LandLopers http://landlopers.com Fri, 17 Oct 2014 05:59:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fourteen Of My Favorite Photos (So Far) From 2014http://landlopers.com/2014/10/16/2014-favorite-photos/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/16/2014-favorite-photos/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 04:56:12 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28459 This week the photo sharing event I almost always participate in – #FriFotos – turns FOUR. As a result, the theme this week is FOUR and so, as usual, I … Read More

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This week the photo sharing event I almost always participate in – #FriFotos – turns FOUR. As a result, the theme this week is FOUR and so, as usual, I took a twist on that theme and decided to share FOURteen of my favorite photos all taken on my 2014 travels. More than nice photos, they all mean something to me and I hope you enjoy them all.

Monkey Mia, Australia

Monkey Mia, Australia

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, France

Wales, UK

Wales

Bundestag Berlin Germany

Berlin, Germany

Harris hawk Omni Homestead Virginia

Virginia

Walker Bay, South Africa

Walker Bay, South Africa

London UK

London

Man Mo Temple Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Bayon Temple, Cambodia

Cambodia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Horses in Alberta, Canada

Alberta, Canada

Valletta Malta

Valletta, Malta

Mantua Italy theater

Mantua, Italy

Dana Jordan

Jordan

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Sleeping In A Knight’s House In Maltahttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/16/knights-house-malta/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/16/knights-house-malta/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 04:50:40 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28432 On my recent trip to Malta I had a unique chance to live like a local in the best way possible. Working with Homeaway.com, I rented two nights in a … Read More

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Senglea Malta

On my recent trip to Malta I had a unique chance to live like a local in the best way possible. Working with Homeaway.com, I rented two nights in a massive house that wasn’t just beautiful and well located, but which helped me live out my dreams of being a Knight of Malta.

Sitting on the Grand Harbour, Malta’s capital city of Valletta sits facing three other cities. At first glance, visitors probably think they’re looking at just an extension of Valletta, but the Three Cities, as they’re called, have very distinct and very proud histories. The three fortified cities though lie within the massive fortifications of the Grand Harbour, and are an important part of the beauty of the area. They’re obviously very well located, as I learned when I first arrived to my Homeaway.com rental in one of the Three Cities, Senglea.

In case you’re not familiar with them, Homeaway.com is a short-term vacation rental web site and offer properties in almost every corner of the world. My partner and I have used them in the past, opting for an apartment instead of a hotel room in cities like Brussels and Milan. I chose them yet again for my Malta trip because the visit was an important one personally and I wanted to be as close to the locals as possible, something only a vacation rental can provide.

I’m also a history nerd, and in particular have spent many years studying the history of the Knights of Malta, a military and religious order that once called the island nation their home. That’s why when I saw the listing for the house in Senglea, I hoped and prayed that it was still available.

Sitting on a quiet street in the equally quiet town of Senglea, the lower part of the house pre-dates the arrival of the Knights in 1530 and was a farm dwelling. Later, a larger house was built on top in the mid-1500’s, and still was later enlarged in the 17th century. It is thought that this is one of the earliest Knights’ houses from when the Knights of Malta settled Senglea in the 16th century. For someone like me it sounded too good to be true.

Stepping through the doorway for the first time, all my hopes were confirmed and my dreams realized. Thanks to the original masonry and expert rehabilitation of the property, I felt like I was walking into a castle. An enclosed courtyard immediately made me think that I had stepped back in time, to the days of the Knights. I’m always amazed at the beautiful homes simple doors in Europe sometimes hide, and such was definitely the case with this beautiful home in Senglea.

The space was a large one, probably too large for just one person, but it suited me well. The ferry and bus stops were close by so I could continue my exploration of Valletta and Malta with ease and the views were incredible. From the top of the house I could see the harbor, beautifully full of boats and activity. That same harbor defined my time at the house, the waterfront is about a three minute walk from the house and is lined with restaurants, each providing amazing views.

The house itself may be ancient, but the owners have done a great job in modernizing it, keeping the spirit of the past while adding modern day comforts. The master bedroom was large, stately and well air conditioned; an important feature in often times hot Malta. In total there were three bedrooms, a large kitchen, ample living areas and even a massive rooftop terrace complete with Jacuzzi. I wish I could have spent more than two nights there, it really is perfect for a much longer stay.

The house, the rental and my stay in Malta were all successes. I think a lot of the reason for that is because I stayed local throughout my time in the country. On Gozo I stayed in a farmhouse and in the capital city, I lived in this beautiful home. There’s a lot to be said for living like a local, calling a neighborhood your home. I love great hotels, don’t get me wrong, but I also recognize how great it is to call a house or an apartment home when traveling. From relaxing to cooking and getting to know your neighbors, it adds a lot to the travel experience, just as it did for me in Malta.

Have you ever used a short term vacation rental? How did it go?

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Travel News: October 17, 2014 – Colorado sees leap in ‘pot tourism’, Canopy by Hilton Is the World’s Newest Hotel Brand and Fall Promotion From Viking River Cruiseshttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/16/travel-news-october-17-2014/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/16/travel-news-october-17-2014/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 04:45:47 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28462 Colorado sees leap in ‘pot tourism’ TNT Magazine It’s not famed for its sunshine or sand, but Denver, Colorado has seen a huge leap in tourists visiting for its smokes. … Read More

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Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, Colorado

Colorado sees leap in ‘pot tourism’
TNT Magazine

It’s not famed for its sunshine or sand, but Denver, Colorado has seen a huge leap in tourists visiting for its smokes.

Colorado was the first state to legalise marijuana for recreational use in May last year, and since then, independently owned, regulated and heavily taxed cannabis shops have popped up all over its capital.

Tour operators are now shipping in curious weekend-breakers who can stay at pot-friendly hotels, relax in Amsterdam-style coffee shops and even skin up in some bars.

These specialised trips are not designed for sightseeing – although that’s not off the cards, either.

Instead, tourists can choose to visit cannabis farms, to try cannabis yoga and even to attend cannabis-infused cooking classes.

 

Canopy by Hilton Is the World’s Newest Hotel Brand
Condé Nast Traveler

A new hotel brand called Canopy by Hilton will debut in 2015, the company announced this morning, with 11 properties under development in a variety of markets including Indianapolis, London, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Hilton says Canopy will be aimed at both leisure and business travelers, and descriptions of the brand suggest that it will combine the most appealing facilities of a select-service hotel (free breakfast, “free standard Wi-Fi”) with the services and features more common at higher-end hotels (advice on local neighborhoods and restaurants, evening beer and wine tastings, rooftop bars).

 

Delta CEO: Boeing 747s will be retired by 2017
USA Today

If you want to book a flight on one of Delta Air Lines’ Boeing 747s, the clock is ticking.

The carrier plans to retire the last of the 16 747s in its fleet by 2017, CEO Richard Anderson said during the carrier’s third-quarter earnings call Thursday.

The move is no surprise, but the timeline guidance comes as Delta says in its earnings statement that it will “accelerate the retirement of (its) 747 fleet as part of its Pacific network restructuring.”

 

Fall Promotion From Viking River Cruises
DigitalJournal.com

Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.com) today announced a new fall promotion for its most popular itineraries in Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia. From now through October 31, Viking is offering an Early Booking Discount (Code EBD) for all Europe departures in March and April 2015 and all 2015 Southeast Asia departures – with up to 2-for-1 cruise fare and up to 2-for-1 international air. The fall promotion also includes additional savings on a variety of specific departures. Guests who book a stateroom on one of the award-winning Viking Longships in Europe – or one of the two new ships on the Elbe River – will save an extra $300 per couple. And guests who book a 2015 Russia departure will receive up to 2-for-1 cruise fare and up to free airfare.

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Learning How To Really Cook Like An Italian In Milanhttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/15/cook-milan-italy/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/15/cook-milan-italy/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:30:46 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28399 I love taking cooking classes when I travel. I’ve long believed that food is the best way to learn about a new culture so, by extension, learning how to cook … Read More

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Cooking Milan Italy

I love taking cooking classes when I travel. I’ve long believed that food is the best way to learn about a new culture so, by extension, learning how to cook these delicious foods offers an even more personal immersion into those cultures. My most recent cooking class experience was in one of the world’s great culinary destinations, Italy, where I not only learned how to make the perfect pasta, but I also learned why food is so very important to the people who live there.

“Remember, we eat the pasta when IT is ready, not when WE are ready,” Chef Aurora, the owner of Cook and Dine, gently reminded us as we concentrated on the task before us. Making pasta from scratch is hard for even a seasoned pro, much less a bunch of amateurs, but our success was an early testament to the skills of Chef Aurora. She learned her trade at a cooking school in Milan, but honed them around the world by working in restaurants in countries as far flung as Australia. Eventually she and her husband returned home and she decided to open her home to strangers, giving them the opportunity to learn how to cook authentic Italian food in a friendly and fun environment.

Italian cuisine is one of the most popular around the world, but doing it well is sadly not nearly as common. Technique and ingredients are both critical in creating delicious Italian food, as Chef Aurora quickly taught us. There’s something inherently calming about being in someone’s house, in their kitchen when learning how to cook. Had we been in a large industrial space I know I would’ve been a little nervous, but cooking alongside Aurora in her personal kitchen made it seem like I was hanging out with a friend instead of a teacher.

The menu was an ambitious one, but Aurora had faith in us. On tap was:

  • Osso buco with saffron risotto
  • Pumpkin ravioli
  • Cotoletta
  • Tiramisu

If a group of trained chefs were cooking together I would expect a menu like this one, but we were far from professionals and I wondered what the final product would actually look like. But I didn’t realize just how impressive a teacher Aurora really is. Taking firm control of the kitchen, she gave all of us our specific duties and carefully watched over us, scolding gently if we did something wrong.

Lardo wrapped chestnuts

Chatting with her I learned that she typically has students in her home almost every day of the week. Folks from all over the world book classes with her, eager to take home a little culinary knowledge along with their memories of Milan. I for one would be exhausted with such a schedule, but seeing Aurora’s eyes light up as she described past students I could see the excitement there. Some people have the gift not just to teach, but to truly enjoy being around others. She has this in spades and instead of exhausting her, the constant influx of students just makes her more excited.

After masterfully preparing the veal, risotto and even the homemade ravioli, Chef Aurora and her husband shoed us out of the kitchen to her dining room, so that she could finish up the meal and plate everything for us. Laughing and almost giddy after a job well done, it was strangely gratifying to see the procession of courses make their way to the table. We had done it. Somehow, in spite of all odds, we had put together a delicious and traditional Italian dinner and no one even got sick afterwards.

Pasta prep

More importantly, to me at least, was the knowledge with which I left her home that evening. Sure, the recipes and the practical kitchen know-how was great, but I mean a more cultural education. I learned a lot about dishes that are important to Milanese, meals that they have enjoyed in their homes for generations. Instead of a soulless restaurant meal, the food at Chef Aurora’s was created like all amazing Italian meals, with heart and passion. It’s that secret ingredient that made the meal and the experience so delicious and one that I am sure to never forget.

Have you ever participated in cooking classes on your travels?

 

Recipes

While I can’t replicate the same homey feeling, here are the recipes we used so you can try these delicious dishes at home.

Risotto with ossobuco (4 people)

For the risotto:

350 g Carnaroli rice
1 glass of dry white wine
butter
onion
grated Parmesan cheese
1 gram of saffron

For Ossobuco:

1 stalk of celery
1 carrot
1 onion
4 cuts ossobuco rear center
1 glass of dry white wine
broth
flour
parsley, garlic and grated lemon skin
butter

For the soup:

Celery, one carrot, one onion, 2 bones of the knee, salt, stock cube

Preparing the meat broth

Place in a pot with 2 liters of cold salt water, vegetables and whole washed clean, celery, onion
carrot peeled. Add the beef on the bone and leave it on high heat until boiling. When it boils, let it cook for 3 hours with the flame to a minimum.

Remove the meat from the pot and vegetables and keep aside. Strain the broth.

Ossobuco

Flour the 4 shanks on all sides.
Chop celery, carrot and onion in small pieces and fry lightly with butter and olive oil. When the
veggies are browned,add the ossobuco, cook on both sides for few minutes and then add
white wine and let evaporate.

Allow to cook the meat for about 2 hours, and add some soup if it sticks leaving aside to cover a
vent; control the cooking every now and then does not stick to the ossobuco. Add salt and pepper to taste. When it is ready switch off the fire and sprinkle on the meat a mixture of chopped parsley, garlic and grated lemon peel.

Preparation of risotto

In a saucepan melt the butter then add chopped onion and let fry. Then add the rice and toast it for a few minutes, pour the white wine and let it evaporate. Add saffron.

Moisten with broth constantly until cooked. When the rice is ready,switch off the fire and stir in
butter and Parmesan cheese.

Pumpkin Ravioli

For the filling

pumpkin, amaretto biscuits ( 1/3 of pumpkin weight), fruit mustard (pear or peach
or apricot), nutmeg, Parmesan, 2 eggs, grated lemon zest

For the pasta (portion per person)

100 gr white flour 00, 1 egg

For the sauce

butter, sage leaves, Parmesan

Bake the pumpkin with aluminum foil sealed all around it, then put in the mixer all the filling
ingredients, mix all together and add salt to taste. It must be a thick filling.

In a bowl put the flour, make a hole in the middle a scramble an egg with a fork.Don’t add water.
Slowly mix your flour with egg and when it’s all stuck together take out from the boll and work by hand on a wood board covered with flour. With a rolling pin thin the dough in a rectangle about 5-7 cm high and no more than 2 millimeters thickness. With a teaspoon put on the sheet the filling; the distance between one and the other filling is about 2 cm. Stay close to the edge of long side of your sheet about ½ cm. Brush the edges of the pasta lightly with water. This will help the ravioli to have a tight seal and not break when boiled. Fold your sheet over the filling and squeeze out the air with your fingers and seal each ravioli. Cut around the filling to make squares or circles. Boil water with salt, add a spoon of oil to prevent that ravioli stick together and when they come up taste if they are ready,depend on the thickness of the dough.

Melt the butter with sage in a little pan,just 2 minutes;drain the pasta add the sauce, mix well and then add Parmesan.

Milanese cotoletta

Ingredients
4 veal cutlets
1 egg
bread crumbs
butter
salt

Beat two whole egg and add a pinch of salt.
Pass the cutlets in beaten egg and then in bread crumbs to cover the whole cutlet from both side.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the cotoletta. Leave to cook on both sides and serve.

Tiramisu

Ingredients

6 eggs, 120 gr.of sugar, 500 gr Mascarpone, dark cocoa, liquid coffee ,lady fingers 400
gr.

To prepare the tiramisu, divide the egg whites from the yolks, add half of the sugar to the yolks and whisk until you get a nice mixture that is light, fluffy and creamy.

Add the Mascarpone to the mixture of egg yolks, and then take charge of egg whites: add the other half of the sugar and continue beating until stiff.

Once the egg whites will be mounted to perfection add them to the mixture of egg yolks, sugar and Mascarpone. Do this gently, stirring from the bottom up, with a spoon so as not to disassemble.

Wet the ladyfingers in the coffee being careful not to soak them too much, and then arrange them in the cup by cutting them in the form or put in a pin.

Lay a tablespoon of cream over the biscuits, level the cream and cover with another layer of sponge soaked in coffee , well leveled and sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder .

If you want you can sprinkle the top of the cup with a few curls of chocolate. Put in the fridge for a few hours to shrink and … bon appetit!

 

 

This post was brought to you as a result of the #Blogville campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Lombardy Tourism and Emilia Romagna Tourism. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.

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A Bedouin and His Flock In Wadi Dana, Jordanhttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/15/photo-bedouin-wadi-dana-jordan/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/15/photo-bedouin-wadi-dana-jordan/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:27:48 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28453 The post A Bedouin and His Flock In Wadi Dana, Jordan appeared first on LandLopers.

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Dana Jordan

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The Badlands Sunset Walk: My Favorite Experience in Albertahttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/14/the-badlands/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/14/the-badlands/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:53:20 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28413 It’s safe to say that Dinosaur Provincial Park in southern Alberta made an impression on me. I’m not sure if it’s the remoteness of the Park, the unusual activities there … Read More

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Alberta Canada

It’s safe to say that Dinosaur Provincial Park in southern Alberta made an impression on me. I’m not sure if it’s the remoteness of the Park, the unusual activities there or the fact I’m just proud that I actually managed to camp, albeit comfortably. Most likely it’s a mixture of all of these qualities, along with something else; the raw and wholly unexpected beauty of Alberta’s Badlands. I knew I’d like them, but I had no idea just how deeply I would fall in love with the geography of the Park and surrounding area. My best exposure to the natural side of both the Park and southern Alberta was on a sunset photo walk through the Badlands – one of the best nature walks I’ve ever been on.

Like many of the guides at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Max was a student, there for the summer to work what is without a doubt one of the best jobs on the planet. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dinosaur Provincial Park is famous around the world for its massive cache of dinosaur fossils. But what may not be as wildly known is the beautiful terrain in which these relics from the past are housed. Badlands geography can be found around the world, and is characterized by the canyons, ravines, gullies and hoodoos you can find there. Alberta’s Badlands are especially gnarly though and this rough terrain is what helped preserve the fossils for so long. Max’s job that evening was to lead around a group of visitors through some of the Park’s most beautiful spots, all during the Golden Hour and all while making sure no one wandered off into the great unknown.

Dinosaur Provincial Park Alberta Canada

The next two hours were probably the most fun I had during my entire trip to Alberta. Scampering across boulders, climbing up small hills to see what the views looked like on the other side, it was the opportunity for us adults to get out there and act like kids in a massive playground. There were some super-serious photographers (along with their wildly unnecessary and expensive lenses) but on the whole it was just normal amateurs, out there to enjoy the scenery, hopefully get some nice photos and see a different side to the Park and the Badlands.

And different it was. It’s amazing how light shapes our perceptions of a place, but the Park I witnessed as night fell was an entirely different place from the one I saw at noon. Shadows raced across rocks and the limestone seemed to light up, a certain warmth radiating from the rocks as the sun graced them with its special light. It was beautiful, especially as we all stood on top of yet another large hill and watched as the sun finally set below the horizon, turning the valleys into shades of yellow, then orange and finally blue.

Alberta Badlands Sunset

There are a lot of reasons to visit the Park, but this walk and the opportunity to see the Badlands in a completely different light (see what I did there?) should be chief among them. Alberta is blessed with hundreds, probably thousands, of special moments out in nature, but I know for me this is one that I will always treasure the most.

Where is your favorite place to see the sunset?

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Beautiful Frescoed Ceiling of the Ducal Palace, Mantuahttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/14/photo-bridal-chamber-mantua/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/14/photo-bridal-chamber-mantua/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:51:17 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28350 The post Beautiful Frescoed Ceiling of the Ducal Palace, Mantua appeared first on LandLopers.

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Mantua Italy

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16 Lessons I’ve Learned So Far This Yearhttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/13/lessons-learned-year/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/13/lessons-learned-year/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 22:10:42 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28407 Once or twice a year I like to look back and take stock. Instead of the end of the year, when most people reflect, fall is typically my season of … Read More

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Matt Long Dubrovnik Croatia

Once or twice a year I like to look back and take stock. Instead of the end of the year, when most people reflect, fall is typically my season of self-assessment. Maybe it’s the change of seasons or maybe it’s the impending holidays and spending time with my family, but I find this exercise important for my own continued self-development. And so, with this in mind here are a few things I either learned or was reminded of so far in 2014.

1. Time management and delegation – I’ve always struggled with these, even when I worked in a professional setting I couldn’t allow myself to delegate work to other people. Now with my digital career, I still find myself doing all of the work instead of finding assistance with the small things. The result is a crazy amount of work and stress, some of which frankly isn’t needed. I think that in the next few months I’ll have to hire an assistant of some sort not to complete the meaningful work I do, but to help out with the nitpicky details.

2. Lighten up – This has ALWAYS been a problem for me; I remember my mom telling me that I needed a thicker skin. So while understanding the nature of this personality fault is nothing new for me, learning how to deal with it effectively is. Perhaps at age 38 I’m finally growing up, but I’ve noticed recently an ability to let more things fall of my back and to hold my tongue in instances I wouldn’t have just a few years ago. This may not be a big deal for most people, but for me it’s practically a psychological breakthrough.

3. There’s always more to be done – I often tell people that since my job change while I’ve never worked harder that I’ve also never been happier, which is true. If I’m awake I’m usually working which has become a bit of an issue. I need to realize that just because there is more work to be done, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be done right away. Everyone is busy and there is always something everyone could be doing, but that doesn’t mean it’s critical they do so. Which brings me to my next point…

Monkey Mia, Australia

4. Relax – It is fairly ironic that someone who travels and highlights destinations around the world needs to relax, but it’s true. I’ve been feeling a little worn thin and I absolutely have to be more selfish and learn how to take some personal time. It’s something I don’t do enough of and I’m afraid that if I don’t I may end up resenting my new, dream job, which is something I want to avoid at all costs. I think we can all probably relate to this though, most of us don’t relax enough and quite honestly, it’s the best thing we could probably do for our health, both physical and mental.

5. Can’t be everything to everyone – This relates to a few of my other points, but I’ve definitely learned the dangers of overextending oneself. I’m essentially a freelancer, a freelance writer, marketer and consultant. A freelancer’s mentality is very much geared towards taking money when it’s presented, in case you don’t have another opportunity for a while. For me that meant saying yes to far too many opportunities and around May I had to stand back, reassess and say no to several folks. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. If I continued to try to do too much, all of my work would have suffered leaving everyone dissatisfied.

6. Attitude is everything – I am definitely NOT a new age, hippy dippy type of person but this year I began to appreciate the fact that one’s attitude and outlook on life is an essential component to success. Look around at your friends. Do the people who complain and whine always seem to have bad things happen to them? What about those happy more optimistic people, everything seems to go their way, doesn’t it? This isn’t a coincidence and indeed one’s attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to success. If you never expect anything good to happen, it never will.

7. Life is fleeting – I guess it’s just part of getting older, but losing close friends and family members never gets any easier. But what it has done is teach me just how very fragile life is. Not to be morbid, but none of us knows how long we have on this earth and as the famous quote goes, life isn’t a dress rehearsal. We owe it to ourselves to make the most out of each and every day and most importantly, we owe it to ourselves to lead a life that makes us and by extension those we care about happy.

train italy

8. Travel = confidence – Not all of my trips are what I would call hard or challenging. I’m pretty comfortable with a lot of different types of travel, and getting around Europe (for example) is something I enjoy rather than dread. That being said, I had the opportunity recently of trying out new styles of travel in different places and the results reminded me just how important travel is to our own self-esteem. I was nervous at first when it came to navigating the new terrain, but after having done it successfully once I found myself doing it again and again. More than that, I was really proud of myself. I’d pushed my travel comfort bubble again and am a better person for it.

9. Trust people more – I have trust issues, the reasons for which are many but regardless, they are there. The universe has been trying to tell me lately that I need to get over them though and start putting more trust in people. It’s not easy, no doubt there, but I feel is essential not only in my inter-personal relationships, but business ones as well. I need to assume the best in people and not the worst, something that’s frankly really hard for me to do.

10. Power of outrageous ideas – We all see insanely successful people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates and think they must be inherently different from us in ways we can’t change. Part of that may be true, but more than anything what helped propel people like them to extreme success is having the courage to be daring. No one ever succeeded by sitting on the sidelines and hoping that something good will one day happen to them. No, instead you have to get out there and make it happen, you have to dare to be outrageous and must not fear failure. That’s the only way in my opinion to be successful and happy, no matter what you’re trying to do.

11. Dogs are more than pets – Say what you will, but my dogs are important members of my family. Turns out, new research backs me up on this too. Some remarkable studies show that dogs interact with humans in ways that no other animal does, they perceive our intentions and read body clues that not even our cousins the apes and monkeys can do. No surprise really, dogs and humans have co-existed for thousands of years, each helping the other evolve into the creatures we are today. Man would not have been able to give up the hunter/gatherer lifestyle had it not been for dogs, and that’s just one of many examples of how we’ve depended on them throughout history. Today, humans and dogs share deep emotional bonds and I know I’ve come to rely upon mine when facing a hard day or a complex problem.

12. Be careful going into business with friends – I love working and I love my friends so I have frequently gone into business dealings with them. Sometimes it has worked out and other times, well, it hasn’t. The problem in working with friends though is that when it fails, it severely damages friendships as well. I’ve learned to be very careful when deciding with whom to go into business and to be very honest about expectations and results. The last thing I want to do is to damage a great friendship over a silly business dealing.

US Flag St Thomas

13. Love my country – I’m not a typical U.S. flag t-shirt wearing, obsessively patriotic American, but frequent travel has taught me not only how great my home country is but also how much I really do love it. Yes, we have our problems like everyone else and people around the world love to pick on us, but on the whole I think we have a lot to offer. Chatting with people around the world, many of them don’t like their countries. That astounds me and as an American is a concept that is extremely difficult to understand. I think that here in the U.S. the question is never whether or not we like our country; it’s the degree to which we love it that is in question. No, in spite of our foibles I will never stop loving my country for the magnificent nation that t is.

14. The world is huge – Every time I think I’ve been to a lot of places, I look at a map and am once again astounded at the size of the planet. There is so much to do and see on this beautiful planet that it is sometimes daunting to think about. Just consider all of the people and their unique and interesting stories. It would take many lifetimes to see it all, but that won’t stop me from trying.

15. Good to confide in others – I tend to be a private person, which is ironic since I’ve decided to make many aspects of my life public. But it’s true and it’s rare for me to talk with friends about problems or issues. But this year I’ve learned that the power of a great friendship is something not to be ignored and sometimes it’s just as important to hear your friends’ problems and to just be there for them. There’s great curative power in sharing with others, just make sure you don’t overshare and always choose the right friends.

16. Facing the past is sometimes good – This year marked my 20th high school reunion, an event I almost didn’t attend. I just didn’t see the point and honestly I didn’t want to dredge up a lot of high school angst. But I did go and the results surprised me in every way. I had a great time reconnecting with my old hometown and old friends. The trip did a lot of good for me, helped put some old demons to rest and left me with a much cheerier outlook on life. Sometimes it’s important to not ignore the past, but to face it head on as I thankfully learned this year.

What are some lessons you’ve learned this year?

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The Sun Sets Over Alberta’s Badlandshttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/13/sun-set-alberta-badlands/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/13/sun-set-alberta-badlands/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 22:05:00 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28347 The post The Sun Sets Over Alberta’s Badlands appeared first on LandLopers.

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Alberta Canada

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Five Perfect Moments on Gozo, Maltahttp://landlopers.com/2014/10/12/gozo-malta/ http://landlopers.com/2014/10/12/gozo-malta/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 04:55:19 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28359 I recently had the opportunity to spend several days on the second largest island in Malta, Gozo. While it sounds a little bit like a Muppets character, this island has … Read More

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Gozo Malta

I recently had the opportunity to spend several days on the second largest island in Malta, Gozo. While it sounds a little bit like a Muppets character, this island has a lot to offer and is the pastoral retreat most Maltese retire to when it’s time to relax and unwind. Pace of life on the island is without a question laid back and almost immediately I began to realize why so many people love to relax on Gozo. There were several special moments though that didn’t just define my time on Gozo, but I think will define any visitor’s experience on the island.

1. Swimming in the crystal blue waters

More than anything else, Gozo is probably best known for the beautiful waters that surround it. The most popular attraction is actually on the nearby and smaller island of Comino – the Blue Lagoon. Not to be confused with its Icelandic namesake, this lagoon is actually a real lagoon and the azure blue waters are some of the most inviting you’ll ever see. The best way to explore the grottoes and swimming holes around Gozo itself though is by hiring a local captain to take you out on a boat. From hidden beaches tucked away in caves, to gorgeous swimming spots, they’ll know the best places to visit. One of my favorite moments was sitting back on the boat under the warm Maltese sun, dipping my feet in the tepid water and feeling all of my stress melt away. There really is nothing quite like it.

2. Beautiful landscapes

Standing on top of the ancient walls of the Citadel is when it first hit me. Gozo is not your typical island getaway. Sure, the beaches are great but the interior is typically Mediterranean, which means scrubby landscapes that are honestly beautiful in their own way. I couldn’t tear my eyes off of the hills and towns surrounding us and I couldn’t have known it at the time, but that was just the first of many such beautiful encounters. I fell deeper and deeper in love with Gozo’s landscapes as I saw more of this small island. From vineyards to the coastal bluffs, there’s a lot of variety and all of it is absolutely stunning. The best way to experience it for yourself is to hop in a car or on a bus and just see as much of it as you can. Luckily, Gozo isn’t very big and so experiencing the best of its unusual geology can easily be done in a single day.

3. Exploring Victoria

Sitting in a cafe, slowly drinking an expertly prepared espresso and watching the island walk by. Without a doubt, that simple moment was my favorite spent in Victoria, the capital city of Gozo. Also known by the local name Rabat, tourists often travel through Victoria but far too few spend time really exploring it. Reflective of the island it calls home, Victoria is not large but it doesn’t have to be, you’ll see right away what makes this city so very special. Whether it’s the views from the imposing Citadel and Basilica or just wandering along the curvy roads that reveal beautiful architecture and private moments of perfection, you’ll quickly see what makes this city and island so very special. If you’re looking for a quick bite or a cup of coffee, stop by Jubilee off the main square. Although it’s a Maltese chain of three restaurants, the food is local and delicious and the atmosphere can’t be beat.

4. Prehistoric past

The Maltese islands have been a popular place for a long time, and Gozo is no exception. While most visitors know about its more recent history, it’s the prehistoric past that has put the island on the global map. Seven megalithic temples found both on Malta and Gozo are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and in my personal opinion they are not to be missed. More than 5,500 years old, the temples are some of the oldest surviving religious buildings in the world and just standing there in front of the entrance to these Bronze Age marvels is an experience almost like none other. My brain struggled to grapple with the crushing weight of history that this site has witnessed, from important ceremonies at the dawn of Western Civilization to events we will never fully comprehend. More than just an important historical site, the temple complex has a certain beauty in its own right. Looking around and gazing across the nearby valleys, you can immediately see why this spot was so important to our ancient cousins and you feel like the latest iteration in a remarkable chain of continuous reverence.

5. Delicious food

One of the best aspects of spending time on Gozo is the food. I love Mediterranean food and Gozo certainly does it well, but with its own unique twist. For a quick introduction to the culinary traditions of the island, stop by the Ta Mena winery and farm. Here they produce a little bit of everything, from wine and olive oil to cheeses and the delicious tomato conserva jam Malta is so well known for. From there, be sure to spend some time in a coastal community like Marsalforn, where you’ll discover fresh seafood prepared in ways that can only be called traditionally Maltese. My favorite way though to experience the amazing food of Gozo is to make it myself. Stopping by nearby farms and markets, I gathered up the ingredients for an amazing Maltese meal, using local ingredients for a once in a lifetime culinary experience. No matter what your food interests are, be sure to include eating as much as possible on your island to-do list.

What would you like to do most on Gozo?

 

This campaign was created and sponsored by Malta Tourism Authority in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.

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