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World’s Best Seafood
May 23rd, 2015 by jgnash

JGN_H&S2011_LR_BorderOf Cabbages and Kings

by j.g.nash

Bay scallops — THE best seafood!

Take my word for it, from a 5-lb African lobster just caught in the pristine waters of the Mid-Indian Ocean. to Beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea (pre-breakup of the Soviet Union), I believe that I’ve enjoyed the best seafood the World has had to offer; now, I want to let you in on a little known fact about such delicacies.  NOTHING tops carefully, and properly, cooked bay scallops; trouble is, they’re not for sale (not legally anyway).

Most of the scallops, which you can easily buy, are harvested from deep water, and are as different from Bay Scallops as sardines are from swordfish.  Bay scallops are rare, and becoming more so, as we pollute their native coastal waters; today there are essentially only two places where they are captured in significant quantity: off the Maine coast, and, primarily, along a short stretch of Florida’s NW Gulf Coast. If you’d like to experience the extraordinary delight of tender, flavorful Bay Scallops, then head for Florida, from July 1st to Sep 10th; get your license, and join the crowd.

Bay scallops live and thrive in a mix of salt and fresh water, 6-8 ft deep, and in a healthy bed of sea grass; those are the conditions found just off the coast, at Steinhatchee, about a 2-hour drive north of the Tampa Airport.  The season there begins on the first of July, and continues thru September 10th (but there are darned few scallops left half way through that period).  There aren’t many accommodations available right in Steinatchee, and they often are sold out the year prior, so get busy NOW, if you’d like the best places to stay (see box at end).

 

Hundreds bring their own boats (and campers), but outstanding rentals, with or without captains and guides, are available.  I, along with a striking, blond model, used such a crewed boat, had a fun-filled day, and “caught” our limit of scallops.our rental boat. on the way out to scallop

My model was thrilled by her first catch of the day

Our model was thrilled by her first catch of the day

44AV9147M1MR

Our model helps cook our catch, at a local restaurant in Steinhatchee.

Once on shore, we took our buckets of scallops to one of the dozens of tented businesses that spring up there each year at this time, to process the scallops.  Our model tried her hand at cleaning scallops, which we later enjoyed in one of the few good restaurants in that small town.  Normally, they would have cooked for us, but in this “special” case, allowed our model to participate in the cooking, right at our table–an unusual activity, which entertained many other diners; some quickly grabbed cell phones and began snapping away in typical hopeless fashion.

BOTTOM LINE — If you would like to have the unusual experience of “fishing” for Bay Scallops, and the rare, exquisite delight of eating same, arrange to be in Steinhatchee in early July.

IF YOU GO:  Steinhatchee Landing is THE place to stay, if possible; they may be contacted

A few of the "cottages" available at Steinhatchee Landings Resort.

A few of the “cottages” available at Steinhatchee Landings Resort.

on the Webb, at www.steinhatcheelanding.com. or by telephone at 800/584-1709. One-bedroom, luxurious cottages rent for from $217/night; 3-bedroom, deluxe cottages go for $451/night (2-night stay).  By today’s norms, these are bargain prices.  They even have large units that will comfortably accommodate three families.  A stay at the Landings is a pleasant experience in and by itself.

Alternatives include: The Steinhachee River Inn (352/702-4649); or, in nearby Perry, the Holiday Inn Express (877/859-5095. or Hampton Inn (855/271-3622)

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Pertinent comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com

WORDS MATTER!
May 20th, 2015 by jgnash

JGN_H&S2011_LR_BorderOf Cabbages and Kings

by j.g.nash

What’s a “barista”?

My seemingly unusual interest in etymology (the derivation and meanings of words) springs from my sometime career as a journalist, which actually began in around 1947, when a professor of English, at Columbia University, called me into his office, placed an unwelcome hand on my knee, and advised that, because of my demonstrated outstanding ability to compose reports on English Literature, I should consider a career as a writer.

An entire generation would pass before that was to be; my first work as a travel writer was purchased in 1975; during the following 35 years hundreds of my non-fiction writings were published in newspapers from Bangor to San Diego, and Seattle to Miami, as well as in national and international magazines.  Words were my professional tools; I well recognized that, in order for my works to be properly understood, the reader and I had to share a common meaning of the words I chose to use.  Consequently, I became unusually sensitized to careless misuse of words, which diminishes our ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, and emotions effectively.  Take, for example, the seemingly trivial — even a bit humorous — situation involving “barista.”

Barista is an Italian word, of feminine gender, which means “a bar maid, which femaleBartender2aserves alcoholic drinks over a bar“; to the best of my knowledge, nowhere on Earth was it, prior to 1971, used in any other way.  Back around the same time that my career as a journalist took off,  a trio of young, innovative, San Franciscans decided to go into the coffee business (essentially just selling the beans or grounds).  Their first store opened in Seattle, in 1971; 20 yeas later, after weathering the trials and tribulations of most any new business, and, especially, with the added emphasis on sale of brewed coffee, in an upscale environment that was attractive to yuppies with money to waste on overpriced products, their trendy coffee shops took off; today their’s is the largest such in the World, with over 21,000 shops (12,000 in the U.S.)

One small, but important facet of their extraordinary success in becoming trendy, and thus highly profitable, was catering to yuppy tastes and preferences, in everything from super-sweet beverages, pastries, sandwiches, music, decor, and a generally “with-it” ambiance, which customers expected to reflect favorably on themselves, as the sucked heavily altered coffee from paper cups emblazoned with the company’s quickly recognizable icon, which was naively associated with success and sophistication.

Now, such a trendy business can’t simply refer to its workers as “waiters, servers, attendants, or clerks,” so, apparently, the management carefully hijacked a completely unrelated, but euphonious, term (barista), and applied it to everyone, and anyone, working in any of their many stores.  Because of the company’s many outlets, “barista” was quickly IMG_00432_LRataken to mean something such as “one that serves coffee.”  Today, most of the questionable, online “dictionaries” define barista in that way.  Is that a good thing?

If a barista is anyone serving coffee, is not a counter attendant in a typical diner, whom often pours coffee a “barista”?  And what about waiters that “hot up” your cup of Jo at the restaurant?  Surely they also are “baristas.”  But so-called “baristas” today make sandwiches, sell pastries, brew tea (which they similarly carelessly call “chai tea”), and even offer overpriced, advertising items to customers eager to be associated with the popular trend.

So, a barista has quickly morphed from female bartender, to coffee server, to anyone dispensing drinks of any kind; even to short order cooks (e.g., sandwiches, gooey buns or hot breakfasts).  Apparently, the vendor with a tray of canned soft drinks at the sports stadium is barista, as also is the little girl selling lemonade from a homemade stand in her front yard.

I haven’t been a regular in classic coffee houses, in places such as Vienna, Buda, or Bucharest, for a decade, but my recollections are that there were no “baristas” employed there at that time.  Clearly, coffee house workers, in the U.S. of A., and increasingly abroad, became “baristas” purely for commercial gain; in that careless process, we have lost the use of a perfectly good word.  What, for example, would the following, read in a travel story, or romance novel, mean today: Having been away from my partner for more than a month, the barista’s movements were stirring emotions that were becoming difficult to deny? What is the setting (e.g., a soda fountain, coffee shop, dimly lit bar, restaurant); what is the barista doing (e.g. heating a breakfast in a microwave, pouring tea, or mixing a cocktail), and what is the sex of the persons involved?

I’ve focused on “barista” because it’s a current example of careless abuse of language, Mr coffeeM1but hardly the most egregious.  Many of the thoughtless changes are based on attempts by social do-gooders to make everyone feel better about themselves: janitors have become “custodians,”  garbage collectors are now “sanitation engineers,” restaurant waiters morphed to “servers,” minimum-wage checkout clerks are “associates,” and shelf stockers are “department managers.”  Most interesting of all, an automated coffee pot actually fits the increasingly loose definition of a “barista.”

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Pertinent comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com.

Arrogant, ignorant misuse of words
May 18th, 2015 by jgnash

JGN_H&S2011_LR_BorderOf Cabbages and Kings

by j.g.nash

Careless abuse of words hinders communication

The words we speak and write, are useful only in so long as their meaning is widely understood, and in only one way.  They, combined with personal, physical signals (e.g., facial expressions, hand motions, etc.) and in observance of the customs of the culture in which we are at the moment, offer us the ability to attempt to convey thought and emotions to others.

This is, therefore, a rather broad and complex subject, which I will not undertake to adequately discuss in this short space.  I will, instead, offer a few examples of careless and thoughtless misuse of words; some seem to be significant; others trivial or humorous.

Shrimp scampi is something most of us are well familiar with: it’s a staple menu item in U.S. eateries, and Scampi Sauce is sold in most supermarkets.  But don’t make the mistake of ordering “shrimp scampi” in a real Italian restaurant, because your waiter’s puzzled expression will have resulted from having heard you order “shrimp shrimp.”  Scampi (always pronounced with a soft, broad “a,” as in “ah,”) is Italian for “shrimp” — plain shrimp.  Apparently some ignorant, but influential Americano, while visiting Italia, had been served “Scampi alla Griglia,” which, essentially is, simply, broiled shrimp with garlic butter.  He was impressed with the dish — as just about everyone is — so, once back home in Chicago, he enthusiastically told his friends about that great new way to fix shrimp: “They brush the shrimp with garlic and butter, then broil them over an open fire, and call it scampi (using the hard “a” as in tamp).”  So “scampi” mistakenly became a way to cook shrimp, and thus was born the mispronounced name of that popular dish “Shrimp Shrimp.”

Chai Tea is, in its misuse, similar to Shrimp Scampi.  Cay, in various fonts and spellings, is the Arab/Oriental world’s generic name for what we call “tea.”  Thus, “chai tea” is “tea tea.”

Tea was apparently developed, in China, as a beverage, about a thousand years before Christ.  Centuries later, explorers, such as Marco Polo, brought back samples of the tea plant, which he reported as being “from what we called “China”; thus “chai”?

Whatever the real derivation of “chay,” the use of “chai tea” is redundant, but has been understood to mean heavily spices and flavored teas.  The retarded, intellectual elite of Harvard and UC Berkley like to order “Chai tea” with their “shrimp scampi.”

“Mocha” coffee means “coffee with chocolate (and other sweet, fragrant additions).”  Wrong!  “Mocha” was a major seaport, in western Yemen, from which the newly discovered coffee bean was being shipped to a rapidly growing market in Europe and the New World.  Without a recognized, and accepted name for the product, Europeans took to referring to it by the name stenciled on bags and crates of the beans, as shipped from MOCHA.

In similar manner, coffee shipped from the Indonesian Island of Java (a leading exporter), became know as “Java,” rather than “coffee.”

Then there’s Starbucks’ flagrant misuse of “barista,” carelessly chosen to add prestige to its coffee servers, and price to its rather ordinary products.  Barista is an Italian word, defined, and understood, to mean a woman that tends bar, serving beer, wine, and other spirits.  A supposed male, no matter how long his hair, that serves coffee, no matter the ambiance, is a coffee jerk, counter attendant, waiter, or similar — but not a barista.

While on the subject of carelessly and thoughtlessly changing names and word meanings, we can’t avoid focusing on an especially significant mistake — “African American.”  Look at the two words separately.  Africa is a vast continent, which is, historically, home to large populations of Negroids as well as Caucasoids (every nation across the top of Africa is essentially Caucasoid).  Does it, therefore, make sense to interpret “African” to mean “Negroid,” as is done in the use of “African American.”?

And what, really, is “America”?  Is it not a continent, extending from Canada to the southern tip of Chile?  Where does anyone get the authority to interpret “American,” as in “African American.” to define, and be limited to Negroes living in the U.S. of A.?  Is not a “white” (i.e., “Caucasoid”) immigrant from Tunisia, now residing in Brazil, technically as much “African American” as a “black” (i.e., “Negroid” ) immigrant from  Uganda, living happily in Canada?

My African-American cook (a Caucasian from Algeria) has just brought my Shrimp Scampi, with a cup of fragrant Chai Tea, so I must bring this to an abrupt, and thankful, close.

Buon gusto!

Skin color really doesn’t matter
May 3rd, 2015 by jgnash

JGN_H&S2011_LR_BorderOf Cabbages and Kings

by j.g.nash

We’re judged by the way we present ourselves — not by the color of our skins.

Seems to this observer that there persists a widespread belief that peoples are judged by skin color, or by other particular physical, racial characteristics.  You’ve probably heard it said, “If you’re white, you’re alright; if you’re black, stand back!”  That mistaken belief is the excuse used by many to explain away their failures to experience a satisfying, productive, and enjoyable life.

It isn’t skin color that causes one ethnic group or another to be looked down upon by others: its the way a person behaves, and appears, while interfacing with the group he CPowell   envies, and/or desires to be accepted in, which cONDYrICEdetermines whether or not he is treated as an equal.  Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, just to name a couple of persons with dark skins that have been fully accepted by main-stream, light-skinned America, are eminently successful because they’re different from others ONLY in the color of their skin; not in their dress, grooming, manner of walking, speech, or attitude.  In fact, being part Negroid may have actually benefited them, via social programs, such as “Affirmative Action.”

There are many examples of minority ethnic groups that have avoided, or conquered, discrimination, by emulating the majority ethnicity — at least while in dreadlockspublic.  Our Negroid population (no, not “African American,” whichJudge Rules Ban On Saggy Pants Unconstitutional is inaccurate, misleading, and confusing) pretty much stands out for not only failing to try to “fit in,” but in actually working to be unpleasantly different in attitude, ethics, clothing and grooming “styles,” along with use of a unique, uneducated language (slang), and even sub-human physical locomotion.  It does seem that Negroes in the U.S. of A., and in many other nations in which they choose to live (rather than back in Equatorial Africa) are their own enemy;  not just by failing to integrate (i.e., emulate) with the nation’s main-stream ethnic group, but even openly, and proudly, getting in the face of the majority population.  It is evident that they want to be as different as possible, in just about every way they can, from the society they obviously envy and resent.  In recent times, they have, for example, been choosing names for their children that set them clearly apart from others, and they have openly embraced Islam, instead of one of the nation’s established major religions, only to, once again, get in whitey’s face.  Their choice of Islam well illustrates their thoughtless social actions, because Islam was the religion of those primarily responsible for the inhuman trade in Negroid slaves.  Sadly, much energy is spent, by thoughtless Negroids, in driving a wedge further and further between themselves and all other racial/ethnic groups, rather than in attempting to integrate.

No, it isn’t skin color that’s at the root of the Negro’s actual and perceived discrimination: it’s their attitude, life style, and physical appearance, which only they can change.

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Relevant comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com.

“African American” is confusing, misleading, & inaccurate
Apr 30th, 2015 by jgnash

44AV0426M1_LROf Cabbages and Kings

by j.g.nash

A new, and better, ethnic name for “African Americans.”

The term apparently preferred, and most used, by those in the U.S. of A., when referring to Negroids residing in that nation, is “African American,” but that label is grossly inaccurate, misleading, confusing, arrogantly exclusive, overly inclusive, and hurtful to many; so let’s drop it, then create and use a more appropriate name for that ethnic group?

Literally, an “African American” is “a person that emigrated from the African continent, subsequently taking up residence anywhere on the American continent.”  Thus, a Caucasoid (“white” if you want), from amongst the millions of such native to every nation stretching across the top of Africa (from Egypt to Morocco), whom packs up and moves to, say, Brazil, Canada, or Peru, becomes an “African American.”  Obviously that’s confusing, and we humans communicate effectively, only when the words we use have clearly understood meaning.  The very broad term of “African American,” when intended to identify and specify only Negroid residents of the U.S. of A., has been carelessly applied, and thus creates confusion and misunderstanding.  Is a non-Negroid person, for example, from Tunisia but now living in New Jersey, an “African American”?  How about another such non-Negroid immigrant, domiciled and working in Orlando, Florida: is he an “African American”?  Clearly not, as is thoughtlessly implied by careless use of that term today.

We don’t categorize immigrants from Ireland, Italy, or Germany as “European Americans”; nor do we use the term, “European Americans” to mean only “white” immigrants from Europe — so why do we accept reference to “African Americans” to mean only Negroids living in only one nation of the Americas?  Haiti has a predominately Negroid population; are they “African Americans”?

I hope you can see how our careless use of “African American” can’t continue, but what to replace it with?  “Black,” which once was thought to be “beautiful,” was dropped because the word carries historic suggestions of evil, gloom, depression, and general lack of happiness and hope, as well as clearly referencing a race other than the Negroid (Australoid) so we can’t revert to that.  What we’re looking for is a catchy word, which undeniably, and unerringly, categorizes one, and only one race, which is found in the U.S. of A.  To accomplish that, there’s no escaping the long-accepted, perfectly categorical, “Negroid.” Yes, some thoughtlessly, and emotionally, react and call that “the N-word”, so instead of using the whole word, let’s use just the first letter “N,” and couple that with the explicit, exclusive, and definitive, “USA.”

There can be only one interpretation of our new word (“Nusa“); that is “Persons of the Negroid race, in the USA.”  By such reasonable measure, we quickly, accurately, and conveniently refer to Negroids residing in the U.S. of A., while eliminating confusion over the actual race of Caucasoid African immigrants to our nation, along with ceasing to count-in all Negroid African immigrants found in Central and South America, or Canada.

Pronounced as “Noose-ah,” “Nusa” would be quick and easy for the media to use in place of the awkward, lengthy, and confusing “African American.”  Let’s get started!

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Relevant comment may be sent to him at jgn@have-eye.com.

Travel Talk
Mar 15th, 2015 by jgnash

H&S Port w M9_LROf Cabbages and Kings

by j.g.nash

Turkiye — On the way down?

Those that are familiar with my travel articles, as published in scores of major newspapers, and the few surviving travel magazines, know that Turkey (correctly, “Turkiye”) has long been one of my favorite travel destinations.  Now, sadly, it seems likely that major socio-religious-political changes are reversing a century of hard-won,  economic and cultural progress, and setting it off on a path to economic and cultural ruin. That extraordinary nation,  which, literally and culturally, bridges Asia and Europe, and which fought hard to pull itself up from having been “the poor man of Europe,” to being well on the way to modernization, is, apparently headed down a slippery slope to regressive Islamic rule.

Arising from the ashes of the First World War, a natural leader, who was to become known as Ataturk (“Father of the Turks”), skillfully guided his diverse, historic nation away from the exotic, mystical East, and headed it toward becoming more like Europeans.  Until just a couple of yeas ago, it seemed clear that Turkey was well on the road to democracy, capitalism, religious and ethnic freedom and equality, and economic prosperity; now, due only to the most-unfortunate election of a skilled, opportunistic, dictatorial, Islamic leader, that potentially great nation is headed back  into the darkness and destruction of Islam.  Tourism, along with all else, is already suffering, and it will only get worse, unless a miracle happens — which seems unlikely.

 

Catal Huyuk 9_M1_LRFor the moment, let’s ignore the writing on the wall of the mosque, and take a look at the Turkiye which has been rapidly gaining popularity with world travelers.  It is where one can find the unimpressive-but-most-important, ruins of the World’s first city (Çatalhöyük); visit the place where, as many believe, the Virgin Mary ascended to Heaven (Miriama, near Izmir); stand on the spot where Alexander sliced the Gordian Knot with his sword; imagine yourself as the golden King Midas; visit the sites of the first 7 Christian churches in Asia, along with places associated with the travels and lives of Saints such as Paul, John, and Peter; stand in awe inside what was built as the greatest church in the Roman Empire, converted to a mosque, and finally to a museum; visit 1,400-year-old churches, built by Armenians, in Turkiye’s Eastern provinces; stroll thru he extraordinary rock-cave-churches of Cappadocia, which were decorated with Christian murals; or even a cave, said to be Abraham’s birthplace.  And then there’s fabled Troy of the wooden horse; the famous, WW I  battlefields of Gallipoli,; magnificent Greek and Roman cities; the ruins of once-magnificent cities, which were already ancient when Columbus stumbled on America; the home of the exotic, “Whirling Dervishes”; Mt. Ararat, of Noah’s ark fame; isolated palaces with solid gold faucets; abandoned ghost cities; a Nemrut2LRCRmysterious, isolated, mountain-top tomb (actual burial site never found) of a vain king; great winter-escape beaches along with snowy  winter sports; Roman resorts with natural hot baths; a wonderful, friendly, hospitable population; some of the world’s tastiest food and drink; and much much more.  Let’s briefly look at some of the more fascinating and/or enjoyable places to visit in that large nation, which physically, and culturally bridges East and West, Europe and Asia, Christianity and Mohammedism, while being set against a widely varied landscape, with similarly changing climates.

Istanbul (once Constantinople, capital of the shrinking Roman Empire) is not only the most visited city in Turkey, but is also the site of the major, international airport, so IstSkyline_LRvisitors usually first arrive there.   Best known for its Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace (of jeweled dagger fame), and fabled Golden Horn (an estuary harbor), the hilly city offers much more (e.g., vast, ornate, underground, Roman cistern; World’s largest covered marketplace; Aya Sophia church/mosque/museum; luxury hotels and historicB&Bs; ancient forts; some of the World’s better restaurants; and even a modern shopping district, with all the premium names).

Ataturk relocated the capital from Constantinople to centrally-located, Ankara, which also hosts a major airport.  Ankara has both older, historic sections, along with shiny AturTmb1M1LRnew hotels and shopping centers.  Highlights include the fabulous Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which offers visitors a background that will significantly enhance further travels in country, and the dominating, monumental, must-see, hilltop tomb of the Father of Modern Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.  Easy day trips take the visitor to fascinating archaeological sites, dating back some 3,500 years (e.g., Hattusa, of the Hittites).

Cappadocia has become the best-known tourist site — even outstripping still-popular Ephesus.  Cappadocia is a unique land made of a mile-thick layer of soft, solid, volcanic rock, called “tuff.”  On the surface, a strange, surreal, landscape of nature Schultz 026_LRcarved stone cones and other shapes gives the place its unique appearance.  Ancient Christians settled there, seeking isolation and protection from Islamic intolerance.  They not only hollowed out the surface structures, turning them into homes, churches, and agricultural buildings, but also went underground, hollowing out vast “ant hill cities, wherein they had everything needed  for normal life. and where they could retreat, and live, while not being detected by marauding cavalry above.  It is said that there were at least one Christian church there for every day of the year; all of which were once decorated with marvelous colored mural, which, sadly, have been defaced by Moslem fanatics.  Unfortunately, Cappadocia has, in just a generation, become so popular and commercialized that it has become a sort of amusement park, complete with souvenir stands and camel rides.

Turkey has what, in my opinion, are the best Greco-Roman ruins of Earth.  Those most often visited are at Ephesus, near Izmir, on the west coast; on most days, the crowds there look just like those that swarm through Orlando’s amusement parks. The very best archaeological site is at Aphrodisias, which has promise to become the best such site on Earth.  Dozens of other such are found at Side, Alanya, Perge, Pergemom, Troy, etc.  It seems that Turkiye has more, and greater variety of, historic treasure than any other place on the globe.

We can’t, in this short space, begin to do justice to Turkey’s many attractions for visitors to enjoy, but we can’t leave without recognizing its wonderful Turquoise Turquoise coast2aCoast.  Named “turquoise” for the color of the warm waters lapping at its nearly 1,000 miles of southwestern coastline, stretching roughly from Alanya, on the east, to Bodrum on the west, and protected from the north’s winter chill by a picturesque, snow-capped mountain range, this region is immensely popular with Europeans, as well as Turks themselves.  So popular, in fact, that the region’s sole airport (at Antalya) is reported to be the nation’s busiest during winter months.  The Coast offers a wide variety of accommodations, from modern, highrise, hotels, to charming, old, B&Bs and pensions.  Coastal cruises are immensely popular, aboard beautiful, classic, wooden yachts, called gulets; there’s also a well preserved Greek site at Perge, where the massive theater is still in use.  Sleepy little Side was my wife and my favorite getaway; we spent several, week-long vacations there, enjoying the charm and hospitality of a pension right on the waterfront, and immediately next door to Greek ruins.  There’s even an amphitheater in town, where Claudia and I often sat, alone, at eventime, enjoying a cocktail along with our immersion in living history.  We were told that this once was a grand ruin, but the Turks only relatively recently recognized the value of such, and moved to protect them from plunder by foreigners.  An aged local resident told me that he often saw ships anchor offshore, to collect artifacts, and take them away.  It didn’t bother him.

IMG0089_2012M1_LRaWell, there you have it: Turkey is extraordinarily blessed with attractions for just about everyone and anyone.  It has been a safe, friendly, inexpensive, and hospitable travel destination, featuring cuisine that ranks with the World’s best (they prepare sheep better than any other nation with which I am familiar, and their primitive breads are unexcelled — seldom even equaled.  Tragically, a fundamentalist, Islamic leader has now established himself as a potential dictator, with dreams of turning Turkey into an oppressive, narrow-minded, authoritarian, Islamic caliphate; it appears that he may succeed.

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Relevant comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com

On Daylight Saving Time
Mar 14th, 2015 by jgnash

C&K1by j.g.nash

Let’s all forget to change our clocks

I have never appreciated that Daylight Saving Time (DST) thing: I prefer it light early in the morning (which is when the best and the brightest of us are at our maximum abilities); then dusk or dark, around cocktail hour, with the world settling down to rest.  Let’s do away with that expensive, inconvenient, DST policy.

Ok, I admit to being especially cranked on that subject this year, because the day established for us to waste time by trying to recall how many clocks and related devices we have, which we must, once again, try to figure out how to reset, came and went, and I missed it.  I had invited my son in for dinner, at 5:00, on Thursday, March 12th (his wife was away visiting her parents).  Because we were supposed to have advanced out time pieces an hour four days before that event, and I hadn’t taken appropriate notice of that national (except for Arizona and Hawaii) “duty,” I was still deep in meal preparation when John Jr. arrived on time.  Now, on the morning of the next day, I am still involved in the unrewarding, sometimes frustrating and tedious, routine of listing, then finding, and, finally, hopefully, appropriately resetting clocks, watches, timers, and electronic devices, scattered throughout three floors of my home, and even in the garage.

In total, I think that I have some two-dozen time-dependent devices , which I must reset manually (another handful reset themselves in one way or another).  Some, such as conventional clocks with hands, are relatively easy and uncomplicated to adjust: only requiring the adjustor to take prescribed care when moving the hands, so as to not break the mechanism.  Others, mainly digital devices, such as wrist watches, demand careful following of detailed steps (e.g., “Depress and hold button D for 3 seconds; the seconds will flash; depress button A to switch to minutes, then depress button B to advance; pressing button A again will switch to hours; pressing button B will advance; depress D to switch back to normal operation.”)

Changing the clock in my automobile seems to require that the engine is running, which is a bad idea if in the garage, so must, apparently, be done while driving in traffic, which doesn’t seem to be a better choice.

What are the benefits of this ritual insanity?  Well, the popular argument is that, by adjusting the periods of our waking hours, so that they encompass as much daylight as possible, we save nearly as much oil as we burn by driving the children to soccer practice.  In fact the inconvenient and confusing practice of resetting our clocks was started here, by President Wilson, in 1918, so as to save energy needed for the First World War.  Public outcry killed the ludicrous practice just 7 months later.  It was revitalized by another President (FDR), in 1942; called “War Time,” it was, once again, to help us fight a World War.

But how much energy does this national nonsense save, and are there costs associated with the pesky practice?  Well, no one, that I know of, has even attempted to calculate the costs of periodically, and randomly, readjusting time.  On just a national level (and the preposterous practice has spread worldwide), changing out clocks requires wide-spread changing of printed schedules for thousands of time sensitive businesses or activities, from transportation schedules to theater showtimes; on an international stage, whereon there is no standardization as to when time is to be changed, nor even by how much, mass confusion results, affecting international business of all kinds, and making it an exercise in futility to attempt to schedule international travel by air.

Even the U.S. of A. has been unable to standardize the operation of DST: our start and end days have been changed more times than I care to try to count; and to further confuse us nationally, Hawaii and Arizona have, wisely, refused to participate with the questionable, confusing, and wasteful practice.

I wonder if the United Nations would accept the task of arranging for the World’s nations to abandon the unstructured, error-prone, wasteful practice of messing with time?  If they did, and were successful, they’d, at long last, be able to brag that they’d done something worthwhile.Coolest-Clocks06

That’s all for now, I have 14 more devices still requiring wasteful, and bothersome, recalibration.

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash,  Relevant comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com.

Formatting E-Mail
Mar 12th, 2015 by jgnash

C&K1_M1 copyby j.g.nash

Our E-Mail is not just “relaxed,” it’s sloppy, wasteful, and confusing!

Dear Correspondent,

It is clear that, with the speed and seeming simplicity of e-communications, we’re becoming careless in how we use E-Mail.  That is unfortunate, because such habits degrade the potential inherent in that marvelous invention.

E-Mail is our only Internet means of rapidly, conveniently, and economically sending a conventional letter; we would do well to treat it with respect, so that it may function as an effective, electronic substitute for correspondence sent via the increasingly inefficient, and expensive, U.S. Postal Service.  There are several other means of rapid and convenient means of sending electronic notes (e.g., Twitter, Texting, Instant Messaging, Facebook, etc.), which should be used, instead of E-Mail, when one is unwilling to put adequate and appropriate time and thought into a written communication.

I have long said that: “If what is written can be misunderstood, it will be.” If, and only “if,” we treat E-Mail in a manner similar to that we once accorded the traditional letter mail, will we fully benefit from the new medium. The more time, thought, and care that is invested in a written communication, the better the chance that, what you wanted to convey, will be.  Here are a few suggestions intended to improve the use of E-Mail for all of us.

Start your E-mail off with a subject, even if it’s just something such as “Ref: Your mail of (the date)”; then open with a classic salutation (e.g., “Dear Joan,”).  Then think about what your write: is it adequately self-explanatory? Compose to communicate, rather than to confuse.  When you think you’re finished, read over the letter a couple of times: is the punctuation confusing, or helpful; are there spelling errors.  When satisfied, add a closing, such as, “With best wishes,” followed by your name (and contact information, if applicable.

If you are attaching photos, or text, such as prior correspondence, mention such in the body of your letter; but, for Heaven’s sake, there is almost NEVER a reason to just automatically append prior correspondence; that’s usually just an indication that you don’t consider your correspondent to be important enough (to you) to take a minute and start a new message, rather than coping out, and lazily hitting the “Reply To” button (which appends the entire received message).  When you used conventional mail, did you routinely enclose copies of all prior correspondence?  Of course not; so why are you doing that now?  It is increasingly common for some e-mail to be rejected because it’s too large a digital file, which results from routinely “replying to,” instead of starting out with a fresh, new, “letter.”  In addition, sending and re-sending the same e-mail over and over again wastes communications resources, which can slow transmission times, or even result in rejection.  Use “reply to” ONLY when the content of the thus attached prior correspondence is directly of use in relation to the current message.

Finally, to maximize the effectiveness and personality of your communication, avoid routine use of any of the hundreds of new abbreviations appearing each day.  How much better to read “You make me laugh,” than to see “lol.”  If you’re the sort of person that used to draw a heart at the close of a letter, to show affection, then use one in your personal mail; but avoid use of the countless icons available to show everything from stomach cramps to a drug-induced high: you are an adult — right?

In sum: if you can recall what snail mail involved, try to apply that discipline to composing E-Mail: if not, visit web sites, (e.g., www.wikihow.com/Format-a-letter) for help.

Sincerely yours,

JGNSig E-Mail

 

 

 

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Relevant comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com.

The development of a photographer (1936-2012)
Mar 10th, 2015 by jgnash

  Of Cabbages and Kings

 H&S Port w M9_LR   by j.g.nash

   I am a camera

I was born a photographer, although the first apparent evidence of such took nine years to  appear.

My father was a talented, devoted, amateur photographer, whom wBrownieInsertas, I suspect, influenced by the traveling photographers that regularly visited his small, upstate New York village, where they made portraits of those that could afford the luxury.  It was likely he that, in 1936, gave me my first camera (a Kodak “Brownie”), which firmly set me on a road to becoming an avid, and much-published, photographer.  There were only two controls on that brown Bakelite camera: a film wind knob, and a lever that first cocked, and then released, the shutter, all in one motion.

By the time I had carefully, but anxiously exposed my first roll of black & white film, I had arranged a sort of almost-darkroom, in our sometimes HOT attic.  Basically, that photo lab consisted of four 5×7-inch plastic trays for the chemical baths, and a bare light bulb, which I painted red by using an entire bottle of Mother’s nail polish.  Amazingly, I produced printable images on that very first roll, which I then exposed for printing, by compressing the negatives with photographic paper, in a wooden frame with a glass front, which was then exposed to ambient light, while counting the seconds (several, but I don’t recall exactly how many).  Sadly, none of those negatives have survived, because they were inadvertently stolen, by movers, during a relocation from Carson to La Palma, in the LA. area, in 1967.  I might explain, because so very many, irreplaceable photographs were lost in the theft, and this story is about photography, that the movers had, apparently, decided to steal an ornate, antique strong box, which once belonged to some distant relative.  The thieves knew that the box contained something, but couldn’t determine what, because it was locked, so they planned to secretly mark the “barrel” (1.e. carton) in which they placed the strong box, then fill that barrel with whatever was available from the vicinity ( a closet in my home office); which, most unfortunately, was mostly composed of boxes of my photography during the prior 25 years.

My Dad passed away, unexpectedly, when I was 14.  He and I had never been at all close; he was, however, devoted to, and Recomar 33_smalldoted on my older brother.  I admit to feeling no particular sadness at his death, but, again, I must mention that, without his genes (and I was his clone, rather that my brother, who was from my mother’s side of family), I would likely never have become so deeply involved in photography.  My Dad had been using a semi-professional, view camera (Kodak Recomar 33, which used 9×12 cm, cut or plate, film) up until his death; no one else in the family had any interest in that, so it became mine.  I used that fine photographic instrument (see image of it, at the left) for some 3 years, making some very acceptable images, up until I left home to voluntarily be part of WW II.   The negatives, and most relevant prints, are all gone, but a few, scanable prints, from a photo album, survive.  That Kodak was sMercury II_Smallimply too large for such as my new active life, so I hocked it, and used the money received to buy, the then, only available 35mm camera: a Mercury, Universal II (photo right), which had a rotating, circular metal shutter, and, uniquely, exposed “half-frames” on 35mm film; thus making possible 72 pictures on what was advertised as a “36-exposure” cassette.  I used that Mercury II in Europe (photos of bombed-flat cities), on board ships I crewed, and in the Pacific, where I ended up throwing it in the Harbor, at Manila, Philippines, in 1946.  You see, I had never been satisfied with the quality of images made with the camera, so, when returning from shooting 72 frames amidst the ruins of Manila, only to find that, because I had carelessly loaded the film, it didn’t advance from frame to frame, so not a single one of those many images was recorded on film; in a fit of frustrated rage, I chucked the hapless camera into the murky waters.

I essentially gave up photography from that moment until, having been drafted to serve in the Korean thing, in 1951. I found myself in Japan, where the post exchange had a display of once-again available German Leicas; I purchased a model IIIf with a 50mm lens, for, as I recall, $129 (photo below).  I revitalized my love for photography, while using that superb camera throughout the Leica iiif_smallKorean conflict (along witYMat124h my first twin-lens reflex [TLR} a Yashica Mat (at right), which created eye-watering images on  2.25-inch square negatives, and a wonderful Voitlander Vitessa, 35mm camera (below, right), which, with its fold1ble bellows, collapsed compactly).  Most of those images were of native life and military operations on Okinawa and Miyako Jima; about 80% black & white film, which I processed in a basic lab, next to my quarters, on Miyako; the remainder was Kodachrome (ASA 10), which I mailed back to the states for processing. I continued using the Leica and TLR while next  assigned to duty at a remote, early-warning radar site in northern Montana, where I first attempted processing color transparencies, which have faded badly over the years.  I continued using them while studying for a degree in electrical engineering, at (negatives all gone, but scanable prints, from a photo album, survive) the University of ColoradoVoitVitessa2, in Boulder, where I met my beloved wife, and started a family, which, of course, needed to be photographed.  Both cameras were worked hard while living in Northern Italia for two years; for a few years back in Montana, in the ICBM business; then in the Los Angeles area, where I worked on a graduate degree at USC. The Leica rf camera was my workhorse, and became deeply ingrained in my persona, which I ask that you keep in mind at the end of this saga. [N.B.  All negatives and most of the transparencies created with those cameras, during those many years, were part of the theft loss previously mentioned.] Now prepare to shed a tear, or laugh at me, because I shamefully admit to having attempted to service that precision Leica, when it began evidencing shutter problems.  I’d always had a knack for fixing things, so, armed with a set of jeweler’s screw drivers, I sat down in the garage workshop of our home in La Palma, Calif., and began taking the Leica apart.  SPROING!!  springs, miniscule ball bearings, and other tiny parts, flew out and scattered across the cement floor.  I suppose that I was trying to hide the evidence of my stupidity, when I threw out the bones of that classic camera.

A friend, then stationed in Japan, in support of the misadventure in Vietnam, bought and shipped to me one of the new Canon cameras (the first such that avoided openly copying Leicas).  That Canon FT would become the nucleus Canon FTof my first, professional, c330f-2photographic system; which included two bodies, eight lenses, 2-dozen filters, a light meter, and several flash guns (that fired those one-use, flash bulbs).  That treasured, hardworking Canon FT system, which served me very well (from about 1967-1975; in Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania, Greece, New England, Washington DC, throughout the Caribbean, and while working on travel articles about the Revolutionary War, Cruise Vacations, the Civil War in Virgina) was supplemented by the ultimate TLR  (a Mamiya c330f (photo left), which was the only TLR that had interchangeable lenses.

Most of my relatively extensive photography made in idyllic Seychelles, or during several, self-conducted photo-safaris in East Africa, used the workhorse Canon FT, but I had, by this time, studied photographic Yashica Jtechniques, and, especially, photo equipment maintenance and repair, at three, excellent correspondence schools (The New York Institute of Photography, the School of Modern Photography, and the National Technical Institute). Consequently, many of my favorite images of that period were shot with a repaired Yashica J camera, which an associate gave to me, to “see what you can do with it.”  I had also acquired one of Kodak’s Instamatics (a sort of early point and shoot camera, with newfangled, drop-in YashicaAutoronfilm loading, auto-exposure, and a fancy, 4-sided, Flash Cube.  I now even had a sub-miniature camera: a classic Minox type (the size of a 5-stick pack of gum), but made by Yashica (its Autoron), which was a present from my family.  All cameras (Canon FT, Mamiya 330f, Yashica J, Kodak Instamatic, and tiny Yashica Autoron were put to use during two years in photogenic Seychelles and East kodak104Africa.  One of my favorite photos of my wife, is of her, holding that Yashica J, while standing out on the vast, Serengeti plains; and my favorite photo of myself with my lovely wife was made, by daughter Mary, using that point & shoot, Kodak Instamatic with a flash cube (see below)

 

J&C Sunset

 

Sometime, around 1960, I think, I began doing limited photo lab work, in which I had to find a “dark” room (often a bath without windows, but with running water).  I developed monochrome (black & white) film, and some color transparency (e.g. Ektachrome); I also printed B&W images, up to 8×10 inches in size.  It was a hassle setting up those temporary darkrooms, and then tearing them down again when finished working, but I was driven by the love of the craft, which was growing rapidly.

It was around 1970 that my 37-year career as a travel journalist/photographer was, unexpectedly, born.  A b&w portrait of a Revolutionary War fifer, made on historic Lexington Green, caught the eye of promoters for the upcoming National Bicentennial (1976), which resulted in the image being used on a poster, sold to help finance that celebration.  That wide publicity led to jobs writing and photographing travel.  Although much of that early work was shot with the trusty Canon FT, and/or a TLR, my curiosity about other cameras resulted in the addition of the semi-automated Nikon FE and FM to my arsenal.  The Canons had a built-in light meter, but no automation of anything; the new Nikon Fe was capable of automatically setting the camera’s shutter speed, in accordance with how I had set the lens opening (f-stop) as dictated by the brightness of existing light, which was quite an advantage, in those days. It was also toward the end of this period in which electronic flash became a reasonable substitute for flash bulbs, although I continued to use both, because each had its own benefits (e.g., with knowledgeable use, flash bulbs worked with focal plane shutters (in most SLRs) at shutter speeds above 1/60th, while electronic flashes didn’t.

Because of flash sync problems (especially with the new electronic flash and focal plane shutters), I eagerly bought a Yashica 220px-Yashica_Electro_35_GSNElectro 35 GSN when it appeared on the market.  That nifty camera (about which I wrote a very popular report, published by Shutterbug) featured a leaf, or Compur, shutter, that suffered none of the flash sync problems inherent with all focal plane types; in addition, it had automated that shutter, so that it set its speed in accordance with the f-stop (lens opening) that I had preset.  The basic electronic flashes of that age were automated only to the point of controlling their light output to match the film speed and the f-stop set on the camera.  So, I could wander about someplace (such as the Pet-A-Pet Farm/zoo, In Reston, Virginia), snapping away with little thought given to varying light conditions.  It seemed to be an ideal — and inexpensive — camera for use in the age of the electronic flash.  Incidentally, although I had already had several travel-related stories, with photographs, published in newspapers and travel magazines, that job at Pet-A-Pet was my first non-journalistic, photographic assignment.

And it was in those times when I studied photographic techniques, and photographic equipment maintenance and repair, via two, excellent, correspondence schools (School of Modern Photography, and the New York Institute of Photography).  Using the knowledge gained in the equipment maintenance courses, I was able to successfully build a shutter timing instrument, as well as turn three disposed-of cameras to functional status (an underwater camera; a basic Yashica J model, which I actually used on safari in East Africa; and a classic Argus C3, from WWII days).  I also acquired, and played with, “sub-miniature” cameras, which used 16mm movie film (and even half that size) for still photography.

Polaroid100.jpgInstant (i.e. Polaroid) photography was something I also just had to experiment with.  The large, bellows style Model 100 (which require manually coating prints, and waiting for themsx70 to dry, was my instant-print camera from around 1960 to 1975, when I upgraded to the motorized, spit ’em out, models; the flagship of which was the leather covered, compact. foldable, SX-70.  For several years, before the advent of digital photography, and small, portable printers, I carried an SX-70, just to be able to give prints to some of my subjects, whom had never had a photo of themselves.

Canon_T90With the introduction of in-camera light meters, and then automation of at least one camera setting (e.g., shutter speed or lens opening), the race was on.   Canon rushed to produce the first, ergonomically designed, highly automated camera (the T-90, where “T” stood for “test”), which didn’t convince pros to abandon their beloved, Canon F1’s, which became the most used, and loved, 35mm-style film camera ever made.

For several years, most serious photographers were working, at least partly, with one of the other of the fast-appearing, fully automated cameras. In that same time frame, I enjoyed my first, professional, home photo lab, which I arranged to have built in a new home we’d bought in Florida.  There, I did everything but develop Kodachrome (a proprietary process); especially, I worked hard at the creation of fine-art, B&W prints, as large as 16×20; that sort of work, then and now, was the pinnacle of photographic art.

Just as I was settled into photographic arts, involving everything from printing color to hand-coloring B&W prints, along came digital photography.  Nikon was first, with a CoolPix 900pocketable, swivel-headed camera, which produced low-resolution photos that no editor would look twice at,  In quick succession, Olympus, and other innovators, brought out increasingly powerful digital cameras; seemingly almost overnight, digital quality increased so dramatically that finicky photo editors were giving those new images a second look.

All of the first, seemingly “acceptable,” serious. digital cameras shared a common weakness: they effectively multiplied the focal length of lenses used — something that no serious photographer wanted. or would even tolerate.  There were several abortive attempts (e.g. Kodak-Nikon co-operations, which quickly failed, but Canon, with its sound-barrier breaking EOS1-Ds  eventually offered the first, EOS1 Dacceptable, full-frame, digital, 35mm-style, SLR.  I was thrilled with the advances in digital photography, which 19 of 20 photo editors now unhesitatingly accepted.  I closed my darkroom, converting it into a data processing facility, which was used to not only process and edit digital images, but prepare articles about such as photography and travel.  No longer did I have to make duplicate color transparencies, package them with related texts, then take the package to the post office, where it was shipped, registered and insured, at great expense in time and money.  The world of the freelance journalist and photographer was turned upside down, almost overnight.

Over the 70 years of my love for photography, I probably owned and uses at least 50 different cameras, and even more accessories, such as electronic flash, remote Leica M(controls, studio equipment, and specialty lenses.  I find it interesting that, my final acquisition of a new camera system (2010) was the state-of-the-art Leica M9: a retro digital, with the most advanced innards available, but with no automation, I just couldn’t resist being able to combine the best of digital, with a camera that, once again, required the user to THINK, before pressing the release.  I believe that, while full automation is actually beneficial in a few situations, in general, better images are made by a photographer that thinks through the entire process, then sets the camera accordingly, before tripping the shutter.

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Pertinent comments may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com

Travel Talk
Mar 8th, 2015 by jgnash

X0709502M1_LR Of Cabbages and Kings

by j.g.nash

The 4 Moroccos

For most of Morocco’s visitors, their impression of the country is one of Casa Blanca’s whitewashed buildings; the circus atmosphere of touristic Marrakech; the commercial glitz of convenient Tangier; possibly the Roman ruins at Volubilis, or the impressive architecture as seen in Rabat or Fes.  Those places are, however, only one of four parts of what there is to experience in wonderful Morocco.

I’ve decided to separate Morocco into 4 tourist “districts.”  The first, I’ve already briefly described; it’s where perhaps 95% of all guided-tour visitors spend their time in country.  The second district is the Atlas Mts, which run north to south, as the nation’s spine.  The third is the sun bathed Atlantic Coast, where beaches with gentle surf, and inexpensive accommodations, attract repeat visitors from Europe, each winter. The final District is the eastern side of the mountains, which separate western Morocco from the Sahara Desert.  Let’s take a necessarily brief look at all four districts.

X0907010_LR

I do not intend to suggest that any of my “districts” are more desirable as travel destinations than the others; only that they are significantly different from each other.  The district containing the most popular destinations deserves that right and claim: Rabat, Meknes, and Fes are filled with wonderful palaces, tombs, mosques, leather tanneries, monuments, etc., but  I, personally, could be quite content in visiting Morocco without ever setting foot in Marrakech, which is simply too blatantly commercial and unreal; and fabled Casablanca ain’t got no Rick’s Americane Cafe. nor Ingrid Bergman (not even a single casbah).  Yes, I had an outstanding dinner there (in a place seemingly/thankfully unknown to visitors), but such are available elsewhere in country.

X0712019M1_LRIf you’ve never seen Roman ruins, or just can’t get enough of them, by all means join the mobs at Volubilis; I will spend my time in the Atlas Mts, with Berber tribesmen, or in the remote east, where fragrant rose gardens cover the land from here to there; where you may travel for days without seeing another foreigner; where casbahs (real ones) are as common as fast food joints in Los Angeles, and where, surprisingly, there are many luxurious overnight accommodations.  And when the weather turns chilly in the desert and mountains, I head far west. past Marrakech, to Agadir (Europe’s favorite), Safi, and Essaouira.

IMG00430_LRBerbers are Morocco’s “natives.”  They today are concentrated in the High Atlas Mts.  Visiting with them is a delight, if you are willing to accept, and enjoy their enthusiastic hospitality.  However modest their means (many still live in goat-skin tents), they sincerely want to share that with you.  Many of them make a living by selling attractive rocks to occasional tourists; we bought many (especially since I have a daughter that likes them).

When one descends from the High Atlas toward the East. the land quickly turns to sand.  Here, are some isolated, splendid, tourist hotels (even with Olympic-size pools and date palms heavy with fruit, hanging over your room’s balcony).

Here also are IMG00433_LRmagnificent fortress villages (ksars) containing many real casbahs (simply, a fortified home, for an extended family).  And here, they grow the roses that make rose-scented lotions, and even that marvelous rose-petal jam.  Trekers and hikers will especially enjoy a walking through the Dades and Todra Gorges, and comfortable overnight accommodations with excellent restaurants have been provided in nearby Tinjhir.

Adventure travelers head to toward the nearby border with Algeria, and the edge of the great Sahara Desert; there, overly commercial Zagora litteraly buzzes with salesmen for desert treks, both day and longer.

 

 

 

 

Casba5

I’ll admit it — I like the eastern desert part of Morocco best of all, and the slow trip, from Ouarzazate to Agadir, is my favorite route.  Along the way, you will see such as the World Heritage site, Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, where the crumbling remains of dozens of casbas are clustered defensively, on a hillside; you may also stop at a IMG00432_LRnondescript restaurant for a spit-roasted game-bird meal, or perhaps to enjoy tea, brewed ceremonially, in a private garden. Even hotels along that road are exceptional: I stayed in one that had an Olympic-size swimming pool, and where I picked fresh dates from a palm hanging over my room’s warm-but-shaded balcony. With that preference established, I could easily spend all winter on Morocco’s warm, uncrowded, Atlantic coast, where the livin’ is easy (and inexpensive).  Agadir is the center of European activity in winter, but I lean towards less popular Safi, or Essaouira, a bit to the north.  It is reported that 1/3rd of all tourist bed reservations are made in Agadir, where scenery is wonderful, and the accommodations “excellent to superb.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG00135_2015M1_LRFurther north along the coast, the accommodations at Essaouira and at Safi are not quite as plush as at Agadir, but they’re quite acceptable (sort of “beachy”) with plain, basic furniture; open, fresh air breezes, rather than enclosed  air conditioning;  great, fresh-caught seafood; the surf (and associated “noise,”) ain’t “up”; and all costs are way down.

The beaches aren’t Florida’s powder sand; and the surf is surprisingly gentle (sort of like what laps at Florida’s Gulf beaches), but the winter weather is delightful; the cost of a 2-week vacation quire affordable; the scenery interesting and most photogenic at Essaouira, which I chose as our base in that region

IMG00448_LRaSo, for an optimum Moroccan experience, plan for 10 days in country. Go along and visit the the major cities of Rabat, Fes, and Meknes, along with the Roman ruins at Vulubilis — they’re worth seeing — then head for the eastern side of the Atlas Mountains; visiting with authentic, Berber villages along the way.  Take time to soak up the beauty of the desert, with snow-capped mountains in the background; stroll through Tadra Gorge, and ride a camel out into the endless Sahara.  Enjoy picturesque Ouarzazate, then drive slowly west, enjoying magnificent scenery, food, local color, and great accommodations along the way.  Skip overly commercial, theatrical Marrachech, and wind down your tour with a few nights in an old, wooden, beach hotel in Essaouira, where the restaurant serves fish caught an hour earlier.  On your IMG00136_2015M1_LRway back north to Rabat, for the flight back home.  Pause in funky little Safi, and buy a couple of loaves of bread better than any you’ve ever had back home — they’ll let you take ’em on the airplane, but you’ll devour them before you board, leaving a wonderful taste of Morocco with you for years to come.

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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash.  Pertinent comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com

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