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Japan Series


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Japan Series


We were visiting Megumi's home province, Nagano. After a night in a nearby Ryokan, we woke up early to hike up the mountain to Jigokudanai where the famous  Snow Monkeys  congregate and bathe around the hot springs all year. Mona was a year and a half old, Noa was 5 and Daddy was running around with a camera and couldn't get enough of these delightful dead-pan monkeys, fearlessly checking us out as we moved among them.

We were visiting Megumi's home province, Nagano. After a night in a nearby Ryokan, we woke up early to hike up the mountain to Jigokudanai where the famous Snow Monkeys congregate and bathe around the hot springs all year. Mona was a year and a half old, Noa was 5 and Daddy was running around with a camera and couldn't get enough of these delightful dead-pan monkeys, fearlessly checking us out as we moved among them.

One of the things we love about Japan is that it can be SOOOO traditional and restrained - but then you get the crazy hyper-modern technological, pop and sex obsessed side as a counter-balance.  Akihabara , the electronics district of Tokyo is the epitome of this - it all comes together here: Manga, Electronics, CosPlay... Otaku Culture!!!

One of the things we love about Japan is that it can be SOOOO traditional and restrained - but then you get the crazy hyper-modern technological, pop and sex obsessed side as a counter-balance. Akihabara, the electronics district of Tokyo is the epitome of this - it all comes together here: Manga, Electronics, CosPlay... Otaku Culture!!!

In Japan eating  Miso  soup is a breakfast tradition. Every household in Japan seems to have it's own recipe, and any supermarket will offer a vast choice of Miso quality and brands. When we visited a small Miso factory in Nagano province, we were impressed by the huge vats where the Miso slowly ferments as it ages, sometimes over several years. Like any fine food product, the process by which this rich, salty, protein-rich paste is created is complicated and fascinating. Here is a brief introduction to this elemental staple of Japanese cuisine.

In Japan eating Miso soup is a breakfast tradition. Every household in Japan seems to have it's own recipe, and any supermarket will offer a vast choice of Miso quality and brands. When we visited a small Miso factory in Nagano province, we were impressed by the huge vats where the Miso slowly ferments as it ages, sometimes over several years. Like any fine food product, the process by which this rich, salty, protein-rich paste is created is complicated and fascinating. Here is a brief introduction to this elemental staple of Japanese cuisine.

When we were shooting our Japan travel series, we always made sure to film ourselves whenever we ate in  restaurants  so that we would have plenty of good footage for this video. My favourite was the 6AM sashimi breakfast at the Tsukiji fish market after filming the fishermen selling the morning's catch before dawn. Megumi's ramen slurping technique is by far the best - so she gets to narrate and star in the video!   

When we were shooting our Japan travel series, we always made sure to film ourselves whenever we ate in restaurants so that we would have plenty of good footage for this video. My favourite was the 6AM sashimi breakfast at the Tsukiji fish market after filming the fishermen selling the morning's catch before dawn. Megumi's ramen slurping technique is by far the best - so she gets to narrate and star in the video!

 

We had one day to make a film about  Kamakura . We'd dropped off our kids in a Tokyo daycare center and took the train south to the Izu peninsula and made our way straight to the Daibutsu. While there it started raining and I was getting pretty miserable but later when we looked at the footage we loved the textures of Kamakura on a rainy day and the parasols and umbrellas and misty overcast weather gave us some untypical images and I ended up liking the video a lot.

We had one day to make a film about Kamakura. We'd dropped off our kids in a Tokyo daycare center and took the train south to the Izu peninsula and made our way straight to the Daibutsu. While there it started raining and I was getting pretty miserable but later when we looked at the footage we loved the textures of Kamakura on a rainy day and the parasols and umbrellas and misty overcast weather gave us some untypical images and I ended up liking the video a lot.

The first time Nathan went to  Kyoto  he was shocked to discover that it's a fully modern metropolis: a bustling city with cars, apartment blocks, high rise hotels, fast food restaurants and all the rest. He was expecting it to be all temples and gardens and Buddhist monks walking around in purple robes. After getting over that initial disappointment, the magic began to reemerge, and part of the city's subtle charm is that, almost like traveling in time, you can walk a few yards from the street, pass through a temple entrance and suddenly be in another world. There's always something new to discover in this mysterious, inscrutable city...

The first time Nathan went to Kyoto he was shocked to discover that it's a fully modern metropolis: a bustling city with cars, apartment blocks, high rise hotels, fast food restaurants and all the rest. He was expecting it to be all temples and gardens and Buddhist monks walking around in purple robes. After getting over that initial disappointment, the magic began to reemerge, and part of the city's subtle charm is that, almost like traveling in time, you can walk a few yards from the street, pass through a temple entrance and suddenly be in another world. There's always something new to discover in this mysterious, inscrutable city...

Africa Series


Africa Series


One of Nathan's favorite times in Egypt was spending time on  Rajah's   felucca as the sun set over the Nile . He was such a sincere and gentle guy - and was touched by the way he talked about the Nile, and his boat, and fishing and the advantages of taking it slow while traveling on the river. As we slipped past the big riverboat hotels and rode the wakes of the motorboats speeding past us I could imagine that he was part of a tradition that stretches back thousands of years - and that the fundamental technology, sailing, hasn't changed too much in all that time. As we parted, Rajah made us reach our hands into the river to "touch the Nile", thus ensuring that we would return one day.

One of Nathan's favorite times in Egypt was spending time on Rajah's felucca as the sun set over the Nile. He was such a sincere and gentle guy - and was touched by the way he talked about the Nile, and his boat, and fishing and the advantages of taking it slow while traveling on the river. As we slipped past the big riverboat hotels and rode the wakes of the motorboats speeding past us I could imagine that he was part of a tradition that stretches back thousands of years - and that the fundamental technology, sailing, hasn't changed too much in all that time. As we parted, Rajah made us reach our hands into the river to "touch the Nile", thus ensuring that we would return one day.

We were doing a series on Egypt and made several videos in the wonderul city of Cairo. Aside from the fact that Egyptians are generally very kind and hospitable - it is also one of the few Islamic destinations where non-Muslims are not only allowed inside Mosques, but able to film in them as well. Since  Medieval Cairo  has several of the most famous Mosques in the world this was a visual feast for us. For a lot of travel videos, we would shoot the images first and then record the narration later, this is one of the few where I ambitiously narrated the whole thing on location. Hard work, but so much fun.

We were doing a series on Egypt and made several videos in the wonderul city of Cairo. Aside from the fact that Egyptians are generally very kind and hospitable - it is also one of the few Islamic destinations where non-Muslims are not only allowed inside Mosques, but able to film in them as well. Since Medieval Cairo has several of the most famous Mosques in the world this was a visual feast for us. For a lot of travel videos, we would shoot the images first and then record the narration later, this is one of the few where I ambitiously narrated the whole thing on location. Hard work, but so much fun.

Fes , like Venice, is one of those cities that is singular not just for it's cultural treasures or it's food or it's population - but also for it's extraordinary layout in a space largely off-limits to motorized vehicles. It is a city that is an actual labyrinth. Normal maps are pretty much useless in this dense Moroccan metropolis. Some say you should always have a guide there or you will get hopelessly lost. But for us - though we did have a guide for part of the visit - the part that was most fun was when we WERE on our own and getting lost. As you wander through the narrow streets of the medinah, taking in all of the manifold small businesses & discreet passageways, the sounds of human and animal activity - voices, footsteps, donkeys, laborers in small tanneries and metal-working shops dominate - and you realize that this was the way the world sounded before the advent of cars and trucks and the motor-traffic rumble.

Fes, like Venice, is one of those cities that is singular not just for it's cultural treasures or it's food or it's population - but also for it's extraordinary layout in a space largely off-limits to motorized vehicles. It is a city that is an actual labyrinth. Normal maps are pretty much useless in this dense Moroccan metropolis. Some say you should always have a guide there or you will get hopelessly lost. But for us - though we did have a guide for part of the visit - the part that was most fun was when we WERE on our own and getting lost. As you wander through the narrow streets of the medinah, taking in all of the manifold small businesses & discreet passageways, the sounds of human and animal activity - voices, footsteps, donkeys, laborers in small tanneries and metal-working shops dominate - and you realize that this was the way the world sounded before the advent of cars and trucks and the motor-traffic rumble.

The highlight of our trip to Africa was going on safari in Kenya and South Africa. We had many wonderful opportunites to film Water Buffalo, Elephants, Lions, and Rhinos and many, many other animals. Finally, in Maasai Mara, after several days, we spotted an elusive Leopard peering out at us from behind some bushes to complete the  "Big Five" . The footage in this video is culled from Maasai Mara & Nairobi National Park - both in Kenya, and Kruger National Park in South Africa. In Kruger, we were on our own in our own vehicle and, at times, we would come across a magnificent elephant, or lion blocking the road.

The highlight of our trip to Africa was going on safari in Kenya and South Africa. We had many wonderful opportunites to film Water Buffalo, Elephants, Lions, and Rhinos and many, many other animals. Finally, in Maasai Mara, after several days, we spotted an elusive Leopard peering out at us from behind some bushes to complete the "Big Five". The footage in this video is culled from Maasai Mara & Nairobi National Park - both in Kenya, and Kruger National Park in South Africa. In Kruger, we were on our own in our own vehicle and, at times, we would come across a magnificent elephant, or lion blocking the road.

   Although it is a major African city, some of  Nairobi 's charm lies in the fact that Kenya's first national park is actually within the city limits. There is nothing quite like the paradox of seeing wild animals against a modern, skyscraper-lined backdrop. From this wonderful park, to the genteel nostalgia of it's colonial past (though this era was also marked by brutality and oppression by European powers) to the crush of humanity in Kibera, and the modernist architecture downtown - perhaps no other city in Africa quite encompasses the many contradictions, the problems, and the beauty of this continent.

 

Although it is a major African city, some of Nairobi's charm lies in the fact that Kenya's first national park is actually within the city limits. There is nothing quite like the paradox of seeing wild animals against a modern, skyscraper-lined backdrop. From this wonderful park, to the genteel nostalgia of it's colonial past (though this era was also marked by brutality and oppression by European powers) to the crush of humanity in Kibera, and the modernist architecture downtown - perhaps no other city in Africa quite encompasses the many contradictions, the problems, and the beauty of this continent.

700 miles down the Nile from Cairo, almost at the border of Sudan, is the magnificent and strange temple complex of  Abu Simbel . Unlike other Ancient monuments in Egypt which are usually clustered around each other - Rameses the Great's self-deifying temple stands alone in the desert, it's huge statues peering out over the man-made Lake Nasser. Built seemingly as a warning to any Nubian invaders from the south the two temples (the smaller one built as a memorial to his beloved wife and Queen) are the greatest expression of Rameses II penchant for self-agrandisement and propaganda.

700 miles down the Nile from Cairo, almost at the border of Sudan, is the magnificent and strange temple complex of Abu Simbel. Unlike other Ancient monuments in Egypt which are usually clustered around each other - Rameses the Great's self-deifying temple stands alone in the desert, it's huge statues peering out over the man-made Lake Nasser. Built seemingly as a warning to any Nubian invaders from the south the two temples (the smaller one built as a memorial to his beloved wife and Queen) are the greatest expression of Rameses II penchant for self-agrandisement and propaganda.

This video was made as part of several films about Egypt and  Cairo  - and focusses less on history and sight-seeing and more on the little practicalities that will help the visitor navigate this chaotic and fascinating African metropolis. Adapting to local customs, like Baksheesh as well as simply learning how to cross the street can really help make a visit to Cairo less stressful and much more fun!

This video was made as part of several films about Egypt and Cairo - and focusses less on history and sight-seeing and more on the little practicalities that will help the visitor navigate this chaotic and fascinating African metropolis. Adapting to local customs, like Baksheesh as well as simply learning how to cross the street can really help make a visit to Cairo less stressful and much more fun!

Spain/Portugal Series


Spain/Portugal Series


We went to Barcelona just to make this video about the  SagradaFamilia  for about.com. We fell in love with the city and for a spell we were feverishly figuring out how we could move there, what would we do for a living? Where will the kids go to school? Barcelona seems to have all the best of Europe: a perfect early modern European architecture and layout, reminiscent of Paris BUT it also has Mediterranean beaches and the wonderful, relaxed, fun-loving Catalonians & Spaniards and, of course, Gaudi!

We went to Barcelona just to make this video about the SagradaFamilia for about.com. We fell in love with the city and for a spell we were feverishly figuring out how we could move there, what would we do for a living? Where will the kids go to school? Barcelona seems to have all the best of Europe: a perfect early modern European architecture and layout, reminiscent of Paris BUT it also has Mediterranean beaches and the wonderful, relaxed, fun-loving Catalonians & Spaniards and, of course, Gaudi!

We were sent by About.com to make a series of videos about Lisbon and Portugal and so lucky to meet the delightful Vanessa Bernado! She was the perfect presenter...Vanessa generously spent a day with us giving us a wonderful insider's tour of Lisbon and as we have so often found, there is nothing better than local knowledge when making a travel video. Watch this  Dining in Lisbon  video!

We were sent by About.com to make a series of videos about Lisbon and Portugal and so lucky to meet the delightful Vanessa Bernado! She was the perfect presenter...Vanessa generously spent a day with us giving us a wonderful insider's tour of Lisbon and as we have so often found, there is nothing better than local knowledge when making a travel video. Watch this Dining in Lisbon video!

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How do you limit a visit to Spain to just  five must-see locations ? Well you can't really, but, each of these places should be considered a starting point for further explorations: A visit to Granada's Alhambra could lead to an exploration of Andalucia and the small towns of the Sierra Nevada, like Ronda. Madrid and Barcelona have the great museums, and Gaudi respectively - but these two great Spanish cities promise unlimited opportunity for any traveler's desires and interests, cultural, culinary and otherwise. A trip up north to San Sebastian can also encompass a visit to Basque country and the Pyrenees and of course, the famous Guggenheim Bilbao. And Cordoba's Mesquita is but a landmark in a fascinating, hospitable city with a wonderful quality of life.

How do you limit a visit to Spain to just five must-see locations? Well you can't really, but, each of these places should be considered a starting point for further explorations: A visit to Granada's Alhambra could lead to an exploration of Andalucia and the small towns of the Sierra Nevada, like Ronda. Madrid and Barcelona have the great museums, and Gaudi respectively - but these two great Spanish cities promise unlimited opportunity for any traveler's desires and interests, cultural, culinary and otherwise. A trip up north to San Sebastian can also encompass a visit to Basque country and the Pyrenees and of course, the famous Guggenheim Bilbao. And Cordoba's Mesquita is but a landmark in a fascinating, hospitable city with a wonderful quality of life.

We spent one day with the fabulous and indefatigable Vanessa Bernardo who marched us through  Lisbon's history  and it's marvelously varied neighborhoods from it's heyday as Renaissance maritime power to it's 20th century reincarnation as an art deco and fascist capital, to its reemergence as a peaceful, international and cosmopolitan destination city. Along with Barcelona, Lisbon tempted us to change our lives and move there. Watching this video brings it all back - and the temptation lives on...

We spent one day with the fabulous and indefatigable Vanessa Bernardo who marched us through Lisbon's history and it's marvelously varied neighborhoods from it's heyday as Renaissance maritime power to it's 20th century reincarnation as an art deco and fascist capital, to its reemergence as a peaceful, international and cosmopolitan destination city. Along with Barcelona, Lisbon tempted us to change our lives and move there. Watching this video brings it all back - and the temptation lives on...