Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

The architecture tells you it's a mosque. The name – YMCA tells you it's something different. The location – West Jerusalem   suggests yet another conclusion.  Jerusalem's Y, opened in 1933, is a Christian institution in a Jewish city built to look like an Islamic masjid. Long live coexistence. [1996]

Monday, January 30, 2012

Marrakech, Morocco

The ancient minaret of the Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech towers over the medina, or old city. Minarets are the towers from which the calls to prayer are issued five times a day in the Islamic realm. Tradition holds that palm trees served as the first minarets. [2010]

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jericho, Palestine

Who was Yasser Arafat? (a) a freedom fighter, (b) a terrorist, (c) a peace maker, (d) a murderer, (e) all of the above, (f) none of the above, (g) any of the above. Discuss. [1997]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Welcome to Kensington Market in Toronto, where you can buy anything the world has to offer. But here is the official interpretation: The globe represents Canada's immigrants and the comfy kitchen chair symbolizes home. Canada makes immigrants feel at home. [2010]

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brussels, Belgium

Recycling isn't just for plastic bottles. Buildings are recycled, too. This one is a converted guild house on Brussels' central market (called the Grand Place or Grote Markt, depending on which side of the language divide you find yourself). In 1852, Victor Hugo lived here; today it is a place to buy something for which Brussels is famous, lace. [1984]

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, USA

Lincoln's theme? Unification. He held the nation together in the 19th century, when the Union prevailed over the north-south divide. And in the 20th century, the Lincoln Highway did the same thing: It prevailed over the east-west divide by uniting Atlantic and Pacific, the first motorable road to do so. Then, we get to the Lincoln penny, another unifier. [2005]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico

All over Mexico, in 3-dimensional statues and 2-dimensional murals, you find Miguel Hidalgo. He was executed in 1811 at the beginning of Mexico's struggle for independence, but Father Hidalgo created the intellectual climate that sustained the rebellion and made him the father of the nation. He is often seen holding a broken chain as a symbol of freedom. [2007]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Zagreb, Croatia

He's wearing the emblem of Communism, but he's not a Communist. So why does his shirt proclaim 'the hammer and sickle will crush the atom'? Perhaps it means nothing more than the power of the people (the workers) will triumph over powerful technologies. And, perhaps it's a little nostalgia being passed down from one generation to the next. [2008]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bangkok, Thailand

Meet Ronald McDonald, the icon of 'globalization as Westernization.' As he finds homes around the world, however, he changes: He glocalizes. Wai? So he can mingle on respectable terms with the locals. Does the world's most famous clown look like he is approaching 50? [2011]

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cardiff, Wales, UK

The tastes of winter are limited, but thanks to leeks (not to mention those close relatives lurking in the background) the Welsh are able to add some savor to the low-sun season. Anyone of Welsh heritage is already dreaming of Cawl Cennin, or leek soup, on St. David's Day, coming up on March 1. [2005]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

As you travel from Taipei in the subtropical north to Kaohsiung in the tropical south, you cross the Tropic of Cancer, the northern boundary of the tropical realm.  Can you tell you are in the wet tropics?  The only thing surprising is that it's raining hard during what is Taiwan's dry season, November, and has been for a week.  [2011]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

The Virgin of Guadalupe is brought outside for street festivals in Tijuana. That's her church in the background, but it seems like every church and every street in Mexico is hers. Since Our Lady is already in Tijuana, why don't the Mexicans just put her in charge of patrolling the border with the US? [2007]

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sofia, Bulgaria

Russian Orthodox Christians in Sofia will turn out for the blessing of the water today at St. Nikolai Church. It's the feast of Theophany, the time to celebrate Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan. And, since it's the twelfth day after Christmas in the old Julian calendar, it's also the feast of the Epiphany:  two holidays for the price of one. [2010]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Savannah, Georgia, USA

Are you a shoplifter? Half the people on Savannah's River Street are. They consume the music and enjoy it, even if only for a few minutes. Yet, they put nothing in the jar. Maybe our society needs  to come to terms with the meaning of stealing in a service economy. I wonder if this service provider auditioned for American Idol? [2012]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

There's no bilingualism on this landscape, rather a welcome sign in French only. What does it say?  "Welcome to Québec" (i.e., Ville de Québec, or Quebec City). After that, politics get involved:  Québec is proclaimed the national capital. Apparently, the Québecois are a nation of their own, independent of the Canadian nation. [2005]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Victoria, Gozo, Malta

Rock walls and terraced fields lead up to the old (3,500 years old!) fortified city of Victoria on the island of Gozo. The city is still known locally by its former name, Rabat, and at its heart is the Cathedral of the Assumption. Surrounding the cathedral like a crown of thorns are intermittent rings of paddle cactuses, imports from the Americas. [2009]

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ordino, Andorra

It's early Sunday morning and the priest is reporting for sabbath day duty at Ordino's Church of Sant Corneli i Sant Cebriá (as it would be written in the Catalan language). Entrance to the church is through a Romanesque arch, representative of the architecture for which Andorra is famous. Can you identify the keystone? [2005]

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vaduz, Liechtenstein

As colors commonly associated with royalty, the red and blue of Liechtenstein's flag signal your presence in one of the world's smallest principalities.  In fact, right there on the flag, hoisted vertically from a cottage window on the outskirts of Liechtenstein's capital, is Prince Hans Adam's crown.  [1984]

Friday, January 13, 2012

La Condamine, Monaco

Sainte Devote, a young Christian martyred by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, is the patron saint of Monaco. On a raft, her body was guided by a dove to the Monegasque coast, to the place where we find her chapel today. Devote's miracles are perhaps attested by Monaco's independence, a miracle in itself. [2008]

Thursday, January 12, 2012

St. Peter's Square, Vatican City

Pilgrims stand on St. Peters Square. Pope John Paul II stands in the window of the papal apartments to deliver a Sunday blessing. The appartamento pontificio is the official residence of the Pope, but during the summer he is likely to be at Castel Gandolfo about 15 miles outside of Rome. [2002]

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

San Marino, San Marino

What's the lesson here on the Contrada del Collegio in San Marino? Cities can serve so many more people when cars are left behind. Few realize just how much space our motor vehicles demand. On this uphill climb to the top of Mt. Titano, you could fit a dozen cars or you could turn it over to a hundred pedestrians: no fossil fuel required. [1984]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

London, England, UK

Rising in the background, almost like an apparition, is the tallest student dormitory in the world.  It's Nido Spitalfields in London's East End.  Bet your dorm didn't look like this when you were in college!  [2011]

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lidgerwood, North Dakota, USA

The railroads opened up the Great Plains, and the grain elevators gave each town an economic base, a place for farmers to bring their grain for shipping out to eastern markets. Modern economies of scale are now catching up with grain elevators in a game of 'survival of the biggest.' [2007]

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ramsey, Isle of Man

It's opening day for the new bowling alley in Ramsey, and with the alley comes a new snack bar. Though the menu is limited, the universal fast food is right there. It's like having Germany (Hamburg-er), France (French fries), and Italy (Italian pomo d'oro) rafting around the Irish Sea. [2011]

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Milan, Italy

Indo Montanelli was one of Italy's (and the world's) premier journalists, his life a record of 20th century European turmoil, much of which was given voice by his trusty Olivetti. Alas, it's the typewriter that attracts attention today. Most park visitors have never seen such a contraption. [2008]

Friday, January 6, 2012

Swansea, Wales, UK

Who am I?
I was born a child of Wales,
in Swansea, bashed by ocean swales.
In me resided poetry;
the voice I gave it made of me
a bard of some celebrity.
My name: t'was used by 'nother Dylan,
My jots inspired one famous Lennon.
Now here I sit in my home town,
Just one bronze chair to hold me down.
Or, hold me up to world renown.
Who am I?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Taipei, Taiwan

Thin-skinned dumplings are easily steamed,
like some people I know who are easily peeved.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Taipei, Taiwan

Cabbage arrives curbside right outside
The shops where inside the steamers are already steaming.
The basket that's empty will not be discarded,
But return to the country in time not retarded
For service again on morrow's good morning,
Just cycling and cycling and cycling some more-ing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Prague, Czech Republic

Bohemia no longer has a king, but it still has its capacious castle, which is patrolled by the castle guards.  Today, they protect the President of the Czech Republic.  The castle is over a thousand years old and reminds the world that Prague was one of the earliest and most powerful of the command-and-control points of the central European realm.  [1994]

Monday, January 2, 2012

Elk Horn, Iowa, USA

Where are the landmarks in your community? Or, doesn't it matter? It mattered so much to the Danes who immigrated to the Iowa prairie that they bought an 1848 windmill and moved it from Denmark to be with them in their new home, thus making their new home like their old home. [2008]

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

A Greek Orthodox priest passes from city to sanctuary. He leaves behind St. Helena Road, but he can't forget Helena and her role in reconstructing the life of Jesus in Jerusalem. Through an open door, he enters the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. His shadow follows, but the way ahead looks bright. Happy New Year! [1998]