An hour after coming ashore, I am climbing brick stairs that are warped with wear from the elements and the bare feet of the faithful over several hundred years.
I’m standing on an outcropping of rock at Glacier Point looking out over Yosemite National Park when the sun finally disappears over the horizon. I’ve brought my wife and eight-year-old son here, home of one of the darkest night skies in the world, to show them something they’ve never seen before with their naked eyes: a spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy that we call home. Neither of them have ever really seen the stars. But they’re about to.
Disney raised admission prices this month for all of their theme parks. While this comes as no surprise—regular increases have become the norm over the years—it’s a good reminder for families to spend a little time carefully planning their budgets for their eagerly anticipated vacations toDisneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Most families skimp and save for their dream vacations to even make them possible at all. But by picking and choosing your moments to cut loose, you can transform a budget-minded Disney[…]
Ontario’s Stratford Festival is one of the great live theater attractions in North America, and they’re celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with yet another splendid season of theatrical excellence. The question is not whether you should go–you absolutely should — but how you should go about it. Here are some helpful hints about how to get there, where to stay when you arrive, and some interesting sights to enjoy along the way.
I rounded the corner to the little eddy where the travel books lived at the very back of my favorite independent bookstore and came face to face with a nattily dressed old man in his late 70s. He wasn’t browsing amongst the titles; his hands were empty, and he clearly wasn’t on his way in or out of this little literary cul-de-sac stuffed with guides, maps and memoirs. He was clearly waiting. But for whom? Me?
Around Thanksgiving, I always recall the time my wife and I were in Istanbul near the end of the festival of Ramadan. Ramadan is a period of prayer, reflection, charity and good deeds that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this time, Muslims fast—no food, drink or any other earthly pleasures from dawn until dusk. Once night falls and the moon rises, then the faithful take to the streets, offering food to the poor, and[…]
It’s well over 100 degrees and the Spanish sun feels like a physical weight on my skin as I descend dusty stone steps to the skeletal ruins of Madinat al-Zahra. Though it’s difficult to believe now, this parched landscape a few miles outside of Cordoba was once a magnificent palace resplendent with thousands of fountains, an architectural marvel exquisitely decorated with jasper and marble and covered in lush greenness. The shining glory of the Umayyad Caliphate built by Abd ar-Rahman[…]
This year is the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World. And 40 years ago, I was a nine-year-old boy visiting the brand-new Disney World with my family. We could not afford to stay the night there. And my family could only afford to explore the new park for a single day. But we made the most of it. I remember the smell of the newly turned earth at the fringes of the entrance, the black sheen of the freshly poured[…]
It’s getting late and I’m lost in the winding lanes of medieval Toledo. Normally I wouldn’t mind — it’s one of my favorite cities in the world to be lost in — but I’m due back at the hotel shortly, and first I have to find an address I haven’t looked for in more than a decade. Somewhere in this warren of weathered doors and dusty stones is my favorite place to buy Andalusian marzipan.
The Grand Teton National Park is on fire. For two weeks in September, slender tendrils of smoke have risen into the sky here like flags planted by an invading army laying claim to enemy territory. There are five different fires in the park when I arrive; two prescribed burns to control overgrown areas, and three that occurred naturally as a result of recent lightning strikes. The forest service keeps an eye on things to ensure that the fires don’t threaten[…]
I’m standing on the sidewalk on a bright, sunny September afternoon in the south of France. A lovely young woman dressed in late 19th century clothes walks past me, her eyes modestly averted. In one hand she holds a leash leading a baby goat, and in the other she leads a small boy who looks like a Dickensian paperboy. More people stream past, some dressed as Roman soldiers, others as medieval archers, and still others attired like Renaissance royalty. An adorable collection[…]
I am the last human being on the island. Dusk is slipping down over the menagerie behind me like a velvet curtain full of sparkling pinholes. The sea lions, the iguanas, the bird colonies take back their home, and I am the last person to board the launch for the ride back to the ship. My fellow travelers and I will talk into the night like excited school children about our amazing first day in the Galapagos Islands. I have[…]
Matthew Christopher is an award-winning photographer, writer and creator of Abandoned America, which he founded in 2006 as a catalogue of the remains of modern ruins. Abandoned America has since developed into one of the leading websites examining the phenomena of abandoned buildings. Christopher has recently released a collection of some of his work entitled Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Christopher’s journey to document abandoned sites began a decade ago while researching[…]
Among the greatest satisfactions of small town life is the savoring of simple pleasures. Sure, sometimes you want to travel to destinations that will set your pulse pounding. But often what you really need instead is to put yourself into a lower gear. Over the past twenty years, I’ve continually found that elusive, soothing, gentle pace in the small town of Geneva, Illinois. There are no world-class museums in Geneva. You’ll find no mention of the town in 100 Places to[…]
On a trip to London in 1998, my wife and I stayed at the home of a dear friend who had lived in London for half a century. While I had visited the old city many times, my wife had never traveled there before, and so I was taking her around the town to see a few of the world-class sites for which it is rightly famous. One morning, I informed my London-native friend that we were off to tour[…]
Click for audio on this topic from a WUWM broadcast below: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.: It’s time for my young son to go to bed, and we’re lying together and looking at the map app on my iPhone. “There we are,” I say, pointing to the blinking dot in the middle of the grid as the GPS shows us our current location, a tiny blue ripple lost in the patchwork puzzle of Southeastern Wisconsin. He stares, fascinated. “I want[…]
Rich Herstek was raised in Ohio, but has since lived and worked in Boston, Portland, London, Prague, Paris, Manila, Washington, D.C., and New York. His travel writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, France Today, Third Coast Daily, Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, the Vermont Standard and elsewhere. In addition to his travel writing, Rich has also been an advertising creative director, a playwright and a screenwriter, having earned his MA at the London Film School. You can learn more about[…]
Tip and I stood in line to get our three-day passes for Angkor National Park. Once the clock struck five, we purchased the tickets for the following day, yet we were allowed to enter the park that night, essentially for a free sunset. We hired a guide for our first day, and a driver for the rest of the trip. We stood in line with the guide, our passports, and some unnecessary passport photos in hand. “We don’t allow your own pictures[…]
Hilary Lazell has lived most of her life alongside the Essex coast where she works as an artist, illustrator, muralist, writer and teacher. Many of her published books have been for children. However, she is always eager to turn her skills to diverse range of new projects. Lazell is a contributor to various publications including the East Anglian Daily Times, and frequently collaborates with Martin Newell to create music album covers, calendars and books. More of her work can be seen at http://www.hilarylazell.co.uk