Aside from being politically neutral, staying out of the EU and being one of the world’s most expensive countries, Switzerland is perhaps best known for its quality of life and natural beauty. Much of this revolves around water as I discovered during several trips as a “Swiss miss.”
“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death,” wrote Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway. Observing this gory yet elegant cultural tradition in Spain, I better understood his lifelong obsession.
When Johann Strauss entitled his famous 1866 waltz “The Blue Danube,” he must have been wearing blue-tinted glasses or simply drunk. This river is no more blue than I can waltz. However, its banks are lined with magnificent buildings, charming villages and three European capitals. It also unites a formally divided continent.
Holland in the Netherlands is synonymous with tulip. This iconic flower not only is displayed in the millions there and worth billions of euros, it is responsible for the world’s first futures market.
Chicago well celebrates its Irish immigrants every year on St. Patrick’s Day but there is no place like Dublin for the occasion. Learn about Irish heritage and myths in a tale of two cities.
Some of the best memories from my university semester in Paris were from Italy. Two 20-year-old Americans on the loose in Venice, Florence and Rome led to some tall tales … literally. And Italian men lived up to their charming reputation.
Carnival is the oldest, largest party in the world, celebrated in more than 50 countries. Ironically, this pagan tradition was preserved by the Roman Catholic church … In Belgium, A + B = C as in Aalst plus Binche equals carnival.
For all of its rain, Ireland sure is sunny. It’s the friendliest country I’ve ever visited out of nearly 100 worldwide. If you think Americans are friendly, just wait until you meet the fun-loving, story-telling, joke-cracking, “craic”-making Irish. They will scoop you up in their beers, laughter and tales within minutes of meeting.
When you think of Greek cuisine, surely tzatziki, moussaka, baklava and feta cheese made in 100 ways comes to mind. But what about candied eggplant, quince marmalade, kormos me biskota, koulourakia, sage tea, cream of chestnut, glyko karydaki, halite and petimezi? Welcome to the agricultural paradise of Greece’s southern Peloponnese peninsula.
My parents, sister and I once went to Barcelona, Spain for New Year’s Eve. It was the first time all of us traveled in Europe together. And it threatened to be our last with an innocent blunder on my part.