"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 W. Ruth Kozak



CULTURE
SPAIN

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.
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JAPAN

I first heard of cormorant fishing in infant school, sitting cross-legged on the floor and listening in wonder as our grey-haired teacher recounted her travels through exotic lands. Her tale of seeing the cormorants fish in Japan has stayed with me. It was a story belonging to an enchanted time when magical things could happen.
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GERMANY

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.
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ITALY

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..
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USA

Las Vegas has always oozed glitz and glamour with its multitude of casinos, top entertainers and high rollers. But, no more than in the days of the Rat Pack, Liberace and Elvis, when millions of visitors flocked to a booming Las Vegas – often referred to as “Glitter Gulch” in its heyday. Even today, as people close their eyes and think of Las Vegas, nothing comes to mind more often than those magnificent, pulsing multi-colored neon signs in the middle of the desert.
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IRAN

If you ask an Iranian, how was the Festival of Fire in your childhood, he may answer you, I loved it, I loved to play with the fire, to jump over it, to measure myself with the other children, who could jump higher and wider and to stay awake all night long. I remember many years ago when I was a little boy we just had the fire and firecrackers were a rarity.
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FRANCE

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.
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KENTUCKY

Shakers starting arriving at Pleasant Hill somewhere around 1805. As early as 1816 they were producing enough surpluses of brooms, preserves, packaged seeds and other products to begin regular trading trips to New Orleans. By the mid-1850s it was home to approximately 600 Shakers occupying 250 buildings and almost 2800 acres of land.
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