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La Semana Santa in Spain

If you’re in North America or northern Europe this weekend, chances are any holiday celebrations going on around you involve eggs, chocolate and perhaps a bunny rabbit or two. In Spain, Portugal and former Spanish colonies, however, Easter is marked by processions of religious penitents, who march through the streets of their cities wearing elaborate costumes and carrying litters bearing statues of Jesus and other religious figures. I was lucky enough to experience Semana Santa in Spain one year while I was studying abroad. For the weeks leading up to the  holiday, my neighborhood thrummed nightly to the sounds of penitents practicing the drums they would beat to keep time when they marched during Easter. On the days of the […]

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Photo Tour: Greece

Though not every traveler stops in Athens, maybe they should. The Greek capital is dusty, crowded and–during much of the year–hot, but it’s a crazy, wonderful feeling to stride through the lanes that lead up to the Parthenon, to seek out a gyros in the afternoon after wandering through millenia worth of antiquities, and to meet the modern-day urban dwellers who now live where European civilization arguably began. Let your holidays to Greece begin in Athens! Top attractions in Athens are the Acropolis (of course), the Roman forums, the National Archeological Museum, and the Byzantine Museum. After sampling the capital, move on to the islands. Let the stresses of your day-to-day ebb away in the warm twilight of a Santorini […]

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Discovering Crete

Why go to Crete? This romantic island has been a destination for travelers for thousands of years. Its appeal is partially timeless: sun and sea; and partially based on time: even ancient history feels like it breathes here. It’s the largest of Greece’s many islands, but, to many visitors, Crete feels much smaller. Crete flights land at a modern, international airport near Heraklion, the capital. Heraklion makes a good base for travelers who are hoping to explore the rest of the island by car or bus, and who wish to find boat service to nearby islands. Who would enjoy Crete? Let’s take a look: Got kids? Aquaworld Aquarium is a big hit with the little ones, according to reviews on TripAdvisor. In […]

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Carnival Celebrations Around the World

Who doesn’t love a street party? Today is Fat Tuesday–the last day before the holiday of Lent begins and probably the day of the year that sees the most street parties. From Mardi Gras in New Orleans, to Carnival in Brazil, the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday are a time of happy celebration for people in  many countries around the world. For some, it’s the last chance to shake loose before the fasting, contemplation and penitence of Lent. For others, it’s the first opportunity to celebrate the end of winter. So, in honor of Mardi Gras, go get a beaded necklace, visualize a flower-covered street parade float and take a look at some photos of the beautiful and elaborate […]

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Photo Tour: Costa Rica

Photo tours give me a chance to list all the reasons why I loved visiting (or would love to visit) a place. Today, we’re looking at sunny, gorgeous, Costa Rica and why it’s on my travel wish-list. Clear water, interesting dive sites, cool underwater critters…everything I read says Costa Rica’s the place to be under the sea. I did visit Costa Rica as a kid, though, sadly, long before I got my Open Water certification. Geology never fails to fascinate me. From the knobby karst hills of southern China to the sloping loess of the Palouse in Idaho, the contours of the land beneath our feet are as endlessly interesting as they are diverse. Volcanic formations, then, are high on […]

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Sweet Travel Treats

Do you have a sweet tooth? After a hard day of beach-combing, looking at museums or meeting new people,  there are times when a bit of dessert hits the spot. Here are some of my favorite tasty sweets from around the world: One of my all-time favorite treats on a hot day in Southeast Asia, I could eat an ice kachang any time of day. (You’ll find it called different things in different countries, but almost always translated into English as ice kachang or spelled in Malaysian as ais kachang). Start with a healthy bowl of shaved ice, then add dried, preserved or fresh fruit; syrup; red beans; corn; coconut noodles; and more. My favorite memory? Watching tourist kids dig […]

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West Ireland: A Perfect Summer Travel Destination

If you adore white sand beaches, deep brown tans, and tropical drinks, then summer will provide you with a surfeit of vacation destinations. For a sun disciple, “summer vacation” means “the beach,” and going anywhere the temperature doesn’t top 90 would be a total waste of time in the sun. And that’s great. Because when everyone else heads off to the beach, it leaves more options for travelers who prefer hiking shoes to flip-flops, stout to margaritas, and slipping on a light jacket to basting up with sun-oil to suffer the glare of day’s eye. A coastal trail at Howth, near Dublin. Photo by Beth Green If you are seeking a temperate summer destination, you’d do well to visit Ireland, […]

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Travel Tips

Communicating on the Road

About this time last year, there was a news story that caught my eye: A backpacker from Washington State had gone missing in South America. Her family in the US hadn’t heard from her since Tuesday. It was the weekend. They were worried. And, with good reason. With all of the available technology today, in many destinations it’s not hard to stay as connected when you’re on the road as you do when you’re in your hometown. In many cases, you can even use your smartphone’s data plans abroad if you’re willing to pay for the privilege. So it makes sense that, when this backpacker’s family didn’t hear from her, they were perturbed. Luckily, in the end she was OK. […]

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Travel Inspiration: Discover Mexico

Some of my first travel memories are from Mexico: standing in the surf as a toddler, staring fascinated at iguanas, eating helados from the beach vendors. I haven’t made it back to Mexico as an adult yet, but it’s on my sooner-rather-than-later travel list. Some of the things I want to discover there are historic: the imposing ruins at Chichen Itza, the zocalos of towns conquered by the Spanish in their bloody takeover, the vastness of ancient Teotihuacan. But other attractions are naturally made: the diverse, pristine coastline and islands and the Mesoamerican reef that runs along its Caribbean shore; the Barrancas del Cobre, sinuous copper canyons in Chihuahua; the Monarch butterfly reserves in Michoacan. Still others are man-made, created […]

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Maldives–The Ultimate Beach Holiday

If you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday, then the Maldives Islands may just be the ticket. Lying 400 kilometers southwest of India, this double chain of 26 atolls features beautiful coral reefs, pristine white, sandy beaches and glistening ocean. In a word, it’s paradise. But if you’re not sold on spending a whole week lazing on the beach – then here are five things to do while holidaying in this tropical getaway. With  breathtaking coral reefs, crystal clear water and a climate that’s warm year-round, the Maldives have become one of the world’s most popular diving destinations. Dive with  sharks or manta rays, drift with the current or dive on the wrecks of the Victory or the British Loyalty. […]

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