Categories
Travel

Istanbul is Exotic and Alluring

Istanbul can be likened to a Turkish delight, the popular candy that Turks and foreigners alike find so hard to resist. Bite into it and you’re hooked. Istanbul, once known as Constantinople, has drawn tourists since time immemorial. Touring it in the 12th century, the traveller Benjamin of Tudela was stunned by its sheer vitality. … Read More

Categories
Travel

Panama — a Land of Sharp and Mesmerizing Contrasts

Panama, the lower-cost alternative to Costa Rica, is a land of sharp and mesmerizing contrasts. One day, I was perspiring in the sweltering tropical lowlands of Chiriqui province, or exploring a picturesque island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. A few days later, and just a relatively short distance away, I … Read More

Categories
Travel

Panama’s Idyllic San Blas Islands

The isle of Tuba Senika is the next best thing to paradise. This is the thought that raced through my mind as the motor boat in which I sat closed in on the tiny, palm-fringed island. Little more than a speck in Panama’s Gulf of San Blas, Tuba Senika is roughly 200 metres long by about … Read More

Categories
Travel

My Autumn in Canada

I can’t say I like autumn. Autumn, for me, marks the end of summer, my favorite season. I’m a warm-weather person who worships the sun, which, I realize, is not good for you if you expose yourself to its potentially harmful rays once too often. Yet, during the all too short Canadian summer, I’m in … Read More

Categories
Travel

Montreal: A Place of Memory

I returned to Montreal last month after an absence of more than a year. Montreal, for me, is not just a destination but a place of memory. I was raised in Montreal and spent my formative years there. But after leaving in 1969 to study at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African … Read More

Categories
Travel

Toronto’s Ravines: A City in an Urban Forest

  Gouged out by the crushing forces of nature during the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, the ravines of  Toronto form an enchanting urban forest in the heart of Canada’s biggest city. More than a century ago, when wilderness areas were usually regarded as expendable, the ravines were ravaged by logging and industrialization. But … Read More

Categories
Travel

Hanoi Leaves Vietnam War Behind

  When I was a university student in the mid and late 1960s, the war in Vietnam was big news. Rarely a day passed that the local newspaper, the now-defunct Montreal Star, did not carry at least one story about it, sometimes displaying it on the front page. As portrayed in the media, Vietnam was … Read More

Categories
Travel

Ho Chi Minh – A City on the Move

From the 49th floor skydeck of the sleek 68-storey Bitexco Financial Tower, Ho Chi Minh, formerly Saigon, looked very much like a  city on the move. When I was last here, in 1998, Ho Chi Minh had a uniformly low skyline, seemed ragged at the edges and was still in the process of recovering from a … Read More

Categories
Travel

An Eco Trip to Costa Rica

My younger daughter was due to start a new job and wanted a vacation before getting down to work. I decided to join her, and we agreed on Costa Rica, which turned out to be a wise choice. In less than a week, Lauren and I visited an active volcano, rode a horse to a … Read More

Categories
Travel

A Bite of the Big Apple

  I wanted to “wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep,” to paraphrase Frank Sinatra in the song New York, New York. The opportunity to do so presented itself in mid-summer, when my wife Etti and I decided to spend several days in New York City. As a couple, we hadn’t been in the … Read More