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The Ups and Downs of Naples with Context Italy:

How a First-Rate Walking Tour Gives this Popular Italian Destination Fresh Perspective Our descent from the heat of a late Naples morning brought us cool relief, and the knowledge that with every step, we were moving back in time. Fiorella, our Context Italy tour guide had already led us through the cobbled streets of the […]

Accommodation / Europe

Hotel Carlemany, Girona, Spain:

Sculpture in the Lobby of Hotel Carlemany

Hospitality and Heart Define this Costa Brava Hotel As we drove slowly through the center of Girona in search of our accommodations, what we saw was anything but awe-inspiring. Perhaps it was the long drive from Guadalajara, or the fact that we were just plain tired, but everything around us seemed drab and uninteresting. But […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly WOW #099] The Mysterious Circles of Avebury, England:

Part of Avebury Circle in Wiltshire

Teachable, Touchable Stones that are Anything But Ordinary. “If you like Stonehenge, Avebury will blow you away.” It was this piece of advice, along with a chance meeting, that led us to a WOW of an experience. Simon, Otto and I had just spent two extraordinary days in Wiltshire, and were on our way to Derby, […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly WOW #098] Medieval Mikvah in Besalu, Spain:  

Candelabra in the Besalu Mikvah

Ritual Bath Opens a Window on a Once-Thriving Jewish Community. It was thirty-six stairs down from the square in Besalu’s Jewish Quarter into the 14th century ritual bath, known as a mikvah. With each step I noticed the air gradually cooling, as the daylight receded, giving way to illumination from two windows in the chamber. […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly WOW #097] Chartres Cathedral in France:

Rose Window at Chartres Cathedral, France

The Grand Dame of Medieval Churches Gets a Facelift. When I first read the book, it was drier than day-old toast, but Henry Adams’s “Mont St. Michel and Chartres” made me want to get close to both these magnificent medieval religious structures. So, in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s what I did.” Chartres was […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly WOW #096] Floral Tapestry in Girona, Spain:

Floral Tapestry at the Base of the Cathedral Steps in Girona, Spain

One Day Each Year, these Botanical Masterpieces are Produced Through Faith, Family and Fun. As we entered the square in front of Girona Cathedral, Gemma, our guide drew our attention to a floral tapestry in progress. Floral tapestry? Yes, floral tapestry, which turned out to be a new WOW we were about to discover. It […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly WOW #095] Salt of the Sea in Sicily:

Windmill at the Salt Ponds Near Masala, Sicily

You’ll Never Look at Your Shaker or Grinder the Same Way Again. It was a hard lump, with a rough, irregular surface. Holding it in my hand, it was difficult to imagine this strange object could have anything to do with food preservation, flavor enhancement or high blood pressure. But the age-old process that turns […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly WOW #094] Avila, Spain

Scale Model of the Avila City Walls

Small in Size, But Huge When It comes to Accessibility Awareness. It was easy for me to figure out our location, as my feet navigated stone steps and walkways atop the wall surrounding the medieval town of Avila. This was because, earlier that day, Simon, Otto and I had paid a visit to the Visitor […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly Wow #067] Karlstein Castle:

A Fairy Tale Come True in the Heart of the Czech Republic. European castles come in all shapes, sizes, colors and degrees of preservation. I’ve definitely seen my share, but Karlstein Castle in the Czech Republic had the whimsical charm of something out of a Disney movie that evoked a WOW and a smile from […]

Europe / Weekly Wow!

[Weekly WOW #054] Marveling at the Marble in Carrara, Italy:

Birthplace of Some of the World‘s Most Beloved Treasures. There is a mountain at the northwest tip of Tuscany that, for centuries, has enabled some of history’s most talented hands to fashion timeless art. From Rome to London, to Manila, countless millions have gazed in awe at these incredible gifts to the world, and uttered, […]