May 072010
 
Um, So I Think I Just Saw the Holy Grail?

“Hey dude,” slurred my British dorm-mate as he climbed into his hostel bunk for the night, “Did you see the Holy Grail yet?”

“Wait, WHAT!” I exclaimed, “the Holy Grail is in Valencia, Spain? The magical cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper?!”

“That’s what they say,” the boy mumbled as his eyelids began to droop. “It’s in the little room to the right in the Valencia Cathedral. Don’t [...Read More!]

Apr 292010
 
The Most Beautiful Building I’ve Seen in a Looong Time

Come, walk with me.

You have likely seen pictures of the world-famous Mezquita of Cordoba, Spain, have you not?

Are you already familiar with those arches upon arches of striped white and russet red?

Well, today is the day you will see it in the flesh, you lucky duck!

Step one: Identify that the entrance ticket to the the Mezquita is free if you show up before ten in the morning, but also identify that [...Read More!]

Mar 062010
 
Independence, Development, and a School Toilet

Happy fifty-third Ghanaian Independence Day!!!

Though Ghana was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to declare its independence from colonial rule, having a “birth date” of 1957 still makes Ghana a relatively young nation.

In contrast, my natal country of America declared its independence in 1776. This may be one reason I’ve been thinking a ton lately about how countries at different stages of “development” compare. But sometimes it’s hard [...Read More!]

Jan 192010
 
Cape Coast Slave Castle

It is true: seeing remnants of the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade is an utterly different experience in Africa than in America.

Throughout our lives as Americans, we study slavery and its legacy, reading textbooks, going to museums, hearing guest speakers, writing reports, and seeing movies. It rips your heart out, but America must never stop remembering!

When you enter the doors of Cape Coast slave castle in Ghana, however, you realize: there [...Read More!]

Dec 312009
 
Touring Florence 2: The David!

We all fell in love today. How could we not? Michelangelo’s David is stunning.

You see the photos everywhere, and you don’t really care. Meh– just another curly-haired naked dude, right? But listen: if you pay the ten Euro entrance fee to actually see Michelangelo’s David sculpture in person, you WILL feel as if you’ve gotten your money’s worth, and more.

Here is a smattering of guidebook facts and [...Read More!]

Dec 302009
 
Touring Florence, Part 1!

Attention: If you are planning a long Round the World voyage, I urge you to arrange some way for your family to meet you halfway through your trip, halfway between where you are and they are!

Words cannot express how happy I am right now to be reunited with my family this week!!!

Bless their jetlagged selves, my mother, father, and brother searched the cheapest tickets they could find to Europe (halfway to [...Read More!]

Dec 292009
 
Observations About Rome in December

What beautiful and fascinating sights might you see if you wandered the chilly cobblestones of Rome in late December?

Take a peek…

1. Ruins preserved smack-dab in the center of a living metropolis. It’s heartbreaking if you think about it: Ancient Rome was the greatest civilization around, and yet it crumbled.

Today, in the middle of this thriving city, we still stare at the ancient kingdom’s rubble.

Doesn’t it give you an icy shiver, reminding [...Read More!]

Oct 262009
 
John McCain’s Hanoi Prison, Today!

Across from the glass case holding the uniform John McCain was wearing when he was shot down (pictured, right), Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi has a sign that reads as follows:

“United States government carried out a sabotage warfare by air force and naval force against the North of Vietnam from 05 August 1964 to 15 January 1973. Thousands of planes were shot down, and hundreds of U.S. pilots were [...Read More!]

Oct 252009
 
Vietnam’s Spunk!

Yes, that IS a giant octopus piled on top of a moving motorcycle in the photo to the left.

“Remember,” said Ahmar, speaking from his ten months living in Hanoi, “Vietnam has spent most of its history fighting invaders– from the Chinese, to the French, to us Americans. It’s not surprising that the people have… spunk.”

I nodded enthusiastically, so happy that this friend of a friend of a friend [...Read More!]

Oct 242009
 
Halong Bay is Nuts

Insane, magical, breathtaking, nuts, bonkers, gorgeous– Halong Bay, Vietnam is all these things and then some.

This stunning spot is about three hours from Hanoi, and is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Vietnam. Take a one, two, or three-day boat trip through the sapphire waters between the two thousand limestone tower-islands and feel that magic “OHHH!” as the caws and shrieks of monkeys and birds echo from [...Read More!]