York, My Home Town


© Steven Slater
© Steven Slater

York, the county town of Yorkshire, Gods own county, although not part of any ridings. It is the birthplace of Guy Fawkes of 5th November and Bonfire Night fame, and if he had succeeded there would now be a Roman Catholic monarch instead of the head of the Church of England sitting on the English Throne. It is a city that crowned the Holy Roman Emperor Constantine who moved the Church in Rome east to found Constantinople, now called Istanbul. York goal is where that notorious highwayman Dick Turpin was hanged. It is the headquarters of the Rowntrees confectionary chain and that stalwart of Christmas in the UK (well in our house), the Terry’s Chocolate Orange (although they’re now made in Poland). It is home to the York racecourse, a prominent venue in the calendar of flat racing, and home to York Minster, the largest gothic Cathedral in northern Europe. And last but not least, York was awarded in 2007 the title of European City of Tourism, beating off 130 other rivals. I may be a little biased. After all, it is my home town.

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Egypt: Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Three Little Girls
Three Little Girls

Why now is probably the best time to visit Egypt.

Recently I accepted an invitation to speak at the 4th Annual E-Tourism & E-Marketing Conference in Cairo, Egypt. The conference took place on December 18th and 19th, 2011, and included four additional days of touring the sites in and around Cairo and Alexandria.

The presentation I gave was titled "Better Photography for Increasing Your Online Presence," and in it I discussed the importance of using quality photography to brand and market in a number of industries that the attendees, mostly from across the Middle East, represent. The audience was made up of tourist offices, hoteliers, airlines, public relations professionals, travel bloggers and other travel industry insiders, and I wanted to stress how great photography should be considered their most important asset when it comes to selling their destination, property or experience online.

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Santa Fe: Uniquely Southwestern Without The Red Rocks



Adobe and Cross

The American Southwest is a very popular travel photography destination, typically for photos of red rocks and canyons. The most popular destinations include the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches National Parks, as well as Monument Valley. I’ve been to all of these places (except Monument Valley) and definitely want to go back for more. But there is much more to the Southwest than red rocks and canyons. There is history; there is culture; there is people – all wonderful subjects for travel photographers. For the best of these non-red rock aspects of the Southwest, there is perhaps no better destination than Santa Fe, New Mexico, and its surrounding regions. They are uniquely Southwestern but minus the red rocks.

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A Travel Tale of Two Monasteries


Spain and France have long histories and more landmarks and historical sites than one can see in a lifetime. During a recent trip to Europe, I had the opportunity to visit two similar but distinctively different places, the monasteries of Mont St. Michel on the coast France, and Montserrat high and deep in the mountains of Spain.

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Tunisia: A Gem on the Edge of the Sahara


© Steven Slater
© Steven Slater

Tunisia is a country of two halves: the north with its capital Tunis, the verdant land of Cape Bon and Hammamet; and the south from Sousse and Monastir (where the majority of the "Life of Brian" was filmed) down to the more industrial area with Sfax as its capital and beyond toward the border with Libya. Unfortunately, Tunisia missed out on the oil fields. Its primary source of income is tourism with some textiles work thrown in. Even now Tunisia is a safe place to visit. The country needs tourism to survive. That is why there is a large police presence in all souks and towns (that and to counter illegal immigrants). French is the second language, but as throughout the world English is widely spoken.

Tunisia was a French colony until 1956 and doesn’t it show. The main thoroughfare in the capital city of Tunis is Avenue Habib Bourguiba. It bears a striking similarity to the Champs Elysees in Paris. French colonial buildings line the avenue interspersed with the usual bars, banks, restaurants and hotels. Get out of Tunis and you see the real Tunisia, meet the real Tunisians, and realize why this country was one of the cornerstones of the ‘Arab Spring’. Ask anyone to name a famous Tunisian and look at them struggle, but there is one we all know. The man with the elephants that he took over the Alps. Yes, Hannibal was a Tunisian. Truthfully, he was a Carthaginian whose capital of Carthage is part of the suburbs of modern Tunis. This man and his troops almost brought the mighty Roman Empire to its knees a thousand years before it's ultimate fall.

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Malta: Love It or Hate It!


© Steven Slater
© Steven Slater

I fell in love with Malta when I visited as a child. I loved the people, the history, the food and especially riding the old yellow buses. Unfortunately, even the resourceful Maltese have had to bow to the inevitable, now that they are members of that bureaucratic stronghold, the European Union. As I write this, the old yellow buses have disappeared, having been replaced by modern buses lacking in character. My daughter and I also love Malta for the sea and the scuba diving. My wife is not so enamoured, preferring to laze in the sun while we half kill ourselves in the sea. However, when wearing her photographer's hat, my wife sees Malta in a different light. She sees it as a place packed full of photographic opportunities including nature, people and the many festivals.

Still, Malta does not have the ‘party’ atmosphere so prevalent in many other Mediterranean locales. Could this fact, together with the general calmness and tranquility of the island and that there are only two really good beaches and two more that are passable for the bucket and spade brigade, have any bearing on the average age of tourists being above 45? Could this be a reason many hate it? Malta is a place where you can enjoy a holiday without the disturbance of the usual 18-30 party crowd, though my teenage daughter has assured me repeatedly that they are there if you look for them. Thank goodness I am past the age of looking for them.

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Arches National Park



Skyline Arch

The American West conjures images of soaring red rock mesas, otherworldly red sandstone formations, and rippled red sand with cactus, wildflowers and animals.

Though popular for Western movies long before color film, the region around Moab, Utah, became a magnet once Kodak splashed all that red across the big screen. Today it’s a hub for recreation and tourism with Arches NP the centerpiece for red rock desert in all its glory. In addition to more than 2,000 of its namesake natural arches, Arches is a riot of great landscape photo and recreational opportunities.

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The Grand Place in Brussels


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The Grand Place, Brussels’ central square and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is dominated by the fifteenth-century Town Hall. This imposing structure, with its tall spire and detailed exterior, is surrounded by beautiful former Guild Halls. Each represents a different profession, heavily gilded. The Swan, one of the most beautiful, is the former butchers’ Guild Hall, and is now a famous restaurant. Others built by bakers, sailors, merchants and brewers have left a wonderful legacy to their occupations. The Grand Place was bombed to ruins in 1695 by order of Louis XIV of France. The buildings were all rebuilt between 1695 and 1700.

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The Alluring Algarve


[media:20110911125201124 width:360 src:disp link:1 border:0 align:left Carvoeiro Beach © Jim Chamberlain]

A visit to southern Portugal revealed an area totally different than Lisbon. It is one of beautiful beaches, craggy rock formations, and white washed villages.

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Renewal on Easter Island


Sunset at the Tahai Complex
Sunset at the Tahai Complex

“A traveler is, in the end, a sensualist – more honestly human, perhaps; more openly passionate in response to the world than the person who only occasionally peers above the rut he or she has dug along the course of workaday life at home. “ For years upon years this unknown quote kept staring me in the face every time I opened the refrigerator door and I never grew tired of seeing it - quite opposite actually.

I grew up in a very mid-west town as one of four siblings in a family that enjoyed traveling around the States occasionally by car or train. As with most people in that area of the country, the importance of life was raising a family and staying at home. Back in 1972 while educating myself as a music major I met a woman, Twila, who certainly had a different perception on life. She drove a purple Dodge Challenger for goodness sake. Eventually in 1975 we were wed and started our life together. Little did I know at that time what a “global” impact that would be to me.

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