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Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms

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Impressions of Iqaluit

By Patricia Lightfoot

I thought about the Jerry Cans’ song “Northern Lights,” as I flew into Iqaluit in March, and the line “Don’t you never ever forget the ones who live there,” when “travelling among the Northern Lights.” I did not see the Northern Lights, even when locked out of the place where I was staying at 11:30 pm after “steak night” at the Legion, Continue reading “Impressions of Iqaluit”

Welcome to Montgolfiere Weekly!

This blog exists because I wanted to do a different kind of writing from the writing I do in my day job, and I even managed to persuade some of my friends to contribute their thoughts on culture in its many forms, from the visual arts, letters and music to human health, habits and customs, with occasional references to hot air ballooning. There is a whole world out there, and this is a small way of exploring it. Continue reading “Welcome”

Managing visitors and protecting rock art heritage: A sad story from Los Haitises, Dominican Republic

By Julie Harris

In his manual Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites, Arthur Pedersen advises that “Directing governments, site managers and visitors towards sustainable tourism practices is the only way to ensure the safekeeping of our world’s natural and cultural heritage.” A visit in recent years to Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic demonstrated how difficult it can be to develop, encourage and enforce sustainable tourism practices in many countries, especially when tourists just don’t care. Continue reading “Managing visitors and protecting rock art heritage: A sad story from Los Haitises, Dominican Republic”

Observing chimp behaviour in Gombe

By Michelle Munro

What to do with a weekend between Kigoma and Dar es Salaam?  I could join the other “week in the field” development hacks, take the Friday flight to Dar and enjoy vibrant markets, the Indian Ocean, a pedicure, and a hotel with a pool, gym, decent internet, consistent showers and exotic breakfast choices like real coffee, whole-wheat bread and yogurt. Or I could stay in Kigoma, capital of the region with the same name in western Tanzania, almost as far as you can get from Dar but only 2 hours from Gombe National Park, which, like Kigoma town, borders Lake Tanganyika. Continue reading “Observing chimp behaviour in Gombe”

The accidental development tourist

By Mark Fryars

OK, so you know what and where SNNPR is, right? No? Oh! Well, in short, it is a region in Ethiopia, a few hours’ drive south of the capital, Addis Ababa. It’s home to some 45 ethnic groups, and its 15 million people speak 12 different languages. Half the population are Protestants, one in five are Orthodox Christian and the remainder are Muslim, Catholic or other religions. So, pretty diverse.  Continue reading “The accidental development tourist”

Travelling in Japan: Koyasan

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the final instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day. After Kyoto, we went to Mount Koya or Koyasan, which is an area of religious significance, being the centre of Shingon Buddhism.  One attraction for visitors, apart from the town’s natural setting in the mountains, its history, its many temples and other religious buildings, is the opportunity to stay in a temple lodging, Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Koyasan”

The list

My take on travel planning has always been impulsive, so I was intrigued to learn about a friend’s more methodical approach. This friend prefers not to leave a digital footprint, so her name is not included here. PL

 Please tell us about your list

As far back as I can remember, I have had what some people call a “bucket list.” It comes from my childhood, when my parents impressed upon us that we shouldn’t take life for granted and then regret missed opportunities. Embracing the next travel opportunity, both near and far, was a common topic of conversation and, arguably, the glue that connects us as a family. Some travel adventure stories make for great dinner conversation, like my father recounting his unorthodox journey to find the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or my sibling’s first trek to Machu Picchu. While other stories, often the most meaningful experiences in my view, are best shared only with those we love. I remember what the sun felt like while exploring the Cinque Terre or how the air smelled like citrus in Capri, which doesn’t exactly make for tantalizing dinner conversation, but these are some of my favourite memories nonetheless. Continue reading “The list”

My Little Free Library

by Marnie Wellar

A few years ago in Montreal, I saw a charming little wooden cupboard set up on a post outside a coffee shop. A notice on the little door offered free books, and the cabinet had a variety of books inside. What a beautiful idea, full of goodness! I decided I would make one someday.

Last year I was deep into a major DIY project: a minimal-waste, salvaged-materials sustainable kitchen renovation. It’s a rewarding approach, but also painstaking and protracted. Taking a week off to make a Little Free Library would be the perfect side project, one I could enjoy accomplishing quickly. Continue reading “My Little Free Library”

A pint of plain and #dotMED16

by Pat Rich

It was probably inevitable that what was intended to be a sincere post about a unique conference in Dublin that combines the humanities and medicine (#dotMED16) would ramble a tad unsteadily into ruminations about Flann O’Brien and the Platonic theory of forms as it relates to Irish pubs.

Frankly, it was Samuel Shem, the keynote speaker at the dotMED conference, who brought the disparate elements together when he explicitly referenced O’Brien’s The Third Policeman and how Shem had incorporated the two large (both in size and importance) policemen from that book into his own novel, The House of God. Continue reading “A pint of plain and #dotMED16”

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