Antigua

The old, beautifully preserved Spanish colonial city of Antigua was at one time the capital of Guatemala until it was decimated in the 1700s by a massive earthquake. Now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, Antigua Guatemala, or Old Guatemala, sometimes called La Antigua, features countless charming shops in aged buildingsContinue reading “Antigua”

Shirakawa-go

A day bus trip from Takayama to Shirakawa-go brought me to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Shirakawa-go. Weathered brown wood cottages topped by steeply angled, thick thatched roofs have been well preserved, probably because it was so isolated in years past. Gassho-zukuri, the architectural style, means “praying hands.” Some of the existing houses were built overContinue reading “Shirakawa-go”

Takayama

It was a long ride to Takayama: a couple of hours west to Nagoya by Shinkansen or bullet train, then a couple more on an express. The train headed north into Gifu prefecture to what is known as the Japanese Alps, following the Hida river in a spectacular stretch, at first along a rock canyon. Deep andContinue reading “Takayama”

Thoughts for the new year

Most of my essays have been hopeful, positive, and somewhat upbeat despite setbacks and obstacles. Looking on the bright side seems to be in my nature. This time around, however, I’ve had a difficult time finding that happy place from which to launch the new year, 2022. During the last week of 2021, I rereadContinue reading “Thoughts for the new year”

The Beaches

The trendy shops along Queen Street East are in the Beaches, or Beach, neighborhood, an upscale section of Toronto. I’m not much of a consumer, but I’m curious to see what’s happening, what’s in, what catches the eye. A tree in the small park has a strange shape, reaching up after hugging the ground. WeContinue reading “The Beaches”

Don Valley

The Don River cuts across Toronto north-south on its way to Lake Ontario. I’ve walked sections of the trail many times with my brother. Starting at the Brick Works, a repurposed structure that processed local clays and is now used for events, we followed the winding route through the Moore Ravine. Over and under bridges,Continue reading “Don Valley”

Toronto

It had been two years since I visited my brother in Toronto; that was the last time I traveled internationally before the pandemic. I read carefully through all the requirements to enter Canada (they have since changed) to ensure I was in compliance: I had a PCR molecular covid test that provided a thirty-minute resultContinue reading “Toronto”

Falmouth, Woods Hole

My last week on Cape Cod was when the storm hit (Nor’easter), so my explorations of the far southwest corner of the cape were limited. Walks around downtown Falmouth and the surrounding residential area, despite the trees and large branches down in yards along the way, convinced me that, although as picturesque as the touristContinue reading “Falmouth, Woods Hole”

Cape Cod Canal, Sandwich

The unusually shaped island of Cape Cod was originally a peninsula reaching out from the Massachusetts mainland until a canal was forged through its narrow connection in 1914. The matching silver arcs of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges span the canal, prone to traffic slowdowns even in October when I was there and congestion thatContinue reading “Cape Cod Canal, Sandwich”

Yarmouth, Chapin sunset

My stay at a friend’s Yarmouth Port house on Cape Cod was a quiet respite. I could imagine the locals, permit required, carrying their beach toys and chairs to Dennis Pond in warmer days. Not a time for swimming in October, I took a walk to the pond and beyond most mornings, drove out forContinue reading “Yarmouth, Chapin sunset”