Globe Trekker in Poland

Globe Trekker in Poland

It’s 20 years in the making, but Globe Trekker has finally visited Poland to make the first full one hour show about  a country that is maybe not (yet!) on top of the world’s travel destinations.

GLOBE TREKKER IN POLAND

The travel route took presenter, Megan McCormick, and crew from the south-western border with the Czech Republic to the border with Belarus, where Megan enjoyed the last stretches of the journey in a kayak paddling along the Augustow Canal with formidable guide, Agnieszka Zyzalo.

Dwarf hunting in Wroclaw, amber fishing at the Baltic sea shore, Malbork Castle, the educational park in Kashuby, Wolf’s Lair and Czermna Skull Chapel were as much part of the program, as were a healthy number of Polish food and vodka tastings!

A whirlwind stop at the Blow Up Hall 5050 and a fantastic day with the Polish Hussaria made it a trip to remember… most of it is down to the kind and super efficient support of the Polish Film Commission in Warsaw and in Wroclaw, as well as dedicated individuals such as Malbork curator Marek Stokowski, amber artist Zbigniew Strzelcyk, Andrzej Dawidowski and the ever so brilliant Jaroslaw Struczynski from Gniew Castle… thank you all!

Behind the scenes of Globe Trekker in Poland…

Globe Trekker Poland 1 Globe Trekker Poland 2 Globe Trekker Poland 4 Globe Trekker Poland 5 Globe Trekker Poland 6 Globe Trekker Poland 7 Globe Trekker Poland 8 Globe Trekker Poland 9 Globe Trekker Poland 10

Exploring Russia’s Ice Trains with Zay Harding

Exploring Russia's Ice Trains with Zay Harding

It’s the second leg of our Tough Trains series – we’ve tackled Bolivia with Zay Harding, travelling from Brazil’s Pantanal to the Pacific coast of Chile bringing you snapshots from some of the most beautiful terrain in South America taking in the local Llamas, the majesty of the Andes and more.

Our next stop is Russia’s Ice Trains!

Russia’s trains travel along 85,500km of track, crossing 11 time zones.  In the cold and often brutal Russian winters, these trains persist against the freezing weather, travelling into Siberia and beyond.  We travel from the capital city of Moscow and head north to Stalin’s cruellest and most ambitious project – the Rail-Road of Death – before ending on the world’s most northern railway.  With average temperatures around -20/-30 degrees and ice at every turn, there’s nothing easy about Russian trains.

Check out Zay’s Globe Trekker photo diary taken on the road while filming Russia’s Ice Trains:

@globetrekker A quick stopover in #Moscow and I'm off to #Siberia. Should be there in 3 hours.

@globetrekker A quick stopover in #Moscow and I’m off to #Siberia. Should be there in 3 hours.

 

Looking over Russia's famous Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest train line in the world! #globetrekker #TSR #tyumen #siberia #russia #prettyamazing

Looking over Russia’s famous Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest train line in the world! #globetrekker #TSR #tyumen #siberia #russia #prettyamazing

 

Simple shot from out my window. I feel like I'm in an #AnselAdams picture. #GloriousDay #tyumen #siberia #russia #globetrekker

Simple shot from out my window. I feel like I’m in an #AnselAdams picture. #GloriousDay #tyumen #siberia #russia #globetrekker

 

Walkway up to the beautiful #TobolskKremlin and #StSophiaAssumptionCathedral #tobolsk #siberia #globetrekker #russia #friggincold

Walkway up to the beautiful #TobolskKremlin and #StSophiaAssumptionCathedral #tobolsk #siberia #globetrekker #russia #friggincold

 

 

@globetrekker #Tobolsk is the historical capital of #Siberia, built at the confluence of 2 rivers that stay frozen NINE months of the year! I saw MAC-TRUCKS driving across the ice today! #crazycold

@globetrekker #Tobolsk is the historical capital of #Siberia, built at the confluence of 2 rivers that stay frozen NINE months of the year! I saw MAC-TRUCKS driving across the ice today! #crazycold

 

 

Saw these cute homemade Siberian Cat dolls sitting in a cafe window. Almost thought they were real! #catsofinstagram #siberia #russia #craftycats

Saw these cute homemade Siberian Cat dolls sitting in a cafe window. Almost thought they were real! #catsofinstagram #siberia #russia #craftycats

 

It just started snowing! I swear I feel like I'm in a winter wonderland dream here!

It just started snowing! I swear I feel like I’m in a winter wonderland dream here!

 

@globetrekker With special permission, after a 26 hour train ride north into the Arctic, I have arrived at one of Russia's biggest gas fields. It is WAY colder than it looks here! #toughtrains #russia #crazycold

@globetrekker With special permission, after a 26 hour train ride north into the Arctic, I have arrived at one of Russia’s biggest gas fields. It is WAY colder than it looks here! #toughtrains #russia #crazycold

 

Back in the 1960's this was the very site that the first exploratory drilling hole struck an OCEAN of GAS!!! Still today, 90% of Russia's gas supply comes from this finding. #globetrekker #toughtrains #gasfields #russia

Back in the 1960’s this was the very site that the first exploratory drilling hole struck an OCEAN of GAS!!! Still today, 90% of Russia’s gas supply comes from this finding. #globetrekker #toughtrains #gasfields #russia

 

Snow plow trains run 24/7 so passenger trains such as this one can run regardless the extreme weather. BTW, it's -20 C (-4 F). No problem! #globetrekker #toughtrains #russia #crazycold

Snow plow trains run 24/7 so passenger trains such as this one can run regardless the extreme weather. BTW, it’s -20 C (-4 F). No problem! #globetrekker #toughtrains #russia #crazycold

 

A Conversation With Globe Trekker Presenter Megan McCormick

A Conversation With Globe Trekker Presenter Megan McCormick

Whenever I need a little escape but can’t get out of town, I fire up an episode or two of “Globe Trekker” so I can live vicariously through the adventures of travellers like Megan McCormick. Since she started hosting the show in 1997, she’s taken viewers to the Greek Islands, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Micronesia, India, the Silk Road and a host of other exotic locales.

“Globe Trekker,” shown in the U.S. on PBS, is my favourite travel show because it focuses on real travellers experiencing slices of local cultures, not sightseeing. McCormick is my kind of traveller. Her enthusiasm for the places she visits is infectious and you can’t help but conclude that she’d be a fun person to travel with. She got the travel bug in college and has found a way to make a living out of her wanderlust.

McCormick has lived in three U.S. states plus Argentina, Japan, Spain and the U.K., but says she’s now settling down in New York. We spoke to her this week about her favourite places, how she balances family life with her nomadic lifestyle and how she landed her dream job.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Ohio but I was mostly raised in Florida. I first came to New York when I was 12 and I remember feeling this tremendous sigh of relief because I didn’t really fit in in Florida. I was this gawky, ballet-dancing geek who never went in the sun.

Megan-McCormick-in-PortugalWere you a traveler growing up?

I grew up with a giant map of the world and a subscription to National Geographic. That was my mom’s influence. She had this wonderful wanderlust but we didn’t have the resources to travel very much. I studied abroad in France and after I graduated (with a degree from Boston University in philosophy and political science), I taught English in Japan through the JET program. And that was my first foray into traveling independently.

That was in the mid-’90s after I graduated from college. Then I stayed in Asia and backpacked around the region for almost a year and then I moved to New York. I saved a lot of money teaching in Japan and my dad said I should save that money and come home, but I didn’t do that dad, I didn’t! It’s been very hard for me to grow up and settle down.

Do you have a family?

I do. I’m married with kids now so that’s changed a lot. I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
My daughter traveled with me when she was really little and I just kept doing the show. My husband is in television as well, so we would alternate jobs to keep traveling. Then about two years ago, we alighted in Brooklyn and decided to put down roots here for a little while.

What does that mean?

I don’t know. It means we’ve stopped being peripatetic and moving from place to place. When “Globe Trekker” sent me to a location, especially in the early years, I was so excited; I would just stay. The crew would move on after we finished taping but I would stay. I was consistently away. In 2001, I was based in Barcelona and I thought I was missing too many moments in people’s lives, so I moved back to New York. Then I was in Argentina in 2008 for three years.

Megan-enjoying-a-sunset-camel-ride-across-the-Flaming-Moutains-Turpan

Wait a minute. I’m lost. Now you’re in Argentina? Your resume might be even more of a mess than mine.

I more or less backpacked most of the year until 2004 when my daughter was born, but I kept traveling for the first few years. In 2008, we went on vacation to Argentina for six weeks, but decided to stay. We ended up staying (in Mendoza) for three years but that wasn’t really the plan. That’s the beauty of working for yourself.

So how did you transition from backpacker to “Globe Trekker” host?

I had just moved back to New York and I was applying to grad schools for East Asian studies. I was a production assistant for “The News with Brian Williams.” I had some high level duties such as photocopying, ordering supplies and sending faxes. The whole time I was scheming to get out of there. I had a friend who was an actor and he saw this ad in an actor’s magazine announcing an audition for someone who loved to travel.

I’d never been on camera and had never been an actress, so instead of sending a headshot, I sent a collage of photos, kind of like an 8th grade book report. And I wrote a poetic, it’s-the-journey-that-matters kind of thing on the back of it. The director said she had never received a collage before and gave me an audition.

The first audition was great, but on the second one everything went wrong. We were wandering around Chinatown. A cat peed on me. I knocked over a fruit bin. I stumbled across a guy who was painting and he shouted at me like a crazy person and said I was stealing his soul.

It was a disaster but they called and said, “If you can leave in ten days, you’ll have one show and it’s in India.” This was in 1997. I think I’ve done 30-35 shows since then.

Do you know how many countries you’ve been to?

I should know that. My husband and I have a competition to see who’s been to more countries.

Who won?

He’s slightly ahead. He had some hard-to-get-to ones, which was very annoying. He did this great trip from Morocco to Mauritania, down to Nigeria. But I’ve done shows on six continents.

How long do you spend in-country when you’re filming?

We used to shoot for nearly three and a half weeks. But times have changed and budgets have changed. Travel has gotten easier. Now, depending on location, it might be two to three weeks.

And you take your family with you?

My daughter traveled with me until she was older. I’ve only done a few shows since my son was born. My husband would watch the kids while I was working but now he has a grown up job, so the kids stay here. Now that my daughter is in school the nomadic lifestyle is a little more challenging but I still go away every summer. I can’t stay still in the summer.

Megan Diving in MicronesiaOn the show, you stay in a mix of places. Sometimes it’s a $5 per night hostel, other times you’re in a really nice place, right?

It depends on the location. Generally we try to find unique places to stay that are affordable for most people. And those are usually the places that have the most character.

Tell me about one of the dodgier places you’ve stayed in?

A bed is a bed as long as there is nothing crawling in the mattress. I travel with a silk sleeping bag liner, just in case. But I did stay in a very strange, concrete hostel in the middle of nowhere in Inner Mongolia. The bathroom was outside and I went to find it in the middle of the night and I had to dodge two sheep and the bathroom was a hole in the ground over some pigs. There were pigs underneath; there were pigs! That was not a pleasant experience at all.

What are the countries you’re most passionate about?

I love Lebanon so much. And I’m also a big fan of Colombia.

What places do you recommend in Colombia?

I love cities, so I would check out Bogota and Cartagena. And from there, I would go to Santa Marta and then inland up into the mountains. If you like hiking, there is a five- or six-day hike into La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City. You’re into the jungle and there are indigenous people there who are incredible. And then there’s a beautiful island called Providencia, just off the coast with great beaches.

When you get bad weather do you wait it out or keep shooting?

Sometimes we wait 5-6 days for it to stop raining; other times, we work around it. Ian Wright was in Ireland recently and he said it rained 24 hours a day for days, but they just kept going though. I was in Myanmar for the show about three weeks ago. It’s an amazing country that’s in transition. The people are so lovely. We were there for Burmese New Year. They celebrate by shutting down the country for five days. They have a water festival, where they spray people with water or dump buckets of water on people. You have to have rain gear on because you’re going to get wet.

How many hours a day is the camera trained on you when you’re traveling?

It’s not a reality show so the camera isn’t on me all day long. But we film from sun up to sun down.

Have they ever asked you to wear something or do something that was a little too hokey?

Yes! I would say the entire South-eastern United States program. I think I wore more embarrassing outfits there than everywhere else but it was fun. I was decked out in an antebellum gown walking down some stairs, a Civil War dress, and I was in a cotillion dress dancing with a 16-year-old.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I’m going to Hokkaido in Japan for “Globe Trekker” and I also tried to make my own program, “Sea Nation.” We had a 12-part series where we gave up our normal lives in New York to live on a boat sailing around the Caribbean. It was incredible! We went to 25 different islands and met people from all walks of life. It was 2008, right at the beginning of the economic downturn, and we explored the idea – what can make you happy besides all the things we think will make us happy.

Megan-ChinaYou did this with your kids?

With my daughter, she was 4 at the time. She loved it! My son wasn’t born yet. We were at sea for about four months.

The show was on the Discovery Channel in Asia and a few places in Europe but it never found a home in the U.S. It’s with a sales agent now, so maybe something will happen with it. But there are 11 episodes available online or you can buy the DVD.

Do you consider your job a dream job?

If someone is organizing an opportunity for me to travel and paying me a small amount of money, I will never, ever complain about that. It’s been such a gift. Even the worst days, the day when they made a left instead of a right and we had to stay in the car in a desert for 14 hours, you still get funny stories. I can’t argue with anyone who says it’s a dream job

by Dave Seminara
(Original article appeared in http://www.gadling.com/2013/06/24/travel-dream-jobs-a-conversation-with-globe-trekkers-megan-mcc/)

Globe Trekker Goes to Switzerland!

Globe Trekker Goes to Switzerland!

Chocolates, watches, cheese, famous physicists and beautiful Alpine scenery.  It can only mean one thing!  We are back on the road again and this time we are filming another brand new Globe Trekker episode with Brianna Barnes in…Switzerland!

We’ve got heaps of stories for you fans, from the Alpine Beard festival, the crazy Reideralp cow-pat festival, St Bernard dogs, all-year skiing in Zermatt, Alpine hikes, underground mountain vaults, rare timepieces and the theory of relativity – all packed into one exciting episode.  Not forgetting those quirky things that make the Swiss so memorable.  For instance, did you know owning a gnome is illegal in Zurich and if you try to mow your lawn after 10pm you could face jail time?

So keep you’re eyes peeled for more updates from the Globe Trekker team on the road!

Filming-a-Mountain-Rescue-in-the-Swiss-Alps

Going up in the cable car over the Swiss Alps with Brianna Barnes Photo: Simon Buck

The View from the Cable Car.

The View from the Cable Car Photo: Simon Buck

 

The Winners of this year's Alpine Beard Festival

The winners of this year’s Alpine Beard Festival 2013

The competition was pretty fierce this year!

The competition was pretty fierce this year!

Brianna-&-Charlie-Chaplin-statue

Hanging out with Charlie Chaplin

Interlaken

On top of the world at Interlaeken

The pretty town of Gruyere - home to the famous cheese.

The pretty town of Gruyère – home to the famous cheese.

flower-clock

The Swiss are crazy about timepieces. They even made a floral one!

Cern, Switzerland.  Being a physicist for the day

Cern, Switzerland. Being a physicist for the day

Reideralp-Cow-Festival

Daisy…Daisy…how does your garden grow…?

...By throwing shit all over the mountain.  Quite literally at the Reideralp Cow Pat Festival!

…By throwing shit all over the mountain. Quite literally at the Reideralp Cow Pat Festival! Photo: Simon Buck

You can still ski in the Swiss Alps in summertime - lucky Mountain rescue are still on hand to offer assistance!

You can still ski in the Swiss Alps in summertime – luckily, the Swiss Mountain Rescue team are still on hand to offer assistance!

The Mighty Matterhorn

The Mighty Matterhorn

On the Thomas Cook hiking trail

On the Thomas Cook hiking trail

Found a few Mountain Goats

Found a few Mountain Goats…

Found a couple more!

…Found a couple more!

hiking must have been pretty uncomfortable in the Victorian Days.  This si how Thomas Cook would have looked taking his group around the Alps!

Hiking must have been pretty uncomfortable in the Victorian Days. This is how Thomas Cook would have looked taking his group around the Alps!

filming inside a Swiss Bank in Zurich

Filming inside a Swiss Bank vault in Zurich

He who holds the keys to the bank vault....

He who holds the keys to the bank vault….

Happy Birthday Madiba!

Happy Birthday Madiba!

July 18th Marks the UN’s Nelson Mandela Day but it is also the birthday of one of the greatest men in living history and Globe Trekker wishes a speedy recovery to one of the World’s most courageous public figures.

In his home country of South Africa, office workers, students, soldiers and ordinary citizens marked Mandela Day by sprucing up orphanages, painting walls at schools and delivering food to the poor (Reuters).

The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: Mr Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. The message of this day is that everyone donates 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.

Mandela Day is a call to action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did.

For more information and to place your pledge visit http://www.mandeladay.com/static/how-do-i-get-involved

To find out more about Mr Mandela’s fight to freedom why not check out our Globe Trekker Guide to South Africa with Justine Shapiro and if you are working on a school project or college essay about Nelson Mandela or his years at Robbin Island, then check out our mini-guide The Apartheid Prison of Robben Island as well as an insight into living in a Soweto township.

Zaynin Kanji

Sebastiao Salgado: Genesis

Mursi Women in Ethiopia with prominent lip plates

Sebastião Salgado is a Brazilian photographer famous for his extraordinary black and white images of life in some of the most remote and least visited parts of our planet.

Salgado’s latest work is the monumental project called Genesis, a collection of more than 200 images from the far reaches of the Earth, and showcases the results of an eight-year long project

This unique body of work is now exhibiting at London’s Natural History Museum through to September this year.

The collection contains startling images of the daily life of Siberian nomads, Papua New Guinea natives and Amazonian tribes photographed over weeks and months on location in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

Salgado’s images of the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia ( filmed by Globe Trekker in 1996) and his images of South Georgia in the South Atlantic (filmed by GT in 2009) and are among the most memorable images of the exhibition and a testimony to the extraordinary talents of this Globe Trotting photographic genius of our age!

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis is at the Natural History Museum, London, from 11 April to 8 September
Ticket prices £10 adults, £5 child and concession, £27 family

The Gardens by the Bay – Singapore

The Gardens by the Bay – Singapore

Singaporeans are an industrious lot.  Just look at what they have achieved in their city over the past 50 years.  Impressive and quite simply spectacular buildings line their cityscape and their architects show no signs of slowing down.   I first visited in the mid 1970s and have been coming here at least twice a year since 2000. On every visit, another dizzying landmark arises, from the remarkable arts complex with its unique porcupine inspired roof or most recently, theMarina Bay shopping and casino complex,constructed on reclaimed land and home to every major design label on the planet, and along with Las Vegas and London’s Westfield projects, claims to be among the world’s most “epic indoor shopping malls!”

The Singaporeans are expert at taming this hot, tropical island that was malaria infested when Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East India Company founded a trading post here some  200 years ago. But with their latest monumental development, The Gardens by the Bay, just a short pedestrian bridge walk across the motorway from the Marina Bay complex, they may have slipped up.

Singapore is fond of borrowing ideas from the West, particularly its former colonial master, Britain. They have erected a giant carousel wheel, a spitting image of the British Airways Millennium Wheel in London, a few years back and now The Gardens by the Bay looks very much like Singapore’s take on Britain’s Eden Project in Cornwall.

On a recent tour, it all looks a little too man made, particularly given its ecological and environmental themes. It reminded me of another British project, the ill-fated Millennium Dome. Like The Dome, The Gardens have a strong educative back story. However honourable the intentions, for The Dome it smacked of ‘’searching for a purpose”. I hope the same fate doesn’t befall The Gardens.

The Cloud Forest exhibit, constructed inside a gigantic sphere that has won several international architectural awards, seemed pointless – a triumph of man over nature. Give me Singapore’s excellent Botanic Gardens, at a fraction of the price, any time. The Flower Garden was more inspiring, a showcase of plants from around the word inside a giant greenhouse – a 21st Century version of the wonderful 19th century greenhouses doing the same job at Kew Gardens in London.

I couldn’t help thinking on leaving this giant complex with its hideous pink and purple railings and twee bunting, that this was man taming nature, not celebrating it. And Singapore is pretty good at that.

 

POSTED BY IAN CROSS

The Soul of Aleppo – The Ancient Souk

The Soul of Aleppo – The Ancient Souk
Originally posted to Flickr by Anas.A at http://flickr.com/photos/50471244@N06/4956886022
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, and one of the oldest in the world, is no stranger to war and destruction.  Most recently, at the end of September 2012, much of the ancient, covered souk, extending 13 kilometres long and known to many as “The Soul of Aleppo,” is now a shell of its former bustling self after a fire destroyed the medieval buildings which once housed hundreds of  shops as the armed groups of the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Arab Army fought for control of the city.

The souk, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was often recognized as being one of the most beautiful in the world and contained over 1500 shops with countless amounts of items, from spices, oils and dyes, to jewellery, silk, precious metals and everything in between.  Not only was the souk popular with the locals, but it was also a must see on many travellers’ itineraries.

Visiting Aleppo at this time is highly discouraged.  However, before the seemingly endless fighting and senseless fire that set the bazaar and surrounding monuments ablaze, the Globe Trekker team travelled to this fascinating city to film our Globe Trekker Syria show which reveals the brighter, more vibrant days of Aleppo.

Holly Morris filming Globe Trekker Syria

Holly Morris filming Globe Trekker Syria – click on the Image to watch the Behind the Scenes filming on location in Syria

Globe Trekker host and traveller, Holly Morris, was fortunate enough to have Aleppo on her Syria itinerary.  Holly experienced the rich history and exquisite beauty that the trading centre represented, first-hand.  Through the alleys, stone archways and colossal wooden doors, rows of vendors were plentiful, one selling gold, another of fresh meat, textiles and even a pharmacy were permanent fixtures here, some dating back as far as the 13th Century. Holly alsoexplored the Citadel, an ancient landmark and one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.  She then went on to visit the city of Apamea, the Dead Cities, Saladin’s Castle and eventually makes her way to capital, Damascus.

The Ancient Citadel of Aleppo – Outside its main entrance

Although the enormous destruction in Aleppo is beyond comprehension, it is still possible to rebuild and repair what has been obliterated in the flames.  It comes at no small cost, estimated at millions of dollars, but hopefully the Souk of Aleppo can flourish again and represent the city and its rich part in history that it once did.

———————————

Blair Shapiro

———————————-

Carnival Season Around the World

Carnival season 2013 is upon us and whether you are in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, or South America, there is no shortage of celebrations happening all around the world. The most well known festivals are celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Sydney, Australia, Venice, Italy and Trinidad and Tobago.

Mardi Gras is centered mainly around the French Quarter of New Orleans for approximately two weeks and commences on Fat Tuesday, which falls on February 12th this year. However, the multiple parades take place Uptown and in mid-city, due to the narrow streets in the French Quarter. From the elaborately decorated floats, wild costumes, lively music, famous King Cakes, to the lengths people will go to in order to obtain a plethora of colorful, signatory beads, there is never a dull moment or a shortage of purple, green and gold.

Globe Trekker host, Justine Shapiro took part in the Mardi Gras festivities when she was invited to join one of the 27 floats of the Krewe of Orpheus. In true Mardi Gras fashion, Justine wore a jester costume and adorned herself with multiple beads.

Globe Trekker New Orleans

Rio De Janeiro, fittingly known as the carnival capital of the world, is no stranger to celebrations. Rio’s Carnival dates coincide with Mardi Gras, beginning on Saturday February 9th and ending on February 12th this year. During Carnival, the various samba schools, each representing their specific neighborhood, are the main draw. Samba dancers often rehearse months before Carnival and are decked out in extravagant handmade costumes with lavish headpieces. Globe Trekker Host, Ian Wright dives head first into samba, learning from the school, Caprichosos de Pilares and ultimately taking part in the parade.

Rio - 3

Rio - 2

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, takes places from February 8th through March 3rd this year and is Sydney, Australia’s biggest event of the year. Justine Shapiro takes viewers on a firsthand experience of this liberating celebration of expression and equal rights. Anything goes in this parade, from the Scantily clad costumes to dancing in the streets, drawing a crowd of over a million people to be free to be themselves. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras and is themed quite appropriately as, “The Generations of Love.”

Sydney - 10

Sydney - 12

The two most celebrated days of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago fall on February 11th and 12th this year, right before Ash Wednesday and has been called, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Justine Shapiro lets viewers inside the Caribbean’s biggest carnival as she joins in the celebration.

Music is a highlight for this carnival, with various competitions, including the International Soca Monarch competition and the National Panorama competition that innovatively incorporates the use of steel pans, garbage can lids, pots and pans to create sounds, rhythms and melodies. Bikinis with headpieces adorned in feathers are often seen during Carnival among a multitude of various character costumes, from Minstrels, Jab Jab’s, Midnight Robber’s to Dragons and Bats.

Globe Trekker Eastern Caribbean

Globe Trekker Eastern Caribbean

Justine travels to The Venice Carnival, which takes place in St. Mark’s Square and is centered around various types of eclectic looking masks, allowing people to maintain a bit of anonymity and play a different character. Like the other carnivals, Venice also commences on February 12th this year, marking the start of Lent. The mask contests and the water show on the Venice canals are two highlights of the Carnival and what better excuse to travel to this gorgeous city than to attend one of the biggest celebrations of the year?

Globe Trekker: Great Festivals 3

This is undoubtedly an exhilarating time of year to dress up, celebrate cultural milestones and bask in the traditions that were established decades ago. Carnivals are plentiful around the world and although the five mentioned here are some of the most popular ones, they are definitely not the only ones.

For more information on these Carnivals, you can view them on the DVD links posted below, available at: GlobeTrekkerStore.com

DVD: Great Festivals of the World

DVD: Great Festivals 2

The Soul of Aleppo – The Ancient Souk

This image was originally posted to Flickr by Anas.A at http://flickr.com/photos/50471244@N06/4956886022

Originally posted to Flickr by Anas.A at http://flickr.com/photos/50471244@N06/4956886022

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, and one of the oldest in the world, is no stranger to war and destruction.  Most recently, at the end of September 2012, much of the ancient, covered souk, extending 13 kilometres long and known to many as “The Soul of Aleppo,” is now a shell of its former bustling self after a fire destroyed the medieval buildings which once housed hundreds of  shops as the armed groups of the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Arab Army fought for control of the city.

The souk, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was often recognized as being one of the most beautiful in the world and contained over 1500 shops with countless amounts of items, from spices, oils and dyes, to jewellery, silk, precious metals and everything in between.  Not only was the souk popular with the locals, but it was also a must see on many travellers’ itineraries.

Visiting Aleppo at this time is highly discouraged.  However, before the seemingly endless fighting and senseless fire that set the bazaar and surrounding monuments ablaze, the Globe Trekker team travelled to this fascinating city to film our Globe Trekker Syria show which reveals the brighter, more vibrant days of Aleppo.

Holly Morris filming Globe Trekker Syria

Holly Morris filming Globe Trekker Syria – click on the Image to watch the Behind the Scenes filming on location in Syria

Globe Trekker host and traveller, Holly Morris, was fortunate enough to have Aleppo on her Syria itinerary.  Holly experienced the rich history and exquisite beauty that the trading centre represented, first-hand.  Through the alleys, stone archways and colossal wooden doors, rows of vendors were plentiful, one selling gold, another of fresh meat, textiles and even a pharmacy were permanent fixtures here, some dating back as far as the 13th Century. Holly also explored the Citadel, an ancient landmark and one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.  She then went on to visit the city of Apamea, the Dead Cities, Saladin’s Castle and eventually makes her way to capital, Damascus.

The Ancient Citadel of Aleppo – Outside its main entrance

Although the enormous destruction in Aleppo is beyond comprehension, it is still possible to rebuild and repair what has been obliterated in the flames.  It comes at no small cost, estimated at millions of dollars, but hopefully the Souk of Aleppo can flourish again and represent the city and its rich part in history that it once did.

The Syria DVD can be found through this link to the Globe Trekker site:

DVD: Syria $29.95 includes World Café Middle East - Damascus & Aleppo)
DVD: Syria $29.95 includes World Café Middle East – Damascus & Aleppo