BAEDEKER SPRING 2014
10th Anniversary Edition A guiding beacon in travel since 1827, the original Baedeker was one of the world’s first travel guides. Our Spring 2014 issue continues this tradition as we celebrate our tenth anniversary as NYU’s first and only student travel publication. From Hoboken to Angkor Wat, from Romania to Buenos Aires, we have featured the fascinating experiences and stunning photography that capture the journeys of NYU students around the world. But what we are most proud of is NYU Baedeker’s continuation of what its namesake captured: the spirit of travel. Here at Baedeker, we understand that travel is not about the places you visit or the things you see. It’s about the state of mind with which you view the world around you. We are proud to feature stories that stretch to the other side of the earth, but just as proud to showcase some of our writers’ and photographers’ American hometowns. This semester, we’ve continued the changes we began making last semester in an effort to offer more practical travel advice. We hope that these tips will help you, whether you are exploring Beirut, Lebanon or Austin, Texas. Enjoy the magazine! Safe travels, bon voyage, buen viaje, selamat jalan, 一 路平安 Alex Braverman (editor-in-chief) Scott Mullen (secretary) Shannon Liang (treasurer) Ward Pettibone (webmaster)
Stephanie Eckardt (copy editor) Miranda Burnham (layout manager) Carolyn Balk (creative director) Lu Li (creative director)
Section Editors Africa
Domenica Herrick, Beverly Zou, Cailyn Chiah
Marsha Ho, Naomi Pallas, Misha Sesar, Minnie Ongsricharoenporn, Doyoon Kim Pichaya Ruktapongpisal
Ward Pettibone, Olivia Ramos, Mika Caruncho, Chris Cheng
Rhea Reo, Nikita Metharamani, Aubrey Martinson, Lucy Beni, Becca Wong
Alyssa Matesic, Karishma Sonde, Sara Zhong, Hannah Bava, Emma Scoble
Soraya Batmanghelidj, Elise Shivamber, Sirkka Miller, Celine Sidani
Julie Corbett, Kendall French-Kazen, Lillian Marx, Kathleen Wong, Joy Burkart
Miranda Burnham, Karishma Sonde, Jessie Serko, Sirkka Miller, Soraya Batman Meena Parashar, Alexander Schemof, Domenica Herrick, Rhea Reo
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Day in Munich by Louisa Nolte Vegetarian in Madrid by Rupeshi Shah Behind the Curtain by Scott Mullen Artist’s Eyes by Alyssa Matesic Rennes by Caroline B. Cunfer
3-4 4 5-6 7 8
The New Most Fashionable City by Alais Diop Loki in Cuzco by Haley Houseman and Meghan O’Connor
Pinnacles National Park by Ward DeWitt Pettibone An Ode to the Austin Breakfast Taco by Kendall French-Kazen Mahalo, Hawaii by Julie Corbett Escape to Alcatraz by Kendall French-Kazen
12 13 14 14
A Local’s Zimbabwe by Domenica Herrick, Cailyn Chiah, and Beverly Zou The Things I Miss the Most About Ghana by Sarah Dittmore Top Ten Places to Eat and Drink in Cairo by Hossam Heikel
A White Night to Remember by Rupert Hiskins
Three Places to Visit in Beirut by Celine Sidani The Jerusalem Shuk by Rebecca Cushman Five Things to Do in Abu Dhabi by Jennifer Foran
Climbing Mount Emei by Sondre Ulvund Solstad Exploring Myanmar by Carolyn Balk Angkor Wat by Lu Li
15-16 16-17 18
21 22 23
24-25 25-26 27
Cover photo: Bagan, Myanmar by Carolyn Balk Section Headers Photos: Europe: Rupeshi Shah Latin America: Cristina Gnecco North America: Ward Pettibone Africa: Callie Klotz Oceania: Henry Tiong Middle East: Celine Sidani Asia: Lu Li Facing page: Venice, Italy by Carolyn Balk
If you’re interested in joining BAEDEKER, e-mail us at email@example.com! Also, check out our blog at nyubaedeker.tumblr.com and our facebook page at facebook.com/nyubaedeker.
A Day in Munich
by Louisa Nolte
unich is not just a great place to visit during the Oktoberfest—or Wiesn, as Bavarians say—it is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. You may have conjured up an image in your head of a city with people dressed in dirndl and lederhosen, holding a beer in one hand and a pretzel in the other. Admittedly, this does happen occasionally (more often than not for photo-ops), but expect to see a city traced with history and filled with fun things to do. If you’re looking for a hip, cheap, party capital, you’re in the wrong city: head to Berlin. After several days there you might need a little break, so take a short plane ride (or a six-hour train ride) to a part of Germany with a whole new vibe. Munich is mellow, clean, and beautiful. The perfect time to visit is during the summer, although Munich covered in snow in the winter is also beautiful--albeit freezing.
Wake up and grab some breakfast at Aroma Kaffeebar (Pestalozzistraße). Snoop around all the fun toys and gags they offer—the kind of junk you don’t need but really, really want. It’s a great place to get souvenirs that aren’t emblazoned with cheesy images of castles and pretzels. Within walking distance is Servusheimat (multiple locations), another good place to get souvenirs that are very Bavarian but with a twist. Take a walk to the city center known as the Marien-
platz. It’s one of those places where every tourist group goes, and every visitor is kind of obligated to visit. The museums – their architecture and the art inside them – are incredible. Check out the Deutsches Museum, Brandhorst, Haus der Kunst, Lenbachhaus, Pinakothek der Moderne, Alte Pinakothek or Neue Pinakothek. Each has a different subject, so choose the one that appeals to your interests.
traditionally German for lunch. There’s a great beer garden known as the Biergarden am Chinesischer Turm (meaning “Chinese Tower Beergarden”) in the Englischer Garten, or English Garden. If you want something smaller, go to Kaisergarten (Kaiserstraße 34) and don’t forget to order Kaiserschmarn, which are basically delicious, scrambled pancakes.
Next, take a stroll through the Englischer Garten. It’s a huge park, even bigger than Central Park. Be sure to visit the Eisbach, a section of the Isar river that has a continuous wave where you’ll find a bunch of surfers—even in the winter. Once you’ve had your fill of nature, get back to the city and check out Schwabing, a fun area filled with university students.
If you’re in the mood for some good sushi, but also want to try a good German beer and Bratwürstchen, go to the Japanese-German restaurant No Mi Ya (Wörthstraße 7). And if you’re not feeling that adventurous, the classic Schumann’s (Odeonsplatz 6-7) is always a good bet. Get some drinks! No worries if you’re under 21–you’re
legal over here. There are a bunch of bars all around Schwabing – they include Die Goldene Bar im Haus der Kunst (in the Haus der Kunst museum mentioned earlier, where the famous club P1 is also located) and Loretta Bar (Müllerstraße 50). If you feel like dancing, check out some clubs like the hip-hop-centric Crux (Ledererstraße 3) or the sometimes snobby P1.
VEGETARIAN in MADRID by Rupeshi Shah
ere are some tips for surviving as a vegetarian in a country known for its jamón (ham) and
mariscos (shellfish), so you’re not stuck eating
“salads” with just lettuce and pineapple:
Paella! Vegetarian paella is delicious, and you’ll feel like a true Spaniard. The portions are huge, so splitting with a friend is highly recommended. That said, it’s worth it to have that hot, filling meal. I found it to be too salty at certain restaurants, and the best was in Toledo, a town south of Madrid, and El Escorial, a palace northwest of Madrid. Be patient. Some waiters and your abuelita (grandmother) won’t understand what you mean by vegetariano. Say you’re looking for dishes sin carne y pescado (without meat and fish). Then they’ll recommend seventeen choices with jamón in them – a lot of people don’t consider ham to be meat. Explain that you don’t eat jamón either, and just nod your head as they tell you you’re insane. Then order from whatever two or three choices are left. Get a few appetizers instead of a main course. Patatas
bravas will always be on the list, which you can supplement with another dish, possibly gazpacho. Just be sure to request your food not be sprinkled with atún (tuna) or jamón. When you’re on the go, there’s always bocadillos de queso (cheese sandwiches). Not exactly like beloved grilled cheeses, but they do the job. Buy an apron, and get cooking! You’re not making meals for a grand dinner party, you’re just making enough for yourself, which is doable. You can get fresh fruits and vegetables from local markets. Boil some rice or pasta, and then for protein…. Check out NaturaSì, a supermarket chain that’s kind of like the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s of Spain. You’ll be able to find tofu burgers and hummus for a reasonable price. My favorites were frozen patties with corn and cheese. There’s a NaturaSì right by the NYU in Madrid campus, close to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Peanut butter is not really a thing in España. I found it rarely, and when I did it was always pricey. I’d recommend bringing some with you from home, if possible. Churros! Granted, they’re not a real meal, but any dish con chocolate always makes things better.
CURTAIN BEHIND THE
Going beneath the surface in Romania to find that all is not what it seems.
by Scott Mullen
y first glimpse of Romanian soil was about exactly as it ought to have been, in my opinion. This came as a bit of a surprise, considering I had no idea what to expect from this Eastern Bloc home to gypsies and vampires. I envisioned a bleak landscape under a perpetually dark and foreboding sky, crossed with dirt roads and dotted with deeply shadowed pine forests and villages straight out of 1100 C.E. And, as the plane dropped beneath the clouds, that is what I saw. It wasn’t raining, but the coffee-colored puddles that covered dirt roads indicated that it had been, and the flat gray sky indicated it could soon be again. It wasn’t until our wheels hit the ground at the Cluj International Airport, an event that was accompanied by enthusiastic applause from the mostly Italian passengers, that I started to see signs of urban civilization. It wasn’t much, but it was something. After acquiring our car, a silver sedan with a manual transition, we set off east towards the city. At first, we drove through mostly residential areas, past rows of small houses with steeply slanted roofs, but we soon arrived in the city proper, a predominantly gray mass of buildings constructed in the Soviet functionalist style. Our plan was to meet up with a cousin of my roommate, a university student living in Cluj, so we soon found ourselves in exactly where you might expect a bunch of young people to meet up – the mall. The Iulius Mall in Cluj-Napoca, I was surprised to discover, looks more like an American shopping center than anything I’d seen in Europe to date, with international department stores, fast-food restaurants, and mobs of preteens. We took full advantage of these unexpected comforts, which seemed a sharp contrast to both the
rest of the city and the notions that I had been entertaining about my location, and sipped Starbucks cappuccinos while struggling to get in touch with my roommate’s cousin. The struggle, in the end, was in vain. After an hour or so of driving around looking for him, an activity which took us through some older, more aesthetically pleasing parts of the city, we gave up and decided to start on the two and a half hour drive that would take us south into the center of the country to a city called Deva. These were the first of many hours that we would spend in our car on the narrow two lane roads that wind through the Romanian countryside. When we arrived in Deva, a city of about 50,000 people, it was late. We drove straight to the apartment building in which we’d be staying, unloaded our things, and then tucked in to the meal that our hosts, my roommate’s grandparents, had waiting for us. His grandmother was an incredibly sweet little woman, probably half as tall as I, and, after having us remove our shoes, she sat us all on benches around the table and served us a delicious, if a tad eclectic, Romanian meal. As we ate, she and her husband stood near by, watching, smiling at us, and occasionally saying things in Romanian, the only language either of them knew. Sitting in the kitchen, I was struck again by the feeling that I had at the Starbucks in Cluj; a feeling that I’d sud-
denly stepped to the other side of a curtain. The Romania that I’d expected existed, but at that moment I felt as if I was somewhere completely different. The next morning, we hopped in the car again for the short drive to Corvin Castle, in the nearby town of Hunedoara, and it was back to the Romania I knew and was beginning to love. We spent a few hours wandering around
the 15th-century castle, exploring the great halls and ruined armories, leaning over the battlements, and all the while listening to the clanging of two young boys in knight’s raiment practicing their sword fighting in the courtyard. Before too long, though, the sky, which had been threatening us all morning, started to open up. We crossed the long, narrow drawbridge over the Zlaști River and headed back
to the apartment, the castle on its hill looming out the back window for a good part of the drive. Back in the cozy kitchen, we lunched on a delicious meal of sarmale – spicy, stewed meat wrapped in cabbage leaves – before setting off to one of Deva’s most prominent attractions. And I mean prominent. Balancing atop a mountain that punches into the sky from the middle of downtown, the Citadel is easily the most notable feature of the city. Its 13th-century walls rise hundreds of feet above the Mureș River Valley and support a large, white Hollywood-style sign that reads “Deva,” a feature that seems a bit out of place, but is oddly common in Romanian cities. To reach the Citadel, we
parked our car outside of the Olympic gymnastics training facility that gave rise to Nadia Comăneci (the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics), packed ourselves into a glass box, and scooted up the mountainside on a steep, rollercoaster-like track. The fortress, which is currently being renovated, is now not much more than a large pile of stones, but we hiked around the crumbling walls and took in the views over the city and
the valley before it started to rain once again. On the way back down, we looked out over the road that would take us to our next destination, a very small village to the west of Deva. A few hours later found us in the car once more, going farther into the countryside, passing wide, green fields full of grazing sheep and rundown, abandoned, Soviet-era factories. Finally, we began to get close. Fintoag is a farming village of perhaps fifty people. We pulled the car into the gravel drive of one of the farmhouses, were ushered inside, and presented to a slew of grandparents, aunts, and cousins. The inside of the house was brightly lit, and the beams bounced around the low ceilinged room, off of walls that were painted with fluorescent greens, yellows and pinks. After a brief tour and introductions to a variety of people and animals, we decided to take advantage of the rest of the rapidly expiring day and walk up through the cherry and plum orchards to the top of one of the nearby hills. From our vantage point, we watched as the light slowly faded over the distant Carpathian Mountains, and dusk flowed sluggishly down the valleys. We made our descent in the dark, half walking, half sliding in the mud, but all thoughts of chilly night were pushed out when we got back inside, where we were cleaned up and treated to a modest feast of roasted chicken, pork, and duck, as well as a mountain of pastries. Conversation during the meal was slow, as we only had one translator, but the family made it abundantly clear how happy they were to have us. The ride back to Deva that night was quiet; we weren’t in the car for more than ten minutes before I drifted into a satisfied, food-induced slumber.
The next morning, we woke up early to get started on yet another drive, this time far to the east, to a town called Bran and one last castle. After a gorgeous drive through the mountains and a short detour through a beautiful little city called Brașov, we arrived at the castle, which is advertised as the home of Vlad the Impaler, the notorious Romanian noble and inspiration for Dracula. At first, it seemed like a tourist trap. Cheesy vampire cutouts and souvenir stalls cluttered the first part of the walk from the parking lot. Once inside, though, the castle turned out to be a nice museum focusing on the history of the castle and the region it defends. Vlad and Dracula were appendices to the attraction, as they are to the castle’s history. In this I saw, once again, a peek behind a veil. I had come to Romania with certain ideas in mind, fully expecting that they were not going to match up with reality, as had been the case on many other travels. But strangely, they did. I was thrown, but before the weekend was over I discovered that the Romania I had imagined only matched the Romania that you might see when you drove through. Yes, there were sheep grazing in open pastures off of dirt roads and farmers plowing with a team of horses. Yes, there were gypsy houses, gloomy castles and reminders to the Soviet Bloc. But these things were only the things you’d see if you slept on top of the covers. Pull back the sheets, however, and there’s unexpected vibrancy; in the elaborate fountain at the mall in Cluj; in slightly lemony tea served by a woman who wants nothing more than for you to enjoy it; in shocking, neon-hued interior design. After our day at Castle Bran, there wasn’t much left to do but take one more long drive, this time to the western edge of the country, to a city called Timișoara, where we spent our last night before hopping an early flight back to Bologna. The morning of our departure was bright and clear – the first such day that we had. It was as if Romania had finally decided to open itself up, making sure I knew that its true character would take some digging to find.
remember looking like a by Alyssa sloppy tourist that day. My hair was loose and tangled between the straps of my cross-body bag and camera. My Italian flag shirt was hanging off one shoulder. At any given moment, my eyes were covered either by my sunglasses or my lens. My mom and I stood in the middle of the square. We were probably stopping the flow of Vespas and pedestrians, but we were too engrossed in what was before us to care. We had just come down from the top of Brunelleschi’s dome and were looking at it from below. I lowered my camera and pushed my sunglasses over my head, squinting. I tried hard to understand how the people of Florence could so easily walk by such a masterpiece every day. The kiosk workers, it seemed, hardly appreciated the beauty of what was on their postcards and key chains. I determined that if I lived as a Florentine, I would either be endlessly inspired by my surroundings or go mad because of them, for nothing I could create would ever amount to the same level of artistry. I didn’t see the man walk over; he seemed to appear out of nowhere. He had dark features and was wearing a black coat. I wasn’t suspicious, though. “Excuse me, I saw you from across the square and I knew I had to draw you,” he said to me in an Italian accent. “You see, I walked a long way for you.” He gestured to an empty chair and canvas set up near the base of the dome. He followed up with a number of flattering comments, all of which I brushed off shyly. After a brief exchange, we agreed to have my portrait drawn and I followed him to his station. I know that, to some extent, his compliments were simply him trying to make a sale. But there was something genuine about him that I couldn’t quite place. I sat down on a stool facing him and he pulled out a sketchpad and charcoal pencils. His hand began moving swiftly and smoothly down the page; it was obvious that he was starting with my hair. Though I couldn’t see the picture, I could see his hands, which were more interesting to me. They were worn and coarse and tinted with black where he had touched his medium—artist’s hands, I thought. Several languages passed by me. The people speaking them would pause behind the artist, stare at the drawing, then glance at me, then look back at the drawing. Some would finish off with a nod. Others a smile. One laughed. Most just walked away. The man’s name was Arthur, and he came into the square and drew every day. He lived the life that I had been pondering in the moments before his approach: life surrounded by beauty. He had easels set up around the stool—there were his caricatures, which he said were ugly and he just
made for the money, and watercolors of places in the city. Watercolors were his true passion, he said, but they were less popular than caricatures and portraits. He then began working on my eyes. I continued staring off behind him at the people passing by. “Look straight at me,” he said. His pencil was moving in tighter circles now, and every once in a while he would blur a line or two and add to the smudges on his hands. I was worried that holding eye contact for so long would be uncomfortable, and it was at first. I felt scrutinized. I wanted to cover my face or check a mirror; I feared he saw my flaws. I didn’t like having someone look so deeply into me. He was a stranger, and yet he saw me closer than most people I know have. He began making conversation; I suppose to lighten the intensity of the situation. I think I talked more than he did. I told him about living in Texas, and about how I want to be a photographer and a writer. He just smiled and kept working. After watching him draw for some time and looking into his eyes for the moments in between, I realized that I was seeing him just as closely as he was seeing me. When he would glance up, he would squint and furrow his brow, an expression somewhere between concentration and heartbreak. The creases around his eyes deepened, as did those in his forehead. For as much as I looked into them, I cannot recall the color of his eyes. I was too absorbed by what was behind them. “Deep. You’re deep. I can see it in your eyes,” he broke a long run of silence. “You’re a romantic, yes?” “A bit,” I responded, impressed that he could tell. And I could tell he was one, too. After a few more minutes, he was done. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. He turned over the sketch toward me. It was absolutely beautiful; she was absolutely beautiful. But she wasn’t me. There was only a single feature that he perfectly represented: my eyes. I wasn’t upset, though. A part of me didn’t want to see my face looking back at me. I believe that for those 20 minutes, beginning with when he saw me across the square, he pictured me how he wanted me to be, not how I actually was. My portrait was an idealized version of myself. I realize, in retrospect, that I have done the same to him with my writing. Maybe that’s how I saw Italy as a whole, as some perfect abstraction that exists more beautifully in art than in reality. But I’m okay with that. I’m okay living with some exaggerated, perhaps romanticized recollections—my memories are more beautiful that way.
A R T I S T ’S
Rennes by Caroline Cunfer
ennes was my first love affair with a European city. It would become my treasured European home. Situated in the heart of the Brittany region of France, Rennes is where I spent my junior year of high school – living with a host family, gorging myself on baguettes and salted butter and essentially trying to be as française as I possibly could. The two universities dominate the city; 60,000 of the 200,000 residents are college students. Rennes is quintessentially and utterly French, composed of a dizzying labyrinth of cobblestone streets that were constructed during the Middle Ages, outdoor cafes to pause for cafe crèmes and conversation, crayola-colored buildings that topple into each other and corner boulangeries selling almond croissants and chouquettes. Rennes has a distinctive culture of its own. It is not by any means Parisian (“How was your trip to Paris?” was the infuriatingly routine question I was asked upon my return to the US). English is more or less nonexistent, and I found it ridiculously comforting that I could walk into any store and be responded to in French. Crêperies selling warm galettes (essentially savory crepes made from a buckwheat batter) and bottles of cidre are the Starbucks of Rennes. Mugs with puns about the amount of rain are sold in the city’s two souvenir shops (“In Brittany it only rains twice a week – one time for three days, the other time for four days”) alongside the staple of every pure Breton – a “bol Breton.” On Christmas Eve around the fireplace, my host mom gifted me a bowl with “Caroline” written in the traditional script, and I was officially part of the family. I would place that bowl on my desk in Hayden, filling it occasionally
with my host mom’s favorite tea when I find myself longing for my French home. Despite the city’s dazzling complexion, Rennes is unfortunately victim to a perpetual drizzle. During my nine months in France, the sun didn’t break through the overcast skies – other than a few random days throughout the year – until March. The rain recommenced in April. When the sun peeks through the clouds, the city flocks to Parc du Thabor, a park that became my springtime oasis. Children buy ice cream cones from the pink cart, “sportives” jog through the winding pebbled lanes, men in orange jumpsuits tend the blossoming peonies and students lay on the grass sipping lemonade. Stunning architecture dots the city, and concealed history lurks around each corner. On Saturday mornings, the famous outdoor market at Place des Lices sells whole shrimp and galettes-saucisses, jars of raw honey and a rainbow of jams, fried rice and fresh artichokes. On Sunday the city shuts down, and families gather around the kitchen table to linger over raclette cheese served with roasted potatoes and ham. At dusk, children run to the neighborhood bakery to bring floury baguettes home for dinner. Life is simple, beautiful, unhurried. Rennes is intimate, Rennes is modest. Rennes is eating galettes tucked in a corner at Crêperie Sainte Anne while the rain drips outside. Rennes is befriending the owner of my favorite macaron shop, knowing half of the population that takes my bus in the morning, consistently toppling on cobblestones and sipping caramel hot chocolate out of a bowl at Le Haricot Rouge. Rennes is home.
buenos aires: the new most
are full of hidden treasures, such as the Argentine version of platform shoes. These consists of extremely elevated even platforms designed for sneakers, boots and heels that every porteña has in her closet. Other original pieces range from jean jumpsuits to colorful leather skirts with studded details, handmade jewelry, and printed dresses with fringes, along with amazing local by Alais Diop designer clothes that are fit for the adventurous shopper. he boutique interiors are always well decorated. There Usually, there is a cardboard box in the middle of the store is usually a bench or a table with two chairs on the side- filled with sales items, like cashmere scarves and colored walk, facing the store’s entrance. Sometimes, there is tights. even a bouquet of flowers. Inside, the chairs or couches inAfter fighting the 2001 financial crisis, Argentinians vite you to stay. It gained more consmells good. On fidence and let the counter, you “After fighting the 2001 financial crisis, Argentinians their creativity find decorations and freedom of gained more confidence and let their creativity such as a small silexpression exver tree that holds plode. Their main and freedom of expression explode.” rings and bracedesire was to lets. The clothes restore national and accessories are displayed with attention in an elegant pride (both sentimentally and in terms of the peso), highand artsy way. Of course, each place is different, discernible lighting a sense of dignity that the financial crisis muddled. by the purple velvet curtains of the fitting rooms, the leath- This started with designers who chose to open their small er on the couches, or the silk of the blouses. Each place is shops in Palermo with their own collections and a lot of undeniably unique. ambition. These one-of-a-kind interiors can be seen in a wide vaArgentina’s semi-annual Fashion Week in Buenos Aires, riety of independent stores in the trendy neighborhoods open to the public, showcases this young and dynamic of Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood in Buenos Aires. state of mind. It is like a massive festival: there are massage They mark the city’s evolution into the next big place to booths in between shows, discounts on home decor and look at in terms of fashion trends and trend setters. The art fashion stores, private access to showrooms sales, and othof shopping is in the veins of the porteños’ – literally “peo- er activities. It is also a never-ending party: a week of festivple of the port,” the name given to the city’s inhabitants ities for every type of customer, spectator, or both. The mix – and luckily, there is a lot of choice for them, and you, to of unique new boutiques with Argentina’s history makes develop a fashion sense in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires the perfect destination for a fashionista, and There are tons of stores and malls all around the city. Rap- next year’s fashion week route should include Buenos Aires sodia, Chocolate, Bendito Pie at first sound unfamiliar, but to showcase how casually cool the city has become.
Before I went to Cuzco, my knowledge of the town could probably have been summed up in a handful of quotes from The Emperor’s New Groove. Basically, Peru was a complete enigma to us.
Loki in Cusco
by Haley Houseman and Meghan O’Connor
We arrived in Cusco and sat on a sidewalk to [gulp] take out our maps and orient ourselves. A McDonald’s billboard reading, “Welcome to Cusco!” dominated the skyline, and we realized that Cusco might not be Inca ruins and mystery. We hadn’t slept in thirty-six hours, and our attention spans were exponentially decreasing. I collapsed with slight altitude sickness and exhaustion almost immediately upon arriving at our hostel, Loki, but not before we were subjected to the attention of our hostel bartender, one of the many people we came to understand are stranded in Cusco.
The infamous bartender tried to get me to guess where he’s from, even though all I really want to do is sleep. He said he is from Israel and waiting for a job making “real money,” and then asked me if I want something called a Blood Bomb. We saw him on and off throughout the week, and our interactions plummeted from friendly and too flirty (on his part), to passive-aggressive and pouty (also on his part).
Our hostel was interesting, a sort of borderline wasteland. You could pass months working for free room and board because you like to party or are killing time, or maybe just because you’re poor. Nathan was none of those things. A Canadian wanderer, he claimed he was denied at the U.S. border because he told border control that he was “on a spiritual journey.” He worked as a bartender at Loki as well, cleaning up other people’s messes even when he was not on the clock. I met him at yoga, which consisted of him alone in the courtyard. I asked to join him, and he simply told me to “freestyle.”
Sometimes we haunted Loki, watching people come and go, drinking endless cups of tea. One conversation ran into another. A man sitting next to me mentioned he was headed to Buenos Aires by bus that night - fifty hours by bus. Another guy, Bart, had been in South America for nearly a year, traveling by bus, taking a canoe down the Amazon river. He had been attacked by
pirates multiple times and when he lost everything, he said he â€œwalked back to civilization.â€? Bart eventually located a Dutch Embassy and met up with his sister to get a new passport and some shoes. Meghan and I were headed to Machu Picchu the next day and were hiking six hours to our hostel there--and we thought we were roughing it.
Loki colored our whole time in Cuzco. Our last night, with just enough money for the cab out of Cuzco and a meal, we decided we needed a drink instead. Nathan asked if we would start working at Loki. We looked
at each other in terror and chugged. Four hours later, we each have a Chilean boy attempting to seduce us, a man in a Cookie Monster suit dancing to Rihanna... and finally, the airport taxi arrived to take us home.
PANAMA Photos by Pete Chua.
pinn cles n tional p rk
s national parks go, Pinnacles is not terribly big. This central California park spans just under 25,000 acres in the Gabilan Mountains. Despite its small stature, there is plenty to do. Visitors enjoy hiking, rock climbing, spelunking, and viewing local flora and fauna such as condors and wildflowers. The park’s namesake, “pinnacles,” is derived from the local spires of volcanic rock eroded over millions of years by wind and water. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon of birdwatching or a week of camping, you’ll be able to keep yourself royally entertained at Pinnacles. Upgraded by Congress from a national monument to a national park in January 2013, Pinnacles is the newest addition to the United States National Park system. I went in January and hiked the Condor Gulch to High Peaks Loop. Then, because I still had a few hours of daylight to spare, I doubled back to Balconies Cave. On the way I passed several rock climbers, birdwatchers, and a trio of self-described “eccentric British cave enthusiasts,” but the park never seemed crowded. On the contrary, it felt as though I had discovered a secret garden of sorts – albeit a secret garden patrolled by gigantic birds of prey. The National Park Service describes the trails I took as “strenuous,” but I think “adventurous” is a more accurate description. There are steep steps carved into rock faces, sheer drops guarded by flimsy-looking railings, and slick boulders overlooking a gusty canyon. I even encountered one memorable passage that ran unprotected right along the edge of a cliff. The sights were breathtakingly beautiful and I can only imagine what it would be like in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom.
I caught the last shuttle to the welcome center just as the sun was setting. I was travelling in a group, and there weren’t enough seats for all ten of us, so the driver had me sit on an ice chest instead. The parking lot and welcome center are clearly not designed to accommodate more than a few dozen groups at a time. Pinnacles still seems to be getting used to being a national park, which adds to its charm. Unlike some of the bigger, more “Disney-fied” parks, visitors feel as if they are among the first to explore this particular corner of California. If you are looking for an adventure, Pinnacles National Park is a great place to start. by Ward DeWitt Pettibone
to the Austin Breakfast Taco by Kendall French-Kazen
When I go home to Austin, this is my taco haven. Torchy’s Tacos started as a small trailer and has since expanded to dominate the Austin taco scene. Carnivores will enjoy the smoked beef brisket taco, but I’ve seen people brought to tears over the vegetarian-friendly fried avocado taco. If you want to look like a local then ask for your tacos to be “extra trashy” (with extra queso) or poke around the Internet until you find Torchy’s secret menu.
Juan in a Million
Imagine a tortilla. Now imagine a tortilla hiding under a pile of Tex-Mex-inspired breakfast food. This is the kind of portion sizing you can expect from Juan in a Million. Breakfast is served all day. The menu has barely changed since the restaurant’s inception, because they know exactly what works. I’d recommend the migas taco with onions and cheese. Trust me, Juan will not let you down.
Texas Honey Ham Co.
This hole in the wall is located just outside the Austin city limits and serves more than just breakfast tacos, but these are definitely their best sellers. Though you should beware of students flocking from the nearby high school, the staff is insanely friendly and you never have to wait too long. This local favorite has perfected the simplicity of the breakfast taco without sacrificing flavor.
Austin, Texas, the capital of the Lone Star State, is the breakfast taco capital of the world. Austinites flock to
breakfast tacos as if they were eating their last meal. Austin has a rich history of providing the world with this delicious snack and continues to satisfy the cravings of hungry Texans and travelers alike. Let’s start with the basics. If you are not a native of central Texas like I am, you might be wondering what a breakfast taco is. The breakfast taco is inspired by traditional Mexican food but with a Texas twist. If you are in a rush, it is a sleek, compact way to consume your morning meal. The most common ingredients are egg, potato, sausage, pulled pork, cheese, and beans all wrapped up in a delicious corn or flour tortilla. New Yorkers are generally used to behemoth burritos, but tacos are a daintier and more authentic option when munching in Austin.
Mahalo HAWAI’I by Julie Corbett
t’s almost exactly everything you’ve heard about: tropical weather, infinite beaches, the sweetest fruit, and tons of fun. But the island-state of Hawai’i is also more than you think. Not only is The Rainbow State home to the first Dole Food Company plantation, it is also home to 85,000 native Hawaiians whose language, music, and culture thrive from island to island. Composed of more than 130 islands, Hawaii consists of eight main islands: Hawai’i, Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i, Moloka’i, Lāna’i, Ni’ihau, and Kaho’olawe. O’ahu, home to the capital Honolulu, can be defined as both business and pleasure: most Hawaiian citizens spend 40 hours a year going to and from work, the beach or even shopping in infamous long-stretching, bumper-to-bumper, miles-long traffic on the island’s three main highways, the H1, H2 and H3. However, once you reach your destination, you realize it was all
worth it: Waikīkī, a southeast neighborhood of Honolulu, is known for its white sand beaches and Kalakaua Avenue, which features luxury hotels and world-renowned brands such as Gucci, Apple, Chanel, Coach and more. But continue east on the H1 where it soon turns into Kalanianaole Highway, the road will lead you to the beautiful Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Park. A must see for any visitor, Hanauma Bay is famous for its countless exotic fish in their natural habitat, which can be seen in shallow waters via snorkeling. However, if you’re up for a challenge, shadowing Hanauma Bay to the north is the massive Koko Crater, whose peak reaches about 1200 feet. With countless hiking trails, it’s not for the faint-hearted – and is perfect for early birds. In order to beat the heat of the sun, most hikers start the path (which can take two hours, depending on which path you take) around three or four in the morning. The main route not only at one point reaches a slope so steep that it’s necessary to climb it, but also includes an old railroad that forms a bridge over a small drop, which can be frightening for first-timers. However, the true prize awaits at the top of Koko Crater: going early enough, not only can you see the beautiful sunrise, but also take in the beautiful views of Hanauma Bay and nearby Kuapa Pond in the light of the morning. Hawaii is not only a great vacationing spot but a peaceful home to many diverse people. Whether you decide to relax on the beaches of Maui or reward yourself with some much-needed shopping in Ala Moana, remember to respect the friendly people of Hawaii – mahalo.
by Kendall French-Kazen
an Francisco is home to one of the United States’ most tantalizing destinations for history buffs, thrill seekers and nature enthusiasts alike: Alcatraz Island. Located 1.5 miles offshore in the San Francisco Bay, this speck of land has served as a fortress, a Native American protest site, a national park, and of course, a prison. Before visiting, all my knowledge of Alcatraz came from Hollywood movies. I knew that Clint Eastwood managed an outlandish escape from the prison by digging tunnels using only spoons, and that Burt Lancaster developed an acute bird fetish while in solitary confinement there. Yet beyond the TV screen, this mystical landmark on the bay remained a mystery to me until a summer family vacation had me step onto its legendary shores. To get to the island, nicknamed “The Rock,” you must board a scenic but chilly ferry that offers excellent views of the surrounding bay – as long as you can see past the fog. Once the boat docks, tourists are directed off the pier and urged to look for signs of the 1969 Native American occupation protesting government regulations on the appropriation of their land. Some of the most intriguing sites on the island are where
Photo by Scott Mullen.
the inmates were housed. The central walkway of prison cells is called Broadway, and its neighbors are cheekily nicknamed Park Avenue and Michigan Avenue. The gaggles of mingling tourists juxtapose with the cold, wrought iron bars of hundreds of cells, making for an interestingly eerie environment. The solitary confinement cells give visitors the opportunity to experience what it was like as an inmate with little to no contact with other people. I recommend stepping into one of the cells and closing the door in order to feel, at least for a moment, a semblance of what the cell’s previous tenants endured on a day-to-day basis. As you meander along to the west side of the island, you’re offered a stunning view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. The outside world is so tantalizingly close to the island that it’s easy to forget the tragic past of the men (no women were allowed) forced to spend their lives there. The stark beauty of the skyline is amplified by the animals and nature that call the island home. Surprisingly, the island itself is run by the National Parks Service, because of its historical significance and its broad range of flora and fauna. The cliff tops and basins of the island provide excellent nesting grounds for salamanders, western gulls, and deer mice. Gardens that were originally taken care of by the families of the guards living on the island are being restored and can be seen on a more scenic path around the island. Although a former prison may not seem like an ideal summer vacation spot, visiting Alcatraz gave me a chance to explore a facet of the United States’ history that has been glamorized by Hollywood and shrouded in mystery. Visiting the actual sites where convicts ate, slept, exercised, and lived adds a sense of reality and clarity to the foggy folklore surrounding Alcatraz.
AFRICA a local’s
Zimbabwe an interview with Igor Maksimovic
Q How is New York City different from Zimbabwe? Q Where have you traveled to in Africa? A It’s efficient. The subway is marvelous; there is real pub- A I’ve been to Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Zanzilic transportation. I think the tallest building we’ve got is like 30 stories, and there are like two of them. The rest are like five stories so it’s pretty cool being in a city that is so big and has so much traffic. Not enough trees though. It’s a lot less green and sunshine here, a lot more dreary and gloomy.
bar (Tanzania), Kenya; I’ve never been to Mozambique but I would really love to go there one day. Victoria Falls! Lake Kariba in Northwest Zimbabwe, its really lovely and a great spot.
If you could bring one thing from Zimbabwe to New York City, what would you bring?
AOh, that’s a pretty straightforward question, very simple:
Sun and warmth, it’s the greatest thing ever. Oh, and the thunderstorms. African thunderstorms are the best. The Empire State Building gets old, but thunderstorms never get old. You smell the rain coming, and when it comes, it comes properly. The whole day it’ll be hot, and then at 3 p.m. it comes, and it just pours and pours and pours. It’s nice rain. You can actually swim in them. Like if you don’t have a swimming pool it’s fine because there will be puddles, and you’ll be swimming in them. It’s really cool.
Which place would you recommend others to visit, and why? Victoria Falls! Fantastic, great place, great views. You can do bungee jumping off a bridge, gorge swimming, white water rafting, micro-light flights over the falls, helicopter rides, parachuting over the falls, walks through the rainforest that get you really wet because you get drenched by the mist. The falls are actually called Mosi-oa-Tunya which means “smoke that thunders” because the locals who lived there would see the smoke coming out of the trees and hear it thundering from miles away. You can actually Google “devil’s cataract” and you’ll understand.
If you could describe your favorite place in one word, what would it be and why?
Magnificent or omnipotent. For Victoria Falls. If I could imagine God as a being, it would be that waterfall. When you step out from the undergrowth and the jungle, and you see that waterfall for the first time, you understand why people who believe in pagan gods make them out to be volcanoes or waterfalls.
Igor Maksimovic is a freshman from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. This interview was conducted by Domenica Herrick, Cailyn Chiah, and Beverly Zou.
The Things I Miss
GHANA by Sarah Dittmore
Every day I would pass a woman who cut up a fresh pineapple and served it to me for 50 cents. On the same street I could get a $1 fresh mango, or four just-picked bananas for 50 cents. Though I do love the Union Square Green Market, I miss the fresh tropical fruit being sold dirt cheap on every street corner.
As you may have realized above, everything is so cheap in Ghana. In one week, I could get away with spending a grand total of four dollars. That is impossible in Florence (where I am now), let alone New York City. My wallet is trying to adjust to the euro and desperately missing the Ghanaian cedi.
I wish I could properly explain the heavenly bliss that is redred. When you take a bite of this amazing dish, your life will forever change. I have tried to recreate the black-eyed-pea, gari, kelewele and palm oil magic. Still, no version I make in my kitchen will ever be able to compete with authentic Ghanaian red-red.
One cultural norm in Ghana is to say please before every sentence. “Please ma’am, how are you?” “Please sir, may I have a sandwich?” “Please driver, I am going to Osu.” These are phrases I miss hearing now that I am again in a city where “please” is practically a taboo.
Ghana is big on colors. While we don black for funerals in the States, they deck out in red. One person’s casual daily outfit will likely host a wild pattern with bright shades of orange, yellow, and green. The shops on the side of the road are all painted purple, red, blue… you get the point. The black umbrellas and grey coats that line the streets of New York are not nearly as inspired.
The number of clothing items I made in Ghana is ridiculous. But I have no idea when I will be able to pick out my own fabric, create my own design, and have a clothing item sewn to fit my body again. At least not for $10. And yes, that is USD. Which is why I had no shame in coming home with two dresses, a pair of pants, two skirts, and…maybe I shouldn’t continue.
Every time I looked out my window the sky was bright blue, with the occasional puffy white clouds dotting the horizon. In Florence it has been raining for weeks, and I can only imagine what it was like to suffer through this winter in New York. Bidding adieu to the sapphire skies and moving to grey clouds and rain, I am mourning the loss of the precious tan I fostered over four months there.
Just imagine this: a giant, firm, sweet banana. Now grill it. Or fry it. Or boil it and cover it in sauce. In other words, prepare your mouth for a delicious journey that it is not likely to forget.
In New York City when you see strangers looking at you, you put your headphones on and walk faster. In Accra, you are expected to stop and ask about their family’s health. Sure, when you’ve gotten used to being invisible in the streets of NYC it gets exhausting talking to every Ghanaian you pass. At the same time, there is a pervasive friendliness that fills every inch of Accra.
It is outrageously hot in Ghana. I complained about the sweat-inducing weather a lot while I was there. Now that I am back in the cold, I dream about the shorts and flip-flops that sit at the back of my closet. I dream about the sun, and I dream about my amazing time in Ghana.
Located on the edge of the island of Zamalek, this place offers some of the best views in Cairo. Sequoia is considered one of the best sites in Cairo due to their amazing Mediterranean food, smooth shisha, and great drinks.
Taboula is one of the best spots for Lebanese food in Cairo. The restaurant has four branches in Cairo with the best being the original location in Garden City. Go there to enjoy amazing Lebanese mezzah, an extensive cocktail and wine list, and countless shisha flavors.
Abou El Sid
This is the place to go if you want to try the best authentic Egyptian food without running the risk of food poisoning. All the branches are designed in a way to make it seem like you’re in 1950’s Egypt. All branches offer wine and beer along with an extensive shisha menu. Their ‘sharkaseya’ or ‘molokheya’ come highly recommended.
This popular chain has branches all over Cairo serving many Egyptian dishes. However, the chain gets its fame from its delicious fuul (fava beans) and falafel sandwiches. Sandwiches are very cheap, at about 2 EGP per sandwich, and filling. Those with a large appetite should try the “Dynamite Sandwich,” which has fried eggplant, fuul, falafel, potato chips, and boiled eggs – definitely not for those with a sensitive stomach.
Top Ten Places To Eat and Drink in Cairo
Located in the Kempinski Hotel in Garden City, this restaurant offers delicious Turkish cuisine. Most tables in the restaurant are semi-private, and the restaurant offers private rooms for big groups. As with all hotel restaurants, it offers an extensive wine list and has great service.
For a while, this bar and lounge was the best spot to go on weekends. The craze has died down, but it is still hard to get by Hossam Heikel a reservation here. Order a few pitchers of their delicious sangrias or try their mojitos. On the weekends, the place has a more club-like vibe. Tip for when the drunken hunger kicks in: the bar has a This historic café, located in the Khan El Khalili bazaar, is menu with delicious offerings that will definitely satisfy a must for every tourist in Cairo. The café offers seating your cravings. outside where you can watch people go on with their busy lives and be hassled by vendors trying to sell you the latest fake Rolex. They have average shisha and non-alcoholic drinks; most come here for the experience, not necessarily what the café offers. Both of these restaurants are located in the Sofitel Hotel in Zamalek. El Kebabgy offers the best grilled dishes in Cairo and some of the best bread, which is baked on the premises. Opt to sit in Le Deck where you have an almost unobstructed view of the Nile and Cairo’s skyThe Cairo Marriott, located in Zamalek, occupies the line. The best time to visit is during the day in warmer space of a historic palace. The hotel has maintained the months. palace and its famous gardens. The hotel’s gardens are the perfect spot to grab a light lunch or enjoy shisha and drinks. The best time to visit is during the day when the sun is shining. A newcomer to the Cairo scene, Bar D’o is modeled after New York’s meatpacking bars. All drinks are served in mason jars and come extra strong. Try their mojitos and Long Island Iced tea. They also offer delicious food.
Ahwet El Fishawy
Kebabgy/Le Deck Sofitel
Cairo Marriott Gardens
o you think New York is the city that never sleeps? Well, Melbourne might – on the 22nd of February, at least – give it a run for its money. On this night, the Southeast Australian city famed for its espresso coffee, skinny jeans and craft beer quite literally lights up as over half a million
food, film, art and light installations (think Times Square but cleaner and with less advertising) throughout the city’s laneways and major cultural institutions including the iconic State Library of Victoria and Flinders Street Station. Highlights include twelve hours of synchronized swimming
A(White)NightToRemember by Rupert Hiskins
people flock to its central business district from 7pm-7am for the annual White Night cultural festival. The event, in its second year, features hundreds of unique
performances at the Melbourne City Baths and a tribute to Prince’s song “Purple Rain” originally created for Paris’ Nuit Blanche by French artist Pierre Ardouvin that, true to its billing, walks you through an ultraviolet shower (umbrella provided). These magical attractions transform the face of the city and create an infectious carnivalesque atmosphere among the crowd. This was most obvious to me at three in the morning, when Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” dance was simultaneously taught to thousands in the Federation Square. Although often overshadowed by Sydney’s major tourist attractions, Melbourne has, for a long time, claimed to be the cultural capital of Australia. White Night cements this position. If the festival is not to your liking, you should try the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (the third largest in the world), the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, the Australian Open Tennis Championships or the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix. If you’re travelling to Australia and looking for a vibrant, exciting and authentic experience, come to Melbourne, Australia’s (on February 22nd) most colorful city.
Photos by Henry Tiong
Places to visit in
BEIRUT by Celine Sidani
troll along Beirut’s 4.8-kilometer Corniche for a sunny, family-friendly experience defined by palm trees, glorious views of the Mediterranean Sea, and Beirut’s landmark, Pigeons’ Rock. Along your walk, you will encounter many locals jogging, fishing, or biking with their families, as well as several street vendors selling corn and traditional kaak bread. If you’re hungry for traditional Lebanese food, you will find several restaurants to satisfy your craving, including Bay Rock Café, known for its Lebanese mezze breakfast and breathtaking views of the sea. After your stroll, stop by Movenpick Hotel & Resort for a peaceful poolside nap, a drink in its lively pool bar, or a few laps in its Olympic-size pool. Beirut’s Corniche is a great place to be active all while getting an authentic Lebanese experience and mingling with the locals.
t Zaitunay Bay, Beirut’s newest marina, one can choose from a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and bars to explore and shop for swimwear and sunglasses while marveling at Beirut’s skyline and the dozens of grand yachts lining the boardwalk. This is a great place to visit whether it be for a croissant and cappuccino at Paul’s on a quiet Sunday afternoon with your family, or for a drink or two at Mywaterfront, Zaitunay’s open-roof champagne bar, on a lively Friday night. For a casual lunch or dinner, stop by Classic Burger Joint or Cozmo Café. If you’re a seafood fan, try Babel Bay to experience a delicious fusion of Lebanese cuisine and fresh seafood. Zaitunay Bay’s lively atmosphere, scenic views, and exciting varieties make it a must-visit for anyone in Beirut.
alking through the Beirut Souks, you will be able to appreciate the beautiful juxtaposition between Lebanon’s ancient Roman ruins and the modern international designer shops, dozens of jewelry stores, and funky bars and bistros. The Beirut Souks often showcase art installations, vendor fairs, car shows, and concerts. If you get the chance, visit “Solidere,” a historical area in the souks known for its center clock tower and traditional Lebanese restaurants and shisha cafes. Right around the corner is Lebanon’s well-known Al-Omari Mosque, defined by its stunning blue dome. Stop by Balthazar for their famous “pain perdu” and The Garden for a romantic rooftop dinner surrounded by blooming flowers.
pending a semester studying jumping with excitement, and tourists abroad at Hebrew University in attempting to use their limited Hebrew Jerusalem, every day was a new abilities to make a purchase. One paradventure and a chance to meet some- ticularly busy day is Friday. When the one new, try a new food, experience sun goes down on Friday night, the a new holiday or custom, and learn Jewish Sabbath begins and almost all something new about the culture of Is- stores and shops in Jerusalem close. rael. For many Jewish families, sundown Luckily for me, there was one place also signifies the time when work must in Jerusalem where I felt I could do all cease until sundown on Saturday. It is of the above and so much more. It was traditional for Jews to have large Shabat this particular place that I could taste bat meals on Friday night and during samples of traditional Middle Eastern foods, have the opportunity to practice my Hebrew with local Israelis, and see the hustle and bustle of many Jewish men, women, and children buying groceries before Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) began. Iâ€™ve been to Jerusalem three times (the first time when I was 16) and each time I felt an increasing eagerness to come back here, to the Mahane Yehuda market place in Jerusalem, most commonly referred to as the Shuk. Every day at the Shuk is a busy day. From morning to evening, the Shuk is filled with sounds of merchants shouting Story and photo by Rebecca Cushman. out the prices of their products, children laughing and
24 the day on Saturdayâ€”and all of the cooking and preparation for the meals must be completed before sundown on Friday. So Friday afternoons are the last time to go to the Shuk, snag some good deals on fruits and vegetables, and prepare for a restful Shabbat filled with hearty meals. But more than just being a marketplace, the Shuk is a place of fellowship. Israel is a country filled with many different types of people and Jerusalem in particular is a land of people of widely varied religious affiliations, identities, languages, and beliefs. What I loved so much about the Shuk was that it was a place where all of these individual differences found a meeting point. And so for me, the Shuk was so much more than the freshly baked rugelach (chocolate pastries), the oven-baked pita bread, or the ruby red strawberries piled high. This market is a place of unity where people gather not only to admire and sample the wide array of offerings, spiritedly bargain for better prices, and leave with bags full of food, but also to share heartfelt greetings and humor without thought towards differences of religion, language, or race.
ouks are the local shops. There are gold souks, pearl souks, clothing souks, and souks with little trinkets to bring back to the family. But my favorite is definitely the spice souk. All the different spices were in their respective barrel, creating a sea of different colors and aromas waiting to be chosen, brought home, and cooked.
5 things to do in
s a coffee lover (some may even call me an addict), I felt right at home in the Emirates. Everywhere I went, I felt obligated to get some, as if with each cup I was learning more about the culture. Which is partially true. To the left is the cappuccino I got at the Emirates Palace, a ritzy hotel in Abu Dhabi. And yes, those are gold flakes sitting on the foam.
his place is huge. And by huge I mean HUGE. At full capacity this 180,000 square foot mosque can hold over 40,000 worshippers, it has 82 domes of seven different sizes and cost over 500 million USD to build. Its classic Islamic architecture is astonishing, with something breathtaking around each corner. It is, without a doubt, the number one place to visit when in Abu Dhabi. Fun fact: The call to prayer that is heard around the entire city of AD actually comes from this mosque!
hen telling my extended family of my trip to Abu Dhabi, the first response was always “Be careful,” because I was a female going to the Middle East. And I did have my reservations. Once I arrived, though, I was surprised at how western it is. As my visit progressed, I began to realize that my roommate was right. I felt more comfortable walking the streets of Abu Dhabi than I did back in New York. Another surprise was the extreme pride of the Emiratis. There were flags everywhere, on the cars, hanging from the apartment buildings, even painted on a building. Story and photos by Jennifer Foran
ne thing I hadn’t really thought of much before coming to Abu Dhabi were the sunsets. But that is surely one of the best parts. They are absolutely stunning; the sun dances across the sky creating a show each evening for all of AD (how the locals and expats refer to Abu Dhabi). Below is one of my favorite sunsets from the Corniche (a boardwalk that stretches along the Persian Gulf) with the Presidents Palace and the Emirates Palace in the background.
ASIA CLIMBING MOUNT EMEI
by Sondre Ulvund Solstad
fter a few days in the old town Dali in the very south of China, I decided to head onwards to Mount Emei. My first train brought me to the tired village of Guangtong, where I waited for the next train at a small Internet café. From there I took an overnight train out of Yunnan and into Sichuan, a province famous for its food, beauty, and mountains. I arrived at Mount Emei early Friday morning, heading straight for the mountain after dropping off most of my stuff at a hostel. Rather than taking a bus like everyone else, I walked. Walking mostly alone up the tallest of the
three holy mountains in Chinese Buddhism was tiring but also magical. In the lush and misty rainforest, my bamboo staff came to good use fending off aggressive monkeys, yet most of them were passive, preferring to observe me like I observed them. I spent the first night at the Xianfeng temple, a remote monastery with simple lodging and food. Midway on a 24 kilometer path of steep steps, the monastery did not appear to get many visitors (especially at this time of year), and I am pretty sure I was the only staying there. Exhausted both from walking and lack of sleep, I gratefully accepted the simple but tasty vegetarian dinner before falling into a deep sleep. The next day I headed onwards after saying my goodbyes at the temple, making good speed as I continued up the still very steep step. Walking Chinese mountains like Mount Emei or Mount Huang has, in my experience, been very different from walking mountains elsewhere. While in my native Norway you typically follow a simple trail and a few red “T”s painted on cliffs to mark the way, this trail in China was a paved path, sometimes with mosaics and always with steps rather than a natural incline. This certainly makes it easier to follow the path and perhaps less laborious, even if the monotony of the thousands of steps can be tiring in its own way. I continued on until I reached the Elephant Bathing Pool, a temple further up towards the summit where I stopped for a rest. I do not know the history of the temple, and I did not not think to ask the monk I spoke to there about the significance of the white elephant sculpture in the small pool. Instead, we talked about where I were from, religion in Norway (my limited language could not provide an elaborate answer), how long he had been at the temple, etc.
27 I remember his laugh the most: a full, deep, hearty laugh, even if the occasion was just that he was not able to remember an English word to prod the Chinese conversation along. I continued on, a few hours later arriving at a developed area with the last bus station before the summit. Most tourists seemed to favor going directly to this bus station an hour or so from the summit: Between leaving the low-lying areas in the morning the day before and reaching this place I had seen less than 10 other travelers, but here there were hundreds. I decided to make haste for the peak. Along the way I was again reminded of what “cheap labor” can mean, as people carried packs of cement and timber up the steep steps while there was a working (and not filled to capacity) cable car covering the same distance not too far away. The peak is covered in temples, nunneries, and monasteries, and many people at the peak were pilgrims. The weather did not permit a great view, but luckily I had arrived early enough to see the temple grounds in their entirety--the mist soon obscured much of the view. I took the quickest way possible down, arriving by bus at the hostel around sundown. After a rest I went out for some authentic Sichuan cuisine at a local restaurant, then went back to the hostel, packed my gear, and began preparing for the next day and final leg of my trip. I left next morning for the provincial capital: Chengdu.
oing to Myanmar, also known as Burma, was strange: the country only opened up to tourism in 2011. Signs sprinkle highways and towns proclaiming, “WARMLY WELCOME AND TAKE CARE OF TOURISTS,” the government’s way of letting you know you are safe, despite the criticism you might hear from famous politician and activist Aung San Suu Kyi, known locally as “The Lady.” Things are constantly changing in Myanmar: exchange rates, which hotels foreigners can stay at, cell phones prices, a road’s reliability, whether the people refer to themselves as “Myanma” or “Burmese” (technically, Burmese refers to a specific ethnic group, but the British used this term to refer to all Myanma people). The people are incredibly friendly and open to learning about other cultures and people – and they have a lot to learn. One woman told me that before the recent influx of tourists, many Myanma people believed that all white people were British. Go – you won’t regret it.
28 Photo story by Carolyn Balk.
Above: Rather than row a boat using handheld oars, the fishermen at Inle Lake use their legs – and a motion that no exercise machine I have found can simulate – to get around. Below, left: At 3:30 am in Mandalay, I woke up to go and see monks “brushing the Buddha’s teeth” at Mahamuni Pagoda. I realized in my tired daze, however, that Buddhas are not often depicted with teeth, so instead we watched monks wash and bless the Buddha. Below, upper right: Climbing Mandalay Hill is a must. Monks and students congregate to practice their English on the tourists that flock here for photos of the countryside surrounding the city. Below, lower right: Shwedagon Pagoda is the stupa of all stupas in Myanmar. It’s huge, and one can only gaze in awe at its golden beauty. Keep track of where you entered: it’s easy to get completely lost.
Facing page, from left: Tea leaf salad is one of the most common dishes in Myanmar. Served buffet style (pictured) or pre-mixed, the fermented green tea leaves come with fried garlic, toasted sesame seeds, yellow beans, and roasted peanuts, soybeans or peas. • While walking along a bridge outside Mandalay, I spotted these monks going for a dip. All Buddhist boys in Myanmar between the ages of five and twelve are required to be monks for at least one week, and they can return to being monks later in life as well, as these men did. • This woman sold savory dosas. The cream-colored thanaka on her face, common for all females and some males in Myanmar, is made of ground bark mixed with water. It is cosmetic, but is rumored to be a “natural” sunscreen.
Timeless yet timeworn, grand but intimate, oblivious to the passing centuries even as the jungle devours its huge stone walls, Angkor Wat and the scores of temples that surround it hint at eternity, only to remind us that nothing is eternal. â€“ Seth Mydans
Photo story by Lu Li.
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