Hue Imperial City and Citadel, Hue, Vietnam

hue citadel dragon on roof

The Citadel, built by the Vietnamese emperors in the early 19th Century, was severely damaged in Vietnam’s two wars of the 20th Century. In 1947 against the French, and again in 1968 against the Americans, the center of Hue was the site of ferocious battles. The citadel area once held over 140 buildings. Only about 20 remain after extensive restoration since the 1990s. Most buildings were completely destroyed in the fighting and cannot be restored.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Australia

First of all, there’s a lot more to love about Australia than to hate. In fact, I really can’t think of anything I truly hate about Australia. Mild disapproval, in the true tradition of Anglo temperament, is about as strong as it gets.

Loves

1) The people. The friendliest people ever encountered in all our travels. And, although they’re as disgusted with American foreign policy as the next guys, they don’t make it the basis for all conversations. They’re usually more interested in where we come from, how we can live in such cold, and why we drink such weak ass beer. Then there’s the ubiquitous, “mate.” Love it.

A Day on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

To me, one of the oddest things about my recent traveling jag is how much I am enjoying the outdoors. Those who know me well know that I vastly prefer going to a city rather than the country and sitting at a poker table rather than subjecting my delicate complexion to the harsh sun.

But lately, that seems to be changing. In the past couple of years we’ve tromped around the Grand Tetons, hiked along mountain paths in the Andes, walked across Spain, and last week even climbed a mountain that actually involved climbing rather than walking.

Those who know me also know I hate boats. I once got off a boat while it was docked in Seattle Harbor even though they were giving away free drinks. I sometimes sit on the dock and wave to my friends as they head off on a pontoon boat with drinks in hand–even on a calm day.

Cruising the Bosphorus

It may be a bit of an oversimplification, but you could probably say that Istanbul exists because of the Bosphorus. It was the first thing I wanted to see when we got there. We dropped our bags at the Empress Zoe hotel, and headed right out. We were only a few blocks away, and so our first impressions of Istanbul were those of the strong current flowing from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, the ships lined up waiting for their pilots to take them through the strait, and the lines of fishermen with their lines in dark water.

Fantastic Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, In a word: fantastic. In the literal sense. It’s a fantasy land, both in terms of history and landscape. The region is a network of small towns that have one thing in common: the weird geology of the region lent itself over the ages to people digging caves to live in. And so they did.

And, if you look at a map, and know a little of the history of the Christian church, you’ll see that this area also lent itself to becoming a true cradle for the infant church–a cradle which sheltered Christians in these caves for up to fifteen centuries.