Derry: Faith, Violence, and a Hope for Peace

Derry (Londonderry), Northern Ireland I just left Derry yesterday afternoon, well before the violence occurred late last night. My time here was spent learning about The Troubles during the last half of the 20th century. For 30 years, the tragedies of fighting, suppression, revolt, and loss multiplied. Efforts to establish peace were highlighted with the…

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A Travel Angel at the Vatican: Exploring the Papal City-State with the Wife of a Swiss Guard

So often when I travel, I feel like the universe conspires in my favor. Perhaps I’m inclined to be more open to adventure and opportunities that come my way, or maybe, because I seek those moments, I recognize them more readily. Or perhaps there truly is a divine hand at work that guides me towards people and circumstances that stretch and shape me for the better. Whatever the reason, in that chapel and in that moment, I knew precisely how fortunate I was, and I was grateful.

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Rome by the Dozen: 12 Images of The Eternal City

Anyone who’s ever been to Rome knows that it’s impossible to contain all of its magnificence in a handful of photos, but that doesn’t stop most travelers from trying. There are (quite literally) millennia of things to see, explore, taste, and experience in this city that was once the center of the largest empire in…

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Germany

Confession time: I’m a last-minute packer, sometimes finishing up just hours before a flight. Fortunately, I pack so often that I’ve got my incomprehensible-to-most system down pat. On most trips, procrastination serves as stimulus to “get ‘er done.” Rare is it that something needed is forgotten at home. I get to the airport with sufficient…

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How to Find Great Values in Venice

Centuries-old former palaces crackle and peel away in the thick, briny air. Bottom floors of old merchants’ warehouses sit empty and still cling half-heartedly to their romantic patina of a time long past, slowly but beautifully decaying under the Venetian heat, humidity, and rising waters. As I glide down the canal on a slow vaporetto,…

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Best of Europe: On the Rhine

For 21 days, Rick and I are tour members on one of his own tours: The Best of Europe. We’re trying to combine vacation with quality control and research.  And it’s going great! Join us as we traipse from the Netherlands to Germany, Austria to Italy, and Switzerland to France with a terrific tour guide,…

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The Best of Europe: The Netherlands

For 21 days, Rick and I are tour members on one of his own tours: the Best of Europe. We’re trying to combine vacation with quality control and research. And it’s going great! Join us as we traipse from the Netherlands to Germany, Austria to Italy, and Switzerland to France with a terrific tour guide and…

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Scandinavian Slices of Life

Leaving our ship that morning in Stockholm–and leaving 3000 tourists–Rick Steves and I found ourselves alone in the middle of a great city with only 5 hours until we needed to be back on the ship.  Abba, the harbor walk, the National Gallery, Swedish meatballs…how would we pack all the experiences into our memory banks…

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