Tag Archives: geography

The Road of Doom Leads to A Lemony Heaven

Limoncello on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

There’s only one way to get to the best limoncello in the world, and that’s via the Amalfi Road, a one-and-a-half lane road that winds up and down one of the world’s most beautiful and terrifying coastlines. Taking a tour bus on what’s little more than a paved donkey path while trying hard not to think about soaring off that road into the Gulf of Naples one thousand feet below has left me shaken; I’m an acrophobe. I need a drink.

Our bus driver delivered safely us to the town of Praiano, perched on those cliffs. Amalfi coast dwellers live vertical lives; the distance to shops, restaurants and your neighbors’ homes is measured not in kilometers, but in the number of Read the rest

Rectangular Iceberg

Nature follows specific laws, but results are often irregular and asymmetric like clouds and coastline and ocean waves. So when NASA scientists flying over the northern Antarctic Peninsula last week as part of Operation IceBridge spotted a neatly cut rectangular piece of iceberg floating amidst a jumble of broken ice, everybody thought it was pretty interesting.

While icebergs with relatively straight edges are common, this was the first time anybody has seen an iceberg with two corners at right angles, explained Jeremy Harbeck, senior support scientist of Operation IceBridge.

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Let’s toast to drinking high on a mountain in the middle of nowhere

Gentiana Liquor in Abruzzo

We hiked through vast pastures and barren rocks, and then hiked more through a steep gravel path to reach the ridge at nearly 2,400 meters (7,900 feet), where there was a lodge. 

At the the end of a long hike, there must be drinks. We went in.

We asked for grape pie and Amaro, an alcoholic herbal infusion popular across Italy. Our waiter paused. He was a young man with hip-length dreadlocks and a southern Italian accent, serving drinks in the middle of nowhere.

“Do you want Amaro, or do you want something typical from here?” he asked.

“Here” is Campo Imperatore—a high plateau in the Gran Sasso national park, a mountain park in the Abruzzo region of central-southern Italy that reaches Read the rest

Morocco’s Abandoned Movie Sets in The Desert

In the early 1960s, movie director David Lean was scouting for locations to shoot his upcoming movie Lawrence of Arabia when he learned about Ouarzazate. This large desert town, nestled at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains, in southern Morocco had exotic scenery, clear skies and friendly locals, providing an attractive location for movies involving ancient, desert-based story lines. Lean eventually shot most part of the movie in Spain, but many key scenes were also shot in Jordan and in Ouarzazate, such as the massacre of the Turkish Army in the town of Tafas.

Over the last fifty years, countless movies and TV series have been shot in Morocco, and in Ouarzazate in particular. These include The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Last Read the rest

Michigan’s Massive Copper Boulders

In the early 17th century, fur traders traversing Lake Superior in North America heard tales of a fabulous boulder lying on the banks of the Ontonagon River. The boulder was said to be five tones in weight and as large as a house. And it was made of solid copper.

Stories about such a prize lying unclaimed in the wild set off many prospectors in the hunt, and it wasn’t long before the boulder was located. It really was made of solid copper. Curiously, no effort was made to relocate the treasure until nearly two centuries later. In 1766, when trader Alexander Henry laid eyes on the rock he was so excited that he grossly overestimated the weight of the boulder to be ten tons. Henry … Read the rest

The calming effect of a good travel companion and strong liquor in your coffee

Spiti Coffee in Himachal Pradesh

Mutton momos are a revelation. The juicy little parcels are packed with flavor, and I eat as many as I can. I’m up in the Himalayas—in Spiti Valley, to be exact—with the boy I started dating about a year ago. This is a far-flung corner of India’s Himachal Pradesh, halfway across the country from my home in Mumbai. It’s our last day in the high-altitude desert, and we’ve just stumbled upon a tiny, homely restaurant in Tabo that dishes out the best mutton momos.

Spiti is not like most other parts of India. The mountains loom large, brown and beige hues dominate the barren landscape, and quite frequently, centuries-old monasteries are markers for villages. The winters are icy and cold, and Read the rest

Chindōgu: The Japanese Art of Unuseless Inventions

You have definitely seen a chindōgu. They are those ridiculous Japanese inventions designed to solve a particular problem but are, in fact, so clumsy and inelegant that they are an inconvenience to use, and generate a whole lot of new problems. A few examples of chindōgu are: chopsticks with a miniature electric fan to cool noodles on the way to the mouth; glasses with attached funnels that allow the wearer to apply eye drops with accuracy; tiny umbrellas attached to cameras to take picture in the rain; a toilet plunger with a ring at one end that attaches to train-car ceilings and functions as a handrail in crowded carriages, and so on.

“Basically, chindogu is the same as the Industrial Revolution in Britain,” says Kenji KawakamiRead the rest