Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand,  Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.21.09 PM

Growing up in New York, with immigrant grandparents, the Statue of Liberty meant something. “Tell us the story of when your parents saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time again” we asked.   My mother would say that to her parents and many like them, the statue meant freedom to live in a country where you could be whatever you wanted to be. America was the place to go to flee from oppression, racism, class-ism and poverty. We understood that it was something special to be born in a country with ideals like that.

America is not perfect. We have racism and poverty. But that doesn’t destroy the dreams it was built on. Millions of people came to America to build a better life for themselves and for their families and still do to this day.

On the Statue of Liberty, there are words I know so well: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” That’s the spirit that made me feel like an American.  I wouldn’t be here without that philosophy.

Fly safe.

JAZ

My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

“I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I remember it later or not.” Erica Bauermeister

When the mood for dessert strikes, I am there. I consider it a necessity not a choice to try desserts when I am traveling.  There isn’t a problem in the world that a good dessert can’t make feel a little better. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Pastel de Nata – Portugal

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-3-08-02-pm

Baklava – Greece

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-9-41-15-am

Red Velvet Cupcakes – USA

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-12-00-29-am

 Semolina Halva –  Turkey (nice with fresh fruit)

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-11-06-51-pm

Black Sesame Ice Cream – Japan

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-5-12-38-pm

 Malva Pudding  (poeding) – South Africa

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-11-43-05-pm

Sweet Sticky Rice With Coconut Cream and Mango – Thailand

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-5-23-17-pm

Dulce de Leche –  Argentina ( on ice cream, cookies, cake, bread)

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-11-27-31-pm

 Fresh Acai  and Tapioca Ice Cream – Belem, Brazil

IMG_4137

Mango Pudding – Hong Kong

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-5-34-23-pm

Fly safe, JAZ

First Food That I Want To Eat When I Revisit A Country

First Food That I Want To Eat When I Revisit a Country

“Like I said before. Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”Anthony Bourdain

 Japan Sushi at Tsukiji Market, any dessert made with yuzu or green tea.

IMG_2295

 Turkey Pide, fresh pomegranate juice, anything with eggplant, and any dessert made with semolina.

IMG_4166

 Croatia Fresh tuna and bean salad, grilled calamari and swiss chard.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.11.59 PM

Cambodia Fresh coconut water and amok (I loved Cambodian food).

IMG_2683

 Greece Avgolemono soup, baklava and Greek salad (feta, tomatoes and olive oil don’t taste the same anywhere else).

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.14.48 PM

 Italy Pizza, pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil.  (My dream is to go to Sicily and eat pizza).

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.44.58 PM

South Africa Biltong (Im not even a meateater and I love it).

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.09.26 PM

Israel  Falafel and Hummus.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 11.55.40 PM

Colombia Guanabana juice and Arepa con Quisito.

IMG_3818

Spain Churros, hot chocolate and real gazpacho.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 11.17.34 PM

 Panama Sancocho soup.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.46.16 PM

Netherlands Pofferjes and poached egg on brioche with smoked salmon, (first time that I have had that).

IMG_9094

Brazil Tacaca with shrimp and fresh acai ( not the watered down sugary stuff we get here) in the Amazon.

IMG_4520

 Thailand Thai iced coffee.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.43.21 PM

 Peru Ceviche with giant corn.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.19.39 PM

Argentina Alfajores from Havanna.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.18.02 PM

Mexico Tacos, guacamole, mole or really anything in Oaxaca. (except not a fan of the crickets every day)

IMG_0019

USA When I come home I want a turkey burger from Golden State in LA.

IMG_2055

Fly safe,
JAZ

Floatplane From Vancouver – Conquering The Fear

Floatplane From Vancouver – Conquering the Fear

“There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” Orson Welles

My fear of small prop planes started on my very first one. I was flying from Santorini to Athens. There was a lot of seat shifting before takeoff. I was asked to move to the front. When I questioned it, the stewardess said to my friend in Greek, “We need to put the fat people in the back to equalize the weight on the plane.” My friend was American Greek so she thought that was what the stewardess said. I looked around in horror making sure that no one had lied about his weight. I believed my life was dependent on the people who had not stuffed themselves on vacation with generous helpings of moussaka, saganaki,  tiropites. spanakopita, pastitsio and baklava. To this day when I go on a small plane, I wonder if I should I tell them that I gained a few pounds.

The next incident happened when I was leaving Aspen Colorado, with my very young children who had their whole lives ahead of them.   It was late and the airport was very quiet and had only a few people in it. They said the plane had  just arrived. We did not hear anything.  Shouldn’t the airlines have told me if they were putting me on a sixteen seat prop plane through the Rocky Mountains at night all the way to Los Angeles? I asked the pilot if that plane was safe. He said, “Of course, this plane has real leather seats”.  I have no idea what that means. Were the seats the most expensive piece of equipment on the plane? The good news was that I had an individual very small solo seat by the window. So did each of my very small children. This way they did not have to see me plan my own death. Did it hurt more to crash into the mountains at night than to crash in the water and drown?

After that I avoided small planes at all costs. I planned vacations into larger airports and always looked up the plane I was going to be on.

I don’t know why I wanted to take a floatplane from Vancouver to Victoria, British Colombia. Life happened and my children have made it alive to adulthood so maybe a small plane was less scary now. I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my son.

IMG_2024

My hotel window in Vancouver faced the water and I could easily see the small seaplane terminal. For three days I counted the planes that left and made sure the same number returned. I watched the Canadian News to make sure no crashes were reported. It was all good so far but it was exhausting being the safety police.

IMG_1938

My son and I have different meanings of the words, on time for a flight – especially when you can walk to the terminal. When we arrived, the plane was already full and we could not sit together.

IMG_1951

I happened to mention to the man sitting next to me that I was afraid of small planes. (in case I started clutching him in terror) He told me not to worry because he had been a fighter pilot in the Air Force. He proceeded to tell me every almost crash horror story that happened to him. “After all,” he said, We are flying during the day.  It isn’t like we are landing on what we believe to be an airstrip at night in bad weather, with no lights, in the mountains of India.”

IMG_1939

The plane took off. It was so quiet. There was no bumpy turbulence or loud noise of a prop plane. This time we glided into space like a bird in flight.

IMG_2010

It was so incredibly beautiful to look down at the Canadian landscape,

IMG_2018

Flying at a low altitude through the clouds, i saw a completely different perspective of the world below.

IMG_1946

The land looked dreamlike and other worldly.

IMG_2009

It was breathtaking and relaxing. The landing was just as smooth as we cruised into Victoria harbor.

IMG_1956

Its amazing when you find out that you can do what you are afraid to do. I learned that day to not limit my experiences because of my fears . I couldn’t wait for the flight back to Vancouver.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Top Ten Coffee Travel Moments

“This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion.  Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind.  The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition.  Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with gun powder. “

Honore de Balzac

Top Ten Coffee Travel Moments

I realized by writing this blog that I am addicted to caffeine. There are way too many references to coffee.  It is the only vice I have left.  I thought I would embrace it by writing my top ten coffee travel moments.

!. I am seventeen and in Europe for the first time.  We  are  in CERVINA in the Italian Alps. There is a cappuccino bar that we go to every morning and have fresh cappuccino before a day of skiing. It is pre cell phones and Starbucks.  The only cappuccino  you got in NY  was in the Italian restaurants  after dinner.  There was no decaf cap. Cappuccino every morning was as big a deal as skiing in the Alps for the first time.

2.   The island of SANTORINI in Greece is where i am spending my twenty third summer.   I am staying at my friend’s house on a mountain overlooking the sea.  It is one of those  Santorini white houses with blue tile.  We have to walk halfway down the mountain every morning to have coffee and fresh bread with butter and honey, at a café run by a family that doesn’t speak English. Santorini was  not the five-star  tourist destination it is now but it always had five-star views of the sea, volcano and black sand beaches. .  “kafe me gala  sketos parakalo” The grandmother always dressed in black would smile at my bad Greek pronunciation and bring me my coffee. They used condensed milk all the time with coffee and I love the taste.  I think they wear black  because someone in their family close to them has died – usually they are widows.

545319_436959296360980_1027944743_n

3.  My daughter who is twelve and her tap company have performed at the Cuban Ballet Festival throughout Cuba.  We are driving back to HAVANA from Santa Clara.  Since Petrol is scarce, members of the Columbian Ballet Company are sharing the bus with us. We get back around five and I have a serious lack of  caffeine headache.  I invite the Columbian dancers who I have spoken to in bad Spanish  for a coffee at the hotel.  I order a double espresso and drink it down  like I am doing a shot of tequila.   First they stare at me and then they laugh and do the same.  We start by drinking espresso shots –we move on to Mojitos. No one slept that night. (Cuba,Jim Kane)

734564_622571224426673_1184425465_n

4. We have arrived at the SACRED VALLEY in Urubumba, Peru.  We are spending the night at the beautiful Sol Y Luna  hotel and the altitude is 9000 feet. (2400 m)  It is our first night in the Andes.  I start to have this headache and feel dizzy. As we are going to our rooms someone says to me, “Be careful, the headache is the first sign of altitude sickness”.  I go right to the worst case scenario.  I remember my mindfulness training as I am going into high anxiety mode. I investigate the feeling in my body and think it isn’t that severe. It feels like a lack of caffeine headache.   I remember I didn’t have coffee that afternoon. I relax and go right to sleep. I wake up early and have a wonderful Peruvian breakfast  of yogurt , fruit, kikucha cereal ( grain like quinoa) and coffee. No more headache.

601689003311

5. I usually hate instant room coffee.  But in PANAMA it was really good. It is called Puro and I brought some home.   I have a confession. I kind of like non dairy creamer   Sometimes your diet needs a few chemicals.  I got up every morning in  Gamboa  to watch the sunrise over the rainforest and had a coffee while lying in a hammock on the terrace.

IMG_3727

6. Anna and I have spent the day on  the island of NAOSHIMA in Japan.  It is the island that Tadao Ando has designed and dedicated to art and nature.  There are museums, outdoor sculptures, galleries and installations in houses throughout the island.  It is a bit like a scavenger  hunt trying to see everything.  But we did it. We are at a small  ferry at the other end of the island that locals use to head back to the mainland . I am looking for coffee. We see something that looks like it might be open. We walk in. There is cool music and magazines and interesting furniture and art . It is  like a Japanese Greenwich village coffee-house  on this little island street.  We can’t believe our luck.  We have coffee and wait in this beautiful restaurant for the ferry and talk about our amazing day.

IMG_2345

7. I had been  in the  incredible  city of VENICE for a few days with my daughter and a friend. My son arrived after traveling around Europe alone.  He had a lot to say and wanted to have  a coffee in Venice and talk about his travels. We sat in a café on the canal and he told me his stories. I was happy sitting there listening to him  and I could hear  that he loved to travel as much as I did.  Family travel moments are few and far between now. It was a beautiful trip.

IMG_0258

8.  It was my first day in ISTANBUL. I had shopped at the Grand Bazaar with my guide for the day Renan.  We stopped for lunch.  We met  carpet salesmen from Los Angeles.  Suddenly, it didn’t seem so far away.  This was my first experience with Turkish food. Hot yogurt soup and something with my favorite vegetable –eggplant.  – delicious. I had my first Turkish coffee. (a lot like Greek coffee) I loved the thickness and the feeling of the grounds in my mouth ( coffee that you can chew).  It isn’t bitter either so I am able to drink it without milk. She read the coffee grinds to me.  We used to do this in Greece. It was my first coffee fortune in a very long time.  It wasn’t bad. My next one wasn’t great. So I stopped doing it and just drank the coffee.

IMG_4382

9. I am in EDINBURGH, Scotland for the Fringe Festival. My daughter is performing there with her high school theatre group. In the summer, walking down the Royal Mile is crazy. Everyone is in costume and giving out flyers and performing and begging to get you to go their shows. The Starbucks is right at the beginning of the Royal Mile, next to the Fringe Ticket Office. I meet a friend for coffee after picking up some tickets. We are surrounded by Vikings and Elizabethans all having cappuccinos and lattes. In fact, only the barristers are   dressed in modern-day clothing.  I felt  a little underdressed.

IMG_5252

10.   A few weeks ago, I was walking down Portobello Road in LONDON with my college friend Suzie.  Suzie was the first person I traveled around Europe with . We were about eighteen. We lost touch after college but reconnected  a few years ago through the magic of facebook.  We were both going to be in London at the same time. We aren’t looking for vintage clothes like we used to  (and still do) but vintage housewares.  It is freezing out. We go into a coffee house and see a long queue. It is called the Coffee Planner. The girl in front of me says it is the best coffee on Portobello Road and worth waiting for. Suzie buys an unbelievably good sandwich from a vendor outside and we sit and drink our coffees eating this sandwich.   Jayne and Suzie together again in Europe. ( St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge)

IMG_0456

Do you have any good coffee moments?

Fly safe,

JAZ