The rich red clothing and colourful jewellery of the Masai tribesmen is wonderful in contrast to the dry grasslands. However the shiny metallic wrist-watch seems totally out of place.
Other South-East African Posts
Rocks and Rhinos (Zimbabwe)
Lake of Stars (Malawi)
Hunting the Imaginery Line (Equator)
Sunrise over the Masai Mara (Kenya)
Top Ten African Travel Wonders
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The rich red clothing and colourful jewellery of the Masai tribesmen is wonderful in contrast to the dry grasslands. However the shiny metallic wrist-watch seems totally out of place.
Monday, February 22, 2010
This is the final in a series of three European travel wonders (see also Bologna and Beaune), focussing on less popular travel cities. The series is written by Travel Wonders and kindly sponsored by HotelCalculator.com.
Located in the heart of Switzerland and overlooked by towering peaks, Lucerne is a medieval masterpiece. Built where the town-splitting Reuss River runs into the aquamarine Lake Lucerne, the elegant city has two remarkable landmarks among its collection of museums and its historic centre of quaint alleys and enchanting buildings.
The 14th century covered Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) is Europe’s oldest wooden bridge. It runs a crooked path across the mouth of the river connecting the two parts of town via the octagonal Water Tower and is richly decorated with over 100 triangular paintings from Lucerne’s long history. Lined with radiant blooms from flower boxes, it is subtlely lit in the evening reflecting in the still waters that run silently below. The stone Water Tower has its own colourful history acting as a torture chamber, prison and treasury at various points throughout its 500 year life.
Sadly, the bridge was near destroyed by fire in 1993, probably from a tourist’s cigarette, losing many of the historic paintings and much of the structure of the bridge. Some signs of the ashen remains are apparent but the Swiss did a remarkable reconstruction job in their typically efficient way.
Nearby is a truly moving monument. Etched into a sheer rock wall, a lion, mortally wounded from a spear, lays peacefully in a cavern, life draining from his pained body. The shields of Switzerland and the French monarchy sit under the lion highlighting the sculpture’s story.
Around 760 Swiss guards died gallantly defending the French royal family (who were unsuccessfully fleeing) in the Bastille uprising that marked the formation of the French republic. An officer in the guard was home in Switzerland on leave when the riot occurred. Some years later after things had settled in both countries, he built this moving monument in honour of his lost comrades marking it Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti ("To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss"). The name of the killed officers and the number DCCLXX (760) are noted in the inscription below the lion.
Famously described by Mark Twain in his superb A Tramp Abroad as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world”, the lion stands around six metres tall hewn from the sheer granite wall, a small sheltered lake reflecting the magnificent memorial.
With Lucerne being small, it is a wonderful town to explore on foot, the river front being lined with cafes overlooking a glorious wooden bridge over 650 years old reborn from the ashes just 15 years ago. The Lion is a sculpture worthy of the short walk to view the poignant memorial an officer commemorated his brave troops.
This series of three hidden European gems (written by Travel Wonders) is sponsored by HotelCalculator.com - the hotel search engine offering accommodation in over 10,000 cities worldwide including hotels in Lucerne, available at the best market prices.
Photo Source: Night Shots
Friday, February 19, 2010
This is the second in a series of three European travel wonders (first is Bologna), focussing on less popular travel cities. The series is written by Travel Wonders and kindly sponsored by HotelCalculator.com.
Wander through the travel wonder of Burgundy and you will be immediately drawn to the wonderful wines and delectable rich cuisine. Beaune is a typical town in Burgundy offering a variety of wine tastings with its long subterranean caverns and tunnels weaving under the central town holding millions of dusty bottles of the valued nectar (a tour of one of the wineries recommended). However, the highlight is an exquisite and fascinating medieval building topped by a glittering geometrically glazed tile roof in red, brown, yellow and green.
For over 500 years, the Hôtel-Dieu was a charitable hospital accepting people, rich and poor, nursing them through their illnesses or providing solace in their final days. Moved in the 1970s to a more modern hospital, the building is now a remarkable museum highlighting the extraordinary work of the Sisters for the Hospice of Beaune for over five centuries.
The Hôtel-Dieu contains two huge wards built around a central courtyard, one for the poor (top photo) with small curtained beds running down the flanks, each made for two people (the body heat thought to provide better warmth), and the other ward for rich patients with larger single beds. A small chapel sits at the end of The Pauper’s Ward for patients to pray and prepare for their death. Ironically, the rich ward had no such chapel in the belief that their survival was more likely. Paintings of the time show families camped around the beds of their convalescing loved ones making what must have been a quite noisy and busy hall.
In the centre of each ward is a communal area for dining and meeting. A common kitchen and pharmacy, the latter stocked from a nearby herb garden, served both wards. Today, both are set to past times with model nuns working in a pharmacy lined with ancient bottles of frightening concoctions and the ghoulish medical instruments of the day while others work the evening dinner in the kitchen. Note the ornate gold taps with snake heads as spouts.
The superbly vaulted ceilings are decorated with superb artworks naturally lit by skylights above the draped beds. The opulence of the building and fine medieval reputation as a charitable hospital earned it the moniker of Palace of the Poor.
Started in 1443 by the chancellor to the Duke of Burgundy to counter the effects of poverty, famine and injury from the Hundred Years’ War, the hospital came with a valuable estate of vineyards and salt works to fund the fine work of the hospital and hospice. Every year in November, an auction is conducted for the barrels of wine produced from the vineyards is conducted, the bidding for each barrel remaining open until a candle burns through. To this very day, the hospital continues with the original charter to be received there, fed and cared for, at the expense of the hospital, until they regain their health or are convalescent. As a further mission, white bread must be given to the poor asking for alms before the doors of the hospital.
One highlight is an exceptional masterpiece titled Polyptych of the Last Judgement highlighting heaven and hell. The right panels depict those going to hell, tumbling into a dark abyss while those on the left are ascending towards a glorious golden cathedral. The detail in the painting is incredible, exposed by a clever magnifying glass that travels smoothly over horizontal and vertical rails to the area of interest.
Open every day of the year, the Hospice de Beaune is a treasure highlighting exceptional and visionary charity work (cleverly self-funded through the centuries) in a glorious building of artworks but set up as a medieval hospital. Coupled with a tour of the underground cellars of one of the wineries and set in the rolling hills of Burgundy, Beaune is a hidden gem of France not to be missed.
This series of hidden European gems (written by Travel Wonders) is sponsored by HotelCalculator.com - the hotel search engine offering accommodation in over 10,000 cities worldwide including hotels in Beaune among thousands of hotels in France, available at the best market prices.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This is the first in a series of three European travel wonders, focussing on less popular travel cities. The series is written by Travel Wonders and kindly sponsored by HotelCalculator.com.
When even a whisper of a leaning tower is mentioned, people immediately think of Pisa’s grand bell tower and the major medieval engineering error. However, central to one of Italy’s liveliest and most dynamic cities are not one, but two leaning towers. The travel wonder of Bologna is home to Europe’s oldest university (over 900 years old and producing students including Thomas à Becket, Copernicus and Dante), one of the world’s largest churches and stands resplendent in the rich red hue of its buildings, kilometres of covered walkways and famous meat and tomato-based pasta sauce. People joke that the rich red is also an indicator of their ties to socialism and communism that is widely known throughout the country.
In the middle ages equivalent of today’s battle to construct the world’s tallest buildings, wealthy families developed a habit of building tall towers in their cities for a combination of pride and defensive reasons. In Bologna, most have disappeared over the centuries but two most famous ones remain in the centre of the city credited to the families who built them. Asinelli Tower stands over 97 metres while the Garisenda Tower stands to around half that height.
The most notable point of interest about le Due Torri is that they both lean, the shorter tower very noticeably to the point where the building is closed to the public. Documents show that the Garisenda Tower had over ten metres removed off its top in the 14th century to prevent it from falling over, though it continues to lean at a precarious three degrees.
Asinelli Tower can be climbed via 500 steps to highlight a terracotta-red fabric of roofs across the historic centre with occasional spikes from the numerous church spires and a number of the remaining twenty towers. The arrow-straight streets laid out in Roman times continue to radiate across the city. The top few floors of the tower were once a prison, cruelly locked away but with a staggering view of the prisoner’s home city. Much like its famous cousin in Pisa, the tower has been used for scientific experiments, the tilt making it possible to drop objects from a great height directly to the ground.
Bologna is a wonderful city rich in history, culture, cuisine and knowledge marked by a pair of towers both leaning from poor foundations. It makes for an excellent day visit and a culture-rich weekend when paired with the mosaic travel wonders of Ravenna around 50 kilometres to the east.
Aerial Photo: Google
This series of hidden European gems (written by Travel Wonders) is sponsored by HotelCalculator.com - the hotel search engine offering accommodation in over 10,000 cities worldwide including hotels in Bologna available at the best market prices.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
guest post by Elegant Resorts
Located on a 300 acre private island, once a sugar plantation, the island is now a back-to-nature luxury holiday destination. The resort was closed in 2008 and recently reopened following a $28 million resort wide alteration. Jumby Bay has two white sand beaches and the resorts maintained 85 acres ensure the island's environment remains unspoiled. There are no cars permitted on the island, but complimentary golf cart and shuttle service are available. The best way to get around is to use one of many community bicycles, so guests can ride or walk without worry for keeping track of bikes.
Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort, is surrounded by gorgeous beaches. Guests are eager to run off into the sun and play in the sand, go sailing or deep-sea fishing, golf on the main island, take an island tour or visit a neighboring island. And with all the celebrities that visit the island, Jumby Bay is truly a playground for the rich and famous. Use of sailboats, snorkel gear, kayaks is included as well as water skiing. The resort has three tennis courts where you can even play on a well-lit court at night. Bicycles are located throughout the resort's grounds. Golf, horseback riding, and helicopter sightseeing are available nearby in Antigua.
The resort's main beach curves along a calm water bay facing Antigua Island. With comfortable lounge chairs on the beach, guests can also take advantage of the large open space for private sun bathing and swimming. Children have their own beach just south of the resort.
The resort is also endowed with on-site spa services, complimentary airport transportation, fitness facilities, multilingual staff, hair salon and babysitting or child care facilities. The resort can also arrange a private beach dinner and a casino night. The resort’s new spa, new spacious suites, and world class dining experiences make it a great spot for a romantic getaway.
Jumby Bay offers forty exquisite suites and a dozen two-bedroom villas each with a private pool. All are air-conditioned, have indoor and outdoor showers, a CD player, safe, internet access, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, and more. The resort’s guestrooms and suites situated in three styles of architecture. Mediterranean style white structures with red roofs and octagonal South African style cottages are placed among tropical gardens.
There are two restaurants at Jumby Bay Resort. The Verandah serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the Estate House serves Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean dishes in a romantic candle lit setting. There are also two bars, one on the beach and one at the Verandah.
The Jumby Bay staff prides itself on being tactful and is devoted to protect the privacy of all guests. People come to Jumby Bay to break away from and get away from the real world. While spending their holidays on the island celebrities can loosen up assured they won’t have to be concerned about the invasion of their privacy.
Jumby Bay can also cater to weddings. A wedding coordinator can accompany couples while getting a marriage license locally. In addition to the administrative wedding needs, the resort will set up the location, flowers, photography, cake, and of course champagne. You can even rent the entire island for you your friends and family for a wedding celebration that is in the league of celebrities. No wonder they call this place the playground of rich and famous.
Photo Source: Gandhu and Sarah
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The scale and awesome power of the travel wonder of Antarctica is difficult to capture. Huge clumps of ice break off from this glacier dwarfing the zodiac load of travellers admiring this white wonderland. The zodiac maintains a safe distance (it is over 500 metres away) and seeks sanctuary behind a smaller berg as large waves from carving ice can easily up-turn a rubberised boat. Even in buoyancy vests, life expectancy in the near freezing water is only a few minutes.
Monday, February 8, 2010
This is part two of an interview with Peter Rudiak-Gould, an American student who lived for a year on a remote atoll of the remote Marshall Islands, publishing his first book titled Surviving Paradise describing his experience. Read part one of the interview first. All photos are courtesy of Peter and are printed with permission. Many more can be found on Peter's website.
Travel Wonders: Can you comment on some of the positive and negative changes that modern western (especially American) influence is having on these remote islanders' lives?
Peter Rudiak-Gould: The first thing to realize is that, while these people are quite remote and somewhat isolated, there has nonetheless been a huge amount of foreign influence for well over a century. Missionaries, whalers, German administrators and plantation owners, Japanese imperialists and schoolteachers, World War II, American soldiers, nuclear testing, aid money, and the Peace Corps – the list goes on and on. We Westerners have a tendency to think that every remote place is just now opening up to the outside world, and that the latest foreign influence—whether it’s tourism or climate change—will be the one to finally spoil the place. But, despite all of the outside forces over the years, something that is still recognizably “Marshallese culture” has survived all this time – so it may not be quite as fragile as we fear.
Some of the record of foreign influence has been good. Fighting between islands used to be rampant and is now unknown. (This is not evidence that colonialism is good, only that government is good.) Infant mortality is way down; Marshall Islanders traditionally celebrate a new child not at birth but at the first birthday, because half of infants didn’t survive until then. The people are now protected from droughts and typhoons by the Marshallese and American governments; these hazards used to kill people in large numbers. On the other hand, it’s harder nowadays for people to live off the land because of population growth, overfishing and overhunting, and the German replanting of their islands with a cash crop (coconuts) rather than subsistence crops. Once-rare diseases like obesity and diabetes are now common due to lack of exercise and reliance on the empty calories of imported rice and sugar. And there is the not-so-small matter of nuclear testing, which has caused (and continues to cause) a tremendous amount of suffering for people displaced and irradiated.
I’m not going to say whether I think these changes are balance positive or negative, but I do think that if we’re going to make that call, we had better take all of the changes into account, not just the ones that fit our ideology. Diehard believers in modernity would like us to forget the bad points, while diehard traditionalists would like us to forget the good points. Interestingly, that same schism of belief exists in the Marshall Islands itself: if you ask how life was before foreigners came, locals will say “Peaceful – much better than today” but if you ask how life was before missionaries came, they’ll say “Violent – much worse than today”. These are the same individuals talking about the same time period, but the answer is different because the question has been framed in two different ways. So, whether you’re a local or a foreigner, comparing the present to the past is not a straightforward matter.
TW: You reference that Marshallese has 33 words for "wave" and 11 for "coconut" (plus over 100 other related terms). The language appears to have developed independent of too many outside influences. What is there to learn from such "separated" languages and what fascinated you most about Marshallese?
Peter: Languages reveal something about what people have needed to name, the sorts of distinctions they’ve found it useful to make. It’s not surprising that Marshallese has so many words related to staple plants like coconut, breadfruit, and pandanus. To give you an idea of how important these species are, here are some of their uses. Coconut trees are used for food (several varieties of coconut meat), drink (coconut juice and coconut sap), alcohol (fermented coconut sap), fuel (coconut husks), bowls (made of coconut shells), cords for stringing fish, utensils, medicine, rope, shelter, baskets, handicrafts, and copra (dried coconut meat) as a cash crop. Coconuts are even used as pillows! Breadfruit trees are used for building materials and many varieties of fresh, cooked, and preserved food. Pandanus trees are used for fresh and preserved food, medicine, thatch, and handicrafts – and now their roots are used to clean snorkel masks. So it’s not that surprising (though I still find it charming) that Marshallese has amazingly specific words like lajden for “the smallest breadfruit or pandanus remaining on the tree at the end of the season” or ninikoko for “two or more persons sharing one coconut”.
The language is not entirely free of foreign influence. There are hundreds of words from English, like baam (bomb), pinjel (pencil), and jikuul (school). There some Japanese words, too: for instance, tenki for “flashlight” and jambo for “to walk around”. Older people will occasionally even say maak (like the German currency “mark”) for “money”, a reminder of German influence in these islands before World War I. So the colonial history of the islands is inscribed in the language.
TW: Have you met another non-Marshall Islander who speaks the language well?
Peter: I’ve met some people who have been in the country for decades—life-long missionaries, and a man who works with the displaced people of Bikini Atoll, to name a few—and their Marshallese makes mine sound like baby talk. In fact, no one would be terribly impressed with my level of Marshallese ability in, say, Spanish or French. The fact that it’s exotic makes even a workable grasp of the language seem impressive. Same with Marshallese people themselves; even at the beginning when I could only mumble a few stock phrases, locals were delighted. So, while the language is hard to learn in many ways, you get a lot of recognition for any amount that you master. I’m not exactly complaining about that.
TW: What is your favourite Marshall Island story that brings a bit of a laugh?
Peter: There are too many to choose from, so I’ll use this as an opportunity include a tidbit that I never managed to fit into the book. There are no phones on most of the outer islands, so the main means of communication is by radio. There is just one problem with this (um, other than the deluge of static, the confusion of two different sets of people trying to have simultaneous conversations on the same channel, not hearing what your conversation partner said because you were both talking at the same time, and not knowing how well your joke went over because you can only hear the other side when they’re pressing the button on their microphone)—so, yes, the one problem with these radios is that everyone in the Marshall Islands can hear what you’re saying. So, I submit the following word of advice for English teachers in the Marshall Islands: please do not teach your students Pig Latin. The outer island volunteers need it in order to send coded radio messages to each other about things such as: local dating disasters, embarrassing medical problems, etc. I have even heard of volunteers using Spanish, and Pig Spanish, for the same purpose.
TW: What would be your advice to a new person being assigned a year on a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands?
Peter: Don’t be too masochistic. Of course, you’re probably a bit of a masochist, like me, if you want to go there. But you don’t have to, say, leave your books or iPod at home in the name of going native, roughing it, or having a more real experience. (You might have no way to charge your iPod there, but that’s another matter.) To be honest, I didn’t really live up to this advice myself – I had the opportunity have a satellite phone but turned it down. I’m just saying that you don’t have to do that to yourself to have an authentic experience.
You will have expectations of the place, and that’s natural. But to the greatest extent possible, don’t let those expectations color how you perceive things once you get there. Let the place wash over you in all of its complexity. It won’t be the Lost World that some are hoping for; it won’t be Honolulu either. It will be itself. It will be proof of no ideology, confirmation of no simplistic worldview. If you manage to see it that way, you’re doing better than most.
Thank you Peter for your insightful thoughts on this remote island community. Peter shares his thoughts on climate change in the Marshall Islands in a further interview and his book Surviving Paradise is an excellent read.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Peter Rudiak-Gould is an American student studying for an anthropology doctorate at Oxford University in climate change and its effect on the Marshall Islands. He lived for a year on a remote atoll of the remote Marshall Islands, publishing his first book titled Surviving Paradise describing his experience. In a two-part interview, Peter discussed his time on the island. All photos are courtesy of Peter. Many more can be found on Peter's website.
Travel Wonders: Ujae sounds like many people's idea of a paradise. What did you miss most about living in Ujae and what did you miss least?
Miss: Batheably warm water, every day of the year, twenty paces away.
Don’t miss: Knowing that that water is only going to get warmer, and closer, due to climate change.
Miss: The fact that the islanders are always happy to talk to you.
Don’t miss: The utter lack of anonymity that goes with this. (Ujae, like Cheers, is a place where everyone knows your name; but that’s a mixed blessing.)
Miss: The endless quantities of island lore that you can learn.
Don’t miss: Living in a world where you are laughably ignorant.
Miss: The privileges that come from being everyone’s guest.
Don’t miss: The fact that those are the only privileges you have – and therefore you are living entirely on someone else’s terms.
Miss: Impossibly star-filled skies.
Don’t miss: The isolation necessary for such skies.
TW: How long did it take till you really felt part of the local community rather than a novel and interesting outsider?
Peter: By the second half of my year on Ujae, people were sometimes calling me Marshallese. That indicates some level of acceptance, but of course they didn’t think of me as just another of the boys. And it certainly didn’t mean that I felt like a local. Fancying myself to be Marshallese might have felt cozy, but it would have been a denial of so many things that I am.
Probably the closest I came to feeling like a real member of the community was when someone even less familiar with the island showed up. This wasn’t too common on Ujae, but it did happen. When two Australian tourists, returning by plane from a diving adventure on Bikini Atoll, stepped onto Ujae for a few minutes before heading onwards, I could see how exotic this outer island was to them, how familiar to me, and for those few minutes I almost felt like a native. It was the same feeling when my parents arrived, something that I write about in my book.
I should also mention that if shouting my name whenever I approached within two hundred feet is any indication, then the younger children never got used to me at all.
TW: How did you adapt to the small village mentality where everyone knows everyone else's business?
Peter: Four hundred and fifty people may not sound like much, but when they’re crammed into such a small island, it feels pretty populated. In one part of the village, the houses extend well into the interior of the island; it’s like a little metropolis, by local standards. In the face of that, you get creative in your efforts to preserve your privacy. One refuge is your own thoughts; no one can read your mind (although they come pretty close in this culture – it’s spooky). Another is the jungle—and there is some of it, even on a tiny island with 450 people—which is deserted most of the time. Another is the ocean side of the island, which is the polar opposite of the heavily peopled lagoon shore. A local man once built a house there – he told me it was his “vacation home”, which feels apt even though it was a five-minute walk from the village. So, you do find ways to get away.
TW: What is your proudest effort or most significant change you personally made to education in Ujae?
Peter: Education in the Marshall Islands leaves a lot to be desired, and Ujae has one of the very lowest ranked schools in the country, in terms of average scores on the high school entrance exam. This was a school where the 8th graders couldn’t point to their country on a map, and a 14-year-old asked me how to spell “I”. But this didn’t make my teaching efforts heroic. It was more like the opposite, because the current conditions were so bad that even a mediocre teacher could make huge improvements (which was good, because I was such a teacher). Some of the children could carry on simple English conversations, sort of, by the end of the year – which pleased me very much. And two of my 8th graders passed the high school entrance exam, something that hadn’t happened in five years on that island.
Please read Part Two of the interview.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
The photo of the week shows an exceptional example of the simply, extraordinary mortarless masonry skills of the Incas. The twelve-sided Hatunrumiyoc stone is part of an Incan palace and later the Archbishop's Palace and is a short walk up a small street off the main square of world heritage-listed Cusco. As claimed, I couldn't get the blade of my pocket-knife into any gap around the perfect stonework. The stone is fairly easy to find as souvenir sellers tend to cluster opposite the stone.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Particularly popular in the highlands and Andes mountains of the travel wonder of Peru, coca tea provokes some controversy and reaction. Simply made by adding hot (but not boiling) water to a handful of coca leaves, the drink has the grassy botanical taste of many herbal teas with the slight bitterness of traditional green tea.
To listen to a local, the tea takes on the medicinal qualities of Tiger Balm soothing and salving any number of complaints and ailments. Many claim that it eases the headaches, improves sleep and reduces the other side effects of altitude sickness. Hardly robust scientific proof, but I drank it both crossing the high pass (4,800 metres) to Colca Canyon (while watched by a pet condor) and walking the Inca Trail, without any effects of altitude.
Similarly to mint tea in Morocco, it is a drink of welcome. I was offered a small cup at two different modest hotels and it is available both as bags of leaves and in tea bags (under the Inka brand, for one) in the various markets. According to other travellers, the US and European customs allow the tea bags to be bought into the country (Australia won't accept it on agricultural protection grounds).
In the villages of Peru and around Cusco, many of the local population chew coca leaves (similar to chewing tobacco, I guess), munching heartily on a wad of leaves. Several porters walking the Inca Trail indulged, spitting the exhausted leaves out before ingesting another handful from their pockets.
The cultivation of the leaves is controversial as the pharmacologically active ingredient in the leaves is (less than 0.2% in each leaf) used in the manufacture of cocaine. At best, consumed in a herbal tea, coca leaves are an extremely mild stimulant.
The selling of coca leaves is strongly debated across Peru with its strong historic, cultural and ceremonial heritage in contrast to the modern human toll that the drug cocaine has inflicted. The stigma associated with coca leaves has caused some issues when dealing with foreign powers, though Coca-Cola is reputed to continue to use coca leaves in their world famous drink.
In the vein of trying local products, I can recommend trying coca tea in a small Peruvian cafe. While the grassy taste is hardly exciting, it is a relaxing, warming and social drink polular throughout the Andes and it may even provide relief from the heights of this mountainous country.
Photo Source: dachalan
Previous Drinks Around the World include Mint Tea from Morocco, a French Vin Chaud, Bloody Caesar from Canada, a Pisco Sour from South America, Singapore Sling, Belgium's Chimay Beer, Scotland's smoky Talisker Scotch Whisky and the Czech Republic's Becherovka.