Andalusia: Spain’s Diamond Mine of Rich History and Dazzling Visuals

Snapper S. Ploen

Basking in a wealth of sunshine and cultural treasures, Spain’s southern Andalusia region is a diamond mine of visuals and experiences for travelers and residents alike. From the area’s colorful regional capital, Seville (Sevilla), to the more diminutive, yet no-less historic cities of Córdoba and Granada, visitors can absorb a rich history that braids together both Arabic and Roman influences with the vestiges of one of the greatest kingdoms that world has ever seen – the Spanish Empire.

La Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudi's Tribute to His Faith

Paul Fraser

Akin to Barcelona’s majesty, standing yet unfinished, just a short distance from Placa de Catalunya (the central-most point in Barcelona) is Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece, Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, or Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family. With an estimated completion date of 2026 and 130 years into construction, La Sagrada Familia, as it is more commonly known, continues to evoke a unique mix of controversy, curiosity and awe in all who lay eyes upon its lofty spires. 

An Avid Cyclist Reflects on San Francisco's Glory Days as a Bike Haven

Peter Schurmann

The recent death of an elderly Chinese pedestrian after being hit by a cyclist has intensified a long-running debate in San Francisco about street safety and the unruliness of cyclists. Or cars. Or pedestrians. The fingers are pointing in all directions, and there’s little love lost on any one side.

Weird, Wonderful Austin (With a Dash of Texas Bravado for Good Measure)

Mark Bizzell

This is not in California, but springtime off Burnett Road in Austin, Texas.  No cowboys in sight, people arrive to this particular site -- one of the many farmers’ markets that dot the city -- on bicycles and in hybrids to fill their cloth bags with fresh, local produce.  Progressive-minded Austinites embrace their uniqueness just as fiercely as the rest of the state does the cowboy myth, guns and religion.  After all, the city’s unofficial motto, “Keep Austin Weird,” can be seen in graffiti, and on T-shirts and coffee mugs.

Hell’s Kitchen, New York’s Most Eccentric Neighborhood, Is Another Victim of Overdevelopment

David Barwinski

Hell’s Kitchen, circa 2000, was perhaps the quintessential New York neighborhood.  It lacked the pristineness of the Upper East Side, the stroller barrage of the Upper West Side, the fratiness of Murray Hill, the socioeconomic gap of Chelsea, and the tourist hordes of the Village. More than 10 years later, things have changed.  And its story is New York’s story.       

Vietnam Promises ‘La Dolce Vita’ Only for Those Who Can Afford It

Nguoi Viet

It has been months since Le Thi Nu has had breakfast. A street vendor who travels around Hanoi on a bicycle selling plastic slippers, high prices have forced her to cut spending on eating, even though a baguette would cost 15 cents. Standing outside a crowded restaurant on Quan Su Street, where a bowl of soup would cost more than half her monthly income, she finds it difficult to come to terms with the spending of the rich.

New York's Ever-Changing Character: Creating a New City Experience

Carol Berens

New York City today can shock those who remember the 1970s or 80s, or even the early 2000s. Viewed as a crime-laden center, it now boasts swaths of green and corner cafés. Several decades ago, the difference between suburbs and cities was stark. Suburbs had fancy shopping malls and were perceived as clean and safe; cities, slathered with graffiti, were dangerous. The flight of the middle class from New York, as well as many urban centers, was staunched. Today, parks ring the waterfronts, bike paths parallel auto lanes, and Whole Foods and Sephora nestle in every neighborhood. After complaining about dirt and crime for so long, are we really ready for the “suburban city”?

New York vs. Chicago: Rating the Charms of the Big Apple and the Windy City

Beth Kaiserman

Two cities. One a thriving metropolis of Midwestern opportunity, the other a concrete nexus of humanity searching for answers. Chicago and New York City. Both bustling with young people full of hopes and dreams. Both attracting hoards of newcomers eager to drink craft beers in the “up-and-coming” neighborhoods on the outskirts of downtown. But each city boasts its own charms, and at least one reason why its born-and-bred citizens won’t call anywhere else home.

Why Tourists Are Flocking Back to Mexico

Louis E.V. Nevaer

Despite relentless coverage of the Mexican drug war by U.S. news media over the last several years, tourism to Mexico is rebounding strongly. Following three years of sharp decline that began in April 2009, when fears over H1N1 – the virus commonly known as “swine flu” -- effectively shut down most of the nation to foreign travel, visitors arriving in Mexico by air jumped to 22 million in 2011. That number is expected to increase again this year.

A Walk Into Brooklyn

Anna Elizabeth Mazzariello

Typical tourists rarely visit all five boroughs that comprise New York City; sightseers ascend the Empire State Building or stroll through Central Park.  Only the genuinely curious, however, will cross the East River into Brooklyn.  For some, the decision to explore Brooklyn feels overwhelming: the most populous of New York City’s boroughs and the second largest in area, with an ethnic milieu representing virtually every culture.


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