Historic Sites: The Bucket List

Best kept secret by history teachers: History is *really* interesting. It’s just that it’s a whole lot more exciting to learn about the ancient Nabateans when you’re riding on a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Petra than to yawn through a history book. From Petra to Kilwa, from the pyramids of the Mundo Mayoto the pyramids of Egypt, from the temples of Thailand to the lost city of Macchu Picchu, discover your adventure here.

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Visiting Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

As I approached the magnificent building from the west, a banner above the entrance door announced the forthcoming Victorian Hot Rod Association’s 50th anniversary show. The banner looked glaringly incongruous. Yet it emphasised the fact that here Read More

Interior Wieskirche Church, Germany (Photo credit: Amy S Eckert, c 2013)

Admiring Germany’s Wieskirche Church, UNESCO World Heritage Site

If there is a perfect example of Bavarian rococo architecture, the Wieskirche Church is probably it. Set among verdant, rolling Alpine foothills, surrounded by Bavarian farms and accessible by narrow country roads, the Wieskirche also comes Read More

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Visiting the Durham Home of the Prince Bishops

It is difficult to imagine a defensive structure more strategically situated. Guarded by steep slopes descending to an almost complete loop of the River Wear, Durham Castle remained impregnable for eight centuries. Yet even this fortress is dwarfed Read More

ChristmasMarket

Navigating Prague’s Christmas Markets

It feels as though I am swimming upstream in a school of fish. I must look down to pay attention to the uneven cobblestone streets, which while romantic in looks, provide an ongoing challenge in balance. I immediately regretted giving in to the Read More

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings Museum, Unteruhldingen, Germany (Photo credit: Amy S Eckert, c 2013)

Discovering Prehistoric German Dwellings, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Alpine chalets. Half-timbered wood-and-stucco houses. Long house-and-barn combos brimming with flower boxes. I had seen hundreds of these houses in southern Germany and Switzerland, in the Alpine landscape surrounding Lake Constance. Houses Read More

1314 Battle of Bannockburn

Visiting Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn, Scotland

The fourteenth century archer's right hand pulls his bow string taut. Suddenly, his arrow is released, flying over my head. I turn to see another soldier, his heart pierced by the arrow, stumble and fall. The Interpretive Center at Bannockburn Read More

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Getting the Lowdown on Bogota’s Graffiti Culture

When we reached the end of the tour, I was already thoroughly impressed. And then we rounded the corner to discover four massive graffiti murals that just sung of revolution, of angst-y political statement and dissatisfaction. They were commissioned Read More

Halloween-style jail in the Joan of Arc Garden in Québec City (Photo: MCArnott)

Hounding Halloween Ghosts in Québec City, Canada

A giant spider crawls on the side of an office building. A sailing ship has run aground in front of Québec City Hall. Halloween decorations set the tone for our family visit to Québec City, with grandchildren in tow. Ships have a lot to do with Read More

Blarney Castle

Kissing the Blarney Stone

As the long line of tourists - us included - crept through the ruins of Blarney Castle, I kept shaking my head. Kissing the Blarney Stone has never been on my radar, yet here I am, being herded through the maze of unkempt rooms and twisty narrow Read More

Calle de Suspiros (©photocoen).

Strolling Around Uruguay’s Most Scenic Village: Colonia del Sacramento

I pick up the thermos and fill up the gourd with mate, a popular herbal tea in Uruguay. It's a drink you share with others, so I hand the gourd to my partner Coen, who takes one last photograph before he sits down next to me. We're sitting on a Read More

The construction of the Taj Mahal in the 17-th century took 22 years (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Connecting with the White Marble of the Taj Mahal

  The grand finale of my trip to India is neither a massive fort nor a sumptuous palace,  it's a mausoleum: the Taj Mahal. For some of the Indian celebrities interviewed on the occasion of its 350th anniversary (in 2004) the love story was Read More

Maulbronn Monastery (photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Ba.-Wü.)

Uncovering 860 Years of History at UNESCO Site Maulbronn Monastery

The road snakes through the German countryside, through forested hills and past tiny sparkling lakes in Baden-Württemberg. It’s a region famous for Germany´s Black Forest, the kind of place I always hope for when I plan a trip to Germany. Towns lie Read More

Hand painted altar in a Franciscan church (©photocoen).

Discovering Franciscan Churches around Asunción, Paraguay

It all started with a photo: a beautiful photograph of an old wooden altar featuring an angel killing a devil, painted in blue tinges. Some of the paint had chipped off and the wood was damaged, and it was clearly a piece from colonial times. The Read More

The soccer museum in São Paulo's Pacaembu Stadium. (©photocoen)

Reliving Games in Brazil’s Soccer Museum of São Paulo

"The defeat of all defeats," the Brazilian headlines recently cried after Brazil's devastating loss against Germany in the World Cup 2014. Losing 7 to 1 on your own territory in the semi finals is a major crushing indeed. For the second time Brazil Read More

Young Arab woman in traditional Muslim hijab dress. Dubai, UAE. She is speaking to visitors at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding where local people and visitors can meet to learn more about each other's culture.  Here she is showing various kinds of head gear worn by men. Photo by Yvette Cardozo

Visiting Dubai’s Center for Cultural Understanding

The modern city of Dubai sprang from the desert, seemingly erupted, in just a few decades. The city gleams and sparkles with buildings of glass and steel that soar, lean, bulge, twist and fold, often appearing to defy gravity. And the people -- Read More

Where the Tooth Relic is kept. (Roberta Sotonoff)

Attending the Perahera Festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Tammattam drums throb in the distance. The steady boom, boom, boom of these small-sized, kettle-like drums grow louder. Their rhythm is almost hypnotic. Then comes the sound of cracking whips. A troupe snaps them to the drum beats. For the next four Read More

Music History in the form of instruments played on iconic hits.

Honoring the Music Makers at Nashville’s Musicians Hall of Fame

What would you expect to see in a musicians' hall of fame? If the household names of the world's leading recording artists and performing headliners come to mind, think again. Nashville's Musicians Hall of Fame is all about the players behind the Read More

Roman Baths

Walking With the Ancients at the Roman Baths, Bath, England

“It isn’t fair,” says the elderly Roman rather tipsily. “We aren’t invaders. Who on earth comes wanting to fight?” He swigs from his stone bottle and offers it, a little unsteadily, to the camera-laden tourist sitting beside him on the stone Read More

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Discovering the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge, Shropshire

The picturesque escarpment of Wenlock Edge, inspiration of poetry and music, offers no hint that it was once an industrial cauldron. My wife, a friend, and I were traveling to discover the clangorous bustling past of a region that some call the Read More

Stones at Avebury

Uncovering the Mystery of Avebury’s Stones

A group of people, standing in pairs at the centre of the stone circle, perform a solemn ritual with exaggerated hand movements and stamping on scraps of paper. Perhaps an obscure Wiccan ceremony, or just a bonding exercise. Such sights are Read More

Coba Cover Photo

Climbing Mexico’s Tallest Mayan Pyramid at Coba

Chichen Itza may be the most famous ancient Mayan city in the Yucatan Pennisula. It may have garnered all the big titles, like New World Wonder, but that doesn’t change the fact that the older Mayan site of Coba, the region’s capital before Chichen Read More

The entrance through the Passion facade (Ann Burnett)

Awe-struck at the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Barcelona, Spain

Our first view of the Sagrada Familia is from the top of Montjuic Hill at the end of the funicular ride up from the Ave Paral.lel. My eyes sweep over the panorama below Barcelona, and then, rising above it, the unmistakeable shape of Gaudi’s Read More