Cityscape

In Praise of Spain’s Architecture

Dan Whitman

Madrid puts together immodesty and grace as few other capitals do. Everywhere are reminders that this was once an empire that vied with all others. These blend with the charm of a thousand little eateries and places to while away a spring or summer afternoon, some of them still sparkling with decorative tiles from the nineteenth century. Ingrained in the Spanish character is a certain indifference to the past, but a pattern going back 1500 years, of letting it be and encouraging it to speak for itself.

Exploring Burgundy The Province

Barbara Noe Kennedy

Burgundy’s wines are among the most celebrated in the world. Indeed, Montagny, Meursault, and Chassagne-Montrachet are just a few that demonstrate this region’s fervent devotion to terroir and tradition. I adore Burgundy’s wines. But sometimes I wonder why “Burgundy the Wine” is so much more famous than “Burgundy the Province.” Follow this itinerary revealing the charming persona of this hidden gem—its main train station is located only an hour and a half south of Paris—and you’ll see what I mean.

Spain Tourism Surge Brings Backlash From Locals

Sara White

On the walls of the grand old houses of this Balearic port which attracts millions of foreigners every year, a new kind of graffiti has flourished: "Tourists go home". Although still a minority protest, it points to tensions in Palma de Mallorca and elsewhere in Spain over rising numbers of visitors who are propelling the economy but also disrupting the lives of locals and straining services from transport to water.

In War-Torn Damascus, Syrians Flock to Burgeoning Bar Scene

John Davison

By a military checkpoint in Damascus's Old City, just a mile from the battered frontline between government and rebel-held territory, young Syrians sit on a garden wall smoking, drinking beer or soft drinks, and talking about anything but the war. It is a week night, but the Damascenes are keen to head out to a strip of new bars that have opened in the last few months -- some to socialize and others to work in the venues.

Time-Traveling in Peru: A Journey to Machu Picchu

Michael Verdirame

It is hard to say anything about Machu Picchu that has not already been said.  Discovered—or again, rediscovered—by Hiram Bingham in 1911, the site has been the subject of awe and fascination for over one hundred years.  While much about it has come to light in the last century, there is still much that is not known, and may very well never be known. Many historians believe that Machu Picchu served as a lush and secluded estate for the Incan emperor Pachucatec, though others have speculated that it served a more lofty purpose, perhaps for worshiping the Incan gods or as the end point of a religious pilgrimage.  

Report: Denmark Ranks as Happiest Nation on Earth

Philip Pullella

Denmark overtook Switzerland as the world's happiest place, according to a report on Wednesday that urged nations regardless of wealth to tackle inequality and protect the environment. The report, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, showed Syria, Afghanistan and eight sub-Saharan countries as the 10 least happy places on earth to live.

 

Asmara Survives Conflict, Seeks U.N. Accolade

Edmund Blair

In an often forgotten corner of the Horn of Africa, Eritrea's capital boasts one of the world’s finest collections of early 20th century architecture and the authorities want it declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When Italy's colonial experiment in Eritrea ended in 1941, it left behind an array of Rationalist, Futurist, Art Deco and other Modernist styles in Asmara, a city whose historic heart has changed little since the Italians lived and worked there.

Cities With Successful Public Transportation Systems (and a Few Without)

Emily Logan

Americans took a record 10.8 billion transit trips in 2014—the most in 58 years. More cities are realizing the critical role public transportation plays. In addition to getting people from point A to point B, a solid system can make an area the most sought-after neighborhood and attract talent and jobs. As buses and rails rise in popularity, cities’ individual experiences offer lots of lessons, from best practices to cautionary tales about how to build and maintain a great public transportation system. 

Balancing Fear and Freedom in Israel

Michael Verdirame

Yom Kippur will even see a complete shutdown of Tel Aviv’s airport, with no flights allowed in or out.  With all that being said, Tel Aviv and its citizens seem more concerned with quality of life—time spent socializing with friends over drinks and tanning on the beach—than the seemingly endless religious and territorial conflict that surrounds them not only in Israel, but in the entire Middle East region.

Iceland: Land of Elves, Eruptions and Economic Recovery

Michael Verdirame

To find the true initial catalyst for the increase in tourism in Iceland, one has to travel a little further back to 2008, where the default of all three of its privately-owned commercial banks caused Iceland to enter a severe economic depression for the next several years, from which it is still recovering.  According to The Economist, relative to the size of its economy, Iceland’s systemic banking collapse was the largest experienced by any country in economic history.  Like any economic crisis, the price of goods plummeted, causing the country’s initial uptick in tourism, as it became much more affordable than it had been previously. 

 

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