Our Travel Blog

We've been to more than 70 countries.
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Our Latest Posts

The Two Most Important Things About Chiang Mai

For those who have never had a Thai massage, you're in for something different. In contrast to the soothing, along-the-line-of-the-muscle Swedish style prevalent in the US, the Thais believe that they should rub hard across the grain of the muscle. This has the effect of stretching your connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, in directions they've probably never been in before. Honestly, it hurts. But, after it's over, you'll ask yourself why the hell haven't I been doing this all my life?

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.

Sometimes You Have to Go Home

I grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa. According to my grandfather, Council Bluffs was, “the only town that ever hurt Chicago.” I've given his pronouncement a lot of thought over the years and I've still never quite figured out what it meant.

Maybe it was because Council Bluffs made fun of Chicago on the playground when they were kids. Or maybe it was because someone from CB wrote a letter once to someone in Chicago saying that having broad shoulders and being hog butcher to the world wasn't really that great. Especially when Carl Sandburg went on to mention that it was also the city of skanky whores and slimy gangsters.

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.

A Little Treasure of Madrid, the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales

When Kris and I lived in Madrid thirty-two years ago we worked at a language school that was about eight blocks from our apartment. One of the routes we often took to work took us past a nondescript building with two large oak doors and a small sign beside one of them which identified it as a convent. (Here's the Google map.)

The same sign offered tours during limited hours, but in all the time we lived here, and in our many subsequent visits to Madrid, we never got around to seeing what was inside the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales. We remedied that this time.

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.