www.stowawaymag.com â—€ 3
Photo Credit: See style guide to review credit wording before writing this.
On the cover: Mountain-biking expeditions take travelers to greater heights.
.8 96 98 100
Editor’s Note: Finding Home Away From Home Happenings: Birds of a Feather Escapades: Royal America Staff Essay: Heritage Hunting in the Highlands Parting Shot
4 ▶ spring 2014
Chile Powder: Skiing in Portillo Coastal Creatures: Marine Wildlife on the Oregon Coast Rock On: Canyoneering in Oman At Cliff’s Edge: Adventures in Uganda’s Sipi Falls
Photo by Warren Goldswain
32 38 44
Exercise Expeditions: Your Excuse to Travel Buen Camino: A Pilgrimage All in One Rhythm: 2014 FIFA World Cup Home Sweet Sicily: Becoming Ragusani
One of the many paths of the Camino de Santiago winds through the verdant Urkiola mountain range in Basque Country, Spain.
Photo by Mariusz Kluzniak
60 64 65 66
Sounds of Austria
Songkran: More Than Just a Water Fight Hanami: Celebrating Transient Beauty Dharamsala: Tibetan Spirit Reborn Bite of Philly Savor the Flavor of the Crescent City Basil: Four Corners of the Kitchen
76 78 82 84
Biking Bavaria: Travel the Romantic Road Geocaching: A Modern-Day Treasure Hunt
Legal Nomad: An Interview with Jodi Ettenberg Starfish Foster Home: Making a Difference One Child at a Time Tales from the Trip Photo Contest Winners
Legacies of Navajo Weaving
91 92 94 95
Ready to Run Homebodied by Fear: Five Tips for Dealing with Travel Anxieties The Take Home Mastering the Metro On Pointe: Discover Ballet Competitions GasBuddy: Find Cheap Gas
www.stowawaymag.com â—€ 5
Eve Hart Smith
Assistant Managing Editor
Assistant Managing Editor
Assistant Art Director
Assistant Art Director
Assistant Art Director
Marvin K. Gardner
Editor in Chief
Social Media Team: Kylee Buchanan, Shayla Johnson, Kelsey Kacher, Alison Moore, *Natalie Taylor, Sara Grasley Advertising Team: *Lauren Bryce, Katie Laulusa, Mary-Celeste Lewis Web Team: Bekah Claussen, Lexi Devenport, *Dallin Law, Sara Phelps
© 2014 Marvin K. Gardner 4045 JFSB, Brigham Young University Provo, Utah 84602 Printed by Brigham Young University Press
6 ▶ spring 2014
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.”
Photos by Devin Anderton
editor s note
Photo by Ben Matthews
Away from Home I’m going to let you in on a little secret: traveling wasn’t always my thing. The times I have enjoyed traveling most are always associated with home in some way: playing red rover under the tall palm trees in my great-grandma’s front yard in California; taking a road trip to Salt Lake City to visit my aunts and uncles; and doggy-paddling in the pool at my family’s favorite spot in St. George, Utah. But when I was a kid, my family rarely traveled beyond the West Coast and almost never took airplanes. Then things changed. Greatgrandma Woodbury passed on, and we lost our strongest family link in the Western United States. Grandma and Grandpa Woodbury moved to Maine, and other aunts and uncles relocated to the East Coast. My siblings also started moving away from home for college. Then my dad began traveling to the East Coast for work. In these strange years of transition, my family left our car behind and started taking airplanes. One year, my sister and I got the crazy idea to visit her friend, Sarah, in England
to celebrate our graduations. It was the first time I had crossed an ocean for a vacation. After almost 14 hours of air travel, we landed in a strange but beautiful country where greens were even greener than in my Pacific Northwest home. Everything here—the architecture, the history, the mindset of the people—seemed old, so much older than anything in the United States. The homes were smaller and the food was unfamiliar. Instead of touring with a group, we drove from Manchester to London and back in Sarah’s little car. I felt the same sense of wonder that I had had while road tripping through California and Utah with my family as a kid: choosing to stop because the view looked nice or taking a different direction when the highway split. For the most part, we stayed in friends’ houses rather than in hotels—joking, laughing, and eating together. We talked about their lives rather than about England. Somehow this helped me feel more comfortable asking a beefeater for a picture together, admiring Queen Elizabeth
II’s lavish dresses, and walking the shores of Lake Windermere. As familiar mixed with unfamiliar, I was impressed with a new thought: home can be in more than one place. This new place was beginning to feel like home to me. It made me want to stay, even though I was usually done with vacation after just one week. This issue of Stowaway is all about finding your favorite homes locally and far abroad. Come find the people of Spain welcoming you into their homes along the Camino de Santiago (page 32). Or visit the accogliente people of Ragusa to enjoy the slower pace of southern Italy (page 44). Or discover your inner Philadelphian by learning how to take on a cheesesteak just the way the city’s natives would (page 64). Whichever experience you decide to enjoy first, each article has been handcrafted by one of our Stowaway family members just for you. We hope that we will inspire you to find many new homes away from home—both here in the pages of Stowaway and in the places you visit in the future.
Eve Hart Smith Managing Editor www.stowawaymag.com ◀ 7
Birds of a Feather “I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” —Henry David Thoreau Although having a bird casually flop onto your shoulder might not seem like a very common scenario, an experience like Thoreau’s may not be too far from the norm at one of the many bird festivals happening across the United States this spring. Every year, thousands of bird watchers—veterans and rookies alike—gather at various sites to watch as hundreds of bird species migrate and settle for the spring. Some events offer workshops on the basics of bird-watching, like what tools to bring and how to avoid scaring birds away. Others offer bird-watching field trips geared toward areas of interest such as scientific research, photography, artwork, and travel. Whether you’re interested in wildlife preservation or in having a live subject for your artwork, there’s a bird festival just right for you.
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Kenai Birding Festival
Leavenworth, Washington: Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest
Cortez, Colorado: Ute Mountain/ Mesa Verde Birding Festival
May 15‒18, 2014
May 15‒18, 2014
May 8‒12, 2014
With famous birds like the albatross, horned puffin, and black-capped chickadee, Kenai Peninsula provides an awe-inspiring experience for bird enthusiasts at all levels of experience. All of the birding field trips are within a short distance of each other, so visitors can see a large variety of habitats and species in a single day.
The Leavenworth festival is the perfect destination for young families and bird-watching novices. It kicks off with a musical concert and picnic that create a family-friendly atmosphere. Children can discover the wonder of birding through the festival’s Bird Discovery Science Center. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy field trips to find and observe well-known and obscure species alike, such as nutcrackers, ravens, grosbeaks, and buntings.
This festival, perfect for both the adventurer and the artist, offers overnight bus trips to destinations such as Pagosa Springs, Dolores River Canyon; La Plata River, Ute Mountain Park; Bluff, Utah; and Condors, Arizona. Among the birds often sighted are the roadrunner, spotted towhee, black phoebe, and wild turkey. The festival also hosts a bird-themed art show.
8 ▶ spring 2014
Galveston, Texas: Galveston Birding & Nature Photo Festival
Oregon, Ohio: Biggest Week in American Birding
Down East, Maine: The Down East Spring Birding Festival
April 10‒13, 2014
May 6‒15, 2014
May 23‒26, 2014
The Galveston FeatherFest focuses many of its events on photography. Located on a portion of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the festival encompasses habitats such as woods, beaches, and prairies. Common sightings include herons, falcons, owls, nighthawks, and woodpeckers. Among the lecturers and guides are renowned naturalists with knowledge on species characteristics, bird habitats, and conservation efforts. ▶
Known as the warbler capital of the world, northwest Ohio is the springtime home to a myriad of songbirds. Located in Oregon, Ohio, this 10-day festival offers half-day trips to six distinct birding sites. There will also be keynote addresses, workshops, and discussions on such topics as environmental preservation and its importance to bird-watching. ▶
The Down East Spring Birding Festival showcases birds from several distinct habitats, such as bogs, forests, and both freshwater and saltwater shores. On average, attendees report more than 200 sightings during the three-day festival. Many aesthetically alluring birds, such as the short-billed dowitcher, the black-eyed woodpecker, and the cedar waxwing, make appearances during this festival, creating a great opportunity for artists and photographers. ▶
www.stowawaymag.com ◀ 9
Getaways A curious monkey munches a mango in Sipi, Uganda.
Chile Powder: Skiing in Portillo
Coastal Creatures: Marine Wildlife on the Oregon Coast
Find out how to lengthen your ski season and broaden your cultural horizons in Portillo, Chile.
From beautiful oceanside views to majestic sea creatures, Oregon has a lot to offer you this spring.
Rock On: Canyoneering in Oman
At Cliﬀ s Edge: Adventures in Uganda s Sipi Falls
Once you see how Oman’s cliffs, climbs, and waterholes compare to those of the southwestern United States, you may know where your next adventure destination lies.
Photo by Scott Richards
Thrills await you near the stunning waterfalls of this hidden corner of Uganda.
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Need a fresh idea for weekend activities during your Chilean study abroad? Bored on your business venture? Wishing for one more week of good skiing? Portillo s got you covered. The ski season of 2005 was coming to a close. Although Larry Kacher was usually disappointed to see Utah’s great powder melt away, that year he wasn’t bothered in the least. In fact, he was looking forward to doing some of his most exciting skiing during the summer. That’s because he and his snowboarding son had decided to extend their winter sports season into the summertime by skiing in the Andes mountain range of Chile. “The thought of skiing and snowboarding in July sounded like way too much fun to pass up,” admits Kacher. In business for more than 60 years, the Portillo resort in the Chilean
Andes is the oldest ski area in South America. This resort includes 14 lifts and is really “the fulfillment of a dream,” according to owner Henry Purcell. Originally a railway built by English engineers on skis, this charming railway-turned-resort has been kept free of commercial expansion and distractions: no town, no shopping centers, no restaurant chains. Today, only one big yellow hotel, one beautiful ski mountain, up to 450 guests, and 450 energetic employees occupy the community. Other than that, Portillo is snow and slopes as far as the eye can see. And the slopes are pretty enticing—after all, how many people can
say they’ve been skiing in the Andes? This mountain range lies deep in the southern hemisphere, roughly in line with Cape Town, South Africa, and Sydney, Australia. Winter runs from June to September here, meaning that when things start melting in the northern hemisphere, the snow is just getting good in Portillo. Portillo is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders because it not only allows for winter sports during the summer, but it also includes some amazing cultural experiences and delicious food. In August, Portillo dedicates an entire week to showing off an array of South American cuisine in nightly
Top: Portillo s excellent snow quality is often likened to that of the Rocky Mountains. Above: The resort has a pool, hot tub, ﬁtness center, spa, game room, and many restaurants. Opposite page: The Andes is the longest continental mountain range in the world.
12 ▶ spring 2014
Photography courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Skiing in Portillo three-course meals, a tradition called “Flavors of the Pacific.” The resort even has an annual torchlight parade, providing guests with the opportunity to ski while carrying a torch. The glowing line of light down the mountain creates a lasting memory. Because the resort is nestled right above Chile’s capital, Santiago, locals and travelers residing in the area can easily take inexpensive weekend trips to enjoy an entirely different side of South America. For the resort guest, taking the adventure hike from the resort to Santiago also makes for an exciting trip—if you’re brave enough! Even without all the cultural opportunities, most skiers and snowboarders would beg for this experience simply to extend their seasons. Kacher agrees that it’s worth it, saying with a shrug, “There’s something refreshing about carving up fresh powder while friends back home sweat through another hot afternoon.” So instead of dreaming about the next winter season, make it happen this summer. Pack your warm winter clothes into your suitcase, not your closet. Then get a reservation at Portillo resort for the coolest experience you’ll find in South America. ▶
www.stowawaymag.com ◀ 13
Coastal Creatures Marine Wildlife on the Oregon Coast
The warm beaches of California may seem inviting to those looking to get away from school for a while. But the Oregon coast offers much more to experience in sea life and scenery. In Lincoln City, just two hours from Portland, you’ll find beautiful rocky shores, bright sunny skies, tree-filled sea cliffs—and entire worlds hidden within its waters.
Between the months of March and June, as many as 18,000 gray whales swim past the Oregon coast. They calve during the wintertime in the warm waters of Mexico, and then in the spring they travel to Alaska, where their feeding grounds are located. Since Lincoln City is right on the coast, it is the perfect place to see the whales pass by as they travel north. Anna Redd, a native of Oregon who has been whale watching several times, describes it as “a completely amazing experience. Everybody should go at least once in their life to
14 ▶ spring 2014
see these enormous whales coming up out of the water and slamming their flippers down,” Redd says. “It’s unforgettable.” If you try whale watching from the shore, use a pair of binoculars and have an optimistic heart. But the best way to see these 40–52-foot-long creatures up close is to go out in a boat. “I’ve had times where the whales would approach the boat and even swim right under it,” says Redd. “Then they are only an arm’s length away.” To get to good whale-watching territory, the boat will need to go out at least five miles (and usually much farther) into open water. This
means you will be out for an hour or two in strong, cold winds. Be sure to bring a wind-resistant coat and wear many layers so you can enjoy this amazing experience. A boat ride like this typically costs $18–30 for an adult, but as Redd says, it is “something you have to do if you’re in Oregon in the spring.”
Tide Pools While whale watching might be the main objective of your visit, you can have a hands-on experience with the sea life when you go to the beach. All along the shore are huge collections of tide pools, where you can catch
Photo by Tony Mendez
getaways spots for finding seals because they like to rest on the rocks in the sun. If you tread carefully, you can get close enough to almost touch the seals before they slowly plop away.
tiny sculpin fish and crabs, touch the sticky multicolored anemones, and discover orange and purple starfish. The water of the tide pools warms up in the sun, so even if the ocean is frigid, you can wade right into these large warm pools near the shore.
Devil s Punch Bowl If you want to see some larger sea life, you can head over to nearby Devil’s Punch Bowl. This was once a sea cave, but the roof collapsed and the cave became a bowl-shaped enclosure filled with huge rocks. The Punch Bowl and its surrounding area are hot
After a long day on the water, head into the center of Lincoln City, with its long winding streets filled with small specialty shops where you can buy glass trinkets, saltwater taffy, and shells and souvenirs. You can also go to the city’s most popular restaurant, Mo’s, which is famous for its delicious clam chowder and cheesy bread. While it might be too cold to go swimming in the ocean this far north, the Oregon coast offers beautiful scenery and sea life that you just can’t find farther south. So when you’re planning a weekend trip to the West Coast, consider a road trip to somewhere a bit colder with adventures beyond California. ▶
Seattle s Puget Sound If you can t get enough marine adventure in the Paciﬁc Northwest, consider a side trip to Seattle to take in the beautiful Puget Sound. Less than ﬁve hours by car from Lincoln City, Seattle oﬀers many boating opportunities for both seasoned seafarers and land-lovers.
The Center for Wooden Boats. At any of the center s three locations around the city, you ll ﬁnd information on Seattle s marine culture and history as well as inexpensive canoe, kayak, and rowboat rentals. Prices start at just a $5 suggested donation to the center. ▶
The Electric Boat Company. If you d like to try your hand at crabbing or if you want to hop around the San Juan Islands at your own pace, you can rent a motorboat from the Electric Boat Company starting at $89 per hour with a two-hour minimum rental. Remember to pick up a license if you decide to try crabbing. ▶
The Ducks of Seattle. These recycled World War II amphibious landing crafts are on a mission̶to help you have a good time! Prepare yourself for a fun, wacky tour of Seattle both on land and in the water. Adult tickets start at $28.
Photography by Andrew Grasley
Seattle Tours. Seattle Tours oﬀers elegant and informative tours to suit the needs of nearly any visitor. Tours cost anywhere from $30 for a short tour of the nearby lakes to $166 for a ﬁve-course dinner and a perfect view of the city. ▶
Opposite: A whale emerges from the ocean s surface. Top: While many starﬁsh are orange like this one, they can range in color from magenta to deep purple. Above: Harbor seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, but it is still possible to get close to some of the calmer seals.
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Canyoneering in Oman If you like canyoneering in the southwestern United States, it might be time to take it to the next level̶the Middle East.
Moving to the United Arab Emirates with five children may sound overwhelming, but for the Hyde family it was the perfect adventure. The Hydes had enjoyed the scenic national parks and canyons of the American Southwest for years—they loved climbing, hiking, and swimming. But they were itching for their next adventure. They found it near their new home when they discovered the neighboring country of Oman. “I might prefer the views of Zion National Park over the views in Oman,” Marc Hyde admits, “but Oman has such a raw, rugged feel to it that one can’t help but be impressed.” In Oman, “there is no canyon rescue, the trails aren’t maintained, marking is marginal; you are really on your own,” Hyde explains. Fortunately, because the Middle East is a common site for study abroad and business programs, spending a week in Oman while you are in a neighboring country is usually as easy as a quick drive to the border and a flash of your passport. Here are a few of the best spots that await you in Oman—along with a glance at how they compare with their geographical counterparts found in the southwestern United States.
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For the Grand Canyon lover, Jebel Shams offers the highest point in Oman as well as the deepest canyon. It has even been nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Oman. A small cleft near the top of the canyon wall is your trail for a breathtaking hike. This hike leads you to the abandoned village of Sap Bani Khamis, an Omani settlement literally built into the wall of the cliff. Oman’s “well-worn trails are usually that way because they are still in use by locals as a means of travel from one village to the next,” remarks Hyde. This same raw quality is what makes Jebel Shams so unique. If you spend a long day there exploring the
16 ▶ spring 2014
limestone cavern in the middle of the desert. The locals say that a piece of the moon fell from the sky and made the hole. They call this gigantic sinkhole Bait al Afreet, or “House of the Demon.” Bimmah is perfect for the thrill-seeking cliff jumper. But if you like to keep your feet on the ground, take the stairs down to the clear blue waters to go for a swim.
Time to Unwind Your body can handle only so
Above: Bimmah Sinkhole contains tiny ﬁsh known to nibble harmlessly on visitors toes. Opposite: Wadi Shab is hemmed in vertiginous sandstone walls, with a verdant ribbon of date plantations and banana palms threading the base of the cliﬀs.
village, no worries. Just go to the nearby tent community where you can rent a room—or Arabian tent— for the night.
Photography courtesy of Shutterstock.com
For cave swimmers of New Mexico’s Blue Hole, Wadi Shab is a must-see destination in the middle of Oman’s dry, rocky desert. This canyon starts out barren, but it leads you to a cave through thick tropical foliage, boulders, waterfalls, and aquamarine water. Brave adventurers can swim under the rocks and come up in a glittering cave with a huge waterfall to jump from. For the thrill seekers in your group, there is also an underwater tunnel to explore. The tall cliffs and rocks are also perfect for cliff diving—in fact, Wadi Shab was the final stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2012. But these canyons aren’t mere tourist spots. Hyde remembers feeling amazed when he saw somebody doing laundry in a river, as well as a shepherd boy caring for a herd of goats in a canyon. “They weren’t up the Wadi for adventure,” Hyde points out. “That was their home.”
For hikers of the slot canyons of the Subway in Zion National Park, Oman’s Snake Canyon provides a hiker’s heaven for advanced adventures. With huge boulders to climb on, high cliffs to jump from, cool cave pools to swim in, smooth rocks to slide down, and sheer rock walls to gape at, Snake Canyon is completely unforgettable. Be sure to check the season’s water levels before you go—and bring some rope and a friend to be safe. Though the drive to find this canyon is long, the road winds through incredible sights and past tiny, seemingly forgotten villages that will take your breath away.
For fans of Gypsum Sinkhole in Capitol Reef National Park, Bimmah sinkhole is an intriguing destination in Oman. Bimmah is easy to miss in the middle of the rocky desert near Wadi Shab, but it’s worth discovering. According to geologists, this 65-foot deep, bedrock-edged chasm was created ages ago from the collapse of a
much hiking, so when the sun goes down, the party turns up! There are great possibilities for spending your free time in the evenings. You can t claim to be a shop-
ping pro until you ve haggled at
an Omani s ouq, or market. Here
shops are ﬁlled with gorgeous housewares, rare spices, and
beautiful clothing that will have your friends begging for souve-
nirs. Grab traditional Omani hats
for your guy friends and candora housedresses for your girlfriends
and you ll be voted best shopper of the year.
And don t forget about
food! There are shwarma restaurants all over, so be sure to get the spiced meat, cucumbers, tomatoes, fries, and sauce all
wrapped up for a delicious̶and inexpensive̶meal.
But don t leave the restaurant
without getting the amazing
Omani juice. To make these
incredible dessert smoothies,
locals simply blend up fresh mangos, avocados, strawberries, or
any other tropical fruit and layer these fruit ﬂavors in a tall glass,
leaving all their diﬀerent colors
visible. Then, of course, they top it oﬀ with a creamy Omani version of vanilla ice cream. How do you say bon appétit in Arabic?
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At Cliff’s Edge Adventures in Uganda s Sipi Falls
18 ▶ spring 2014
I d read in our guidebooks that Sipi Falls was beautiful, but nothing could have prepared me for the heart-stopping moment when I woke up after our late-night arrival to find that I d been sleeping on a cliff, only a few hundred yards from the most expansive and beautiful green valley I d ever seen.
Photography by Scott Richards
Nicole Marquez—along with eight of her friends, seven complete strangers, and a few stray chickens—boarded an eastbound taxi van in the pouring jungle rain. After a 50-hour workweek in Mukono, Uganda, where Marquez and her group had been living for two months, they were off for a few days of relaxation and adventure. “Winding up the steep roads of the mountain to Sipi in the middle of the night, trying to communicate with a driver who didn’t speak English, I just had to trust we’d make it,” laughs Marquez. “But I’d do it again. No wild ride could stop me from visiting Sipi.” From the savannahs of the northern villages to the raging rapids of the Nile River near its source at Lake Victoria, Uganda is a colorful, adrenaline-filled journey. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this dazzlingly green and endlessly surprising
East African country, you’ll discover adventure at every turn. While relatively small in size, Uganda offers more than just safaris; some of the most stunning waterfalls in Africa are nestled within the emerald jungle forests of Mount Elgon National Park and Sipi Falls on the eastern border of Uganda. At 14,000 feet, Mount Elgon has a cooler climate than the rest of tropical, equatorial Uganda. For travelers looking for hiking, rappelling, and beautiful scenery, Sipi Falls might be the best adventure Uganda has to offer.
Getting to Sipi
About four hours from the bustling capital city of Kampala and only three hours from Jinja, the majestic falls at Sipi make the perfect destination for a weeklong getaway that is equal parts rejuvenating and thrilling. The
Opposite: The largest of the three waterfalls ﬂows over basalt cliﬀs. Above: Sipi oﬀers a variety of accommodations, but many visitors choose to camp near the edge of the valley.
best way to get there is to hop into a taxi in Kampala or Jinja. Fourteenseat taxi vans (which frequently carry more than 20 people and their animals) are a rite of passage for travelers in Uganda—and they are the best and most affordable way to travel from city to city. If you leave during daylight and choose a driver who speaks a little English, you should have no problem traversing the country and making friends during the bumpy ride. Try to get a window seat so you can take in as much of the tropical scenery as you can. Once you arrive, you can enjoy the full Sipi experience on any budget. Pitch a tent or stay in a simple thatched banda (hut) for less than $10 a night, or go all out with an all-inclusive stay in a comfortable cottage, starting at $200 per night. Keep in mind that running water is a luxury at most locations, and you’ll probably find hot water only at the high-end lodges. Since they didn’t want to spend very much money on food and lodging, Marquez and her friends chose to stay at the inexpensive but beautiful Crow’s Nest campsite, which has good reviews. “Our only splurge was to make dinner reservations one night at the Sipi River Lodge,” she explains. “We ate a three-course meal that made us feel right at home.” Most campsites have inexpensive meal options, but you can also ask around for the best chapati (flatbread) and beans—a typical Ugandan dish that can be purchased for less than a dollar from street vendors.
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Visitors can rappel down the largest fall, the tallest waterfall in Uganda, landing gently on the jungle ﬂoor amidst rainbow sprays of water.
Exploring the Falls
To get a feel for the natural beauty that the Mount Elgon area has to offer, hire a local to lead you on a guided hike for as little as $2 per person. “Our guide, Juma, quickly became our new best friend,” recalls Marquez. Juma grew up in Sipi, and his family runs the Crow’s Nest campsite. He and other Sipi locals know every path of this untamed mountain paradise, and they will gladly tell you all you need to know. The trek is not overly difficult; it can be done in one day or split between two. And it includes visits to the three main waterfalls, which range from 225 to 330 feet tall. Wear a swimsuit and comfortable waterproof sandals so you can explore behind the falls, wade across rivers, and stroll through tiny streams. At the end of your trek, you will descend into a valley through an overgrown, mosscovered path, until you reach a break in the greenery that reveals an ethereal view of the main waterfall from below. No matter where you stand, you won’t be able to escape the misty rainbow spray of the crashing falls. As you hike through secluded mountain farmlands and across wellused wooden footbridges, look for
20 ▶ spring 2014
the colorful birds and curious monkeys that inhabit the area. The trails are well maintained but also largely unaffected by tourism or technology. You may run into a couple groups of travelers, but most of the time it will just be you, your guide, and the lush, dewy jungle.
For fearless thrill-seekers, perhaps the most breathtaking experience at Sipi Falls is rappelling (the locals call it abseiling) down the face of the largest waterfall. For about $50, you can strap on a harness and step backward off a cliff into the rainbow mists of the 330-foot waterfall, landing in an otherworldly moss-covered grotto. A Ugandan company trained by professional climbers will help you get geared up and ready to rappel the falls. For avid hikers, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (ugandawildlife.org) offers three- to five-day mountaineering treks up Africa’s eighth highest mountain, Mount Elgon. The hike to Wagagai Peak, which emerges from Mount Elgon at 14,177 feet, is no small endeavor—but you will find mud caves, hot springs, and waterfalls to relax in along the way.
For travelers less fond of heights, the mountain-biking trails in the Mount Elgon area are unparalleled. Most serious mountain bikers bring their own bikes in order to enjoy the trails, but there are also places to rent equipment. In December, when the rainy season has subsided, the Sipi River Lodge holds a 12-mile bike race that traverses the winding trails of Mount Elgon. Other activities in the area include bird-watching, tours of the coffee fields, fly-fishing, and archery—but no one would blame you if you spent an entire day in a hammock overlooking the resplendent rushing waters of the falls. No matter what you do during your stay at Sipi Falls, you will fall in love with a corner of the world that is both stunning and stimulating. As Marquez puts it, “You’ll never see the world the same way after you get down and dirty in the great outdoors of Uganda.” ▶
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Features Mountain biking in the Alps is one way to ﬁt a workout into your travels.
Exercise Expeditions: Your Excuse to Travel
Buen Camino: A Pilgrimage
All in One Rhythm: 2014 FIFA World Cup
Home Sweet Sicily: Becoming Ragusani
Athletic excursions are a great way to check items off your fitness and travel bucket lists—all in one trip.
Join a legacy of pilgrims who have walked the path from France to Spain on the Camino de Santiago.
Attend the FIFA 2014 World Cup while participating in Brazil’s exciting and colorful culture.
Photo by Pascal Gertschen
You’ll find that the friendly, laid-back Italy romanticized in movies is still alive and well in Ragusa, Sicily.
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Exercise Expeditions Your excuse to Travel
Photo courtesy of Ragnar Relay Series
By Alison Moore
Although most people try to plan workouts into a trip, some tourists plan trips around their workouts. These competitors learn that athletic excursions can expose new ways to exercise̶and new ways to travel. Whether it s a weekend stop to participate in a race or a two-month vacation to bike across countries, destination athletes are ﬁnding ways to make exercise their motivation to travel and travel their motivation to exercise.
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Running: Napa Valley Venture The light reflecting off water, the crisp ocean breeze, and the steady drum of feet hitting pavement. The Golden Gate Bridge has about 10 million annual visitors, but McKenzie Ashman is experiencing it in a less conventional way—she’s running it. Although Ashman made sure to stop by Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, it was the 106mile relay from the Golden Gate Bridge to Napa Valley that attracted her to the area. Running can be an easy excuse to travel because race series bring
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runners together from all corners of the world. Ashman stumbled upon the Napa Valley Ragnar Relay when a friend was looking for some extra runners for the race. Despite being a few weeks into her college semester and living states away from the race’s location, Ashman and her friends committed to participate in the relay. The lure of a weekend trip to the Bay Area called her away from the streets she knew so well in her college town. Ashman admits that the decision to make a trip across states during a busy semester was unusual, but the commitment to the race helped her dedicate the time, money, and energy she would have to spend. “I
wouldn’t have gone to San Francisco on a roundabout trip otherwise,” she says. “I couldn’t find a reason to spend the money. But saying I was running and training was a good enough reason for me.” Making memories with people from the excursion made the trip especially worthwhile for Ashman. She found that relay running with new friends allowed her opportunities to make connections that can be difficult to find in everyday life. “The team motivated me to work a little harder. What I did affected them too,” she says. “The location mattered, but I felt a responsibility to the people who were going with me, and I don’t think I would have
Photo courtesy of Ragnar Relay Series
Participants can explore the vineyards of California while running the Ragnar Relay from San Francisco to Napa Valley.
felt that responsibility in my own backyard. I opened up to people who I’m really not sure I would have otherwise.”
Photo by Brendan Gray
Races of various distances can be found all over the world for runners of all skill levels. The Ragnar Relay series oﬀers relays and trail relays across the United States, while the Rock n Roll Marathon Series oﬀers half- and full-marathons all around the country as well as in other parts of the world, such as Madrid, Dublin, and Oslo. So invite some friends, sign up for a race, start training, and get ready to travel.
Triathlon: Interstate Iron Man Triathlons are one of the more daunting athletic challenges, but they take place in a variety of locations and at various distances, making them a great choice for any ambitious athlete. Meghan Henry, a serious triathlete and Iron Man competitor, has traveled to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Louisville, Kentucky; Lake Placid, New York; and Kona, Hawaii—swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles in each location. While Henry has always been athletic, joining the world of triathlons was an accident. When she went to college, she ran and swam simply to stay in shape. Eventually she met the president of her college’s triathlon club. He persuaded her to attend a couple workouts. A month later she competed in her first triathlon, placing first, and she has been addicted ever since.
Henry says she blindly signed up for her first Iron Man in Coeur d’Alene. She had a fractured tibia on race day. Her training had come from a book, and she had an overall sense of being unprepared. As a result, the race did not go the way Henry anticipated. “The cannon went off at 6:30 sharp, and the 2,500+ athletes, including myself, dove into the clear waters for the 2.4-mile swim,” Henry says. The swim was “uneventful,” but it was followed by “a horrific bike ride.” “I had no idea that there were actual mountain passes that we had to go up,” Henry explains. “This shows just how naïve I was going into this race.” She then began the marathon portion of the race. At mile 25, her body felt numb and her vision was blurry. She soon fell into unconsciousness. When she woke up, she refused aid from the EMTs, because accepting aid would disqualify her from the race. The EMTs contacted her father. But Meghan Henry had made her mother
Experiencing the blue waters of Austria brings the country to life as these swimmers participate in the Iron Man race.
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Even though Meghan Henry is a college student, she feels justified in making travel arrangements for these experiences and for her health. “Using exercise as a means of traveling allows me to spend the necessary amount of money because I know that I am doing something beneficial for my body,” she explains. “Exercise allows me to keep a healthy lifestyle, which includes traveling to different places across the world.”
Biking: Sightseeing and Cycling Biking offers significant advantages to the destination athlete because cyclists can usually travel farther for longer periods of time and can even eliminate the need for a car. John Russell first started biking in 2007 as a simple way to fill his time as a high school student in Vancouver, Washington. “I picked up my bike. Five miles became 15, and eventually I got to 100 miles in one day,” he says. “I began to wonder, How far could I go if
DIY Since triathlons can be modiﬁed from standard Iron Man distances, runners of all levels can begin their triathlon career with a trip. These races can be found in just about any location. Three of the most popular options in the United States are the Nation s Triathlon in DC; Escape from Alcatraz in San Francisco; and the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Malibu. For something outside the United States, the Bali Triathlon in Jimbaran Bay might suit a more adventurous appetite.
I didn’t have to come home every night?” So Russell tested his limits. During the summer between his junior and senior years of high school, he biked 1,000 miles around
A bike ride across Europe might seem daunting. But when you reach overlooks in the Alps, your thigh-burn will feel worth it.
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Photo by Pascal Gertschen
promise that she would not let her quit, no matter the consequences. She finished the race and was rushed to the emergency room with a temperature of 93.4 degrees Fahrenheit. “I did not foresee myself passing out at mile 25. So what did I do to rectify this feeling of inadequacy? Well, there was only one solution: to sign up for Iron Man Louisville in four weeks to compete with my newly earned ‘Iron Mind,’” she explains. “Because of my determination to finish, I would not give up—instead of saying I can’t, I changed my mindset to I can and I will.” Now Meghan Henry travels all across the United States to compete in these races, and she feels there are benefits from getting outside of her geographic comfort zone. “The advantage of racing away from home is, primarily, the touristic experience. Being able to experience a new town is definitely worth the traveling expenses,” she explains. “Being able to associate with people from the area is also an advantage of traveling. The people are very welcoming, providing the town itself with the ultimate friendly ambiance.”
the state of Washington. When the next opportunity came, he took it: a trip from Washington State to San Francisco with about half a dozen high school friends. Slowly the group’s numbers dwindled to three, then two, until everyone except Russell had backed out. “I thought, I don’t need all these friends to bike; I’ll just do it myself,” he says. Being on his own meant Russell could push himself farther than originally planned. He made it to San Francisco with a week to spare and decided to keep biking. He biked down to Los Angeles, San Diego, and eventually Mexico. The trips grew to include a bike trip from Portland to New York and even a goal to bike 10,000 miles in one year, which Russell says he accomplished on a ride that culminated at the Canadian border at about 11 PM on New Year’s Eve. “I couldn’t bring myself to miss that goal after all the work I’d put in,” he says. “For the rest of my life, if I don’t top that, I’ll be happy.” While some find a connection in group travel, Russell doesn’t mind biking and traveling alone, which is how he biked across Europe during the summer of 2013. The freedom of riding solo gives him the chance to meet new friends, such as a grandmother at a state fair in Kansas who bought him dinner, or a group of Spaniards who had never met anyone like him. Russell tells of a stop he made near Castellón de la Plana: “I stopped at this bar to get water and ice. I go in there, and there’s only one person who speaks English. They’re so excited because they’ve never had an American in their bar. You get a much better local flavor. People will actually stop and say, ‘Hey I want to ask you about your trip.’” According to Russell, experiences like these are impossible for him to have anywhere besides on his bike,
and biking has allowed him to do new things and grow in unique ways. “There’s no way I would have done this if I hadn’t done it with biking,” Russell explains. “It’s the cheapest way to see these things you never would have seen. It’s the most freedom out of any form of travel. The fact that I turned my wheels across the United States and Europe—it’s a humbling experience.”
Four Tips for Race Tripping ▶
Pack light Racing accessories other than basic running clothes can get bulky and take space in your bags. Save room for these items by bringing versatile cloth-
ing and easily packable
Biking across states or countries can be diﬃcult when highways restrict bike traﬃc or when routes are diﬃcult to ﬁnd, but some races and bike tours can provide a place to jumpstart your biking travels. The Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic is the largest multiday cycling event in the Northwest. And a tour with a company like Bike Tours Direct could help you travel from Florence to Rome on a seven-day cycling trek.
items. See page 88 for
Plan strategically Athletes should anticipate some soreness and minor injuries after strenuous exercise. Don t plan travel activities that you think you ll be overly exhausted for or in too much pain to accomplish. If necessary, do your sightseeing in the days before your race.
Choose wisely Chances are your trip might be a short one if you re only stopping in for the race. Choose a location with a few must-do items and commit to them. Having
nothing to do besides race
While beginning an exercise expedition can be a little daunting, inspiration can be found in ordinary people and everyday races. If you’re looking for a way to break into a new form of athleticism, travel can be a great motivator. By simply signing up for a race that you’re comfortable with, you can use this commitment as an excuse to travel— and earn some serious bragging rights while doing it.
may underwhelm your
Celebrate appropriately If you have to skip your usual bed and breakfast brunch for your race, go out to a fancy local place to celebrate for lunch or dinner; you will have burned around 1,200 calories during the race. Make some time to do fun things as a reward after your hard work.
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BUEN 32 ▶ spring 2014
CAMINO a pilgrimage
By Jessica Reschke www.stowawaymag.com â—€ 33
For more than a thousand years, the city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, has welcomed weary pilgrims with open arms. Each year, Spaniards and other travelers from around the world trek hundreds of miles through the rolling hills, wooded forests, and pastoral fields of the Camino de Santiago, and the warmhearted people of Spain wish them buen camino or good walk. You too can make the pilgrimage and take in the stunning scenery, the rejuvenating camaraderie of other travelers, and the unexpected exhilaration of a life-changing walk.
Know the Legend Adventurers have flocked to this path since AD 814 when, according to legend, a shower of falling stars led a Spanish hermit to the hidden tomb of the apostle Saint James (Santiago) on a path now called the Camino de Santiago. Many Christians still believe that Santiago de Compostela is the site of Saint James’s burial. But you don’t have to be a traditional pilgrim to embark on this journey. All you need is a pair of walking shoes and a hunger to see life in a new way. “It’s such an authentic way to see a place. It’s beyond seeing Spain,” says 24-year-old Brittany Koteles of Belvidere, Illinois, who completed the Camino in 2010 while studying in Spain. “You’re retracing the steps of a journey that thousands of people have made, and you’re sharing it with strangers,” Koteles explains. “You’re crossing a country on foot, seeing the beauty it has and meeting the people who live there. You can’t have a much more authentic tourist experience than that.” Travelers on the Camino de Santiago find rewards in their personal journey, not just in their destination. In Spanish, the noun camino means “the way” or “the journey,” but as a verb, camino means “I walk.” The Camino de Santiago isn’t just
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another European vacation—it’s a chance for you to walk purposefully along a gratifying road of introspection. “Sometimes I think we turn tourism into a to-do list,” says Koteles. “This trip is one of the best ways to counter that. It’s a way to let travel facilitate your learning about other places, other people, and also yourself.”
Make Your Own Adventure
Everything about this modern pilgrimage can be personalized, including the extent to which you plan ahead, the pathway you take, and your choice of food and accommodations.
Preparation Don’t be afraid to set out without a distinct plan. Read online forums like www.caminodesantiago.me to find out what other travelers have done. If you’re in Spain or southern France, “take your passport or some sort of ID and go to nearly any city’s culture department or town hall, and they’ll tell you where to go,” says Koteles. If you’re already in Europe, the Camino is a journey you can be impulsive about because it’s not going to break the bank. Most of the paths wind through the verdant,
hilly scenery of Galicia in northern Spain, where you can traverse amazing countryside on US$15–20 a day. Pilgrims often carry only the bare necessities on their backs and spend their days strolling through picturesque medieval villages and culturally rich cities as passersby wish them a “buen camino.” Most travelers appear on the path during their summer vacations, but if you want to experience better weather and smaller crowds, go in May. “They call it the España verde, the green Spain, because there are forests and beautiful cliffs and mountains,” says Koteles. “There’s so much more to Spain than flamenco and the Mediterranean backdrop. This trip is more than an immersion into Spanish culture; it’s an immersion into Camino culture. You’re in an environment that allows you to learn from the stories of the people. You bond quickly because you’re achieving this crazy, amazing task—together.”
Paths Whether you are traveling for spirituality, for exercise, or for scenic retreat, “there’s no grand beginning,” recalls Koteles. “We took a night bus to Lugo about 120 kilometers [75 miles] outside of Santiago. We got off the bus at 7:00 AM and started walking—and we didn’t stop for five days. You think you’re going to get lost and that you
Previous page: photo by Jason Jones; Above: photo by Miguel Ángel García
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, is the traditional starting point for most of the Camino paths. The ﬁrst day begins with a diﬃcult hike, but it provides views like this as a reward.
won’t be able to find the path, but we just asked somebody where the Camino was and they showed us to the first sign.” Koteles explains that symbols of a scallop shell, the sign of Saint James, officially mark the direction of the path. In the wilderness, you will find your way by following the footprints of other pilgrims— along with arrows that are spraypainted yellow. There are nearly 30 recognized trails on the network of paths referred to as the Camino de Santiago. Whether you’re starting in Spain, France, Portugal, or even Germany, there is a path that will get you to Santiago de Compostela. One of the best ways to choose between them is to first determine how long you have to travel and from which city or country you will start. From there, you can visit a website such as www.csj.org.uk to learn more about each particular path. The most popular paths to Santiago de Compostela follow the
trails of the earliest long-distance pilgrims who came from beyond the Pyrénées in France and traveled west across northern Spain. The three most customary of these are the Camino Primitivo, which includes stops at remote monasteries; the Camino del Norte, which follows the stunning coastline cliffs of northern Spain; and the Camino Francés, or French Way, which is the most traditional path. The average distance for the full walk on the French Way is about 780 km (485 miles), but the length depends on which of the many trails you choose. If you feel deterred by this distance, pick a starting point that is farther along. Remember, this is your Camino; so make what you want of it. Eventually, after many days—or weeks, depending on where you begin your journey—your path will meet up with the majority of the walkers about 97 km (60 miles) outside the city of Santiago de Compostela. Here, the buzz of excited travelers will
accompany you as you cross the final hamlets to reach your long-awaited destination.
Food and Accommodations Hearty Spanish meals are inexpensive, and the majority of young pilgrims opt to stay in albergues, which are inexpensive hostels, lodges, or community centers reserved for travelers on the Camino. Expect to pay between five to ten euros (about US$6.75–$13.50) to sleep in simple bunk beds. Wherever you begin your journey, be sure to pick up a credencial—also called the pilgrim’s passport—so you can acquire stamps and gain access to inexpensive lodging. Nearly any bar, restaurant, or albergue will have its own hand-carved wooden stamp. In addition to being souvenirs, stamps in your pilgrim’s passport also provide proof that you walked the last 100 km (62 miles) on foot, which is the feat required to earn your certificate of completion.
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“And then she did the Camino, and it changed her life—so she left her job and bought a cottage on a secluded portion of the Camino.” María Pilar now leads a simple life making jewelry, and she opens her home to pilgrims whenever she can.
Take Away Memories
You can have your credencial (pilgrim s passport) stamped for evidence of your walk.
Opposite and bottom right: photography by Ron Albers; Top: photo by Jesús Pérez Pacheco
Join A Fellowship of Pilgrims
When Koteles and her friends set out on their own spontaneous pilgrimage, they never imagined the friendships they would create. “When you get to town each night, you have people waiting for you, cheering you on,” she says. On their journey there was a group of five elderly men from Madrid; everyone referred to them as los abuelos (the grandpas). Led by a charismatic 89-year-old man, they were one of the first groups to complete their walk each day. When Koteles and her group finally arrived at the end of their journey, the city of Santiago was crowded with tourists. “We somehow found the abuelos in the center of town in a plaza,” she remembers. “A band was playing, and it started raining, and we were just dancing with the abuelos in the rain, celebrating.” This is one of her most prized memories from the trip. “You form incredible bonds with people because there’s no pressure from the real world. You skip 10 steps of the
getting-to-know-you process because everyone’s there with a purpose.” Similarly, along the path friendly faces wait to welcome you to the part of Spain that they call home. A few days into the journey, Koteles and her friends walked by a woman in her garden who greeted them and invited them in for tea. “Her name was María Pilar, and she explained that years ago she had a corporate position at a job she didn’t like,” Koteles recalls.
Get away from the office or the demands of school, and let life slow to the pace of your walk. On the Camino, time is your only luxury—experiences are your only priority. If you’re looking for a chance to reflect, reevaluate, and remember what is truly important in your life, there is no greater setting than the paths through the rolling green hills of Spain. You may begin your journey with strangers, but you will arrive in Santiago with friends for a lifetime. Take paths that are out of the way. Meet new people. Try new foods. Learn new words. The cathartic power of nature and the rejuvenating power of fellowship will be your greatest allies on this strenuous but beautifully rewarding journey.
The scallop shell, the symbol of Saint James, marks the many paths of the Camino.
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All in One
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Rhythm 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP By Kylee Buchanan
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Above: Brazilians celebrate their team s victory after a particularly tense game against North Korea in the 2010 South Africa World Cup. Right: Residents celebrate in the vibrantly decorated streets of Recife.
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Previous page: photo by Chrystian Cruz; Right: photo by Marcello Casal Jr.
Most countries take soccer̶or football, as it is known in most nations̶very seriously, and Brazil is no exception. This year, Brazil will host the world s most renowned and important soccer competition: the FIFA World Cup. With five World Cup titles, Brazil stands as the numberone team in the world in terms of wins. The fierce competition that will no doubt come from the teams competing will be accompanied by fierce celebration among players and fans alike.
Photo by Henrique Vicente de Oliveira
“Brazilians are extremely passionate about their football,” says Giovanni Brassanini, a native Brazilian. “It gets very intense between rivalries. When it comes time for the Cup, practically every household that you walk into will have their TV on, and they’ll be watching the games.” The 2014 FIFA World Cup games will take place from June 12 through July 13 in twelve different cities across Brazil, and each city will have one or more stadiums that host the games. No matter which area of Brazil you choose to visit during the World Cup, you are guaranteed to find a wide range of festivities in which to participate. Brazil is a perfect place to host the games because of the easygoing nature of its people, the diverse range of its exotic destinations, and the abundance of its exciting celebrations. Travelers will be able to
experience not only the various cultures coming together for the World Cup but also the unique opportunities found in the cities themselves. Brazil will provide the atmosphere for these cultures to fuse together in one rhythm to create an experience unlike any other.
Northern cities such as Recife, Fortaleza, Natal, and Manaus provide a dynamic experience for those visiting for the World Cup. Brazil hosts many celebrations that showcase music, dancing, and parades. One such celebration is Festa Junina, which takes place at the end of June in many northeastern cities, including Recife. Festa Junina was originally celebrated by Brazil’s Portuguese settlers to commemorate St. John’s day, though
most Brazilians nowadays just use it as an excuse to gather with friends and family and celebrate in the summertime. Brazilians celebrate Festa Junina with colorful decorations, traditional clothing, and a variety of foods. The music is generally forró music, which incorporates the accordion, percussion, and the metal triangle. Specific traditional dances accompany this style of music. You won’t want to miss this festival, as it is uniquely Brazilian.
Traveling to the central cities of the World Cup—such as Salvador, Cuiabá, Brasília, and Belo Horizonte? One celebration to check out is Boi Bumba, a Brazilian folk celebration centering on the tale of Boi Meu Bumba. Locals dress up in costumes and use giant puppets to tell the story of a bull who
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Southern Cities The southern coastal cities—such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Curitiba, and Porto Alegre—will likely be the most popular places to visit. Most of the events for the World Cup will take place in Rio, including the final World Cup game. While in Rio de Janeiro, be sure to check out Copacabana Beach. Travelers come from all over to experience the lure of the Copacabana with its expansive coastline and crystal blue waters. Recently, it hosted the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. World-renowned resorts and hotels such as the Miramar, the Sofitel, and Copacabana Palace line the beach, and there is plenty of beach volleyball to keep you occupied. An area in Rio that will host many World Cup events is Lapa Street, home to the famous Escadaria Selarón, a uniquely painted staircase embedded with pieces of tile, ceramics, and mirrors. Artist Jorge Selarón expressed that this was his tribute to
Top: Brazilians celebrate the traditional Boi Bumba festival with music, dance, and large, colorful costumes. Above: The Escadaria Selarón, a cultural highlight of Rio de Janeiro, is a uniquely constructed staircase embedded with pieces of tile, mirror, and ceramics.
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Photos by Breno Peck and Vincent Poulissen
dies and is brought back to life. The story is accompanied by traditional drumming and dance. Although the city of Parintins hosts the biggest celebration of Boi Bumba, the city of Cuiaba also hosts a celebration. It will take place in June during the World Cup, so be sure to take part in this unique cultural experience.
With pastel-colored houses and the Pelourinho (the famous UNESCO heritage center), the historical coastal city of Salvador is one of Brazil’s oldest cities. Be sure to venture out at night to witness remarkable music: Afro-Brazilian drum groups often perform in the streets, going back to Brazil’s African roots. Many street artists draw inspiration from the beautiful surroundings and sell their artwork on the street. “If I could describe the culture in one word,” says Brassanini, “it would be exotic. Brazilians are comfortable and confident in themselves. It is a very colorful culture. There is always a lot of excitement.” Salvador is also known for its serene beaches. The calm inlets of Salvador’s beaches are perfect for sailing, swimming, and fishing. The coast along Salvador is lined with coral reefs that create tide pools of stone that are ideal for wading in and exploring the sealife that Brazil’s coasts have to offer.
Photo by Lucas Ninno Ometto
the Brazilian people. Lapa Street also has a thriving nightlife. Many restaurants, microbreweries, bars, and dance clubs line the street, and it is closed off to cars at night so pedestrians can wander and explore. Emily DePaula, a college student whose parents emigrated from Rio de Janeiro, has traveled to Brazil on many occasions and highly recommends discovering the music played at night along Lapa Street. “There is such a variety,” DePaula explains. “You’ll walk by and there will be a place that is playing country music, another one that plays strictly techno, and another one that plays afroreggae music. It’s the best place—it’s so much fun to go there.” Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo share a love for a specific kind of dance: the samba. Known for its African rhythmic origins, the samba has been adapted to many different styles, but the rhythm stays the same. These dances involve elaborately decorated costumes that accentuate the samba’s quick movements, and the dancers exude an exuberant, flirtatious energy that reflects the energy of the Brazilian people. Samba schools in certain parts of Rio and São Paulo have frequent competitions. Try to catch one of these competitions while you’re in Brazil for the World Cup. Rhythm and a zeal for life are embedded in Brazilian culture. As the world’s attention turns to the World Cup during those memorable days in 2014, those who travel to Brazil for the World Cup will have a chance to enjoy diverse cultures, exotic celebrations, unforgettable experiences, and new friends—becoming united all in one rhythm. ▶
Soccer (or futebol) is played in all parts of Brazil by people of all ages.
Past World Cup Highlights South Africa, 2010 Winner: Spain The South Africa 2010 World Cup theme was Wave Your Flag, an invitation to members of each nation to rally support for their country. The anthem used throughout the competitions was Wavin Flag (recorded by African singer K naan). Another uniquely African aspect of this World Cup was the widespread use of vuvuzelas̶a loud African instrument that fans around the world blew to cheer on their teams. In the ﬁnal World Cup game, Spain beat the Netherlands 1‒0 and took home the Cup.
Germany, 2006 Winner: Italy The Germany 2006 World Cup is remembered for its tense ﬁnal match between France and Italy. Minutes into that game, French player Zinedine Zidane put France ahead with a penalty kick. Italy soon caught up with a goal by Marco Materazzi, and the match ended with a tie at 1‒1. Later, Zidane was suspended from the penalty shootout because of a red card he earned for headbutting Materazzi on the ﬁeld. During the penalty shootout, Italy pulled ahead, winning 5‒3.
Korea and Japan, 2002 Winner: Brazil Brazil made World Cup history in 2002 with a win in Asia. Brazil is currently the only country that has won the World Cup on every continent where the World Cup has been hosted. This particular World Cup was fraught with upsets, including Senegal s unexpected win against France in the opening match. However, Brazil managed to work through the games to the ﬁnal match against Germany, in which one of Brazil s most famous players, Cristiano Ronaldo, scored both of the goals that earned them the 2002 Cup.
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SICILY Becoming Ragusani
Photo by Alessandro Bonvini
By Mary-Celeste Lewis
Ciao, baby! a man yells cheerfully to you in a loud voice. Baby may be the only English word he knows, but his greeting calls your attention to an eccentric restaurant in a truck. The side reads Ù Ziu Pinu ( Uncle Joey s in Sicilian) and the tanned, friendly man who called to you leans out of this portable kitchen over a case of raw meat to beckon you forward. When he asks what you want, you shrug, so he smiles and starts frying up fresh meat. When he hands you the steaming sandwich, you can t help but smile back and feel welcomed as you take your ﬁrst bite. Welcome to Sicily, one of the friendliest islands on earth. www.stowawaymag.com ◀ 45
Ragusa-Ibla s hilltop location makes for beautiful views̶and a lot of stairs.
La Bella Sicilia We’ve all seen movies that take place in those small, sleepy Italian villages where the old men wear plaid suits and flat caps and sit under gazebos in the park playing cards. Laundry hangs from balconies and swings in the breeze, and fruit vendors drive through the streets, shouting out their wares. More than anywhere else in Italy, the region of Sicily has continued to do these things, making this region seem like an Italy from days gone by. According to Jessica Rosato of Como, a city just outside of Milan, the people of Sicily “have really kept their traditions. It’s very different from the North.” However, when you ask travelers which cities they visited on their last trip to Italy, many list the big names such as Rome, Florence, and Venice— hot spots for tourism. Rarely do you hear of a vacationer visiting Sicily. Why don’t we ever seem to make it down there? In popular tourist
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destinations, it can be hard to see past the guided tours and into the lives of the people who live there. La bella Sicilia (beautiful Sicily), however, still awaits intrepid adventurers seeking a more traditional Italian experience.
Welcome to Ragusa Although most of northern Italy has become thoroughly industrialized, southern Italy has maintained its agricultural feel. Much of the produce sold in Rome and northward is grown in Sicily, especially the oranges. The feeling throughout all of Sicily is laid back, but it slows even more dramatically during the drive to the town of Ragusa in the heart of the Sicilian countryside. Agricultural communities like Ragusa seem to move slower and breathe deeper. Even the air is different in Ragusa. Ragusa is like a little town trapped in time, and though it boasts baroque architecture as beautiful as anywhere else, the humble people there are
steeped in traditions that are rapidly disappearing in the larger cities. Rosato describes the feeling in Ragusa as “how you’d feel in your own home: everyone is social and cheerful.” Annette Marshall had to wait many years for her opportunity to make a pilgrimage from her Australian home to her family’s homeland in Sicily—and she wasn’t disappointed when she arrived. Marshall’s grandparents were both Ragusani, natives of Ragusa. “My grandmother taught me that love is the most important thing in the world, and it starts with family love,” Marshall says. She also explains that she and her family “always opened our hearts and our doors to anybody that came in our lives.” Marshall’s nonna (grandmother) exemplified that warm, friendly nature typical of the people of Ragusa. That affectionate nature and those welcoming feelings are exactly what Marshall found when she visited there.
Describing what makes Ragusa special, lifelong resident Liliana Rollo says that the Sicilian people, especially those from Ragusa, are more accogliente (welcoming and friendly) than people in the rest of Italy. As if to illustrate her own point, Rollo repeats several times during a brief telephone conversation, “I hope you’ll come and see me when you take a vacation in Italy.”
Left: photo by Salvatore Ciambra; Right: photo by photo_gram
Sicilian cuisine is famous for a reason. Speaking of her childhood and of her grandmother’s legendary cooking, Marshall says, “When we’d get home from church, I’d help Nonna in the kitchen, and we’d have great Sunday lunches—and that was tradition.” Marshall loved her stay in Ragusa partly because “even the food reminded me of Nonna, and I realized how much she’d kept up the traditions of the food because everything tasted like Nonna’s!” Ragusa has several delicious culinary traditions unique to the province—some are not available elsewhere in Sicily. You’ll find
delicious cannoli (sweet, ricotta-filled fried pastry shells) at Dolcemania in Via Paestum 36. You’ll find arancini, fried rice balls filled with meat sauce, at the Pasticceria Giovanni di Pasquale in the piazza (town square) near the cathedral. L’impanata Ragusana is a creation made with very thin layers of dough wrapped around flavorful toppings like tomatoes, ricotta, and sausage; it’s reminiscent of hand-held lasagna and can be found in most paninerie (bakeries) throughout the city. You’ll also find cassata Ragusana, sweet and simple ricotta-filled pastries. The city’s pizza is every bit as delicious as you’d imagine authentic Italian pizza to be. And the panini (sandwiches made with fresh, grilled meat) are beyond compare, especially at Ziu Pinu’s restaurant. It is well worth taking a trip to Ragusa even if all you do there is eat the local goodies. Ragusa and Ragusa-Ibla, the tiny hilltop village next door, have maintained a food culture filled with rich traditions. The stone pathway from Ragusa to Ibla winds down dozens of stairs and through twisting, crumbling passageways covered with
On an ordinary day in Ragusa, half a dozen fruit and vegetable vendors drive through the streets distributing their goods. The residents know their favorites and head out in their slippers to meet the vendors on the street.
romantic graffiti from generations of love-struck teenagers. Ragusa-Ibla keeps a traditional schedule between the hours of one and four in the afternoon; all shops and churches close promptly at one, and everyone goes home to have a big lunch with the family. A three-course meal, followed by dessert and a long nap, is a rigorously followed Sicilian tradition to this day, especially in towns like Ragusa and Ragusa-Ibla.
Agriturismo For those who want to try traditional home-cooking but don’t feel comfortable inviting themselves to a stranger’s house for lunch, there is agriturismo (agricultural tourism). Agriturismo is more than just visiting farms; it’s putting yourself into the lifestyle of a countryside Sicilian for a few days, but without all the work. This method of vacationing, a few steps beyond bed-and-breakfasting, is steadily growing in popularity in Italy and throughout all of Europe. People escaping from city smog can often rent rooms in renovated farmhouses, which usually have traditional kitchens that are open to curious visitors from all over. Angela and Alessandro of Florence wanted a relaxing holiday, so they tried staying in a refurbished farmhouse called Tenuta Carbonara in the Sicilian countryside. “It was truly unforgettable for us,” they rave in an online comment. But the best part of their stay seemed to be their everhospitable hostess, Nella Tuminello, who runs the Tenuta Carbonara establishment. Nella is a one-woman wonder. She cares for her guests and makes sure they feel at home in a laidback environment. Her traditional, home-cooked Sicilian meals are met with rave reviews by even the hardest-to-please guests. In fact, for those who can’t get enough of her cooking, Nella teaches cooking classes. In these two- to three-hour
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Taking It Slow As its laid-back reputation suggests, Sicily is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. You don’t necessarily need to go to the town of Ragusa or to the farmhouse at Tenuta Carbonara in order to find that mysterious “it” factor that makes Sicily such a wonderful place to visit. It could be the beautiful Mediterranean climate or the region’s tenacious hold on its traditions. It could be the cracked and crumbling plaster finishes on the houses, the
I felt more alive than I’d ever felt in my whole entire life.
lazy palm trees swinging in the breeze over baroque wrought-iron balconies, or the food culture that causes the streets to empty at midday to allow for home-cooked meals. It could be the sun-dried tomatoes and bottled olives still prepared by hand at home—or the young men sitting right next to the old men playing cards in the park, suggesting that this quiet Sicilian way of life is here to stay. “I came home, and I felt more alive than I’d ever felt in my whole entire life,” Marshall says of her life-changing trip to Ragusa. If you’re looking for
high fashion, busy people, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, try Milan or Rome. But if you’re looking not only to meet amazing people and eat wonderful food but also to slow down and be inspired, head down to Sicily. It’s waiting for you. ▶
Also see the novel Eco del Gusto by Emmanuele Lombardo, available in English as well as Italian.
At Tenuta Carbonara, Nella Tuminello s culinary students watch her carefully. She doesn t speak much English and doesn t use recipes.
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Photo by Mary-Celeste Lewis
demonstrations, Nella guides guests through the steps of making cassata Ragusana, l’impanata, or other regional delicacies, like ravioli stuffed with fresh local ricotta. Tenuta Carbonara isn’t the only place you can stay at in Sicily—there are many fine opportunities for agriturismo in the region. Nella and other hostesses may not speak much English, though, so be prepared to watch their demonstrations carefully!
Culture Dharamsala is a colorful Tibetan refuge in the mountains of India.
Warp and Weft: Legacies of Navajo Weaving
The Hills Are Alive with the Sounds of Austria
A centuries-old weaving tradition lives on in the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States.
Take in the sights and sounds of Austria—through the lens of music.
Songkran: More Than Just a Water Fight
Hanami: Celebrating Transient Beauty in Japan
Dharamsala: Tibetan Spirit Reborn
Experience the wet and wild holiday of splashing people on the streets of Thailand with ice-cold water.
Discover how Japan commemorates its iconic cherry blossom.
Photo by Rachel Ruekert
Tibetan Buddhist faith and tradition have found refuge in the mountains of northern India.
Bite of Philly
Savor the Flavor of the Crescent City
Basil: Four Corners of the Kitchen
Find the best spots to grab the gooey goodness of a cheesesteak in the City of Brotherly Love.
Experience the spirit of New Orleans all over the world through the taste of Cajun cuisine.
Experiment basil, the world’s most romantic herb, in four recipes from all across the globe.
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Warp & Weft Legacies of Navajo Weaving
The weaver deftly maneuvers the pile of yarn at her side horizontally between the warp and quickly tamps down the red string into sharp lines against the previous row with four rhythmic taps. Preparing to lay down another weave, she separates the strings with a sweep of her hand as if she were playing the harp.
Handwoven blankets are known for their bright colors and soft, silky textures.
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Again and again she repeats this process, each movement quick, precise, and fluid. The woman patiently weaves, knowing that her creation may ultimately take an entire yearâ€™s dedication or more to complete.
Photo by DeAnn Peterson
Vibrant reds, indigo blues, goldenrod yellows, creamy whites, and earthy browns connect into wavy bands, angular diamonds, and terraced pyramids in sharp geometric detail. Working thread by thread, the weaver sits cross-legged in front of her loom. The vertical white, woolen warp strings are strung from a beam above, cascading gently to the slowly emerging patterns of color.
The Navajo Tradition
For more than two centuries, Navajo rugs and blankets have fascinated the artistically minded with their exceptional craftsmanship and stark, stunning beauty. This uniquely American art form fetches high prices and is held in high esteem as one of the finest weaving traditions in the world. But surprisingly, the Navajo have a relatively young weaving tradition. The Navajo began weaving when the Pueblo peoples to the south sought refuge from Spanish and tribal conflicts and brought with them their weaving tradition. Improving upon the Pueblo method, Navajo weavers became universally recognized as the best and most innovative in the West. Rival tribes sometimes risked their lives to trade for a Navajo-woven blanket, which sold for astronomical prices—as much as four years’ salary for an army captain. Despite difficult times and social upheaval, the weaving tradition is still strong today in the Navajo homelands of the Four Corners area in the southwestern United States. Herders still run the now-rare Navajo-Churro breed of sheep in the hills of Four Corners, and weavers still harvest wool, make yarn, and produce striking examples of a vibrant traditional art form.
A Weaving Pilgrimage
This beautiful and storied tradition is far from being just history, and blankets aren’t just found in expensive museums. Contemporary weavers and willing teachers passionately keep this artisan tradition alive in the Southwest. Hoping to experience modern Navajo weaving, 25-year-old Kess Larsen visited Los Ojos, New Mexico—a locus for contemporary Navajo weaving. Arriving after dark, Larsen parked her dusty car in front of the building marked Tierra Wools and introduced herself to one of the friendly owners waiting there. The weeklong weaving course at the small shop and the stay at the owner’s neighboring casita had been a gift for Larsen from her parents. After settling in, Larsen slept comfortably, dreaming of the blanket she would be making the next morning. The next day she learned all about the rare Navajo-Churro sheep herds, the hand-spun and dyed wools, the looms, and the blankets, rugs, and tapestries. After studying the many dyed wools, Larsen was immediately drawn to browns, greens, and dark blues, but the “dusty, rosy pink” she had first chosen “just wasn’t working” in the combination. So she “nixed the pink and threw in yellow and absolutely loved it.” After finding the
perfect shades of wool, she finished plans for her simple banded design and began her work at the loom. With friendly guidance and encouragement from the three women tending the shop, Larsen began to weave, growing in confidence and speed as she passed the shuttle back and forth hundreds and hundreds of times, resting only to take breaks walking and reading in the hardy low hills. At the end of five days, Larsen eagerly detached her small blanket from the loom, held it up, and then wrapped herself in it. She thanked her teachers for an unforgettable experience. “The lady told me I did such a good job I need to find a weaver’s guild in my area,” Larsen reports. “I had so much fun doing it. I really did.” Larsen drove home feeling elated and contemplative. Although the temperature was quite comfortable in her car, she cranked up the AC and wrapped herself in the blanket, thinking of ancient weavers and feeling grateful for her newfound connection to them. “The experience made me want to live a life in a valley somewhere just weaving,” Larsen explains. “I considered dropping everything and becoming a weaver.” ▶
The Navajo preserve their generational connection to the past as they continue their centuries-old weaving tradition.
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The Hills Are Alive with the
Sounds of Austria
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Austria is also famous for its modern musical sites, such as the Bösendorfer Piano Factory and various filming locations of The Sound of Music. Because of its rich musical history and culture, Austria provides a unique travel experience for those interested in seeing the country through the lens of music.
Composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert called Austria home. From them came many musical compositions—such as Mozart’s “Requiem in D Minor” and Beethoven’s “Für Elise”—that have survived for generations and are performed by musical groups all across the world. Travelers can visit many sites in Austria that are associated with these and other composers. One of the most famous sites is the childhood home of Mozart, the Hagenauer House. Located in Salzburg, Austria, this was home to the
Mozart family for 26 years. It has now been converted into a museum where tourists can see Mozart’s violins, his clavichord, his harpsichord, some of his original scores, and an array of his family’s letters and portraits. Travelers can also visit Esterhazy Palace, the royal court for which Franz Joseph Haydn composed. Located in Eisenstadt, Austria, this palace was home to the Esterhazy family. While Haydn lived in this home, he composed some of his most famous works, such as “Missa in Angustiis.” Depending on the time of year, the palace is open to the public and offers many exhibits. The focus of the exhibits for 2014 is the friendship that was forged between Haydn and Beethoven through music.
The large number of cathedrals in Austria reveals a religious devotion that is manifest through musical worship. Much classical music is religious, and classical religious music is still sung today in churches all around
Photo by Jason Selby
Driving through the misty Austrian mountains to the small village of Hallstatt was a highlight of Arizona resident Daniel Ostler’s memorable high school choir trip to Austria. Ostler recalls the scene as his choir sang “Ave Maria” in an open amphitheater facing the magnificent green landscape: “I remember how the fog rose as we started to sing. It was so beautiful. It was early in the morning, and people who lived in the village started coming out of their houses to thank us.” Although Austrians’ primary language is German, their second is music, which transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries. Austria is the birthplace of many famous composers and for years has been a site of pilgrimage for lovers of classical music. Churches and cathedrals dot the lush landscape and provide opportunities for travelers to participate in religious services. These cathedrals are structured to amplify the music that is played and sung there. Even the spires of the cathedrals indicate the heavenward focus of the praise that takes place inside.
Austria. A number of cathedrals allow visitors to join them in religious services. One example is the Salzburg Cathedral (also known as the Dom), a baroque-style church that houses a 4,000-pipe organ that Mozart frequently played. Travelers can tour the Dom and learn about its historic significance and then stay for a mass. Many classical pieces were performed initially in cathedrals similar to the Dom. No matter your religious preference, singing inside a magnificent centuries-old cathedral can transform the space inside the building and increase your appreciation for its architecture and for the music. This experience can broaden your perspective of classical music for a lifetime.
care Austrians put into creating quality instruments that produce inspiring music, visitors can take a tour of the factory and see the workings of a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted Bösendorfer grand piano. Another way to engage with the modern part of Austria’s musical heritage is by visiting modern musical sites. The filming locations for The Sound of Music attract many fans of the 1965 musical. Visitors can follow the von Trapp family’s steps on a musical tour of Austria and experience firsthand the inspirations for the film. Those who want to venture on their own can check out the famous gazebo at Hellbrunn Palace or Mirabel
Gardens, where Maria and the von Trapp children can be seen dancing and singing “Do Re Mi” in the film. Austria boasts a magnificent array of ways to interact with others through music. Whether you travel by yourself or in a group, seeking out musical experiences in Austria will enable you to connect with the culture, people, and history on an intimate level. ▶
Photo by Shane Lin
The modern music scene in Austria is also alive and thriving, and there are plenty of opportunities to join in. Local musicians can be found in the public squares of every city in Austria. Buskers (street performers) often perform not only to entertain but also to sell their music to passersby. There are many opportunities in Vienna to attend concerts performed by modern genre bands. Travelers have countless underground music venues to choose from. One that draws a lot of music lovers is Flex, which has been a leading indie music venue since the 1990s. With a sound system that is unparalleled, Flex provides a fun atmosphere where travelers can interact with locals and experience a wide array of music genres. Travelers interested in instrument manufacturing can visit the Bösendorfer Piano Factory. Bösendorfer is one of the oldest piano manufacturers and has been making instruments in Vienna since 1828. The spruce wood used in Bösendorfer pianos produces a rich sound that is among the best quality. To gain a greater understanding of how much
Opposite: Complete with ﬂower-adorned decks and colorful houses, the village of Hallstatt lies nestled in the misty Austrian mountains. Above: The Salzburg Cathedral houses Mozart s baptismal font and the organ he frequently played.
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More Than Just a Water Fight During one of the hottest and most humid months of the year in Bangkok, Thailand, Nikhita Bhatia sits in the back of a truck in heavy traffic while the merciless sun beats down upon her head. Beads of sweat slowly drip down the side of her face. As the truck comes to a brief stop, she is bombarded with buckets upon buckets of ice-cold water from the passengers in a neighboring truck, instantly cooling her down and giving her goose bumps from head to toe. But without missing a beat, Bhatia picks up her own water bucket, armed and ready to fire back.
Welcome to the Songkran festival (April 13–15) in Thailand, a New Year’s celebration recognized worldwide for a unique tradition: massive citywide water fights lasting up to six days in some locations. The object of the water fights is simple—get anyone and everyone you see soaking wet. It doesn’t matter if you use a bucket of water, a hose, a cup, or a water bottle— during Songkran, it’s all free game.
Songkran Family Traditions Maliwan Salmon, who grew up in a rural part of Thailand called Yisang, remembers Songkran as a time to spend with family and to splash water on strangers. “When I was young, Songkran festival was when everybody who went to work in the big cities or any other place would come home to gather with their family,” Salmon explains. “Little kids would get up early and have their parents put a big, heavy bucket next to the road so the kids could spray people who passed by.” Today, travelers come from far and wide to participate in the famous Songkran celebrations, where a typical day in Bangkok might include strangers splashing water on policemen, shop owners, motorists, and anyone else who crosses their paths. It’s a day for fun and festivities—but if tourists really want a taste of Thai culture, they’ll have to look beyond the water buckets and hoses.
Songkran s Religious Roots Motorists endure a cold splash to the face during a full-blown Songkran celebration in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
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Though it may be fun to completely soak random strangers, Bangkok native Nirotha Chandee says that traditional Songkran celebrations are
Left: photo by Wyndham Hollis; Right: photo by John Shedrick
much different. Throwing water is still involved, but the meaning behind it is more religious in nature. Traditionally, Songkran was a Buddhist holiday held to celebrate new beginnings. Throwing water wasn’t entirely for fun—it symbolized a cleansing period and a renewal. “We would have to wear Thai dresses; men and women wouldn’t really touch and would throw water at each other at a really respectable distance,” Chandee says. “It’s not much of a water fight—it’s more like gathering the family and paying respect to our elders. We pour water mixed with jasmine flowers into their hands, wishing them long lives, while they bless us in return.” The elders Chandee mentions can be friends, family members, or monks. To get a true taste for Thai culture, Bhatia recommends that tourists participate in Buddhist celebrations at nearby temples, known as wats, by doing a prayer ceremony and putting some rosewater (a fragrant Thai water) on a Buddha statue. In turn, Bhatia says, Buddha will bless you with good fortune in the year to come. Though the well-known traditions of Songkran involve throwing water, cleansing Buddha statues, and paying tribute to elders, in other parts of Thailand, Songkran carries some
Songkran festivities draw crowds of all ages to the streets to ring in the new year in a wet and wild way.
lesser-known traditions as well. Some carry handfuls of sand to their neighbors in order to represent and compensate for all the dirt they will carry on their feet during the year; others deep clean their house as part of the cleansing period. But throughout the country, the traditional mentality is still the same: the new year is a time for cleansing and renewal. The water fight aspect is still part of the Thai culture; it’s just a more modern take on the holiday. In order
to get a good mix of the celebrations and a true understanding of the holiday, start out by visiting some of the popular Buddhist temples to pay tribute and show respect. Then afterward, grab a bucket, fill it up, and get as many people as possible dripping wet from head to toe with ice-cold water. ▶
Celebrating Safely at Songkran ▶ ▶
Leave all electronics and valuables at home or in your hotel to avoid getting them wet and ruined. It s nearly impossible not to get wet, so plan accordingly. Wearing a swimsuit underneath your clothing might be a good idea. Since Songkran is so popular, it can be difficult to find public transportation. Be prepared for extra traffic and longer travel times. There are always some people who take celebrating a little too far, so remember to be safe by staying with your group. Grab a bucket, maintain a good attitude, and have a great time!
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Hanami Celebrating Transient Beauty in Japan After a day of work in Osaka, Japan, Laurel Armstrong of Minneapolis, Minnesota, got on her bike to head home, winding through the city’s busy streets toward her high-rise apartment complex. She had been living in this Japanese metropolis for almost a quarter of her one-year work contract and had grown accustomed to the gray, austere metal of the city’s skyline and its almost incessantly overcast weather. As Armstrong rode past a wide alleyway, her thoughts of dinner that night were suddenly interrupted; her eyes caught sight of something white and brilliant moving softly, stark against the alley’s monotonous slate walls. She stopped her bike and walked through the alleyway and soon found herself surrounded by a gentle, steady shower of cherry blossoms. A man standing nearby, also pausing to admire the soft stream of flowers, turned to Armstrong
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with a smile and explained, “It is the season of sakura.” The reverence that locals and travelers feel toward Japan’s exquisite natural beauty—especially toward the Japanese Cherry, its most symbolic and well-known flowering tree—is what makes the springtime in this country so special. “If you’re going to go to Japan,” says Greg Wilkinson, a former professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona, “go at the end of March because that’s when the sakura are in full bloom.” In northern Japan, the blooms may come later—in April or May— but hanami, which literally means “to look at flowers,” usually occurs at the end of March and is a Japanese Shinto festival that celebrates nature, family, friends, and beauty. Anticipated nationwide in Japan, hanami commences when the sakura, or cherry blossoms, begin to appear. In fact, the Japanese watch weather
forecasts almost religiously leading up to hanami in order to plan their celebrations. Newspaper and TV weather reports often predict if hanami will come earlier or later than in other years, and even Japan’s most stringent workers are known to take afternoons or long weekends off to celebrate the holiday. In the last three years, however, hanami has taken on new meaning and ignited controversy throughout the country. After Japan’s devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear plant disasters on March 11, 2011, the nation went into a state of mourning. The feelings associated with 3/11 in Japan are comparable to those of 9/11 in the United States. Just as the United States held off on events like professional sporting games and comedy shows immediately following 9/11, many Japanese have felt that the somewhat rambunctious and celebratory nature
For those not able to venture quite so far east, cherry blossom festivals are also held in regions throughout the United States.
Brooklyn, New York Sakura Matsuri, the annual cherry blossom festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, oﬀers more than 60 events celebrating Japanese culture.
Photo by Leslie Taylor
While Japanese parks and Shinto shrines lay out blue tarps under cherry trees for the public, some families enjoy hanami with quiet picnics in more secluded areas.
of hanami does not appropriately commemorate the loss and devastation of 3/11. Most Shinto shrines and other groups still sponsor the event, though some have tried to tone down the festivities to show respect for the country’s loss during that period. Kiyiko Saito Sparks, a Japanese native who lived in Tokyo until she was 25, has fond memories of celebrating hanami with her family. “We would pack up our favorite foods and other goodies and take the train out of the city to somewhere we could enjoy nature,” she says. Most hanami festivals are sponsored by parks or local Shinto shrines that lay out blue tarps underneath their sakura trees and allow vendors to sell food, clothing, and, of course, sake (rice liquor). Many families also take home fallen blossoms or branches from the sakura trees as souvenirs. The significance of viewing the cherry blossoms in Japan dates back to references in the famous eleventh-century novel The Tale of Genji and has been an integral part of the nature-centric culture since. In Japan, transience is the purest and most desired form of beauty: Japanese literature is replete with stories of unrequited love; the allure
is found in both love’s potentiality and its impossibility. Thus, the cherry blossom, which remains in bloom for only about two weeks, is what Wilkinson calls Japan’s “national aesthetic symbol.” Hanami, then, is a celebration not only of the manifest beauty in Japan but also of the traditional Japanese perspective on beauty itself. The holiday is widely celebrated throughout the country, and most citizens consider it to be more of a cultural celebration than a religious one. “Hanami is a much less organized or ritual-based festival than other Shinto matsuri [festivals],” says Wilkinson. “It’s a lot more inclusive.” For those looking to participate in a Japanese matsuri without knowing much about Shintoism, this may be the right festival to attend. Regardless of the reasons visitors attend the festival, the splendor of the cherry blossoms fosters an appreciation for the fleeting beauty that recurs each year only during hanami. Says Sparks, “It is a very Japanese celebration because the Japanese love and respect nature.”
Macon, Georgia Yoshino Cherry Trees are celebrated during the city s 10-day International Cherry Blossom Festival. ▶
Washington, DC Since the 1910s, Japan has donated more than 6,000 cherry blossom trees to the capital city, which hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival annually. ▶
San Francisco, California Held in one of three remaining Japantowns in the United States, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival closes its celebrations with a grand Japanese-style parade. ▶
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Dharamsala Tibetan Spirit Reborn
I hobbled out like a hungover sailor shaking out my sea legs. And there I was, in Dharamsala, India—a cluster of brightly colored restaurants and guesthouses all stacked up on top of each other like a patchwork quilt—something between a city and a village nestled on the green mountain ridges, a place in transit, a sanctuary for the homeless, the country-less. The street was packed with maroon-clad monks and dreadlocked, tattooed hippies, Tibetan seniors waving their canes at oncoming traffic as they tried to get to the Dalai Lama’s temple, and then the occasional dazed traveler. —Rachael Rueckert, BYU Field Study Coordinator
On the surface, Dharamsala, India, looks like the perfect tourist destination for curious Westerners to discover their own spirituality. The forested foothills of the Himalayas in northern India seem like a likely place for this sort of exploration. Dharamsala is a destination for religious tourists seeking enlightenment or a pit stop for backpackers interested in a hot meal and cheap hostel. It shelters a confusing conglomeration of people with very different backgrounds, worldviews, and reasons for being in this city of outcasts. However, behind all the tourist shops, the city is steeped in the spirit of sacrifice and faith. The real story behind this place is found in the amazingly dedicated Tibetan Buddhists who risked everything to escape political turmoil, to build a magnificent temple, and to be with their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. These refugees have given up their homes and possessions to start over again in Dharamsala—a reincarnation of traditional Tibet.
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Finding Holy Shelter
Dharamsala is a Hindi word meaning “holy dwelling,” which refers to the shelters adjacent to their temples that house visiting pilgrims. Fittingly, this Indian city has sheltered thousands of Tibetan refugees since 1959, when the Dalai Lama led his followers out of their home country to escape intense religious and cultural persecution. The area is still a refuge for Tibetans escaping hardships in their home country and is the heart of Tibetan Buddhism. While volunteering as an English teacher, Rachel Rueckert spent three months in Dharamsala, learning many of these people’s stories. The family who housed her included one of the first refugees who crossed into Nepal through the Himalayas in the dead of winter—on foot. Rueckert knew her only as Grandma. Although today Grandma waves her cane at traffic on her way to the temple, 50 years ago she was thinking of the family members and neighbors whom she lost in the revolution
or who starved to death. Nearly six thousand monasteries and temples were burned, monks were jailed, and their culture was systematically eliminated. Grandma and hundreds of others like her were unable to endure any more persecution. So they decided to escape to sympathetic India. Arriving with nothing but tents and their cultural heritage, these displaced Tibetans began building Dharamsala into a home.
Gathering the Faithful
Even today, sacrifice and devotion infuse the city with cultural and spiritual vitality as newcomers arrive from Tibet. For example, Norbu is a 26-year-old monk with a missing front tooth, a quick wit, and a habit for laughing at moments his elders considered inappropriate. He fled Tibet when he was 19 without even telling his parents beforehand. During her stay in India, Rueckert learned Norbu’s story. “You didn’t tell your family?” Rueckert asked him.
Blanketed over the folds of the Dhauladhar mountian range, Dharamsala s colorful buildings make up the great bastion of Tibetan Buddhism.
Photography by Rachel Rueckert
“No!” he giggled, slapping his robe-covered knees. “But they are happy I did not tell them. They would worry too much, and I am safe and happier here.” In this city of faith and sacrifice, the reincarnated Tibetan spirit inhabits Dharamsala, as shown through Norbu and other religious refugees. This spirit of faith resides in the faithful—from the aged to the young—who visit the temple each evening. This spirit resides in a 90-year-old woman, who resolutely performs her physically demanding prostrations every day. As the air cools, these refugees walk the path that circles the temple, worshipping and improving their karma.
Experiencing Dharamsala Authentically While gathering stories, Rueckert hoped to experience Dharamsala authentically. Like the Dalai Lama, she believes that different religions and cultures can learn from each
other and better understand their own spiritual practices through their interaction. However, she also learned the dangers of romanticizing this spiritual experience, glossing over Buddhism’s intricacies, and inventing a convenient westernized version of this complex culture. Visitors are more likely to enjoy an authentic experience in Dharamsala if they recognize that the traditions and beliefs of other cultures are not easily understood—and if they arrive in Dharamsala without expectations and with an attitude of welcoming surprises. When visitors take the time to appreciate cultural diversity and to communicate with the locals—by becoming involved in such activities as volunteering to teach English, asking polite questions, or even becoming a shop owner’s favorite customer—visitors will learn that everyone here has a story worth hearing. When visitors participate in religious services respectfully and intelligently, they may even feel their
karma increasing as they walk around the Dalai Lama’s temple in this holy dwelling place.
Monks hike around the temple as part of a ritual called Kora to improve their karma.
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Bite of Philly Cheesesteaks exist as an edible symbol of the working class, a paragon of democratic virtues all stuffed inside an authentic Amoroso roll. Nothing makes a Philadelphian madder than a misrepresentation of the cheesesteak. So how can an avid hoagie-consuming tourist find a decent cheesesteak?
Here are the five most popular places, their prices, and a star rating assigned by Stowaway .
The Perfect Cheesesteak
Geno s sits across the street from Pat s, and the two shops wage a neighborly war over the quality of their cheesesteaks (and the number of customers who swing through their doors). Still, Geno s suﬀers from the same problems that Pat s does̶ too many tourists and not enough condiments.
Where to Find It
The good news is that there are literally thousands of places to find a good cheesesteak. “When you are in Philadelphia, you can get a cheesesteak just about anywhere,” says former Philadelphia resident Kade Riley. “Almost every corner store and pizza shop sells cheesesteaks.”
How to Order
At Pat’s King of Steaks, ordering correctly is crucial. Pat’s is the originator of the cheesesteak and is arguably the most famous seller in Philly. Here, customers are regularly sent to the back of the line if their ordering style isn’t up to par. But don’t worry: ordering a cheesesteak is a skill that can be mastered. First, decide how many cheesesteaks you want. Second, choose your cheese. At most places, you’ll be able to choose from American, whiz, or provolone cheese. Third, decide if you want onions. To order, simply put all three together, thusly, as indicated on a sign at Pat’s: “One whiz wit” or “two provolone witout.” And take note: calling the sandwich a Philly or a Philly cheesesteak will instantly peg anybody as an outsider. Always refer to the sandwich as a steak or a cheesesteak.
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Pat’s King of Steaks $8.50 The experience is really what you re paying for here. You ll get an okay cheesesteak, but it ll be served with a generous side of Philly attitude and a blast of neon lights. Keep in mind also that Pat s is often inundated with tourists, there is limited variety, and it s sometimes diﬃcult to get what you actually want.
Jim’s Steaks $7.45 With three locations throughout the city, Jim s Steaks is one of the easiest shops to ﬁnd. Their friendly service and low-stress environment make Jim s a favorite of natives. To top it all oﬀ, Jim s steaks have some of the best ﬂavor in town. Lines aren t usually long here, but expect the South Street location to be the busiest.
Gooey Louie’s $6.95 The cheapest cheesesteak on this list by far as well as the biggest. Fortunately for hungry cheesesteakers, Gooey Louie s also consistently delivers some of the best cheesesteaks in Philly. Make sure to bring some friends; you ll want to share these enormous sandwiches.
Photo by Yurilong
This question isn’t as simple as it may seem at first. Cara Schneider, a member of the Department of Tourism, puts it this way: “The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures, and what is often referred to as the ‘drip factor.’” That famous drip factor—the amount of grease—is what sets an average cheesesteak apart from a superb one.
If you are feeling adventurous, duck into any corner store and give their concoction a try. You just might find your favorite cheesesteak masterpiece.
Savor the Flavor of the Crescent City
Walking into the restaurant, guests are immediately greeted with a whiff of onion, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Their ears fill with Louis Armstrong’s scatting. Dimly lit lamps tinted with vibrant colors hang low over the café-style seating. Guests might as well be in New Orleans—all that’s missing is the humidity. But Boudreaux’s Bistro isn’t in New Orleans, the “Crescent City.” This Cajun bistro is in Payson, Utah, an hour south of Salt Lake City. It’s one of many New Orleans–influenced eateries that are popping up in cities all over the United States. The owner’s goal is to show his guests that Cajun food is an experience, not just a flavor—and that taste is good no matter where you get it.
Centuries ago, French Canadian settlers emigrated to what is now southeast Louisiana and brought with them a love for blended spices and seafood. Over time, several different cultures combined their culinary styles with these French Canadian flavors, and Cajun food became central to a new culture. New Orleans native and owner of Boudreaux’s Bistro, Chris Sorensen, explains what technically defines food as Cajun: “The main ingredients are what Cajun chefs call the trinity: onion, bell pepper, and celery. They call garlic the pope.” The Cajun trinity may qualify a dish as Cajun, but the flavor rarely stops there. New Orleans recipes are also famous for their cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and colorful blends of several spices. But Sorensen emphasizes that although “people automatically think that Cajun Creole food is way too spicy,” it’s not really. “It has a little bite to
it,” he explains. “But if it’s too hot, then it’s not cooked right.” Cajun chefs often pair spicy flavors with beans, rice, and vegetables in stews or other dishes to give the spice a hearty base. If you’ve ever experienced a real Cajun dish, you’ll know that the flavor is unmistakable and well worth a trip to a Cajun restaurant like Boudreaux’s.
Cajun Explosion In recent years, Cajun food has become so popular that most Cajun restaurants have joined forces with another food genre found in Louisiana: Southern food. This new Cajun-Southern hybrid genre is popular both inside and outside New Orleans. In his Utah bistro, Sorensen includes Southern classics like hush puppies and fried pickles, shrimp, and chicken on his menu to
complement the Cajun flavors and give guests a well-rounded New Orleans culinary experience. Despite the widespread belief among foodies that Cajun food should never be eaten outside New Orleans, don’t be afraid to give it a try. Sorensen says that one of his favorite parts of the job is seeing someone new fall in love with the flavor of New Orleans from 1700 miles away. “That’s why I keep an open kitchen,” he says, “so that I can talk to people all the time.” The spirit of Cajun food lies within an everchanging culture that began with emigration and which continues to delight food lovers all over the world. ▶
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Illustration by Samantha Long
basil Four Corners of the Kitchen Basil is not only one of the oldest herbs in the world but also one of the most romantic. In Italy, it is traditionally a sign of love: when a woman is ready to accept a suitor, she places a pot of basil on the balcony, signifying her intentions. In Thailand, many people believe that basil protects the body, rescuing it from harmful diseases. Americans have also added the herb to their palate̶the Campbell s tomato soup recipe was revised to include this flavorful ingredient. It is no wonder, then, that basil dishes from all around the globe inspire rich, exotic ﬂavors for a perfectly romantic night in. —Lexi Devenport
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Pesto Pasta Italy
Ingredients 3 medium cloves of garlic 1 large bunch of fresh basil ½ cup raw pine nuts ¾ cup Parmesan, loosely packed and freshly grated 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil 1 pound of pasta
1. Finely mince garlic and basil leaves. 2. Chop pine nuts and add to garlic and basil. 3. Add Parmesan cheese to mixture and continue to chop. Mixture should be very fine. 4. Transfer pesto mixture to a small bowl, pour in olive oil, and set aside. 5. Cook noodles according to package directions and drain well. Stir in pesto. Serve. Yield: 4 servings Total time: 45 minutes
Spicy Basil Chicken and Tofu
Tomato Basil Soup
3 cups onion, diced 3 stalks celery, diced 5 carrots, chopped 3 large cloves of garlic, minced 2 cans ﬁre-roasted tomatoes 2 cans tomato sauce 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream 1 ½ cups chicken broth ¾ teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons fresh basil, plus extra to garnish 1 ½ teaspoons sugar 6 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups warm water 1 ½ teaspoons dry yeast 4 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons salt 5 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon marjoram 1 teaspoon thyme 1 teaspoon savory 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon rosemary 1 teaspoon sage ⅛ teaspoon fennel seed
Yield: 6 servings Total time: 50 minutes
Yield: 6 servings Total time: 2 hours
10 ounces ﬁrm tofu 1 skinless chicken breast ½ teaspoon cornstarch 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1 ½ teaspoons sugar 1 tablespoon water 1 ½ tablespoons ﬁsh sauce 3‒4 tablespoons peanut oil 4‒6 cloves garlic, minced 1 large shallot, thinly sliced 2‒3 jalapeños, chopped ﬁnely 2 kaﬃr lime leaves, chopped ﬁnely 1 cup basil, lightly packed Salt and pepper to taste
Photo by Yamanaka Tamaki
1. Cut tofu into cubes and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 15 minutes. 2. Cut chicken into pieces and transfer to a bowl. Then coat chicken with cornstarch and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. 3. In bowl, stir the remaining teaspoon of soy sauce with sugar, water, and fish sauce. Set aside. 4. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Evenly coat with two tablespoons of peanut oil. Add tofu and fry for 4 minutes. Transfer to plate. 5. Reheat the pan with two tablespoons of oil. Add garlic, shallot, and chicken. Let chicken sear on both sides. When chicken is nearly cooked through, add tofu and cook for 1 minute. 6. Add jalapeños and lime leaf, then pour soy and fish sauce mixture over everything. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add basil. When leaves wilt, transfer to serving dish with rice.
Yield: 4 servings Total time: 1 hour
1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in sauce pan on medium-high. 2. Sauté chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Add garlic and sauté for about one minute. 3. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, cream, broth, salt, fresh basil, and sugar to the pan and stir. Let simmer for 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper if needed. 4. After the vegetables are soft, ladle the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh basil.
1. Add yeast to water and let rest for 10 minutes. 2. Stir 1 cup flour, all herbs, salt, and 3 tablespoons oil to yeast mixture. 3. Fold in rest of flour and knead for 10 minutes. 4. Place dough in bowl and cover with towel. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 5. Heat oven to 450°F. 6. Place dough on floured surface. Divide in half. Shape halves into 11” x 8” oval-shaped loaves and place on baking sheet. 7. Brush each with 1 tablespoon oil. 8. Cut four 2-inch-long horizontal sections starting from top and moving to bottom. Cut sections evenly apart on each side of oval without removing dough. 9. Pull dough apart at cuts so there are gaps between each cut. 10. Cover with cloth and let rise for 20 minutes. 11. Put dough in oven. Bake loaves until golden, 18 minutes.
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Field Notes A tiny town in Peru is home to a perfectly symmetrical entreprenurial forest.
Biking Bavaria: Travel the Romantic Road
Cycle through Bavaria’s countryside and experience the old-world charm and beauty of its palaces, walled
Photo by Michael Curry
cities, and castles.
Geocaching: A Modern-Day Treasure Hunt
Legal Nomad: An Interview with Jodi Ettenberg
Starﬁsh Foster Home: Making a Diﬀerence One Child at a Time
Tales from the Trip
Photo Contest Winners
Learn about geocaching, the modern-day treasure hunt for any smart phone user.
Meet Jodi, a young New York lawyer turned traveler and street food connoisseur.
Discover the continued legacy of Amanda de Lange and her efforts to save hundreds of orphans in China.
Hear travel stories from Stowaway readers.
Take a look at Stowaway readers’ best photos from near and far.
www.stowawaymag.com ◀ 71
Travel the Romantic Road Thinking about the Germany of days past conjures up images of a lederhosen-wearing, beer-slinging, sausage-consuming folk. In Bavaria, the most southern of the German states, such scenes still pepper the countryside. Bavaria is also one of the most beautiful German states with its forests, rolling hills, and the Alps mountain range gracing its southernmost border. Capitalizing on Bavaria’s beauty, enterprising travel agents in post-war Germany created the Romantischestraße out of an old medieval trade route. Known in English as the Romantic Road, this highway stretches 221 miles through Bavaria and leads from Würzburg in the north to Füssen in the deep south. The most authentically German way to explore the Romantic Road is by bike. The official Romantic Road travel agency, supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, offers free GPS downloads of the bicycling route. And there are several services that will cart your luggage from city to city so you don’t have to worry about anything except the bike and the scenery. Along the way, the road provides access to some of the oldest towns in Germany with rich cultural heritages to explore.
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Start your journey in the scenic baroque town of Würzburg. Despite heavy bombing during World War II, this city still offers one of the most splendid examples of baroque architecture in Germany: the Würzburg Residenz. This stately structure once housed Franconian prince-bishops and is now a tourist attraction boasting detailed stucco art and painted ceilings. Würzburg also hosts the first spring fair in Bavaria, held three weeks before Easter every year. Walk around the baroque- and English-style gardens for free. You can also enjoy carnival rides, games, food, and traditional dancing.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber 41 miles (66 km) south of Würzburg
From top: photography by John Abel, Clark and Kim Kays, Philip Eagle, and Chris Juden
The small town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of only three remaining walled cities in Germany. Biking in this part of the country is relaxing because the route is flat and the bike paths are well marked along low-traffic country roads. Once you reach Rothenburg, you’ll be awed by its examples of perfectly preserved medieval architecture, city planning, and lifestyles. For two euros, you can climb to the top of the town hall tower, built in AD 1250, and experience an all-encompassing view of the city.
56 miles (90 km) south of Rothenburg
Biking farther south, you’ll reach another famous walled German town, Nördlingen. This town is much smaller than Rothenburg and is decidedly less crowded. Interestingly, the town lies in a bowl caused by a meteorite impact, making the town feel more secluded. Walk along the city walls for beautiful views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
110 miles (177 km) south of Nördlingen
The farther south you travel along the Romantic Road, the hillier the path becomes. But don’t worry—it’s worth it. Nestled in the foothills of the Alps, Neuschwanstein (opposite page) is a nineteenth-century castle that towers over the town of Füssen. Reaching this magnificent castle requires a short hike up a paved path. Walk to a footbridge off to the side and you can see Neuschwanstein in its entirety snuggled up against the Alps and the picturesque valley below. The castle is a perfect end to your biking trip through Germany’s most pristine country.
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Geocaching Jeff Lambert from Baltimore, Maryland, discovered the world of geocaching in 2001 when his wife gave him a GPS for his birthday. While mountain biking and fiddling with his new GPS in a state park, he came upon two people with GPS devices in their hands, scrambling around in the bushes as if searching for something. Curious, he approached them and learned that they were geocaching. “When I got home,” he says, “I looked for the website and was intrigued by it.” Since he had always enjoyed utilizing maps, Lambert immediately joined the hunt—and he’s been geocaching for 12 years now.
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A New Game The word geocaching combines two familiar treasure-hunting words: geo (meaning “earth”), used to describe the global nature of the game; and cache, used to describe a hiding place for supplies. Geocaching began in 2000, when the accuracy of GPS technology was significantly improved. At that time, thousands of GPS enthusiasts began experimenting on their upgraded devices. For example, Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon, wanted to test the accuracy of his GPS device, so he hid a navigational target in the woods. He even posted his idea
to GPS user groups, calling it the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt.” To join in, all you had to do was hide a container in the woods and include the coordinates from your GPS unit so other people could find it. Fellow GPS enthusiasts could then locate the container but had to follow one rule: take something and leave something. As the game became more and more popular, fellow geocacher Jeremy Irish from Seattle, Washington, created geocaching.com, enabling people from all around the world to both hide and find caches. Those who choose to hide geocaches simply have to find some kind of container, include a pen
Photo by Tyler Olson
A Modern-Day Treasure Hunt
or pencil and paper in it, hide it, and post the GPS coordinates on the website so that geocachers can find it. Geocaches are made out of anything—literally. You can hide a rubber alligator geocache with only its stomach slit open to store the pencil and paper. Or if you’re feeling less creative, you can hide a standard geocache box that you can purchase online—a large army-green container with the words “Official Geocache” on its side. You can purchase a box with objects included, you can choose to put your own objects inside, or you can hide it with nothing but paper and a writing utensil.
Join the Hunt: These Days, It s for Everyone Lambert’s nephew Mark Brown of Provo, Utah, always found his uncle’s geocaching adventures interesting, but he didn’t plan on joining because GPS devices were so expensive—that is, until the advent of the smartphone. Because Brown’s iPhone had a GPS device neatly integrated into it, geocaching quickly became a hobby for him, and within two months, he had found over 100 geocaches. “When I finally started doing it, I thought it was the greatest thing ever,” he says. If you own a smartphone, you won’t need a separate GPS device to start caching. Simply download an app and use the GPS device in your phone to locate millions of caches that are hidden in locations throughout the world. Geocaching has become the modern-day treasure hunt for anyone carrying a smartphone. It’s a fun activity for everyone—not just for pirates, gold miners, or topography fanatics. What was once an intense hobby is now an activity for the average Joe or Jane. Geocaching is a popular hobby for college students because it is fun and inexpensive. You can even
compete in group activities—the group to find the most geocaches in an hour wins.
Caching and Traveling̶at the Same Time A tap on your screen will direct you to the nearest cache in your area. Brown explains that finding caches “is easy because they are literally everywhere.” The best part about geocaching is that it can range from an hour-long activity with a date to a rigorous twoday trip with your friends. Geocaches come in different types and levels of difficulty depending on their location. You might have to hike for 10 miles to the middle of nowhere to find one geocache, but you might only have to get out of a car and walk a couple of yards for another—so choose whatever you’re up for. It’s common for geocaching enthusiasts to combine traveling and geocaching. Lambert enjoys biking—he even has a portable bike that he has taken to China. “I tend to geocache when I bicycle, so the geocaches I find are close to trails,” he says. Brown also enjoys caching on vacation. While waiting for his fiancée to pick out a wedding dress in Alexandria, Virginia, he found a number of geocaches that treated him to history lessons about the city. You may find a little downtime for catching up on your caching during your next trip as well. Whether you’re on a big road trip and need to stretch your legs or on a hike through a park, you can always take a few minutes to go caching. ▶
Getting Started Don t know where to start? Head over to www. geocaching.com and create an account̶ it s helpful to familiarize yourself with the site. Then you can download a free app̶such as c:geo for Android phones or Geocaching Intro for iPhones̶ which locates all of the registered caches within a given radius of your location. If you really like geocaching and want more options, you can buy the full-version app called Geocaching for $9.99. If that s not enough, shop around on www. geocaching.com and ﬁnd out about all the ways you can buy and use tools, geocaches, and objects called trackables. As you browse through geocaching.com or your new app, you ll ﬁnd there s far more to geocaching than caches and GPS devices. This website has all the resources you need to become an expert geocacher.
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LEGAL NOMAD An Interview with Jodi Ettenberg
In 2008, Jodi Ettenberg of Montreal, Canada, made the drastic decision to take a year off of working as a lawyer in New York City to travel the world—an adventure that has yet to end. Five years later, she is still traveling and documenting her stories on her popular travel website (legalnomads.com). Ettenberg’s experiences and writing have allowed her to rethink what happiness means to her and to pursue a career as a travel writer. She has even published a book, The Food Traveler’s Handbook, on how to eat safe, inexpensive, tasty food while traveling. Stowaway caught up with Ettenberg between locations in India and Bangkok.
What lessons have you learned from your experiences? I’ll mention a few highlights. An appreciation for the commonalities between humans in disparate places. An ability to sweat the small stuff a little less. The ability to learn through food, something I never did before. The incredible kindness of strangers in far-flung places. The staggering disasters we don’t read about in our local news, like corruption or political upheavals that are barely a blip at home. But, ultimately, the biggest impact is a wider perspective: seeing the world more fully and hopefully inspiring people to learn as much as they can in the time that they are given.
What keeps you from returning to your old life? This new career and new life happened so organically for me, and I want to see where it goes. I’m not traveling constantly any longer like I was before—now I stay in places for five or six months at a time, writing and working on freelance gigs. It’s almost like mini expat-stints in places I love. So when that grows old or when I decide that I miss a more routine life, I can change course. But for now, it’s been incredibly rewarding. While I am absolutely grateful—I did build this life after all—I’ve definitely traded things that society tells me are normal (house, car, one place to live, less street food at 2 AM) for what I do. That said, this life is 100% worth it to me. If it weren’t, I’d no longer be doing it.
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I’m still admitted as a lawyer. But I love what I’m doing now—and I love the serendipity of how my new career has progressed. I would have never thought that I’d be doing what I’m doing now. I would have laughed had you told me that I would be doing social media consulting work
or public speaking or taking mini food tours while writing about food all over the world. The flip side to the uncertainty is, of course, the wonderful freedom to follow opportunities that come my way, all the while working in fields I feel passionate about.
How does food factor into your travels?
I think it’s the history that surrounds food that I find most compelling, not just the culture. I’m interested in why people eat the way they do—how a certain set of mores came to be, how the spices or condiments on the table can be traced back to earlier eras in a country’s history. Food is the lens that gives me the most in terms of knowledge and the most in terms of connection. Food is universal, and it is important just about everywhere. By recognizing this I’ve been honored with invites to weddings and have been welcomed into kitchens to learn how to cook for family get-togethers and festivals. I’ve experienced these amazing things because I took an interest in the food, asked questions, and tried to learn as much as possible. It has been infinitely rewarding for me. The book I wrote stemmed from these lessons, showing that food is the best tool out there to connect with a place.
Photography by Jodi Ettenberg
What advice would you offer to young travelers? Have a buffer for the worst-case scenario, be it a skill set that you can draw on for work while traveling or a savings account that you can lean on if needed. For those who want to travel and work, there are some great teaching, mentoring, and fellowshipping opportunities out there to fund the experience. Keep an open mind. Be respectful of local dress and customs. And remember that people across the world are more alike than we realize. ▶
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Starfish Foster Home
Making a Difference One Child at a Time
“But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference.” The young woman listened, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, saying, “It made a difference for that one.” —Loren Eiseley quest to save orphaned children, and they became frequent volunteers as well as board members of Starfish Foster Home. Amanda, a native of South Africa, had attended school at Brigham Young University. She later moved to Taiwan, where she taught English for seven years. Amanda then relocated to Xi’an, China, where she felt impressed to start her own foster home for special-needs orphans. Just a few short months later, in 2005, she brought home six babies—and Starfish Foster Home was born. In collaboration with local orphanages, Amanda took in sick babies, nursed them back to health, raised funds to pay for their medical care, and eventually found families for them.
Cindy McLaughlin cradles her newly adopted baby girl, Norma, in 2007.
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It was only through Amanda’s fierce love, dedication, and passion—as well as selfless service from individuals like the McLaughlins—that Starfish has fostered more than 100 babies, overseen 80 adoptions, and performed nearly 250 surgeries on children suffering from various diseases and birth defects. The McLaughlins’ daughter, Norma, was one of those babies, and four years later she is thriving in her new home. “You wouldn’t even know that she had a serious defect,” says Patrick. “She is a great kid.”
In January 2012, Patrick received a phone call from a hospital in China. “That was the first I’d even heard that Amanda thought she had cancer,” he says. “It was just terrible. It was our worst nightmare,” Cindy says. “Amanda was the kind of person who never looked after herself. She always looked after the children first. She would always say, ‘I’m like a weed— nothing is going to happen to me!’” But six months after her diagnosis, Amanda went into diabetic shock and passed away, leaving her babies, volunteers, and four grief-stricken board members wondering how they would keep alive the organization she had created. Unfortunately, Amanda’s passing was not the only trial the Starfish community would have to endure. According to Starfish Foster Home board member Deborah Coffey,
Photo by Patrick McLaughlin
In 2009, Patrick and Cindy McLaughlin had just sold a business and were traveling around the world. They wanted to make a lasting contribution and bring home a few memories along the way. But there was one thing the McLaughlins never expected to bring home with them: a baby girl. It was by chance that the couple found themselves at a little-known foster home called Starfish in Xi’an, China. The foster home was run by Amanda de Lange, a six-foot-tall woman with long, thick, graying hair, a contagious giggle, and a passion unlike any the McLaughlins had ever seen. Upon getting to know Amanda and her cause, both Linda and Patrick were compelled to help her with her
Getting Involved ▶
How do I volunteer?
Starﬁsh is always in need of volunteers to help keep Amanda s cause alive and to ensure that their babies always have loving companionship. Visit www. starﬁshfosterhome.org to learn how you can help volunteer. ▶
What do volunteers do?
Volunteering at Starﬁsh Foster Home, located in Xi an, China, Foster children laugh and play in the halls of Starﬁsh Foster Home in Xi an, China.
would give you the opportunity to serve in many diﬀerent ways, including holding, feeding,
Photo by Deborah Coﬀey
seven children were killed in a fire in a Chinese foster home unrelated to Starfish soon after Amanda’s death. As a result, the Chinese government made stricter rules on foster homes and, devastatingly, sent most of the Starfish babies to local orphanages. The Starfish volunteers and board members were heartbroken. But working with the Chinese government to adapt to their changing rules, the board members developed a better business model and ultimately kept Amanda’s legacy alive. “Very few people in my life, after they have died, continue to be a part of my daily thinking,” Patrick says. “The inspiration Amanda has given me is that she has helped a stubborn 51-year-old guy continue to fight the good fight on behalf of the kids.” Patrick admits, however, that keeping up with Amanda’s energy will continue to be a challenge. “We will never match her passion,” he says. “There aren’t many Amandas walking the face of the earth.”
Thanks to hard work, tireless nights, and sheer determination, Starfish Foster Home is nearly back on its feet. The members of the board, including the McLaughlins, have visited China countless times; as
they rebuild the orphanage’s business model, they are able to comply with China’s standards. Coffey says that, instead of being one large home, the new Starfish will likely be a collection of apartments that house up to six babies at a time. “We are keeping Amanda’s mission and values in the forefront,” Coffey says. “It’s going to have to be a little bit different now, but you move forward with that because the most important thing is the babies.” Starfish is also working on securing a location for their new home. As long as they take it day-by-day, Patrick says, there are great things on the horizon. “We have survived the past two years, which is the main thing,” he explains. “We are about to open up and blossom into something new, but we are going to take baby steps first.” No matter the business plans or trials in the past, the priority at Starfish has been and always will be the welfare of the children—those who will become or have already become witnesses that one person can make a difference and that one child still matters.
playing with, entertaining, and teaching the babies. You may also be asked to help with their health and physical development. Other tasks include administrative work, helping with maintenance around the home, painting, doing interior design, and cleaning. ▶
What can you expect?
Starﬁsh will be able to accommodate all volunteers in dorm rooms for $9 each night (which includes a Chinese lunch). Other amenities are also available courtesy of the foster home. The minimum stay is ﬁve working days, and volunteers are required to work at least ﬁve hours each day. In your spare time, you can visit plenty of historical sites near Starﬁsh, such as the famous Terra Cotta Warriors. ▶
What will I need?
A tourist visa, health insurance, and a round-trip plane ticket. For a more extensive list of items, visit www.starﬁshfosterhome.org and download the Volunteer Handbook.
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let your portfolio
take flight Publish your travel photos and anecdotes in Stowaway magazine. See previous contest winners at www.stowawaymag.com.
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STUDENTS, INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN GOVERNMENT OR SECURITY? INTERESTED IN BUILDING YOUR RÉSUMÉ THROUGH TRAINING AND PUBLISHING ANALYSES? VISIT US AT www.stowawaymag.com ◀ 81 PRAEMON.ORG, OR EMAIL US AT
Tales from the Trip “Oy! You need to open the door!” I could hardly hear the man who came to jump-start our truck. But as I wiped the foggy window with my sleeve so I could actually see him, I could tell by his expression that he was very annoyed with me. For the previous couple of hours, my friend and I, along with four girls we were nannying, had been stuck inside the truck we had driven to Thorpe Park—England’s “Thrill Capital.” Inside the amusement park, we had spent an entire day being whipped back and forth on rides and making ourselves sick with concession-stand food. But we didn’t realize that the real thrill would begin as soon as we got in the truck to leave. Except we couldn’t leave. The truck wouldn’t start. The battery had died. Its electronic lock system had also died, after we shut ourselves inside, so we couldn’t even get out of the truck. “It won’t open,” I yelled through the window.
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“Well, unlock it then!” the man yelled back. I could only imagine what was going through the man’s mind— something about how only dumb American girls could manage to lock themselves inside a truck. As I tried communicating with the man using my best sign language and enunciation, I couldn’t help but wonder how we ended up in this situation. Before this summer excursion with my friend, I had pictured Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, rolling green fields, and British accents whenever I thought of England. Instead, I had a blue truck, four panicking preteens threatening to break open the windows, and an unhealthy amount of underarm sweat. Some exotic excursion! No one told me to be prepared for this. But then I realized something: isn’t that the point of traveling? I have been lucky enough to experience fun, beautiful, educational places.
However, the experiences I remember most vividly from any trip are usually the unplanned but laughably memorable ones. Plan for the usual touristy attractions? Sure. Have an itinerary? Yes. But when the unplanned happens, just embrace it. As I stared at the man through the truck window, my sheepish expression turned into suppressed giggles. Before I knew it, the whole truck was full of uncontrolled snorts and laughs, which continued as the man eventually got us enough power to unlock the doors. In no time, it seemed, we were out of the truck and taking deep gulps of cold, fresh English air. Through the tow truck windows and my tears of laughter, I enjoyed the green countryside the whole way home.
—Kate Sullivan Santa Rosa, California
Photo by Michael Wuensch
A Stationary Adventure
How Did I Get Here? “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” —St. Augustine Adjusting the height of my microphone, I cleared my throat nervously, running through my harmonies in my head. I looked out at the audience, squinting in the bright lights that shone directly at us. The small Paris nightclub was full, and all eyes were on my brother and me. My heart raced as my brother struck the first chord on his guitar. We started singing. At that moment I suddenly realized that I was actually singing at a nightclub in Paris. This was definitely an experience I never thought I would have. I asked myself, How did I get here? Another one of these moments came on a warm summer night in Cinque Terre, Italy. My brother, my sister, and I explored the twisting, narrow roads and somehow found
ourselves on top of a building that overlooked the housetops of the quaint Italian village. Suddenly we heard a commotion in the street below us. As we peered over the edge of the building, we saw a big gathering of people holding candles. Music started playing from inside a church, and the people began walking. Some of the people down below saw us and beckoned for us to join them. We eagerly did so. It was surreal to be walking in a thronging but reverent processional that weaved through the cobblestone streets. We soon stopped and gathered in a little square that overlooked the ocean. I never would have imagined myself in this situation. Two years later, I had this same sensation as I stood in a cramped kitchen in a small town in the mountains of Sicily where I was living. My friend, Vito, and his family
had invited me over for dinner, so I offered to help as they were preparing the pasta. Vito assigned me the pasta-stirring job. I stirred and he talked. Being in his home with his family made me miss my family. Vito decided to teach me an old Italian song about the mothers of the world. His rich voice filled the room; the steam and the aroma of the simmering sauce reached my nostrils; and suddenly, I felt at peace. This moment was perfect. Again I asked myself, How did I get here? The world is full of experiences that cause us to stop and marvel. It doesn’t matter where your travels take you: as long as you venture out, you’ll have the chance to read from the world’s pages and learn things you never thought you’d learn.
singer’s voice evoked such emotion in me that, for the briefest moment, I felt sorrow. The guide pulled out a hollow, wooden box and asked me to sit on it. “Serás el ritmo” (“You’ll be the rhythm”), he announced to the group. He showed me a syncopated rhythm that was difficult to comprehend and afterwards taught the entire group a rhythm that they could clap with their hands. When we had mastered the rhythms, the guide began to wail again. The sound, which had surrounded us before, now beat within us. Finally, we crammed ourselves into a room to witness the full power of flamenco. The guitar began to play a sad song with quick-moving notes. The singer began to wail but not with his full voice. Then a woman wearing a red dress walked into the center of
the room. Her face was intense, and deep within her eyes was a look of defiance. Suddenly, she stomped her foot on the ground, and the audience sat up in surprise. Soon she stomped faster, the guitar burst a string, and the singer wailed at full voice and beat his hands on a box. In that moment, I realized that they weren’t just stomping on apples. They were stomping against the injustice that surrounded them, the government of medieval Spain that had tried to control them, and the discrimination they experienced just because they were called gypsies. Through it all, they never gave in to these struggles. To this day, they remain courageously defiant.
—Hillary Olsen Alpine, Utah
El Flamenco In my high school Spanish class, our teacher taught us folk dances from Spanish-speaking countries. When she taught us the flamenco, she flicked her wrist high in the air and said, “The gypsies stole fruit from the orchards in Spain. Raise your hand and pick a fruit, move your hand in front of your face, and take a bite out of the fruit. Now throw it on the ground! Stomp on it with defiance! No one can tell you how to live!” Years later at the Museum of Flamenco in Seville, Spain, I sat with my peers in a circle as our guide sang to us with sounds reminiscent of the Middle East. “Soy gitano” (“I am a gypsy”), he sang. The song was sad and was sung with an Arabic wail that danced among quarter tones; it was the song of flamenco. The winding notes and the loud wailing of the
—Kathryn Stubbs Las Vegas, Nevada
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First Place Granja Porcón
High in the Andes, right outside of Cajamarca, Peru, lies a village of entrepreneurs. The village is kept alive by two sources of income—the wildlife zoo and wood exports from 13 million hand-planted pine trees. Over 30 years ago, the mayor of the village came up with the idea to plant trees. Back then, the village was nothing but a few sheepherders and a dry, barren landscape. Today, Peruvians and foreigners travel from all over to visit the zoo (complete with baby panthers, condors, and other exotic animals) amidst the only Andean forest with perfectly aligned pine trees. —Michael Curry Phoenix, Arizona
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Second Place Dinner
The markets in Bangbon, Bangkok, Thailand, are amazing in that they have everything a person could ever dream of. I guess all the little piggies went to the market.
—Leah Saycich Las Vegas, Nevada
Third Place Inception
Arch within an arch at the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain. Repetition is something that I love about Islamic art and architecture.
—Jeffrey Laidlaw Las Vegas, Nevada
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Once you master the subway system of New York City, getting around town will be a breeze.
Ready to Run Learn about technical running apparel for a more enjoyable run.
Homebodied by Fear: Five Tips for Dealing with Travel Anxieties
The Take Home
Dreams of traveling the world are one step closer with these five steps.
Photo by Marco Derksen
Peruse through this helpful guide for bringing home souvenirs youâ€™ll actually want to keep.
Mastering the Metro
On Pointe: Discover Ballet Competitions
Learn how to hop around the burrows of New York City like a native with these quick tips.
Find out a new way for travelers to explore the world of ballet.
GasBuddy: Find Cheap Gas How to not let fueling up get you down.
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ReadytoRun Warm Weather The base layer is the most important part of your running apparel because it’s the closest layer to your body. In warm or hot weather, the base layer is the only clothing you wear. One if its main purposes is to help get rid of moisture and to prevent chafing.
“An essential that people don’t immediately think of is technical underwear,” Moody says. He recommends Brooks Runderwear®. He also explains that “for girls, a breathable sports bra is a necessity.”
Running Balm For marathon-length races, products such as Bodyglide® balm “help reduce chafing in the places where you definitely don’t want to chafe,” says Moody.
Legwear The best legwear has two layers: a spandex compression liner and an outer lightweight short or skirt layer made from synthetic materials. The compression liner in legwear reduces the chafing that comes from the thighs rubbing against each other during a run.
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Tops Chafing can occur when clothes become wet and rub against the body. Cotton shirts are not a good choice for running apparel because they are heavy, hot, and absorbent. The best running shirts are made from synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, or spandex blends. These materials wick away moisture from the body, reducing both friction and chafing.
Compression Socks If you are prone to leg injury, compression socks are a worthy investment. They provide muscle support to prevent (or treat) shin splints and increase oxygen delivery to the leg muscles and venous return to the heart.
Photography by Michael Curry
If you like to run, chances are you already own running shoes. But have you given as much thought to your running apparel? The clothes you wear can improve your long-distance running experience, even when you re running close to home. And when you re traveling, carefully chosen running apparel can make it easier and more comfortable to run in a climate you re not used to, whether it s really hot or freezing cold. Stowaway asked Danny Moody̶a manager at Runner s Corner in Orem, Utah, and a long-distance runner for more than 15 years̶to oﬀer his expert advice on the most essential running apparel. Here are Moody s top picks.
Cold Weather When you run in cold weather, it is important to wear layers. Wear your regular base layer to provide compression and wicking, and then add more layers of clothing for warmth.
Tops Over your base layer comes the thermal layer, which consists of a long-sleeve shirt made from slightly heavier, warmer fabrics. An alternative to wearing this extra shirt is to wear compression sleeves or arm warmers, which often have the added bonus of pockets for keys, phones, or iPods. For windy or rainy weather, add a shell layer, which is a paper-thin waterresistant jacket. Some runners actually use a trash bag for the shell layer because it is cheap and easy to discard, but it is decidedly less stylish.
Gloves and Hats Gloves and hats are a must for protecting fingers and ears when you’re running in cold climates.
Running Belt A runner’s pack or belt provides an easy way for you to carry your phone, keys, or water with you while you run.
Legwear There are two options for thermal legwear. The first is a pair of running pants worn over shorts. “Running pants are semi-fit at the waist and tight at the ankles. They can create an air barrier around the legs and ultimately keep you warmer,” says Moody. The second option is a pair of running tights worn beneath shorts. Since they are skintight, they are lighter than pants and can help with blood circulation. The only drawback is that they are less resistant to cold.
—Sara Grasley www.stowawaymag.com ◀ 89
Homebodied by Fear Five Tips for Dealing with Travel Anxieties The fear of flying is just one phobia that can keep travelers at home. What might seem like a dream vacation to some may feel like a daunting task for the millions of people with anxiety. Some face fears like agoraphobia (fear of being embarrassed or trapped in open or public places), aviophobia (fear of flying), claustrophobia (fear of being trapped in confined spaces), or pathophobia (fear of disease). Anxiety is a real disorder, but it is possible to help anxious travelers keep worries under control. Janis Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker with 19 years of experience as a therapist and life coach in Utah, suggests five helpful tips.
Johnson recommends facing fears rather than avoiding them. She suggests recalling fears that you have overcome in the past and applying those experiences to your present situation. For example, ask yourself, How did I get over the fear of moving away from my family? or How did I overcome my fears when I went on my work trip to Japan? “If you can see yourself traveling and tolerating it—even looking forward to traveling—it helps,” says Johnson.
Writing down your feelings can be a great way to understand where your fears may be coming from. Once you start to understand the source of your fears, you may be able to discover ideas to overcome them. For example, you might write, “When I am in the air, I am startled by the noises I don’t understand.” Then, to decrease your anxiety, try wearing headphones during your flight.
“Try to picture yourself traveling and enjoying it,” says Johnson. The more specific you can create your vision, the more it will help you look forward to your trip, keeping your mind occupied with happy images rather than with negative “what if” scenarios.
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Create a symbolic connection that helps you feel more secure while flying. For example, you might compare flying a plane to flying a kite. “When the kite is in the air, it is moving about, but science ensures it returns safely,” Johnson says. After creating a story with a rational method to resolve the plot’s conflict, tell yourself this story before and during your trip. The unconscious part of your mind can hear the story and help you cope more effectively with your anxiety.
Breathing exercises are one tool that can help you keep your body steady and calm. Psychologists suggest breathing in for four seconds, holding your breath for four seconds, and releasing for four seconds. Keeping this steady pattern can help keep your mind busy—and can keep your heart rate consistent and stable. As you apply these tips during your travels, remember to be patient with yourself. As you learn to manage your anxiety better, you’ll find ways to travel a little farther than you thought you could before.
Photo by Éole Wind
As the winds howl violently, 350 passengers are jerked from side to side in their chairs around you. Your anxiety spikes with each sound of booming and banging from the undercarriage. Your palms sweat as you grip the armrests of your seat, and your heart beats so loudly that you re sure the people next to you can hear it too. This pounding in your chest doesn t seem to rest until the wheels of the plane touch the runway.
The Take Home It’s tough to find a souvenir that encompasses the life-changing experiences, memorable people, and indescribable sights that only travel provides. A few Google searches before your trip will help you avoid on-the-spot thoughts like, Maybe I’ll just buy a snow globe or an “I love Moscow” T-shirt—even though both gifts were probably made 14 time zones away. Here are some tips for taking home a piece of the places you visit and eliminating the stress of souvenir shopping. —Shayla Johnson
The more you know, the more you can appreciate. Researching tourism boards, travel blogs, and travel sites like www.tripadvisor.com can give you an idea of what kinds of things are produced locally where you are traveling. These are the souvenirs you will want to take home because they are authentic. Researching your destination’s culture, history, and customs can also be helpful so you are aware of what types of products to keep an eye out for, where to find them, and what to avoid while traveling.
Buy local You might be surprised that in a city like Paris, home to great artists like Claude Monet, you can find beautiful original canvas oil paintings done by Parisian art students at street markets for less than $20. Meaningful souvenirs like paintings can make fantastic gifts, and an inexpensive poster tube can provide an easy way to carry them home. This kind of souvenir can also give you the satisfaction of knowing that, in a small way, you’ve helped sustain the local economy. Ask the locals what a fair price to pay is so you don’t get ripped off or insult any of the vendors.
Be practical Ask yourself, Is this going to be useful when I get home? Could I buy it at home? Will it be significant to me beyond this moment? Something like a brass saucepan from Italy will be useful when you get home and will often remind you of the place where you bought it, the food you ate, and the people you met there. But a miniature statue of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is probably going to end up in the junk pile. Practical souvenirs are rewarding and will remind you of your travels long after the trip ends.
Photo by Neil Howard
Stay observant Keep an eye out for the perfect memento as you travel; don’t restrict yourself to half a day of shopping before your flight home. Even worse, don’t expect the 10 minutes in the airport’s overpriced, duty-free shops to provide satisfactory solutions. Ask locals or hotel staff and consult websites like www.lonelyplanet.com and www. fodors.com to find museum shops, open markets with street vendors, and secondhand stores. Then incorporate souvenir shopping into your trip—it could end up being your favorite part.
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Mastering the Metro New to the subway system in New York? Well, there s no time to waste and no patience to spare in the Big Apple. New York s subway, also known as the train, is the longest underground railway in the United States. Workers, tourists, and families commute on the train 24 hours a day, seven days a week̶and it takes practice for a beginner to get around on it. Try these steps to help you keep up the cityslicker pace. —Lauren Bryce
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Purchasing a MetroCard
The MetroCard is your ticket to the city, permitting you access to all subway stations in New York. Without it, you’re not getting on the train. You can purchase this pass with cash, a credit card, or a debit card at MetroCard Vending Machines located near subway entrances. These machines have user-friendly touch screens. You’ll pay $2.75 per ride unless you buy a week or month pass. Once you have purchased your MetroCard, it is polite to have it in hand before you reach the subway entrance to avoid holding up the lines.
Navigating the Subway Map
Taking Local vs. Express
Paper maps are available in many subway stations, but there are great map apps that are as easily accessible and as reliable—if not more so. Most New Yorkers use subway maps, digital or paper, so you’ll fit right in with one in hand. It’s a good idea to map out your stops before you head underground. This will give you time to find your way and prevent a panic if your mobile app doesn’t work underground. If you have questions about your map, ask somebody. Most passengers are willing to answer your questions if they have a few seconds to spare.
Local trains stop almost three times as often as express routes, so if you’re traveling a longer distance—from the Upper West Side to the Brooklyn Bridge, for example— you will want to take the express route. The subway should be able to get you anywhere in Manhattan in 30 minutes or less when navigated properly and when there are no delays. Also note that some express routes are changed to local routes on Sundays and in cases of construction. There should be announcements on the train to warn you of the more frequent stops.
Avoiding Empty Cars
If you see a train with many packed cars and one empty car, you’re seeing what is often called a “bum car.” Whether it’s the smell, a fight, or a broken heater or air conditioner, there’s a good reason no one is jumping on that open car. Just take one of the crowded cars or wait for the next train. However, if you do find yourself in a bum car, “you can walk in between cars,” says Kimberly Vartan, who works in Manhattan. “You’re not supposed to, but people do it all the time.”
Entering during Rush Hour
There is usually enough room for people to get on and off the subway simultaneously. However, during rush hour—when the boarding traffic is substantially higher— stand aside to let people off the car before you board. This may save you from colliding with other hurrying passengers.
Eating on the Subway
If you want to grab a snack on your ride from Uptown to Midtown, make sure your food doesn’t have a strong odor that might annoy the passengers around you. Even if you’re itching for some potent yellow curry, save it for later. Scent-free snacks like granola bars are a more courteous choice.
Giving Up Your Seat
Just as your mother probably taught you, it is good etiquette to give up your seat for elderly people and pregnant women on the subway. From there, use your judgment on when to offer your chair. Karene Torgerson, who lived in New York for six years, admires the courtesy people sometimes show on the subway. “I honestly had people give me their seat when I was in heels,” she reports. “And that was very nice.”
If you follow these steps, you ll fit right into the brisk flow of traffic without causing any jams. From Yankee Stadium to Battery Park, and from Brooklyn Heights to Coney Island, the city that never sleeps is yours.
Discover Ballet Competitions
International ballet competitions provide an alternative experience for travelers with various tastes and budgets for the arts. For patrons and lovers of the arts, attending high-caliber, live ballet performances without breaking the bank can be a challenge. International ballet competitions, however, which take place in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, allow you to see the world’s top aspiring dancers compete for scholarships, titles, contracts, and recognition on their journeys toward professional dancing. Each ballet competition varies in its individual structure and length, but all follow a consistent pattern in price, flexibility, and atmosphere— prime reasons to consider attending a competition over a professional company performance.
Held annually in the David H. Koch Theatre in New York City, the Youth America Grand Prix Finals are one of many competitions that offer exceptional dancing at a minimal cost, with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $45. This may still seem pricey to some, but compared to the price of an American Ballet Theatre performance in the same theater—often $300 per ticket— the YAGP Finals are a terrific deal.
Sergej Neikshin and Margarita Demjanoka perform at the International Baltic Ballet Competition.
Held every four years, the USA International Ballet Competition describes itself as a “two-week ‘Olympic-style’ competition.” For those not particularly fond of pointe shoes, Petipa, or pas de deuxs, this competitive atmosphere can provide enough excitement to keep the events compelling. Viewers can predict who they think will come out on top, providing an added element of fun to the world of ballet and a chance to glimpse the ballet stars of tomorrow.
Ballet can sometimes stretch the patience and attention spans of little ones or other comrades who may not be as enthusiastic about dance as you are. At ballet competitions, most pieces are solos, pas de deuxs (duets), or small group numbers and normally last less than five minutes each. Only care to see a few superstars of the event? It’s not rude to leave in between pieces at a competition. Take a break to explore the city, and then come back in time to catch the performances you most want to see.
International competitions to see this spring Youth America Grand Prix Finals April 9‒10, New York City, New York ▶
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USA International Ballet Competition June 14‒29, Jackson, Mississippi ▶
Moscow International Ballet Competition June 10‒19, Moscow, Russia ▶
Photo by Jack Devant
tips ＆ tricks
GasBuddy find cheap gas
Finding and paying for gas can consume time and money that could be better spent on hotels, food, and sightseeing. GasBuddy is a free app that helps travelers in the United States and Canada earn rewards and find the cheapest and closest gas stations so you can focus on your destination.
Photo by Randolf Rautenberg; Screenshots courtesy of GasBuddy
GasBuddy’s “Find Gas Near Me” tool—the easiest and most frequently used feature on its home page—automatically pulls up gas prices near your location. You can also search for specific areas along your travel route to help find the best time and place to look for gas. Arrange the price list by nearest or cheapest gas options using the Distance and Price buttons on the bottom left. You can also filter the list by specific fuel types using the Regular, Midgrade, Premium, and Diesel tabs above the price list.
If you’re unfamiliar with the area, GasBuddy can also show where you are in relation to the listed stations. Switch from the List setting to the Map setting on the top tool bar to determine whether getting the cheapest gas is worth driving out of your way. You don’t have to register for an account, but registering for one allows you to earn rewards points. For every 1,000 points, you’ll get one entry in a weekly prize drawing for pre-paid gas cards or other prizes. Simply updating or posting a gas price will help you become eligible for savings.
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America Hearst Castle in California
Experience life as one of William Randolph Hearst’s celebrity guests in San Simeon, California. On the bus ride from the visitor’s center to the castle, keep a lookout for the roaming descendants of Hearst’s zoo animals—zebras, mountain goats, and elk. You can experience the enormous castle through one of four guided tours: the grand rooms, upstairs suites, cottages and kitchen, or evening tour. Each tour offers you glimpses of some 25,000 artifacts, including 500-year-old tapestries, Egyptian statues, antique Gothic ceilings, and other art pieces. After your tour, take time to explore the gardens and to see the stunning blue and gold mosaic of the Roman Pool. ▶
Iolani Palace in Hawaii
In downtown Honolulu, visit Iolani Palace, once home to the last Hawaiian royals. You’ll enjoy the unique design of the palace, built in the late 1800s to introduce Hawaii as a modern and prestigious nation with a mixture of western, Asian, and Hawaiian influences. Inside the palace you’ll find portraits of past kings and queens lining the Grand Hall, which leads to the red and gold Throne Room, the luxurious reception area called the Blue Room, and the elegant State Dining Room. Wander the grounds to discover the coronation pavilion; the Royal Mound, where Hawaiian chiefs are buried; and the Barracks, which house the gift shop and ticket office. Call ahead for reservations and check online for special events, such as Royal Hawaiian Band concerts. ▶
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Craving castles? Royal residences aren t exclusive to Europe̶you can ﬁnd them in the United States as well. From Venetian splendor to traditional châteaux, here are a few palatial homes you can tour. —Eve Hart Smith
Boldt Castle in New York
Explore Boldt Castle, a monument to one man’s incredible capacity to love. The castle was meant to be a gift from millionaire George C. Boldt to his wife, Louise. But after Louise unexpectedly died in 1904, Boldt immediately stopped construction, and the structure was left unfinished for 73 years in Alexandria Bay on Heart Island. The castle has now been restored to pay tribute to Boldt’s original purpose. You can access the island by water taxi, private boat, or tour boat, and tour the main castle and its beautiful grounds. Stay for lunch and watch the comings and goings of water traffic on the St. Lawrence River for a relaxing afternoon. If you’re a boating enthusiast, you can pay a few extra dollars to visit the Boldt Yacht House and view an original 1892 steam yacht. ▶
Biltmore House in North Carolina
Experience the French-influenced Biltmore House, nestled in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. You can take a self-guided house tour for a peek into the opulent lifestyle of a Vanderbilt heir. Expect to be amazed by a massive private library, lavish furnishings in some 250 rooms, and a unique collection of vintage clothing. Afterward, walk through the blossoming English-style gardens; then fill your shopping and refreshment needs at Antler Hill Village and Winery, located just three miles up the road. You can also hike up to 22 miles of estate trails or take a private fly-fishing lesson at one of the nearby ponds or lakes. With unlimited options available, the way you experience Biltmore is completely up to you. Since ticket pricing varies by season and day of the week, plan on buying tickets in advance to get a discounted rate. ▶
Ca d Zan in Florida
Visit Ca’ d’Zan—“House of John” in a Venetian dialect—a tribute to the gothic beauty of Venice, where circus icon John Ringling and his wife, Mable, loved to spend time. Ringling’s estate juts out into the waters of Sarasota Bay, resembling an Italian landscape. Enjoy a public tour and see frescoed ceilings, marble balustrades, ornately carved furniture, and pieces from the Ringlings’ impressive art collection. Your ticket will include admission to other parts of the Ringling estate, including the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Circus Museum. During the spring, catch one of many musical concerts at the historic Asolo Theater or plan a picnic on the bayfront promenade on the estate. ▶
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An angry clansman clad in highlander garb charged right at me. I was standing in the middle of the four-walled theater at Culloden Battlefield museum, watching a reenactment of the gruesome battle unfold before me. Jacobite clansmen beat their chests and rallied for their country. Then British soldiers annihilated the clansmen with cannons and other advanced weapons. I couldn’t help but feel a little emotional; after all, these actors were representing my ancestors who had fought in this battle for the rights to their native land. Before I actually traveled to Scotland, I had grand fantasies about what it would be like to explore the country of my ancestry: to see misty mountains dotted with purple
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heather, to visit deep and expansive lochs, to hear enough bagpipe music to fill my little Scottish soul. Luckily, I did have all of these stereotypical Scottish experiences. But what I didn’t count on was finding myself in the history of the Scots. Standing on the battlements of Stirling Castle, I listened as our guide pointed out the surrounding landscape. To our right was the National Wallace Monument, an ancient-looking relic that bursts upward from the trees in honor of Sir William Wallace. The guide gave us an in-depth look at the workings of the castle, including the Great Hall, the kitchens, and the living quarters. All of this information was interesting and informative, but I wanted to know more.
After the tour, I asked our guide if he had heard of George Buchanan, one of my ancestors who—I was fairly certain—had lived at the castle. The guide confirmed that George Buchanan had been the widely respected tutor of Mary Queen of Scots and her son, James VI, and that he had indeed lived at the castle in the mid-1500s. Then the guide pointed out a classroom where my ancestor would have taught and told me stories about him that only seasoned tour guides could know. I realized that because of my ancestry I was part of this castle, part of this land, and part of Scotland’s history. This moment of discovery meant more to me than any other fact or statistic I had heard on the tour. But another moment of discovery was
Photo by Dave Apple
Heritage Hunting in the Highlands
Photos by Duncan Brown and Becca Taylor
staﬀ essay waiting for me: I visited the museum near the battlefield and saw the Battle of Culloden unfold before me. As I exited the theater, I looked up and saw a memorial with the names of all the clan leaders who had fought in that battle in 1746. That’s where I saw the name of Robert Buchanan, another of the patriarchs of my family’s clan. It hit me at that moment that I was part of his legacy too—and that returning to this place had become a mark of patronage and a sacred honor that I was privileged to experience. As I walked around the grounds of the battlefield, I silently paid respect to the members of my clan who had loved their land enough to fight for it, even at the expense of their lives. Personal history invites us to explore a land in the context of its people and to connect with the land in deeply meaningful ways. Learning about the souls who built, worked for, and fought for my homeland gave me access to intimate relationships with the physical landscapes, relationships fostered by familial bonds. Traveling to Scotland made me see that while time, society, and culture soldier on, the land preserves much of the history that is carved into it. It is our privilege to draw out these histories from the landscape, thereby enabling us to better write our own history. At the end of my trip, I found a shop that made clan tartans and kilts, and I purchased a wool blanket in the Buchanan plaid. This blanket reminds me of the relationships I created through uncovering the history of my ancestors’ sacrifices. And it encourages me to pass on the stories I found and thereby honor the surname that I bear.
—Kylee Buchanan Opposite: The volcanic glen known as Glen Coe is considered one of the most spectacular views in Scotland. Top: This marker memorializes the highlanders who fought for the rights to their homeland. Travelers can walk the battleﬁeld and see markers of individual clan graves. Above: A line of blue ﬂags marks the line where the Jacobites would have been when the Battle of Culloden started.
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Parting Shot Blackpool, Lancashire, England At high tide, Blackpool’s iconic Spanish steps disappear into the Irish Sea. Visitors to this coastal town flock to one of England’s most popular beaches. —Shayla Johnson Richland, WA