A PHOTOGRAPHIC STROLL THROUGH HISTORY - SIENA'S CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
by Ron Ellege
What do some of Italy's finest artists of the day, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini, have in common? They all contributed to one of the finest displays of Gothic architecture in Italy. Siena’s Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo, as well as frescoes by Pinturicchio.
MARATHON AND THE GHOSTS OF ANCIENT WARRIORS
by W. Ruth Kozak
I stand on the deserted beach of Marathon, Greece, a long crescent of stones and sand. Surf spills over the pebbles, spray bursts like a shower of gold-dust reflecting the dazzling Greek sun. On this beach, with the surf hissing over pebbles red as blood and white as bone, I hear the wind moaning like the voices of the ancient dead, as though the spirits still linger in the shade of the pine groves.
TOP 6 BEAUTIFUL LAKES OF ARMENIA AND GEORGIA
The Caucasian Mountains
by Anush Bichakchyan
The Caucasian mountains amaze with their greatness. The beauty of nature has inspired many poets and artists, but the mountains are not only about snow-capped peaks, but also dense forests, crystal clear lakes and rivers. Today we would like to represent you the top 6 beautiful lakes of Armenia and Georgia, which are considered popular attractions in this region.
THE VENICE-MUNICH ROAD. A JOURNEY TO FROM BAVARIA TO VENICE
by Kanykei Tursunbaeva
Venice has been a tremendous attraction and mystery for innumerable adventurers and scientists fascinated by elegance and nonconformity of Venetian way of life. The architecture and even geographic location (just imagine living your life on a ship, which constantly sways on water, that's the way it is in Venice!) make it a compelling destination.
ONE NIGHT IN ROME
By Anne Harrison
By the time we left the hotel, it was already late afternoon, and our plane left at dawn. The buildings shimmered with a golden glow particular to Italian cities of stone and marble. After fortifying ourselves with an espresso, we strolled to the stylish Via Veneto.
AN ACCIDENTAL PILGRIMAGE – ON THE ROAD TO CHIVALRY
by J. Kathleen Thompson
Who knew that my pilgrimage in Europe was going to be a lot more about locating the source of chivalry than a shrine to an Apostles' remains in Santiago de Compostela? For it seemed The Knights Hospitaller had guided my itinerary planning and arranged that my formative experience with them would be with their reincarnations – the hospitaleros – in pilgrim albergues on the Camino.
MEDINA AZAHARA; THE LOST CITY OF CÓRDOBA
by Ana Ruiz
The year was 936 when Abd ar-Rahman III, the first Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, began the construction of his magnificent Islamic city 5 miles west of Córdoba, the prosperous capital of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). Legend has it that the Caliph named it Madinat az-Zahra (City of Zahra) after his favourite concubine from Granada.
THE MANY MARVELS OF MALTA
by Darlene Foster
The Republic of Malta consists of three islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino. This unique country boasts a rich and diverse history that dates back 7000 years. The islands have been inhabited by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British who have all left their mark.
GHOSTS OF THE TRIANON
by K.M. Lowe
If you've been to Versailles you'll know that it redefines large. Looking out from the main palace, the gardens go past the horizon in two directions—literally as far as the eye can see. The historic site covers 2,000 acres, making it larger than Manhattan. Once the home of French kings, Versailles can take all day to tour, and you still would not see everything.
A WALK AROUND INIS MÓR
by Jessica Cook
The chilly Atlantic pushed our ferry off the coast of Ireland towards the rocky Aran Islands in the distance, each wave colored a blue deeper than midnight. When we disembarked, the mist creeping down the rocky bluffs of the island and the sea spray caught in my hair. I had been in Ireland for over a week now, and for my first visit I had adjusted surprisingly well to the constant misting.
SUMMER FESTIVALS AND THE OKTOBERFEST
by Larry Zaletel
It seems that there is always a festival happening in Germany. Germans like to party, and throughout the year in Germany festivals prevail. I remember that when I was stationed there in the American military it seemed like every town had a festival especially during the summer and fall. These festivals would culminate in the world’s biggest blast, the Oktoberfest that ends in Munich in September.
THE ROMAN AND CARTHAGINIANS FESTIVAL
by Darlene Foster
The ground shakes with the ominous beat of drums. Passing by us are legions of solemn Roman soldiers, animal-skin clad barbarians with painted faces and colourful shields, ferocious gladiators wearing appropriate sandals, dancing maidens, priests, soothsayers and toga covered senators. We find ourselves in the midst of a Romans and Carthaginians Festival. This spectacle is held every year to celebrate the vibrant history of the strategic port city of Cartagena, Spain.
CRUISING THE HISTORIC MEDITERRANEAN
by Matthew Adams
The Mediterranean has a variety of intriguing historic destinations in Spain, Italy and Greece. One way you can visit some of those fascinating historical sites is via a cruise. Cruise ships usually stop at ports in Italy, Spain, France and Greece from which you visit some of the world's greatest museums and historical architecture. This is a Crown Princess cruise I did to see some of the finest historic destinations.
CELEBRATING CITRUS IN MENTON
by Barb Harmon
Located in the South of France with a picture-perfect medieval old town, belle epoque villas, and a yearly average of 316 days of sunshine, it is easy to see why the seafront town of Menton is called the Pearl of France. It has also earned the title of the Lemon Festival Capital of the World. Every February when it hosts the Fete du Citron it becomes apparent why Menton has kept this well bestowed title for 84 years.
EVEN GONDOLAS NEED SOME LOVE: Venice, Italy
by Ann Harrison
When Ezra Pound arrived in Venice, he took rooms near a walled garden on the Rio San Trovaso, opposite a squero (or gondola building yard). Only a few squeri now remain in Venice, although at the height of her powers some ten thousand gondolas served the city. The gondoliers’ knowledge of the canals is legendary, and legend holds they are born with webbed feet, to help them walk on water.
that beckoned travelers and guests to fabulous Las Vegas.
WILD PARROTS, 17 BEACHES, AND RUM! WELCOME TO SITGES - Spain
by Barb Harmon
In the still of the early morning we strolled along the palm tree dotted seafront. To our right the Mediterranean Sea is calm...smooth as glass. To our left, the shop and restaurant owners hose off the sidewalks in front of their establishments preparing for a busy day.
FONTAINEBLEAU, THE OTHER VERSAILLES: France
by Christine Sarikas
I had come to Fontainebleau doubtful of the merits of visiting French palaces. On my first visit to France I had toured Versailles, and any notions I had had of sweeping across luxurious rooms were dashed when my feet hit the expansive gravel entrance and I was bumped aside by a tour leader holding an umbrella high above her head.
MY FIRST VACATION ALONE — IN PARIS! France
by Elizabeth von Pier
All my life I have traveled with someone. First it was my husband, then after he died, various friends and family. So this was my first solo trip (at the age of sixty-something!). I rented an apartment for two weeks in Paris, and set out for the adventure of a lifetime.
CHRISTMAS ON THE COSTA BLANCA: Torrevieja, Spain
by Darlene Foster
Christmas in Spain is a month long party consisting of numerous fiestas, parades, fireworks, brass bands, markets and food, lots of food. In our part of the Costa Blanca, it starts with a number of events celebrating Torrevieja´s Patronal Fiesta, dedicated to the patron saint of the city.
A JOURNEY THROUGH PREHISTORIC FRANCE: France
by Emily Monaco
The Aude department of France is a region that seems to exist out of time anyway. While calling prehistoric man a caveman is a misnomer, it is, in fact, within one of these caves, the Caune de l’Arago or Arago Cave, that Tautavel Man was discovered in the 1960s
CHRISTMAS ON THE COSTA BLANCA:Torrevieja, Spain
by Darlene Foster
In these days of distaste for the Confederate flag and all it represents, North Alabama continues to take great pride in preserving Pond Spring, the home of "Fightin' Joe" Wheeler, the only former Confederate general buried in Arlington Cemetery.
AFTER THE DARKNESS, LIGHT: GENEVA'S TRIBUTE TO AN AMERICAN FOUNDING FATHER: Switzerland
by Tom Koppel
But this is Geneva, Switzerland, a uniquely international city. It is the birthplace and home of the Red Cross. The League of Nations had its headquarters here after the First World War, and countless UN agencies are still based in Geneva today.
MEET THE BANYA LUKA (BANJA LUKA): Bosnia
by Marijana Dujovic
Banya Luka is the main city of territory Republica Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the wars during the 90s, this region become mostly territory of Orthodox residents, but you can still meet families of other religions.
MONUMENT TO AN EMPEROR: Paris
by Jett & Kathryn Britnell
Beneath the golden vault of the Eglise du Dome Church lie the remains of the slight statured Corsican who became France's greatest soldier. Within his massive crypt, Napoléon’s mystique looms large in death as it did during his lifetime.
LE GRAU DU ROI: France
by Glen Cowley
It was one of those storms of which legends were made; a wrathful sea god reshaping the Mediterranean coastline of France. The fury of 1570 carved out a new six kilometre long canal, between the salt water marshes and the sea; giving France a new access route to the Mediterranean. 1640 saw the town that grew upon its shores named Grau du Roi.
AESCULAPIUS IN ROME: Italy
by Anne Harrison
In the middle of the Tiber lies the picturesque Isola Tiberina. The island embraces two millennia of Roman history, for it has been important to Rome from her beginnings as a small river-side settlement through to her growth into the Eternal City.
CHRISTMAS IN EVROS: Greece
by Millie Stavidou
Evros tends to be somewhat off the beaten track for the average visitor to Greece. It is in the northeast of the country, and borders with Turkey and Bulgaria. The people living here count themselves as the descendants of the ancient Thracian people and have a long and proud history. Evros during the festive season is still a magical place.
AN HISTORICAL CHRISTMAS MARKET IN RURAL BAVARIA: Prien, Germany
by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte
I came to Prien am Chiemsee in the south of Bavaria because of these spur of the moment decisions that only born travelers are capable of. The train went around a bend and I was greeted with – forgive the cliché but there is no other expression for it - a picture postcard perfect scene.
LE VIEUX PARIS - WALKING THE ÎLE DE LA CITÉ: Paris, France
by Anne Harrison
Where else to begin exploring Paris, but where the city began? Walking through the Île de la Cité covers some 4000 years of civilisation, from when the first Gauls settled here to those living statues who now pose outside Notre-Dame for tourists.
HISTORICAL TRAVEL IN MALLORCA: Castello d’Alaro, Spain
by Tal Donahue
Driving north from Palma on the MA13, towards the Castello d’Alaro, the Tramantuna mountain range instantly alters any preconceptions tourists have of this island of Mallorca. The surrounding rural countryside is frequented, for the most part, only by intrepid cyclists practicing for La Tour.
RAVENNA PIECE BY PIECE: Italy
by Sarah Humphreys
No trip to Ravenna would be complete without visiting her stunning UNESCO sites, described as having “remarkable significance by virtue of the supreme artistry of the mosaic art that the monuments contain, and also because of the crucial evidence that they provide of artistic and religious relationships in European History.”
A CORNER OF A FORGOTTEN FIELD: France
by Anne Harrison
Uncle Harry rests in Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, not far from Arras. The landscape here is flat, and has been farmed – and fought over – for centuries. Shrapnel from the war still surfaces each season as the fields are farmed.
EXPLORING FLANDERS FIELDS: Belgium
by Bram Reusen
This little Western European country surely packs a punch. It is a country with a long and rich history, with cities dating from Roman times, ancient battlefields and a phenomenal cuisine. The country’s most well-known export products all have to do with food: waffles, beer and chocolate.
GARCIA LORCA’S ANDALUCIA: Spain
by Ellen Johnston
García Lorca’s words are evocative of the place he came from: Andalucía, Spain’s arid southern-most region. It’s no surprise then that García Lorca was inspired by this place, and even more specifically by Granada, home of Flamenco, the last holdout of Moorish Spain, and the city in which he lived a large part of his life.
THE THRACIANS AND THE MOUNTAINS OF ORPHEUS: Bulgaria
by Enzo Sardellaro
Bulgaria remains for me a mysterious country, mainly for the charm of its ancient history, where the enigmatic Thracians played a very important and significant role. Bulgaria is a small country with a community of scarcely seven million people living within a territory that is neither too small nor too large. But if its territory is small, its history is very great
TOURING THE ROMANTIC CASTLES OF THE COSTA DEL SOL: Spain
by Tina Irving
Little has been chronicled of the castles of the eastern Costa del Sol, the gateway to North Africa. The gloss of the travel brochures show scantily clad bodies and relentless sun but nothing of the magnificent peaceful gardens of the castles of Almunecar, Salobrena and Almeria.
A DAY AT A SPANISH MEDIEVAL MARKET: Spain
by Darlene Foster
We enter the historic part of Orihuela City by the town hall and are immediately transported back in time. The town is decked out medieval style. A feast for all senses, we are greeted by colourful tents, the smells of exotic spices, teas, paellas, fresh baked bread, pastries, and goat milk soap.
A VISIT TO AN ANCIENT MINING TOWN: Benalmádena, Spain
by Ana Ruiz
Nearly 3000 years ago, the Phoenicians were interested in Benalmádena for its rich mining resources. Today, Benalmádena is divided into three regions; the typically charming old village of Benalmádena Pueblo, the residential, working town of Arroyo de la Miel, and the posh beach resort of Benalmádena Costa.
ROCK AND ROLL AND REVOLUTION IN PRAGUE: Czech Republic
by Emily Monaco
I’ve always been fascinated by revolutions and rebellions, particularly in countries that I’m otherwise not that familiar with. What do rock and roll music and the fall of the Iron Curtain have in common? In Prague, the answer is quite a bit. There’s little more evocative of what makes a people tick than what makes them revolt.
CITY OF SAINTS AND STONES: Avila, Spain
by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte
Finally, I was on my way. For some time I had made plans to visit the city of Avila, also known as the city of saints and stones. As the train was on its way from Madrid, I didn’t dare take my eyes off the window because I didn’t want to miss the first glimpse of the famous Walls of Avila as they rise from the shores of the river Adaja.
TO BAYEUX AND BEYOND - MEMORIES OF D-DAY: France
by Joan Boxall
What does it mean to be a descendant of war veterans? Do I carry their torch, as poet-soldier Dr. John McCrae, suggested in ‘Flanders Fields’? Do I carry it high and not break faith? The summer of 2012, my husband and I went to Bayeux, Normandy.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF DANTE: Florence, Italy
by Anne Harrison
Dante began The Divine Comedy in 1308, while exiled from his beloved Florence. Dante never returned to his native city; even the tomb built for him in 1829 in Sante Croce remains empty. Yet were Dante to return to Florence today, much of the city would be familiar to him.
CHASING THE HOLY GRAIL: Valencia, Spain
by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte
My priority was to find the Holy Grail. The story of the Holy Grail or chalice, which is the cup Jesus supposedly used during the Last Supper, has fired the imagination over centuries. Did it survive, where was it, is the story really true?
CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS IN EUROPE: Germany, Austria & Slovenia
by Larry Zaletel
It may not be the best time of the year to visit Europe, however there are fewer crowds, airplanes are under booked, and automobile rentals cost less. Experience a European Christmas in Germany, Austria, and Slovenia.
MEDIEVAL MEANDERINGS IN SOUTHWEST FRANCE
Montségur, Mirepoix and Carcassonne - by Karoline Cullen
In the Languedoc region of southwestern France, I am meandering through a medieval hit list of sights. From a remote Cathar outpost to a busy market town to the stunningly restored walls of a major fortified city, these places ooze atmosphere. Each offers a distinct glimpse into the past.
THE MOORISH VILLAGE OF ISTAN
Spain - by Darlene Foster
This was the site of a Moorish rebellion in 1568. All that remains is the site the tower once stood on, the round archway and the courtyard through which horses passed through on the way to the stables. I look down and observe the detailed tile work on the ground.
THE SECRET WORLD OF NARNI
Italy by - Sarah Humphreys
Horrors more evil than The White Witch and her army of beasts lurk beneath the stones of this ancient town which were only unearthed relatively recently. In 1979, a group of young potholers began to explore a crevice in the ruins of an abandoned convent. The friends were astonished to discover an underground grotto containing a well-preserved 13th century church.
PARIS’S ANCIENT ISLANDS IN THE SEINE
France - by Lynn Smith
Some 700 hundred years ago an anonymous author wrote: “To be in Paris, is to be.” How apt those words were, I thought, as I strolled along the streets of Paris early one morning some months ago. My goal was to explore the two beautiful gems lying in the River Seine – the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis.
EXPLORING LEGENDARY WENCESLAS SQUARE
Prague, Czech Republic - by Megan Swanik
My greatest and simplest joy while living in Prague was undoubtedly the frequent walks I took, meandering aimlessly down forgotten cobblestoned streets, pausing to sit beneath the unparalleled charm of some of the best-preserved architecture in the world.
A DIVIDED ISLAND
Cyprus - by Giuseppe Raudino
The island of Cyprus is divided into two parts, despite the international community that does not approve of this division. I dare to say that the Turkish North and the Greek South have a huge number of things in common, way more numerous than differences, and the day all Cypriots will focus only on the common things the island will be again one and united.
IT’S THE REAL THING
Florence, Italy - by Peppa Martin
I am amused and entertained by the wooing of passersby that ensues, the waltz of gestures and pivots, the come-hither looks. Economic casualty aside, I presume the pride of owning an un-Burberry outweighs the pesky oppression of jail. Yesterday, I watched them in front of the Prada store, selling fake Prada bags. Some laugh, some applaud, I cringe.
HISTORY COMES TO LIFE IN MUNICH
Germany - by Johnny Caito
In addition to the chestnut lined beer gardens that fill Munich’s city center, there is a history which runs so deep that one can nearly taste the metallic remnants of 70-year-old bombs. Those who dare to look deeper into the city will find traces of one of the darkest times in the history of the planet and a city so fascinating, that even the biggest history buff’s heads will spin.
Tuscany, Italy - by Peppa Martin
What faithfully happens, as summer turns to autumn in Tuscany, is that people come down with a pernicious fever - let’s call it ‘acute funghiosis’ - which causes a delirious devotion to truffles. Truffles are discussed with the same intensity and fervor usually reserved for Plato.
BREATH OF THE DRAGON
France - by Glen Cowley
From Saint-Jean-du-Gard the Train Touriste a Vapeur des Cevennes wends it way through southern France's Cevenne Mountains, the 13 winding kilometres to Anduze; burrowing its way through tunnels, leaping the River Gardon and hugging mountainsides. Nature's vistas and mankind's legacies explode into view with every turn and twist.
A RARE VISIT TO ANCIENT PERSEPOLIS
Iran - by Neil Middelton
What was once the 'most hated city in the world' is now an empty and silent ruin. It was also one of the richest and most astounding, once famous for its wealth and beauty. Today Persepolis is an isolated ruin in the desert of Southern Iran. It stands empty not just because of its desert location but because it is deep in Iran, a country at once hospitable but seldom visited.
A TALE OF THREE CAVES
France - by Karoline Cullen
We are in a narrow cave called Font-de-Gaume, near Les Eyzies in the Dordogne Valley of southwest France. This is the cradle of prehistory, where Cro-Magnon man celebrated the world around him with cave paintings. Font-de-Gaume is the first of three different caves we visit for a glimpse of our relatives from distant times.
THE BALKANS: THE QUIRKS of ALBANIA and KOSOVO
Am I in Tirana or Vegas? - by Angela Lapham
The ongoing transformation of Albania and Kosovo means several ‘quirks’ are set to disappear. Visit now! As well as these attractions, you’ll enjoy fascinating histories, a liberal Islam rarely communicated to the West, and people delighted to welcome you into their country.
FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA’S GRENADA
Andalucia, Spain - by Ellen Johnston
García Lorca came from Andalucía, Spain’s arid southern-most region. Perched on the Mediterranean and looking towards North Africa, Andalucía has never forgotten its Moorish past, nor its legacy of multiculturalism – part Jewish, part Gypsy, part Arab, part Berber and, of course, part Spanish.
ART AND HISTORY IN MÁLAGA CITY
Spain - by Ana Ruiz
The rich history of Málaga goes as far back as the 8th century BCE when the Phoenicians founded the trade settlement here they named Malacca. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors all left their mark here and throughout the centuries, Málaga continued to thrive as a chief settlement and established harbor.
Italy - by Sarah Humphreys
“Fair Verona” is brimming with historical and artistic treasures. However, it is the home of a fictional character which attracts the largest number of visitors. Each year, thousands of romantics head for “Casa di Giulietta”, (“Juliet’s House”), a 13th century building which has been claimed as the probable home of the young girl who inspired the greatest love story of all time.
PUEBLO INGLES: SPEAKING ENGLISH FLUENTLY LEADS TO IMMERSION IN SPANISH CULTURE
La Alberca, Spain - by Roy A. Barnes
The sightseeing and culinary temptations afforded there take second place behind the opportunities to really connect with some of Spain’s populace thanks to the Madrid-based language training firm Diverbo. Spaniards who want to learn to become more fluent in English come together with English speakers.
A TOUCH OF EGYPT IN MADRID: THE DEBOD TEMPLE
Spain - by Keith Kellett
It’s a bit of a shock to see an ‘Egyptian-looking building’ on top of a hill, while on an open-top bus tour of Madrid. It is, I later discovered, Egyptian indeed. Even if you aren’t into ‘things Egyptian’, you can’t help but wonder how an Egyptian temple came to be situated almost in the centre of Spain.
POETRY AND POLITICS
Monemvasia, Greece - by W. Ruth Kozak
Ritsos was one of Greece most beloved poets and is considered one of the five great Greek poets of the twentieth century. He won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1956 and was named a Golden Wreath Laureate in 1985. Although much of the old “lower” town is in ruins, the family home of Yannis Ritsos has been restored and turned into a museum. There is a monument to the poet outside the house.
THE ROOTS OF FLAMENCO IN GRANADA
Spain - by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte
When we arrived, I told the tour guide that I would now make my own way and meet the coach in time for the return trip. “Where do you want to go?” he asked, apparently a bit miffed. But I had something else in mind. “I want to go to Sacromonte, visit the caves and follow the roots of Flamenco,`I replied. “Tourist traps,” `he sniffed,” and anyway the performances are only at night”. Little did he know what I found.
KRAKOW’S HISTORIC OLD TOWN SQUARE: THE RYNEK GLOWNY
Poland - by Wynne Crombie
Krakow’s Rynek Glowny is the pulse of the city. A self-appointed citizen who calls himself, Pawl Jan (Paul John), appears on the scene in his Magyar/Tartar uniform. His heavy fur hat and gold-buttoned red velvet vest (plus matching culottes) are topped off by a long fur coat. A three-foot long curved sword along with a pistol accessorizes his outfit. Naturally a flowing moustache is in place.
CUENCA AND THE CASA COLGADAS
Spain - by Darlene Foster
My first thought upon observing the houses of the Spanish city of Cuenca, was that I wouldn’t want to be a sleep walker if I lived in one of them. Due to limited space, the former inhabitants of the old city built their houses close to the edge, on a rocky mountaintop. Over the centuries, the relentless wind eroded the lime stone cliffs leaving some houses clinging precariously to the edge.
CLIMBING THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR
Gibraltar, Spain - by Matthew Adams
I arrived in Gibraltar aboard the Crown Princess Grand-class cruise ship. It was returning from Corsica back to Britain. Gibraltar, a U.K. overseas territory on the south coast of Spain, was the final stop on the way back. On a sunny morning in May, I disembarked from the ship along the Western Arm in northern Gibraltar. The Rock rises some 426 meters above the sea. It's almost a small mountain!
THE PUENTE DE DIABLO (DEVIL’S BRIDGE)
Segovia, Spain - by Keith Kellett
The famous Roman aqueduct was first on my list of sight-seeing stops. When the Romans arrived in Spain, Segovia was already an important point on the trade routes, lying at the foot of a mountain range called the Sierra de Guadamara, on the banks of the Rio Clamores.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE POET, LORD BYRON
Greece - by W. Ruth Kozak
Byron first visited Greece in 1809, landing in the town of Parga. From there he went north to Ioannina where the infamous Ali Pasha held sway. While there he visited the Pasha who had an even shadier reputation with women than the poet. It was during his stay that Byron began his autobiographical narrative poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which commemorated his meeting with Ali Pasha who had lavished hospitality on him.
THERE’S A CERTAIN HUMANITY IN THE HAGUE
The Netherlands - by Angela Lapham
If you enjoyed the liberalism, museums and art galleries of Amsterdam, why not continue on less than an hour’s train ride away in the far less touristy yet decidedly more international 'city of peace and justice,’ Den Haag ('The Hague’)? As well as these kinds of attractions, Den Haag's human rights law courts offer free, extraordinary experiences that can’t be had anywhere else in the world.
THE BASILICA OF SAINT-NAZAIRE-ET-SAINT CELSE
Beziers, France - by Glen Cowley
The basilica of Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint Celse has owned the crest above the city of Beziers, southern France, since pre medieval times. It has graphically revealed the greatness and baseness of mankind with lessons never to be forgotten, or at the least forgotten at our peril. A reminder of why historical knowledge is important.
THE MERRY CEMETERY IN MARAMURES
Romania - by Iolanda Scripca
In the twenty-four years of my life I spent in Romania, I never had the occasion to visit a unique place in Transylvania called the Merry Cemetery. I called my childhood friend in Romania and asked if she wanted to join me on an adventure that would take us from Bucuresti to Maramures, a region way up north, in Transylvania. It is said that if you do not visit Maramures you do not know the real Romania.
A LOVE AFFAIR WITH MOLDOVA’S PARKS
Moldov - by Angela Lapham
Where in the world can you access free, high-speed internet surrounded by trees; water cascading through a stately fountain; wedding parties posing for photographs; and the presence of twenty eight literature greats - all whilst being entertained by pop singers and folk bands? It may come as a shock to learn you’re in the Republic of Moldova.
LA DOLCE MORTE: AN EX-PAT PILGRIMAGE IN ROME
Italy - by Ellen Johnston
The sun stopped shining and the rain came in, as if it knew where I was going – past the Palatine Hill and the Coliseum to the subway, which would take me to Piramide station in the un-touristed south of the city – Rome, that is. The station is named for the nearby Pyramid of Cestius, built in 18-12 B.C. as a tomb for a forgotten local magistrate, a piece of folly that marks the entrance to far more hallowed ground.
France - by Glen Cowley
Aigues Mortes: the “Dead Waters”! The name echoes ominous as if heralding some darkened castle from the Lord of the Rings; and the place does rise singular from the fen lands that are the Camargue in southern France. Yet there is no darkness weighing upon the shoulders this crusader city.
THE GYPSIES OF ANDALUSIA; YESTERDAY AND TODAY
Spain - by Ana Ruiz
I thought it might be fun to indulge the Gypsy and decided not to part with more than 2 euros for the experience. At that very moment a passerby came up beside to watch who smiled at me as I returned the gesture. The Gypsy woman, unaware that we were strangers, took my hand, stared into my palm and proceeded to tell me that 'this man' and I would be very happy together for a long time.E
São Miguel, Azores - by Dene Bebbington
We're on the island of São Miguel, known as the green island. It's the largest of the nine islands in the Azores archipelago – Madeira's quiet cousins farther out in the mighty Atlantic. Though it stuck, the name Azores is actually a misnomer from when the sailors who discovered the islands mistook buzzards for goshawks – the word açores is plural for goshawk in Portuguese.
ITALY’S FATAL GIFT OF BEAUTY
Portovenere and the Gulf of Poets - By Sarah Humphreys
“Italia! Oh Italia! Thou who hast the fatal gift of Beauty,” Nowhere does Byron’s tribute to Italy ring more true than in “The Gulf of Poets” on the Ligurian coast, where Percy Bysshe Shelley was drowned in 1822. It is said that the spirit of the English Romantic poet still lives on between the inlets and promontories of this bewitching cove. It is easy to see why.
MARATHON INTRODUCES BEAUTIFUL MODERNISME
Barcelona, Spain - by Marc Latham
My plane was on time, but I was twenty-five years late. Now I’d finally made it to Barcelona; to run a marathon in a few days time. In my experience, independent travel can be just as gruelling as organised events, but achievements usually go unrecognised; taking place with only road and nature as witness; forgotten like desert dust blown off a worn rucksack.
BAROQUE CHURCHES AND A SHOPPING MALL WITH A TEMPLE TO ROMAN GODS
Mainz, Germany - by W. Ruth Kozak
Imagine shopping in an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Isis and the Great Mother. In Mainz, Germany a modern shopping mall is built right over such a place. The archaeological ruins of Taberna Archaeologica are part of the attraction of the busy mall discovered when excavations were made.
SAN GALGANO AND THE ITALIAN SWORD IN THE STONE
Tuscany, Italy - by Sarah Humphreys
Unlike Arthur’s mighty weapon, The Italian version of Excalibur is on display for all to see, firmly wedged up to its hilt, in a smooth stone in the tiny round chapel of Montesiepi in Southern Tuscany. Cistercian monks built the round chapel of Montesiepi around the “cross” in the stone. Just thirty kilometres from Siena, the abbey is immersed in history and mystery and stunning in all seasons.
NAPOLEON NEVER SLEPT HERE
Sailing The Mediterranean - by Tom Koppel
My wife and I are on a Mediterranean cruise along the coasts of Italy and France celebrating our 20th anniversary. We have been anticipating visits to some wonderful ports and are not disappointed. What we had not foreseen, though, is the many ways that Napoleon, or perhaps just his spirit, would keep making his presence felt, as if popping up unexpectedly in little cameo appearances.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Greece - by W. Ruth Kozak
By the harbour in Thessaloniki, Greece, stands a magnificent statue of the young warrior-king, Alexander the Great, astride his fabled horse Bucephalus. At the base of the monument someone has laid two wreaths. It is June 10, the anniversary of Alexander’s death. I place a simple bouquet of red carnations beside the wreaths. Just who was this ambitious, brilliant young man?
THE DEVIL OF PRAGUE
The Czech Republic - - By Luke Maguire Armstrong
The “Devil” has died. Or at least the one who lived on Prague’s Charles Bridge has. His death adds another chapter to the dense history the bridge has shared. On the edge of the bridge he set up shop where he thought he belonged, next to the other artists selling their creations to eager tourists in front of the Mala Strana tower.
ETHNIC EATS IN EUROPE - by Larry Zaletel
A people’s culture is defined not only by their traditions and values but also by their food and drink. Food brings people together especially when they gather around the dinner table. Although the food may be prepared differently in Europe, have an open mind and enjoy new flavors and sample the scrumptious delicacies.
INSIDE THE DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP
Germany - by Alexis Brett
When planning a trip to a former concentration camp in Europe, Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland tends to be the first one that comes to mind. But no more than 16 kilometers away from Munich lies another former concentration camp that was once used as a model by the Nazis to help design future concentration camps in Europe during the 1940s.
THE HISTORICAL ROMAN BRIDGE OF SOMMIERES
France - by Glen Cowley
It is small, by today's standards, but it has something special. A magnet drawing the eyes of the powerful in their time and the tourists of today. Sommieres had and has a Roman bridge. And of that much came to be and is to see. The Vidroule River flows leisurely along its defined banks flanked by nurtured trees and a tended walkway.
AN UNUSUAL ADVENTURE IN ROME
Italy - by Doris Gregory
On that stifling July day, the elevator was packed with hot, sweaty people. We had just come down after viewing the Eternal City from the top of St. Peter’s. "Come on, Wayne," I ordered, "Move!" "I can’t," he said. "My arm’s stuck!" Evidently his arm had been resting on the elevator door. When the door opened and slid into its pocket, it had taken his arm with it.
CHRISTMAS WITHOUT SANTA CLAUS
Athens, Greece by W. Ruth Kozak
One of my most memorable Christmases was the first Christmas I spent in Athens, Greece in December 1982. It was my first Christmas away from my family and without Santa Claus. Christmas the traditional Greek way was very different than I was used to but I managed to find some decorations and tiny lights, bought a small bay-leaf tree and made myself a Christmas tree.
KERMIT BEWARE! AT THE FROG MUSEUM Switzerland
The Estavayer-le-Lac Frog Museum by Karin Leperi
Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street and Jeremy Fisher (a frog from the beloved Beatrix Potter book series) should best beware if ever in Switzerland. That is, unless these endearing childhood frog characters want to run the risk of being captured, gutted, and then stuffed with grains of sand – ultimately to be posed in humanesque-type poses doing very “unfroggy-like” things.
A WORLD WITH A FASCINATING PAST
Moldova, Romania by Iolanda Scripca
Moldova's beautiful landscape takes you back to a time when life was simpler. Village houses are still built the traditional way, and the residents still wear traditional, handmade clothes decorated with colorful patterns and from cloth that originated from local fields. The villagers are particularly helpful and friendly.
SEVEN DAYS IN HISTORIC SICILY
Italy - by Jane Parlane
Sicily is synonymous with sun, history, lemons and the mafia. Instead you’ll get a warm welcome from most Sicilians who are more interested in showing off their treasures than depriving you of yours. There are plenty of reasons to visit Sicily, the Mediterranean’s largest island, including gorgeous towns, fascinating archaeology from ancient Greek, Roman and Norman times and delicious seafood, wine and cassata.
FROM ANCIENT SPOTTED HORSES TO THE AMERICAN APPALOOSA
A Journey from the Caves Of France to The Hills and Prairies Of Palouse - by Karin Leperi
Up until about a year ago, archaeologists and scientists were divided about what the spotted horse sketches actually represented. Did the dappled horses represent mystical creatures conjured up during lucid dreaming? Were the cave paintings symbolic images with some religious significance or purpose for these ancient cave dwellers?
TOURING AROUND HISTORICAL SAINT-MALO AND MONT-SAINT-MICHEL
France - by Marc Latham
The ancient abbey rises out of sea and silt like the most triangular of mountains, seemingly balanced precariously on its rock without an inch of land wasted; and is big enough to be seen from the edge of its bay, over thirty kilometres (twenty miles) away.
COMING BACK FROM OBSCURITY
Vis, Croatia - by Wynne Crombie
Jurica and Dimar set out to take us to what they referred to as sights untouched by most tourists. Jurica began by reciting all the conquerors of Vis
Turks, Italians, Greeks, Serbs…even the British. Now it’s back to being Croatian. The vestiges of each culture, he added, are the reasons Vis is so appealing.
ESCAPING FROM THE “REAL” EUROPE
Palermo, Sicily, Italy - by Raluca Maier
Situated in the northwest of the island of Sicily, Palermo has architectural and cultural influences from Northern Africa, Greece, but also Spain and Italy - although in Europe, makes you realize since the first moment you step on the Palermiam ground, that this is not typical Europe at all.
LA BIBLIOTECA MALATESTIANA, EUROPE'S FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY
Cesena, Italy - by Susan Zuckerman
In a spectacular fire in Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose, the library of a medieval abbey burns to the ground. The library on which this fictional one was based, however, is still completely intact
La Biblioteca Malatestiana, Europe's first public library and the pride of Cesena, Italy.
FLYING ON THE 600
France - by Glen Cowley
I wondered if Ferrari made buses as our sardinized mass of humanity rocked unsteadily within the belly of the beast that is the 600 bus. Snaking up from starry eyed Cannes to Grasse, of perfume fame, past the gourmet renowned medieval town of Mougins, the blue Mediterranean its constant backdrop, our bus was guided expertly by a driver skilled enough to dare the race roads of Monaco.
A SWISS TAPESTRY
Switzerland - by Tom Koppel
At the inviting Swiss hamlet of Andeer, the upper Rhine, only 10 metres wide, cascades in waterfalls and rapids through a rocky gorge. Outside a cheese shop, a sign bears verses of folksy doggerel. Freely translated, it reads “ Milk, cheese, curds and cream, help our people get up steam.” The message is hardly surprising in a country known for its dairy products.
LISBON AND SINTRA
Portugal - by Marc Latham
I took a last look at the breathtakingly colourful and elaborate palace from its level. Perched atop a mountain containing trees from around the world, the palace looks like a Disney castle resting in an environmentalist's dream.
IMPRESSIONS OF HOMER’S ITHAKA
Ithaka, Greece - By W. Ruth Kozak
As the ferry sets sail across the straits, a pod of dolphins frolic alongside. The white limestone cliffs of Ithaka's shoreline are striped by eerie silvery pink and blue lights. I think of Odysseus' wife, Penelope, and how she waited all those years for him to return I will not soon forget this journey. Ithaka is a place that will draw me back again too.
Slovenia - by Larry Zaletel
It is an awakening visiting the country of my family's heritage. There is much to see and learn, understanding about the village and adjusting to the differences in customs, the diversity of rural life and the outlook on life in general. This is an opportunity to observe and live village life on a daily basis.
FAIRYTALE ENCHANTMENTS IN MT. PILATUS AND ENTLEBUCH
Luzern, Switzerland - By Roy A. Barnes
The city of Luzern is just a 45 minute train ride from Zurich, one that I found more than worth the effort when experiencing much enchantment and stunning views of the waters and mountainous regions surrounding it.
France - by Rosrin Wuithiran
The most eloquent tribute to Granada's charm is to be found above it, high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Boabdil, last man standing for the Moors in Spain, turned here to look back at the splendour he had just handed over to the Christian monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand. Defeated, he let out a cry for his beloved palace, one of the great architectural treasures of Islam.
Italy - by Paola Fornari
I wonder what it would be like to live here in Abruzzo all the time, far from the pressures of city life, far from tourist traps, close to nature, and to inner peace. Like Celestine. Back in the thirteenth century, he lived higher up these rugged slopes, in a cave, until he was called to the Papacy.
REACHING FOR HEAVEN
Meteora, Greece - by W. Ruth Kozak
On a bright May afternoon, I travel by train across the lush Thessaly Plain in central Greece. Suddenly, out of the plain, gigantic spires of rock emerge, some higher than 400 meters, their strange shapes jutting up out of the fertile soil. Nothing I have seen in pictures has prepared me for this sight. Few places I have seen in Greece are so intensely dramatic.
RYNEK STAREGO MIASTA, WARSAW’S OLD TOWN SQUARE
Poland - by Wynne Crombie
The cool November sun shone off the buildings. The burnished yellows and reds of the Renaissance, and Baroque structures had been carefully replicated. 75 years ago, the Square had been reduced to a pile of rubble by the German Luftwaffe. The Square was reconstructed mainly in the 1950s from old photos and 700-year-old drawings.
THE GUTENBURG MUSEUM: WHERE PRINTED WORD BEGAN
Mainz, Germany - By W. Ruth Kozak
When I was an aspiring young journalist fresh out of high school working in a newspaper editorial department, my most prize possession was an old Underwood typewriter. The printed word has always meant a lot to me, so when I visited Mainz, Germany recently, I made a point of visiting the Gutenburg Museum to have a look at the world's first printing press.
THEY’RE GREEK TO ME!
Southern Italy and Sicily - by Troy Herrick
Paestum on the Italian mainland plus Agrigento and Syracuse on Sicily are the three best Greek settlements for touring. Each of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites also has a museum displaying a wealth of Greek items. All three sites are easily accessible and make for great day trips into the past.
THE CASTLE OF THE MOORS
Sintra, Portugal - by Ana Astri-O’Reilly
From the train I can see one seemingly small turret on top of a hill. And then another. Then I see that they are joined by a wall. The effect is that of a saddle. They are so high up that it makes me wonder how I will ever reach the castle.
HISTORICAL HOLIDAYS IN THE ALGARVE
The Algarve region of Portugal is full of culture, combining the influences of Arabian, Phoenician, Roman and Portuguese society. The rich historical legacy left behind is definitely worth a visit, whether you're a fan of ancient architecture, you wonder where Algarvian pottery comes from, or you want to know about Henry the Navigator.
THE PORTS OF MENORCA
Ciutadella And Mahon, Spain
The ports of Menorca sit almost opposite each other, one on the east coast, and the other on the west, of the northernmost of the three Spanish Balearic Islands. Just as the northern and southern parts of Menorca have very different characteristics, so have the ports in the east and the west. But both are soaked in history with much to offer, and are well worth visiting.
A ROMANTIC TALE OF THE MUSKETEERS
Maastricht, The Netherlands
I was sitting in a cafe in Maastricht, and was rather intrigued by the name. Grand Cafe D'Artagnan. Even if you haven't read the books, the name has been familiar to movie-goers since 1921. Further enquiries revealed that he'd been killed here, during the Siege of Maastricht in 1673, during the Franco-Dutch War, and his statue still stands in Maastricht.
A WEEK IN PROVENCE
When Catherine Cordelle told me she had found an artist's residency in Provence that was willing to have me for a couple weeks, I was thrilled. I had read Peter Mayle's 'A Year in Provence' some years before and was enthralled by the prospect of experiencing the lifestyle he had written so amusingly and evocatively about.
MEMORIES OF THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Ever since I read Agatha Christie's intriguing crime novel 'Murder on the Orient Express', I wanted to travel on that train. To indulge in the gilded luxury of the train itself, let the mysterious landscapes of the Balkans glide past my window and alight at the final destination
Istanbul, the city which straddles two continents.
DANCING TO A DIFFERENT DRUM
I was just a college girl majoring in art history when I became smitten with the architectural genius of Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). Captivated by Gaudi's unconventional, whimsical and gravity-defying architecture, I yearned to visit Barcelona where I could see his creations "in the flesh."
TRANSYLVANIA – A MELDING OF HISTORY AND LORE
Romania was for us a wonderful commingling of past and present, history and myth all wrapped into one pleasurable experience. Our small dint in the sights to see and our brief immersion in the culture left us wanting more – and a resolve that for us there will be a next time in beautiful Romania.
DOING THE VIENNESE VAULTS
Vienna is the city of castles, palaces, extraordinary churches; it is the city of the Viennese waltz…and the Viennese vaults. Vaults. As in, tombs! Caskets and coffins, and urns filled with ashes. And, urns filled with innards! They are all on display right there…in the church basement. Go on in, and enjoy the “Viennese Vaults.”
MY TURKISH DELIGHT - AN ANKARA ADVENTURE
I was in Ankara for three weeks, and I wasn't interested in shops or bars. And Istanbul was not practical. I had two short weekends ahead of me, during which I had to do a lot of preparation work. I was in Ankara, and I love being in new places. The city must have something to offer, and I would find it.
A SLOVAK FAMILY SOJOURN
My wife I are visiting the Spis region in northeastern Slovakia, which is for her the “old country.” This makes the trip a special occasion
returning to her roots, getting to know the rich culture, stunning traditional architecture and spectacular landscape that her parents and grand-parents left behind.
AN ODYSSEY IN THE IONIAN ISLANDS
The Ionian Islands of Greece’s west coast, have inspired poets like Homer, Sappho, Cavafy and Lord Byron. The sea here is so transparent you can see straight into the depths. The wind has eroded the shoreline to form sheer cliffs and extraordinary caves where once pirates lurked and often hid their treasures.
SAVORING ZURICH’S OLD & NEW HISTORY
Until I visited Zurich , I associated the city with just one thing
high finance. But after my journey last autumn to this city of just under 400,000 inhabitants, I left with a new appreciation of how the old and new of this historical city that pre-dates Roman times are blended nicely like the ingredients of a fine Swiss chocolate bar.
SAMPLING HISTORIC PROVENCE