Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber.
Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet.
Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little.
I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.
Kind of a dramatic title for this blog entry, but in this case it's referencing the real thing: sunset.
The end of the day is an event which can be a specific reason a person is drawn to a particular destination. Sunsets are global, for reasons any nearby astrophysicist will be happy to explain. But in many, many of our detonations sunset is a spectacle, even if it's largely ignored by the masses.
Like it's mirror opposite, sunrise, sunset is full of light and color, and a kind of solemn quiet which allows some introspection. It's a moment to reflect. And it has the added bonus of being scheduled while most of us are awake.
Sunrise and sunset are wonderful times to add to that vault of memories of a place.
The primary reason we travel to strange lands is to discover something about them.
While obviously keeping within boundaries which are relatively safe, one of the best ways is to do what I call "going Walkabout". It's an Australian aboriginal term for an adolescent male sent into the wild to survive on his own and prove his manhood.
It's an important rite of passage.
My own definition is far less extreme, but has something of the same effect for the not-quite-casual Traveler. Going Walkabout means putting things aside, grabbing a camera and some small amount of cash (and your ID) and setting off to explore a new place. Wandering the streets and alleys - again, within safe boundaries - and getting to know a destination a bit better by getting off the beaten path.
It's a wonderful way to connect. To learn. Stop for a while, grab a cup of coffee. Window shop.
A memorable meal in a stunning location with an ideal dining partner is an
excellent way to make a lasting travel-related memory.
Though the shot is not my usual standard when posting, this is on the fantail of the MSY Wind Surf in the Adriatic Sea. The hills in the distance are the heel of the Italian Boot. My wife is to my right.
The chef on board made it a requirement that the meals somehow reflected the locale, up to and including visits to local farmer's markets at each port. Obviously the Mediterranean is rich in local fare.
It is one of dozens of meals I can easily recall from our travels around the world, several from that trip alone. They aren't all in such exotic places, they just have to be special in some way.
(One such "opposite end of the spectrum" is of stopping with my wife at the In'n'Out Burger in Barstow. Just a perfect confluence of experience becoming memorable. And a damned good burger.)
Memories of our travels are the primary reason we do it. Learning about a place, and enjoying all it has to offer are fundamental to building a foundation of understanding and appreciation for this incredible world we're born into.
Standing at the foot of the famous Wilshire Boulevard, which bisects Los Angeles from downtown to the Pacific Ocean.
Along the way it passes through MacArthur Park (yes, THAT MacArthur Park), the La Brea Tar Pits and the LA County Museum of Art, the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills and Westwood (home of UCLA) before entering Santa Monica and its eventual terminus near the beach.
The drive will give the visitor a true sense of LA's diverse culture, ranging from the dynamic downtown. Downtrodden neighborhoods as well as the very wealthy. LA's Art Deco history is on display with a number of famous buildings still clinging to life despite LA's reputation for tearing things down.
The tallest building in LA (thanks to the 100 foot spire on its roof) is the new Wilshire Grand Tower on the left of the construction crane here. This shot is from the appropriately named One Wilshire Building.
I had a great conversation from a dear friend and trusted mentor last night which leads me to completely revamp the book. Hate it when that happens, but it promises to make the read a much more fun one. I hope. And if it isn't, that's nothing two or three quick martinis won't improve.
So here's to new beginnings and to a terrific weekend.
Yesterday I mentioned a way to help rebuild a small but important business on the island of Anguilla which had been utterly destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
How about helping an entire town?
Grand Case, a town just across the straights from Nat's Place, was considered to be the Culinary Hub of the Caribbean. A dozen excellent restaurants loaned the beach, with stunning views and spectacular food.
They are gone if not badly damaged. Hundreds of lives disrupted without any hope.
We can make a difference.
Please take a read and spread the word on this desperate need for help. And if possible, send a few dollar, euros or pounds their way.
Our final destination in this weeklong celebration of Italy takes us to the charming
and historic hilltop town of Montepulciano.
It is an ancient town, with roots dating back to the days of the Roman Empire itself. The town is built upon a hill rising nearly two thousand feet above sea level, which affords it a commanding view of the nearby countryside, as well as a more defensible position in the event of attempted invasion.
The history is palpable as you walk the main street. Park in the
visitor's center below and get the tour bus up. No personal cars are allowed in the town square.
Start at the top and work your way down the hill.
The 500 year old church in the main square is a simple but impressive structure. As you wander back down the hill on foot, shops, cafes and other attractions dot the street. You'll want to sample the food and wine, shop for pottery and remembrances, and soak up the historic surroundings.
(Wear good walking shoes.)
As a culinary destination Montepulciano is a major source of cheeses, honey, pastas and, of course, the world-renowned Montepulciano wines. A tasting is mandatory for any visit.
Our weeklong trip to the historic "boot" of Italy continues with a step off the mainland and onto the massive island of Sicily. Taormina, to be specific. This wonderful and vibrant city sits high atop the coast, hugging the cliffside with spectacular views of the Mediterranean and the massive cone of Mount Etna.
During our visit Etna was in a restive but (fortunately) not explosive mood.