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Drawing of Slaves on a Wall in the Slave Quarters (©Coen Wubbels)

Absorbing the Story of Slavery and Cachaça in Redenção, Brazil

In 1873 Colonel Simião Jurumenha bought a sugarcane farm and built the cachaça factory of Douradinho, some 80 kilometers south of Fortaleza in northeast Brazil. Ten years later slavery was abolished here, five years before the rest of Brazil. 130 years later, I visited the still functioning factory-cum-museum, which both ...
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Group of traditionally dressed vendors of acarajé in Brazil (©photocoen)

Admiring Brazil’s Traditional Baianas de Acarajé in Salvador da Bahia

Amidst a crowd of typical, T-shirts-and-jeans-wearing Brazilians, a black woman stood out. She wore an intricate, white, lace bodice covered with necklaces above a dark-blue, billowing skirt and a white piece of cloth artistically wrapped around her head. She was deep-frying some sort of snack. I had just arrived in ...
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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 pretty close to being the perfect example of a true hidden gem. The tiny town ...
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Wat Pho Buddhas, Thailand

Admiring Thailand’s Largest Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho, Bangkok

My first thoughts, when I enter Wat Pho in Bangkok, are extremely non-spiritual. There are too many people. They all stand in my way. Despite big signs that ask visitors to "dress respectfully", many Western women have decided to turn up at a Buddhist temple in hotpants. Bangkok is steaming ...
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Large man in green velvet coat with gold chain around shoulders, black hat with white feathers trim, another man in red robe, no hat, in courtyard

Advising King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace in London, England

King Henry VIII looks down from his chair and puts the question to his trusted advisors, “What are we to do about the Queen?” We advisors were just 21st-century tourists five minutes ago. Now we have the serious business of telling the most powerful ruler we'll ever know how to ...
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Legendary, stern Herr Gessler still stands watch over downtown Gaylord.

Alpenfest-ing in Gaylord, Michigan

Never heard of  Gaylord, Michigan?  Neither had I until last summer, but let me just say this: a resident herd of elk, one cool microbrewery, and a festival where they carve parsnips into lanterns, burn an effigy called Boogg, and have contests for best ladies’ ankles and men’s knees. They had me ...
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