Everyday life amid Renaissance wonders

To wander around Florence is to walk back in time to the birthplace of modern western culture. The Renaissance began here, in the maze of narrow streets lined with the palazzos and monasteries of the old town. Their façades look like stark fortresses. But step through their foreboding, metal studded gates and a world of serene gardens, elegant cloisters and inexhaustible treasures await.

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The medieval gem in the heart of Belgium

Bruges, just one hour’s drive from the cosmopolitan center of Brussels, is one of these enchanted cities European fairy tales are made of; cities vanished into the sea at the height of their grandeur to reappear untouched by time every 100-years or so. Bruges, however, shines on.

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Preserving the Ancestral Land of the Kichwa

The canoe is silently taking us upstream along the narrow channel that connects the Napo River, a major tributary of the Amazon, to Anangucocha Lake. We are in the heart of the ancestral territory of the Kichwa Anangu community in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve regarded by scientists as one of the highest bio-diversity areas on the planet.

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Moorish Palaces and Gypsy Grottos – Granada

The present-day city of Granada was founded in the early eleventh century, three hundred years into the Moors rule over Spain. When a civil war ended in the victory of Berber general Ziri Ibn Manad, he wisely chose to locate the capital of his new kingdom on a high promontory. A millennium later the Alcazar remains one of the wonders of the modern world.

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The essence of Andalusia – Seville

Seville’s origins are shrouded in legend, but from the Romans to the Moors and the Catholic Kings, it is the great cultures of the past two millennia that have left their mark on the capital of modern Spain’s southern-most region of Andalusia.

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Bhutanese rural life on the westward road to Paro

We are entering the final week of our itinerary around Bhutan. In the highest valley in the Bhumthang district we overnight in the remote, high altitude village of Ura, where we are the overnight guests of a local family. The people in this remote rural community are mainly sheep and yak herders, and believed to be the descendants of Bhutan’s earliest inhabitants.

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White-knuckle road travel in Eastern Bhutan

As the tiger flies (in Bhutanese lore, tigers do more than their fair share of flying) the distance between Jakar, capital of the Bumthang district in central Bhutan and Mongar, gateway to the eastern part of the country, is approximately 35 miles. For humans however, the only option is a 125-mile, daylong roller-coaster road trip that includes a steep ascent to Bhutan’s highest pass, Thrumshing La.

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The spiritual heart of Bhutan

It’s only 80 miles from Wangdi to Trongsa, the geographical center of Bhutan, but the drive takes a solid five hours of hairpin turns up and down a narrow and improbably steep road. Trongsa Dzong, the largest fortress in Bhutan, is built on a spur overlooking a deep gorge of the Mangde River. From here, the view goes on forever, from the sky-high mountain range to the bottom of the gorge, a striking reminder of the dzong’s original strategic purpose.

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Eastward into the Myth

Wedged high in the eastern end of the Himalayas, Bhutan is one the most isolated countries in the word, and the last remaining Buddhist kingdom. Today we leave the capital, Thimphu, to start our journey eastward deep into the country’s heartland.

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Josette King

Josette King

I was barely in my teens when travel became a driving force in my life. Now as a travel writer and photographer, I have visited over 45 countries in some of the most photogenic corners of the planet, taking tens of thousands of pictures along the way. With my work, I thrive to capture the natural and cultural uniqueness of each area I visit. Get to know me better…

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