A Royal Day Out
See London through the lens of a royal historian. Last Chance Tourism
Secret Gardens The Thailand Water Festival
EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.
explore. dream. discover.
photo contest winner
The New Ice Age (Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska), Naomi Welling
Staff Photos: Megan Komm Cover: Big Ben in London
Assistant Managing Editor
Assistant Managing Editor
Editor in Chief
Elizabeth Smith Nicole Rawson Samantha Bullock
Carlee Reber Alex Turner Sharon Valentine
Kayla Shields Aspen Stander Kaitlyn Brown
Sharai McGill Laurie Weisler Malary Bartholomew
© 2018 Jacob Rawlins 4051 JFSB, Brigham Young University Provo, Utah 84602 Printed by Brigham Young University Press
Stowaway is produced as a project for English Language 430R, Editing for Publication, the capstone class of the editing minor at Brigham Young University. All staff members contributed to planning, writing, editing, designing, and advertising. The views expressed in this publication are solely the views of the authors and do not represent the views or opinions of BYU. Stowaway takes inspiration from the words of Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Letter from the Editor
He sat defeated, slumped over with gashes all across his face. His ear was swollen, his nose broken, his fight lost. As I walked into the room, his sightless eyes met mine. I had seen the sculpture Seated Boxer in pictures and in textbooks; I had studied its form, its expression, and its history from a distant classroom. But to meet the boxer’s gaze directly was an entirely different experience. The pain etched into his face and the exhaustion carved into his posture demanded my empathy, and for a moment, he seemed to be more human than metal. Although entirely hollow, this Greek statue still manages to encapsulate what remains of an ancient culture. As I looked at this statue, I was conveyed to a world and culture that existed two thousand years ago. Viewing the art and architecture of a place is always one of my favorite parts of traveling. I spend hours traipsing through museums and meandering through old cathedrals and palaces. While the art and architecture are impressive, it’s the history that surrounds the masterpieces that most captivates me. These works of art tell the story of that place; collected together, they create a picture book that explains how that country’s culture came to be. As I view these works of art, my weeklong vacations suddenly become timeless in their scope. In this issue, we will celebrate cultures through their artistic endeavors and their history. Our resident art historian will walk you through a Gothic cathedral, explaining the significance of its gargoyles and stained glass windows. You will discover the Paris’s less known but equally noteworthy paintings and sculptures. The significance of Santa Barbara’s iconic architecture—red-tiled roofs and whitewashed buildings—will be revealed to you, and you will also discover that some art comes in a delicious, confectionery form. As you plan your next travel expedition, we hope you’ll take the time to explore the art of that country or region. Let that art take you to a place you never planned to go.
Photo Contest Winner
Photo Contest Runners-up
Letter from the Editor Happenings: Hotels Escapades: Disney Castles
12 16 18 22 24 26
Taiwan Choose Charleston All for Malta Red Tile Roofs Discover the Lost Coast Summiting the Inca Trail in Style
2 5 8 108
30 34 38 44 48 52
See Yellowstone First Last Chance Tourism Mind the Gap Year Equadorian Equators A Royal Day Out Getting Out of the Office
68 70 72
Four Corners: Plums
Amezaiku Holy Emblems All Shook Up about Death Week Weinachtsmarkt Sugar Rush
76 80 82 86 88 90
Think Outside the Frame Splashing into the New Year Another Bite of the Big Apple Right to Roam Climbing New Heights A Night in the Sahara
58 60 62 64
96 99 100 102
Maintaining the Magic
103 104 106
The Dignity They’re Due
Pack Light, Pack Right Rafting Rapids Traveling: There’s an App for That Smatterings of Language Tips and Tricks: Solo Female Traveler
Happenings Hotels Get ready to bell-hop around the United States and visit the most unique hotels in the country.
Forest Gully Farms, TN If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, but just can’t make it to New Zealand to experience the charm of Hobbiton, book a flight to Tennessee and visit Forest Gully Farms. You can find these underground huts (aka Hobbit holes) just an hour away from Nashville. When you reserve the huts, you also have personal access to a fifteenacre farm, where you can pick and eat the fruits and vegetables yourself. This is a great place to stay if you’re looking to run away to a fantasy land (but not one too far from home).
TreeHouse Point, WA The Pacific Northwest is famous for its beautiful trees, so why not enjoy them up close and personal? At TreeHouse Point, you can stay in one of six beautiful treehouses, enjoy a night in nature, and get a continental breakfast the next morning. Because staying here is all about rest and relaxation, guests under thirteen years of age aren’t allowed to stay overnight, but they do provide tours of the treehouses for all ages!
Heceta Head Lighthouse, OR There are a lot of hotels that provide an ocean view, but it’s a lot harder to find a hotel that lets you stay in a lightkeeper’s cottage next to a lighthouse. The cottage provides a quaint trip into the past. There is a fully equipped guest kitchen, but you won’t need it after the sevencourse breakfast that is served each morning to guests! So head to the Oregon coast and enjoy the view of the ocean and the Heceta Head Lighthouse.
Beckham Creek Cave, AR The word “cave” doesn’t exactly make you think of luxury, but the Beckham Creek Cave is truly a modern and luxurious getaway. This vacation rental is set in a natural cavern that has been remodeled to include modern amenities and design. It’s a blend of two things you never thought would go together, but it works perfectly. The house has sleeping accommodations for eight people, but it can fit up to sixteen. So grab fifteen of your closest friends and make your way to Arkansas for a vacation everyone will remember.
The Holidays, CA In San Clemente, California, you can stay in candy-colored 1960s camper trailers. They make a great backdrop for an Instagram post! Besides being aesthetically pleasing, they also have amenities like running water, a stovetop, and even Bluetooth speakers—all to help you camp in comfort and style. There’s a fire pit outside of each trailer, so you can enjoy a day at the beach, make some s’mores at night, and then retire to the comfort of your trailer.
Getaways “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” —Augustine of Hippo
TAIWAN Off the coast of Hong Kong is the small island of Taiwan. With a complex history, majestic mountains, and tropical coasts, Taiwan is a lively getaway for any traveler. Fittingly, Taiwan is also known as “Formosa”—beautiful island.
n the shadow of the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City lies a forgotten jewel: Taiwan. Originally dubbed Ilha Formosa—“beautiful island”— by the Portuguese, the island now called Taiwan is a mix of
Chinese, Japanese, colonialist, and original islander influ ences—an impressive conver gence of various foods, religions, and cultures. Due to its complex history and lingering political ambiguity, Taiwan often finds itself overlooked. But to the
observant traveler, Taiwan is more than an afterthought sit ting off the coast of Hong Kong. It is a vibrant island that hosts a modern transit system, unmiss able night markets, intriguing religious relics, and countless historical landmarks.
台灣 Getting Around
Taiwan is divided between the heavily populated northwest and the rural, mountainous southeast. The biggest cities— Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung—are all found in
the northwest, oriented toward the body of water between Taiwan and the mainland: the Taiwan Strait. The best way to get around the entire island is the High Speed Rail (HSR), which can cut your travel time in half.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is beautifully reflected in the water in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo by H.Chang
For travel in individual cities, local rail or metro lines are very useful. But for the most authentic Taiwan travel experi ence, you should consider rent ing a moped (摩托車) so you can scooter the streets just like a local.
A vendor at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei prepares food. Photo by me_tunn
A staple of Taiwanese culture, night markets (夜市) are held on the streets of urban areas. Vendors set up their stalls to sell snacks, drinks, clothing, and other goods, typically open ing around 4 pm and closing at midnight. Popular night markets include Shilin Night Market (Taipei), HuaYuan Night Market (Tainan), and Ruifeng Night Market (Kaohsiung). The biggest and most popular night markets also have live per formances and games. They are as much a social experience as they are a convenient way to pick up your late-night snacks. Whichever market you visit, be sure to try a boba drink, and if you’re traveling in the summer, mango shaved ice (滿果冰沙) is a seasonal must.
Three Religions, One Island
Wishes hang on a tree near a Daoist temple in Tainan. Photo by Katherine Albiston
One of the most distin guishing features of Taiwan’s landscape is religion. Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism are the key religions in Taiwan, and many places of worship combine features of all three tradi tions. Daoist temples may adopt Buddhist practices, and street-side shrines may honor Confucius alongside Daoist deities. Daoism flourishes in streetside temples, where incense burns and ornate decorations line the open archways. Wish trees are also common near Daoist temples, where the pious write down their hopes and hang them in trees for deity to answer.
Evidence of Confucianism may look similar to Daoism, but Confucian buildings are less ornate. Taiwan holds the Tainan Confucius Temple and the Taipei Confucius Temple—impressive structures open to the public. There are also smaller temples throughout the island honoring Confucius (孔夫子). And finally, Buddhism. Taiwan is home to many Mahayana Buddhists, and the Fo Guang Shan monastic order is located in Kaohsiung. The Fo Guang Shan Museum is a great place to learn about Buddhism and witness the Big Buddha—boasting a height of 108 meters (354 feet). The best way to begin under standing religion in Taiwan is to visit the venerated sites. As
Daoism would suggest, do not force yourself to understand. Just hop off your moped and walk the grounds of each site with an open mind.
Though you can explore the island endlessly, there are some must-see attractions for a visit to Taiwan.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall: a stunning site memo rializing Taiwan’s efforts for independence. Taipei 101: formerly the tall est building in the world, Taipei 101 towers overs the city landscape. The National Palace Museum: a collection of 700,000
artifacts saved from before the Cultural Revolution—only 1% of all items covering 8,000 years of Chinese history are on exhibit at any given time. Elephant Mountain: a short climb with a great view of the Taipei skyline.
Taiwan is a dream destina tion for both the casual tourist and the avid explorer. Though easily dismissed as a small island, Taiwan is overflowing with cul ture and is quickly climbing the charts for travel. From soaring skyscrapers and bustling night markets to breathtaking moun tain views and coastal hideaways, Taiwan has it all.
Taipei 101 and the Taipei Skyline, when viewed from Elephant Mountain, are cast in golds and pinks. Photo by Dave Wilson
Choose Charleston C
harleston, South Carolina, is rated as one of the world’s top travel destinations for a reason: there is something for everyone to enjoy! Charleston is full of history, nature, and great food. Many tourists start their day in Charleston by wandering through the market, which branches off of Meeting Street. Here, vendors sell Gullah crafts, handmade soaps, and many other perfect Charleston souvenirs. Next, you should visit Rainbow Row, a collection of colorful historic houses on the peninsula end of East Bay Street. The
nearby Waterfront Park boasts swings with a great view of the harbor and the famous Pineapple Fountain. Finally, the grandest antebellum houses in Charleston are located on the Battery, bordering White Point Gardens. Charleston’s history continues just outside the city at Fort Sumter. If you want to see this piece of Civil War history, you can take the Fort Sumter ferry, which leaves from Charleston Harbor several times each day. But bring a jacket—the harbor is windy! After touring Fort Sumter, the Charleston carriage tours are
a great way to learn more about the city’s history. These tours begin at the corner of Anson and Guignard Streets. The tour guides are very entertaining, and each tour goes to a different section of the city. For those looking for something out of the ordinary, Bulldog Tours caters to the ghoul-obsessed tourist. The Dock Street Theater is also famously haunted. As the story goes, a beautiful young woman used to love to watch lightning storms from her balcony in the former brothel. Eventually, she was struck by lightning, and lost her
life. Legend has it that she can still be seen floating above her balcony, searching for another lightning storm.
After all of this walking, you’re going to be hungry! Luckily, Charleston has a thriving culinary scene, and the seafood is amazing. Bubba Gump or Hyman’s are ideal if you’re dying to taste some quality Southern seafood. Magnolias is a little more upscale, but their menu is fresh, perfectly cooked, and a wonderful representation of high-class Southern food. For dessert, swing by Saffron or Café Framboise for a flaky pastry.
Outside of Charleston
The sleepy spell of the South continues just outside of Charleston. For nature lovers, Francis Beidler Forest is located only an hour inland from Charleston. This pristine nature reserve features the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp and a 1.75 mile long boardwalk. Walking through this silent swamp is an experience not to be missed. Charleston is also surrounded by former plantations, which are gorgeous remnants of the antebellum South. Middleton Plantation is a lovely example of a Southern plantation, featuring tranquil gardens, an illuminating house tour, and a placid view of the Ashley River. Wear good shoes, so you can fully tour the beautiful grounds. Drayton Hall
also features beautiful gardens, but it is unique because its plantation house is one of the oldest and best preserved in America. Kiawah Island and Edisto Island feature gorgeous beaches close to Charleston. You can meander along the beach, spotting dolphins and picking up shells; you can try windsurfing, or you can just work on your tan.
Finally, here are some last things to remember for your exciting trip to Charleston. Remember that not all locals are as charming as they look; there are some street vendors who may pretend to give you a woven grass rose, and then force you to pay for it. However, most of Charleston’s residents are delightful and love talking to tourists. Make sure to wear sunscreen, so you aren’t sunburned in all of your vacation photos. Bring plenty of cash for your visit to the market, and don’t forget to take lots of pictures! Enjoy your visit to Charleston!
Left: Pineapple Fountain. Photo by c_live_lee Right, from top: Taste of the South, Meeting Street Residences, Beach Boardwalk, and Morris Island Lighthouse. Photos courtesy of the Charleston Visitors Bureau.
All For Malta The Hidden Jewel of the Mediterranean
n archaeologist, a snorkeler, and a Game of Thrones superfan walk into a bar. Just kidding. They walk into a sixteenth-century cathedral. Enter Malta: an archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea abounding with ancient temples and subterranean treasures for the budding archaeologist, pristine beaches and hidden lagoons for the aquatically inclined, and richly detailed architecture and
historical battlements that provide the perfect backdrop for extraordinary adventures. This beauty is packed into the three small islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino that make up the country of Malta, together spanning less than seventeen miles. From ancient Neolithic dwellings to Phoenician settlements to relics left by Greek, Roman, Arab, Spanish, and British rulers, Malta’s many attractions proudly showcase its diverse cultural
background. Layers of rich history combined with breathtaking landscapes make Malta one of the most exciting destinations for all types of travelers.
Ancient Temples Let’s begin with the ancient Ġgantija temples on the island of Gozo. Built around 3600 BC, this impressive megalithic temple complex is older than the pyramids of Egypt and has been
designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ġgantija is the biggest of the many ancient temple complexes on Malta used by Neolithic peoples for fertility rites. You can visit the temples of Ħaġar Qim or Tarxien to learn even more about the archaeology of the island’s ancient inhabitants.
Next, spend a few days in Valletta, the capital city settled in the sixteenth century by the Knights of the Order of St. John. The influence of the knights is everywhere: Tour St. John’s Co-Cathedral for a stunning example of High Baroque architecture, where every inch of nine intricately decorated chapels is gilded, carved, or frescoed. Then make your way to the Parliament building, the Grand Master’s Palace, St. James’s Cavalier Fort, and the National War Museum to get your fill of captivating artwork and military history. Another must-see destination in Valletta is the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, an underground necropolis from the same temple-building culture that produced Ġgantija. See what archaeologists have discovered about the beliefs of the seven thousand people who were buried in the hypogeum with a treasure trove of clay figurines, pottery, jewelry, and geometric carvings.
Visitors admire the arched ceilings in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.
Malta offers a serving of history with every slice of island paradise
The Three Cities
Following your tour of Hal Saflieni, watch the sunset and soak in the panoramic views of the Three Cities from the Upper
Boats float along in the charming coastal fishing village in Malta.
The Azure Window, a natural arch on the island of Gozo, tragically collapsed in 2017. Photo by Juan Antonio Segal, CC BY 2.0
Barrakka Gardens. The Three Cities—Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua—boast a skyline full of historical battlements, ancient forts, and charming coastal villages. You can take a sightseeing boat tour to learn more about the history of the people who fought off a great siege from the Ottoman Empire.
For more history, visit Mdina, the historical city of the nobility. Mdina is a walled fortress also known as the “Silent City” because cars are prohibited within its walls. Explore the city’s medieval palaces and monumental
buildings on foot or take a guided tour to see several famous filming locations for the popular TV show Game of Thrones.
The Blue Lagoon End your trip with a relaxing soak in the Blue Lagoon—you’ve earned it! The Blue Lagoon is a cavern of calm azure waters and soft white sands just off the island of Comino, a utopia for swimmers, snorkelers, and boaters alike. Malta offers a serving of history with every slice of island paradise, so start packing your bags for a getaway you’ll never forget!
Sources www.nytimes.com www.heritagemalta.org www.lonelyplanet.com www.visitmalta.com
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Red Tile Roofs
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse provides a view of the city. (Sydney Snyder, cropped)
ust northeast of Los Angeles is a town that nearly all Californians would agree is paradise, even when compared to the multiple well-known cities of the state: Santa Barbara. Its downtown consists of white buildings with red tile roofs, a Spanish-derivative style that references lasting ties to the Spanish Franciscans who founded this paradise in the late
eighteenth century. Even just a few days in Santa Barbara can show you why this old city is a treasure to California. The Santa Barbara Mission, one of the twenty-one California Missions founded by the Spanish Franciscans two centuries ago, is celebrated for its renowned architecture and affluent history. Perhaps the most significant historical attraction in the city, the
Mission spans 13 acres and has an active church, a historic cemetery, a museum, and an expansive garden. For a small fee, you can choose from six different tours based on your time available and your desire to see certain parts of the property. Another popular site in the downtown area is the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which sits just a mile and a half southeast of the
Santa Barbara Mission. With its elegant architecture, memorable artwork, and refreshing sunken gardens, this beautiful Spanish Colonial building is more than an operating courthouse—it’s also a popular spot for weddings and other gatherings. Even if you don’t have a specific event to attend there, the courthouse is open to the public every day at no cost. From the bell tower of the courthouse, you have a stunning view of Santa Barbara’s red rooftops that stretch toward the ocean. From the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a simple walk amid charming boutiques, ice cream shops, and lively restaurants will take you to the water. At the shore, you can take a walk in the sand, turn towards the harbor to see the numerous boats, or eat dinner as the setting sun illuminates the water. In addition, paddle boards and kayaks are available to rent if you want to take a closer look at the seals that congregate on the buoys. The Spanish Colonial architecture blended with the lively atmosphere of Santa Barbara is perfect for any person wanting to feel like a refreshed, yet productive, traveler. Just a weekend is enough for you to feel at home—walking on the beach, touring historic buildings, and seeing what all the little white buildings in-between have to offer. Never were red-tile roofs so inviting.
Hallway of Santa Barbara County Courthouse (Sydney Snycer, cropped) View of harbor in Santa Barbara (Sydney Snyder, cropped)
Lost Coast the The rocky coastline can be viewed at Luffenholtz Beach. Photo by Jdegenhardt.
he rough strip of California’s coastline between Fort Bragg and Crescent City is often known to non-locals as simply “the Redwoods,” but to the people who live there, it is the Lost Coast, a land of wonder and defiantly eccentric culture, a land of drifting mists and towering trees. On your trip through the Lost Coast, discover its secrets by stopping at a few of these forests, wildlife refuges, beaches, and centers of local culture.
Hiking & Driving in the Redwoods The Lost Coast is renowned for its Redwood forests and bountiful wildlife, which are best
enjoyed in protected areas that cater to different sensibilities. For those who associate the Redwoods with Endor from Star Wars, the Redwood National Park offers the chance to hike and camp where Return of the Jedi was filmed. For those who love rare birds, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place for bird watching and quietly meandering along paneled walkways through the marsh. Almost any drive along the Lost Coast is a scenic experience, but the Avenue of the Giants is a particularly verdant stretch with turnoffs for drive-by tourists, photography enthusiasts, and hikers. Those who travel to see unique natural areas will be enchanted by Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek
Redwoods State Park and the huge trees and gentle, swimmable rivers in Jedediah Smith State Park. Fern Canyon is one of most ethereal and calming places on earth, where the walls soar 70 to 100 feet high and are draped with waterfalls and graceful ferns. Jurassic Park lovers will recognize the beautiful canyon from the second movie. As for Jedediah Smith, it has some of the biggest (over 300 feet tall and over 20 feet wide) living old-growth redwoods, which tower serenely over all their visitors. Looking up at them, you feel both very small and very connected to all around you. Additionally, the Smith river, which winds unobstructed through the park, is perfect for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling.
The Coast Itself
There are many incredible parts of the Lost Coast shoreline that are accessible to visitors. Some of the safest and most breathtaking spots include Clam Beach (grassy, rolling dunes), Luffenholz Beach (incredible lookout points overlooking a popular whale-breaching area), Agate Beach (best rock and driftwood beachcombing), Fleener Creek Beach (best fossil and shell beachcombing), Moonstone Beach (rock formations for climbing and rappelling), Trinidad Beach (numerous tide pools and aquatic life), and Gold Bluffs Beach (accessible camping ground and lots of elk).
Towns and Festivals
The Lost Coast is a community that you can join simply by interacting with its culture. Stop by Fortuna during the familyfriendly rodeo parades in July or visit the Apple Harvest Festival in October to learn about local ways of life and enjoy amazing cider. Visit the Victorian Village of Ferndale to enjoy the oldest Memorial Day Celebration in the United States, Victorian shops and homes, and intriguing museums. Explore Old Town in Eureka from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage, a walk on foot through enchanting shops and museums, or by taking a boat tour of the bay to see porpoises and seals. Go to the Farmer’s Market at Arcata City Plaza for all-natural foods, acrobats, live music, and the authentic hippie experience. To learn about the original inhabitants of the Lost Coast,
Redwood National Park is one of the most famous locations of the Lost Coast.
enter the Sumeg Village, an interactive display of traditional Yurok village life owned and operated by the tribe. Finally, watch or participate in the Kinetic Sculpture Race, a three-day, 50-mile obstacle course on the world’s craziest contraptions (half art, half vehicles which mimic animals or mythical creatures) through sand dunes, rivers, woodlands, towns, and the bay. If you can’t make it to the race itself, you should still visit the museum, which changes location every year.
Other Cool Experiences
If you come to the Lost Coast between holidays, there are still plenty of fun activities and experiences for lone travelers, groups, and families. Chapman’s Gem and Mineral Shop and Museum is a wonderful place to learn about
natural and local history and buy fossils, rocks, and geodes for a reasonable price. The Sequoia Park Zoo has a large outdoor park and hiking area, a petting zoo, a beautiful aviary, and rare species like the red panda, making it a great place for kids and adults alike. Trees of Mystery is a small theme park with fun features like an enormous talking Paul Bunyan statue and a sky rail that allows visitor to travel through the canopy of the redwoods from the comfort of an enclosed six-person gondola. There is so much to see, smell, and do in this remote corner of the world for individuals, groups, and families. So seize the chance to travel there; California’s beautiful, wild Lost Coast is waiting for you to discover it.
Summiting the inca trail in
ow would you like to explore the most beautiful sights in Peru while enjoying seven-course meals, morning yoga sessions, and daily massages? Many tour companies travel with professional chefs, but hiking to Machu Picchu and beyond with a professional yoga instructor and masseuse is a treat now provided by Kusa Treks—a small company that offers big experiences. These treks can be as preplanned or personalized as you want them to be. The luxury trip is a 10-day adventure that takes you through some of the highlights of Peru: the Sacred Valley, Cusco, Lima, markets and ruins in Pisac, and, of course, the 500-year-old Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which passes several Inca ruins and allows for stunning stargazing at night. That’s the preplanned version of the trek. But the treks can be easily customized to your budget, your time frame, and your interests. You can shorten your adventure to include only your bucket list items, or
you can extend it to hike, river raft, and zip line through the Amazon or visit unique natural wonders like Rainbow Mountain and Lake Tipitacca. Perhaps one of the most “luxurious” parts of these treks, whether preplanned or personalized, is what you don’t have to experience—stress. Kusa Treks will become your personal booking agent, preparing rides to and from the airport, flights, hotels, and entrance tickets. With all of the travel and itinerary arrangements taken care of, all you need to worry about is bringing a light daypack, a few personal belongings, and a pair of broken-in hiking shoes. While the hikes can be challenging, the treks are designed to be as pleasant as possible. Porters will carry the majority of your gear and hike ahead of the group to set up camp before you arrive. The camps are composed of fourman tents with raised camping beds and real mattresses. The tents will house two people each, so you have the roomiest and most comfortable accommodations possible. To add to the amenities, every trek has a professional chef. Meals are served family style and include fresh vegetables, indigenous grains, and local meats. Don’t be afraid to try the lamb or alpaca! The chef can also customize meals to accommodate any food preferences or allergies, such as glutenfree or vegan diets. Without the need to worry about carrying your gear or food, you will be free to fully experience the natural beauty of the Peruvian Andes. You’ll be hiking through diverse microclimates, including
cloud forests and rain forests, while viewing spectacular mountain scenery. It’s an experience unlike any other. The “secret ingredient” to these incredible treks? Erik Bayona. He’s a direct descendant from the Incas and was recently interviewed by National Geographic for his tours. As with all luxury experiences, you are truly getting the best of the best. He knows the natives well, which is why the campsites are private and the prices are more budget friendly. You’ll be camping in the lush backyards of locals instead of dealing with the grunge of public campgrounds. In addition to the campsite perks, Erik, or one of the guides he has trained, will take you on trails off the beaten path and point out lesser-known spots to take the best pictures. All of the guides are contagiously passionate and will provide you with a rich cultural experience as you listen to the histories of the different trails and archeological sites you will visit. With a professional chef, yoga instructor, masseuse, and guide, these treks are truly a luxurious experience. There’s no better way to summit the Inca Trail in style.
—Jessica Johansen Left: Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, Peru. Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh Right, top to bottom:
Erik Bayona at the summit of Lares
Trek, an alternate route to Machu Picchu. Photo by Kusa Treks
Ruins at Machu Picchu. Photo by YanceTAY
Hats at a market in Pisac. Photo can be found at www.world-wide-gifts.com/ souvenirs/south-america/peru/)
Features “A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again.” —Ryszard Kapuscinski
See Yellowstone First America’s Wonderland through the Lens of Early Tourists
y 1907, the United States was burgeoning with an appetite for travel, a desire whetted by the accurate depictions of places from around the world brought into the home by the commercial success of photography. With the expansion of the railroad, the frontier of the plains and the Rockies was a few days’ journey from the East Coast. The phrase went around, “See Europe if you will, but
see America first!” Yellowstone National Park was branded as a characteristically American destination—America’s Wonderland. Adages such as “See America first” forged a major part of the American identity. They reflected the national sentiment that the wonder-landscapes of the United States were something to be proud of, something just as sublime as any of the sights in Europe. Two groups of tourists, traveling through Yellowstone
National Park in 1907 and 1915, took several dozen photographs during their tour of the park. By this time, box cameras had become reasonably accessible and affordable. Those people who were inspired by the landscapes and peculiarities that professional photographers captured could now easily document their own journeys, as well as the landscapes they found so captivating.
For people coming to Yellow stone by rail, towns like Gardiner, Montana, were the last stop before disembarking to the northern entrance of the park. Tourists entering from the north were greeted by the words graven into the top of the Roose velt Arch: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” This phrase was taken from the Park Protection Act of 1872, the law that effectively created the park.
During the development of the tourist industry in Yellowstone, tent camps provided housing for visitors while large hotels were being built. But these tents later afforded low-cost options to many travelers. These camps were not without their luxuries, though: large staffs of workers would provide a simple but comfortable lodging for many tourists. Those who thirsted to see the Wonderland but did not have enough money to fund the extravagant trip would often come through the park in groups sponsored by newspapers, fraternal organizations, churches, or educational programs.
Before 1916, many of the well-to-do visitors would ride stagecoaches through the park. The stage drivers who were hired for a season often served as guides and occasionally even cooked lunch for the tourists. The main tour of the park looped around in a frying pan or upside-down Q shape. All tourists would follow the one-way counterclockwise circuit around the park—a general route of 130 to 140 miles long with hotels, tent camps, and lunch stops placed at even distances along the way. One traveler, Stephen M. Dale, wrote: “Apart even from the sight of any of those special things the very drive itself would be worth taking. The roads are good, the stages comfortable, and the view, at all points, interesting, at some points is entrancing.” These stagecoach trips, however, still required some effort on the part of the travelers. For example, if a four-horse team was unable to provide enough horsepower to get everyone and their luggage up a steep hill, passengers would then have to get out of the stage and walk up the hill—sometimes even carrying their own luggage. Stagecoaches filled the park until 1917, when horse-drawn vehicles were officially banned and replaced with automobiles. Many of the horses which staffed these now out-of-work coaches were sold to Canada for the First World War.
Author-editor C. M. Skinner wrote: “The Yellowstone country is a reversal of common experience. Water flows up into the air, springs are hot instead of cold, rocks so slenderly balance on their pedestals that you half expect to see the long dead buffalo hanging in the air about them,
exemplifying the truth of the old frontiersman’s remark that here ‘the laws of nature are petrified.’” Visiting the strange Wonder land of northwest Wyoming has long promoted communion between visitor and vista; such experiences are often unique and personal. Since the park’s
founding in 1872, photography has petrified some of the earliest personal experiences in Yellow stone. These visual journals continue even now to document the spirit of America’s Wonderland.
Quotes of travelers from Ho! For Wonderland: Travelers’ Accounts of Yellowstone, 1872-1914, edited and annotated by Lee H. Whittlesey. Photographs from: MSS 9076; Collection of tourist photographs of Yellowstone Park via Wylie Permanent Camping Company; 20th Century Western Manuscripts and Americana; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. MSS 9063; Collection of Yellowstone Park photographs while camping with Shaw and Powell Camping Company; 20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Tourism Traveling to at-risk environmental destinations increases degradation and leaves tourists with a moral paradox: to go or not to go?
Tourist floats in the famously salty Dead Sea in Israel. Photo by Joris Machielse
ever before has the deadness of the Dead Sea been more apparent. Nearly 10 times saltier than the ocean and famous for the pictures of buoyant people reading newspapers, the Dead Sea is receding faster than ever. Five feet of water are lost every year, and it’s estimated to only have 50 years left before drying up. The Dead Sea may be known for the spa-like skin treatment it gives swimmers, but the Sea itself isn’t lucky enough to receive that same rejuvenating treatment. It’s dying. Even so, Dead Sea tourism is thriving, gaining traction each year. The Dead Sea had about 1.8 million tourists in 2017—tourists that are likely contributing to the very forces degrading the fragile environment they journeyed to see. Paradoxical? Absolutely. But it’s reality for the Dead Sea. And it’s not alone. Last chance tourism (LCT) is the norm for many travelers today; it’s the travel market of embarking on “vanishing-earth” voyages to at-risk places that are quickly losing their stunning scenery and environmental diversity. Most of these places have been popular tourist destinations before, but numbers are rising as more and more travelers respond to a certain fear: time is running out for people to see these sites in the beautiful, vibrant, and unspoiled way they’ve long imagined them. Among the hot LCT travel spots are the Great Barrier Reef, the Everglades, Madagascar, New Zealand, Venice, Glacier National Park, the Arctic, the Maldives,
the Galapagos, and the list goes on. But there’s a lot of debate as to just how these destinations can survive the clash between a tourist’s wish to admire nature and the inevitable environmental damage done by the tourist’s visit.
The destinations of last chance tourism are widespread and vary from shivering ice caps at the poles to tropical, fun-inthe-sun beaches. But there is one common theme: each site has some sort of ecological feat or claim to fame upholding its touristic appeal. The Great Barrier Reef has 1,500 fish species (or it once did) in addition to hundreds of corals and marine mammals. The Everglades is a 1.5-million-acre reservoir of endangered species like manatees, panthers, and crocodiles. Oceania has exotic plants and undiscovered species. Venice is a city with rivers for streets. You can explore huge glaciers left from the ice age at Glacier National, you can see countless species of lemurs in Madagascar, and you can effortlessly read the newspaper while in the salty Dead Sea. Yet these are the same reasons that have motivated tourism to these sites for decades. Why the sudden uptick in eager travelers? As the Sierra Club has stated, “Climate change is dictating travel trends.” As the earth grapples with changing temperatures and the consequential ecological effects, environments that once seemed to be ever-present landmarks are now seen as fleeting rarities. So climate change—in
LCT sites are more than just stylish vacation destinations. They’re places facing real ecological threats and disappearing quickly. The impact of climate change and rising sea levels affects places around the globe: Venice is sinking two millimeters per year, five times faster than previously thought. Islands in Oceania and Antarctica could be gone by the end of the century. Glacier
from the tourism industry as a whole are also detrimental to these sites. The Great Barrier Reef is suffering from coral bleaching due to human threats like reef walking, dropped anchors, boat fuel, swimmer sweat, and loads of sunscreen. Half the reef has been killed in the last thirty years. The Everglades is also half the size it was a century ago due to bad farming practices and water pollution that speeds up degradation forces. Water diversion and the overproduction of fertilizer are leaving hotels and buildings that were once right on the Dead Sea’s shore now a mile away. Deforestation in Madagascar—80% of the original forest is gone—is threatening over 60 lemur species and other animals native to the island. And yet tourists at these sites, while aware of the environmental fragility they’re visiting (it’s the impetus that drove many of them to go to begin with), still tend to show little concern for the environmental damages they may be causing. Seventy percent of surveyed tourists at the Great Barrier Reef said that they were
National Park, once boasting 150 glaciers, now has only 25, and even some of those are expected to be gone by 2030. The sheer impact from the number of travelers can’t be overstated either. Carbon emissions
visiting to see the Reef “before it’s gone,” and yet they also expressed “low to moderate concern” about their ecological footprint on the site. It seems that tourists following the LCT trend—and governments eagerly pushing tourism
tandem with social media proliferation and a growing middle class with greater means to travel more often and more widely— has upped the ante on visiting these ecological legends. Tourists are no longer traveling just because “the Great Barrier Reef sounds like a nice vacation,” but more likely because “the Great Barrier Reef is dying, and I want to see it before it’s gone.” Endangerment is cool, intriguing, and motivating. It has made hot commodities of fragile ecosystems.
But . . . Threats and Paradox
Endangerment . . . has made hot commodities of fragile ecosystems.
for economic growth without thinking about the far-reaching effects—are blissfully ignoring the damage they do in order to promote and tour ecological landmarks. It would seem that people should just avoid these environments altogether. But who wants to prohibit travel to such stunning ecological sites? Why discover, commend, and revere these sites if we don’t plan on visiting them? How should society balance the good-hearted desire to see and appreciate these ecotourism legends with the simultaneous damage our “smokeless” tourism industry does to them?
Solutions: Do They Exist?
The initial shock value of last chance tourism may lead one to conclude that tourism and environmental preservation are incompatible. However, many have argued against such a fatalist view. More hopeful outlooks claim that tourism promotes advocacy for these environmentally fragile locales. While wishful, this view is not without validity: if last chance tourism can’t convert the hearts of its practitioners to champion green travel, it can still win over their wallets. Tourism is a major economic booster for many countries, and turning tourists’ cash into funding for preservation may be the key. Tiffany Harrison, US Marketing Manager of STA Travel, notes that the millennial urgency to see at-risk sites leads to a rise in mindful ecotourism and sustainable accommodations, like green
Waterways in Venice, Italy, connect neighborhoods. Photo by shuttles
hotels. Preservation—just like travel—needs money, and who better to donate funds than the tourists pouring into these LCT destinations? However, trouble with the red tape of government may make this method a little too slow to be relied on as a quick savior of threatened locations. Among the other proposed solutions are direct government actions and media awareness. Some governments are directly addressing the environmental fallout from increased tourism. In Peru, the idyllic Machu Picchu is at risk from both landslides and earthquakes. The degradation from huge amounts of tourists only raises those risks. To
Madagascar Rock is on the island of Madagascar. Photo by mariusz kluzniak
counteract this threat, the government is limiting the number of visitors allowed and trying to divert tourists to other ancient Incan sites to relieve the pressure on Machu Picchu. Additionally, the media has been solicited to advocate for these LCT sites. By explaining the environmental risks and providing information about leaving a positive impact when visiting, the media can decrease emphasis on the trendiness of LCT sites and instead create change. But ultimately, the solution is probably bigger than any one tourist’s ecological footprint or any one site’s preservation efforts. Perhaps the best we can hope
Hidden Lake is a popular site at Glacier National Park. Photo by Jenni Konrad
for is that each tourist donates a dollar, each trip fosters an advocate, and each LCT site teaches environmental awareness to its visitors—all together raising a greater fervor for environmental consciousness. Perhaps, the compound effect of each of those acts will slowly turn the tide and teach us to treat the nature we long to admire more kindly. And maybe—just maybe— nature can be kind in return, as it bravely faces humanity’s contradictory need to travel across it and admire it, to neglect it and love it, to use and abuse it.
Scuba diver exploringthe Great Barrier Reef. Photo by american_rugbier
MIND THE GAP YEAR After four long years working toward an undergraduate degree, do you feel too drained to jump into graduate school? Are you tired of your current job but unsure what career would make you feel more fulfilled? If so, then a gap year might be the right thing for you.
gap year is a period of time spent exploring your interests while taking a break from school or work. Although called a gap â€œyear,â€? these breaks can be as short as three months or as long as a few years. However long you choose, gap years are intended to provide opportunities
of meaningful exploration. Many choose to spend the time traveling, volunteering, interning, learning a foreign language, or pursuing other interests. Traditionally, if Americans take a gap year, they do so after graduating high school and before starting an undergraduate program. Yet in recent years,
taking a break before proceeding on to graduate school or a full-time job has become more popular. More people are even contemplating taking a break from their careers in order to travel. In a survey of US citizens conducted by Hostelworld, over 50% of the respondents under 30 who had not taken a gap year said they would consider doing so in the future. Almost 70% of those respondents said they would like to use that time to travel and experience different cultures. While traditionally in America there has been a negative stigma
attached to taking “time off” from the real world, this attitude is changing. In a survey of 251 HR professionals, YouGov discovered that 73% of the HR specialists agreed that “taking a constructive gap year involving independent travel, working or volunteering overseas is a worthwhile experience for young people” and that 63% thought that a well-spent gap year will make an applicant stand out. Prestigious colleges, like Harvard and Princeton, are even encouraging their accepted applicants to consider deferring their enrollment and taking a gap year
in order “to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way.” There are a number of benefits to taking a gap year to travel. Besides adding interest to a résumé, a gap year can help prevent academic burnout, promote personal development, and provide opportunities for lifechanging experiences. Carling Vanier, a student at A&M College of Veterinary Medicine who took a gap year for travel after completing her undergraduate degree, said, “My gap year really made me realize I actually enjoyed meeting new people and helped me understand them better, and I think that will make me a better veterinarian.” The gap year is a time of personal discovery, a time to explore your interests, a time to immerse yourself in other cultures, and a time to make connections with people around the world. Perhaps most importantly, the gap year should be an opportunity to fill the gaps in your life, whether those gaps are in your education, hobbies, or work experience.
The Grand Tour
While gap years have recently been gaining traction in America, they have a rich history in Europe. The Grand Tour was an eighteenth-century travel phenomenon where British gentility would travel to the European continent to complete their education. This tour usually followed a prescribed itinerary that included all the must-see sights, the must-read books, and the must-do activities. The trip
generally included an immersion in all things Paris, a journey across the Alps, and a tour of Rome— the pièce de résistance. This trip to the Continent ranged from six months to three years and was seen as the culminating experience in the life of an English gentleman. Lisa Colletta, an English professor at the American University of Rome, explains that “a tour of the Continent was seen as the ideal means of imparting culture, taste, knowledge, self-assurance, and polished manners” to a new generation. While the modern gap year reflects the Grand Tour’s focus on personal development and cultural experiences, today’s gap year is starting to move away from the tour’s sense of elitism. Since only the wealthy
could afford it, the Grand Tour separated the haves from the have-nots. Today, many Americans hold a similar preconceived notion that spending an extended period of time traveling is only for the rich. But millennials are questioning this assumption. Amanda Machado, a young travel and education writer, said, “Until I discovered the backpacking scene, I always considered travel to be something reserved for the wealthy, or at least for people with far more experience abroad than I had. But with easy access to social media and budget-travel tools like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Skyscanner, and Lonely Planet message boards, I soon realized that long-term travel wasn’t nearly as expensive or difficult as I had imagined.”
Not only are millennials questioning the assumed price established by the Grand Tour tradition, they are also rejecting the prescribed itinerary of the past, preferring to spend more time in remote locations than in major European cities. Young backpackers are flocking to Southeast Asia, India, Morocco, and South America for their budget-friendly cities and the opportunity to experience a wider range of cultures. In this manner, the Grand Tour of the eighteenth century has evolved over the years, becoming more egalitarian and losing the traditional itinerary. While it has changed markedly from the past, the purpose of the Grand Tour as an educational and culturally rich experience continues to play a powerful role in the mindset of young travelers.
Gap Year Traditions
Admittedly, Americans do not travel internationally as much as Europeans and Australians do. While 75% of the citizens in the UK have passports, only about 46% of Americans have valid passports, according to the US Department of State. Although younger generations are more likely to have a passport and to travel than older Americans, the United States still does not compare to other developed nations when it comes to travel, and this trend is reflected in the traditions that surround the gap year. Taking an extended leave from school or work to travel is only recently becoming more acceptable in the United States, but in many other countries, especially those in the Commonwealth, taking a “time out” from work or school to travel is seen as the norm. In New Zealand, there is even a name for this travel tradition: the Overseas Experience, or OE. Considered a rite of passage for many Kiwis, the OE is an extended international experience
that typically lasts at least a year and usually occurs within a few years of graduating from university. Instead of being viewed negatively, these experiences are often considered the highlight of a résumé, marking the applicant as someone who has expanded their knowledge with experiences of the world and different cultures. In the UK and Australia, taking some time to travel before or after university is also seen as a rite of passage. There is little to no negative stigma attached, and a productive gap year can result in career advancement. Belgium has taken a different approach to the gap year. Instead of encouraging people fresh out of university to take a break and travel, the Belgian government allows employees in the private sector to put their career on hold for one year to explore their own interests. Called “time credit,” this year off is intended to prevent employee burnout. The government even offers an allowance and some benefits during this break from work. Many citizens use time credit to travel internationally, expand
their horizons, and learn a new language.
Minding the Gap in America
America needs to recognize the value of traveling for an extended period of time, and it looks like millennials are the generation to take up this challenge. According to the Boston Consulting Group, the millennial generation is more interested in traveling abroad than older generations by 23 percentage points. Young Americans are making travel a priority, recognizing the value that a cultural immersion experience can offer them. Filling the gaps in their education through personal experiences abroad, millennials have the opportunity to become more tolerant towards others, more invested in social causes, and more passionate about their interests.
—Morgan Daniels Sources www.theatlantic.com
Ecuador Study Abroad summer 2019
apply before: February 1, 2019 travel dates: June 26 - August 14, 2019
more information at http://www.linguistics.byu.edu/ecuadorsa GEOGRAPHY STUDENT ASSOCIATION
The world is our campus
JOIN THE STUDENT URBAN PLANNING ASSOCIATION SUPA.BYU@GMAIL.COM
PEOPLE MAKE CITIES COME LEARN
hough the smallest of the three South American countries to boast the equator, Ecuador is arguably the most enthusiastic. It would be a shame to miss visiting the equator in the country named after it, but finding your way to the right place is more complicated than you’d think. The equator is an imaginary line that divides the earth
Ecuador boasts two special landmarks, both of which are volcanoes. The Cayambe volcano is the only place along the equator where there’s snow year-round. Volcán Chimborazo (the sixteenth highest peak in the world) is further from the earth’s core than the top of Mount Everest because the earth bulges around its middle. The earth’s belly may make you feel better about your own. The bulge makes for a gravita-
sunsets of anywhere in the world, long shadows are short-lived. During the equinoxes in March and September, the sun’s rays are so direct that at noon there aren’t any shadows at all.
Where to Go?
Each site that marks the equator offers a different experience, so choose the one that will meet your equatorial expectations.
ecuadorian equally between the northern and southern hemispheres. This makes it equidistant from the North and South Poles, placing it at a latitude of zero degrees. However, because of earth’s tilted rotation, the precise location of the equator actually drifts about 30 feet over the course of each year. For some, the imprecision of the line takes away the magic, but there’s more to visiting the equator than finding the line!
What’s So Special?
Just getting to a place where you can stand near the equator is a feat. Of its 24,901-mile stretch, only 21% of the equator crosses land.
tional difference that combines with centrifugal forces to make you weigh less at the equator— even if it’s only a 0.5% difference. For any visitor coming from the northern hemisphere, crossing the equatorial line means a change in celestial views: the stars appear differently. For example, the Southern Cross is an iconic constellation seen only in the southern hemisphere’s skies. The daytime sky is different too. Each day is nearly the same length throughout the whole year, with daylight lasting just fourteen minutes longer than nighttime. The consistency of sunlight means it’s always summertime, though there is a wet and a dry season. If you’re afraid of your shadow, the equator is the place to go. With the shortest sunrises and
Mitad del Mundo
The most popular equator destination has a long history. Only fifteen miles north of Quito, it sits at the point determined to be zero degrees latitude by the First Geodesic Mission. This French-led expedition, dedicated to accurately measuring the planet, arrived in the Spanish territory of Quito in 1736 to mark the equatorial line. The original monument, constructed to celebrate the bicentennial of this discovery, was moved south to the Calicalí town square so it could be replaced by a bigger version. Built in 1979, the nearly 100-foot-tall monument is crowned with a giant metal globe that’s fifteen feet wide and weighs five tons. Surrounding the main monument are smaller tributes to
scientists who contributed to the identification of the equator. A yellow painted stripe, representing the equatorial line, bisects the monument from east to west. The entire complex caters to the 600,000 tourists drawn to the equator each year. Gardens, museums, restaurants, and stalls selling memorabilia surround the monument. It costs $2 to enter the complex; the combo ticket, which costs $5, gives you access
to the top of the monument for an expansive view and entrance to the museum. This ethnographic museum displays artifacts, photos, and placards to teach visitors about various indigenous societies from all over Ecuador. Considering this particular location was calculated 282 years ago, it’s admirable that the French measurement is only about 800 feet off. This place is perfect for taking impressive
pictures if you don’t mind the touristy atmosphere.
Museo de Sitio Intiñan
A rival equator line is within walking distance of the ostentatious Mitad del Mundo. Follow the sign for the “Inti Ñan Solar Museum” to a humble dirt trail which will lead you up a ravine and across a small bridge to get
The monument at Mitad del Mundo marks the equator. Photo by Herbert Eisengruber
to the open-air Museo de Sitio Intiñan. Intiñan is Quechuan (a local indigenous language) for “Path of the Sun.” After paying the $4 entrance fee, visitors are grouped together for an hour-long tour. The museum describes the indigenous societies of the four main regions of Ecuador: the coast, the Andes, the Amazon, and the Galapagos Islands. Culture, technology, and cosmography are taught through the totem poles, the reconstructed dwellings, and the cultural artifacts encountered along paths lined with native fauna. From a scaled model of the Galapagos Islands to a live performance of native Ecuadorian dance, there’s plenty to see. However, rather than just hearing about hunting with darts
and blowguns, you can wear a traditional feathered hat and try to use them yourself! The finale is, of course, the equator. This equator site is adorned with a sundial, a spinning globe, and markers along the painted red line that indicate equinoxes, solstices, and agricultural seasons. Here you participate in activities such as balancing eggs (you get a certificate if you succeed!), testing your own
balance, and watching water spin in different directions. Though scientifically questionable, these activities are undeniably fun. The sign on the equator boasts that it was calculated using GPS, but because it is a similar system to those used in cars rather than military grade technology, it’s still not accurate. Nevertheless, the heart of Intiñan is honoring the equatorial-dwelling people, not arguing accuracy. If you want a
Visit Museo de Sitio Intiñan for an interactive experience at an equator. Photo by Ssr
quirky, interactive, and informative experience at the equator, choose this museum.
Quitsato Sundial The most accurate equator monument is the Quitsato Sundial, an hour and a half drive northeast of Quito. Built in 2006, this marker combines astronomy and archaeology. In the indigenous Tsáchilan
language, quitsato means “center of the world.” The Quitsato Project, a non-profit, hopes to tie the equatorial identity of Ecuador to the ancient cultures that understood celestial movements in relation to the equator. Cristóbal Cobo, the Quitsato Project’s founder, is a self-taught astronomer, anthropologist, and geographer from Quito who made use of his pastime of hang-gliding in the mountains. Combining GPS and computerimaging technology, he tracked the line of the equator throughout the region and mapped out the surrounding indigenous constructions. He discovered that Catequilla, an archeological site on the equator, is the center of thirteen constructions aligned with geographical and celestial lines. Cobo believes these sites
The Quitsato Sundial combines astrology and archaelogy. Photo by Cayambe
were observatories from which ancient peoples charted the stars and the movement of the sun. The Quitsato Sundial was built to share the astronomical knowledge of the ancients. Its mosaic of light and dark pebbles forms a geometric, eightpointed star design. The lines artistically represent celestial mechanics: solstices, equinoxes, cardinal directions, the tilt of the earth, and the path of the sun. It also serves as a clock: hours and months can be read in the shadow cast by the central pillar. Community members volunteer as tour guides to give fifteen-minute presentations explaining the sundial’s meaning to visitors. If you don’t catch a tour guide or just want to learn more, check out the small
museum, Museo Cultura Solar, next to the sundial. While it may seem purely scientific, this site also invites you to look at the world through the eyes of the first equator experts. According to the brochure, “The Equatorial Line is not only an imaginary line, it’s much more than this; it’s a profound sense of being. The Equator is the balance line of equilibrium and is the line that joins to the two hemispheres . . . We appeal to a conscience of balance, union and reciprocity.” Lacking gift shops and crowds, the Quitsato Sundial offers a non-touristy atmosphere. It’s also the only man-made object on the equator that can be seen from space, which is fitting for a site dedicated to the workings of the celestial sphere.
Take Your Pick!
There is no wrong decision when it comes to visiting the equator in Ecuador. If you’re seeking a special souvenir to memorialize the trip, Mitad del Mundo will give you the best range of options. If you’re looking to make fun memories with your traveling companions, Museo de Sitio Intiñan is the most interactive and entertaining experience. If you want to stand on the most accurate equator marking and learn how it aligns with the movement of the planets, visit the Quitsato Sundial. So the only question is, which equator would you prefer?
a royal day out 48
hen you think of English royalty, a few images might come to mind: Queen Elizabeth outfitted in a bright dress and matching hat, Prince William and Duchess Kate on their wedding day, or a black-and-white image of an elderly Queen Victoria. To most tourists in London, the only essential royal site to visit would be Buckingham Palace with its famous columned façade and marching guardsmen. To a royal enthusiast, however, London offers a wealth of sites steeped in regal history. With a bit of guidance, any tourist can become a royal enthusiast and have an extremely rewarding time discovering the well-known and little-known royal sites throughout London.
Even though this site is frequently in the limelight, no royal enthusiast could complete a trip to London without seeing the residence of the Queen and her husband. Buckingham Palace has been the monarch’s official home since a young Queen Victoria moved there in 1837. A tourist on a budget can choose to remain outside the Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard in the morning, or simply watch the guardsmen march back and forth behind the gates. Those willing to spend the extra money can take a tour of Buckingham Palace’s state rooms as well as the Queen’s Gallery and the gardens. However, most of these are only open during the summertime when
the Queen stays at her Scottish residence in Balmoral Castle. While outside Buckingham Palace, remember to turn with your back to the palace and notice the large monument in the middle of the fountain. This is the Victoria Memorial, and it celebrates the reign and successes of the illustrious queen.
Royal Enthusiast’s Tip Be sure to look at the flag on top of the palace. Most of the time, the famous Union Jack will be flying. If you instead see a red, yellow, and blue flag divided into four parts, then you are looking at the Royal Standard, which indicates that the Queen is currently in residence at the palace!
here, and there is a specific tour that takes visitors through the rooms where Queen Victoria was born, held her first Privy Council as queen, and first saw her future husband, Prince Albert. All tours offered at Kensington Palace are much cheaper than the tour at Buckingham Palace and include information on the lives and experiences of several other royal residents, such as King William and his wife Queen Mary of the seventeenth century, Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister), and Princess Diana. Currently, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, live in Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace with their three children. This apartment can be seen directly to the left of Kensington’s main façade.
To a royal enthusiast, London offers a wealth of sites steeped in regal history. Kensington Palace
This lesser-known royal residence sits near the shore of the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens. Touring this park is free, as are certain sections of the palace’s gardens, including the serpentine walk that leads up to both the Sunken Garden and Orangery Gardens. Kensington Palace has been a royal residence since the late seventeenth century. In fact, Queen Victoria grew up
Royal Enthusiast’s Tip Stop for tea and a quick bite to eat at the Orangery. The Orangery was built under the direction of Queen Anne to house her royal orange trees in the winter. In the summer, the trees were transferred out to the terrace, and the Orangery was used for balls and ceremonies. Today it is an elegant and moderately affordable spot for tea and fine dining.
The Diana Memorial Fountain is a beautiful part of the Diana Memorial Walk. Photo by Laura LaRose
Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
For those who may not know, Princess Diana was married to Prince Charles, the son of Queen Elizabeth and first in line to the throne, and was the mother of Princes William and Harry. She was a champion for many charities and led the way in abolishing the stigma around AIDS patients. Tragically, she was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997. To honor her life and her legacy after her death, a seven-mile memorial walk was dedicated in her memory in the summer of 2000. The path runs through four adjoining parks—Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James’s Park—and is marked on the ground with a series of etched aluminum roses. This walk takes visitors past several palaces and royal houses as well
as more intimate sites associated with Princess Diana’s life. The Diana Memorial Playground was dedicated in memory of Diana’s love for children, and it is open to the public (though only adults accompanied by children may enter). The quiet beauty of the Diana Memorial Fountain reflects the Princess’s life and openness to the people, and is also included in the Memorial Walk.
Royal Enthusiast’s Tip Walk this path after touring Kensington Palace—particularly the section of the tour that concerns Princess Diana. The route runs directly past the palace and will provide visitors with a deeper and more reverent appreciation for the Princess’s life and legacy. Along the way, take note of the mountainous Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall, both built in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband.
Tower of London This massive structure dominates a section of the skyline along the River Thames. The Tower was established by William the Conqueror in 1066 and has played many roles since then, most notably those of palace, military fortress, prison, execution site, menagerie, and home of the Crown Jewels. A visitor can easily spend an entire day exploring the enormous tower with its millennium of history, but there are a few specific sites that a royal enthusiast absolutely must see. The Crown Jewels are a large set of maces, scepters, crowns, robes, jewelry, and other coronation tools collected by English kings and queens since the 1660s. The two largest diamonds in the world are embedded in the Crown Jewels, one in the Royal Scepter and the other in the Imperial State Crown. After seeing the Crown Jewels, take a walk over to Tower Green and
visit the spot where a scaffold once stood. This scaffold was used to execute several treasonous royals, among whom were Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, two of the wives of the infamous Henry VIII, and Lady Jane Grey, who ruled England for nine days before being thrown from power and killed at the Tower’s scaffold. Last, head over to the Medieval Palace and explore rooms such as King Edward I’s bedchamber and Lanthorn Tower with its assembly of royal medieval objects.
By Royal Invitation
All royal enthusiasts, whether amateurs or seasoned experts, can enjoy the regal side of London. Now that you have been given a little bit of history and some interesting tips for exploring a few of the top royal sites, you too can become a royal enthusiast and experience a royal day out in London!
Royal Enthusiast’s Tip Keep an eye out for a worker dressed as King Edward I, a medieval king. He really enjoys playful banter and especially loves visitors from “The New World.”
The White Tower is one of the central towers at the Tower of London. Photo by Doug Kerr
Getting Out of the Office
Why Remote Employment May Be Your Next Career Adventure
he year is coming to an end, and paid holidays are around the corner. Your siblings have invited you on a two-week cruise to the Caribbean in December. Piña coladas and a blissfully calm ocean breeze fill your imagination, but then you remember you used most of your paid time off when your kid got the flu back in February and when you visited your hometown for a high school reunion in June. You regretfully decline the invitation and spend the Christmas season in your usual business casual, sitting in a cramped cubicle and hating that you’re not at a beach. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. From an online survey of 14 thousand people, about 76% of the participants who work in a traditional office setting said they don’t like their jobs. However, 45% of the participants who telecommute said they love their jobs. Maybe these results aren’t surprising for some, but as I consider that so many telecommuters love their jobs, I’m left asking: What is it that makes working from home more enjoyable than working in a traditional office?
The Blessings of Remote Work
While there are probably many factors, one popular reason employees choose to work remotely is the flexibility in schedule and location. Lark Ducoeur, a successful freelancer based in Utah, frankly expressed her reasons for quitting her desk job as a French translator five years ago. Although her current freelancing pursuits have higher pay, she said, “It wasn’t just about the money. I’ve never quite liked going into an office every day and clocking in and out. I wanted my time back.” With more control over her schedule, Lark feels more freedom to plan how she spends her spare time. This time could be dedicated to lunch with a friend, yoga at 10 am, or art classes in the afternoon, instead of her free time being limited to early mornings or late evenings. Since most freelancers and remote employees can work from almost anywhere with a computer and Internet connection, another huge advantage for Lark is that she can travel more easily. “That’s the really nice thing—you don’t have to worry about paid time off,” she says, “If you want to take off for a long weekend or a week or a month, you are really free to do that.” For instance, Lark took a vacation to Italy, where she worked on a project in the mornings and spent the rest of the day sightseeing. On other trips, she decided not to work at all, treating it as a full-time vacation. “It’s really how you want to play it. You can tell your clients, ‘Don’t bother me,’ so you can
get there and enjoy yourself, but you need to make sure you have a means of communication if you want to make money while you’re traveling.”
The Curses of Remote Work
Along with this freedom, however, is a serious concern. If you can work anytime and anywhere, how do you know when to stop? Kate Herrick, an editor and writer with both freelance and
“It wasn’t just about the money. I wanted my time back.” remote work experience, said she also loves the freedom to work from home and to travel without restraints from her job. However, this blessing is also a curse. As a mother of two young children, Kate spent quite a while trying to adapt to a home workspace. “It’s awesome being flexible. I never have to worry about vacations. But at the same time the work is always there, and if I don’t finish everything, there’s a feeling that I’m not done with work.” This hints at a paradox that many remote employees face between freedom and constraint. Although research hasn’t proven whether remote employees are more or less productive, there is evidence that some employees
may be more stressed by telecommuting. According to an article in the Atlantic, remote employees may feel the need to work harder and overtime in order to prove they are devoted to the company in spite of not working at headquarters. At the same time, this unsure feeling about when to stop may have roots in time management. Kate explains that “time management is very different when you get to go to an office and you have a desk and all day to work and get your stuff done. When I’m at home, I feel like no matter how I schedule my time, things come up. I haven’t always protected my work time like I should, so my methods had to change a bit as well. It’s nice because there’s a lot of flexibility to find what works for you, but it takes some time to figure that out.”
Are You the Right Fit?
Control over work time and location is very attractive for adventurous folk, but how do you know if you are the right fit for a remote job? In Forbes, Mark Murphy recently analyzed the results of the survey “Is Your Personality Suited to Working Remotely or in the Office?” He deduced that an ideal remote employee is a self-motivated go-getter that hits deadlines and isn’t fazed by being away from colleagues. Murphy then offered employers two key questions they should ask while interviewing potential remote employees: 1. “Could you tell me about a time you made an important
decision without the help of a supervisor or boss?” 2. “Could you tell me about a time you got tough feedback from a boss?” According to Murphy, if you have experiences that let you answer these questions confidently, you have the self-motivation and grit needed to work effectively wherever and whenever.
Tips from the Experts
Even if you ace the interview and get the job, you still have to face some real-world dilemmas when it comes to remote work. Like Lark, you may need to decide when to actually take time off for vacation and when to work while traveling—a question that may come with backlash if you are on a trip with friends or family. Or, like Kate, you may feel consumed with constant projects encroaching your personal bubble,
even though your work hours are more flexible. In an article published by The Globe and Mail, the vice president of Citrix Canada (a global company that enables mobile work) offered several suggestions to help remote employees avoid potential pitfalls and overwhelming stress. Of those suggestions, two are particularly applicable when traveling. The first is to “make sure the lines of communication are always open. Whether you need to participate in a conference call from a hotel room or view your team’s project status in real-time,” you should take advantage of modern technology to stay connected to your colleagues or clients. The second is to know when to log off. The article suggests, “Establish set hours in which you plan to work—and stick to them—to help you fully disconnect when your work day comes to an end. . . . Dedicating
time for family and personal life is important to a happy and healthy mindset at work.” This way, remote employees will still perform well on their projects without burning out or losing the benefits of working autonomously. So if you’re sitting at a cubicle in a crowded office this Christmas, maybe it’s time to look into remote work instead of missing out on piña coladas and sandy beaches. If you’re one of those self-motivated and resilient go-getters, who’s to say you can’t regain your freedom?
—Elizabeth Smith Sources
www.theatlantic.com www.forbes.com www.theglobeandmail.com
Culture “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” —Anita Desai
hroughout the hustle and bustle of cities, you will find whimsical pockets of nature tucked away between alleyways and abbeys. Some are cached away, kept as a secret of sorts from unsuspecting passersby; others may be better known yet inadvertently overlooked. While almost contradictory to the premise of hidden gardens, we’ve done some digging in order to pinpoint a few exquisite sites around the world. So make space in your travel plans, because these secret gardens inspire romantic mystique and offer reprieve from the usual travel docket. With that in mind, here are five garden gems from around the world that you won’t want to miss:
Las Pozas (“the Pools”) is an entrancing garden near Xilitla, a village seven hours north of Mexico City. The 80-acre landscape is dotted with natural waterfalls and pools. As you meander through beds of tropical plants, you’ll find the jungle to be interlaced with an eccentric clustering of surrealistic cement sculptures. Tucked away in the misty mountains, this garden is certainly the Eden-like oasis it was intended to be.
St. Dunstan-in-the-East London, England
Halfway between the Tower of London and the London Bridge you’ll find the ruins of St. Dunstanin-the-East. Destroyed by the London Blitz in 1941, the remains of the church now house a charming public garden. Like most English gardens, St. Dunstan’s is beautifully overgrown with vines left to wildly twine around pillars and arches.
Kuang Si Falls
Luang Prabang, Laos
While not a garden by definition, it’s hard not to feel as though you’ve stumbled upon a natural assembly of perfection when traipsing through Kuang Si Falls. With turquoise waters and tropical blooms, you’ll think you’ve found a small slice of paradise.
Tunnel of Love Klevan, Ukraine
What’s more magical than a tunnel of deep greens and streaming sunlight? This unique passageway in Ukraine functioned as a railway, and the passing trains have molded the trees of this luscious landscape into green arches. It’s impossible not to fall in love with such an ethereal array of vegetation.
Jardin Botanique Floralpina Arras, France
Half a century ago, Jean-Michel Spas set out on a venture to collect horticultural species from the five continents. The result? A unique collection of 4,000 plants and one of the largest collections of alpine plants in France. However, this private botanical garden may be a bit trickier to visit: it is only open the last Sunday in May and by appointment.
As you might imagine, secret gardens tend to be rather obscure and mysterious. While we haven’t been able to pinpoint an entire slew of them for this article, hopefully these five gardens will be the head start you need to stumble upon your very own secret gardens—wherever you venture to next.
Photos by ukgardenphotos (title image); Rod Waddington (Las Pozas); Mike Cunningham (St. Dunstan’s); Christian Bowman (Kuang Si); goglee (Tunnel of Love); Napafloma-Photographe (Jardin Botanique).
Amezaiku Japan’s Sweet Tradition
ver one thousand years ago, Japanese artisans sculpted sugary dough into small candy birds, presenting them as gifts for the spirits in early temples. This was the beginning of the cultural tradition of edible art called amezaiku. The word ame means “candy” and the word zaiku means “craft,” so amezaiku literally translates to “candy craft.” During the
Japanese Edo Period (1603–1868), this craft became popular at festivals and street markets, giving the common population access to the candy. The ame shokunin, or master craftsmen, created their sculptures in front of crowds, and the candy became more than just a treat—it became a cultural event with a performance and a sweet reward. The sculptures have evolved from small candy
Amezaiku fish come in all colors. Some are even transparent. Photo by 海獺. Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0. (Image reversed.)
birds to lovely, lifelike figures of both animals and fish that display the artistry and skill of the amezaiku masters.
Creating the Candy
The recipe for amezaiku candy is based on mizuame, a starchy syrup, which is a staple ingredient for many Japanese desserts. Preparing the recipe is a timeconsuming process. It can take up to five hours for the sugary mixture to boil, form a taffy-like texture, and become transparent. Once it is ready, the mix is shaped into a large mound and covered until the artisan is ready to begin sculpting.
Sculpting the Candy
The dough is kept between 176° and 212°F (80° and 94°C), making it a very hot substance to work with. The artisan takes a small piece from the mound and stretches and folds the mixture by hand (similar to pulling taffy) until it is the proper consistency to sculpt. The artist then places the piece on a wooden stick and begins sculpting the figure using fingers, one-bladed scissors, and tweezers. The artist must work quickly: there is approximately a
Ame Shokunin makes amezaiku. Photo by Florentino Luna. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. (Image cropped and reversed.)
three-minute time frame to sculpt the final figure before the candy hardens. After the sculpture sets, the artist paints the figure with food dye, bringing the candy to life as a beautiful piece of edible art.
Becoming an Ame Shokunin
The cultural tradition of amezaiku involves more than just the creation of a delicious piece of candy. The practice is an art form requiring knowledge, skill, and creativity. An artisan learns the craft as an apprentice to a master of the trade. Currently, there are fewer than fifty ame shokunin with knowledge of the recipe and techniques required to create amezaiku. The masters say that learning to handle the intense heat of the mixture without burning their hands is the most difficult skill to acquire, but it is also the most essential. After mastering this step, artisans
must learn to recognize the proper texture and transparency of the dough when it is ready for sculpting. Finally, aspiring ame shokunin must cultivate the talent and precision required to craft beautiful figures in the limited time available before the candy hardens.
Preserving the Tradition
Using a recipe that is over a thousand years old and preserving long established cultural techniques cultivate a deep respect for the amezaiku tradition. Linda Lombardi of Tofugo’s Japanese culture blog said, “In traditional Japanese cuisine, it’s not enough for something to taste good, it has to look good too. This is particularly true of sweets, which are often just as much a handicraft as a food.” Her statement perfectly depicts the amezaiku relationship
between food and art form. The final product must reflect good taste, literally and figuratively. One of the remaining amezaiku masters, Tokahiro Yoshihara, was asked why he chose to be an ame shokunin. He replied, “I want to preserve the profession. There are a lot of people who don’t know about amezaiku, so I want them to notice this one element of Japanese culture.” The Japanese candy artisan profession remains a small but powerful reminder that culture can be retained in many forms, including the sweet tradition of amezaiku.
—Laurie Weisler Sources www.nytimes.com www.tofugu.com
The Symbolism in Sacred Gothic Architecture
s you walk into a Gothic church, the ethereal atmosphere is immediately evident. The reverent hush and the dark stonework lit by brilliantly colored stained-glass patterns of light create this aura that is completely unique to sacred Gothic architecture. Most people, whether seasoned or amateur travelers, are relatively familiar with Gothic churches. But the symbolism hidden within these centuries-old structures is often lost on visitors. Gothic churches were built with symbolism incorporated into every element. While each building differs slightly in terms of symbolic components, every symbol allows
the visitor to have an enlightened and almost otherworldly experience. Perhaps the most famous of all Gothic structures is NotreDame Cathedral in Paris, which contains every constituent of a classic Gothic cathedral. Looking at Notre-Dame’s façade, you can see two soaring towers that immediately draw the eye upward to heaven. These towers are flanked by stone carvings of gargoyles— some of which serve as spouts to drain rainwater, and all of which were designed primarily to show viewers the demons that would surround them in hell if they did not worship in the cathedral. Along with the gargoyles, at Notre-Dame’s entrance there are also three doors, which together
reference the Trinity. Each door is topped with a Gothic pointed arch, which resembles a triumphal arch and thus represents Christ’s triumph over the devil. As you enter the cathedral, it becomes clear that Notre-Dame is built in the shape of a cross, with the entrance placed at the bottom of the cruciform structure. Early Christians saw the symbolism in entering a crossshaped church: by participating in the church services, they were utilizing Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to ensure their salvation. This main entrance is placed at the west end of the cathedral, which is considered the least holy direction because the sun sets in the west (sunsets to medieval citizens generally referenced death).
As you proceed further into the cathedral by walking down the long nave, or main aisle, you head east—the holy direction where the sun rises, where it is believed Christ will come again, and where rebirth, both physical and spiritual, is most possible. Continuing down the nave, you will notice the incredibly high ceilings and abundance of stained glass along the walls. Both of these elements are meant to evoke a heavenly sense. The eyes are simultaneously drawn upward to heaven and greeted with spectacular, sparkling colors coming through the windows. The Abbot Suger, who is known as the father of Gothic architecture, established this idea of luxe nova, or “new light,” that would transport the viewer from this world to a more heavenly, celestial world. These stainedglass windows are also decorated with biblical scenes that allowed illiterate visitors to understand the stories. Each scene is placed strategically to juxtapose another,
allowing the viewer to gain new insights and see connections between all the parts of the Bible. Towards the eastern end of the nave is the transept, or horizontal part of the cross. Here again the four cardinal directions come into play: The north transept’s stainedglass windows feature scenes from the Old Testament, or time of the old law, because the north typically receives less sunlight. The south transept’s windows depict scenes from the New Testament, or time of the new law, because the south is lit with more sunlight throughout the year. At the easternmost part of the cathedral is the apse, the most holy part of the church where the altar sits and where the head of Christ would have been on his own cross. This is the part of the church where the priest prepares the Eucharist—a sacrament of bread and wine that transforms into the body and blood of Christ. Standing at this point in Notre-Dame, three large round windows can be seen at the
north, south, and west ends of the cross-shaped cathedral. These windows are known as rose windows, and each is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who was known as “the rose without thorns.” While every Gothic church has at least one rose window, these rose windows are particularly significant in Notre-Dame, whose name translates to “Our Lady”—another reference to the Virgin Mary. Though there is an abundance of symbolism specific to Notre-Dame, every Gothic church contains the same essential elements. Gothic cathedrals and abbeys are absolutely saturated with symbolism and hidden meaning. Visitors today can travel to Europe and experience the wonderful sense of reverence and devotion that has permeated these structures for centuries through their rich symbols.
A rose window in Notre-Dame Cathdral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Photo by RCbass
Photo by Thomas Hawk
All Shook Up over Death Week The Wild and Wacky Ways Memphis Remembers its King
emphis, Tennessee, is, without a doubt, home to the legacy of a royal—not a crownwearer but a blue-suede-shoeswearer. Elvis Aaron Presley passed away on August 16, 1977, but has continued to leave his mark on the greater Memphis area in the
40 years since. His influence on Memphis, the city nestled right next to the delta of the Mississippi River, is unmistakable. From souvenir trinkets to restaurant menus, Elvis’s name and image are everywhere. The city prides itself on the life and legacy of Elvis every day, but it really comes alive with
Elvis-appreciation during the annual “Death Week” celebration in August. It is truly a spectacle— a time of mourning, of admiration, of tribute, of nostalgia, and of seeing Elvis impersonators in droves (picture the Las Vegas Strip). A tangible reverence, albeit laughable for all but the most devoted fans, settles over the land
of the Delta blues. Thousands of Elvis appreciators from near and far flock to midtown Memphis to pay their respects to the King of Rock and Roll. Some come to relive their glory days, some come to pass the legacy of appreciation to their posterity, and some come merely to admire the impressive and somewhat excessive scope of the festivities for this greatly missed, well-loved musician. The focal event of the celebration, one viewed as utterly bizarre by all but the most dedicated aficionados, is the Candlelight Vigil conducted near Graceland mansion (Elvis’s home that has become almost as famous as he is). At twilight, mourners gather to hold candles and bond over a singer and a time long gone. Another priority of many Death Week tourists is attending one or more of the many tribute performances and impersonation shows. These events may seem extreme to the uninitiated, but Death Week etiquette demands a somber respect for the sincere emotions experienced by the majority of attendees. In other words, poking fun is off-limits. If you pay attention (or even if you don’t), you’re likely to see folks dressed up in clothes printed with Elvis’s face on them, clothes inspired by Elvis’s eccentric taste in patterns, and clothes meant to imitate specific well-known articles themselves (i.e., any one of the many beloved white jumpsuits). Lansky’s, the famous clothing purveyor credited with helping Elvis develop his iconic style, conducts a brisk business during Death Week.
Every visitor to Graceland passes by the famous sign. Photo by Jennifer
The adress 3717 Elvis Presley Boulevard (Graceland) bustles with fans as folks line up outside, going in and out. And the garden becomes extra fragrant as Elvis’s on-site “tomb” becomes piled high with blooms from fans of all ages: those who remember going to see the singer perform live, all the way down to those barely old enough to say his name.
Besides the events specific to Death Week, many fans wouldn’t consider their time in Memphis complete without a quick stop on Union Avenue for a tour of Sun Studios, where Elvis frequently recorded. Others make an annual trek down to Tupelo, Mississippi to lay eyes on the site of the legend’s birth. An important ritual for some includes indulging in
Graceland’s exterior exudes Southern charm.
a classic fried PBBB. Elvis was a huge fan of the fried peanut butter-banana-bacon sandwich, and tons of his devotees make sure to champion Memphis’s myriad sandwich shops to ask for an “Elvis,” or one of the many other peanut butter and banana treats seemingly omnipresent in midtown restaurants. Of course, if the grease and extremes of the Death Week celebration in Memphis aren’t for you, consider a making an Elvis playlist and munching on a simple piece of peanut butter toast in the comfort of your own home. No crying, blue suede shoes, or plane tickets necessary.
—Samantha Bullock Sources
www.theguardian.com www.memphistravel.com www.nationalgeographic.com
During Death Week, adoring fans decorate Elvis’s tomb with flowers and small gifts. Photo by Baer Tierkel
The Elvis statue on Memphis’s famous Beale Street attracts thousands of visitors.
Plum Crazy Plums are one of the world’s most delightful fruits. They come in many varieties and can range from mellow to tart. This versatile fruit is enjoyed by many cultures in both sweet and savory dishes. Here are some tasty examples!
This cake is a modified version of Pflaumenkuchen, a classic German dessert. Enjoy!
Ingredients 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup plus 1–2 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of plums) 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 3 eggs 4–7 plums, pitted and halved 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Heat oven to 350° F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream together butter and 1 cup sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing after each egg. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until combined. 2. Smooth batter into a greased 9-inch springform pan. Arrange the plums in a layer on top of the batter. Sprinkle the layer with lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining sugar. 3. Bake for 45–50 minutes until cake is golden. The cake is done if a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out free of batter (but of course not plum juice). Cool on rack. If possible, leave the cake covered at room temperature overnight, because this cake is even better the second day. Adapted from www.smittenkitchen.com
Plum cake, dusted with sugar. Photo by Liliana Fuchs
Mirabelle Plum Jam
Mirabelle plums are delicious yellow plums grown in France. Mirabelles are available in most countries, but due to trade laws, mirabelles are not available in the United States. Try sweet mirabelle plums if you ever get the chance, but you can substitute plums available in your region for this recipe. Note: if using tart plums, add more sugar to taste.
Ingredients 1 pound mirabelle plums, halved and pitted 2/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Place the mirabelles in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mirabelles are cooked through, about 8–10 minutes. (You should have about 2 cups.) 2. Add the sugar and lemon juice and continue to cook the mirabelles over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid looks syrupy. To check if
the jam is done, turn the heat off, put a generous dab of jam on a chilled plate in the freezer, and wait a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you nudge it, the jam is ready. If using a thermometer, the jam will set at around 220º F. 3. Remove the jam from heat and add lemon juice to taste. Scoop the jam into clean jars, cover, and refrigerate. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for at least two weeks. Adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe
Chinese Plum Sauce
This plum sauce is a staple ingredient in many delicious Chinese dishes. This sauce would be perfect for dipping pot stickers or roasting a duck, as is traditional in China.
12 medium plums, pitted and cut into small chunks 5 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup red onion, minced 1 tablespoon ginger, grated 1/4 cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Ingredients 1/2 pound fresh scallops, chopped (or shrimp) 1 plum, chopped 1 teaspoon basil, chopped 1 teaspoon mint, chopped 1 lime (juice and zest) 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions 1. In a nonreactive bowl, combine the scallops, plum, basil, mint, lime juice, and lime zest. Season with kosher salt and cayenne pepper. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. 2. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with lime slices and serve. (Ceviche should be served at room temperature. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.) Adapted from www.cooking.nytimes.com
1. Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. 2. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 3. Blend well with an immersion blender. Add water to thin if desired. Store in the refrigerator up to two weeks or in the freezer up to six months. Adapted from www.eatingrichly.com
Scallop and Plum Ceviche
Ceviche is popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. This ceviche dish uses lime juice to “cook” the scallops, making them safe to eat. The plum adds a sweet twist to this classic dish.
Some people prefer their ceviche with shrimp. Photo by Y6y6y6
Weinachtsmarkts Germany’s Christmas Gift to the World
hen it’s Christmastime in Germany, the town squares transform into enchanted holiday scenes with open-air stalls, decorated Christmas trees, and brightly lit paper stars. Aromas of sizzling sausage, spices, and sweets delight the senses. As soon as Advent begins, the Christmas markets begin to appear, presenting their seasonal foods and traditional handicrafts. German Christmas markets, also known as Weinachtsmarkts or Christkindlmarkts, began hundreds of years ago as winter markets where villagers could purchase necessary items for the long, cold months ahead. As they
spread to other German villages, they became more than marketplaces—they evolved into highly anticipated holiday events. Each unique Christmas market provides a distinct experience with holiday themes, regional foods, and custom crafts.
Berlin hosts over seventy Christkindlmarkts throughout the city. The largest market has sixty stalls and specializes in regional fare such as dried fruit, bratwurst, and beer. Local choirs perform every evening, contributing to the holiday festivities. The traditional markets present a live nativity or a Christkind (a local girl dressed
as an angel). Additional markets feature Scandinavian themes with toboggans; others have merry-go-rounds and familyfriendly entertainers, and for the romantically inclined, there are markets that offer horse-drawn carriage rides. There is something special for everyone at the Berlin Christkindlmarkts.
The Cologne Christmas market is the largest in Germany, featuring 160 stalls that attract four million visitors each year. The market is held in the town square by the grand Cologne Cathedral and boasts the tallest Christmas tree of Germany’s Christmas markets. The scent of chocolate is in the air with cocoadusted truffles and thick, steamy hot chocolate drinks offered from the booths. Cologne’s market is one of the most delightful of all the German Christmas markets.
Visitors explore the Stuttgart Christmas Market. Photo by Chris Fleming. CC-BY-SA-2.0. (Image cropped.)
Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is thought to be the oldest German Christmas market. The Striezelmarkt is famous for displaying the world’s largest Weihnachtspyramide (traditional German scenes stacked in a wooden pyramid)
and the world’s tallest Nüssknacker (nutcracker). An exclusive event of the Dresden market is the Stollen Festival that showcases a very large Stollen (a type of fruitcake). It is carried through the market by local bakers to great fanfare and then sliced and sold to raise money for local charities. The Dresden market enthusiastically maintains the heritage of Germany’s Weihnactsmarkts.
The legendary Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt is held in Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt (main square). It retains its traditional charm with 180 red and white roofed stalls that sell only handmade items. While the artisans and crafts are enticing, the food is what makes the market famous. The Gerstacker Glühwein (blueberry mulled wine) is a unique Nuremberg tradition. Visitors come from all over to enjoy the renowned Zwetschgenmännle (people-shaped dried plum treats) and the legendary Lebkuchen (a gingerbread-like cookie). The
old mail coaches, pulled by Clydesdale horses, transport people over the cobblestone streets of Old Town. It is the best way to experience the fairytale-like atmosphere of the Nuremberg Christmas market.
The Stuttgart Christmas market is set against the backdrop of the Old Palace, Southern Germany’s oldest castle built in 941 ad. All but the foundation and a few walls were destroyed during World War II air raids. Rebuilt in 1944, the Old Palace is a symbol of resilience and, as such, is a fitting gathering place for the Stuttgart Christmas market. Three hundred stalls decorated with evergreen boughs and lighted paper stars surround a large ice rink set in the Old Palace inner court. Food stalls tempt passers-by with bratwurst, candied nuts, and Schneeballen (snowballshaped, cream-filled pastries). Other stalls display hand-blown glass ornaments, wooden incense smokers, and traditional
handmade cuckoo clocks. The historic Stuttgart Christmas market delivers an unforgettable experience in a beautiful location. German Christmas markets offer a uniquely charming and delightful opportunity to enjoy the holiday. Communities gather to celebrate, lights twinkle on trees and stalls, and chestnuts really are roasted over open fires. Weinachtsmarkts not only create the magic of Christmas—they share it with the world.
Photo by Mathew Bedworth. CC-BY-2.0. (Image rotated and cropped.)
Sugar Rush European Chocolate and Candy
ou will find happiness in every bite of European chocolate and candy. Full of rich, unique, and sweet flavors, here are some of the best chocolates and candies from Europe.
Milka is a velvety smooth, meltin-your-mouth chocolate bar. This bar originated in Switzerland in the early nineteenth century when a Swiss confectioner added milk to his chocolate recipe, making the chocolate tender. It comes in many flavors, such as hazelnut, biscuit, and caramel. Because Milka is produced primarily in Germany, you will most likely find it in German stores, gas stations, and grocery stores. It’s the Hershey’s of Germany—but better.
Hanuta is a chocolate to go nuts for! The hazelnut chocolate sandwiched between crunchy wafers is pure magic. This treat is named for its use of hazelnut: the word hanuta in German is short for haselnuss-tafel, which translates to “hazelnut bar.” The chocolate is made with real butter that accentuates the rich, nutty flavor. Ferrero has made Hanutas in Germany since 1959, and they are available all over Europe. Ferrero also makes many other delicious hazelnut chocolates that are to die for.
Zotz, a candy from Italy, may appear like a normal hard candy, but a surprise awaits within the fruit-flavored exterior. After you
chomp and crunch, a chemical reaction causes the powder in the center of the candy to explode into a fizzing and foaming sensation in your mouth. The flavors include apple, cherry, watermelon, blue raspberry, grape, and orange. This unique and exciting candy is not only found in Italy but is also distributed in the United States.
Eating Mozartkugel is like putting Mozart’s beautiful music in your mouth. Created in 1890 by a confectioner in Salzburg, Austria, a Mozart bonbon is a symphony of flavors: pistachio marzipan and a smooth hazelnut nougat are dipped first in milk chocolate and then in dark chocolate. This musical delight is wrapped in a foil with Mozart’s face on it. Every piece is an exquisite composition that you can purchase in many European grocery stores.
These delectable, chewy treats originated from the Netherlands in the early eighteenth century. Wrapped and sold in stacks, Stroopwafels can be bought in some European grocery stores and from vendors at bazaars.
Nestlé Toffee Crisp
Tempting toffee, chewy caramel, crispy cereal, and crunchy biscuit are swathed and smothered in milk chocolate to form a Nestlé Toffee Crisp. This classic British candy bar was launched in the 1960s in Newcastle, England, by a company called Mackintosh that specialized in toffee. Mackintosh was taken over by Nestlé, but Nestlé kept the original recipe for the toffee crisps. Inspired by crispy treats and cake recipes, this candy bar is produced and sold in the United Kingdom.
Cadbury Boost Bar
Give your energy and taste buds a boost with a blast of chocolate that packs a punch! Milk chocolate and chewy caramel encompass a filling of crisp biscuit and a soft chocolate center in Cadbury Boost Bars. These bars are sold in stores in England, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa. The next time you go to Europe, don’t miss out on these delightful treats. You’ll be educating your palate and experiencing the rich history of expert chocolatiers and candy makers. Better yet, take a chocolate and candy tour of Europe. Combining the excitement of travel and European sweets would be a scrumptious adventure.
Stroopwafels are made from thin, dense wafers bonded together with brown sugar and caramel syrup.
Field Notes “Not all those who wander are lost.” —J.R.R Tolkien
THINK OUTSIDE THE FRAME
a guide to lesser known works of art in paris
aris, France, is known throughout the world for its museums and vast collections of art. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all there is to see, so many people choose to see only the most famous works of art in each museum. While it’s great to see the Mona Lisa, it may not be worth spending your entire day at the Lourve pushing through crowds to see one painting when there is so much beautiful artwork in Paris that gets overlooked. Here are some of the lesser-known pieces that should be on your list of art to see in Paris.
If you like Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait go see
Thatched Cottages at Cordeville This isn’t one of Van Gogh’s more popular works, but it’s a beautiful piece that embodies his unique expressionist style of painting. He completed this work just weeks before his tragic death and the distortion of the landscape and cottages perhaps hints at the state of his mind at that time. The colors and subject matter are calm and serene, but like the textured background of his Self Portrait, Van Gogh transforms the scene with curving lines and thickly layered paint.
If you like Claude Monet’s Water Lilies go see
Rouen Cathedral Series
This series of paintings depicts the Rouen Cathedral at different times of the day and year. Monet’s subject and angle do not change, but the paintings themselves are very different from one another. Monet captures light in paint and shows us the effect that it makes in a scene. The true subject in the paintings is not the cathedral, but light itself. So, while initially these works may not look as “abstract” or impressionistic as
Monet’s famous water lilies, this series of paintings embodies what the impressionistic movement is all about—the play of light on objects. If you like George de La Tour’s Magdalene with the Smoking Flame go see
Joseph the Carpenter Georges de La Tour is perhaps most famous for his dramatically lit depiction of Mvary Magdalene, but this painting of Joseph with the Christ Child
represents La Tour’s style while also presenting a tender scene of a father and son. La Tour is famous for his use of tenebrism, which is the dramatic contrast between light and dark. It is prevalent in both the Magdalene with the Smoking Flame and this work. The symbolism in Joseph the Carpenter is more pronounced than in La Tour’s more famous work. The drill Joseph is holding is in the shape of a cross—foreshadowing Christ’s crucifixion and death. We also see that the light in the scene seems to be emanating from the Christ Child himself.
If you like the Venus de Milo go see
Diana of Versailles
If you’re a fan of Classical Greek sculpture, you’ll love Diana of Versailles (a.k.a. Artemis with a Doe), one of the first ancient statues to arrive in France. Like the Venus de Milo, the sculpture depicts a Greek goddess, this time the goddess of hunting and chastity. Unlike Venus’ static pose, Diana is caught in the act of pulling an arrow from her quiver. She is also clothed, giving us the opportunity to see how the anonymous sculptor skillfully transformed marble into flowing drapery.
If you like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa go see
The Virgin of the Rocks
While the Mona Lisa is beautiful, the crowds and bullet proof glass covering the painting make it hard to really appreciate. The Virgin of the Rocks is a perfect example of da Vinci’s iconic style with diffused light and chiaroscuro (contrasted light and shadow). This painting also allows viewers to get a better look at the way that Leonardo paints the human form as well as landscapes since there are more figures and landscape depicted here than in the Mona Lisa.
Splashing into the New Year Photo by Richard Shaw. CC BY 2.0 (Image cropped.)
A Personal Look at the Thailand Water Festival
magine walking down the streets of Thailand enjoying the magical beauty of your surroundings. You see the ornate temples and hear the birds chirping overhead while you bask in the warm sunlight. And then, all of a sudden, the peacefulness of your moment is shattered—you are drenched in water, head to toe! This is Songkran, also known as Thailand’s Water Festival, and it is a splash that will stay with you for a lifetime. Chloe Casper, a Brigham Young University student who lived in Thailand for 18 months, experienced the festivities of Songkran twice. With an insider’s enthusiasm for this Thai tradition, Chloe had a lot to say about the Thailand Water Festival. Here are just a few of the things that she shared about this unforgettable New Year tradition.
What is Songkran and why is it celebrated?
“Songkran is one of the biggest cultural celebrations in Thailand. Everyone spends a week
throwing water on each other and partying. It is the celebration of the Thai New Year! Songkran is more than just a party though; it is a festival rich with religious tradition and cultural significance.”
When is Songkran celebrated?
“Technically Songkran begins April 13th and ends April 15th, but people often celebrate the whole week.”
What is the celebration like?
“It’s crazy. Everywhere is fair game, but there are often big celebrations in some of the major cities around Thailand. Often a street will be blocked off, vendors will set up shop, buckets of water will be provided to refill water guns, and people will just walk up and down the street spraying each other with water guns and dumping buckets of water on each other’s heads. It can be very cold if someone uses ice water, which they sometimes do. Food courts are usually nearby in order
to grab a delicious Thai snack and refuel for more fun.”
Are tourists welcome to join in?
“Tourists love Songkran! I saw as many farangs (foreigners) as I did Thai people! Tourists can join in the secular celebration with the water fight, and, if they desire, they can observe the cultural celebration as well. I say cultural because their religion and culture are so intertwined that they are almost inseparable.”
What customs take place during Songkran?
“There are a lot of important religious customs that take place. The majority of Thai people are Buddhist, and the New Year is seen as a time of renewal. They pour scented water on the little Buddha statues that are located all over Thailand as a symbol of cleansing oneself from sin. Thai people will also bring sand to the Buddhist temples and essentially build very intricate sand castles
Photo by Wyndham Hollis. CC BY 2.0 (Image cropped.)
inside the temples. There is a reason behind this: they believe that when you visit the temple, you take a little dirt from the temple with you on your shoes when you leave. During the New Year, you essentially bring that dirt back so that you can replenish the dirt floor of the temple and be cleansed from that sin of ‘stealing.’ Many people will participate in good deeds such as going to the temple, feeding the monks, feeding fish, or praying at Buddhist statues in order to receive blessings.”
Are there rules for the celebration?
“Songkran can be a little dangerous because of the lack of rules. Just be careful when driving. There are a lot of officers policing the roads during Songkran to prevent drunk driving, but that doesn’t prevent the hundreds of accidents that occur during the week. That being said, if you’re careful not to drive at night, you should be fine. Also, sometimes you won’t be allowed into certain Songkran areas if you are dressed too immodestly.”
aren’t planning on going to any water fights. You never know when you’ll get splashed. Everyone and everywhere is fair game. Some places will make you pay money to refill your water guns, but there are a lot of places that don’t, so don’t fall into the ‘tourist trap’ if you don’t have to. Look up the area you are planning on visiting before going.”
Why do you love Songkran?
“I love seeing people with their families. Songkran is a time to be with your family and pay your respects to them. It’s such a happy time. It adds so much spice to your life when you’re walking
down the street and all of a sudden someone throws a bucket of water on you. It’s like the water gun fights we had as kids. So many laughs, so many memories, so many soaking wet pairs of jeans.” So what’s stopping you from participating in the biggest water fight of your life? Next time Songkran rolls around, pack your bags, grab some water-proof pouches, and head to Thailand for an opportunity to be a part of the fun and culture that surrounds the Thai New Year.
What are some tips for going to Songkran? “Get a plastic bag for your phone and wallet, even if you
Photo by John Shedrick. CC BY 2.0 (Image cropped.)
Big Apple Join the 8.5 million New Yorkers in finding what it truly feels like to live in the Big Apple by making your next trip more authentic.
o you’ve already been to New York City and done everything that a firsttime New York tourist should do: Times Square, Central Park, The Met, the Statue of Liberty, Little Italy, the Brooklyn Bridge. Perhaps you have made it a point to see the Tiffany & Co. window Audrey Hepburn looked in during the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s or the Riverside Park Garden where Tom Hanks proposed to Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. All of these sites are worth seeing, but when you visit them, sometimes you can’t shake the feeling that you are too much of a tourist as you stand in line to take pictures. That’s why another trip to New York is worth your while: it can be just as special as your first trip, but this time you can blend in and become a real New Yorker.
If you are looking for any green in the concrete jungle, take a trip to the New York Botanical Gardens instead of or in addition to Central Park. This 250-acre oasis, which includes over 50 gardens and collections, has a lot to explore any time of the year. With cafes, restaurants, and food courts scattered around the area, you could spend your whole day in this haven of colorful flowers and rare plants. Educational programs
are offered to adults and children who want to learn about the plants in the area and the organization’s conservation efforts. The gardens are located in The Bronx and require an admission fee ranging from $20 to $25.
New Yorkers don’t go to Little Italy for pasta dishes. Like all of the city’s truly special Italian restaurants, Cellini is a hidden gem in the city. Located in Midtown Manhattan, Cellini will treat you to creative yet traditional Italian cuisine without the touristy hustle and bustle of Little Italy. Cellini is most famous for its imbustata—veal, chicken, mushrooms, spinach, cheese, and tomato sauce stuffed into an envelope-shaped pasta and baked in the oven. If you like Italian food, Cellini will not disappoint.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must-see for any New Yorker or tourist. However, once you’ve checked The Met off your list, you’ll be overwhelmed by the other museums there are to visit. If you’ve had your fill of paintings, try the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. This American military museum is called the Intrepid because it is literally on the famous World War II aircraft
The sun illuminates a busy street of New York City.
carrier USS Intrepid. Already packed with its own history, this ship also holds aircrafts, submarines, and space shuttles. This museum is not only for World War II buffs; the aircraft carrier has actually been used since the war. On 9/11, the museum was shut down so the FBI could use the aircraft carrier to investigate the attack and explore Ground Zero by air and sea. Tickets to
visit this unique museum range from $24 to $33.
With so many Broadway shows in New York City, not even a New Yorker can get tired of all the musicals and plays there are to see. However, New Yorkers love their sports teams just as much as they love their theater. For your next trip to the Big Apple,
One belongs to [New York] as much in five minutes as in five years. —Tom Wolfe
consider attending an athletic event rather than or in addition to a Broadway show. The city’s multiple teams ensure that there will be a game going on that will capture your interest, whether it involves baseball, hockey, or football. With the average Broadway ticket costing $100, you can expect to pay a similar price for a decent seat at a game. Whether you are exploring nature, food, history, or entertainment, New York City has more to offer than just the common checklist activities. With each authentic New York experience and with each additional trip to the city, you’ll feel less like a tourist and more like a real New Yorker.
Right to Roam
enjoying Sweden’s landscapes “The freedom to roam is the principle, protected by the law, that gives all people the right to roam free in nature. Sleep on mountaintops, by the lakes, in quiet forests or beautiful meadows. Take a kayak out for a spin or experience the wildlife firsthand. Pick berries and mushrooms and flowers from the ground—all completely free of charge. The only thing you have to pay, is respect for nature and the animals living there.” —Visit Sweden
he toes of my thick hiking boots peeked hesitantly off the boardwalk. My friend was already a few paces ahead of me, tromping off trail with his camera handy and exclaiming something about “squishy moss.” My American instincts told me to stay on the designated path and respect the property by not stepping on it—but that notion doesn’t apply to Swedish land. In Tyresta National Park, as in most of Sweden, you are free to walk anywhere. Mushroom treasure hunts, beach strolls under the midnight sun, and spontaneous jaunts up coastal peaks are not only allowed but protected by law. Free access to land is a deeply rooted cultural heritage that was provincial law in the Middle Ages and, as of 1994, became part of the Constitution of Sweden. The constitution officially grants that “everyone shall have access
to nature in accordance with allemansrätten.” In other words, the general public has the right to access public and privately owned land for recreational use. The Swedish word allemansrätten literally translates to “the everyman’s right,” so this freedom to roam applies not only to native Swedes but to every visitor. In fact, the entire country of Sweden is listed as a place to stay on Airbnb because they want everyone to come and enjoy allemansrätten!
The Constitution of Sweden is surprisingly vague about the specifics of allemansrätten because it’s a culturally understood concept for the Swedes. Luckily, other sources give specific guidelines for visitors. You have the right of access to any land with the exception of land under cultivation, private
gardens, and the immediate vicinity (within 230 feet) of a dwelling house. While some special rules understandably apply for protected areas, like nature reserves, those rules may not be as strict as you’d guess. You can walk, cycle, crosscountry ski, and ride horses across the country. Along the way, you can pick wild flowers or snack on berries and mushrooms, which are especially abundant in autumn. Campers can stay for up to two nights in the same spot and then take their tents elsewhere for longer trips in the countryside. You can swim in any lake, and unpowered boats are welcome on any body of water. Those who are calmed by the rocking motion of waves can even enjoy spending the night on the lake. Those willing to brave the cold can enjoy ice skating on the same waters during the long winter. Any time of the year, you can fish in the five big lakes and along the coastline. Shoreline walks, whether along the beach or a lake, are permitted so long as you respect the private residences nearby.
This incredible right to roam comes with an emphasized responsibility to take care of nature, respect the wildlife, and be considerate of other people, both landowners and fellow roamers. The guiding rule, as endorsed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, is “Don’t disturb–Don’t destroy.” There is no hunting of any kind. You must also take care to avoid damaging vegetation: don’t
tear up whole plants, strip trees of bark, or remove too much moss. Campfires are allowed when conditions aren’t too dry, but it’s a bring-your-own-firewood system. Cones and twigs that are on the ground are fair game, but you can’t chop or tear anything down for your fire. When building your fire, avoid doing so on a rock because you’ll crack the rock, which counts as destruction. Even making too much noise is generally discouraged because doing so would disturb other nature-roaming visitors. Respect for nature and for others is deeply ingrained in the “freedom to roam” culture, and you must take care to comply with the responsibilities that come with your rights.
A traveler revels in the calm of Ängsö National Park. Photo by Kaelani Baker
“Freedom to roam” laws also exist in many other places: the other Nordic countries (Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland), the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), some countries in Central Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, and Switzerland), and Scotland. Each country has its own unique guidelines though, so be sure to research before roaming. Wherever you choose to go, roaming will expand your horizons and enrich your experience. Show the locals that you respect the lands as much as they do, and you might get the inside scoop on the hidden gems of the area. The natural beauty of the mountains, fjords, meadows, forests, moors, and archipelagos awaits you—don’t be afraid to take your first step!
Brilliant sunlight streams through a Swedish forest. Photo by Grizzlybear-se
Sarek National Park is a great place to set up camp. Photo by distantranges
Climbing New Heights Cycling the route of the Tour de France
21 stages. 198 riders. 22 teams. 23 days. 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers). This is the Tour de France. How would you like to be in the middle of it all?
he Tour de France is the worldâ€™s largest cycling race. Every July, elite riders from around the world travel to France to compete against the worldâ€™s best. For years, the Tour has attracted spectators who want to witness and be a part of the action. But is there a better way
to experience the Tour de France than merely being a spectator? Meet Trek Travel, a company committed to immersing you in the Tour de France experience. Each year, Trek Travel creates unforgettable excursions where people from across the world can come to France and experience the Tour firsthand; participants
can ride some of the Tour de France routes, attend VIP viewing parties, and meet a number of the riders competing in the grand event. In 2017, Trek Travel offered six different trip itineraries during the Tour de France, four of which included riding tour routes. Most of the routes offered
Photo by David Rawson
by the company were steep rides up famous French climbs such as Col du Télégraphe, Col de Galibier, and Col d’Izoard. But don’t worry. If cycling up some of the toughest climbs in the world is not for you, Trek Travel makes it possible to ride the routes in cars as other participants bike to the finish. As you make your way up these beautiful climbs, you will be privileged to see rocky mountain passes above the clouds and experience quiet wooded areas secluded from the hustle and bustle of the tour. You will snake through small French towns and view the French countryside as you have never seen it before—on a bike (or in a car) as part of one of the biggest athletic competitions in the world. Along with the quietness of the French countryside, you will also
get a taste of the excitement of the Tour. Trek Travel makes it possible for participants to bike some of the Tour de France routes that racers will be riding that same day. And as you ride along the routes, spectators who are waiting for the racers to come flying by will cheer you on as you make your ascent to the top of the climbs. It is an experience like no other. Each year the Tour de France route changes, and with it, the Trek Travel itineraries change, ensuring that participants are able to ride some of the Tour routes each year. Even though the rides are challenging, cyclists and travelers alike should consider making this their next vacation—the thrill of feeling like a part of the Tour is an opportunity too good to pass up.
On average, a rider will burn 123,900 calories during the Tour. That’s between 4,000 and 5,000 every stage. The Tour is the biggest sporting event in the world, attracting some 12 million spectators to watch the finish in Paris. About 3.5 billion people watch the Tour on television each year. About 42,000 water bottles will be used in any given Tour. Source www.active.com
A Night in the 90
f you ever find yourself in Merzouga, Morocco, I have one piece of advice for you: spend a night in the Sahara Desert. Last summer, I had the opportunity to do just that while studying abroad in Morocco, and it is an experience I will never forget. The Sahara extends eastward from the outskirts of Merzouga to the other side of the Africa, covering large parts of many countries. Vast numbers of sand dunes roll on for thousands of miles, making the Sahara the largest hot desert in the world. In the summertime, the orangecolored sand against the azure sky makes for a picture-perfect backdrop. Just seeing the Sahara Desert in person is worth a trip to Morocco. However, an even better option is to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the Sahara by spending a night there. Choose from several different tour companies or study abroad programs to make your stay as smooth as possible. Companies such as Sahara Desert Tour allow you to select from a variety of options so that your experience is exactly what you imagined. Once you have decided to spend a night in the Sahara, you can choose from multiple modes of transportation in order to get to your final destination. My advice? Ride the camels. Even better, hire a camel tribe to ride camels out to a tent town, eat an authentic Moroccan dinner, sing and dance around the campfire, sleep in tents, and then wake up to ride back to civilization at sunrise.
Camels are lying down in mount position. Photo can be found at www.maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/photo-1078109
A guide leads camels by rope.
So you’ve decided to ride camels in the middle of the Sahara Desert—great! The first step is to mount the camel. If you’ve ever seen a camel up close, you’ll know firsthand that they are not small animals. The camel will lie down on the ground with bent legs, giving you the opportunity to climb onto its hump. Once you are situated on the hump, a guide will then motion the camel to stand. To stand up, camels first arch their back legs, which makes you feel like you are about to fall. After their back legs are fully arched, camels then stands all the way up. Now, you are on a camel several feet in the air and ready to start your adventure. To travel on camels in the Sahara, guides will line all the camels up and connect them with a rope. One guide will then walk at the front of the camel train, holding onto the rope to lead the camels in the right direction. Usually, these guides dress in traditional Moroccan clothing and know only small amounts of English, but these characteristics will only add to the authenticity of your experience. After riding the camels and admiring the real-life water color of the desert sun setting in the distance, you will eventually arrive at your home away from home for the night. To get off your ride, a guide will motion the camel to lay on the ground. You will then slip off the hump, one inch at a time, and finally plant your feet on the ground. A word of warning: before I rode a camel, no one told me how sore I
would be once I got off. Let’s just say it took a while for my legs to stop feeling like Jell-O. But don’t worry, you will be able to walk normally again . . . eventually. At this point in the adventure, the guides who led the camels into camp will now cook all of the travelers an authentic Moroccan dinner. Ours consisted of perfectly seasoned tajine, which is a seasoned stew of spiced meat and vegetables. It is cooked in what is called a tajine, which is essentially a shallow dish that is covered by a coned lid. After dinner, the locals who run the campground will start a campfire. Sitting around the campfire is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the fact that you are currently in the middle of the Sahara Desert . . . and you rode a camel to get here! Members of my group also took turns singing and dancing to traditional Moroccan tunes around the fire. Even the locals joined in.
The hum of the music and the soft light from fire filled the desert night, making our night in the Sahara completely magical. Sleeping arrangements will largely depend on the campground you stay at, yet don’t expect to sleep like kings and queens. In my experience, we slept in threeperson tents that had mattresses inside. The setup was much more comfortable than I imagined, but remember that your sleeping arrangement is not what makes your Sahara night magical. Instead, listening to the wind rustle the trees or looking up at the completely clear starry night is what brings the magic. Most excursions to the Sahara Desert end with waking up early in the morning to ride camels back to civilization during the sunrise—the perfect ending to an unbelievable experience. As you sit atop the camel for the last time, make sure to admire the beauty that a Sahara
morning brings. Focus on the painted colors of the sky against the burnt orange sand. Remember the pops of green bushes and trees throughout the scenery. Listen to the leveled breathing of the camels as they walk through the sand. The sights and sounds of the desert will stay with you for the rest of your life. Spending a night in the vast expanse of the Sahara is truly an experience you will never forget.
A camel train traipses through the Sahara Desert. Photo by Nasalune
Insider “Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost. ” —Erol O
Maintaining the Magic How to Stay Happy at the Happiest Place on Earth
t’s that time—the afternoon slump. The sun is blazing, the sweat is dripping, and the blisters are forming. And, most regrettably, the magic of the Mouse House has dissipated in a poof of pixie dust. But this all-too-common scenario is entirely avoidable—anyone can maintain the magic of the Disney parks all day long. The following suggestions will help you keep the wonder in your wanderings.
Prepare for the parks
before leaving home. A regular walking regimen will get you ready for the challenge of Disney, so once you’re there, you’ll experience minimal foot trauma. Practice is especially important for children who won’t be riding in strollers. You will also want the right kind of comfortable, functional footwear for your adventure. A sturdy pair of
broken-in hiking- or river-style sandals, or at least ones with tough, comfortable soles, are great for everyone. They provide support while also drying out quickly after water rides, and they allow your feet to stay cool in the heat.
Take a break
from the parks in the afternoon. Seriously. Do it. It can be hard to tear
yourself away, but what’s to be gained by powering through huge crowds in the heat? The parks are least busy in the mornings and nights, so take advantage of emptier parks during those times and give yourself some space in the afternoon! The following are surprisingly enjoyable activities: Take a trip on one of the monorails, ride the Disney World bus system, or use the Disney World boat systems for a cruise around the property. ▶▶ Explore one or more of the on-property resorts on foot at either set of parks. Each resort has a different theme and soundtrack—even a unique scent! Experiencing these can be a great way to absorb Disney magic during the heat of the afternoon instead of roasting in the parks. The Grand Floridian in particular is the fanciest resort at Disney World and has a live piano player in the lobby. The Grand Californian at Disneyland is similarly exquisite. ▶▶
This statue of Mickey and Walt Disney commemorates the partnership that started it all.
Have more fun
at the parks when you must stay during the crowded and exhausting afternoon hours by trying some of the following less popular activities: Ride the large-capacity, scenic rides such as the railroad, “It’s a Small World” (assuming you can stand it!), the Mark Twain Riverboat at either set of parks, or the People Mover at Disney World. Watch one of the many largecapacity, indoor shows. Especially beloved ones include the Tiki Room, the Hall of Presidents at ▶▶
The Mark Twain Riverboat can be a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of fast rides.
either park, and the Carousel of Progress at Disney World. Also, the shops on Disneyland’s Main Street, USA have old-fashioned nickelodeon machines. Hollywood Studios at Disney World has many theater-style shows and a cinema dedicated to showing extended previews of upcoming films at the end of a walk-through exhibit of Walt’s life. And Epcot has stunning 360-degree short movies in the China, France, and Canada pavilions in addition to a theater that shows classic Disney short films and cartoons. ▶▶ Find a snack, people watch, and don’t worry about getting too much done during this time. You can offer to take pictures of fellow vacationers. It can be extremely rewarding to watch the magic unfold for others.
Watching the magic unfold for others can be one of the most rewarding activities at Disney. Photo by Serena
from the main park and resort complexes by visiting the marketplace districts called Disney Springs (Disney World) and Downtown Disney (Disneyland). Both host street performers and live entertainment, and both include a variety of outside shops and restaurants for a relaxing change of pace. Above all, have fun—and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything. It’s just not possible. Instead, go forth and maximize the magic!
Nothing beats nighttime fireworks over Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom.
Pack Light, Pack Right Don’t let a heavy suitcase weigh down your travels!
“Packing is my favorite part of traveling!” said no one ever.
very time I travel, I repeat the same mistakes: stuffing my suitcase full of unnecessary items, dragging my heavy luggage through crowded airports, and leaving most of what I packed untouched. To save you from making these same mistakes, here are some tips I have found that make packing more efficient.
Prepare to Pack
Don’t wait to pack until the night before you leave on a trip. Make a list ahead of time so you can think through everything you need and pack only the necessities. While making your list, think about the climate of your destination. Consider the activities you will be doing to make sure you pack the appropriate clothing.
When deciding what clothes to bring, choose a few pieces that you can mix and match. Focus on bringing neutral pieces, too, so that you can create many outfits out of just a few pieces.
When packing shoes, think long and hard about whether you will actually wear each pair. Shoes often take up the most space, so it is important to pack only the ones you will use. A good rule of thumb is to pack two or three pairs: a dressier pair, a casual pair, and either sandals or boots, depending on the climate. On the day you leave for your trip, consider wearing your heaviest pair of shoes to save space in your luggage.
You’ve decided what to bring, but now you have to fit everything into your suitcase. Instead of folding your clothes, try rolling them. By rolling your clothes, you will be able to store more items in your suitcase without having to compromise on space. A suitcase with rolled clothes is also much easier to live out of for extended periods of time. By following these simple tips, you will be on the road to becoming an efficient packer. At first, leaving behind your favorite items may prove difficult. But remember, the less you bring, the freer you will be to explore!
—Maci Hiatt Sources
Kayla Rinker rows Granite Rapid with passengers Sharai McGill and Mitch Curtis. Photo by Craig Shelley
whitewater river rafting trip is an unforgettable experience. There are exciting rapids, astounding views, soul-stirring canyons, majestic waterfalls, beautiful overlooks, and fascinating slot canyonsâ€”all accessible only by river. Over the past 20 years, I have been on over 60 trips, many from when I was a
river guide. Based on my personal whitewater rafting adventures, here are my top whitewater rafting trip suggestions.
Hoback, Wyoming This half-day float on the Snake River includes rapids named Lunch Counter and The Big Kahuna. On your way down the
river, keep an eye out for bald eagles, elk, and deer. Farther down river, cliff jumping is a must, but the thirty-foot drop is not for the faint of heart.
Moab Daily Section, Utah
With thousands of passengers every year, this is a popular half-day float. You can cool off with rapids like Onion Creek, Cloudburst, Ida Gulch, and Whites Ranch.
Cataract Canyon, Utah
Rafters meet at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River. Photo by Craig Shelley
The whitewater here delivers the largest runnable rapids in North America, with waves towering over forty feet! These roaring rapids include Mile Long, Ben Hurt, and The Big Drops. Little Niagara, Satanâ€™s Gut, Hell to Pay,
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Rafters enjoying the Grand Canyon. Photo by Wendy Curtis
and The Claw are terrifying holes that can flip the raft. Hidden in the cliffs along the river are intriguing ancient Anasazi Indian ruins and petroglyphs, many accessible by hiking.
Large rapids, gorgeous sandstone canyon walls, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and shiny jet black Precambrian formations (nearly two billion years old) make for spectacular scenery. Some of the most thrilling rapids on this scenic adventure include Funnel Falls, Skull Rapid, Room of Doom, Rock of Shock, Magnetic Wall, and Sock It to Me.
This rafting trip of up to two weeks long is my personal favorite. The rollercoaster rapids of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon are exhilarating, refreshing, and a huge adrenaline rush, with rapids named the Roaring 20s, Granite, Hermit, Horn Creek, Lava Falls, and Helicopter Eddy. The scenery showcases soaring red cliffs and stunning geological formations. Along the way is a stop to see the turquoise waterfalls and pools of the Little Colorado. Nothing compares to the elation of flying down rapids, falling into the trough of a big haystack wave, and then shooting back up to the top. Away from distractions, river rafting is a time of high excitement, paired with occasions of absolute relaxation in the
Rafting through the rapids at Lava Falls, Grand Canyon. Photo by Craig Shelley
wilderness. With endless scenic wonders and exhilarating thrills, a whitewater rafting trip is just what you are looking for: the adventure of a lifetime.
Main Salmon, Idaho
Riverbanks lined with pine trees frame rapids called Gun Barrel, Devilâ€™s Teeth, Big Mallard, Elk Horn, and Chittam. There are historical sites, natural hot springs, and old cabins along the way that provide family-friendly entertainment.
The river offers a spectacular view of the Grand Canyon. Photo by Wendy Curtis.
Traveling? There’s an App for That
hile classic tourist staples, like fanny packs and tennis shoes, are irreplaceable, there’s no reason to disregard the benefits of modern technology available for travelers today. Who needs a travel agent? So long as you have a smartphone, everything you could possibly need to travel efficiently and cheaply is at your fingertips. Here’s four of the best travel-related phone applications currently available for free for both iOS and Android.
Citymapper is the best navigation app for anyone traveling to the world’s largest cities. The app supports 39 bustling metropolises so far, such as London, New York, Seoul, and Melbourne, and it’s still growing! Simply enter your destination of choice and the app will provide you with multiple ways to get there, stating how long each route will take and how much it will cost. The app is especially useful for making sense of complicated public transit systems.
You won’t need to worry any more about filling up your phone’s storage or losing precious vacation photos if you download this app. Google Photos will back up your pictures to the Cloud via Google Drive whenever you have data or Wi-Fi (depending on your settings). The app will also create collages, animations, and “stylized photos” with the pictures that you upload, just for fun.
Useful for navigating
Useful for taking pictures
By using Packpoint, you can avoid the stress of checking (and double-checking) to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything before running out the door. Tell the app where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and what you’ll be doing during your trip, and it will generate a personalized packing list for you after taking into account the weather forecast at your destination. You can also share your list with other travelers, so they know what to pack too.
This app roundup wouldn’t be complete without Airbnb, which helps users find and rent shortterm lodgings in apartments, houses, and hostels in any city or town—usually at less expensive prices than what hotels charge. To ensure some accountability, renters can rate guests and vice versa, so you can check user reviews in the area you’ll be visiting.
Useful for packing
Useful for finding housing
As a final note, keep in mind that new apps are constantly being created, so don’t be afraid to do more research. Now stop putting off that trip you’ve been wanting to take for years—grab your phone and start planning!
The Dignity They’re Due Respectfully Photographing Memorials of Tragedy
isiting memorials is a meaningful part of travel for many people. While some of these memorials might seem like the perfect locations for cute Instagram or Facebook photos, remember that memorials require respect. Here are a few tips for taking interesting, respectful photographs with memorials of tragedy. ▶▶
Learn about the memorial’s history and significance so that you can develop the correct attitude towards it. If the memorial is celebrating life or recovery, photos or selfies of you smiling may be appropriate. If it is a memorial of tragedy, your mood should be more solemn or reflective.
Most memorials allow photo graphy, but some do not. If there is an information booth or tour guide available, ask before taking pictures.
Focus on the memorial rather than on yourself. Consider taking pictures of the memorial without being in the frame yourself.
If you are in the picture, pose appropriately, such as reading the inscription, looking quietly at the memorial, or contemplatively resting your hand or head against it (if you are allowed to touch it). For group photos, consider having everyone join hands in a circle or line while looking up at the monument.
Be respectful of how you label the pictures you post. Statements like “Hanging with ma’ homies at Auschwitz!!” or “Backflips at the Vietnam wall!!” are extremely disrespectful, but “We had the chance to visit Ground Zero today; what a moving experience” is appropriate.
There are beautiful memorials all over the world waiting to be visited. When you take pictures with these priceless monuments to human life, remember the dignity that they are due and be respectful as you document your experiences on hallowed ground.
Smatterings of Language
f you are walking down the street in Thailand and a vendor tries to sell you something you are not interested in buying, a useful phrase to have on hand is mai pen rai. If someone thanks you, an appropriate response is mai pen rai. If a family offers you a meal, and you want to say yes, but you don’t want to inconvenience them, the best answer is—you guessed it—mai pen rai. This diverse and culturally significant phrase carries many meanings, and Thai people use it frequently in everyday conversation. It roughly translates to “no problem” in English, but it’s almost more than just a phrase— it seems to encompass the culture and attitude of Thailand. Learning important phrases like this one can open the doors to a truly immersive travel experience. One of the best parts of traveling is connecting with people in the places you are visiting, and knowing some of the language can be an effective path to meaningful interaction. Oftentimes these connections can provide opportunities outside the average tourist experience:
finding beautiful places hidden from the well-worn paths, eating more authentic food, or discovering communities outside the tourist-crowded areas that are more indicative of what the culture is really like. In Thailand, my language skills helped me connect with people who showed me sparkling waterfalls with little fish that nibbled at my feet, served me the spiciest papaya salad I have ever had, and took me riding elephants barefoot and bareback without any other tourists around. Many of these people have become my lifelong friends—and it all started by learning smatterings of their language. Putting in the effort to learn part of the language is a sign of respect for the people and their culture. You are likely to receive a warmer welcome and maybe even some raised eyebrows when locals are surprised, impressed, and appreciative of your efforts. Although if you absolutely butcher the language, that might bring on the wrong kind of raised eyebrows . . . so the more you know—and can pronounce correctly—the better!
Having a handle on useful words and phrases can also make navigating daily situations easier. Even simple communication can help, like asking for directions, ordering food, and negotiating prices. (Not to mention that prices magically go down when you can speak the language—you are showing that you are in the know and can’t be taken advantage of!) Programs like Duolingo and Pimsleur are great for learning the basics of a language. Taking a local class or practicing with online tutors or conversation partners can help you go a step further in picking up patterns that can’t be taught by a program. Learning part of the language before traveling is a worthwhile investment of time and effort. Your travel experiences will be more fulfilling as you worry less about keeping your head above water and focus more on diving into the culture and building real friendships with the people around you. Your adventure could start with something as simple as mai pen rai.
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Flying Solo Y
ou’ve been daydreaming about a spontaneous adventure halfway around the world, but none of your friends can get away from work long enough to come with you. They just don’t understand your need to explore.
Your sister canceled last minute on your annual girls’ trip, leaving you wondering what to do with your plane ticket and dinner reservations in New York. Maybe you just want some peace and quiet, a solo vacation on the beach where you get to call the shots.
Traveling alone presents opportunities for life-changing experiences and personal growth, but it also presents safety concerns, especially for women. Don’t let that discourage you! Here are some tips you can use to stay safe as a solo female traveler.
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Tell someone where you’re going. Share your itinerary with a family member or friend and check in regularly. In the case of an emergency, at least one person will know where you are and can call for help. Do your research. You can avoid unwanted attention by learning about your destination and following local customs as you travel. For example, in some countries it’s safer for single women to wear a fake wedding ring. In others, it’s best to dress more conservatively. Pack light. Don’t be a slow-moving target weighed down by multiple clunky suitcases. If you can, just bring a carry-on and wear a backpack for better mobility. Be careful with your possessions. Keep your bag or wallet with you at all times and don’t show off electronics, cash, or other valuable items. Keep photocopies of your passport and driver’s license in multiple places in case your bag is stolen. Learn basic phrases in the language spoken at your destination. Understand how to ask for directions, seek help, and negotiate prices. Locals will often show more respect for someone who is trying to learn about their culture. Make friends with locals. Get to know bus drivers, hotel staff, and fellow travelers. You’ll feel more comfortable if you have someone to go to for advice and companionship. Act confident. If you are lost and confused, don’t act lost or confused—and definitely don’t stare down at your phone. Maybe you won’t blend in completely, but scammers and thieves are less likely to target a woman who looks like she knows what she’s doing.
Trust your instincts. If you remember nothing else, remember this: don’t be afraid to say no, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Using these tips to stay safe, you can increase your confidence as a world traveler. Embark on a new adventure of your own today—you don’t have to wait on anyone else!
—Aspen Stander Sources
www.buzzfeed.com www.theblondeabroad.com www. nomadicmatt.com
Fairy-Tale Castles “When we do fantasy, we must not lose sight of reality.” –Walt Disney Beloved Disney movies have the ability to transport viewers to beautiful worlds where colors are vibrant, magic is real, and everyone sings on-key. Children pretend that they too are adventurous princesses and quick-witted heroes, living in ornate castles that overlook forests and oceans. However, those childhood imaginings often fade away with age. Despite this dismal truth, some Disney magic lives on well into adulthood. In fact, the most famous Disney movie castles and palaces were largely inspired by spectacular real-life buildings that can be visited today, giving adults everywhere the chance to fulfill their childhood dreams.
Elsa’s Castle (Frozen)
Hôtel de Glace in Quebec City, Canada
Only open in the winter months, the Hôtel de Glace, a structure made entirely of snow and ice, has offered once-in- a-lifetime experiences for visitors since 2001. Bundled-up guests can take guided tours, stay vernight, attend weddings and other private events, or even just enjoy a drink in a glass made of ice. It’s not hard to see how the Disney Imagineers drew inspiration from the hotel to create the impressive ice castle in Frozen. (Louise Leclerc)
Queen’s Castle (Snow White) Alcázar de Segovia in Segovia, Spain
Serving as inspiration for the castle in Snow White, the very first animated Disney film, the pink-tinged Alcázar of Segovia was originally a medieval stronghold, but it has since served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College, a military academy, and a museum. Notably, it is also recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The fortress proudly stands on a cliff above the convergence of two rivers, giving one side of the structure a unique appearance that is not unlike that of the bow of a ship.
Corona Castle (Tangled )
Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France
Despite its deceptively romantic appearance, this picturesque island in France actually accommodates a religious commune, with an eleventh-century abbey standing tall at the islandâ€™s center. Even more distinctive than its appearance, though, is the fact that the surrounding tides regularly cut the island off from the mainland. Today, the raised causeway, constructed in 1879, allows pilgrims of all types to admire the UNESCO World Heritage Site at their leisure, whether they are there for religious reasons or to see the real-life Kingdom of Corona from Tangled. (Ridoe)
Sleeping Beauty Castle (Sleeping Beauty)
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany
Widely renowned for its beauty and idyllic setting, Neuschwanstein Castle served as the influence for the castle in Sleeping Beauty as well as the iconic Disney logo. The castle, built in the mid-1800s, remains one of the most popular castles in Europe. It attracts thousands of visitors daily to appreciate the stunning building, its impressive vistas, and the charming town nearby. (derwiki)
The Sultanâ€™s Palace (Aladdin) Taj Mahal in Agra, India
This ornate marble mausoleum represents a great love story: it was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, as he grieved for her following her passing. Universally admired, the palace was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Fewer than ten years later, Disney would pay homage to the building by basing the Sultanâ€™s Palace in Aladdin on its distinctive design. (Koushik C)
photo contest runners-up
Sunrise over Reflection Canyon (Glen Canyon, Utah), Matthew C. Newey
Convent do Carmo (Lisbon, Portugal), Hannah Paloma Erickson
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