The Petzval Project- going full manual in Cuba…coming…

The Petzval Project- going full manual in Cuba…coming soon to my YouTube Channel…

#cuba #trinidad #dog #petzval #sonyartisanofimagery #a7riii #jasonlanierphotography

from Jason Lanier Photography


Hey look @miguelquilesjr you made the inside front cover of…

Hey look @miguelquilesjr you made the inside front cover of Amateur Photographer magazine this month…with my face 🤣

Coming to London very soon y’all…visit to sign up now!!!

#jasonlanier #london #uk #pinewood #learnphotography #miguelquiles

from Jason Lanier Photography

Playing at La Playa- I went to my first Cuban beach…

Playing at La Playa- I went to my first Cuban beach today…that was a great experience to say the least…can’t wait to bring a group back…

My boys had their first Pina Coladas in Cuba and loved them…no alcohol or course…just a fun pic taken with my cell phone..:)

#havingfunincuba #jasonlanier #jasonlanierphotography (at Rancho Luna, Cienfuegos, Cuba)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Capturing the Spirit of Cinefuegos…just got to this…

Capturing the Spirit of Cinefuegos…just got to this amazing place after leaving Havana this morning. Such a different feel and vibe and I love experiencing everything from the crazy busy city to the quiet Oceanside city in Cinefuegos.

This handsome man offered me the opportunity to capture his image…and I was more than willing to do so…:)

This is with the Sony A7Riii using the Petzval lens. So far this trip I’ve gone full manual for some reason…only using the Petzval and it’s been fun to take a step back from the technology in a place that’s taken the step back as well…

I can’t wait to share more with all of you!!!

Cuba Adventure Round 2 is coming yall…stay tuned for details.

Next up on my calendar is London the end of this month and beginning of next. If you’d like to join me please visit

#cuba #cinefuegos #jasonlanierphotography #sonyartisanofimagery #jasonlanier #petzval #portrait #streetphotography #a7riii
#mirrorless (at Cienfuegos, Cuba)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Building the Competition- my three sons took these shots during…

Building the Competition- my three sons took these shots during our current Cuba Adventure! The top shot was taken by Michael, the left by Kevin, and the right by Jason Jr…watch out y’all, these dudes are coming for the photography world….:)

#futureartisans #jasonlanierphotography #sonyartisanofimagery #jasonlanier #mirrorless #a6000 #havana #cuba

from Jason Lanier Photography

Turning my boys into models…I can’t tell you how much fun…

Turning my boys into models…I can’t tell you how much fun I’m having here in Cuba shooting my boys and having them shoot me..:)

This is my son Kevin shot with the Sony A7Riii with the Petzval lens using ambient light last night in Havana…

I can’t wait to come back here…only problem is the very limited internet access lol…many websites aren’t even accessible over here…at least Instagram is..:)

This is just from my camera to my phone, edited on iPhone..

#petzval #cuba #havana #jasonlanierphotography #jasonlanier #fedoranation #a7riii #sonyartisanofimagery #sonymirrorless #mirrorless (at Havana, Cuba)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Coming back to Cuba!! I just love this place. I’ll be bringing…

Coming back to Cuba!! I just love this place. I’ll be bringing another group back with new destinations to explore and adventures to chase…

Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying my time down here. My son Kevin took this image of me today with my A7Riii using the Petzval lens here in Havana…

I’m so proud of these young men and love watching them grow as photographers and men…

I’ll be announcing plans for the next Cuba group adventure this month so stay tuned for details!!

#jasonlanierphotography #cuba #havana #jasonlanier #petzval #fedoranation (at Havana, Cuba)

from Jason Lanier Photography

How to Set Up Your Sony A7iii…and other Sony Mirrorless…

How to Set Up Your Sony A7iii…and other Sony Mirrorless video released! Click below to watch it now:

I’ve been asked a lot over the years how I set up, customize and Jasonize my Sony cameras. Well, with the release of the A7iii I’ve been getting this question a LOT. And since so many people are starting to receive them I thought now would be a great time to show you what I do!

This video contains a complete look into the menu, the custom buttons, the function button and more. I also tell you all of the settings and features that I use for my work.

I hope it helps, and make sure to leave a comment to let us know what you like to do to personalize your camera bodies….


Jason Lanier

#jasonlanier #a7iii #a7m3 #mirrorless #sonyartisanofimagery #sonyalpha #setup #newcamera (at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Training the next Generation of Sony Artisans….my boys…

Training the next Generation of Sony Artisans….my boys were given their A6000 cameras this weekend and I did a private workshop with models and crew just for them…

Out of all of the things I do, this is the most rewarding and important. I can’t wait to share this experience with all of you.

A big thanks to @aspenm_ for assisting, to the beautiful models @lovelysierrra, @aubreegambs and @dacia for shooting with us as well as @quishamothershed for helping out behind the scenes.

Later tonight I take off with the wife and the boys to Cuba…I can’t wait!

#jasonlanierphotography #sonyartisanofimagery #jasonlanier #mirrorless #a6000 #oceanside #futureofphotography (at Oceanside Pier)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Remember this crap? Lol how nice to just use Auto White…

Remember this crap? Lol how nice to just use Auto White Balance…for the relics out there like me we can use a Grey card if we really wanna be precise…

I have pretty much bought EVERYTHING out there which is why I try to give you all a heads up on gear…lol


Btw my emojis make no sense they were just funny to me..

#jasonlanier #expodisc (at The Camp Transformation Center – Temecula)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Old Man McGee- for my millenial followers out there this is…

Old Man McGee- for my millenial followers out there this is called a Shutter Release Cable- this is the equivalent of walking two and from school, both ways uphill in snow compared to the technology we have today….

This belongs in the @smithsonian 😂

Us old people really had it rough 😝

Oh and by the way, I do love my Millenial followers…this is my way of showing you how old I am..:)

#jasonlanierphotography #releasecable (at California’s 42nd Congressional District)

from Jason Lanier Photography

My First LOVE- this was my first ever camera that I bought in my…

My First LOVE- this was my first ever camera that I bought in my Junior year in High School…I did a paper route for years and saved up all of that money to buy the Nikon N5005 at Ritz Camera…

Y’all remember Ritz??? I was so excited when I bought this. I seriously had a Santa Maria Guadalupe moment!

Wow the memories that I have with this guy are EPIC. Shooting my girlfriend and her friends for weekend shoots where I did my best to pretend to be a pro lol.

I took this thing with me to Korea for 2 years where I annoyed everyone around me because my head was always behind the viewfinder capturing what I was seeing…

This camera found its way to shoot my future wife for our school projects…the stories this thing could tell would be #crazy…

I’ll always have love for Nikon…it’s part of my legacy and my past…and it’s why I’ll always have this camera..

And as you can tell I’ve always made my cameras work for me lol…😂

Having fun Spring Cleaning!!!!

#jasonlanier #nikon #n5005 #film #sonyartisanofimagery #jasonlanierphotography

from Jason Lanier Photography

Bridal Fairs- are truly the key to jump starting a wedding…

Bridal Fairs- are truly the key to jump starting a wedding photography business…IF you do them the right way….

I’m spring cleaning now and finding some gems 💎 back from when I used to do them…this is circa 2012 or so…great memories!!!

This is a handout I would give to Brides….and then I’d use my gift of gab and my work to book them. I really had some success at these just gotta know how to do them..:)

#bridalfair #jasonlanierphotography #photography #sonyartisanofimagery #weddingphotography

from Jason Lanier Photography

Alter Ego- as the Spring Cleaning continues I keep finding some…

Alter Ego- as the Spring Cleaning continues I keep finding some cool artifacts from my previous life as a Hotel Executive. This is from my time as a Director at the Laguna Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, one of the most memorable hotels I ever worked at!

I was still in my twenties when I won this award…it just goes to show you that you never know where life will take you…especially if you open yourself up to opportunities and pursue them vigorously when you have the chance.

I have no doubt that my hotel experience has contributed to where I am today. So if you aren’t where you wanna be, look at this time as your prep time for something bigger…but only if you’re willing to work for it…

NEVER give up on your dreams my friends…:)

#jasonlanier #jasonlanierphotography #sonyartisanofimagery #photographer (at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Seeking Light- this is from a shoot I did at the end of last…

Seeking Light- this is from a shoot I did at the end of last year in Los Angeles with the stunning Nicole Rose. This was all natural light at a photo studio. Many times windows that are a little dirty can actually provide beautiful diffused light…I use the technique frequently when I shoot in abandoned buildings… This was with the Sony A7Riii using the 85mm Canon L lens with the Sigma MC 11 Adapter.

We have a lot of amazing locations coming up this year including London, Seattle, Dallas, North Carolina, Virginia, Cayman Islands, San Francisco and more… if you’d like to join us please visit today!

Camera settings: 1/500 sec at f/1.2, ISO 100.

#naturallight #jasonlanierphotography #sonyartisanofimagery #mirrorless #a7riii #85mm #canonglass #studio #ambientlight

from Jason Lanier Photography

My FIRST Wedding- we are doing a bit of Spring cleaning over…

My FIRST Wedding- we are doing a bit of Spring cleaning over here at Fedora HQ and I found my first ever print from my first wedding that I used for bridal fairs etc. this is circa 2007 of the beautiful Brittany, my first wedding client.

Crazy where we are at today! Never give up on your dreams my friends. I am so grateful to Brittany and Greg for choosing me 11 years ago to document their big day. Don’t know where my life would be if I didn’t shoot that wedding…

#nevergiveuponyourdreams #jasonlanier #jasonlanierphotography #nikon #weddingphotography #beginnings

from Jason Lanier Photography

Getting Personal- this week was truly a blast as it’s the first…

Getting Personal- this week was truly a blast as it’s the first time I’ve done two 1 on 1 training sessions in the same week!

This one was done down in Oceanside with my main man @anthonycalderonphotography where the beautiful @aspenm_ came through for us as a gorgeous model.

A big thanks to my team for helping out including @quishamothershed, @q88photography and @alexthirteenth. This was taken on the pier using the @rotolight Aeos. It’s also where we found out that Miss @aspenm_ has a slight fear of heights…lol she chose an interesting job and boss who doesn’t really have fear 😂

Thanks to Anthony for choosing us to help you take your photography to the next level. Every single 1 on 1 session is tailored and made custom for the client…so each one is different which makes it so fun for me…

Next up for me is Cuba with my family!!!

#jasonlanierphotography #jasonlanier #oceanside #photographytraining #1on1 #portraits #pier #ocean #rotolight #aeos #masteroflight #sonyartisanofimagery (at Oceanside Beach)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Connecting with Crazy- I’m excited to have this crazy gal…

Connecting with Crazy- I’m excited to have this crazy gal join me again for my upcoming trip to London at the end of this month! We have a workshop, Pinewood appearance, and an in store appearance at Wex Photographic…all topped off with a photo walk…it’s gonna be EPIC!

For more information and to register please visit:

This will all be occurring April 30th thru May 5th. We’ll see you there!!

Camera settings: Sony A7Riii, 1/160 sec at f/1.4, 85mm at ISO 400. Sony G Master lens. Lit with the Rotolight Neo 2.

#jasonlanier #mirrorless #london #uk #jasonlanierphotography #a7riii #85mm #gmaster #wexphotographic #pinewood #rotolight #neo2

from Jason Lanier Photography

Seattle Sweep- you all have been asking for a long time for me…

Seattle Sweep- you all have been asking for a long time for me to come to Seattle…well, we have scheduled a LOT of activities there over the next two months! We have a 2 day workshop, a photo walk, and 2 in store camera events coming up! To register for any of the events please visit:

Schedule is below:

May 19th- appearance at Kenmore Camera
May 19- Photo Walk
May 20th- appearance at Glazers Camera
June 25th and 26th- 2 Day Workshop

This image was taken at my workshop in Tokyo of the lovely Aspen Makkar. I can’t wait to see all of you soon!

Camera settings: Sony A9, 1/400 sec at f/1.4, 50mm at ISO 100. Lighting with the Rotolight Aeos. — with @aspenm_

from Jason Lanier Photography

Training the man who knows love better than anyone…

Training the man who knows love better than anyone else…today I had the distinct pleasure of doing a 1 on 1 training session for @nicholassparks, the author of classics like the Notebook and so many other amazing books that have been turned into movies.

He was such a cool guy and we shared a ton of laughs along with his friend Vicky.

I think what I love the most about training people is watching them improve so quickly to help them achieve the goals that they have for their photography. By the end of the session his shots were looking fantastic.

A big thanks to my crew for all of their amazing help today. Couldn’t have done it without you guys!

To book your own 1 on 1 session hit us up at today!

Thank you Nicholas!!

#jasonlanier #nicholassparks #jasonlanierphotography #venicebeach #1on1personaltraining #1on1 #sonyartisanofimagery (at Venice, California)

from Jason Lanier Photography

Investing in my Sons Future- I just bought my three boys their…

Investing in my Sons Future- I just bought my three boys their own A6000’s as an official start to their photography careers….I’m so excited for them!

PS…don’t tell them. It’s a secret..:) . We are going to Cuba as a family later this month and that will be their first photography journey… Let the training begin!! #sonyartisanofimagery #jasonlanier #jasonlanierphotography #fatherson #teach #a6000 #mirrorless

from Jason Lanier Photography

Practicing What I Preach- the beautiful @aspenm_ was busy posing…

Practicing What I Preach- the beautiful @aspenm_ was busy posing with another photographer during the Tokyo workshop and workshop attendee @kimwrightpix asked me to help her fix her pose that she showed me of what she’d shot earlier with Aspen.

So I sat on the bench and helped her figure out the pose. I love the shot…Great job Kim!!! Next workshop is London! Visit to see us there!! #jasonlanier #kimwrightpix #tokyo #london #jasonlanierphotography

from Jason Lanier Photography

Practicing What I Preach- the beautiful @aspenm_ was busy posing…

Practicing What I Preach- the beautiful @aspenm_ was busy posing with another photographer during the Tokyo workshop and workshop attendee @kimwrightpix asked me to help her fix her pose that she showed me of what she’d shot earlier with Aspen.

So I sat on the bench and helped her figure out the pose. I love the shot…Great job Kim!!! Next workshop is London! Visit to see us there!! #jasonlanier #kimwrightpix #tokyo #london #jasonlanierphotography

from Jason Lanier Photography

Saint Augustine Distillery: Combining Old and New

The Saint Augustine Distillery housed in the old ice factory/power plant

At Saint Augustine Distillery, past meets present when recycling and spirits mingle. Join writer Kathleen Walls on a tour of the distillery in northeastern Florida.

The post Saint Augustine Distillery: Combining Old and New appeared first on FWT Magazine: food wine travel.

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Spotlight on Italian Winemaker: Piero Lanza

Poggerino signage. FWT Magzine.

Italian wine maker Piero Lanza prides himself on such things as having a deep understanding of Chianti Classico’s regional differences, on using organic practices to solve curly problems to do with soil vitality – and having never worn a suit to work. Jacqui Gibson catches up with Piero at is Radda vineyard, Fattoria Poggerino.

The post Spotlight on Italian Winemaker: Piero Lanza appeared first on FWT Magazine: food wine travel.

from FWT Magazine: food wine travel

Spotlight on Italian Winemaker: Piero Lanza syndicated from your-t1-blog-url

15 Best Summer Family Vacation Destinations for 2018

15 travel writers have selected the best summer family vacations for 2018. They’ve included everything from beaches to museums to outdoor adventures that will please family members of all ages. 

The post 15 Best Summer Family Vacation Destinations for 2018 appeared first on FWT Magazine: food wine travel.

from FWT Magazine: food wine travel


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The Catlins, New Zealand: An Insider’s Guide

Southland Coast, New Zealand. FWT Magazine.

The Catlins, a coastal region in New Zealand’s South Island is a must-do for anyone who loves an off-the-beaten-track adventure. Part of the Southern Scenic Route, The Catlins area takes in rural heartland, podocarp forests, rugged coastlines, hidden lakes, stunning waterfalls and rare wildlife.

The post The Catlins, New Zealand: An Insider’s Guide appeared first on FWT Magazine: food wine travel.

from FWT Magazine: food wine travel

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New York: 5 Great Spots for Wining and Dining

St. Tropez is a popular French restaurant and wine bar in New York

Long time New Yorker and experienced food and wine writer Darren Paltrowitz picks his five favorite spots in Manhattan for food and wine. Get an insider’s guide on New York’s culinary scene.

The post New York: 5 Great Spots for Wining and Dining appeared first on FWT Magazine: food wine travel.

from FWT Magazine: food wine travel

New York: 5 Great Spots for Wining and Dining syndicated from your-t1-blog-url

Travel Writers Share their Favorite Food & Wine Festivals Around the World

Travel writers pick their favorite food and wine festivals around the world where you can stomp grapes, visit chateaux, and watch celebrity chef demonstrations.

The post Travel Writers Share their Favorite Food & Wine Festivals Around the World appeared first on FWT Magazine: food wine travel.

from FWT Magazine: food wine travel

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Welcome to MacKenzie Country, New Zealand

Mt Cook, Canterbury, New Zealand. FWT Magazine.

Early morning in Fairlie Basin, MacKenzie Country

It’s early morning in New Zealand’s Fairlie basin. Farmer Angie Taylor lies in bed. Drat, she thinks. It’s bucketing down outside – and has been for hours. There’s a herd of 800 dairy cows to feed, a mob of pregnant ewes to tend and a coach load of international tourists due for a three-course lunch in just a few hours – provided Highway 79 doesn’t wash out. Without taking her head off the pillow, Angie’s got a pretty good idea of how this sodden, winter’s day on Morelea Farm will play out.

She and husband Stan have farmed their 320-hectare property for more than 20 years. They’ve raised three children, Mitchell, Ben and Julia, here. Before that they were newlywed farmers in Cromwell. Before that, they were a couple of fourth (Angie) and third (Stan) generation farm kids growing up on the Canterbury plains – Stan in Ashburton with Angie just 50 kilometres down the road.

So today’s relentless, icy rain doesn’t bother the couple too much. Stan will say there’s no use getting upset about these things. You’ve just got to work around it. Angie reckons storms are all part of their story. Today it’s rain, with the likelihood of flooding. In a few months’ time the temperatures will reach 30 degrees and there’ll be drought. And, anyway, it’ll have nothing on the horrendous blizzards of 1992 and 2006 – or even last week’s storm, which dumped 300mm of snow on their doorstep and took out the power for four days straight.

Tekapo, New Zealand. FWT Magazine.

Lake Alexandrina, Tekapo. (c) PureNZ

Welcome to MacKenzie Country

Welcome to MacKenzie Country – a 7,300 square kilometre inland plain region 180 kilometres southwest of Christchurch that sits pretty much at the centre of New Zealand’s South Island. This is rugged, isolated country where scenery dominates, large country sheep stations have been the norm for more than a century and very few people live. There are not quite 4,000 people scattered among the region’s five main centres – Mt Cook (on the western-most edge at the base of the Southern Alps), Twizel, Omarama, Lake Tekapō and Fairlie.

New Zealand. FWT Magazine.

Aoraki Mount Cook (3754m) and Lake Pukaki in winter. MacKenzie District, New Zealand. (c) Rob Suisted /

Most MacKenzie people farm (sheep, beef and, more recently, dairy) or work in the hydro-electricity industry, which produces a large portion of the country’s energy supply. Increasingly, locals like Stan and Angie make at least some of their living from the region’s well-established tourism industry.

Arriving in Fairlie today, though, it’s hard to pick why more than 900,000 people visit the MacKenzie every year. A thick grey mist has muscled out all obvious clues. We’re told the skies of nearby Tekapō are a big attraction. Most days these skies are blue. Infinite. Joyous, even. At night, they are said to be so clear, so unpolluted they’ve become a protected International Dark Sky Reserve – the largest such reserve of only four in the world and ideal for stargazing.

#Tekapo in #MacKenzieCountry is home to a protected International Dark Sky Reserve – and some of the world’s best #stargazing. Here’s more on why to visit #pure #NewZealandClick To Tweet

MacKenzie Country. New Zealand. FWT Magazine.

Sky gazing, Lake Tekapo, MacKenzie Country (c) Vaughan Brookfield

You wouldn’t know it today. But the Taylor’s farm is usually a plum spot year-round for relaxing on the front lawn and taking in the skyline ridges of Mount Dobson, Two Thumb Range and Fox Peak. Angie knows our group will have to wait for today’s storm to pass to enjoy a moment like that. By then, we’ll be in Dunedin or Queenstown and another AAT Kings Southern Spectacular coach tour will be headed her way.

So the afternoon we arrive, Angie and Stan opt to change things up. Ushering us off the bus, shoes on, into their single-storey stucco home, the couple welcome us inside for a chat and a sit-down lunch by the fire. There’s homegrown beef steak, sausages and lamb chops on the go. There’s salad from the garden, minted peas and home baked bread. Angie’s pavlova topped with cream and kiwifruit will finish us off.

Before lunch is served, Angie explains she and Stan will tend 3,000 sheep this summer once the lambs are born. In January, the four-month-old lambs will be sold live to the meat works in Timaru. Until then, their flock will enjoy fresh farm air, water from mountain-fed streams, mum’s milk and green grass. It’s a similar story for the cattle, says Stan, although only a third will be killed for beef. The rest are dairy grazing stock and will return, well-fed and pregnant, to three nearby dairy farmers.

“For Kiwis, our story is quite typical I suppose. But for people from the big international cities of Asia and Europe, it’s something quite different,” says Stan. “People love it when I come in from the tractor, with a bit of my knee out of my trousers, string trailing from my back pocket. They can see this is a real working farm and we’re real-life farmers.”

Change arrives in MacKenzie Country

Perhaps what isn’t so obvious to tourists passing through Morelea is the fact that life is on the change in this part of the world just like it is everywhere.

Stan says, “Having the bottom fall out of the meat and wool industry in the 1990s had a major impact on us. You’ll see there’s a lot more corporate dairy farming in the MacKenzie these days and more pressure on farmers to convert to dairying. We won’t do it. But our son Mitchell who is taking over the farm may do so.”

The change has disrupted the social fabric of towns like Fairlie too, says Stan. There are more absentee farmers – business people who own or have shares in a dairy farm but don’t live locally, choosing instead to have a manager run the farm on their behalf. Yet, says Stan, there’s not much use worrying about it and there’s still a wonderful high country lifestyle to enjoy.

Most summers he and Angie take their jet boat out on Lake Ophua where the trout and salmon fishing is good. One summer was extra special with daughter Julia coming home to get married at Lake Tekapō. Later in the year, they’ll follow the Fairlie rugby team. Stan was president of the club for several years and now Mitchell has taken over. Often in winter, on a Sunday afternoon, Angie and Stan will rug up, grab a bottle of whisky and head to Tekapō for a couple of hours’ curling with friends – either at the new artificial ice complex or at their own homemade rink dug out at a secret spot about six years ago. The wives drive, so the men can play.

Stan says the competition starts out tough among the 25 teams who turn up each season. But, as each good stone is rewarded with a swig of Scotch, the game becomes more of a test of one’s constitution than one’s sporting ability. An old outdoor farm broom is the makeshift tournament trophy – and Stan’s pretty keen to win it this year.

Another draw card of the MacKenzie is its close-knit community, says Angie. Neighbours know one another well, socialise regularly and help each other out in tough times. And, while Angie regularly heads off to Timaru for the weekend farmer’s market or to Christchurch for some shopping, Stan leaves the farm only when he has to. In many ways, he says, it’s all right here at their fingertips. And, anyway, why not stay put and let the world come to you?

Church of the Good Shepherd, FWT Magazine.

Lake Tekapo, Church of the Good Shepherd, MacKenzie Country (c) Julian Apse.

MacKenzie Country, what’s in a name?

MacKenzie Country is named after a Scottish shepherd and would-be farmer named James MacKenzie who allegedly pinched sheep from a large sheep run back in the 1850s. Said to be stronger than most and admired for escaping captivity three times, MacKenzie maintained his innocence, eventually becoming local folk hero.

Keen to check out the extraordinary landscapes of #MacKenzieCountry with #AATKings? Here’s all you need to know. #PureNZ Click To Tweet

If You Go

AAT Kings six-day Southern Spectacular Tour starts in Christchurch, travels to Twizel, Dunedin, Te Anau and finishes in Queenstown. It takes in several historic sites, including a stop-off on Pioneer Drive at The Church of the Good Shepherd, a small stone church on the shores of Lake Tekapō. The church was the first of its kind to be built in the MacKenzie Basin in 1935. Today it serves as a South Canterbury memorial, commemorating the original European settlers of the area and their ability to brave the harsh alpine environment and establish high country sheep runs. The writer travelled to the MacKenzie care of AAT Kings.

Aoraki Lake Pukaki. New Zealand. FWT Magazine.

Aoraki Lake Pukaki, MacKenzie Country, South Island, New Zealand (c) Will Patino.

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Why 2018 is the Year to Visit Jordan

Jordanian coffee

Jordan was never on my bucket list, but returning to Jordan is now on that list. Heck, before my trip there, I would not have been able to find Jordan on a globe. But after 10 days exploring this simply amazing country, I cannot only tell you where Jordan is, but also where its major cities and best tourist attractions are.

There’s really never been a better time to visit the country. Jordan tourism has decreased due to the conflicts in the region, which means there are fewer tourists so you can really enjoy and explore the sites. But tourism is rebounding as the government has worked hard to send a message that the country is safe and stable, and definitely open for business.

camels in the desert for Jordan tourism

Camels are the Uber of the Wadi Rum desert; (c) Beth Graham

Here are Jordan’s Do-Not-Miss Experiences

1. Petra 

It goes without saying that this UNESCO World Heritage site, dating back to 300 BC, is one of the world’s most iconic sites and one of the highlights of Jordan tourism. What’s most amazing is that Petra was hidden in Jordan for thousands of years until it was (re)discovered in 1812.

You’ll want to spend a full day exploring as your journey starts with a walk down the Siq, a narrow gorge, that leads to Petra. You’ll walk between towering pink sandstone cliffs, dotted with facades of ancient temples, tombs and residences. But you’ll lose your breath as you round the corner and come face to face with The Treasury, a massive 43-meter tall Greek-style temple carved into the sandstone. (Be sure to watch ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ before your trip to fully appreciate this iconic site.)

But this is only the beginning of Petra. There are many many more marvels of this ancient city to explore. I highly recommend hiring a guide as there’s so much history and many hidden features you’ll miss if you visit on your own. If you’re not too weary from a day of exploring, go back to Petra at night – it will be one of your most memorable night time excursions as you walk the pitch black Siq to experience a special ceremony at The Treasury, lit up by luminaries.

Where to stay: The Petra Marriott Hotel is the perfect base for your visit. After a long day of walking, treat yourself to a Hammam in the hotel’s spa before you relax in your well-appointed room.  

Jordan tourism experience riding donkeys in Petra. FWT Magazine.

Riding donkeys up to The Treasury in Petra; (c) Beth Graham.

2. Bedouin Experience at Feynan Ecolodge

As we exited our tour bus and boarded a few older model and well-traveled Toyota pickup trucks, I wasn’t sure what we were in for. We bumped and tumbled across the desert passing a few Bedouin camps as our keffiyeh-scarfed driver navigated the rough and dusty path.

We arrived at Feynan Ecolodge, built in 2005 and the first of its kind for Jordan tourism. Clearly, there are no power lines so the lodge is completely solar-powered with open-air rooms that provide natural ventilation with fresh spring water pumped in.

At night, the entire complex is lit by candlelight. The expansive terrace doubles as the dining room where vegetarian meals are served looking out over the rugged desert terrain. The 26 guest rooms are minimalist, designed to represent those of a caravanserai, a roadside inn where travelers, in this case Bedouins, would stop for the night along their journey. As if experiencing the tranquility of the desert far away from daily life was not enough, guests can spend their days hiking the nearby desert trails followed by a sunset stroll into the mountains to enjoy a pot of tea with sage, brewed over an open flame.

The lodge’s guide will also invite you to experience the Bedouin life with a visit to a nearby family where you can join them in a cup of Jordanian coffee with cardamom and learn to make kohl (Bedouin eyeliner). The darkness of night brings on the most magical stargazing experience of your life as you lie on the rooftop of Feynan Ecolodge and enjoy a curated talk about the constellations.

Feynan Ecolodge in Jordan. FWT Magazine.

Feynan Ecolodge in Jordan; (c) Beth Graham.

3. Dead Sea 

We drove by the Dead Sea on one of our first cross country drives and my first impression was the serenity and peacefulness of the long, narrow waterway. But I was also surprised to find a number of luxury resorts dotting the coastline.

No trip to this region would be complete without experiencing the magical feeling of complete buoyancy in the Dead Sea. Just don your swimsuit, walk into the thick salty water, lift your legs, and you’ll instantly float. It’s a strange feeling but definitely worth the experience. After floating, it’s time for a little au naturale spa treatment. Find one of the urns filled with Dead Sea mud and slather it all over your body. It will harden in the bright sun, rinse it off in the outdoor shower and you’ll be surprised how soft your skin is.

Where to stay: The Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa is a luxury resort with breathtaking views. From the resort’s multi-leveled pool deck to the spacious, well-appointed guest rooms to multiple dining options, this is where you’ll want to experience the Dead Sea.

luxury hotel in Jordan. FWT Magazine.

The luxury Dead Sea Marriott in Jordan; (c) Beth Graham

4. Jerash  

In my opinion, one of the country’s, if not the world’s, most underrated sites is Jerash. An ancient city that was another modern day discovery just 70 years ago, Jerash was a walled Greek-Roman city from the Bronze Age. The site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. From the city center’s grand columns to hilltop temples to outdoor theatres, it’s worth a full day of exploration.

5. Wadi Rum Desert

When I heard we were riding 4x4s in the desert, I thought to myself, “I’m more of a luxury resort spa girl. Do I have to?” Well, I’m here to tell you it was one of the most awesome experiences. We climbed into the bed of pickup trucks and set out across the desert landscape that felt a bit otherworldly. We raced other 4x4s, stopped often for photos and just marveled at this vast and magical destination.

Our afternoon of dusty trevails ended with a beautiful sunset, surrounded by luminaries, against the backdrop of desert landscape. We headed back to our Bedouin campsite but the next day held promise for an even more exhilarating desert experience.

In the darkness of the (very) early morning, we boarded, not 4x4s, but camels to head out over the eerily still Wadi Rum desert to catch the morning sunrise led by our Bedouin guides. Sunrise and sunset in the desert is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Where to stay: There are over 100 camp sites in the desert. We stayed at Rahayeb Desert Camp, a remote yet authentic Bedouin-style retreat.

Wadi Rum desert adventure. FWT Magazine.

Riding 4x4s in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan; (c) Beth Graham.

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from FWT Magazine: food wine travel

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Scenic Walking Tour of Thessaloniki, Greece

As the 2nd largest city in Greece, it is vibrant, historic, diverse, chaotic and beautiful – often simultaneously.  The deep-seated cultural and historical treasures and traditions are evidenced in the monuments, architechture, cuisine.  The ancient remains feature Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman lineage along with more modern facades.  Following the devastating Great Fire of 1917, reconstruction of the city center now offers 20th-century look and feel offering yet another layer of contrast and interest.  As such, you’re sure to be entertained, enlightened, surprised and delighted along the way.  From start to finish, plan for approximately 5-hours for this scenic walking tour of Thessaloniki, including lunch and a leisurely coffee in the tradition of the Greek.

  1. Democracy Square:  Also referred to as Dimokratias or Vardari Square is a main intersection point of Monastiriou, Egnatias, Lagada and Dodekanisou Roads.  It is a symbolic representation of the past, present and future bustling with traffic, restaurants, cafes and shops.
  2. Thessaloniki Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception:  Just a few minutes walk on Dodekanisou toward the waterfront and historical portion of the city and you’ll find this picturesque and historic church situated on Fragon street.  Designed by Italian architect, Vitaliano Poselli, who is most widely recognized for his work throughout the city including the Jewish Museum.  The treasured temple was built in 1899 and remains active today and is run and preserved by the relatively small Catholic community of Thessaloniki.
  3. Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki: Next on your city stroll you’ll view the outside of the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki.  To properly take in the wealth of historic and cultural inside, it is recommended you reserve a tour for a separate day.
  4. Agios Minas church: In closer proximity to the port, where King Herakleiou and Dragoumis streets intersect is the Agios Minas church.  From the Post-Byzantine era, this Christian monument dates to the 9th century and is especially significant as it is one of the few not converted into a Muslim mosque after the city’s occupation by the Turk’s.  The current structure is a result of significant repairs necessary after undergoing centuries of wear, war and fire while maintaining the post-Byzantine style.
  5. Modiano and Kapani Food Markets: Situated at Platia Aristotelous and Ermou Street, this hidden marketplace with pulsing with vibrant colors, sounds, scents and flavors from the various stands offering an array of choices including fish, meat, veggies, herbs, bread, pastries.  Truly a feast for the senses.

    Thessaloniki Food Market (c) Joy Steinberg.

  6. Port of Thessaloniki: In addition to a scenic view of the waterfront, you’ll find the Museum of Photography and the Cinema Museum.  Cinephiles will also appreciate knowing there are two film festivals in Thessaloniki.  The Thessaloniki International Film Festival held annually every November and the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in March.  Also situated in the port area, the Kitchen Bar is an ideal spot for a bite or drink while enjoying the waterfront vantage point.
  7. Nikis Avenue: Continue your walk along waterfront promenade Nikis Avenue. On a clear day, the promenade is bustling with walkers, runners, bikers and visitors enjoying the view of the water and charming street cafes.

    Nikis Avenue and waterfront promenade (c) Joy Steinberg

  8. Aristotelous Square: Next, stop off to explore Aristotelous Square home to luxurious hotels, vast mansions and charming cafes.
  9. Ancient Roman Agora: From Aristotelous Square, proceed to Venizelou square and take in the Ancient Roman Agora (located in upper Venizelou square)
  10. Agios Demitrius cathedral: Proceed from there to visit Agios Demitrius cathedral which offers representative Byzantine architecture. The church burned twice throughout history.  Most recent was the Great Fire of 1917 and it was rebuilt using parts of the old church that were not destroyed.
  11. Cafe Terkenlis: From the cathedral, walk down to Agias Sofias street and enjoy a leisurely and delicious coffee break at Cafe TERKENLIS in Agias Sofias square. Café Terkenlis originated in 1948 and is an acclaimed bakery and patisserie brand.
  12. Galerius Roman Palace: Now fully caffeinated and rejuvenated, carry on towards the Navarinou Square, Dim. Gounari street. This road is frequented by the university students and accordingly you’ll find shops and restaurants catering to their more modern tastes and minimal budgets. At this point, pause to take-in the ruins of Galerius Roman Palace – offering a dramatic counter to the contemporary youthful University vibe of the neighborhood.
  13. White Tower: From here, commence to walk down towards the famous White Tower considered by some to be the city’s trademark as the most recognizable landmark.
  14. Venizelou Street: Window shop along Tsimiski Avenue to Venizelou street. See the old arcades with the small textile shops.
  15. Finale: Bring your walking journey to a close at a neighborhood café while reflecting on the highlights and enjoying a traditional Greek culinary delights and a glass of wine from the regional vineyards of Macedonia.

    Kitchen Bar Port of Thessaloniki (c) Joy Steinberg

While highly recommended, it is best to plan a separate day for visits to the Byzantine Museum, Archaeological Museum and Jewish Museum properly explore and immerse yourself in the wealth of information and historic magnitude.


As is customary in this industry, my trip was organized by PASS PARTOUT Tourism Marketing with promotional rates provided by the Capsis Hotel Thessaloniki and Airotel Parthenon Athens.


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The Memorable Cuisine of Croatia

Evening at the International Prosciutto Fair in Tinjan, Croatia is buzzing with energy and celebration. Wine glasses clink as thinly sliced parchments of meat are lovingly teased from immense and fatty legs of perfectly marbled pork. The fragrance of roasted chestnuts wafts through the air as they roast over an open flame. Even the ambiance feels delicious.

Anthony Bourdain has touted Croatia as the ultimate foodie destination back when he visited and filmed No Reservations in 2012. “If you like food, and you haven’t come here to eat, you’re missing the [sic] boat”, he said and the world is beginning to take notice. Tourism has increased by over 5 million visits per year since 2012.

Local Fish from the tasting menu at Toklarija. Shot by Kaila Yu

Istria, Croatia

Croatia is an emerging food destination that will soon be on your radar. The passion for food in the country is evidenced by the Prosciutto fair and countless other food festivals that pepper the year in the Northernmost Istria region of Croatia alone. Some of the festivals include a truffle festival, asparagus festival, sole fish festival, and countless others. If you are visiting Croatia for the food, the Istria region should be on the top of the list as it is famous for its truffles, wine, olive oil, prosciutto, fresh seafood and more.

Tuna Tartare at Restaurant Badi © Kaila Yu

During my trip to Istria, we visited the Gastronomija Ville Meneghetti located inside the Meneghetti Wine Hotel. The restaurant serves high brow interpretations of local Istrian ingredients and features a highly aromatic wine and olive oil tasting. The restaurant serves their own award-winning olive oil, pressed from olives harvested from trees grown on the estate. In Croatia, one of our hosts said: “we put olive oil on everything”. A highlight of the meal was the perfectly grilled, delicate turbot fillet dressed with a shot of piquant Mediterranean sauce and dressed with elegant olive oil pearls. The presentation was understated yet upscale and truly gave us a sense of Istrian cuisine.

Tuna Tartare at The Lone Hotel © Kaila Yu

For lunch the next day we were treated to a four-hour presentation at the famed Croatian slow food restaurant, Toklarija. Overseen by chef/owner Nevio Sirotić, Toklarija is a restaurant built into a converted olive mill. Sirotić possesses a meticulous attention to detail and he had turned down all other reservations for the day to focus on serving our meal. The meal started with a delicate and flaky bread sandwiching a locally raised ham and cheese paired with his own homemade pickles.  It ended with a sublimely light and airy chocolate cake and the meal reminded us of the importance of taking the time to indulge in a delicious meal, something we often forget in the US.


The next day takes an hour south to the city of Opatija, in the Kvarner region, also known as the Monte Carlo of Croatia. Opatija is renowned for its Kvarner Scampi, distinguished as the star of all Adriatic seafood. Kvarner scampi is most often caught with longline fishing traps, This method of fishing prevents bruising and is much more highly selective than fishing with nets. Scampi starts off our first meal in Opatija, at the Villa Ariston. It’s a briny, buttery bite paired with a sun-dried tomato and pomegranate seeds. It’s a perfect bite of Opatija. The star of the lunch is the scallop course, perfectly grilled and served atop crispy, creamy spinach fritters. The accompanying sauce of celery and black truffle cream perfectly highlights the dish.

That night we settled in for the night at Design Hotel Navis. This brand new five-star hotel features stunning sea view and balconies in every room. The hotel features a generous buffet for all guests, featuring two entire self-serve prosciutto leg, one deeply crimson and one generously marbled with a thick layer of fat. Local foods were also featured with a trio of sardines harvested from the local island of Kali and a selection of pate and pickled peppers and vegetables.


Sparkling Fish Soup at Meneghetti © Kaila Yu

Finally, we make it to the last stop on the trip, Sibenik, which has gained some recent notoriety as it was the filming location for three episodes of the Game of Thrones. Konoba Pelegrini in Sibenik was anticipated to be one of the highlights of the trip as it has won the title of the best restaurant in Croatia for three straight years and has been called “A place and experience that foodie dreams are made of” by GQ Magazine. It’s located right next to the St James Cathedral, a UNESCO heritage site. This tavern/diner is the unofficial symbol of Sibenik and is devoted to the preservation of the Dalmatian style cuisine.

Head cook Rudolf Stefan prides himself on innovation while showcasing his passion for the Mediterranean region. We later wondered why Konoba Pelegrini hadn’t yet earned a Michelin star. The restaurant is celebrated for its 10-course tasting menu. The procession of locally sourced, yet elevated dishes included a light and airy bite of local fish ceviche – flavored by dashi, veal under the bell, a cuttlefish and black gnocchi. The “Veal under the Bell” course is inspired by the traditional Croatian dish of peca. It’s served under a heavy stone bell which is lifted with a dramatic flourish as smoky meat-scented air wafts into your face and blends deliciously into the room. The sourdough bread served is made from the restaurant’s own mother yeast. All dishes are served by a synchronized waiter train, which orchestrates the placement of each dish in front of each guest simultaneously. Especially memorable was the veal roll ćevapčić, served as a carpaccio and dotted with a bracing mustard sauce and nestled into a bed of crispy panko crumbs.


The KRKA National Park

The last stop of the trip was at the KRKA National Park, a 142 sq km UNESCO World Heritage site, so secluded that it is home to two monasteries. A three-hour hike through crackling leaves while enjoying the crystalline waterfalls leaves us ravenous quite hungry and treated to one of my favorite meals of the trip. It’s at the Stari Mlin i Kalikusa, and outdoor restaurant located inside the park and the meal itself is incredibly simple. We enjoyed a crispy, grilled local monk fish seasoned with only local herbs and olive oil, paired with homestyle potatoes and kale. The accompanying salad was dressed simply with just olive oil and vinegar. We savored the meal outdoors in the fresh air as we reminisced about the trip and were joined by a friendly orange tabby cat, who sat politely nearby until we donated our generous leftovers for his enjoyment.

In the end, the best meals are not only about the food but about the company and the environment in which they are enjoyed.

If You Go

Istria Tourist Board

Opatija Tourism Board

Sibenik Tourism Board

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Visiting the “SLO” Life in San Luis Obispo, California

Nestled just three hours from Los Angeles is San Luis Obispo. Known as “SLO” to the cool kids, San Luis Obispo is not just a college town (although don’t miss visiting the local campuses. Cal-Poly and Cuesta College are beautiful), but a town with a fun main drag. Along with a fantastic array of restaurants, bars and shops, SLO also has incredible wineries, hiking, museums and is home to one of the 21 California missions. Not to mention, it’s just 15 minutes from the beach!

A Fantastic Getaway to San Luis Obispo

With surfer pit stops (Pismo Beach, Cayucos) and quaint small towns like Cambria at your fingertips, San Luis Obispo has become much more loved for its diversity, foodie scene and crisp climate that is ideal for wine making. Those who live in SLO or have gone to school there know, though–it’s always been a “best kept secret”!


The Embassy Suites of San Luis Obispo recently underwent a major makeover, and they cannot wait to show it off to you. Just a six-minute drive from Downtown, the Embassy Suites offer a gorgeous and ample bar and restaurant in an atrium setting that overlooks the lobby. Open, airy and very welcoming, I felt as if I were at home with my kitchenette, living room, desk and comfy King sized bed with my TV favorites on. Some suites offer a fun patio view overlooking the hustle and bustle on the first floor.

One of the reasons I love staying at Embassy Suites is their evening reception featuring an open bar and snacks to enjoy while you get some work done or people watch. And they offer a terrific breakfast starting at 6am daily with made-to-order pancakes, omelettes, and a yogurt and cereal bar. It also makes for the ideal spot to grab a cup of coffee and snack for the road. These complimentary AM and PM perks with Embassy Suites is enough reason for me to choose them.

The Embassy Suites of San Luis Obispo (c) Mary Farah.

The History Center of San Luis Obispo (c) Mary Farah.


If you’re looking to start your day in Downtown SLO and do like the locals do, look no further than Mint+Craft.  My mouth-watering Obispo Toastie (Applewood bacon, tomato, crushed avocado, micro greens and an over-medium egg on gluten-free rye bread) was paired with an artistically crafted Matcha green tea latte. This was such a fantastic start to my first morning in town. So much so, that it made it hard to go back to a chain store coffee and snack stop post-trip. Reasonable prices and both gluten-free and vegetarian options make Mint+Craft a charming nook to begin your day; even as your coffee stop. Grab lunch or dinner, too! Breakfast is served until 2pm, and the rest of the menu 11am to close.


Just a few steps from Mint+Craft is the San Luis Obsipo Mission, as well as the History Center of San Luis Obispo, the SLO Museum of Art and an array of stores that offer such a variety, everyone will want to shop til they drop.

If enjoying the great outdoors is what you have in mind, there’s plenty of hiking trails all around. Bluff Trail, Poly Canton Loop and Valencia Peak Trail are just few of the trails, parks and hikes surrounding you. If you like unusual, rather, gross history, make sure not to miss San Luis Obispo’s infamous Bubblegum Alley….its name pretty much sums it up.

Bubblegum Alley. You have to see it to believe it! (c) Mary Farah.

A hearty meal courtesy of Big Sky Cafe (c) Mary Farah.


While SLO is a fantastic weekend getaway option, you might to try to make it on a Thursday. Each week (as weather permits), the Downtown Farmer’s Market fills the entire block of Higuera Street with all of the locals’ favorite fare from 6pm to 9pm while the stores also stay open. Bars, too! While it was overwhelming to decide on just one vendor to try.

Several eateries offer patio dining so you can enjoy the ambiance and strollers, including Big Sky Cafe. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Big Sky is one of the several farm-to-table restaurants in the area. The dishes were so fresh and elaborate. My pesto chicken sausage scramble (breakfast until 1pm) was one of the highlights of my two-day trip. I loved watching everyone’s afternoon go by from my patio table, too. Big Sky’s staff was also top-notch. My server, Riley, was so personable and helpful in my deciding on the perfect brunch dish.

Big Sky doesn’t fool around with their coffee, either. Getting their beans around the corner at local favorite, Coastal Peaks. My organic iced latte fueled me aplenty for my ride back to LA.


The  San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center is an excellent resource. An abundance of information awaits you and they will be happy to assist you with all of your itinerary  needs. Rest your head and enjoy the hospitality over at the Embassy Suites. Sight see and learn about the city with the San Luis Obispo Mission, Museum of Art and the History Center. Then,  take your appetite to Mint+Craft and Big Sky Cafe.

And, don’t forget to pack some chewing gum to leave your mark!

The post Visiting the “SLO” Life in San Luis Obispo, California appeared first on FWT Magazine: food wine travel.

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