By Vladimir Brezina

Ornate, florid, flowery…


A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Ornate.

Halloween Postmortem, Part I

By Vladimir Brezina

Halloween decorations 2015 4Halloween 2015 is over—and it was quite a party! So much so that I didn’t even have time to post my photos of the Halloween decorations—if that is the right word—seen this year in our neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Some of the old favorites made return appearances (here are the photos from 2011, 2012, and 2013), but there were many imaginative, even artistic, new additions. Many of the residents of our neighborhood obviously feel a strong need to keep up with the Joneses, no effort or expense spared, in this department as in many others… The huge crowds of trick-or-treating kids loved it all, of course!

(click on any photo to start slideshow)

Even more photos are here.

Part II, with photos of the costumes at the Halloween block party itself, is coming soon!


By Vladimir Brezina

For this week’s travel-themed photo challenge, Ailsa wants Frame.


Someone thought this was a good idea for a costume for our annual Halloween block party in 2011. What were they thinking?

We’ll see what tonight’s party brings. Happy Halloween!

Trick or Treat

By Vladimir Brezina

No tricks, only treats, with this one.

Trick or Treat 1

Not so sure about this one, though…

Trick or Treat 2

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Treat.

Doi Nomazi

By Vladimir Brezina

Doi NomaziIt was late December 2013, on the first day of one of our shakedown paddles through the Florida Everglades in preparation for the 2014 Everglades Challenge. We had just landed on the muddy beach behind the Everglades City ranger station to get our permits for camping in the Everglades.

As Johna tells it, “as we headed inland I caught sight of a couple of figures—a man and a woman—dressed identically in Army-green T-shirts and black pants. The woman was wheeling a loaded barrow, and I took them for park rangers.

But Vlad stopped and said to the man, ‘I know you! We’re friends on Facebook!'”

The couple were Doi Nomazi (“Two Nomads”), Adrian and Mihaela, a Romanian husband-and-wife adventure team. Even though they too are based in New York, we’d never met before, and this was the only time we have crossed paths so far.

Like us, they were on a kayak expedition in the Everglades over the holidays—but they were sailing, rather than merely paddling, their black U-boat, a double Long Haul folding kayak.

Later, back in New York, I looked to see how their trip had gone, and found that they had produced an enchanting 86-minute “video diary” of their adventure, entitled “Echoes of the Eskampaba—2013”.

“Echoes of the Eskampaba” remains my favorite among their videos, perhaps because it features many of the places in the Everglades that we, too, visited on our trip (such as the lovely but mosquito-plagued Highland Beach, where Doi Nomazi camped a few days after us).

But that’s just one of their videos. There are now 28 of them. Once or twice a year, on their vacation, Doi Nomazi visit some fascinating, remote corner of the world. The resulting video is as well-produced as any commercial movie, and more watchable that most. (It’s perhaps not surprising to find that Adrian has a rich resumé as a journalist, cameraman, and film producer and director.) In addition to the Everglades, Doi Nomazi have paddled in the Black Sea, in the Gwaii Haanas of British Columbia, in Greenland, in Alaska’s Glacier Bay… And it’s not all paddling, either: they have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, driven through the back country of Africa and Australia

Here is their latest video, from Glacier Bay:

Doi Nomazi say that “we have no special training, we are not athletes and we are not seeking any records.” Perhaps not, but their thirst for nature and adventure, and their willingness to endure the inevitable discomforts and hardships, are extraordinary. An inspiration to us all!

New York City Celebration

By Johna Till Johnson

New York City Celebration

The festival arrives!

People often ask why I live in New York. Yes, it’s crowded. And expensive. And even though the crime rate is way down from the 1980s when I first lived here, it’s still a city—with all the dangers a city brings.

I try to explain, but the truth is, it’s not the cultural richness. Or the wonderful food. Or even the variegated mix of people.

It’s that New York can continue to surprise and amaze me. As it did on a recent overcast autumn day: I’d just finished brunch with a friend and decided on the spur of the moment to walk the three miles home. I made it less than half the way there when I noticed that the density of police officers had picked way up. And then I heard it: Music, and a few green-and-white-clad people dancing in the street.

A few more steps, and I was in the midst of a full-on street festival, with floats, marching bands, music, and dancing. Apparently it was the 55th birthday of Nigeria (who knew?) and celebrants were out in force. (Well, technically, modern Nigeria was founded on October 1, 1960, but close enough…)

I walked the next several blocks with a gigantic grin on my face. The music was infectious, the colors brilliant, and the energy electric. And by the time I got to the end of the festival, my heart was dancing along with the dancers.


By Vladimir Brezina

We are floating offshore in the Coral Sea, about twenty miles out from Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

What lies below the surface?

Below 1

The Great Barrier Reef!

Below 2Below 3Below 4Below 5Below 6(more photos still to come…)

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Below.