Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

Kalambaka Greece is the gateway to the famous site of Meteora, home to monasteries built atop rock pinnacles

Though primarily known as the gateway to Greece’s famous Meteora monasteries, the village of Kalambaka is exquisite in its own right. During a brief lunch stop during my two-week tour of Greece with Collette, I managed to squeeze in a walk around the old town area. Every corner I turned opened onto yet another spectacular view like the one in the above photo. The monolithic pinnacles that rise abruptly behind the town took my breath away. These startling brown sandstone pillars have been in use since ancient times. Initially, wind and water-sculpted caves in the formations served as shelter for locals during bandit and pirate attacks. Later, monks retired to these same caves to lead lives of seclusion and meditation. Shepherds drove their herds to the upper pastures each summer to take advantage of lush grasses that grow there. Read More

On the Greek island of Mykonos, a local man squatted down and began to tenderize octopus he just caught by slammg it repeatedly on the seaside rocks

I’d always heard that you must tenderize octopus before it can be eaten, but I had no idea what that involved until I visited Mykonos, Greece during a tour with Collette. I was enjoying a leisurely lunch at a seaside cafe during one of our free afternoons, when a local man squatted down on the rocks directly in front of me. He raised his right arm high and brought it down forcefully, slamming whatever he held in his hand against the rocks. It took me a moment to realize the “something” he held in his hand was a freshly-caught octopus. Again and again, he bashed the creature onto the boulder. Fascinated, I watched as the rubbery consistency of the octopus gradually melted into a soft, quivering mass. Read More

Blue Dome Viewpoint Santorini Greece

Blue Dome Viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the flooded volcanic caldera on the Greek island of Santorini. Originally connected to the island, the volcano has repeatedly “blown its top” over the past two million years. Each eruption ejected rock and earth from the mountain peak, leaving a near-perect ring of high cliffs surrounding a sunken center. Subsequent tectonic activity lifted, folded, and tore apart the cliffs, allowing sea water to flood into the caldera. The most recent activity, believed to have occurred around 1610 BC, is known as the Minoan eruption. Considred to be one of the largest and most powerful volcanic events in recorded history, it was during this eruption that geologists believe the caldera achieved its current form. Read More

Troop of baboons emerge on the road in Mago National park in the Omo Valley of southern Ethiopia

In the early morning hours, this troop of baboons strolled onto the road in Mago National Park in the Omo Valley of southern Ethiopia. Established in 1979, Mago is the country’s newest national park. Not only can a stunning diversity of wildlife be seen in the park, it is also home to a number of indigenous tribes, including the Aari, Banna, Bongoso, Hamer, Karo, Kwegu, Ngagatom, and Male peoples. However the park is perhaps best known as being home to the Mursi tribe, where women stretch their lower lips by inserting a series of ever-larger wooden plates into slits that have been cut into their lips. Read More

Sun sets over the salt flats in the Danakil Depression of Ethiopia, one of the lowest and hottest places on Earth

I eased into the low canvas deck chair my driver had set up next to our jeep. Waving off the glass of wine he proffered, I focused on the enormous lemon-colored sun descending through the salt haze. Earlier, I had walked across the salt flats in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression to Lake Karum. As I approached the turquoise shoreline, the hard-pan salt became soggy underfoot. Before long, I was carefully placing my feet on ridges in the characteristic polygonal desiccation cracks to avoid walking in the inch or more of water that flooded the salt. Read More

Dallol, officially one of the remotest places on earth, is located in the Danakil Depression in northeast Ethiopia. It is known for its otherworldly hydro-geothermal features that include acidic sulfur lakes, geysers, and bizarrely colored mineral deposits.

Dallol, officially one of the remotest places on earth, is located in the Danakil Depression in northeast Ethiopia. The area is known for its otherworldly hydro-geothermal features that include acidic sulfur lakes, geysers, and bizarrely colored mineral deposits. Though technically listed as a settlement by the government, Dallol is no longer inhabited. Other than nomadic peoples who mine salt and run camel caravans in the area, the only residents in this nearly uninhabitable landscape live in the nearby community of Hamedela, which serves as a base for tourists visiting the country’s volcanic regions. Read More