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gets it name from a brand of travel guides first printed in 1832. We follow their tradition of encouraging and supporting journeys around the world. This semester, the magazine’s spotlight on student travel emphasized longform, in depth features on topics such as the Cuban embargo. Students around the globe also contributed recommendations on where to go and what you’ll find. We hope what you read here will enrich your travels. Bon voyage!

editor-in-chief STEPHANIE ECKARDT

executive editors ALEX BRAVERMAN and SCOTT MULLEN

treasurer JESSICA WONG


creative director SHANNON LIANG

media coordinator JULIE CORBETT



middle east editors PARAMJOT KAUR JEANNIE NAM








LATIN AMERICA Flavors of Mexico City....................... 3

NORTH AMERICA If You Go To Cape Cod................... 18

Machu Picchu................................... 4

A Coastal Dweller in the Lone Star State...19

Snapshot: Moray, Peru................... 5-6

The Best Sweet Tea, Biscuits, and Gravy You’ll Ever Have.................... 20

by Yves Jean-Baptiste

by Mathilde van Tulder by Mathilde van Tulder

The Island that Time Forgot........... 7-8


by Margaret Saunders

Regions of Ecuador........................... 9 by Isabella Mejia

EUROPE Mykonos, Greece.............................10

by Willa Tellekson-Flash by Nicole Horowitz

by Aubrey Martinson

AFRICA A Day in Addis Ababa..................... 21 by Sarah Dittmore

by Vanessa Karalis

ASIA Temples (Un)touched...................... 22

by Melisa Demaestri

Snapshot: Jaipur, India.............. 23-24

by Melisa Demaestri

Gujarat and Varanasi, India............. 25

by Sophia Barnhart

Surviving Below Freezing................ 26

Las Ventanas Españolas............. 11-12 Snapshot: Bilbao, Spain............ 13-14 Long Weekend in Lisbon........... 15-16 Daydreaming in Schönbrunn Palace .. 17 by Celine Sidani

by Andrina Laura Voegele by Alice Jun by Alice Jun by Emily Liu

DEPARTURE ................................. 29 by Shannon Liang

17 18 19



26 10 25


23 25

3 7



9 4

cover: Jag Mandir, the royal family’s former summer getaway in Udaipur, western India. opposite: terraces seen from a plane in Nepal. photos by ALICE JUN illustrations by



architecture and some serious Williamsburg vibes. Another local favorite is huitlacoche, an edible and delectable fungus that grows on corn, and has been eaten in the region since the time of the Aztec Empire. Whether you decide to dine at Pujol, the two Michelin Star culinary jewel in Polanco, the poshest neighborhood, or grab tacos and quesadillas from one of the stands that line the main plaza of Coyoacán, the delegación which Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera called home, you’ll find yourself eating extremely well – maybe even in sensory overload.



nyone planning to visit Mexico should strongly consider ditching the beach for a few days for the country’s underrated giant, Mexico City. Built on the ruins of the capital of the Aztec Empire, the largest metropolis in the Americas is a hectic and contradictory place. The exquisite baroque architecture of city’s historic center contrasts sharply with the palaces of glass and steel that line Paseo de la Reforma, the city’s largest artery. Though it’s just beginning to gain recognition, Mexico City is already an international culinary capital. Fresh ingredients from nearly every single province arrive en masse to the city, which is near the geographic center of the country, every day. The different mercados and tianguis, or informal street markets, are bursts of colors and aromas where you can find produce like nowhere else on the planet. Many of the haute cuisine restaurants take inspiration from the small posts and stands that cover the streets of the city. Cactus and queso fresco tacos are found all over, but they are the best in la Colonia Roma, a neighborhood of Mexico City full of Victorian and French

left: a cactus taco with cheese and red sauce. top right: a cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) torta with pickled onion. bottom right: a green chorizo and avocado taco on a blue corn tortilla.

flavors of



achu Picchu was previously believed to be a religious complex, but most historians now agree that it was a royal estate, divided into sections for agriculture, food storage, royal and common residences, and temples. The Incas built the hilltop complex around 1450, but it was abandoned just over a century later during the Spanish Conquest. Many of the buildings have since been restored for the benefit of tourists, a project that continues to this day. Now the most well-known remnant of Incan civilization, the site sits high above Peru’s Sacred Valley at an elevation of 8,000 feet.


Sitting high on a ridge above the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the Cusco region of Peru, the terraced depressions of the ancient Moray ruins create levels that each have distinct temperature conditions. Some archaeologists think that these terraces were used to test the ideal growing conditions for different varieties of corn and other crops.



the island that time forgot by MARGARET SAUNDERS

Miami, Florida to La Habana, Cuba takes less than an hour. It’s a THE PLANE RIDE from short enough trip that the plane will fly close to the water, pure blue

with white foam, and if you look out of the window, you might not be able to distinguish the ocean from the sky. When I arrived at Aeropuerto Internacional Jose Martí, I felt dazed, like I’d traveled through dimensions in 45 minutes time. People like to revel in feelings of nostalgia when it comes to Cuba, especially people my age from America who grew up with access to computers. Those I met had no idea what a car made before 1990 looked like before seeing the 1950s era models that dominate the potholed roads of Vieja Habana, or Old Havana, one of the 15 districts that makes up the city. “This has been like a hiatus,” a fellow American student told me, echoing other travelers I met. A German couple who had traveled the whole island for three weeks noted, “Look how the children still play in the streets. And people still talk.” It was true. The world was different; Cuba was a living relic. I stayed for only a week, visiting with the purpose of conducting interviews and attending concerts as part of research for my senior thesis on Cuban rap. The trip had become necessary after I was unable to find many artists’ work online. Your average Cuban citizen does not have access to wifi and if they do, it is, as my tour guide, spoken word artist Elier “El Brujo” told me, Cuban wifi, five minutes slower than what foreigners have access to in hotels. He accompanied me to one such hotel, but with his braided hair and dirty old crocs, he was obviously not a tourist. I had to vouch for him with the concierge in my American English so they would let him stay. I stayed in a casa particular, the Cuban version of a bed and breakfast, generally consisting of one room for rent in a family home. My first two nights, I hardly slept because of the drifting noise of neighbors having conversations across their balconies and music playing all night long. I washed in an electric shower that would give me a little jolt every time I tried to adjust it, whose water pressure ranged from light sprinkle to strong drip. Buses came only every 30 minutes or so, so I would push in with the crowds and hang out of the doors just like they did. On late nights and a student budget, I opted for the less expensive carpool cabs that cost the equivalent of about one USD. On my third day, I spent three hours looking for water bottles. On my fourth day, an artist who wanted to share his music with me was unable to after we searched fruitlessly, from afternoon to night, for a store selling blank CDs. I loved it all. I thought it was exhilarating, that all of these daily inconveniences were special. They were part of what made Cuba what it was, and I appreciated it without frustration or impatience. Then again, I was only there for a week.


One of my interviews was in one of the most impoverished slums of the old part of the city, with a rapera who was 59 years old. When I asked what she thought the end of the embargo would mean for her and her music, she said, sarcastically, “Oh, is the embargo going to end? And what about the other blockade and the other? There will always be one for people like me.” Another interview I had was with a radio personality in the former Hilton Hotel. After the revolution it was renamed Hotel Habana Libre, but it still caters to the same caliber of tourists, selling them wifi cards for $10 an hour. At the end of the interview, I asked the radio personality if he wanted to tell me about anything I hadn’t asked. He didn’t speak for a while, and turned away from me to the window, looking at the homeless, sitting with bare, blackened feet against a decaying building across the way. When he spoke, it was in English and his voice was broken. He said, “I want you to understand…that the story here is of a people who have never been happy.” In Cuba, the people will tell you, everything is political. Buying fruit that isn’t fresh. Selling a painting to a foreigner who will take it with them to a country where you will never go. All political. The lives of Cubans have been dictated for almost half a century under a sanction first enacted by the American

government in the 1960s. The embargo was meant to hurt the Cuban government, but the government is still intact. Instead, the sanction has hurt the people of Cuba. Yet at the same time, the end of the embargo may not mean a thing for the Cuban people who are most in need of a revolution. Among the poorest citizens, there is little faith in American companies who have terrible track records in Latin America. Flocks of American tourists, who will want to experience the country as I did, will overwhelm an island unprepared for such an influx of visitors, demanding services that your average Cuban citizen would never even dream of having access to. The trip from La Habana, Cuba to Miami, Florida is less than hour. On the day that I made my way back to the States, we traveled on good winds, landing after only 30 minutes. Enough time to travel back between dimensions. But I felt somewhat shell-shocked when I arrived in Miami International, all shiny and metallic and new. Beautiful, well cared for, and an entirely different world than the country only an hour away. I thought about the week and about my goodbye with El Brujo at the airport. “Crazy girl,” he said. “I am so proud of the way you integrated. You lived as a Cuban. But you didn’t suffer as a Cuban. And now, the reality is that you’ll go and I’ll stay.”



South of Colombia and north of Peru lies the small but diverse country of Ecuador, made up of four main geographical regions that span beaches, snow-covered peaks, and tropical rainforest. With the US dollar as its national currency, it’s a destination that’s affordable and convenient for American travelers.


he Insular region is made up of the Galápagos Islands, located about 600 miles from the mainland. The islands are a hotspot of biodiversity, and are well-known thanks to Charles Darwin, who studied the archipelago’s plants and animals extensively. Some notable residents include giant Galápagos tortoises, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, Galápagos sea lions, Darwin’s famous finches, and many more unique species. The Galápagos is an important national park and marine reserve, as its scientific value is immeasurable. Sadly, due to poor management and an increase in tourism and other recreational activities as sources of income, the islands are quickly deteriorating. Human impact is taking its toll on the fragile ecosystem, and all travelers should be extremely considerate of their activities on the islands to minimize any possible negative effects.


est of the Andes mountain range, the coastal region is Ecuador’s most fertile, growing the country’s cash crops like rice, bananas, coffee, and cacao. The tropical climate can best be enjoyed on the beautiful Pacific beaches, the best of which are in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabí. It’s also home to Guayaquil, the country’s largest city and most important port. The coastal region is filled with beautiful scenery, and fresh seafood is plentiful. Common and delicious dishes include ceviche (raw cured fish) and encebollado (fish stew).



he Sierra, or highlands, has a dry, temperate climate and encompasses the Andean mountains. Its provinces are at extremely high altitudes, so visitors need to allow their bodies a few days without much physical activity to adapt to the reduced oxygen levels in the air. The country’s capital, Quito, is 9,350 feet above sea level in the province of Pichincha, and is the highest capital city in the world. Quito has a beautiful historic downtown with gilded churches. The Sierra is the location of many of the country’s volcanoes, and all of its perennially snow-covered peaks. It’s also home to a large indigenous population, as well as their artisanal markets, the largest of which is in the city of Otavalo. The Sierra has a distinct cuisine which consists largely of dishes of pork, beef, grains, potatoes, and corn. Adventurous visitors can try cuy, or guinea pig, and fritada, a fried pork dish, both of which are traditional Ecuadorian dishes.


l Oriente, or the Amazonas region, consists of Amazonian jungle provinces and has many national parks and indigenous zones. It’s the home of many of Ecuador’s original peoples, including the Shuar and Huaorani, and numerous other tribes that live deep within the rainforest. The area is rich in oil and has been extensively exploited, as it is one of the country’s biggest sources of income. Large oil companies have caused extensive amounts of destruction to the jungle, which has led to natural catastrophes and irreparable damages.




salty breeze rolls past sleepy sheep farms and untouched patches of wild flowers, slapping the shutters of our window shut as Sophia, our maid, beats a rug outside the door of our small hotel. It is April in Mykonos and all is still. “Today, the weather will be good,” Bobby, our hotel manager, predicts – just as he did the day before and just as he will continue to do for each day to come. Our arrival initiates stares that quickly turn to smiles, waves, and beckonings. We are few but we symbolize many. We are the first tourists of the season. Here, life is sweet and simple. But it became a little less so when Jackie Onassis arrived by boat and set foot on the rickety wood of the isle’s port in 1961. The wood is long gone, as the old port was expanded to accommodate the masses of travelers that flood in each day of “tourist season,” which spans from late May to early November. An island of 11,000 residents, Mykonos hosts approximately 50,000 vacationers during the summer months. Celebrities from Madonna to Roberto Cavalli have called it paradise, building seaside homes and Mykonos’ status as a European destination. While its environs are nothing short of breathtaking, it’s this glamour and luxury that set Mykonos apart from most other Greek islands today. When taking a pic-

ture, we notice a laden clothes line rippling through the wind above a Hermès store. This is the Mykonian dichotomy. As the whitewashed walls of Athens diminish slowly into a crisis, the façades and sidewalks of Mykonos grow whiter as shop owners and residents alike spend their pre-season days meticulously repainting. The streets remain reserved for local traffic, so driving our rental ATVs was surprisingly safe. When one of them breaks down, a local farmer named Yanni comes to our aid, followed by a flock of his sheep. Before long, we are riding further along the quiet seascape. It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks, Yanni and his sheep may be fixing more than one broken ATV. The streets will begin to crowd. The silence will be broken by bustling vehicles on their way to crowded beaches and parties. The word “cosmopolitan” will replace the word “quaint.” This cycle repeats itself year after year. When Bobby drives us to our ferry at the end of our journey and tells us matter-of-factly to call him next time we are in Mykonos, we suddenly understand that we are part of this cycle. Despite the economic struggle felt by so many in Greece, Bobby will continue to pick up new visitors from each arriving ferry, Yanni will walk his sheep to graze each morning, and life in Mykonos will move forward.


las ventanas espa単olas photos of Spain by MELISA DEMAESTRI

top left: Segovia. top right: Madrid. bottom: Bilbao. opposite page, top: Bilbao. bottom left: Bermeo. bottom right: Madrid.


Customers browse a wide selection of meats, sausages, and cheeses at a butcher shop and deli in Bilbao. The city is part of the Basque Country of northern Spain and southwestern France, which is the native home of the Basque people, or Euskaldunak. The Spanish regions were granted some autonomy in the late 1970s.




fter checking into your hostel, find the nearest lookout point and get a lay of the land. Then start your day with a walking tour around historic Lisbon, starting in Bairro Alto (the city’s highest district) and making your way down through the theater district of Chiado to Baixa’s Rossio Square.

Make sure to see: • Praça Luis de Camões Square, a fun plaza in the center of everything; also where you can catch the Tram 28. • Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, a beautiful opera house rebuilt after the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake. • Elevador de Santa Justa (Carmo Lift), a massive elevator that lifts visitors for a panoramic view of the city. • Igreja do Carmo (Carmo Convent), the remnants of a Gothic church destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.


• Elevador da Glória, a graffitied funicular on a huge hill that has trams running up and down. • Fado Vadio, a famous graffiti mural done by a group of artists as a tribute to fado, a beloved type of Portuguese music. For lunch, grab a bifana, a typical Portuguese sandwich that street vendors all around sell for cheap. Don’t forget to ask for queijo, or cheese. If you’re thirsty, try some ginja – a sweet cherry liqueur unique to Portugal. It’s served in chocolate cups at Ginginha do Carmo, about a euro a pop. Spend the afternoon strolling the streets or visiting one of Lisbon’s many beautiful lookouts. Most of these spots have cafés overlooking the Tagus River. For dinner, try bacalhau, a typical Portuguese dish with cod prepared whichever way you’d like. Portugal is renowned for its seafood. If you’re looking to check out Lisbon’s nightlife, Bairro Alto is Lisbon’s liveliest neighborhood, dotted with tons of fun and quirky bars.


rab breakfast at a local pastry shop, then find the closest tram stop and hop on the uphill Tram 28. Ask the operator to let you off at the Feira da Ladra, or flea market. Lisbon’s flea market is a real treasure, with a view of the river as a backdrop. Spend your morning strolling among the vendors and checking out what the market has to offer. Take the tram or walk back down the hill to the train station. Catch the next train to Sintra. It’s only five euros both ways for a trip that’s essential, even if your time in Lisbon is limited. Try your best to see: • Castle of the Moors, a medieval castle perched on another hilltop. • Quinta da Regaleira, a palace in the woods with a chapel and mystical park that has tunnels leading to a lake, a cave, and an initiation well. • Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe and a breathtaking place to watch the sunset. While it’s easy to spend the entire day in Sintra, do try to leave some time to visit Cascais, one of Portugal’s most charming beach towns. One option is to visit the Bay of Cascais after watching the sunset over the Cabo da Roca, and enjoy the nightlife at the beachfront. When you’re finally ready to go, simply hop on the train back to Lisbon from either Sintra or Cascais. Finish your evening by catching a fado show. In Lisbon, a solo fado performer combines the emotion of operatic singing with the soothing lullabies of acoustic guitar. But keep in mind that many fado performances require an included dinner, which can get pricey quickly. Instead, ask the host at your hostel for a local spot that only requires the purchase of a drink as admission.


ent a bicycle and ride west from the riverfront toward Belém. As you ride along the Tagus River, stop every now and then to soak in the views at sightseeing points such as:

With a happy heart and full stomach, bike back toward Lisbon. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon at one of Lisbon’s many wonderful museums, dedicated to topics like ancient art, tiles, and fado.

• 25 de Abril Bridge, a beautiful bridge with a striking resemblance to San Francisco’s Golden Gate. • Torre de Belém, a massive tower that used to be part of the military defense system, but now provides a lovely view over the river. • Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument on the riverbank celebrating the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

Before it gets too late, head up to Castelo de São Jorge to watch the sunset on one of Lisbon’s highest hills, ending your trip with one last sun-drenched view of the city.

After biking around Belém, grab a bite at Belém’s crown jewel, Pastéis de Belém. Pastéis de nata are custard tart pastries famous in Portugal, which pair perfectly with coffee or juice. The line will seem daunting, but by now they’ve nailed down a system that will have you in and out in 15 minutes or less.

For dinner, an absolute must is Restaurante Cabacas, a little hole in the wall establishment in Bairro Alto. There, order their famous naco na pedra, which means “steak on a stone.” You cook your meat yourself on a hot stone brought to you, and it comes with dipping sauces and fried potatoes.


daydreaming in


his one would be mine,” my friend said eagerly, pointing to a velvet-covered king-sized bed protected behind glass. It was covered in intricate, golden stitches across a deep red cloth that mimicked the embroidery patterns on the surrounding walls. My eyes skimmed the plaque that hung on the glass and landed on two words: Rich Bedroom. I wouldn’t mind sleeping on the hardwood floor if I got to say that I slept in Empress Maria Theresa’s bedroom, I thought. I slipped my camera out of my purse to sneak a quick picture of what I later learned was the only surviving bed of the Habsburg Monarchy. My attempt at photography was met with snarls and shaking heads from at least three security guards dressed in black whom I had mistaken for a few of the hundreds of tourists surrounding me. After almost five minutes of pressing our noses to the glass to get a better view of the pillows, my friends and I finally began to make our way towards the next of the 50 rooms that are open to the public out of the 1,441 that make up Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace. I would have been more than satisfied with seeing only one room in the 18th-century, crystal-chandelier-dotted imperial heaven, even just the tiny bathroom that once belonged to Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph I until his death in 1916. Walking past the emperor’s bathroom, I learned that as a strict Catholic, Franz Joseph I began his days promptly at 4 a.m. by performing his morning ablutions and praying on his prayer stool. Walking through the Schönbrunn Palace was like reading a more colorful version of my high school history textbook. Located less than five miles from the center of Vienna, the Baroque-style palace and its extensive, colorful gardens and mazes span over 400 acres. Before it became state-owned at the end of the Habsburg rule in 1918, the Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence

of the imperial Habsburg family, which included Empress Maria Theresa, her husband Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor, and their 16 children. I pressed play on my audio guide and turned the corner to find a rectangular dining room table covered in a sleek, white cloth and surrounded by red and gold chairs. The voice through my headphones informed me that while gourmet French cuisine was served at formal dinners, the imperial family ate traditional Viennese dishes at casual meals, as if it could hear my stomach begging for some Viennese spätzle. I couldn’t help but envision the Emperor and Empress, dressed from head to toe in the most expensive laces and linens, stuffing their faces with Wiener Schnitzel and beef goulash, their silky white bibs dripping with sauce. Our next stop was a massive room adorned with chandeliers and wall sconces. The Great Gallery’s spacious and vacant interior called for a dance party, and I had the urge to take my boots off and glide across the room’s polished floors. It turns out that the urge to dance was valid – the Great Gallery was once used for royal balls, banquets, and receptions. Even with electricity and stampedes of tourists, the Schönbrunn Palace still has its majestic charm. Schnitzel on ornamented porcelain plates is no longer served in the Marie Antoinette Room, and I will never be invited to waltz across the Great Gallery with Emperor Franz Joseph in a voluminous ball gown. But I would come back any afternoon, just to pretend that everything was how it once was – to lose myself in an imperial daydream.


If you go to Cape Cod... by WILLA TELLEKSON-FLASH


ou need a break from the muggy, humid heat of New England summers, so you bear the five miles of traffic leading to the Cape Cod Coastline’s Sagamore Bridge on a Friday afternoon. Don’t let the traffic deter you – with about 500 miles of coast, there is plenty of beach to go around. You have a choice of 15 towns, but you settle on the Lower Cape. Known for their idyllic lighthouses, sandy beaches, and old New England charm, towns like Chatham and Harwich draw vacationers from all over. Once you’ve arrived, you won’t have to venture very far. With 22 miles of bike paths, many forgo their cars in favor of bicycles. After the drive, you’ll probably want ice cream. Be sure to stop by Sundae School in Harwich Port, which has been serving homemade ice cream for nearly 40 years. Try a local flavor, like Bass River Mud (coffee ice cream with roasted almonds, chocolate chunks, and fudge stripes) or a classic like Oreo Crunch. If you’re feeling indulgent, order the signature hot fudge sundae with fresh whipped cream or marshmallow sauce. If the weather cooperates, maximize your time on the sand. Head first to Lighthouse Beach, located half a mile

outside of Downtown Chatham. A grand lighthouse will let you know you’ve arrived. You won’t find a snack bar or onsite bathrooms, but that’s what makes it a true Cape Cod beach. As it’s one of the largest beaches on the Cape, you’ll have plenty of space to set up your umbrella and picnic. Look for seals playing in the surf right in front of you, or walk further down to South Beach – inaccessible by car – for a more remote experience. After a long day, enjoy local seafood. The Chatham Pier Fish Market offers plates of freshly fried fish, clams, and shrimp. If you’re a lobster fan, don’t pass up the opportunity to try the lobster roll, served with thickly cut french fries. Once the sun has set, check out one of the Cape Cod Baseball League games. Bring a picnic blanket and sit on the grass at Veteran’s Field, found just off Main Street. The league is the most respected amateur summer league in the nation and dates back to 1885. The players still use wooden bats and many go on to become Major League Baseball stars – alumni include Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira, and Tim Lincecum. If you’re in the mood to see a movie, venture out to Wellfleet. Its drive-in the-

atre is the only on the Cape, and offers a double feature every night from late May to mid September. Turn your car radio to the right station, roll down the windows, and enjoy a view of the stars on-screen and in the sky. Before you go, be sure to stop at the Chatham Candy Manor to grab homemade fudge and saltwater taffy for the drive home. Drive back towards Route 6 through Harwich Port so that you don’t miss the views of scenic Saquatucket and Wychmere Harbor or the opportunity to drive by one of the Cape’s functioning cranberry bogs. It’ll be hard to leave the no-frills beaches and fresh seafood behind come Sunday evening, but keep in mind – you can always come back next Friday.


a coastal dweller meets the lone star state by NICOLE HOROWITZ


little after 2 p.m. on a Monday, I find myself drifting drowsily toward an out-of-sight informational film and thinking, “God, I’m in love.” I’m in the visitor center of Austin, Texas – a place that’s all wood and bolts, most of which have been fastened into the shape of the emblematic Lone Star. I’m lulled toward the recorded voice of Matthew McConaughey as he narrates a film on the virtues of the Capitol building (“taller than our nation’s Capitol!”), which I can see through a nearby window. Though it’s 38 degrees outside and I’ve just driven three hours from Houston, I’m pleased as punch and under no delusions about it. Americans tend to believe we exist at the center of the world, that our land was forged close to the fires of some almighty being, and being brought up so close to the hot flame has emboldened us with the power to wield it; to live life loudly, largely, unabashedly. Travel is touted as the antidote to this syndrome. Hop on a plane, step off the continent, and you’ll find freedom from the oppression of a close-minded upbringing and the “American Way.” And I must say, I’ve taken that to heart. For me, travel is akin to rampage: landing in a place and going for broke absorbing the ways of the people and the land,


spurred by my underlying belief that the more unfamiliar, the better. So I’ve spent my life avoiding places like Texas. Born near the shores of Southern California beaches and college-educated in the booming Manhattan chaos, I felt like I understood all the “good parts” of American culture. Everything left was the flyover states. But with college graduation looming, I decided to take a road trip to visit a friend at Rice University. I set off with a high school friend, a hybrid SUV, and a week to burn. Our destination: Houston, Texas. The beating heart of the South.

As we broke east, travelling peacefully along the I-10, a change overtook us. The speed limit rose as the bloodred sunset fell and the mountains flattened out to sandy cliffs, leaving me feeling like a stranger, a Yankee washed

up on the cliffs of desert. Was this really America? My home and country? When we crossed the border from New Mexico into El Paso on a freeway, suddenly six lanes wide with large red, white, and blue signage suggesting, “Drive Friendly – The Texas Way,” I knew I was out of my element. Over the next week, I filled my days travelling down lanes peppered with 20-foot tall oak trees, shoveling down Tex-Mex of varying quality, getting lost in Super Targets and staring down the Spec’s rabbit as I bought booze from this well-loved liquor establishment. But I also spent time in the Rothko chapel, eating food-truck doughnuts in a park in Austin, and strolling down college campuses. All of these things, though strange and confusing to my eyes and ears, are components of a Texas life lived with a prickly pride and graceful bravado the likes of which I’ve never experienced. The Texas spirit is hard to come by in our post-9/11 world. New Yorkers don’t love their landmarks the way Texans do. Californians don’t love their climate like Texans do. Americans don’t even love America the way Texans love Texas. But who are Texans? Far from the stereotypical string of cowboy towns, the population of modern Texas is on

the rise, with an upswing in minorities and major urban growth in Austin, Dallas, and Houston. In this new Texas, the cultural landscape is one in which freedom and self-expression are often encouraged (hence “keep Austin weird”). The change may be coming slowly, but it’s coming all the same. As I sit on the stone steps of the Capitol eating a messy taco from Torchy’s, I realize that there is a unique sense of pride here. Texans are excited and proud that you’ve made it to Texas. You are in a promised land of oil and stars and desert and cowboy boots and Whataburgers, and the people want you to know that. The place takes a part of you through this feverish pride, stamping your soul with the shape of a bright, shining lone star. Suddenly you’re speaking in a Southern drawl, and hey, you deal with it, because taking a cultural dive in, wherever you find yourself, is the key to travelling to the fullest.

the best

you’ll ever have


My sincerest apologies to your grandmother, but I believe I have found the best sweet tea, biscuits, and gravy in the universe. This meal goes beyond tasty food – it is a unique, all-American experience.


he Mabry Mill is tucked away along the Blue Ridge Parkway and rooted in Virginian history. The only way to get to this historic site and restaurant is along the parkway, a scenic highway built in 1935 as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, giving awe-inspiring views of the lush, grand mountains of Virginia. The gristmill – a place that grinds grain into flour – was built by Edwin Boston Mabry in 1910 and includes a blacksmith shop, a one-room cabin, a bark mill, a sorghum mill, and an old-time whiskey still.

Not only can you geek out about its history, but you can also enjoy what the restored and fully functional gristmill has to offer: carbs! A minute’s walk away from the mill is the Mabry Mill Restaurant, which offers homemade southern comfort food freshly prepared from mill’s products. You may be enticed by the cornmeal, buckwheat, and sweet potato pancakes – as you should be – but what you really should go for are the biscuits and gravy. You’ll get two homemade, fluffy,

buttery biscuits with flour from the gristmill, bathed in plenty of creamy, peppery gravy that perfectly compliments a pile of seasoned, savory sausage. The only drink that matters in the South is sweet tea, and here you can guarantee a tall, sugary, freshly brewed glass to wash down the goodness of your biscuits and gravy. You’ll leave with a full stomach and a full mind of American industrial history.


a day in

Addis Ababa



get exhausted quickly when I weave my way through the center of Addis Ababa. My legs get sore, my tummy aches, and my eyes droop. Navigating the crowded streets, I am overwhelmed by the smell of feces. On my way from the bus stop, I pass a man balancing a head full of CDs who tries to convince me I need some traditional Ethiopian music. I turn away only to see another man two feet away rushing towards me with his pile of discs. I flash a weak smile and continue up the street, ignoring the voices calling at me in English and Amharic, trying to get my attention. I stop at the corner where two women sit every day selling tissues, pens, cigarettes, and lighters. I grab two packs of tissues, hand one of them five birr, and tell her to keep the change, equivalent to half a penny. Her eyes widen and she stammers a thank you as I walk away. As I approach the 20 minibuses parked along the street, I pass a man preaching Christian Orthodoxy and asking for money. I hear a call for Madenellum and crawl into the only open seat in the back of his bus. I settle in between a man who’s grinning and a woman in a long-sleeved shirt, a floor-length skirt, and a scarf covering her hair. She smiles at me and says something in Amharic to her friend. They giggle and steal periodic glances in my direction. Two seats in front of me, a young couple coos at their new baby. It’s a long drive, so I immediately direct my eyes out the window. Wealthier women walk with umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. Young boys whip lazy cows and sheep that refuse to move. I feel a tap on my shoulder and hand two birr to the boy standing and yelling our destination out the window. The bus in front of us starts honking at sheep blocking the road. Our driver joins the clamor until one of the herders grabs the slowest sheep’s back legs and uses the animal like a wheelbarrow to clear the rest out of the street. Two more passengers climb into the bus while we watch the scene, making the 11-passenger van now at 15.


I get out in Madenellum and see the same man who hangs out at the station every day. He wheels an old woman in a wheelchair towards me. She holds her hand and looks longingly towards my purse, which I hold close to my chest. Behind her I can see the boy in the sweatshirt and the man with the robes that ask me for money every day. They watch me talk to the woman, hoping today will be the day I give in and take out my wallet. A few more minibuses arrive and I jump in one when I hear calls of “Asko.” I spend the drive counting the number of shops and cafés I recognize, adding to my mental list. I know when we’re getting close because the traffic slows and the road construction starts. We make it through the gravel stretch and drive for less than a minute on the few feet of pavement that have been laid in the last four months. We roll to a stop and unload at the gas station, and I start walking home. A group of teenage boys walking the other way tell me they love me and that they see me in their dreams. I keep walking with an exhausted smile plastered on my face as my biggest fan sings, “My wife! Just one kiss! Please! Please!” I continue up the hill, rounding another corner to see a group of school children playing a version of tetherball that uses feet instead of hands. They notice me and one of the boys waves and recites, “Hello Sarah, how are you?” His friends ask my name as they do every day. “Sarah,” I reply. They all giggle and repeat it to one another. I look up and see my bedroom window. I rush to the gates and pull them open, finally reaching the sanctuary of home. Inside, 15 faces turn toward me. “Miss! Miss!” the five year olds call, surrounding me with hugs and singing the songs I’ve taught them. I had been planning to take a nap, but instead I sink to the floor and spend the next half hour singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”



efore me, thousands of Buddhist temples and pagodas dotted a plain drenched in the vivid oranges and pinks of a tropical sunset, their domes and peaks jutting up from between scattered trees. In my short 19 years on this planet, I’ve seen quite a few colorful places, from the canyons of Arizona to the deep blue water and white sand beaches of the tropics. But nothing has ever taken my breath away quite like the view I had sitting on the highest ledge of the biggest temple in Bagan, Myanmar. Earlier in the day, I had visited many of the temples, though they were only a handful of the 2,200 that remain of the Pagan kingdom’s original 10,000-plus.They looked plain from the outside, but stepping inside revealed intricate decorations of symbols and Burmese scripture, sometimes in vivid colors, other times merely carved into the stone walls. Some housed huge Buddha statues and secret prayer chambers, while others simply had one vast chamber, kept surprisingly cool by the architecture despite the sweltering heat outside. Perhaps most unique about the temples in Myanmar compared to other destinations was the lack of security or barriers of any kind. You could take as many photos as you wanted, even touch the walls without anyone stopping you. Nothing was behind a red silk rope or glass, and there were no guards or admission fees. Still, the people are respectful of the history and culture that these temples represent, and everything is wonderfully


preserved. Vandalism, my guide explained, is simply not an issue in Myanmar. Myanmar – also called Burma – has only been open to the rest of the world since 2011, when the military government, which had kept it under strict control and isolation from the rest of the world for almost half a century, collapsed. Tourism to the southeast Asian nation has been slow to grow and is not yet seen as an industry, but rather as a way for the locals to share their culture and to learn about the world at large. Never in my travels have I had so many locals approach me and try to interact with me – not by attempting to sell me things, but by attempting to talk to me and learn from me. Children would bravely run up to me and my mother and touch us, giggling and flashing innocent, excited smiles. Many had never seen a white person before, and I spotted a few teenagers surreptitiously snapping pictures of us. Everyone I met was curious, friendly, open-minded, and welcoming. Sitting on the highest ledge of the biggest temple in Bagan, I couldn’t help but wonder if, as the nation changes and interacts with the rest of the world, my next visit would find me looking at the centuries-old carvings through a glass wall. Yet at least its largely untouched culture, landscapes, and monuments will be shared with the rest of the world.




A man climbs out of the 500-year-old Panna Meena ka Kund stepwell near Jaipur. The well, one of many throughout India, offers people a place to gather, swim, collect water, and escape the intense summer heat.


GUJARAT, INDIA An Agariya woman harvests salt in a small, family-owned salt pan in Gujarat known as the Little Rann of Kutch. The Agariya are a people who migrate from villages bordering the Thar Desert to spend eight months out of every year harvesting salt. It is back-breaking work in extreme conditions, and the average Agariya only lives around 40-50 years.

VARANASI, INDIA A young boy watches as local men row past a ghat, or set of steps that leads into water, on the Ganges River in Varanasi. For Hindus, the Ganges is the most sacred river in the world, and Varanasi is the most sacred city. Hindus from all over the world come to Varanasi to bathe in the river, conduct religious ceremonies, and cremate their dead.




freezing E

very winter, artisans in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin carve ice sculptures that are displayed from January to March. Ranging from ice fortresses to mazes, the sculptures make Elsa’s ice castle pale in comparison. Their charm comes after sunset, when each carving illuminates the night in a cascade of colors. Before you pack your bags and camera to check out the biggest ice sculpture festival in the world, I must warn you that Harbin isn’t nicknamed the Ice City without cause. Its winters are brutal. The average daily temperature is -20°F, the river is a frozen mass that you can cross on foot, and no matter how many layers you wear, you will never be warm. After your visit, you’ll bless New York winters. So, fellow traveler, if you’re still interested in seeing the Snow and Ice Festival, allow me to impart these words of wisdom.



Take advantage of the warming centers. The festival has small buildings that provide heat and food. Stay out in the elements for no longer than 20 minutes at a time, and then recuperate indoors. Repeat until you’ve had your fill of the festival.


The parts of your body that will get the coldest will be your hands and feet. Layer up with fuzzy socks, warm boots, and gloves that actually protect you from the cold. Do not wear leather.


Reserve a cab through a cab or travel agency. If you do not speak Chinese, ask your hotel’s reception to do it for you. Cabs are extremely difficult to hail at the festival, and you do not want to spend another hour in the cold trying to find one.


Wear a face mask if you don’t want to end up with frozen cheeks, windburn, and an ugly rash. Scarves also work as long as they cover your face.


Bring portable chargers. Sub-freezing temperatures are not friendly with technology. When I was at the festival, I had to refrain from checking my phone – every time I did, my battery would lose 20 percent.


Keep your camera battery warm and bring spares. Like your cell phone, your battery will die quickly, even if you charged it the day before.


Heating packs are your best friends. Stick them in your shoes, gloves, and pants to retain some warmth.


DEPARTURE I always draw when I travel. Spending the time to copy down the details of a place into my sketchbook helps me develop a more complex memory of what it felt like to be in that place. It’s like taking a photo – but more drawn-out.

BAEDEKER is the student travel magazine of NYU. All Rights reserved. Š 2015

Profile for Baedeker Travel Magazine

Baedeker Spring 2015  

Baedeker Spring 2015