Sunday Special – Oxford, UK

One of the regrets I had when I was on my big trip was that I never made it Oxford, England. I spent a week in the London area and it is only 92 km / 57 miles away with frequent train service. I easily could have spent a day there (or more). Well, another reason to go back to the UK, one of my favourite countries to visit. 

Dating back to the time of the Saxons (around the 8th century, CE) Oxford grew as an important military center. Over the centuries it was not a dull place – invasions, religious growth, epidemics, martyrs, civil war, industrial growth, and of course the founding the well-known educational institution of Oxford University and it’s 38 colleges within the city centre.

Today Oxford seems to shine as city with old-world charm with its array of beautiful architecture. Noteworthy buildings include Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Carfax Tower, Radcliffe Camera, the Sheldonian Theatre, University Church, and much more. Other areas of interest include Hertford Bridge (a.k.a. Bridge of Sighs), the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens, and the oldest covered market in England: Oxford Covered Market.  Add museums, cafes, theatre, bars, and nightlife it seems it will certainly keep you busy. Oh and don’t forget that Oxford was the location for various scenes from the Harry Potter movies. 


The Great Hall at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, England. This hall was replicated in a studio for use in the Harry Potter films. – Photo credit: Victorperramon, Christ Church Hall, CC BY-SA 3.0


Hertford Bridge in Oxford, England – Photo credit: Varun Shiv Kapur from Berkeley, United States, Hertford Bridge, CC BY 2.0


Aerial panorama of Oxford, England – Photo credit: Chensiyuan, 1 oxford aerial panorama 2016, CC BY-SA 4.0


Sunday Special – Mendoza, Argentina

I’m going to get straight to the point – for this Sunday Special post, Mendoza = wine.

Wine, that delicious libation that is revered by millions. Now I am mainly a beer drinker and love me a decent craft beer to savour most anywhere, however, that does not mean I don’t enjoy wine. In fact, I drank wine more frequently than beer years ago. But as time went on wine decided to not like me. It chose to cause a great deal of congestion and discomfort in my sinuses. And not just a little. If I had more than 2 glasses of the sweet elixir I turned into a snotty-nosed mess for at least a 24-hour period and no amount of decongestants or antihistamines could help. It’s some sort of allergy I guess. So I turned to beer and found my drink (after tea). Now I have found some wine that I react to far less, if at all. Perhaps my allergy/mystery is changing (as some allergies do) or some wines do not contain the item(s) that command my sinuses to over react.  I don’t know but I am glad I have been able to enjoy wine now and again. Some of these “forgiving” wines are from Argentina, so let’s take at look at Mendoza!

The Argentinian province of Mendoza is located in the west-central part of the country along the Chilean border in the shadow of the Andes Mountains, near Mount Aconcagua. It is the most important wine region in the country (yay!) producing nearly two-thirds of all the wine produced in Argentina. Some of the varietals that are produced in the region include chardonnay, malbec, torrontĂ©s, tempranillo, syrah, and several more. The province’s capital city of the same name is filled with tasting rooms, (wine) tour operators, and restaurants that pair well with whichever wine you sip. 

Now to be fair, the region does offer much more than just wine and wineries. It is a great spot to enjoy the outdoors by way of hiking and trekking, cycling, ice climbing, skiing and snowboarding, and golfing. Adventure seekers can partake in kite surfing, hand-gliding, ziplining, paragliding, kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling, and more. Of course there are spas, hot springs, shopping, and museums. So any way you look at it, Mendoza seems to offer quite a bit and all with a glass of wine if you like. 


Diamandes Winery, Mendoza – Photo credit: Bormidayanzon, Diamandes Winery, CC BY-SA 4.0



Bodega Salentein Winery, Mendoza – Photo credit: ArgentinaWineTourism…, ALTURA Argentina Wine Tourism – Bodega Salentein – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – Zambezi River, Africa

We have reached the end of the alphabet and with that we are looking at Africa’s great Zambezi River (also spelled Zambesi) where it flows through six countries, feeds the amazing Victoria Falls, and finally empties into the Indian Ocean. Africa’s fourth largest river runs east through Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and on through Mozambique to the ocean for 2, 574 km / 1,599 miles. 

This amazing river (often referred to as the River of Life) has been a vital source of life for centuries to the peoples and wildlife around it. Though in recent times it has been dammed to harness hydroelectric power in two major areas: the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Cabora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. Although these dams bring hydro power to these countries there are side-effects to the river and its wildlife as well. 

The Zambezi River is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle, and Lower Zambezi and then ultimately forming the river’s delta. The incredible Victoria Falls marks the border of the Upper and Middle Zambezi and is a border for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Spanning total width of over 1,700 m / 5,600 feet and dropping 108 m / 354 feet it produces the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The mist produced floats above giving it a cloud-like appearance. 


Victoria Falls seen from Zimbabwe – Photo is Public Domain


The Zambezi River is known as the “River of Life” and supports wildlife like this hippo. Photo credit: Bernard Gagnon, Hippopotamus in the Zambezi, CC BY-SA 4.0


Sunset on the Zambezi River, Zambia. Photo credit: Joachim Huber, Zambezi River, Zambia (2546105466), CC BY-SA 2.0

Day Trippin’ – Macau

During my trip to Hong Kong I made a one day sojourn to Macau which is located about 64 km / 40 miles east of Hong Kong on the Pearl River Delta. A bridge is currently being built that will link the two cities by road. Though presently the most direct route is via ferry. There are two ferry terminals:

  1. China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon
  2. Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal on Hong Kong Island

The second is the one I opted for. I was originally going to go via China Ferry Terminal as I was staying in TST, however, according to Google Maps there was not way to get there via foot or transit. Hmmm. I opted to take the MTR to the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal which was very easy to get to.  Later I learned you can get  to the terminal in TST  via foot through Harbour City Mall. Go figure.

Once I arrived at the ferry terminal it was easy to go and buy my (economy class) ticket. The next departure was with Turbo Jet so that is who I went with. The whole process was easy and smooth. I had remembered to bring my passport so I was good to go! The high speed ferry is only for foot passengers (they assign seats) and it motored on at quite a clip. At times it was a bit rocky but I managed. 50 minutes later I was in Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (the official name). From the ferry terminal I stopped at an ATM to get some Macau patacas then caught the public bus to the historic centre.


St Dominic’s Church, Macau

Since Macau was a former Portuguese colony for centuries (until 1999) there is a number of colonial style buildings in area that have been maintained very well. It adds a European feel to that area of the city. Macau is also popular as a resort and gambling destination. Numerous casinos can be found that, with their sheer size and excess, gives Las Vegas hotels a run for its money. This also means that there are tourists galore! Especially as the day progressed. In fact there were too many people for my liking. Macau is the most densely populated area in the world (650,000+ residents in a 30.5 sq km / 11.8 sq mile area) and then add tourists – well it makes for a crowded place! This that left me not admiring Macau as much as I thought I would.  All the sights were jammed with people. I did find a few less crowed streets and a nice park for a short reprieve. In the end I left rather early (5:30pm ferry) as I was getting annoyed with the massive hustle and bustle. I did enjoy seeing Macau’s architecture, both colonial and modern (and the egg tarts) though the masses took its toll on my wanderings. I think Macau and I need a do-over. Include an overnight stay and wander in the mornings and evenings and then relax at a restaurant or cafe during the day. Yeah, Macau, let’s have a do-over one day.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World


The Ruins of St Paul / Ruinas Sao Paulo (before the crowds got really heavy)

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The Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino