above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Travel Writing Contest Winners, 2014


We are excited to announce the three winners for this year's travel writing contest. There were many submissions this year (thank you to everyone who submitted an entry or two). The three judges unanimously picked the top two winners in that order - competition for the third winner was more intense. We received entries from a number of countries and US states - for the past 6 or 7 years one of the winners has been from Los Angeles or Orange … [Read more...]

Visit Palau – September 2014


Palau is truly the remote destination for nature lovers and outdoor and marine enthusiasts. It is not an easy destination to reach from Europe or the states. Non stop flights connect in Japan or Guam - this is part of Micronesia - about 800 km as the crow fly's from Manilla, Philippines.This island nation has not yet been overly developed with strip malls, high rise condo's, fast food restaurants that plague many island nations. This is uniquely … [Read more...]

The Weight of a Human Heart by Ryan O’Neill


This is a collection of fictional short stories by creative writer, Ryan O'Neill. The stories are fiction but you wonder how much Ryan draws upon his personal experience in writing these based on all his time lived abroad. He has called Africa, Europe and Asia 'home' before moving to Australia where he now resides. Words are his literary playground and creative outlet. Some of the stories are exercises in linguistic extremes such as "seventeen … [Read more...]

Inspired By the World


Travel in itself is incredible: Visual stimulation makes us aware of a broader world; exploring a new environment deepens our olfactory senses; tasting local cuisine strengthens our taste buds. But what makes travel inspiring is not a superficial combing of a foreign space. To travel inspired is to engage in the local community. Learn about their customs, greet others in the local context, arise and sleep on their schedule. These interactions … [Read more...]

Foreign Funeral – Heartbreak in a Romanian Village


Our arms interlocked tightly at the elbow. We stared downward in the chilly, quiet living room when an improbable question broke the silence. “Did you touch her yet?” my wife, Oana, asked as tears streaked down her high cheekbones. “She’s still warm.” Mama Ana, as she was known, my wife’s 82-year-old grandmother, died hours earlier in her small, century-old stone farmhouse in the Romanian countryside. We journeyed 7,000 miles from … [Read more...]

From Sea to Clouds, Vancouver to Whistler

whistler-blackcomb (1)

With two days in Vancouver before jumping on the Rocky Mountaineer train on the way to Banff, we decided to visit the mountain town of Whistler. Greyhound offers a relatively affordable option by combining a round trip bus journey with unlimited tram/gondola rides on Whistler/Blackcomb Mountains. This makes it quite doable to see Whistler in a day with an early start from Vancouver. As soon as we arrived in Whistler Village (partly home to … [Read more...]