Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gear Review: Comfortable Wool Sport Underwear

What I'm about to say I packed on my month-long trip to Southeast Asia this past summer may be one off the most surprising things you've read on my blog. That's because, though the temperature and humidity were both off the charts, I carried along three pairs of wool underwear -- and the only underwear I brought. Yes, you heard correctly, wool, Merino wool, at that. It may sound like an odd, ill-conceived choice but, in fact, it was the best thing I could've worn against my skin. I chose the Women's PhD Seamless Bikini underwear manufactured by SmartWool. They performed impeccably, keeping me comfortable -- they're ultra soft and they don't bunch up -- and dry no matter the temperature nor the activity. (I often wore them for bicycling and hiking and they easily wicked away sweat.) They also don't retain odor and they dried quickly when washed. This particular model -- and they have several -- is made with 79% Merino wool, the rest synthetic fibers. Now I'm a convert and I'm all about wearing wool panties even when I'm in New York City where it's about to snow today. (The same wool fabric that kept me comfortable in the hot weather also keeps me warm in the winter.)  And the men aren't left out in this shopping experience: SmartWool makes men's underwear as well.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2015 Landscape, Nature, Travel Photo Calendar

Right in time for the holiday season, I'm now accepting orders for my 2015 wall calendar. This 12-month calendar features 33 of my landscape, nature and travel images (including on the front and back covers) captured all over the world, including Thailand, Vietnam, Montenegro, Cambodia and Israel. Each month contains two and more often three images of mine. The calendar measures 13" x 10.4". There's a limited supply. You can purchase this calendar here or contact me for more information.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Portugal's Centro Region in Pictures

Though I visit Portugal pretty much every year, there's always something -- or more than something -- to be discovered. On my latest trip to the Centro region, I spent one day feeling like I stepped into Hogwarts, the fictional school of magic created by J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter novels.  As I roamed the ornate halls and library in 13th century Coimbra University, passing some students garbed in the traditional long black cape, I found it surprising that I never realized that this university may have  provided Rowling, who once resided in Portugal, some inspiration.

This region is brimming with a rich diversity of culture. Not only is it home to one of the oldest universities in the world, but a section of the coast is lined with a dense pine forest; abandoned stone villages have been transformed into charming accommodations; and a network of bicycle paths attract cyclists, and joggers, as well as parents pushing strollers and older citizens just out for a stroll. The accommodations range from the luxe and contemporary, such as the Areias do Seixo Hotel and the Cooking and Nature Emotional Hotel to the traditional (Hotel Quinta das Lagrimas) that dates back centuries and protects a spacious garden. The quaint cobbled village of Obidos is perched on a hill ringed by fortifications while the Santa Clara Monastery offers up its archeological finds for the visitor to inspect.  My short YouTube video slideshow reveals some of my finds in this lovely region.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

European Cemeteries That Resemble Botanical Gardens

It's a shame that cemeteries are typically associated with the macabre, where supernatural influences are ever present. On many of my travels, I've come to appreciate cemeteries as open-air museums and botanical gardens. I chose to visit one treasured cemetery in Lisbon, Reykjavik, Valletta, Zagreb and Helsinki for what they each could tell me about indigenous plants, renowned artists, notable politicians, and much more. Find out what I discovered about botany, architecture, and sociology in this article on the loveliest European cemeteries that I recently wrote for National Geographic Traveler - Intelligent Travel.

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