Santorini: Between the Sea and the Cosmos

Traditionally known in Greek as Thira (or Thera in Classic Greek), this island, which is part of a caldera born from a massive volcanic eruption 3600 years ago, didn’t get its more commonly known of Santorini until about eight centuries ago. Conquered and dominated over the millennia by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, the Latin Empire,…

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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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Bienvenido a Havana: Cuba at First Glance

Weary from 14 hours of travel (in the middle seat of three different airplanes from Seattle to Mexico City to Havana), my body longed for a simple bed to sleep in, but my mind was awhirl with anticipation of a trip of a lifetime. Rick, his son Andy, his daughter Jackie, and I were Cuba-bound,…

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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: There’s No Place Like Rome

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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The Best of Europe: Florence

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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Best of Europe: The Charm of Venice

If you’ve been to Venice and haven’t been allured by its charm, you did it wrong. Too often people day-trip or cruise into Venice, stick to only the touristy sections (namely the area encompassing Rialto and Piazza San Marco), and never get beyond their comfort zone to allow themselves to discover the true magic of…

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Cultural Eye-candy in St. Petersburg

“Dobryy den’,” I said to the Dorothy Hamill-coiffed customs agent.  I was eager to practice the little Russian I knew.  She must not have heard me because she didn’t respond to my greeting.  “Dobryy den’,” I repeated, this time with a smile.  Maybe I was pronouncing it wrong.  The third time I wished her good…

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