Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
A string of villages, each named for a different defensive castle built to protect against Ottoman raids, combine to make the Town of Kastela, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. Just 20-minutes north of the popular seaside resort of Split, seven villages dot a half-moon bay. Each is named for a “castle” that was constructed in the 15th century to protect against Ottoman invaders. Today, these seven villages are collectively known as the Town of Kastela, Croatia.

In addition to its fascinating history, the area is blessed with rich, fertile soil and abundant seas. Each morning, local women sell fresh picked fruit and vegetables from their gardens in the village squares. Fishermen head out to sea each morning, returning with fresh catch for the local markets and restaurants. The area has become known as the Kaštela Riviera for its crystal clear waters, lovely beaches, and laid-back atmosphere.  Read More

A sea of red tile rooftops in the Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. Red-tiled roofs and ancient churches in the Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia are framed by the jeweled Adriatic Sea. I took this photo from atop the ramparts of the stone walls that surround the old city. They walls run for 1.2 miles, and it is possible to walk their entire length along the upper battlements. I made the trek in about two hours, passing through turrets and fortresses along the way. The entire time, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been there before. Read More

City harbor of Dubrovnik, Croatia, seen from atop old city walls

Click on title to view photo in large format: For a magnificent view over the city harbor of Dubrovnik, Croatia, take a walk along the battlements of the old city walls. The harbor is one of the oldest parts of Dubrovnik. It was constructed during the late 1400’s, with the breakwater added in 1485. As the original use was defensive, the harbor was constructed around the city’s 12th century arsenal, which was located behind the three stone arches seen on the right-hand side.

Though the walls and battlements surrounding the harbor of Dubrovnik sustained significant damage during the Yugoslav army siege Read More

Once upon a time there was an Irish giant named Finn MacCool who lived on the shores of Northern Ireland with his wife and infant. Finn was definitely a cool guy, but he was short, as giants go. He stood only 52-feet, 6 inches tall. Across the Sea of Moyle in Scotland lived a proper huge giant named Benandonner, who was not so cool. Benandonner was constantly yelling across the water at Finn, claiming to be the stronger giant.

One day, Finn decided to build a causeway across the sea so the two could meet for a contest. Finn worked tirelessly, laying sections of the dense local rock in an interlocking pattern leading to Finegal’s Cave on the island of Staffa, where Benandonner lived. He laid the final stone in darkness and, exhausted, returned home and fell fast asleep.

Ancient people, not understanding the geological forces that created these basalt columns, believed they were the remains of a road built by a giant, thus the name Giant's Causeway

Ancient people, not understanding the geological forces that created these basalt columns, believed they were the remains of a road built by a giant, thus the name Giant’s Causeway

The next morning, Benandonner strode across the causeway, eager to do battle. His thunderous footsteps woke Finn’s wife, Oonagh, who took one look at Benandonner and realized her husband was doomed. The quick-thinking Oonagh covered her sleeping husband with one of her nightgowns and tied a bonnet on his head. A moment later, Benandonner confronted her. “Where’s that coward husband of yours,” he demanded. “Shhh!” replied Oonagh, stepping aside to reveal her husband in peaceful repose. “You’ll wake the baby.” Benandonner panicked. If the baby was this big, how much larger would Finn be? He fled back to his cave, tearing up the causeway in his wake, so that Finn could not follow.

This delightful story refers to what is today known as the Giant’s Causeway on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland. It has, of course, no basis in fact. Today we know Read More

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Click on title to view photo in large format: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is one of the most popular sites along the Coastal Causeway in Northern Ireland. It was first built 350 years ago by Salmon fishermen, who used it to haul their catch from the Rocky Island to the mainland. Today the bridge attracts thrill-seekers and bird watchers. I wasn’t sure I’d have the courage to cross the 100-foot high swinging bridge, but it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Not only was I able to stop in mid-bridge and let go of the ropes to pose for a photo, I also Read More

Portstewart Strand Beach, located on the Coastal Causeway in Northern Ireland

Click on title to view photo in large format: The golden sands of Portstewart Strand sweep more than two miles along the Coastal Causeway in Northern Ireland. In addition to being popular for surfing, body boarding, and swimming, the beach is also a favorite with bird watchers. With new toilets, external showers, improved first aid facilities, and an on-site restaurant, families find it particularly attractive. Portstewart Strand has been awarded a Blue Flag award for the Read More