About Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett
Keli’i Brown from Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau and cultural specialist Pueo Pata strum and dance up a storm at a recent Hawaii gathering in San Francisco, where Maui was celebrated. Representatives from Molokai and Lanai were also there. Man, I love this place! See our Hawaii coverage if you want to see just how much we love this state.
Wearable Wonderland is coming to The Old Mint in San Francisco on December 10, 2013. To celebrate the act of living this holiday season, 10% of all proceeds from the Wearable Wonderland event will be donated to a local charity.
The event will be the official Stained Glass Labs Holiday Gala celebrating the emerging Wearable Technology & IOT ecosystem. This exclusive event is poised to bring together over 500 top-tier technology executives and innovators.
Wearable Wonderland will also feature over 20+ models fashioning the coolest wearable tech devices of 2013. Stained Glass Labs will award companies and devices for their notable innovations within the following categories:
- Smart Glasses
- Smart Clothing
- Smart Watches
- Smart Home
- Smart Application
- Stained Glass Labs Device of the Year
Wearable Wonderland Holiday Charity Gala
The Old Mint
88 5th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Tuesday December 10, 2013 from 8:00 pm-12:00 am.
Attracting more than 15 million tourists every year, Greece is a favored travel destination, and for good reason. With stunning views, historical sites, sandy beaches, museums, tasty cuisine and breathtaking views, Greece has a lot to offer to any type of traveler. Off the coast of the mainland, around 6000 islands, 230 of which are inhabited, surround Greece. Here are some facts about a few of them and a look at why you should make time to visit at least one of these gems.
The islands are by tradition grouped into six major clusters, the Ionian, found off the northwest coast in the Ionian Sea, the Saronic, Sporades, Dodecanese, the Cyclades and the North Aegean, a loosely grouped cluster of islands to the north east of Greece. A charter boat, ferry or a seaplane from the mainland can get you to any one of these islands although some airlines do have direct flights to some of the main ones like Corfu, Crete, Mykonos and a few others.
The beauty of the Greek islands lies in the fact that every island group, or rather every island itself has got its own character. Nothing beats the lush greenery of the Ionian Islands or the typical Greek whitewashed bougainvillea decked cube houses on the Cyclades islands.
The largest island, Crete has a lot to offer to the visitor. Here you can admire the remains of a once powerful and brilliant civilization, relax on blissful beaches and take long walks into awe-inspiring mountainscapes. Crete also has a gastronomical tradition that is second to none.
This volcanic island in the Cyclades has a spectacular landscape of red, brown and white rocks. The colorful beaches, whitewashed fishing villages and the mountainous settlements make this island a traveller’s paradise. Visit the ancient theatre, catacombs and windmills in Tripiti, where the Venus de Milo statue was found or take a boat tour of the island’s coves.
Mykonos is an island that is famous for attracting celebrities due to it’s great beaches and night life, but don’t be fooled into thinking that these are the only things the island has to offer. The small museums scattered around the island, the famous church of Panagia Paraportini, five churches merged into one built in classical Byzantine style and the Chora are some of the few locations that give the island its exquisite character.
Be sure to check out Little Venice, a picturesque little town built on water as the name suggests and whilst there make sure to make use of some of the most luxurious lodgings the island has on offer such as Greek Villas.
With its crystal blue waters and volcanic rock, Santorini is also definitely worth a visit. Famous for its wine and the Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement, Santorini is an activities haven. Whether you’re into diving, sailing, rock climbing or hiking, Santorini has it all.
Rhodes is somewhat of a different experience from the other islands. With ancient settlements, Knights Templar castles, the Grandmaster’s Palace and the exquisite museum of Greek Modern art, Rhodes is a great place to go to if you’re a history buff. Rhodes’s southerly cape forms a sandspit that separates the Mediterranean from the Aegean making it a great destination for windsurfing.
Ithaca is a short 45-minute ferry ride from Kefalonia, but it is a relatively untouched natural retreat. Hiking in the valleys and rugged hills may lead to some really great surprises such as hidden ruins and beautiful sea views.
The archeological sites of Ithaca, the homeland of Homer’s Odysseus are a great start if you want to brush up your Greek mythology knowledge. The Greeks have a great sense of hospitality and that coupled with the cuisine, wine, and all the rest makes these islands a top location for any type of traveler.
Note: This post was made possible by our partner sponsor My KonospanormosVillas. Photo credits in order of appearance: Crete - cntraveller.com, Milos - Wikipedia.com, Mykonos - travelsupermarket.com, Rhodes - touristmaker.com.
Mauritius is not only beautiful, a great side trip if you’re heading to South Africa or Mozambique, but it’s an incredible melting-pot of cultures. Nearly every month, you’ll find interesting festivals you can explore, from Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist.
A number of Hindu Festivals such as Holi (the festival of colors), Diwali (the festival of lights), and Maha Shivratri (the festival of Lord Shiva) are celebrated alongside the Chinese New Year, Christmas, and Easter.
Just as the many other major Hindu festivals, the large Indian majority, (about 63 per cent) celebrate Holi with a lot of enthusiasm in the island of Mauritius. It is an official holiday in the country and therefore people get all the time to make merry and drench themselves in the spirit of Holi and of course, colour water.
Hindus, here duly perform the tradition of Holika Dahan or lighting of bonfire on the eve of Holi and celebrate the victory of good over evil. Next day people revel and play with colours and drench everybody with water jets called pichkaris. While in the evening they greet each other with tilak and exchange sweets. Holi is also marked as a Spring Festival when the nature wears its best clothes and fields and flowers are in full bloom.
Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm at Mauritius as this country have great Indian crowd. The Diwali celebrations at Mauritius is as good as in India. The festival of lights- Diwali is celebrated in October/November. Diwali marks the victory of Rama over Ravana and also commemorates Krishna’s destruction of the demon Narakasuran. Earthen oil lamps are placed in front of every home turning the island into a fairyland of flickering lights.
Besides celebrating the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, the little flickering lights also symbolize the beginning of summer. The main day of the festivities is seen as a particularly auspicious day for merchants to make up their accounts and balances for the previous year, to go unburdened into the next. After the morning prayers, Hindus share sweets prepared specially for the occasion with family members, neighbors and friends of any faith, in accordance with the multicultural spirit of Mauritius.
Maha Shivaratri preparations in Mauritius starts approximately one month before the Grand Night of Shiva. Shiva followers here fasts for some 30 days, or let’s say, as from the day that the construction of the “kanwars” started. Others start their observance for Lord Shiva some 10 days before the great night. While all these comprise a sacrifice, the main features of this festival constitute rigid fasting on the D-day for 24 hours, and staying awake for the whole night and meditating on Lord Shiva.
In Central America, in Rivas, Nicaragua, there’s a luxurious resort and spa named Mukul Beach Resort, which has quite the history. In 1875, 25-year old Francisco Alfredo Pellas Canessa came to Nicaragua to take over the family business, Caribbean Pacific Transit Co., founded by his father Carlos Napoleon. More than 135 years later and through five generations, the family business has grown into 16 companies in more than a dozen countries – from transportation and computers to sugar, ethanol, Flor de Caña Rum and the world-class Vivian Pellas Hospital.
Now led by Don Carlos Pellas, named by America Economia as one of the 50 most influential persons in Latin America, has committed himself to creating one of the most exclusive boutique resorts in the world. With it, Pellas is establishing his family legacy – a pristine natural sanctuary where you make authentic connections to the land, culture and people of Nicaragua. And in return, the surrounding community will benefit from the resulting improved quality of life.
It is part of a sprawling 1,670-acre remote beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast. 36 options await you on a gorgeous and sprawling oceanfront. Think villas and hillside Bohios, all with private pools, spacious decks, out-door showers and floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Pacific Ocean. And what’s even better is that you have private butlers every step of the way.
Spacious baths surfaced with Nicaraguan travertine mar-ble include twin vanities, soaking tubs, separate monsoon showers and large dress-ing areas. Several dining venues, including palapa-shaded Terras, beachfront Par-rilla and La Mesa, an atmospheric indoor dining room serving Mesoamerican cui-sine by the sea. Spa Mukul offers six self-contained private casitas where visitors are encouraged to spend the entire day. Other amenities include an 18-hole David McLay Kidd-designed golf course. Activities include fishing, nature walks, hiking, surfing, snorkeling and other water sports.
Then, of course there’s Mukul’s spa where they tout that they’ll make you feel like the only person on earth. The Spa Mukul includes six experiences housed in six individual, private spa casitas, each equally harnessing a different ancient healing tradition, often using local Nicaraguan ingredients.
Just as with the entire resort, the Spa Mukul is blessed with the luxury of space. Artfully designed by renowned spa consultant Angel Vezina Stewart, all six spa casitas are home to a different theme and sequence of treatment experiences available for three hours, half a day or a full day.
Treatment rooms are like large luxury suites ith private steam and tropical showers, changing areas and relaxation spaces with outdoor pools.
International flights to Nicaragua land at Sandino International Airport in Managua, the nation’s capital, and are short two- to three-hour jaunts from major transportation hubs like Miami, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta. Easy flights are also available from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and Dallas.
After landing, Mukul is only a scenic 120-minute ride away from the airport. Their staff will arrange for your personal resort butler to greet you at the airplane, to assist with luggage and customs paperwork, and drive you to Mukul via luxury coach (and back to Sandino at the conclusion of your stay). Private helicopter commutes from airport to resort are also available – getting you to Mukul in a brisk 25 minutes while soaring over the Emerald Coast’s dynamic landscape.
Airlines servicing Sandino include Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Taca Airlines and Copa Airlines. Direct flights are sourced from Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Houston, San Salvador and Panama. See below for airline scheduling:
American Airlines – daily flight from Miami
TACA – daily flight from Miami
Delta – daily flight from Atlanta
Continental – daily flight from Houston
Spirit – three flights a week from Fort Lauderdale
Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa
KM 10 Carretera Tola-Las Salinas
Main Phone Number: (505) 2563-7100
Toll Free number USA: 1800-3908-844
If you love dance and nature, you must try to make it to see one of San Francisco’s most interesting and creative shows during the month of December. The show is called Okeanos and was developed by Capacitor, a group which uses a laboratory-style creative process, called Capacitor Lab. For each new work, they assemble a cross-disciplinary team of the world’s leading artists and scientists to explore a specific concept, find common threads, and create a shared vocabulary. From this collaboration, a performance is born.
Their dance performances often have a theme around nature, sustainability and the ocean. Often what we fail to remember is that the ocean covers 99% of Earth’s living space, and while it equally terrifies and excites us, it’s an integral part of our lives even if we don’t know that much about it. The ocean as we know it is being destroyed by growing human demands. Coral extinction, plastic trash contamination, over-fishing, oil spills, climate change – our immense impact on the ocean is undeniable. What once felt vast, endless, and overwhelmingly deep is now vulnerable to our increasingly destructive ways of living.
Okeanos explores the ocean artistically and beautifully; their awe-inspiring one hour performance will leave you speechless and begging for more.
Inspired by the Coral Triangle and California’s Kelp forest, Okeanos was developed in collaboration with world-renowned marine biologists and oceanographers. This dance/cirque performance incorporates choreography, apparatus, and set design by Capacitor Artistic Director Jodi Lomask and the voices of Dr. Sylvia Earle and Dr. Tierney Thys.
Okeanos includes video art by RJ Muna and Toshi Hoo, underwater cinematography by David Hannan, sound composition by EO, Kaya Project, Beats Antique, edIT, and Tipper, vocalizations by Anka Draugelates, violin by Julia Ogrydziak, and costumes by Kimie Sako & Becky Karthage. Okeanos is performed by Mayuko Hosoai, Elliott Gittelsohn, Naomi Hummel, NancyKate Seifkar, Maggie Powers, and Micah Walters.
Capacitor created a 60-minute performance that gives audiences a sensory experience of the ocean and continues to develop its blueprint for art/science collaboration. Okeanos features the distinctive artistic and technical components that Capacitor has come to be known for – inventive and articulated dance vocabulary, abstract steel forms that mirror nature, poetic integration of audio/video/media forms, sculptural costumes, scientifically supported content, and conservation partnerships.
Born out of the collision of cultural influences found only in the San Francisco Bay Area, this performances explores the patterns and relationships inherent in nature and the cosmos. Through dance, interactive video, cirque nouveau, live music, and large-scale movement sculptures, Capacitor humanizes abstract scientific concepts, transcending cultural barriers and widening the scope of basic human experience for audiences of all ages.
What I found so beautifully stunning about the performance was the unique and creative representation the dancers performed in each scene, i.e., how they represented the sharks, the sea lions, the crabs, the jelly fish and more. As they performed the dance on stage, images of fish under the sea were displayed on video in the background. Each one so unique, each one remarkably breathtaking.
The Okeanos show is being held at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco at Pier 39, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133. It is running on Thursdays and Saturdays through the end of December 2013. You can learn more about the performance and get tickets here.
I’ve been to America’s infamous Yosemite National Park a couple times before, but never with my trusty Canon 7D in tow, ready to shoot at any time of day or night. I recently headed to the park on Veteran’s Day weekend with a group of 18 or so photographers, mostly amateurs although we had a few pros on the trip as well. With us was renowned landscape photographer Seraphina Landgrebe, who studied with Ansel Adams. Below is one of my favorite shots I took from the three days although there were so many…..
Yosemite Valley is world famous for its impressive waterfalls, cliffs and unusual rock formations. It is open year round and may be reached via Highway 41 from Fresno California, Highway 140 from Merced, Highway 120 west from Manteca and via the Tioga Road (Highway 120 East) from Lee Vining.
The Valley is known for massive cliff faces like El Capitan and Half Dome, its plunging waterfalls, including the tallest in North America, and its stunning meadows. El Capitan is a massive granite monolith that stands 3,593 feet from base to summit. Scroll down for a series of shots, where you’ll see one stunning shot after another – the park is truly breathtaking this time of year.
We stayed at one of the more convenient lodges in Yosemite, the classic Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal, CA, which is only a few miles outside the park. See my extensive write-up/review on Yosemite View Lodge.
We kicked things off with a session on how to photograph waterfalls and stars at night. While we didn’t get snow, and as such, we didn’t need chains on our tires, it was very cold, especially for early morning and late evening shoots. Shooting required hats, gloves and extra layers.
We did a sunset shot of Half Dome (think water reflections which were more than half of my shots at Yosemite), Cooks Meadow (night photography) and tons of shots along the Merced River. We spent hours at the Bridal Veil Fall and the cascading river, Cathedral Beach, what’s referred to as the “Swinging Bridge,” and the deliciously stunning Pohono Bridge and Fern Falls, where we captured colorful maples, dogwood and what would have been over-the-top waterfalls if Yosemite had had more rain.
We also took in Sentinel Bridge and later, Yosemite Cooks Meadow for night photography. We returned to various spots along Merced River several times to shoot the river, fall colors, reflections where we could capture them and Yosemite Church. Let’s also not forget the beauty at Valley View (Gates of the Valley) dogwoods and the beautiful open meadows not far from the park’s entrance.
Below is a shot I took of two mountains as a reflection in the river (originally they were the ‘reflection in the river and upside down) but I swapped it to create the effect of a normal upright photo when in fact it wasn’t. I gave the sky only just a little “drama”.
Notice how low the water is and where the purple hues come into play in the not so distant mountains. Fall colors as you will see throughout were in abundance despite the fact that it was mid-November.
Having any oooh and aaah moments yet? If not, then you clearly do not get outside and explore enough….the American west has so much to offer nature lovers. The below shot wasn’t even touched up.
I was setting up a self-timer shot here and while it didn’t go quite as planned, the result was fun!
The purple hues really came out in the late afternoon.
The yellows were also truly remarkable!
As were the shadows….
As you will see, over the few days, late afternoon light set a more dramatic tone.
While the sky may still have been as blue, the sky’s undertones and mysterious light played tricks on me, more than once.
We didn’t really get into the mountains. Need I say more? Photos always speak for themselves.
One fellow photographer remarked how the trees waved and bent like a Japanese dream in many ways. Among my own shots taken on that almost perfectly exquisite day, this photo represents that image to me.
As do these. If these don’t take your breath away then…..
Later in the day, as the people dissipated, and the sun grew brighter as it was beginning to set, Pohono Bridge changed personalities on me.
The next day, the blue skies were even bluer and it appeared, the autumn colors even more yellow.
The reflections were almost always perfect.
This in all honesty is one of my favorite shots. I loved the lonely leaf which was merely there to sunbathe on a late November afternoon day.
When the sun shone, it shone bright, the clouds were fluffy, the greens were vibrant and the yellows popped. I didn’t quite figure out how to shoot a perfect river reflection but I was starting to get close.
Visuals like this reminds me what it was like to “be” alive.
While Glacier Point is typically closed this time of year, we were one of the lucky few who managed to make it up there in mid-November without snow and without chains. Sure, it was chilly in the evening as the sun began to set and while I didn’t have any filters and struggled with my settings and my tripod on more than one occasion, I shot these less than stellar shots regardless. While not miraculous, they still bring a smile. The below shot btw, was taken slightly later than the shot below it.
Glacier Point is roughly an hour drive from Yosemite Valley depending on the weather and traffic. There’s a trail (weather permitting) that takes you to an exhilarating (some might say unnerving) view of 3,214 feet down to the Valley.
Other Things To Do In Yosemite Of Note Include:
1. Yosemite Museum: You will learn about Yosemite Indians by exploring a museum collection that includes a remarkable collection of woven baskets and traditional dress. There’s an outdoor Indian village as well. It’s located in Yosemite Village at shuttle stops #5 and #9.
2. Stroll With A Ranger: You can learn about park wonders on a ranger-guided tour. Programs are offered daily.
3. Take a Twilight Stroll With a Naturalist: You can take a leisurely walk with a naturalist through the meadows and forests surrounding The Ahwahnee Hotel.
4. Take a Photography Class: my photography class/weekend started in San Francisco btw, so wasn’t part of Yosemite offerings. Yosemite does offer classes with photography experts from The Ansel Adams Gallery. Some have fees and some are actually free.
5. Hike To Mirror Meadow: Situated at the base of Half Dome, the site of Mirror Lake frames reflections of Yosemite’s most iconic cliff. The quiet trail is gentle and follows Tenaya Creek as it winds its way through the eastern Valley. The trail starts at shuttle stop #17 if not driving.
6. Yosemite Theatre: Yosemite Theatre Live! presents compelling live performances in the theatre behind the Valley Visitor Center. Legendary climber Ron Kauk presents award-winning film Return to Balance: A Climber’s Journey, every Friday and Sturday. The last performance of the season takes place on October 26.
7. Yosemite Art Center: They have exhibits which change daily. When I was there, the November exhibit in play was called “Our Point Of View,” an exhibit with contributions from local area employees and residents.
8. Bike Riding & Ice Skating: The Curry Village Ice Rink opens for the season on November 22, weather conditions permitting.
9. Ansel Adams Gallery: The gallery is located in Yosemite Village next to the visitor center. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm.
Easy Walks & Sights:
The Base of Lower Yosemite Falls is an easy walk from Shuttle Stop #6, a hike which features educational exhibits and a picnic area. Bridalveil Fall is a year-round waterfall that you can visit by car along your way. Winds swirling about the cliff lift and blow the falling water in a delicate free-fall.
Happy Isles is a place to see dramatic natural processes at work. It is easily accessible through Shuttle Stop #16. Cross the footbridge onto the Isles or wander through outdoor exhibits detailing Yosemite’s geologic story.
Tunnel View is along the Wawona Road (highway 41), where you can see a classic view of Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks, and Bridalveil Fall. It is particularly spectacular at sunset or after the clearing of a storm.
Chileans celebrate ancestral rituals through, among other cultural activities, folk dancing. In the north they celebrate the Fiesta de La Tirana; in the south it may be the nguillatún, a Mapuche ritual; on Easter Island it is the sau sau, their popular dancesong, and throughout the country, the national dance called la cueca, in which a couple wave handkerchiefs in the air and represent the romantic playfulness of courting.
Dance is the expression of popular piety and is part of the pagan festivals inherited from the Incas. A manifestation of syncretism with Catholic culture is the diablada of the Fiesta de la Tirana. This is the dance of religious brotherhoods in which some dancers wear demonic masks, while their accompanying musicians, attired in colorful costumes, play percussion and wind instruments. Above and below I watched a dance performed by children as we disembarked from our ship in Puerto Natales along the coast in southern Chile.
In addition to the cueca which is danced and sung especially during the national independence celebrations, another courtship dance is the sombrerito, in which the woman holds a hat aloft instead of a handkerchief and approaches or moves away from her partner, mixing slow steps with quick, staccato ones. At the end of this courtship dance, the couple hide their faces behind the hat and simulate a kiss.
In the south, Mapuche dance is a ritual of worship rendered to the divinity and a healing ceremony as well. In the nguillatún and the machitún, prayers are offered to the supreme god Ngenechen and to the rehue or canelo tree (Drimys winteri), sacred to this culture. There is also the loncomeo, which means “to move the head.” It is a dance that imitates the movements of animals around the fire in the central hearth, or fogón. The presence of the machi, the shamanness of the Mapuches, is fundamental in these ritual dances, as she is the sole intermediary between mortals and the spirit world. A special occasion for feasting and dancing is, of course, the new year of the Mapuches, We Tripantu.
Among fishermen and farmers, the steps and choreographies are livelier, as though to shake away the cold. In the trastasera the man moves his arms, inviting the woman, who takes a corner of her skirt in her hand, to make una media vuelta or a half turn until she faces him. In the costillar two men compete, dancing around a bottle placed in the middle of the dance floor, and the one who kicks the bottle over loses.
Other couple dances are the vals chilote, in which the woman and the man increasingly intensify the forcefulness of their steps; the sirilla, which originated in the Spanish dance called the seguidilla, and the zamba refalosa, a typical dance from the island of Achao.
The Chiloé Island dance sirilla has Spanish influences, while the tamuré of Easter Island is of Tahitian origin, and many other typical Chilean dances trace their original influences from other lands and cultures as well. The refalosa originated in Peru, the cuando from Spain, the rhythms of the peasant dance guaracha are the legacy of Colombian and Cuban dance, the polka came from Central Europe, and the corrido is typically Mexican.
While the children danced, the adults played instruments and we all tapped along on that glorious September afternoon against a cloudy Patagonia sky.