Whistler – Canada’s Winter Wonderland

In the heart of British Columbia lies the quaintly named resort town that is Whistler.

The mountainous scenery surrounded by rich and lush green forests is simply breath-taking. Fill your lungs completely with the hearty fresh air, go hiking along well-beaten pathways or just immerse yourself in one of the countless majestic lakes around you.

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Take a stroll through the charming whistler village. Whether you’re looking for a unique retail experience, something to feast your tongue upon or an open air concert, the village is sure to leave you with a memory or two.

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The architecture of local lodges and luxurious hotels is also something to be appreciated and is typical of a ski resort. Beautiful and towering log structures with modern features but homely characteristics.

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‘Because I would rather be on the Alp than anywhere else on Earth’.

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Heidi had the good fortune of growing up between the enchanting Swiss Alps. In Spyri’s book ‘Heidi’, the young girl drinks goat’s milk and larks around the gargantuan mountains and valleys all day. A truly delightful life.

heidithebook_heavybookreview_wordpress_com_ It was this notable children’s storybook that ignited my avid engrossment in Switzerland. Snow topped peaks towering above, with lush grassy green valleys, awakened in the early morning by the tweeting of the birds and what a wonderful feeling knowing that the irritants of urban life are faraway, ugly skyscrapers sprouting up faster than plants, traffic and air pollution all so distant.

In April 2015, Switzerland was awarded the title of ‘Happiest nation in the world’ by the World Happiness Report, maybe this is because they consume the most chocolate than anywhere else.

But for myself, there is more to Switzerland than just its splendid natural beauty and its classic works of literature.

Switzerland’s neutral standing in the world is to be applauded, it hasn’t been in an international state of war since 1815, this is a vital piece of information compared to many other western states. It’s the country where the Red Cross was born and of course where the UN meets.

The Swiss federation is also home to the World Heath Organisation.

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WHO

Obviously the reason for these internationally known organisations being here is thanks to the unique neutrality of this state, so unlike many others…

Currently infamous for its far from neutral position, FIFA also has its beautiful, all black and glossy HQ here. FIFA’s gardens represent each continent with plants and trees grown to represent that region.

http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/administration/01/28/72/70/hof-ee.pdf  (Link for FIFA’s brochure)

FIFA entrance.
FIFA entrance.

It really is a marvel of a nation.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1827-1901) was written in 1880. One of the world’s best selling books having sold approximately 50 million copies. It has been suggested that the author may have received inspiration from the 1830 book called ‘Adelaide: The girl from the Alps’, which has a very similar storyline. Heidi is one of the best works of literature to have come out of Switzerland.

The quote I have used for the title of this post is from the book ‘Heidi’.

Nomadic dreams !

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The nomadic way of life first captured my attention a number of years ago and I instantly fell in love. Whether it’s Russian speaking Kyrgyz nomads or Bedouins meandering around the sand dunes of Arabia, they seem to have a peaceful, humble and stress-free existence. I envy them.

When I’m rushing around on crowded platforms or witnessing the horrific human traffic caused by city consumerism, my mind roams towards them, whilst they’re out, roaming themselves, battling harsh weather conditions, tugging along weary animals, dressed in tribal robes, either dark like the sand they restlessly patter on or pure white to reflect the sunlight that beats down heavily upon their brows.

If I were a nomad myself, the silence and serenity of the night would certainly be my most cherished time. I’d lay myself to rest in my kurt (tent pictured above) and I’d spend many sleepless nights staring at the sky above, watching the stars twinkling and winking at me, providing me with my own private show. The sheer beauty of the vast expanse of sky, coupled with stars, stretching for miles and miles will leave you breathless.

The dazzling Kyrgyz mountains towering up around me and the glittering turquoise rivers that run between them would be home to me. A peaceful, tranquil getaway, blistering sun and the smell of the fresh, cool air, the smell of health and never ending happiness.

Earth’s true beauty can only be witnessed in its most natural of surroundings. I hope one day this will be more than just a story, an image of a thousand words, that I’ve created in my daydreamer head.

Journeying in Jerusalem – Have Faith

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Overlooking the Holy Land

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My fascination with the history of Abrahamic Religions, unsurprisingly, led me to Jerusalem. An image surfaces in the minds of many of an ancient land, scorching, with the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat As Sakhrah in Arabic) in all its beauty and glory, glinting in the centre.

The panoramic view you’re blessed with standing at the Mount of Olives is indescribable.

A short bus ride takes you from the Mount of Olives to Damascus Gate, towards the ‘Muslim Quarter’ of Temple Mount. Coming face to face with the Dome of the Rock was an incredible moment, something I’d imagined myriads of times, but nothing truly prepares you for the real thing. It’s a stunning work of architecture.

Leaving behind the Dome of the Rock, the Western/Wailing wall is a quick 5 minute walk away. It’s a busy place, men and women dressed in traditional, conservative dress, clutching Torah’s and chanting Hebrew prayers. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. Cracks within the wall allow for letters to be written, full of prayers, a direct link to the Almighty.

Spiritual vibes flow through you, everywhere you go.

There’s no therapy like retail ! Who wouldn’t want to experience an Arab Bazaar in Israel?!   Rich and exotic. With each slow step I took, a new spice hit my nose. Gorgeous jewellery neatly lined up as far as the iris can see! Baskets upon baskets of different bean varieties, pretty silky scarves and the deeply tanned and wrinkled friendly faces standing behind each stall, calling out to you, tempting you to buy their wares.

Jerusalem is a magnificent city, where the love for travel and the love for religion can come together in the most magical of ways.