"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca you must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences."
- Constantine Peter Cavafy "Ithaca"
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©2008 Ruth Kozak
ARCHIVES: EUROPE



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.

TRUFFLE SHUFFLE
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.

JULIET’S VERONA
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.

AIGUES MORTES
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

VOLCANIC REMAINS
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.

VILLAGE LIFE
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.

QUIRKY PARIS
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.

MAIELLA MAGIC
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
Portugal

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
France

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
Istanbul, Turkey

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
Barcelona, Spain

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

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
Austria

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
Turkey

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
Slovakia

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
Greece

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
Switzerland

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
Southern France

For many years, we dreamed of escaping to sun-drenched Provence and recently fulfill this fantasy. And our stay at Chateau de Boussargues proves the perfect ‘base camp’ for launching journeys back in time in southern France. “The Romans first grew grapes here…and not long afterward, Christians built that little stone chapel in the woods,” owner Olivier tells us.

UNDER THE EYES OF CAESAR
France

The head emerged from years in its watery grave. If only stone cold eyes could see! The discovery of a true to life bust of Caesar, in the Fall of 2007 along the shore of the Rhone, was appropriately found in southwestern France for here the great man had some of his greatest victories and the hand of Rome pressed most deeply into the land.

THE ETERNAL MYSTERY OF SARDINIA’S NURAGHE
Sardinia, Italy

Down through history, ancient civilizations have left inscrutable and symbolic artifacts for us to ponder and puzzle over. The Nuraghe of Sardinia today are still a complete enigma and the focus of fierce academic and archeological discussions as to their origins and purpose.

CELTIC TRADITION AND SIDERA
Aviles, Spain

The drone of bagpipes echoes up a narrow cobble stone street. You catch a glimpse of a country dancer’s bright white dress across the town square. Not so unusual you say? I would agree if we were enjoying a hot toddy in Edinburgh. But it’s unlikely you’ll hear a Scottish brogue anywhere near here. This is the city of Aviles in the Principality of Asturias Spain.

EXPLORING LANGUEDOC
Southern France

It is May, and the weather remains blissfully warm and dry. Welcome to the Canal du Midi, which crosses Languedoc in the sunny South of France. My wife Annie and I are among only four guests travelling on a lovely hotel barge, the Caroline, as it wends its way slowly westward for six days along one of the world's most remarkable canals.

CASTLES, COW BELLS AND BICYCLES
Kundle, Austria

Never one to follow the beaten path I took the road less traveled and emailed embassies for wood-carving schools across the globe. A reply from the Austrian embassy intrigued me, it told of Kundle, a picturesque town in Austria and a Master Carver.

MAKE A WISH AND MAY IT COME TRUE
Lake Bled, Slovenia

“What is a Pletna,” I asked? “It is a boat similar to a gondola,” he said. “It is about 21 feet long and 6 feet wide and has paddles that are used to propel it. It is used to carry passengers to the Church on Bled Island that is situated in the middle of the lake. ”Lake Bled is in Slovenia, a small Alpine country of a little over 2 million inhabitants located directly south of Austria.

GAUDI’S BARCELONA
Spain

Certainly the buildings were different. Nature, it is said, abhors a straight line. So did Gaudi; the builders, glaziers and carpenters of Barcelona must have hated him. But, we didn’t stop at either of them. We were on our way to the Güell Park, where some of the best of Gaudi’s work is to be seen. Indeed, Gaudi used to live here, in a pink, fairy-tale house which is now the Gaudi Museum.

EMBROIDERING A COLORFUL CROATIAN FESTIVAL
Ðakovo, Croatia

Ðakovo’s biggest traditional festival in the summertime is the Ðakovacki Vezovi which literally means "Ðakovo Embroidery" because Slavonian embroidery is a well-known Croatian craft. The 43-year old festival lasts for 2 weeks. Starting from mid June, people come to Ðakovo to enjoy the best of the Slavonian traditions - delicacies, wines, arts, music and horse breeding.

A CITY OF TWO TALES
Granada, Spain

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.

FOLLOWING MONET’S IMPRESSIONS OF ÉTRETAT
Normandy

I had always dreamed of seeing the scenes Claude Monet portrayed on the canvases with my own eyes. The natural beauty itself is one reason. But the yearning to see through the master’s secrets of colors, brush strokes and representation was even stronger. Normandy was one of the ideal areas to pursue my impressionistic dream.

A SHORT TUSCAN ADVENTURE:Italy
The scent of citrus was in the air. It was mid October and while the Tuscan sun was low in the western sky it still felt warm on my face. I was sure that if I closed my eyes I would be a witness to the sounds and the sights of medieval farmers returning from the rolling hills to the safety of this walled city. Since the 13th century the walls of San Gimignano have served as the safe haven from marauding hordes.

A VISIT TO THE VENETIAN CASTLES OF THE PELOPONNESE
Greece

Hidden on the slopes of a great rock known as the Gibraltar of Greece, Monemvasia is one of those rare treasures that tourists usually by-pass. It's a magical experience visiting this little medieval site. The entire town is walled and invisible from the shore. The steep rock, crowned with its Venetian fortress, is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway.

RHODES LESS TRAVELED
Rhodes Island, Greece

Despite its size, Rhodes is an Island of understated charms. Ask sometone to name a famous Acropolis and the answer will doubtless be Athens. Enquire of a Greek party island and they are likely to respond with Mykonos. Yet unbeknown to many, Rhodes has its own ancient ruins to rival the mainland capital, as well as its own dusk-till-dawn party town.

WHEN IN ROME
Rome, Italy

We had arrived in Rome yesterday, and in a spasm of enthusiasm Leah and I signed up for a personal guided tour of the city. As I lie stiffly in the cramped hotel bed, basting in perspiration, I dimly recall signing up for an eight o’clock walking tour. It’s now seven. I am disoriented, and the elephant tap-dancing on my head suggests a mammoth hangover.

ROMAN POMPEII - SUSPENDED IN TIME
Italy

August 23,79 AD was just a regular day in flourishing Pompeii. Toga-robed citizens traded their goods, discussed politics, exchanged gossip and visited places of worship. Just three days later everything suddenly changed when she vanished completely! Entombed for 1500 years by the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii is now one of Europe’s best-preserved archaeological sites.

PILGRIMAGE TO DELPHI
Greece

I set off from Athens on a morning when Zeus was tossing about his thunder bolts and a torrential rain filled the gutters with gushing streams ankle deep. I didn’t let that deter me and boarded the bus for Delphi, a three hour trip north into the mountains.

THE BLUE EYED MUMMIES OF AMASYA
Turkey

I saw the picture first and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the image of a baby boy mummy staring at me with wide open blue eyes. It was part of a brochure about the archaeology museum in the fabulous mountain town of Amasya, located about 100 miles south inland from the Turkish Black Sea coast.

FEAST OF ST. RUPERT
Salzburg, Austria

My congested breath puffs out in visible clouds as I lumber down the trail from my hostel. In my hazy, fever-induced state, it takes me a while to clue in that large groups of people are headed in the same direction, toward Salzburg’s Altstadt (Old Town). I Underneath the looming hilltop fortress, the town is quaint, baroque, and lit up like Vegas.

GETTING INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
Nuremberg, Germany

This city of half a million people might really overwhelm you the first time you venture into it. But because many of the city’s major attractions are within its old city walls and because of its very user-friendly and extensive public transport system, Nuremberg soon becomes small town manageable.

INSIGHTS FROM TUSCANY - THE ART OF SIMPLICITY
Prato, Italy

It strikes me that aside from the bicycle horn, the only sound I hear on this small street in Tuscany is the foreign chatter of a content population. It is as if the harsh industrial world of machinery, pollution, and environmental distress has been left at the town border.

BAROQUE BEAUTY, MODERN MARVEL
Valletta, Malta

Valletta, a city “Built by Gentlemen for Gentleman”, has received the ultimate accolade. It has the distinction of being known by the Maltese, as Il-Belt. Where else in the world does one find a UNESCO World Heritage Site, christened Superbissima by the rest of Europe immediately it was built, being referred to as ‘The City’ in so laid-back a manner?

EXPLORING BAKU
Azerbaijan

I lived in Baku, Azerbaijan for over 20 years. But I rediscovered the city for myself once again when I was guiding a guest from Switzerland around. As I showed him the landmarks and told him the related history, explaining their meaning, I fell in love all over again with my city.

ITALY - ENCHANTING LUCCA
Tuscany, Italy

Being an opera lover, I decide to visit Lucca in 2008 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Maestro Puccini in his home town. Little did I know that my day in Lucca would turn out to be a chain of dramatic and emotional events just like scenes from an Italian opera.

DRESDEN CHURCHES, SURVIVORS OF WWII
Germany

Rising from the Heap of World War II destruction in Dresden, Germany, are three magnificent churches. The subject of the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse-Five describes walking amongst the ruins as if walking on the moon. Recently, I visited three of these Dresden churches, survivors of the World War II destruction.

THE SURREAL LIFE
Catalonia, Spain

A house with a dragon’s back. Lantern-lit trees with eerie faces. Turrets made of giant eggs. It may sound like a fairy tale kingdom, but it all actually exists in Catalonia. The seemingly unreal certainly abounds in the capital city of Barcelona and surrounding communities.

PAYING IN WORDS FOR A PRICELESS EXPERIENCE
Avila, Spain

You lie back on the crisp, cool sheets of your king-sized bed. Your room is spacious and elegant
a television, writing desk, and telephone are among the amenities provided. Do you think this type of extravagance is out of the typical student’s budget?

MUSEUM UNDER OPEN SKY
Azerbaijan, Gobustan


Starting our trip from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan with my brother I head south. The road along the beautiful shore of the Caspian Sea leads to Gobustan, one of the famous historical and mystic landmarks of the country. As children we were taken there once by our parents.

THE CIDER ROUTE IN NORMANDY
France

“Normandy is proud of their apple trees,” my French friend told me. There was certainly ample truth in it as the Cider Route (La Route du Cidre) was proposed in 1973 to let people discover and appreciate the great quality of the wine in the region of Pays d’Auge.

A DAY-TRIP TO TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY
The Amalfi Coast, Italy

Few scenes on earth are as spectacular as the Amalfi Coast which stretches from Sorrento to Salerno. Combine sparkling blue-green water, rugged cliffs, a hair-raising bus ride, a leisurely boat ride and stunning little towns like Positano, Amalfi and Ravello and you have one breathtaking sight after another.

ISLAND OF SEAFARERS
Kefalonia, Greece

When Juan de Fuca sailed his ship up the Pacific coast of western Canada, into the Straits now named for him, I wonder if he felt a pang of homesickness for his native home, Kefalonia, Greece. Juan de Fuca, whose real name was Iannis Focus, was born in Kefalonia during the reign of the Venetians in 1550, and later went to sea in the service of Spain, on a quest to find the passage that links the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

A MEDICAL MARVEL
Kos, Greece


Visitors to the Greek island of Kos might be unaware when they arrive of the historical importance of this island but in between enjoying the glorious sunshine, warm waters and beautiful views you cannot go far without stumbling across ancient ruins and landmarks.

CYCLING IN BRUSSELS - “A VÉLO, MESDAMES! Belgium
It was ‘car-free Sunday’ when I arrived in Brussels. From dawn till dusk, no motorized vehicles were allowed into the city centre, apart from public transport. The streets filled up with smiling happy cyclists, trikers, Nordic walkers, roller-bladers, joggers and strollers. What a great opportunity to explore my new surroundings!

TORCELLO - THE FORGOTTEN VENICE
Italy

Six miles from Venice. across a vast stretch of water, lies a mysterious relic of a bygone era. the precursor of Venice – Torcello. It was here. on this remote and neglected island. that Venice’s path of destiny began with the creation of an original blueprint of itself.

OSTIA ANTICA - THE OTHER POMPEII
Italy

In the early sixties, I had explored Pompeii. Now, over 40 years later, my husband and I set out to investigate Ostia Antica
the other Pompeii. After arriving at the Ostia Metro station, we strolled the few blocks to the entrance. Ahead of us lay the mile-long Decumanus Maximus, the main drag of its day.

THE TRADITION, THE JOY AND THE JAZZ CONTINUE
At The Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy

The morning light strikes the 13th Century Italian city of Perugia, not like a symphonic chord, but rather like a series of soft notes, slowly turning the grey cobblestones pink and gold as the Umbrian sun rises over the ancient buildings. The jazz arrives in a similar fashion.

FRANCE
Biking On The Canal Du Midi

We were planning a long camping trip to France. We had dreamed for years of hiring a boat on the Canal du Midi but were always put off by the expense, so my partner came up with the idea of cycling its length
inexpensive, a good way to see the countryside, meet the people and great exercise.

WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE
Rome, Italy

I have heard that Fausto delle Chiaie displays his work every day in Rome’s Piazza Augusto Imperatore, between Emperor Augustus’ Mausoleum and the Ara Pacis Museum, and I have come to seek him out. He turns and looks quizzically at me.

RETURN TO SARAJEVO
Bosnia-Herzegovina

I looked up through the clear blue sky as the commercial jet flew high over the valley. It was 2004 and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina was still suffering from the scars of the 1990s war. Progress had been made, buildings rebuilt, and people were moving on with their lives. I had hoped then to come back again one day.

RUBBING OFF LUCK AT A TURKISH WEDDING
Turkey

I was thrilled, when I was recently invited to a Turkish wedding. The invitation immediately raised an important question
what gift to take? Tradition requires the guests to give money or gold or both. Luckily, every jeweller has a selection of gold coins, adorned with a red silk bow and a pin for just that occasion. That’s it. No wedding list, no towels or toasters.

A TURKISH DELIGHT - EXPLORING BODRUM AND FETHIYE
Turkey
My friend and I arrived at Bodrum by ferry from the Greek island of Kos. Bodrum is a beautiful bustling tourist centre. The harbour is dominated by the impressive Castle of St. Peter built by the Knights of St. John. Magnificent yachts from all over the world are anchored there.

THE ICON PAINTER
Greece

The success of the movie Angels and Demons has had a major impact on sightseeing in Rome. The cost usually exceeds €50 per person. Alternatively, you can take the two-day “do-it-yourself” tour and visit all of the movie locations.

A “DO-IT-YOURSELF” ANGELS AND DEMONS TOUR OF ROME
Italy

The success of the movie Angels and Demons has had a major impact on sightseeing in Rome. The cost usually exceeds €50 per person. Alternatively, you can take the two-day “do-it-yourself” tour and visit all of the movie locations.

MAKING CHRISTMAS MEMORABLE
Germany

Christmas in Germany is taken really seriously and has much historical significance. Decorated Christmas trees originated in Germany in the 16th century when Christians started bringing decorated fir trees into their homes.

DODGING BANDITS
Sardinia

“Are you sure this is wise?” he had asked. I was engrossed in reading The Rough Guide
‘ … bandit capital … between 1901 and 1954, Orgosolo - population 4,000 – clocked up an average of one murder every two months.’ Always the adventurer, I dismissed his worry. “Of course it’s wise,” I reassured him.

HIKING MOUNT GOLICA
Slovenia

Slovenia, located south of Austria, is an alpine country with plenty of mountains and places to hike. Hiking trails in the valleys and in the mountains attract visitors from all over the world.

THE CLIFF SIDE TEMPLE TOMBS OF FETHIYE
Turkey

Ever since I saw pictures of them in the National Geographic years before, I’ve dreamed of visiting the Lycian tombs at Fethiye, Turkey. But can I reach them? I’m already exhausted from the 40C heat and the long slope I’ve walked up from the town.

AN AFTERNOON WITH THE ROMANS
Turkey

Joining other excited history buffs, my husband, daughter and I leave Kusadasi’s docks and head into Turkey’s arid northwestern hills. As archeology-student guide Tino sets the scene, we roll along through pastoral countryside dotted with fig and apricot trees, Mediterranean pines and olive groves…

TENERIFE - A FUN-FILLED FIESTA
Canary Islands, Spain

While whizzing along Tenerife's scenic west coast, a sea of flags and gently swaying streamers entices us to stop. It was a fiesta in honour of La Virgen de Candelaria, the Canary Islands patron saint. A coastal town, Alcala changed its name to Candelaria (meaning Candle Mass) when the saint’s image was washed up Chimisay beach.

FINDING INSPIRATION AT THE TEMPLE OF OLYMPIAN ZEUS
Athens, Greece

It was warm for Athens in October, really warm. The sun was intense, and my feet tired from touring the Acropolis the day before. as I headed to visit the largest temple of antiquity, The Temple of Olympian Zeus. I had spied on the awe-inspiring collection of columns from high atop the Acropolis the day before and could not wait to get a close-up look.

APOLLO ORACLE
Didim,Turkey

Will the oracle talk to me? Will the Medusa turn me to stone? I laugh at myself, as these thoughts go through my mind while I trudge up the steep road which leads from my holiday place in Didim, about 150 miles south of Izmir on the west coast of Turkey to the complex of the oracle in Didiyma about 3 miles away.

EMBROIDERING A COLORFUL CROATIAN FESTIVAL
Ðakovo, Croatia

The 43-year old festival lasts for two weeks. Starting from mid June, people come to Ðakovo to enjoy the best of the Slavonian traditions - delicacies, wines, arts, music and horse breeding. The last day of the celebration, always a Sunday, attracts the largest crowd. The grand day this year was on July 5.

CELEBRATING MALTESE HERITAGE
Mdina’s Flower and Pageantry Festival

They call it “The Silent City,” but Mdina in the tiny Mediterranean country of Malta is anything but silent on this April day. It’s Mdina’s (pronounced Medina which is Arabic for city) annual flower and pageantry festival, marking the beginning of spring and also commemorating the warlike history of this alluring walled settlement.

VISITING ISTANBUL ONE DAY WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA
Istanbul, Turkey

Last April, I was in Istanbul when United States President Obama paid a visit to the city. We followed the same itinerary, except I didn’t have the political meetings that Obama had. It was Obama’s first visit to a country where ninety percent of the people are Muslim. I am there on my second visit to the city to write about how it has changed in the last ten years.

LOVER’S SPAT WITH THE ETERNAL CITY
Rome, Italy

I love Rome so much I live there two months every year. But last year, Roma morphed from lover to spouse who no longer strived to satisfy, much less delight me. I did not have an aha! moment, that moved my passion for Roma to the echoes of Medieval bells and memories of riso gelato. It was good while it lasted. And then it was over.

VENICE, MISTRESS OF THE SEAS
Venice, Italy

Venice is a city dappled with light, tremulous and flashing, shimmering gently beneath the bridges and seeping into the shadowy lanes. Once known as Serenissima, the most Serene Republic, for centuries the sun shimmering on gilded domes and pinnacles, the soft splash of the gondoliers' poles ...

GRONINGEN, A VERY DUTCH CITY
Groningen, The Netherlands

It’s Sunday morning and Groningen is still sleeping. A huge number of bikes are locked everywhere, the streets are quite deserted and the shops closed. Only a few hours ago the atmosphere was completely different
pubs and discos were crowded with people, streets were full of boys and girls walking across the town or getting something to eat at one of the ambulant food sellers.

WELCOME TO THE REALM OF HADES AND PERSEPHONE, THE ORACLE OF THE DEAD
Greece

The boat cuts a silent swathe through the jade coloured water of the narrow river. I imagine crocodiles lurking in the shallows. And surely those tangled boughs that dip into the murky surface shelter coiled serpents ready to strike. I spot several turtles basking in the morning sun on a submerged log. But though there may well have been crocodiles here in by-gone times, and undoubtedly there are snakes among the reeds, this is a river in Greece.

THE OASIS
Poperinge, Belgium

From the outside, No. 43, Gasthuisstraat, in the Belgian town of Poperinge looks like a typical 18th Century town-house of a type commonly found in the Low Countries, but, it’s famous world-wide. I was in Poperinge researching an article about the war, and wanted to see the building my Grandfather had often spoken of.

WALKING THE WALLS INTO ANTIQUITY
Dubrovnik, Croatia

My husband and I had one goal in mind when we visited Croatia
to stroll Dubrovnik’s magnificent walls. But first, we had to immerse ourselves into the atmosphere of that ancient city that had come into existence between AD 598 and 615.

PASSEGGIATA
Strolling Through Italy

In Italy, life proceeds at its own pace and with its own rhythm. When a hotel manager says that the room will be ready, “In ten minutes,” he doesn’t mean by the clock. He means, “In a little while,” an indeterminate amount of time. Maybe it will be soon but more likely later. Once we accept this, we relax.

A ROYAL SCHOOL FOR NOBLE BOYS - MIEZA
Macedonia, Greece

Located near the royal city of Pella, Alexander and his chosen companions were sent there to study under the tutelage of the eminent philosopher Aristotle. There could not have been a better teacher for the future king of Macedon, who would in time become known as Alexander the Great.

THE CRADLE OF HISTORY
Gibraltar, Europe

Gibraltar is visited by millions of tourists each year; many to enjoy the sea and the sunshine, whilst others demand something a little different from their visit to the former British colony. Getting to grips with the history of its turbulent past provides an excellent backdrop from which to enjoy the many sights and attractions which lend themselves to Gibraltar’s present.

CYCLING THE DUTCH CAPITAL
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

From edgy contemporary art to classic architecture to modern engineering marvels, the city has something for everyone. The best way to see this wide array of sights is by bike, the primary mode of transport in Holland and without argument the most efficient.

VENICE, MISTRESS OF THE SEAS
Venice, Italy

It is my first morning in Venice and I am anxious to explore her ancient promenades. Venice is a city dappled with light, tremulous and flashing, shimmering gently beneath the bridges and seeping into the shadowy lanes.

THE GHOST CITY OF MYSTRA
Greece

Mystra, a ghost city near the Peloponnese city of Sparta, dates from the Byzantine period. Usually I prefer exploring the Classical or Bronze Age sites of Greece. But who can ignore a mother’s guidance? I packed my tent and began the five-hour trip to Mystra at the bus terminal in Athens.

MILL POWER
WINDMILLS THROUGH HISTORY
Europe

Windmills first appeared in Persia in about the 7th Century AD, but were unknown in Britain until the end of the 12th Century, when the idea was brought to northern Europe by the Crusaders. They spread rapidly, for windmills and water mills were the first machines used by Man which didn't depend on his own strength, or that of his animals.

AWAY FROM HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Athens, Greece

Christmas in 1983 was the first time I had ever spent Christmas away from my family. I couldn’t have been any farther away from Vancouver, Canada than Athens, Greece. It looked as though it would be a dismal time. Donald and Barry became my saviors, cheering me with their Irish humor and lively music.

A PLACE FOR DREAMERS
Bologna, Italy

One of the last big cities left in Italy that refuses to cater to the influx of tourists, Bologna packs as much culture into its winding vias and shady piazzas as its more popular cousins, Rome and Florence. There is a potent feeling of opportunity that hangs in the air, a vibrancy and excitement for life that radiates from the young residents of this college community.

DEATH AND DOLCE IN THE DOLOMITES
Italy

Here I was, in a cramped machine-gun post 8,000 feet up on Lagazuoi in the Italian Dolomites, where ninety years previously the Austrians had defended their Alps front line against Italians who had joined the war on the side of the Entente Powers.

A REMEMBRANCE DAY MEMORIAL
Ypres, Belgium

The author of the poignant, well-known poem 'In Flanders Fields' was Lt. Col. John Alexander McCrae, a soldier from Guelph Ontario. And still today, on Remembrance Day, November 11th, this beautiful poem resonates to remind us all of the tragedy of war.

WALLPECKERS - CHIPPING AWAY A PIECE OF HISTORY
Berlin

"In Berlin we don’t have woodpeckers; we have wallpeckers," Eva, a native Berliner, tells me. "People come to the Berlin Wall with picks and hammers trying to take home a piece of history." I can understand why. I have thought about doing this myself. Why pay twenty Euro dollars for a small piece of the wall when you can get your own much larger piece free?

A FORMER SOVIET CITY WITH AN EUROPEAN HEART
Riga, Latvia

In 1997, the old town of Riga was made a World Heritage site by Unesco. I explored those neat streets in a cold November afternoon. Old buildings and beautiful monuments stood behind every corner. I crossed the Daugava river to have a look at the wonderful skyline of this city, which impressed me with its sharp and long towers.

SEARCHING FOR ALEXANDER
Thessaloniki, Greece

By the harbour in Thessaloniki, stands a magnificent statue of the young warrior-king, Alexander the Great, astride his fabled horse Bucephalus. I first became acquainted with Alexander when I was in my teens and he has become part in my life. I have realized a dream, coming to northern Greece to trace his footsteps.

HIKING THE SAMARIA GORGE
A SENSORY EXPERIENCE
Crete, Greece

From the moment I reached the threshold of the trail leading through the Samaria Gorge, on Crete, I became acutely aware of the limitations of conveying my experience in text or on film. The sheer magnitude of this landscape is impossible to capture in a photo or even in words. And yet my camera lens was resilient when it came to struggling to capture the pristine vistas or vivid colours of the floral and fauna.

THE FORTIFIED CITY
Nauplion, Greece

On my first visit to Nauplion, in 1978, I recall it only as a dusty little town dominated by an impressive citadel, with a small Venetian fortress out in the Bay. Recently, on a quest to explore Greece‘s medieval past, I decided to return there. What I learned was that Nauplion has been a fortified city since the Bronze Age, and an important part of Greece’s history of the struggle for independence.

THE GHETTO OF VENICE
A Visit to Judaism’s Historic Past

Traveling in Europe, from Spain to Germany there are remnants of lost civilizations with little signs of current Jewish life. Of course there are exceptions, but they just do not seem to balance out the wealth of synagogues that have been turned into museums or churches. However, when I arrived in Italy, I discovered a pulse of Jewish life.

WALL POEMS
Leiden, Holland

As I walked in the historic center of Leiden, the Netherlands, I noticed some words written on a wall. It was neither a commercial advertisement nor a street sign. As I stepped closer I had a wonderful surprise
it was a poem. “The poems, which were written in many different languages, are meant to be for everybody” the initiators of this project explained.

PIERREFONDS GOTHIC GEM
Valois, France

We were driving in the old province of Valois, France. Ahead was a shimmering castle with pot-bellied turrets that crowned a lush meandering coppice. With such rich pickings is it any wonder that these springy-floored footpaths, roads and hills rising to hundreds of feet, were once the favorite hunting ground of emperors and kings?

IVORY AS ART
Erbach, Germany

In the central German town of Erbach Count Franz I of Erbach brought a new skill to his subjects - the art of ivory carving. In 1783, he founded the Ivory Carvers Guild of Erbach. The town rapidly moved toward prosperity, testimony of which is given by the town itself and the local museums.

POURQUOI?
Oswiecim, Poland

It was the beginning of February and the weather was predictably Polish; snowing and –10 degrees C. It stopped snowing on my arrival at the small town of Oswiecim, which was a quaint and isolated town for most of its 700 years history until the twentieth century when it gained notoriety by its German name, Auschwitz.

THE OLYMPICS ... RUNNING NAKED FOR THE OLIVE CROWN
Olympia, Greece

This year, the Games of the XXIX Olympiad are being held in Beijing, China. As in the past, athletes from all over the world will compete for the gold medals. The first competition held at Olympia, was nothing to do with going for the gold. In fact, it was a chariot race that would determine who would win the hand of a beautiful princess, and inherit her father’s kingdom.

THE MINOANS
Knossos, Greece

The eruption of the volcano of Santorini, in the Aegean Sea, in 1450 BC, has been the subject of many television documentaries. I’ve been curious about the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos, on nearby Crete, ever since I visited Santorini. Was a whole civilization centred upon Knossos really wiped out at a stroke by the eruption of the volcano and the resultant tsunami in?

MARKET DAY
Vushtrri, Kosovo

In Vushtrri, market day is always on Friday. I followed the old man down the steps and into the traffic circle, which was jammed with trucks, their beds piled with potatoes and other vegetables, but most of all—now that winter had begun—with cabbages. More trucks were arriving behind us, and they drove up onto the sidewalks and circled us like a wagon train under siege.

AN EASTER PILGRIMAGE
Patmos, Greece

Patmos, a small island with about 2,000 residents, is one of the Greek Dodecanese Islands near the Turkish coast. It was once noted for its shipbuilding and trade and many of the traditional mansions have been restored. Today Patmos is known mainly for the Monastery of St. John the Theologian and for the pilgrimage at Easter, which attracts visitors from all over the world.