The vast basin that is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Soaking in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Steam swirls into fog in this otherworldly basin of chalky blue and black as I attempt to slowly lower myself into the water. It has not been a good week for me. My knee went out a few days before boarding a plane to Iceland, and I've been hobbling Read More

DCIM999GOPRO

Diving Silfra, Iceland, between the Continental Plates

Tentative: In the illustrated dictionary of my imaginings, the word has a picture of me sitting between the Eurasian and North American continental plates, getting up the nerve to immerse myself in water that is 35 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm so ready Read More

Icealnd photos

What to Buy in Iceland: Shopping for Sweaters, Outdoor Gear, Lava Jewelry, Mud

Standing in the middle of a corral filled with Icelanders herding sheep this way and that, I notice that the colors of the sheep are the same as the colors of the sweaters worn by men, women, and children. The journey from sheep's back to shepherd's Read More

Dawn in the eastern Iceland town of Eskifjordur came with a spectacular view of the dock behind the rustic restaurant, Randulf's Sea House. Photo by Cardozo

Seeing Eastern Iceland, The Often Overlooked Side

  My trip to Iceland was a visual wonder...from the brightly painted buildings to the mountains to the people and their history. But while so many people do the Ring Road or stay close to Reykjavik, I went east to the less visited side of the Read More

Icelandic horses have long manes and thick coats.

Joining the Rettir, Iceland’s Annual Round-up of Sheep and Horses

I'd been driving aimlessly on a back road near the village of Sauðárkrókur in northwest Iceland when a group of parked cars caught my attention. Usually, cars on the side of the road meant tourists and something to see, like a waterfall. These 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

High Force

Seeking the Teesdale Assemblage, County Durham, England

The Durham Dales often take one a tiny step beyond the magic. While their more illustrious southern neighbours, the Yorkshire Dales have their own unarguable beauties, I always feel that Weardale and Teesdale offer just that little bit extra. And 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

A view of Iceland's lava fields

Journeying to the Center of the Earth at Thrinukagigur Volcano, Iceland

“Because it’s Sunday,” says Saga (pronounced Saya), swinging her long blonde plait as the minibus accelerates away from Reykjavik’s Hafnastraeti car park, “I have a treat for you. Candy!” She holds up a box of chunky-looking chocolate-covered 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

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

Sledging

Summer Sledging on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, Kaprun, Austria

Somebody’s grumbling. I can tell by the tone of voice, even before the words become clear. It’s something to do with having worn shorts. After all it’s August and the temperature in the valley below is creeping up into the nineties. Shorts seemed Read More

The Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Learning about Scotland’s History in the Edinburgh Castle

It started raining as soon as I entered the Edinburgh Castle, even though the sky had looked bright when I climbed up the hill. Tip for visitors: Bring an umbrella, the weather changes quickly in Scotland. The Edinburgh Castle has stood on a Read More

Taking the waters

Taking Tea and the Waters at the Pump Room, Bath, England

You’d think after a lifetime of drinking tea I’d be undeterred by thorny problems of etiquette. But here in the elegant, eighteenth-century Pump Room in Bath I’m suddenly overcome by nerves. Because, as anyone who’s ever picked up a Regency romance Read More

Abbotsford ( Ann Burnett )

Re-visiting Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders

I had to read Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe at school and vowed never to open one of his books again. So what am I doing visiting Abbotsford, his house in the Scottish Borders? It’s re-opened to the public after a refurbishment (the Queen did the honors Read More