Sunrise on the windy Mesopotamian mountaintop where the megalomaniac King Antiochus I (69-34BC) built a grand monument to...himself. Accessing the statues at sunrise requires a lengthy drive in the dark followed by a brutal hike up a frigid staircase. On the plus side, those who survive the journey are rewarded by a surreal step backwards into the Hellenistic period.
LAKE TUZ, TURKEY
Between Ankara and Cappadocia lies the ethereal Lake Tuz, a vast (yet shallow) salt lake that mirrors the sky, creating a surreal cloudscape effect.
NERETVA RIVER, BOSNIA
Flowing down from the Dinaric Alps through Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, the Neretva River is famous for it green waters.
Humans have been burrowing into the volcanic landscape of Cappadocia from at least the 6th century BC. The region is full of underground cities, cave dwellings, and Christian temples in the cliffs.
BASILICA DEL VOTO NACIONAL, QUITO ECUADOR
Quito is home to the largest neo-Gothic church in the Americas. Though the cathedral is inspired by Notre Dame in Paris, the traditional gargoyles are replaced by a series of Ecuadorian animals - armadillos, iguanas, turtles, pumas, monkeys.
ABANDONED SCHOOLHOUSE, HONNINGSVAG, NORWAY
A few miles from Nordkapp (the northernmost point in Europe, depending on who you ask), is an eerie, abandoned schoolhouse, still full of desks. Snow was just beginning to fall as we moved through the rooms, careful not to disturb the site.
The Finnair Skywheel is located on the Katajonnoka harbor near central Helsinki. From the highest point one can enjoy a beautiful view of the city's cathedrals and ferry docks.
After too much Russian vodka in Helsinki, I found the park benches in Stockholm's trendy Sodermalm district to be quite accommodating.
SALVATION MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA
Salvation Mountain, a Sonoran desert installation made of clay and donated paint, falls somewhere between a Christian altar call and a Dr. Seuss dream. The site's creator, Leonard Knight, painted the mountainside for decades before passing away in 2014.
At 2,080 feet, the Tokyo SkyTree is the tallest broadcasting tower in the world. The observation platforms at the top are the best way to get an understanding of just how vast the city of Tokyo truly is. (Try not to think about earthquakes on the elevator ride up.)
MONUMENT VALLEY, COLORADO
Monument Valley, one of the crown jewels of the Navajo Nation, is an alien landscape of sandstone monoliths, desert mesas, and windswept buttes.
The sun sets over Istanbul with mouth of the Golden Horn in the distance. Photo taken from the top floor of Hamdi Restaurant, a superb option for traditional Turkish food, located across from the Spice Bazaar in the Old City.
ATACAMA DESERT, PERU
Arid, hot and austere, the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on the planet. Some parts of the desert haven't recieved rainfall since the beginning of record keeping.
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS, PERU
In the Peruvian highlands, the snow-tipped Andes tower over bumpy country roads, tiny Incan villages, herds of alpaca and vicuña, and lakes filled with flamingos.
SOVIET STEEL PLANT, RUSTAVI, GEORGIA
Outside the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, is the town of Rustavi, a grid of austere soviet bloc-style apartment buildings originally designed to house workers in the nearby Rustavi steel plant--one of Stalin's largest. Though a few of the original factories are still pumping out steel, many are empty and crumbling.
A foggy morning in Baščaršija Square in the Sarajevo Old Town. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the Ottoman-style Sebilj fountain will return to Sarajevo in the future.
A March blizzard in the Finnmark region of Norway. While the background appears to be a nightscape, it's actually a giant wall of dark, slate-like stone.
LIBRARY OF CELSUS, EFES, TURKEY
In the 1970's archaeologists reconstructed the Library of Celsus facade amidst the ruins of Efes, Turkey. Originally designed to house 12,000 scrolls, the Roman library opens towards the rising sun, a feature intended to benefit morning readers.
UNDERGROUND CITY, MAZI, TURKEY
There are many underground cities in the area of Cappadocia, but Mazi is far less frequented - partly because its excavation has not been completed (it was still an active dwelling place until the 1950's). Locals told us to visit the tiny town of Mazi and just ask around for the caretaker who had the key to the entrance.
Only accessible by ferry, the tiny fishing island of Naoshima is not where you would expect to find a collection of world-class museums and wild beaches where modern art installations are lodged in the landscape like fallen meteorites, but the elements of surrealism and surprise are a large part of the appeal for global art pilgrims.
Sunset above the mystic landscape of the Rose Valley.
The mountain city of Baños, gateway to the Amazon, is the last major outpost before the jungles of the Amazon Basin begin. Above the fog, the active Tungurahua volcano simmers (the mountain's historical eruptions are depicted in several highly unsettling city murals). Travelers from all over the world visit Baños to take in a lush countryside, rich with waterfalls.
LAKE TUZ, TURKEY
Visitors remove their shoes and gaze at their own reflections in the clear, salty waters of Lake Tuz.
BUDA CASTLE, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Buda Castle, one of the most recognizable emblems of Budapest, is an architectural fossil record (Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque, New Classical) marking centuries of political and cultural shifts since the construction of its medieval foundations. Various incarnations of the castle were invaded no less than 31 times over the course of its roughly 800 year history.
Visitors who make the pilgrimage to the Parthenon are greeted not just by the wonder of the ancient temple itself but by a panoramic view of Athens.
It only takes a day or two for the hushed ice-covered fjords and remote highways of Finnmark to chip away at the memory of crowded, urban civilization.
TBILISI, REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA
Heavenly rays stream through an orthodox church undergoing construction in the Tbilisi Old Town.
MEIJI JINGU SHRINE, TOKYO
Right in the middle of Shibuya's organized chaos, is Yoyogi Park, an evergreen sanctuary, home to the Shinto Meiji Jingu shrine where visitors cleanse their hands before offering a prayer.
PARTHENON, ATHENS, GREECE
It only took nine years in 5th century BC to build one of the most significant symbols of democracy and Western philosophy. Like democracy, maintaining it has taken somewhat longer.
FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE, KYOTO
Hallways of vermillion torii gates lead through a sprawling network of Shinto shrines on the side of the sacred Inari mountain.
A snowstorm blurs the division between fjord and sky near the northern tip of Norway.
The Todaiji temple permits hundreds of deer - considered messengers of god - to roam freely across the temple grounds and the nearby streets of Nara. The deer aren't shy and can be seen sleeping on restaurant porches, crossing the main avenue in full traffic, and frightening small children along the temple paths.
FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE, KYOTO
Inari is the Shinto god of rice and foxes are his traditional messengers, which explains the hundreds of fierce stone foxes standing watching over the Fushimi Inari temple and surrounding shrines.
PAILON DEL DIABLO, ECUADOR
Pailon del Diabolo - or Devil's Cauldron - certainly earns its name. The 80 meter waterfall shoots violently off a cliff into a narrow, bubbling pool. Visitors who don't struggle with vertigo or heights can feel the spray of the water from a series of steep staircases and swinging cable bridges.
NAZCA LINES, PERU
Scientists, mathematicians, and anthropologists (and some alien enthusiasts) are still striving to understand how and why the ancient Anasazi carved elaborate large-scale geoglyphs in the punishing desert landscape. In many cases, the scale of the geoglyphs can only truly be appreciated from the air or surrounding hills.
A Turkish bride protects her wedding dress with the Hagia Sophia in the distance.
MOUNT NEMRUT, TURKEY
A magnificent sea of clouds surrounds the base of Mount Nemrut at sunrise. The Euphrates River, gateway to Mesopotamia, flows below.
Visitors often look for animal shapes in the whimsical fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.
A Stockholm street scene from the Katarina Elevator, a high walkway that offers a bird-eye view of the Stockholm cityscape and surrounding waterways.
Perched right on the edge of the Adriatic, the walled medieval city of Dubrovnik is a storybook maze of stone staircases and alleys. The fortress manages to hold its historical charm despite being one of the most frequented tourist sites on the Mediterranean (and the set for many Game of Thrones scenes).
Soaring 1350 feet in the air, the space age interior of the Tokyo Skytree viewing platform inspires even the bravest souls to reach for the railing.
At the top of the Yerevan cascade, an architecturally ambitious staircase that also serves as a modern art museum and a prime make out spot for highschool kids. If it's a clear day you can see all of Yerevan and, beyond that, the biblical heights of Mount Ararat.
At home with the green dress that started it all.
YEREVAN CASCADE, ARMENIA
The city sprawls at the bottom of the monumental Yerevan Cascade.
ACROPOLIS, ATHENS, GREECE
If you witness the Acropolis at first light, before the cruise ships and tourist buses arrive, you can almost hear the echo of ancient sandals shuffling across stone.
ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO GROVE, KYOTO
The Japanese actually have a word - chikusei, meaning 'voice of bamboo' - for the sound the wind makes as it moves through a grove of bamboo.
A warm, bustling Christmas Day in Quito's Plaza de la Independencia.
A stopped train out in the empty wilds of West Texas.
TBILISI, REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA
The Bridge of Peace is reflected in the Mt'k'vari River in Tbilisi.
SHIBUYA CROSSING, TOKYO
Shibuya Station, the busiest pedestrian intersection in the biggest mega city on earth.