Dave (Blogsmith, old)
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Olivier Follmi's website introduces him as the Photographer of Mankind, and the photos and career history outlined on his website do appear to live up to that title. His latest book is a stunning portrait of India. It contains 200 full-color photographs and illustrations that depict the daily rituals of the beautiful people who live in and work this densely populated land. According to the NYT, it's a heavy one too, weighing in at 8 lbs, but worth every ounce and cent to be able to enjoy the stunning photos. If you are thinking of getting this as a gift for someone, you may also want to consider Indian Wisdom: 365 Days as well, the second book in Follmi's Offerings of Mandkind series. There is a meditation or thought included for each day that focuses on India or the Hindu culture, each one also accompanied by a majestic photograph of the land or people of India. Indian Wisdom is the work of Olivier Follmi and his wife Danielle, who have written 15 books on Buddhism and are the official photographers of the Dalai Lama.
Here's a great way to warm things up on a cold day - I happened upon this Travel Intelligence story by David Atkinson about hot nights in cold Helsinki. Tango is quite popular in Finland - there is a huge festival each July in Seinäjoki, called Tangomarkkinat, and even a Tango Museum too. This is the kind of thing I'd like to do if I visited the snowy north in winter. I'm partial to warm-weather activities, so I'd pick dancing lessons over snowshoes in the colder months for sure. And as Atkinson's piece explains, the Finnish winters are all about tango indoors - private parties and lessons - at places like Wanhan Tanssikellari. The Argentinian tradition of tango made its way to Finland after the ban on dancing was lifted after WWII. Over time it developed characteristics as a melancholic dance in Finland. According to Maarit Niiniluoto, a leading Finnish tango historian, "For Finns, tango is a three-minute dream with your eyes open – it's poetic and deeply symbolic."
Earlier today in Rome, Stefano Baldini, the first torchbearer of the Olympic Relay, received the torch from Italian President Ciampi. The Flame now begins a 64-day journey through 600 towns, traveling over 7,000 miles, before reaching its destination in Torino on February 10, 2006, where it will light the Olympic Cauldron and officially open the Winter Games. Over the next two months, the torch will cross the country transported by 10,000 torch bearers, heading first this week to Rieti. The torch will visit Palermo for Christmas, spend New Years in Naples, take a gondola ride in Venice (Jan. 17), mark the 50th anniversary of the last Italian Winter Games in Cortina (Jan. 26) and climb up Monte Bianco (Feb. 7). The torch will also pass through sections of France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia along the way, before arriving in Torino for opening ceremonies. Each week until then, I'll bring you periodic Torch Tour updates, which will highlight some of the towns along the route. Just look for this logo at least once each week for a Torch Tour Town profile, which might give you some ideas for where to head on your next Italian getaway!
How about a gift that you don't need to wrap? And one that will make Mother Earth very happy - Here's a way you can give back to your planet this holiday season: buy yourself or someone else a piece of the Costa Rican rainforest for $250. Vinzenz Schmak is president of the board of an organization that is working hard to protect precious flora and fauna in northern Costa Rica. For $250 you can own 1,000 square meters of prime rain forest, and help Schmak's La Laguna del Lagarto Lodge in their efforts to preserve this endangered area.
Our Divester friends are always writing about destinations around the world that are ideal for diving, and usually great places to visit whether you are into scuba or not. Willy Volk posted two items of interest in the past week that I thought might be particularly useful to Gadling readers. First, Willy provides an in-depth description of what to do when diving is not an option in Key West. From fruity drinks to fine dining, neighborhood walks, museum visits and ghost tours too, Willy gives great details about the pubs, restaurants, accommodations and attractions that he and his wife enjoyed on their southern Florida weekend getaway. In another post, Willy points us to a list that may interest those looking to plan vacations in the Caribbean this winter. Child Magazine's Ten Best Caribbean Resorts for Families is a helpful guide to kid-friendly hotels in Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Bahamas, to name a few.
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