Latest sightseeing Flicketti
Bullfighting on horseback requires some of the best horsemanship. Rejoneador bullfighters can be be considered some of the most skillful riders in the world. The horses are trained to perfection. Filmed in Madrid, Spain
Tokyo fish market, probably the largest in the world. Surprisingly, no smell that usually accompanies fish markets. A must visit if you happen to be in Tokyo.
Life size reproduction of canals and Venice streets inside the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. The canals are just a large pool and the sky is a lit and colored ceiling. The gondolas are real.
High flying amusement rides on top of the Stratosphere hotel in Las Vegas
Havana, Cuba, city frozen in time. Cuba is communism in Spanish, different language but the same atmosphere is as back in USSR, except much warmer and American cars surviving from the 50's.
It is amazing how cars from the 50's are preserved and kept running in Cuba.
Cuba, a forbidden fruit for US travelers while a place for inexpensive vacation on some of the best beaches for visitors from other countries.
Where in the world:
Well, it is actually almost a swimming distance from Miami. Varadero is the heart of Cuban tourism and historically the first beach resort on the island. It was established as a vacation spot before the revolution and some older hotels are the original ones. Most Large cities (except US) have direct flights to Varadero, frequently "vacation airlines".
What happened in the 50's?
Several factors made things change: criminalized and corrupt nature of the previous government; romantic communisms-utopism ideas of the new generation; support of the strengthening communistic-socialistic Russia... In any case, the government could not hold and the people did not want it to hold. Unfortunately the replacement did not lead to prosperity either. However, against all odds the country did manage in isolation, in spite of its small size, remoteness from the allies, and proximity to a large enemy. How? For the large part because of the TOURISM!
You have to give it a notch down in terms of the hotel star ratings. However, it also depends if a resort is owned by an international company or the local government. Newer resorts by definition would have everything new, while older ones will be a hit and miss. Overall, if you aim at higher end and more expensive options you will likely get more than you expect, except food. Food and Internet connection are not that easy to get to an embargoed island. Subject to change, of course. Well, stay healthy, eat less, enjoy the beach and the beautiful sea! We had a blast for a half of price we would've paid at more expensive destinations. Just aim at the high end hotels or the high end (Royal Service) subsections of the hotels.
Not much coral and not much fish, mostly sand with few spots of coral formation. The underwater scenery is somewhat similar to Bahamas and Cancun/Playa-del-Carmen, not Cozumel though. There are few small wrecks around Varadero. We found that the main underwater attraction was a huge Russian warship of the Cold War era. It was sunken because it was getting old and it was burning more diesel than the country could afford. Pretty cool underwater. It has cannons, huge machine guns, some swim-through. I would STRONGLY recommend bringing your own equipment. Local dive shop had old and poorly maintained stuff. Also subject to changes in the future, but be warned. Overall, not a specific dive destination, but you can take a day-two for diving while staying at a resort. We've heard reports that the southern part of the island is more interesting underwater. Have not been there yet...
Other things to do:
Visiting Havana is probably a must. Feels like a broken time machine. Spanish-colonial older architecture, Russian-communistic newer buildings and small cars, American carsof the 50's, all cultures twisted in a weird combination. Hemingway liked the country the way it was, unique. It is very, very different from all other Caribbean islands and may not stay like that much longer.
Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan
First step on the route to visit Petra (Jordan) from Israel. The crossing was at Aqaba-Eilat point. Crossing border was quick for us, but we were taken care of by friendly tour companies on both sides, in Israel and Jordan. The only section we walked alone was the border itself, with mine fields on both sides. Then were were taken to a taxi and the ride to Petra took about 2-2.5hrs.
Camels trot mostly moving legs simultaneously on one side, while horses always do that diagonally .
A walk through ruins of Petra in Jordan. One of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Middle East.
A riding part of our day trip: a camel ride within Petra, then a horse ride from the exit to the parking lot.Getting on and off camels is a bit more complicated than for horses. One would need to make camel kneel for either getting on or off. We heard stories that in Egypt they could charge $20 for allowing to get on a camel, but then demand another $100 to let you off the animal.
An artist makes a picture of a camel using sand patterns inside a small bottle. Filmed in Petra, Jordan.
A drive with stops through the famous and surreal Wadi Rum in Jordan.
The full trip is in this flick:
Where in the world:
Both located in southern Jordan, on the ancient trade route. We included our visit to Jordan while touring Israel. There are crossings between Israel and Jordan border with some restrictions, please check conditions when you plan to travel. We chose one at Aqaba-Eilat point, at the very southern tip of Israel. The trip was organized by friendly collaborating tour companies in Israel and Jordan, through www.desertecotours.com. We drove from Jerusalem to Eilat and left the car at the parking lot of the tour company. Then, the tour guides took care of us at every step. The only time we were alone was while walking through the border itself, with mine fields on both sides of the fenced corridor. The guides communicated on phone for coordination. After helping us with the passport control, the guide took us to a taxi and we drove off to Petra. It took about 2 hours to get to Petra.
Where to stay:
The modern town next to Petra is called Wadi Musa. We stayed overnight at Movenpick Resort Petra which was a very good quality hotel with a rooftop restaurant. Next morning a guide picked us up to tour Petra.
Petra is hidden behind a plateau. The passage is through a long narrow and winding gorge waswashed in the rocks by thousands years of rainwater streams. It does not rain much in the area, so you can imagine how long it could take to erode a gorge like that. The ancient city is carved out in the mountains. The "buildings" are not built, but carved out. The red rocks and sand add to the surreal feeling of the place. The distances are significant and the heat and dryness are not things to ignore, so take a lot of water. You will likely take camels, horses or donkeys at one point in the tour. The gorge passage is the easiest part, especially in early morning, since it is cool and out of direct sun. In Petra, there are places for easy walking as well as some areas for climbing and rough terrain, for more physically fit. So, choose according to your fitness.
Wadi Rum is a valley on the way to Petra from south. It is very close to the Aqaba-Eilat crossing and we did it on the way back to Israel. Red sand and sheer cliffs are contrasted with the clear blue sky. The valley is on the ancient trade route. In present days it has been chosen as a setting for many movies (Lawrence of Arabia, Red Planet, The Martian, Star Wars, Transformers...). It is surreal, no wonder it was chosen for movies about Mars. You can spend there few hours or days, ride camels, stay in Bedouin camps, climb rocks....
Our first impression of real India, riding from Varanasi airport. We could immediately appreciate much more people and moving objects : cars, bikes, rickshaws, trucks, tuk-tuks, cows, dogs...all merged together. We did not know what was coming in the city itself...See below.
Our first time walking streets of Varanasi. The first shock was a feeling to be in the middle of hundreds of moving objects. It felt inevitable that something is going to crush into us.
Waterfront of Ganga river in the holy city of Varanasi in India in preparation for Aarti ceremony. Spectators will gather on land and on the boats.
Boat ride on Ganga river at sunset. Varanasi riverfront is lined by ghats, sites of river access with steps leading to the water. Aarti is a devotional ritual to offer fire, either in small diya to float a candle to offer fire to the goddess of Ganga, or as a large ceremony. Both locals and tourists let diyas to float and then stay for the main ceremony.
Sarnath is a place of first teachings of Buddha after enlightenment. It was a holy Buddhist city and a site for pilgrimage till it was destroyed in 12th century by Turkish invasions. It is located on the outskirts of Varanasi, which is a the holy place for Hinduism overall. Varanasi is a must see place to understand India.
A silk making shop in Varanasi, India. There are two methods to weave silk: the older by memory, and the newer using perforated cards. Both are quite interesting, but time consuming and laborious.
Main Aarti ceremony in Varanasi. It is performed at nights by several priests and is attended by thousands of people, on the shore and on boats.