Libor’s Articles

Discovering the Treasures of Armenia

Sevanavank monastery on the shores of Lake Sevan, ArmeniaStory and Photos by Libor Pospisil. Like any other monastery in Armenia, Sevanavank occupies a spot that is dramatic and definitely Instagram-able. The 9th-century monastery sits on a rocky hill overlooking the gigantic Lake Sevan with mountains in the distance. That was the panorama that made me fall under Armenia’s spell. But to get to that spell bound state, I needed to escape the Soviet-era boulevards of Yerevan, the country’s capital. Unlike some other travel destinations, Armenia does not serve up its treasures on a silver platter. Instead, I had to look for them inside the un-glamorous buildings of Yerevan. But just a few-hour drive away, the reward was worth it.

 

Loire Valley: The True Heart of France

Chambord chateau, Loire Valley, FranceStory and Photos by Libor Pospisil. The Loire River passes slowly through Amboise. The old houses, the stony bridge, and, above all, the stunning Renaissance chateau on the cliff create an outrageously harmonic scene. Amboise is one of the small towns in the Loire Valley, the cultural region about three hours south of Paris. It attracts millions of visitors every year for its chateaus, wines, and bike paths. But the bucolic vibe of the Loire Valley, made up of calm waters, mild hills, lush forests, and golden fields, should not deceive our eyes. This is not a provincial outpost. Modern France emerged right here.  At the end of the 15th century Paris lacked its current grandeur and the small village of Amboise witnessed more than its fair share of historical events, including royal births, weddings, and deaths. No wonder the Loire Valley was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa: Hunt for The Big Five

Story and Photos by Libor Pospisil.

Zebras at a communal pool deep in the Pilanesberg National Park, South AfricaJust one day left in the country – as usual. Going to the Kruger National Park, the ultimate place for a safari in South Africa, was out of the question given its remoteness. I feared I had to get ready for a small reserve, fenced like a zoo, if I wanted to see animals. Only after more research did I find the Pilanesberg National Park. This little brother to Kruger lies within a day-trip distance from Pretoria where I was staying. Unlike other small reserves, Pilanesberg is a vast natural park. One concerned remained: if Pilanesberg did not have the fame of Kruger, how many animals could I actually see?

 

Lebanon: Temples and Trees

Story and Photos by Libor Pospisil.

Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek, LebanonAccording to Elie’s plan, which I did not want to destroy, just expand, our first stop would be Anjar, followed by Baalbek. That made a lot of sense given that we were headed for a day tour of ancient ruins in Bekaa Valley along the eastern end of Lebanon. The citadel of Anjar and the temples of Baalbek are the most scenic sites in the valley (both on the UNESCO heritage list). But I was trying to utilize my five days in Lebanon as best as I could.

 

 

T’bilisi, Georgia: a city of stone and glass

Story and Photos by Libor Pospisil.

Metekhi Bridge and the Old Town of T'bilis, Republic of GeorgiaWhat is there to see?” That was the most frequent question when I told people about my upcoming trip to Georgia—the country—and T’bilisi, its capital. This sentiment is understandable given that Georgia began to emerge on travelers’ maps a mere fifteen years ago after the Rose Revolution of 2003. The unique beauty of the country had therefore become a well-kept secret that leaked to the West only sporadically. In one such case, John Steinbeck reported from his Eastern European tour in 1948 that people were describing to him “the country in the Caucasus and the Black Sea…” as “…the second heaven.”

 

Arequipa, Peru: between the desert and the volcano

Story and Photos by Libor Pospisil.

Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, PeruAs I was sitting on the second floor of an open-air café, I looked out of a stony arch at the Plaza de Armas and needed no explanation as to how Arequipa earned its nickname, “The White City” (La Ciudad Blanca.) The Plaza, with its uniform rows of arches on three sides and an unusually wide cathedral on its fourth, was built completely from the local volcanic stone called sillar that happens to be… well, white. On the other hand, one should not jump to conclusions about Arequipa. Things usually turn out to be a little more complicated in Peru’s second largest city than a label might suggest. I realized that right in the café, where I had just ordered a local dessert, queso helado (cheese ice cream.) It has a sweet refreshing taste but no actual cheese—its deliciousness comes from coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon, none of which are in its name. “Queso,” referred only to its appearance.

 

Mexico City during Roma film times and today

Mexico City in Roma film times and today,The family house that was used as the shooting location for the movie Roma, Roma Colonia, Mexico City, MexicoStory and Photos by Libor Pospisil.

The walk toward the now-famous house was supposed to be just my early morning stretch. I left the place where my friends and I were staying in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City and headed for Roma Sur. I was off to see the city’s new pilgrimage spot: the house where the Oscar-nominated Roma film was shot. While I had seen the movie before our four-day trip to Mexico, I had not planned for the trip to be Roma film themed. Rather, we were there to see a few sights, enjoy several of the city’s neighborhoods, and taste Mexican food and drinks. Only after I left Mexico did I realize that the house was not the sole Roma film related location that I encountered in the city. In fact, the movie tells the story of the entire city and how it came to be the bustling metropolis it is today.

 

Colchagua Valley in Chile: not only for wine-sipping

Colchagua Valley, ChileStory and Photos by Libor Pospisil. When I stepped onto the wooden viewing platform on Cerro Chaman, I could see the deep, wide valley right below me, covered with countless vineyards. The valley, surrounded by long ranges of dry hills and heated by the March sun, meandered off into the distance. No wonder this part of the Colchagua Valley supplies the photographs that are used for promoting Chile as a wine destination, but I discovered it is not only for wine-sipping.

 

 

In the Footsteps of a Genius Outlaw in Malta.

Marina of the Three Cities, Valletta, Malta
Marina of the Three Cities, Valletta, Malta

Story and Photos by Libor Pospisil.  Many places in the world claim to sit at some kind of crossroads. Malta, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean, surely deserves that designation more than most. Due to its proximity to major naval routes that connect three continents, and thanks to its unique culture protected by blue waters on all sides, Malta has long been a refuge for travelers, and even outlaws. Including some famous ones! Saint Paul stayed there after being shipwrecked on his way from the Levant to Italy. Lord Byron had a brief layover in Malta on his trip from England to the Levant. Another visitor arrived on the island in July 1607, to escape murder charges in Italy. He was an artist, born Michelangelo Merisi, but known as Caravaggio, after his hometown. Already famous for having almost single-handedly invented Baroque painting, the 35-year-old Caravaggio came to Malta to turn his tumultuous life into a blank canvass, onto which he could paint anew.

 

 

Norway by train: across mountains and through time

Oslo to Bergen by Train, Norway by TrainStory and Photos by Libor Pospisil.

Traveling through Norway by train, I boarded the coach at Oslo’s Sentralstasjon (Central Station) and made myself comfortable in a cushy seat. But shortly after we departed, I realized that I would not be able to simply relax because I could not to stop looking out the window. The train began to pass by large lakes, then hills, meadows, lakes again, mountain plateaus, and, ultimately, glaciers. Every new panorama beat the previous one, establishing a pattern that kept the passengers in suspense. In fact, one fellow visitor told me after the journey that despite her severe jet-lag, she was afraid to fall asleep because she might miss some of the great views.

 

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