Mount Wutai

One of China’s Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism, Wutai Shan is home to 53 monasteries spread across five peaks.

Andean Skiing Attempt

After being in Chile for a third winter, I finally made a ski trip. The scenery, including great clouds and a view through the smog to Santiago down below, made the trip well worth it, even if my attempts at skiing didn’t. Though somehow, video footage of my numerous wipeouts mysteriously disappeared.

Mountain Biking in Santiago

Exploring some of the trails around Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago’s Metropolitan Park. The new Sunday Ciclorecreovias have free mountain bikes available to borrow, so I had to try one out.

Sunrise over the Andes

Three quick stop-motion sequences and a video from my arrival into Santiago one month ago:

Paso Los Libertadores and Mendoza

Pictures from last year’s trip over the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza. It was probably the second most scenic bus ride I’ve taken (first place goes to the Cardinal Samore pass)

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Lion's Head

Sophia (a friend from Swarthmore who is now completing her graduate studies at UCT) invited me to join a group of her friends climbing Lion’s Head one afternoon. An hour-long ascent, which makes use of handholds and ladders in a couple of places, leads to the 2,200 foot summit. There are excellent panoramic views of Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean, Table Mountain, and a string of peaks called The Twelve Apostles. Unlike many of the other climbers at the top, we did not stay for the full moon to rise (our hunger got the best of us).

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City Night Line

Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find any direct flights from Panama City to my next destination, Dar es Salaam. Since the cheapest flight to Europe was to Frankfurt, I decided to fly there, take a train down to Italy, and catch a ferry to Africa. My red-eye flight from Panama City was originally scheduled to land in Frankfurt at 7:00 AM, giving me plenty of time to travel by train to Florence, where I would spend the night. I was looking forward to this opportunity to see the Alps by train during the winter. When I arrived at the airport, however, I found out the flight had been “retimed,” departing seven hours late due to winter weather in Europe. When I arrived in Frankfurt, I found out the trains were running late because of weather problems too. There was no way to make it to Munich in time for my train to Florence; luckily, I was able to book a spot on the night train.

After my first train journey of the trip (and my first time on a DeutscheBahn ICE train) from the Frankfurt Flughafen Station to the Munich Hauptbahnhof, I had a couple of hours to pick up some bratwurst and ride around the U-Bahn. I boarded City Night Line Train 485 for the 9:00 PM departure. The ride through Bayern and up into Austria was breathtaking. Though I didn’t get to see the mountains during the day, as I had originally hoped, there was something magical about riding through the night with the snow on the ground and lights sparkling in the distance – this was probably the closest to the Polar Express I’ll ever get. The tracks winding through the mountains south of Innsbruck were especially nice, and I loved watching trucks barreling down the highway that paralleled the tracks into Bressanone. I arrived at Firenze Santa Maria Novella at 6:20 the next morning, exhausted after staying up for most of the night watching the scenery.

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The video below has some Google Earth flyovers of the route.