Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jerusalem, Israel

The golden dome matches the golden stone.  The scene is at sunset, when Jerusalem's limestone buildings just glow.  Too bad that modern Mediterranean architecture has intruded to block a full view of the Dome of the Rock.  There oughtabe a law. . .  [2010]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Along a tidal creek in Abu Dhabi, these fishermen pull in enough to help feed their families and earn a little on the side. But, do they look like Arabs? Or, do they look like Indians (probably from southern India)? Native-born Emiratis comprise less than 20 percent of the country's population. [1992]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raqqa, Syria

Can you find the oven?  Look for the round 'black hole,' peer in, and see the glow at the bottom.  Want to be a baker?  Slap that unbaked dough on the oven's sides.  Watch it bubble and brown.  You can see the result.  In many neighborhoods, baking bread is a craft, not a manufacturing process, but neighborhood bakeries like this are fast disappearing.  [1993]

Monday, March 28, 2011

Maaloula Syria

Bread comes out of the oven steaming hot and is often carried home in plastic bags.  It must be dried, lest it turn soggy or even mold.  Every surface is a potential drying rack.  The little boy's job is done; now the adults take over; and soon the cycle repeats itself as it has for centuries.  [1996]

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hamah, Syria

Every day, mothers send their little boys to buy bread at the bakery.  It's useful work and a reminder of how important children are in traditional economies, even urban ones.  To the Christian quarter he courses home, making his way past the ancient citadel, now no more than a mound of earth cloaked in springtime green.  [1996]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Here's the essence of Amsterdam: bikes, boats, and benches along the canals. Highly compact, with little space for space-consuming automobiles, Amsterdam (at least the 'canal zone') has thrived as a green city since the 17th century. [2004]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Two Las Vegas icons:  the welcome sign and Wayne Newton. The Stardust is gone, but it is hard to imagine the City of Lights without these two sprites. Danke Schoen to both. [2001]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ġgantija,Gozo, Malta

Ġgantija takes us back 5500 years, even before Egypt's Pyramid Age began. The era was neolithic (new stone age) and the construction was megalithic (built with large stones). In 1980, these and other temples in Malta were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. [2009]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Paris, France

Guess who I saw at a bus stop in Paris?  These two were busy Americanizing the Parisian landscape.  Wedding Crashers didn't quite translate into French, so Serial Noceurs was used as the hypodermic needle to inject this very un-French film into French culture.  'Noceurs':  that was a new word to me.  Yes sir, it was!  [2005]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prague, Czech Republic

Communism fell in 1989.  Czechia and Slovakia split in 1993.  Rebuilding began.  The purpose of the rebuilding was to erase all traces of the Communist past.  Do these bricks look like erasers to you?  That's what they were in the hands of these newly independent Czechs who were busying themselves with nation-building.  [1994]

Monday, March 21, 2011

London, England, UK

For Cockneys, street food has traditionally meant jellied eel. Now, Tubby Isaacs is one of the last places you can get it (vertebrae included) in London. When this picture was taken, eels were still plentiful in the Thames. Within the past five years, however, they have become an endangered species. [2002]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bursa, Turkey

Bursa, the fourth largest city in Turkey, was an early capital of the Ottoman Empire.  It is, therefore, no surprise that its Great Mosque, or Ulu Cami, is one of the country's most magnificent and capacious.  Here, a naturally-illuminated and beautifully-carpeted alcove offers some intimate space for reading the Koran.  [2007]

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bergamo, Italy

All over the Mediterranean realm, cities have two parts, an upper city and a lower city. Can you identify the citta alta and the citta bassa here in Bergamo? [2008]

Friday, March 18, 2011

Damascus, Syria

Going somewhere?  Buy your bus ticket here.  Maybe you should learn some Arabic first, though.  Then, you can read the list of destinations on either side of the window.  Seems like this is the station for buses heading east, so don't expect to catch the coach to Tartous.  [1995]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA

Happy St. Patrick's Day. St. Patrick wouldn't recognize himself, all decked out in such splendor. "Why am I dressed in green?" he might ask. His color was actually blue, or so we are told. Green didn't become associated with the saint until the 1700s. Now, find the 3-leaf clover and answer this ridde: How is a shamrock like a pretzel? [2010]

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Luton, England, UK

St. Patrick's Day is on the way.  For a day, blue-collar Luton becomes green collar.  Do you recognize the colors of the Irish flag-cum-wig?  In England you are, but on this day, it could be Ireland.  [2009]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tel Aviv, Israel

Do you recognize that face?  Her name is a new addition to the Virginia Standards of Learning for World History.  For high school students, Golda Meir is now 'essential knowledge.'  She was born in the Russian Empire, raised in the U.S., and made aliyah in 1921.  To most Americans, she was the face of Israel in the sixties and seventies.  [2010] 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ephesus, Turkey

The best ancient Greek cities are in Turkey, not Greece, and Ephesus is one of the best. Under foot are thousands of fragments of the city's history. Some are inscribed. How many letters of our ancestor alphabet do you recognize? Do you think the apostle Paul could have read this very inscription? [2007]

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Piraeus, Greece

What has the United States contributed to civilization? Donuts: 'American Style.' Now, that's something to be proud of! What's happening here? Are Greeks lampooning Americans? And, does this donut-delivery truck provide any insight into how we are seen internationally? [2006]

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Enjoy the day in the centro historico of Guadalajara, one of the premier cities of the Americas. These tapatios (what locals call themselves) look like they are primed to build a great city into an even greater one. Jalisco's capital is Mexico's second largest city. [2007]

Friday, March 11, 2011

London, England, UK

At 52 degrees N., London is on the latitude of Labrador, yet what is growing here? Subtropical palms should not be thriving so close to the North Pole! What's responsible? The North Atlantic Drift, the associated Westerly winds, and the urban heat island produced by London. It's a climatic anomaly. [2002]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Villers-sur-Mer, France

On the zero degree meridian in France, a topiary dinosaur calls attention to the fossil-rich cliffs just outside of town. They edge La Manche, the Francophone name for the English Channel. Normandy carefully cultivates its tourist market, and what could be more inviting than a herbivore made of herbs? [2005]

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

On the 32 parallel South, it's mid-July and mid-winter in Perth: a beautiful day to play in Kings Park.  Here, a new arrival from England is being assimilated into Australian culture. Although the island continent's immigration stream has taken an Asian turn, Europe still accounts for most of the country's newcomers. [2006]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Welcome to a new 'Surfers Paradise,' an urban cove newly flooded by wifi's long waves. She has made the transition to a digital world. He can't quite give up newsprint. Otherwise, they are carbon copies of each other: computer bag, business casual, white shoes, cuppa java. They share a table, but not a word, not even a glance. [2005]

Monday, March 7, 2011

Port Royal, South Carolina, USA

Today, it is this view that draws people to Port Royal's waterfront. It is their opportunity to finish the day at a dockside restaurant, feasting on the day's catch and watching the sun go down. This harbor was one of Europe's important gateways to America. Across the water is a far more famous place, Parris Island, and Beaufort is just upriver. [2008]

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Camp Verde, Arizona, USA

The name Camp Verde, or 'green field,' should give you some idea of what the Sinagua people, ancestors of the Hopi, liked about the site. Today, Montezuma's Castle (a complete misnomer) is one of the most well-preserved cliff dwellings in the United States. But where are the green fields? [2009] 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Istanbul, Turkey

Here's your mid-morning snack in Turkey. They look like round soft pretzels with sesame seeds instead of salt. Ancestors of these very seeds (4000 years old!) have been excavated in the Indus Valley. Just think: When you eat a Whopper, your tongue takes you back to one of the world's first civilizations, a cradle of culinary ingredients we use today. [2010]

Friday, March 4, 2011

Las Palmas, Jalisco, Mexico

Sun-dried bricks see the sun once again thanks to an unwanted window that has opened up in the building's stucco shroud. Adobe, which comes to us via Spanish, is one of the dry world's oldest construction materials. [2008]

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lisbon, Portugal

Walking down many a street in Lisbon is like walking through an art gallery. The facade of almost every building is unique because it is clad with comely azulejos. They add color and symmetry to the urban landscape. Could they be yet another contribution of the Moors? [2009]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Marrakech, Morocco

Was, is, and will be:  It was a flower, it is a marketable commodity, it will be a toothpick when someone breaks off a stamen and cleans his teeth. Try it once and you will never go back to wood. The souks of Marrakech offer museum-quality glimpses into the pre-modern world. [2005]

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cardiff, Wales, UK

Yesterday, they were on the Welsh flag. Today, they are in the sky. It's St. David's Day in Cardiff, and fire-breathing Welsh dragons are everywhere. The creature that used to symbolize sin has become a nationalistic totem. Would the saint approve? [2005]