Return to Spain

Against my own personal rules for how best to take advantage of a life that is far too short to absorb everything the world has to offer, I have traveled to an international destination twice. Two weeks ago, I went to Spain. Fourteen years ago I lived there, working in a summer camp in Andalusia with kids who by now are somewhere around the age I was during those brief moments when we knew each other, young adults out in the real world.

I didn’t feel like much of an adult at that age, but I certainly do now, which is why I didn’t mind retracing my steps a bit. That summer camp job was a lifetime ago and I was another person. I have only a few handwritten notes and photos printed from film to remind me of my previous adventures in the land of valiant conquered and intrepid conquerors. This time, I’m transferring what I jotted down into this blog post, structured according to the chapters in Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel. De Botton is a modern day philosopher whom I greatly admire. The Art of Travel was the first book I read with Ironman, who accompanied me on this trip, for our long-distance book club, one of the many ways we have of staying close while we are geographically distant.

Continue reading →

Italy by Number

I have so many thoughts to share stemming from my two and a half weeks in Europe. My route was
Flight to Zurich→
Train to Innsbruck→
Car share to Bressanone→
On foot across the Dolomites to Cortina d’Ampezzo→
Bus to Venice→
Rental car to Padua→Verona→Bergamo→Milan→
Train and kayak to Bellagio→
Car share to Zurich
with a lot of little stops in between. Everything I saw was stimulating and new, and I took dozens and dozens of pages of notes. Since most of that time was spent in northern Italy, let’s kick off the onslaught of upcoming blog posts with a lighthearted comparison of Italy and Boulder. Continue reading →

Ukraine (December, 2005)

While You Are There: I went around the country for two weeks for Christmas and New Year’s. Can you say you’ve ever rung in the New Year in Lviv? Maybe not the most exotic or exciting place to do so, but certainly unexpected. Also seen in the photos above are AlushtaBakhchysaray, Kiev (oh man do I love chicken cutlets Kiev-style), Crimea, and Zhovka.

Why It’s On My List: Maybe I only liked it because I was getting sick of Russia and it wasn’t Russia, but I don’t think that’s the case. Ukraine is a lovely country, and not just in Crimea. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, it’s easy to get around, and there’s a lot of see and do.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Rhine River Cruises and Rheinfels Castle, Sankt Goar, Germany (July, 2001)

Tom Kelly Burg Rheinfels

While You Are There: Yeah, you could hike down the Rhine River, but a river cruise is really the way to go. There are so many castles and you get such a great view of them from the river while you are enjoying some German beer, so it seems foolish to exert the energy to hike. One plus for hiking: castle rules permit you to bring your hund but boat rules may not.

Why It’s On My List: It’s fun to imagine that I live in…what era were all these castles built in? Did anyone really live in them? They look cold to me. Magnificent, but cold. And isolated. If I could buy one now and live in it, I might. If I could also afford a private helicopter and some magical mechanism to keep those cavernous rooms warm. Really, there’s not a lot of appeal in this to me. But I did have a lot of fun getting separated from our tour guide and briefly lost in the dungeon beneath the Rheinfels Castle and having no light to find our way out (many people, especially broke college kids on a summer study abroad program in Germany, still didn’t have cell phones in 2002 and, besides, cell phones didn’t have flashlights). Also, being on a boat full of Japanese tourists had its own special appeal. The Japanese apparently loved the cruise so much that they bought one of the castles.

Me and Kelli

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.