Author: Carolyn Bonello

Meandering Morocco, part two

For part one “J’Alla, J’Alla. Madam, give me bag. Very heavy. Not for lady to carry.” I watch in embarrassment as he is loaded with tonne after tonne. He just stands there obediently, no sign of resistance, not a complaint, just the odd blink and the occasional neigh. Finally, my mule is fully laden and ready to go!! I follow Ibrahim, my guide, up the winding mountain path, riddled with guilt, as I carry nothing but a pathetically small rucksack — not daring to look back at my poor mule. Flashes of uselessly packed items rush through my head. Thin fleece, thick fleece, even thicker fleece to sleep in? Well, they did warn that mountain temperatures drop to extreme lows at night. I also brought enough cereal bars to feed the whole village; actually, those bars could be my reward to Mr Mule at the end of the trip. OK, my conscience is a little clearer now. So, where exactly am I? Let me explain. I needed to get away from the maddening masses in Marrakech. A mere hour away, the village of Imlil, the gateway to the Atlas Mountains, was my salvation. A complete change of scenery, climate and way of life. Fully equipped with crampons, ice axe, gaiters, waterproofs and trekking boots, I am about to spend the next 7 days walking through rock and scree, snow...

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Meandering Morocco, part one

I hold my breath. It’s a battle for survival. Should I dare? I finally decide to take the plunge. I make a dash for it as I dodge crazy motorcyclists and cross the chaotic, traffic-jammed road. I get to the other side and, miraculously, I’m still in one piece. Phew, made it. Just about. Marrakech is hot, humid and humming with activity – an eclectic mix of culture, Berbers clad in brown cloaks, men with long curly beards lying idly by the roadside, old clay buildings, modern hotels, palm trees, tooting horns and frenetic taxi drivers. I bravely head towards the maddening souk. Apparently it’s a must. “Foto, madam, good price, 20 Dirhams” I just got here and I’m already being persecuted to pose with snakes and monkeys. I struggle to get a hyperactive monkey off my head, and then make a dash. I HAVE to get out of here. Running deeper into the labyrinth, I pass a myriad of colourful stalls selling anything from rotting bananas, plump oranges, silk sarongs and pashminas to intricately woven carpets and rugs, deep red and orange leather moccasins, clay pots and an array of herbs and spices whose aromas perfume the air with an oriental, musky smell. My throat feels like sandpaper. I am parched. I sit at a rooftop terrace sipping a very overpriced coke, which soothes my thirst but not...

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Something about La Rioja

I love to search for charming little places around the world, the type that do not usually fall under the average tourist’s wish-list, places I wish I could savour all by myself and hide from all you other thirsty travelers out there. But, alas, here I am in the magical wine region of La Rioja in Spain, and I am about to-very reluctantly may I say-divulge my precious secret to all. How selfless of me. Or maybe, it could be the overdose of Spanish vino that has permeated every cell in my brain that has led me to spill the beans. Who knows. I am in love with Laguardia, a pretty medieval town sitting on a rocky hilltop commanding spectacular views of the whole region. I curiously make my way through the intricate network of cobbled alleyways, stopping at little tavernas to sample home-made tapas and peeping into quaint shops selling authentic produce. No one speaks a word of English here, but I am well acknowledged — old women nod at me on their way to church, meat sellers smile and big-bellied men standing in the doorways of their vinotecas wave me in to sip their best wine. Lost in my own world, trying to absorb all of this, I stumble across an imposing majestic chunky wooden door: ‘Posada Mayor de Migueloa’ says the sign (www.mayordemigueloa.com). What was once...

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The Tibetan Travel Buddy, the Yak

‘Yakety-Yak don’t talk back’, would have been my answer a while back, if you ever asked me to tell you all I know about Yaks. However, as I photograph my newly-found shaggy friend, it’s a completely different story. Let me explain. At the moment I am on a high. Literally. 5210 metres above sea level actually. I am driving through the Gyawo-La pass, one of the highest mountain passes in the world, along the Friendship Highway that links Lhasa, in Tibet, to Kathmandu, in Nepal. Gazing dreamily out of the window at the imposing Himalayan peaks that dot this road, I suddenly spot him sitting on a blanket of snow, a few metres away, within easy reach — my companion throughout this Tibetan journey. Bigger and sturdier than I ever imagined. Every shaggy hair of him was real. My car’s screech penetrates the eerie silence. I run out of the jeep. I’m almost emotional. Finally, I get to meet him in person –- or whatever! My first introduction to the beast had been a few weeks back, at Rongbuk Monastery (the highest in the world) after visiting Everest Base Camp. I felt cold and groggy. I felt the effects of the altitude and all I wanted was a nice cup of tea, Earl Grey, if possible. And that’s when I tasted Cha Su Ma — Yak Butter tea. This...

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A True Taste of Tyrol

Devouring the last morsel of my Kaminwurzan, I can safely say that it is the most delicious smoked sausage I have ever tasted. It’s probably the best bit of food I ever tasted. No. I’m lying. The absolute best is what I’m about to stuff my face with now. The flakiest, sweetest, made-with-the-ripest-apples-ever, piece of divine apfel strudel. I’m sitting at kreuzjochhutte, a pretty alpine hut, and the mountain air has given me a voracious appetite. Well, granted, not just the mountain air. I’ve only just sat down after a day of serious trekking. This is Tyrol, Austria, where rolling green hills, majestic mountain peaks and pretty doll’s-house villages predominate. The lovely village of Kufstein, located along the river Inn, near the border with Bavaria, Germany, makes an ideal base from which to visit the best that Tyrol has to offer. Day one. The Zillertal Alps. I’m itching to trek every mountain in sight. I love mountains. I should have been born in the Alps. Day packs strapped up, walking poles in hand, all is set, and John, my very organized better half, studies the route on his wrinkled map. Not that we could ever get lost here. This is not the kind of place where a wrong turn off the main path would lead to days of isolation in thick jungle. Here, every bend is marked, every fork...

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Lemons and More, the Amalfi Coast

Everything in the Amalfi Coast is lemony. The perfumes, ceramic tiles, cups and saucers, main courses, desserts, refreshing drinks and, of course, the prize winner, Limoncello are just lemony. Up until now, I am oblivious to the amount of alcohol this pleasantly sweet digestive liquor, made from lemon rind, water and sugar, actually contains. But as I sit in a pretty restaurant over-looking Sorrento’s main piazza, downing my sixth chilled-ceramic-cup full, a throbbing headache and jelly legs give me the answer I need. There is obviously more to the Amalfi coast than lemons. A ribbon of road, stretching from Sorrento to Salerno winds itself along dramatic cliffs with sheer drops into pristine waters. This super scenic road passes through the stylish villages of Amalfi, Positano and Ravello, as well as a number of pretty, bougainvillea-covered, white-washed buildings, which cling to the rock faces. As I shudder at the chaotic traffic that greets me in Sorrento, I decide that the smoothest way to get around is by motorino. Plus it’s by far the most exciting way to experience the exhilarating drive round the hundreds of sharp hairpin bends along the coast. Amalfi is a charming mass of backstreets and alleyways, I discover, as I stroll around the town inquisitively, doing my best to dodge the overwhelming masses of Japanese tourists that flock around the many quaint souvenir shops. Ornate arches...

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Life in Durbar Square, Kathmandu

My first impressions of Kathmandu were nothing to write home about. Scenes of suicidal drivers hysterically tooting loud horns, buffalos crossing the road and open sewers reeking of stale urine did very little to impress me, as I sat speechless in a rattling tuk tuk, swerving its way through the crowded, chaotic labyrinths of Thamel, Kathmandu. Even more shocking was the bus station. I was horrified at the scene I was witnessing that very second. Hundreds of men squashed themselves into a rusty, blue and white striped bus that clearly could not fit more than thirty people. They squiggled in like tiny worms, bent double, hanging off the sides, and even the roof. I was baffled. I mean, there were several other buses parked close by, so why the panic to get into this one? In Nepal, a bus only leaves when full – in this case, a very different significance to the ‘full’ most know. Once in Durbar Square, however, where more than fifty imposing temples and monuments stand clustered around a large, pigeon-infested square, I began to feel more at ease and in tune with the way of life here in Kathmandu. I was especially thrilled at the fact that there were very few tourists to ruin the authenticity of the scenes that greeted me at the market square. Smells of incense mixed with curry perfumed the...

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Close Encounters with Tanzanian Treasures

It’s midnight. A relatively peaceful night so far. As I turn over sleepily, absent-mindedly rolling out of my safe perimeter of flimsy mosquito net (supposedly protecting me from the dreaded tsi tsi fly), the silence is interrupted by a knock. Someone at the door? Who could possibly need me at this hour? Plus, nobody knows me here at Seronera Wildlife Lodge. I drag myself to the large window and peer out – there he was. The culprit. The window-knocker who rudely disturbed my sleep. A handsome giraffe, happily helping himself to his dinner — a few of the freshest,...

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Welcome to ITKT

I am Devin Galaudet the Editor in Chief of ITKT. I am asked all the time how I did it? Was it worth? Changing my life around to make travel a priority. The short answer is yes. It was really a lifestyle choice. It hasn’t always been easy but I have never regretted it. If you are like me, you might want to explore what I did to get started.

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