WALK ACROSS THE WORLD’S THIRD LARGEST SALT FLAT IN NORTHWEST ARGENTINA

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  THIS IS AN UPDATED AND ENHANCED PREVIOUS POST AS I IMPROVE MY WEBSITE] [JUJUY PROVINCE, ARGENTINA] — Play the voiceover from the Voice of God dude in movie trailers: “In a world where…” and you’ll get a feeling what it’s like to make the trip to tour Salinas Grandes in Argentina, one of the largest salt flats in the world.  A well-worth-it side detour from traveling up the Humahuaca Gorge in Jujuy province. My trusty guide Augustin, who I’ve known only for an hour says, “But first we must make a stop.” pulls over to a skanky strip center off to the side of the road and comes back to the truck with some coca leaves and some unnamed Bolivian snuff. “This will make the altitude

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TOUR THE COLORED HILLS OF JUJUY PROVINCE IN NORTHWEST ARGENTINA

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  THIS IS AN UPDATED AND ENHANCED PREVIOUS POST AS I IMPROVE MY WEBSITE] [JUJUY PROVINCE, ARGENTINA] — Northwestern Argentina is one of the most surprising and under-visited part of the country. Right on the Salta/Jujuy provincial borders are two must see stops: the muddy Andean town of Purmamarca and just around the corner, the incredible Paseo de los Colorado, a two mile amusement ride of colors that wrap around behind Purmamarca. Stop in for a lunch in town, dominated by the stratified colors of the Hill of the Seven Colors — you’ll see why they named it that. When I read about this place in the NYTimes, I knew I had to go there. You should, too. Here’s a great article in the Wall Street

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HIKE AROUND THE EMERALD GREEN EIBSEE IN THE BAVARIAN ALPS

[GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, GERMANY] — I was posting photos from a hike in the Bavarian Alps and an Instagram follower I’ve never communicated with posted “You should go hike around lake Eibsee, the most beautiful lakes around.”  And so I did and he was right. Just outside the town of Garmisch in Bavaria is this most perfect mountain lake. The Eibsee, with Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze towering over it. You can walk around in the perfect Red Riding Hood like moss-bedecked trail that loops around it, take a dip or just sit and soak it all in. Then follow up with a brat, red cabbage and a beer at one of the lakeside restaurants.  There’ an easy, flat loop trail that leads from the nicely-run parking lot

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AN IDYLLIC RETREAT IN THE MOUNTAINS OF BAVARIA

[BAVARIAN ALPS, GERMANY] — On my last return trip from Verona to Munich, I remember flying over some killer mountains in Germany, just south of Munich. They were stupendous looking from the air as we headed in for final approach.  “Wow, wonder what those are called…” This year, I was headed back to the Italian Dolomites and realized that they were only a three hour drive from my Denver>Munich direct flight. I could save a day of travel, an extra flight and just drive directly there. Genius. But, passing through Bavaria, I thought I’d stop and see if I could find those mountains I saw before.  I did. Even better, I found this stunning hotel location. Schloss Elmau. I was researching cool places to stay

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HOW TO SPEND 36 HOURS IN MUNICH

[MÜNCHEN, GERMANY] — If you’re flying in/out of the ultra cool Munich airport — which looks more like an Apple store than airport — make sure you take a long overnight in Munich. Rated one of Europe’s most livable cities, you can see why when you walk around. Clean. Everything works. Nice Bavarian people. Gorgeous trees and parks all around. Here are some cool things to do if you have 36 hours in Munich. The last time I was in Munich was waaaay back in the early 80s when I was a backpacker making the wet slog to Oktoberfest. I don’t remember much besides the massive beer tents, sleeping in a down sleeping bag in the rain without a tent and spending the night cuddled

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A GORGEOUS, AFFORDABLE BOUTIQUE HOTEL IN LISBON

[LISBOA, PORTUGAL] — In planning for a trip to Portugal with a bunch of friends last month, I was in charge of looking for a cool boutique hotel. Some in the group I knew, others were going to be New Friends. Some I assumed were wanting somewhere special, others (cough cough) were a little more “I’ll just use my points.”-type.  The pressure was on… Holy cow (✞🐄) it’s amazing how fast Lisbon changes. I remember the first time I went in 2013 and Baixa was mostly boarded up and there just wasn’t much to do down in that grid of slick stoned streets. Now you can’t swing a cat without hitting a spanking new hotel or IKEA-bedecked Airbnb. The question was which one. I stumbled

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THE PERFECT BASE TO EXPLORE PORTUGAL’S DOURO VALLEY

[DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL] — After a harrowing Google Maps-led hair-brained shortcut through curvy mountains roads (umm guess who was Navigator 🙄), we arrived with our seasick passengers… ready for a drink. We drove through a gated entrance to a wine estate, wound up the road straight into the vines. A teeny sign on the right said “Reception ↘︎”. We slammed on the brakes. (Groans from the back) “That can’t be it…”. What we couldn’t see was the building built into the side of the cliff below us. Unlike Google Maps, we trusted this little sign. We fell out of the rental van, stumbled down the flinty steps and KABOOM. The view we were looking for. Just as Ana has prescribed.   We walk into the

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YOU SHOULD EAT HERE IN PARIS

[PARIS] — I was scared to death on my first trips to Paris — I started going B.I., Before the Internet — totally intimidated about finding the best cool restaurants. The mere thought of a) figuring out how to use a phone in France and b) people not understanding a single syllable of my Bad French just made the whole process unbearable. On top of that, I’d tried many times to ask some un-listening concierge — in those days of “Snooty France” — who would just shunt ALL Americans to some crappy brasserie around the corner with surly waiters and lame food. So I rarely trusted them…despite giving them big tips. So then I developed my default restaurant-picking technique:  Walking Until Finding Something Cool. WUFSC™️.

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VISIT THE LEAST-VISITED U.S. NATIONAL PARK

[PORTAL, ARIZONA] —   Chiricahua National Monument is one of the least visited national parks in the United States. When I heard that fact I said “I am definitely in.” You can see why, tucked into this vast, barren southwestern corner of the US, you’re not “going through” here on the way to somewhere else, you came here for a reason. And so did we. This is the high desert down here, with elevations starting around 5,000 feet and going up to 7500 ft inside the park, so it’s a lot cooler than the surrounding flat desert.   Refuel in Portal Arizona Portal is the gateway to the southern side of national monument, with its own funky lodge/grocery store/bar/restaurant right at the foot of the

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STAY ON A PRIVATE RANCH IN THE NEW MEXICO DESERT

[RODEO, NEW MEXICO] — A coupla weekends ago, I went on a bird-watching road trip along the southern Arizona and New Mexico border with my best college buddies. Three were into birding, two of us were along for the beer. We flew into Tucson and headed straight south, stopping at popular birding spots along the way to Nogales and the Mexican border.  Then we dog-legged left and skirted the border the whole way until we crossed in New Mexico and the dusty town of Rodeo, with watchful Border Patrol hidden around every curve.  We stopped in Patagonia, Tombstone, Bixbee and finally crossed the border in New Mexico to stay at the Painted Pony Resort in the dusty town of Rodeo. This time of year, this part of southern

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TAKE A TOUR THROUGH THE TERRACED VINEYARDS OF PORTUGAL’S DOURO RIVER VALLEY

[DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL] — I see all these Instagram peeps hitting Porto taking pictures of the big bridge, climbing up its steep hills, drinking some port and then bolting. But really what they’re missing is a day trip (or longer) up the Douro River to visit the incredible, hilly stair step vineyards of the Douro Valley, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. I dunno, I’m over wine tours, once you see a few, they’re all the same to me — “Is that French oak or American? How long in stainless??” — poke me in the eye with a stick…but that’s just me… But the Douro Valley is different. Hilly. Steep. Flinty mounds of luscious green heaven pouring down to a mellow meandering river.

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A FOUR DAY D-DAY TOUR OF NORMANDY

[Caen, France] — The cold morning wind was biting our faces as we walked up to the big bronze plaque. Our incredible guide Mathias Leclère, whom we just met ten minutes ago, pulled us over to chat in the protection of a wall dug into the hill. “Over along that ridge, German troops lined the tree lines, all the way to that bell tower in that village over there. Below us, all of these fields had been flooded by the Germans in anticipation of an invasion.” Mathias calmly shouted amidst the blowing winter wind, a little sleet stinging our faces. “Just behind us, 13,000 U.S. paratroopers had just landed in the middle of the night. It was pitch black, no moon. The ack-ack anti-aircraft fire

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WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO STAY IN NORMANDY

(Normandie, France) — You can spend a day, a week or a month in Normandie and never get enough. We only had a couple of days on our own to explore the province after taking a D-Day tour, so didn’t get to see a lot, but here are my favorite finds. Normandie is really really old. Certainly there were neolithic settlements, but it was settled by the Vikings long ago –“Northmen land” is basically what the name translates to — who in the 800s rowed up the Seine in their longboats all the way up to Paris — long before the Viking Longboats were even conceived — pillaging along the way and eventually seizing the province from France. Then the Celts, William the Conqueror, the

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AN ADVENTURE HOTEL HIDDEN IN COLORADO’S CANYON LANDS

[GATEWAY, COLORADO]  — Okay, where the hell did this place come from?  Gateway Canyons Resort. Out of nowhere this over-the-top location has popped out of the blue over the last couple of years. Once the private ranch of the founder of the Discovery Channel, he has slowly built this from a small, in-the-know conference center with a handful of rooms into a full-on resort, adding chunks of rooms and facilities each year until it is now one of the best resorts I’ve been to in the U.S. This is Colorado?? I thought it was all about mountains and skiing?  Yup. But then there’s here. Western Colorado is a blurred line into the canyony parts of Utah. An hour south of ridgy Grand Junction — Colorado’s Orchard

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STAY ON A RENOVATED FARMSTEAD IN PORTUGAL’S ALENTEJO REGION

[ALENTEJO, PORTUGAL] — Leaving the pine-canopied coastal lands of Comporta, you drive straight across the heart of Portugal’s beautiful Alentejo region. Covering 30% of the country, this is Portugal’s bread basket. 10,000+ square miles of endless fields of cork, olives, wine and wheat.  When you read any article on Alentejo, you will undoubtably see bright photos golden wheat and dark green cork trees, mine will be no different. I’m here to visit one of Alentejo’s best boutique hotels. It almost feels like a movie filter, everything all gold, dark green and brown. The pounding sun almost making everything a little fuzzy. The uniform bright white architecture of Portuguese house of buildings, starkly contrasting with the golden fields and green hills.   Driving Across Alentejo Driving

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VISIT ONE OF THE PRETTIEST HILLTOWNS IN PORTUGAL

[Alentejo, Portugal] — From this hilltop, the highest in the region, you can see forever. That’s why this little town has been important throughout history. And not just history, but pre-history.  Monsaraz in Alentejo is the site of one of the oldest settlements in Portugal, going back to neolithic times when people were tilting stones to the sky and calling it home. Or temple. Or tomb. There are some of the best neolithic sites in the world scattered all over this region. This was such a strategic location that it has been fought and won over many many times by the conquering hoards. First, the pagans, then Romans, then the Goths came and slaughtered, then the Arabs, then another collection of Arabs, then Jewish conquerors, Christians

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A ROCKIN’ HOTEL IN LONDON YOU NEVER WANT TO LEAVE

[London] — You could feel the early Christmas season in the electric air. It was 4:30 on a Friday and the place was packed in every direction you turned, shoulder to shoulder in most places, everyone dressed up a little more festive than other weeks of the year, smiling, toasting success. It was dark in center of the great grand lobby, ninety four green marble columns rising thirty feet into the air, each with a top hat of shiny acanthus leaves, in a Corinthian way. The whole place felt Corinthian. The whole place was buzzing, swaying to the silky jazz singer. It felt like pre-war London. In the center of this laughing mass rose a band stage, 360 degrees round and trimmed in thick wood

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AN AIRY OASIS IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS OF MOROCCO

[OURIKA VALLEY, MOROCCO] — The road out of Marrakesh is a great unwinding. Leaving the crowded and bustling Medina behind, the criss-crossing crowded intersections and roundabouts, vehicles of every different size and shape. Donkey- and horse-drawn carts take their place alongside screaming mopeds, belching buses and trucks loaded with construction supplies and produce. Vendors selling everything out of their trunk on the side of the road or at a waiting stoplight. Well-dressed Moroccans and expats enjoying a coffee in the many outdoor cafes. It’s an insane cacophony.   Then you pass thru the suburban apartment blocks, women in full headdress walking their kids to school. Guys repairing cars on a wide sidewalk. Then the sprawling Palmeraie, a palm grove of several hundred thousand trees, huge

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THREE PERFECT DAYS IN ESSAOUIRA MOROCCO

[Essaouira, Morocco] — “Will we be able to see the goats in the trees?” I’d read about them for years, had seen picture and always wondered: “Why are the goats in trees?”  🙃 Now I wanted to see them. The drive from the Atlas Mountains was long and a little painful, you basically have to drive back through Marrakesh, then two and half hours driving across the barren plains to Essaouira on the coast. But as we were getting close to Essaouira, the driver quickly pulled over to the side of the road. GOATS!     After the initial fun reaction, we soon realized this was a tourist sham. The reason why the goats were bleating was because they were put up there by the

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COOL THINGS TO DO IN MARRAKESH

[MARRAKESH] — The first time I came to Morocco a few years ago, I was cranky. And a little scared. My TAP flight from Lisbon had a painful five hour chair-less layover in Casablanca and it was close to midnight by the time I pulled up to the hotel. It was hot. I was sweaty and sticky. The traffic was insane, snarled with scooters and lorries and donkey carts as the driver pulled over, fumes spewing when I opened the car door. I got out, bleary eyed, we were next to a busy gas station, cars lined up, honking out into the street. All the shops were boarded up and men were screaming at a completely jammed bus terminal across the street. A garish fluorescent light

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STAY IN A QUIET RIAD IN MARRAKESH’S BUSY MEDINA

[MARRAKESH] — Arriving at Marrakesh airport was a trip. My hotel had arranged a Fast Track service to expedite thru the passport control. A cute, small red-lipped French-speaking girl in a matching red blazer welcomed me immediately off the jetway with a sign.  It was the first time I’d seen my name as a verb — “Fogarting”. We stood awkwardly as we waited for my baggage, toes tapping, me trying my Bad French. She, apologizing for her delightful English: “I like this, I can practice my English….” acknowledging that my jet my high school French was worthless. After collecting my bags, she whisked me past another queue, then another, and then to yet another man outside the door with a “72 Riad” sign. He, in turn,

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