Sunday, August 31, 2014

South Hill, Virginia, USA

Where will you dine when Highway 58 ushers you into South Hill? At Hardee's, because you like the taste of tender goodness? Or at Horseshoe Restaurant, because you know that any place in business since the 1930s has to be good? [2013]

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Huntington, West Virginia, USA

What hungry behemoth is even bigger than Burger King? McDonald's, of course. Usually, when the arches move in, local fast-food stands go under, but here in Huntington, Frostop has weathered the attack. Its weapon: the hot dog, clad in West Virginia mail. [2013]

Friday, August 29, 2014

San Juan, Puerto Rico

What happens when communities get bitten by behemoths? Local restaurants flounder. Burger King is the second largest burger chain in the United States: When it moves in, culinary preferences change. Breaking news: Burger King has acquired Tim Horton's and is moving its headquarters to Canada. Stay tuned. [2009]

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bran, Romania

Rising above the town of Bran is Romania's most well-known habitation: Dracula's Castle. Power was exercised from the precipice here. This border fortress commands the trade route between Transylvania and Wallachia. Want to buy it? It's now for sale, but you will have to outbid the Romanian government, which sees it as a heritage resource. [2014]

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bucharest, Romania

Many of the 'hero martyrs' who gave their lives in the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 are buried in this memorial cemetery in Bucharest. For almost twenty-five years now, one grave has been tended daily by a still-heartbroken mother whose son stood up to the Communist regime and made the ultimate sacrifice. [2014]

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bucharest, Romania

Twenty-five years after the fall of Communism in Romania, both large- and small-scale capitalism is flourishing on the streets of Bucharest. Romania is classified today as a solidly upper-middle income economy. [2014]

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bucharest, Romania

Guess what the name of this piaţa was changed to in 1948 when Soviet tanks moved in? Stalin Square. In a sign of what was to come four decades later, the statue of Stalin was brought down in 1962 in the wee hours of the morning. Today, its name, Charles de Gaulle Square, reflects the historically close alliance between France and Romania. [2014]

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ruse, Bulgaria

It's early Sunday morning, and already the produce is out on Ruse's sidewalks. This shopper, though, looks like she might simply be out on a reconnaissance mission. Do you think she's sizing up the tomatoes and peppers? "Ruse," by the way, rhymes with "Do Say." [2014]

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo may be the most photogenic town in Bulgaria. But, why re-photograph what others have already documented so splendidly? We would do better to wander off the tourist circuit and see what novelties we can find to feed the camera. [2014]

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gabrovo, Bulgaria

Outside Gabrovo's Museum of Humor and Satire, you can enjoy some quixotic sculpture. Then, you can go inside and enjoy the humor of local self-deprecation: "It is said that Gabrovians fit taps to their eggs so as to be able to draw as much as is needed since putting a whole egg in the broth is sheer wastefulness." Across the river: the sports stadium. [2014]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gabrovo, Bulgaria

These Gabrovians look happy. Why shouldn't they? They've got new bikes, nice threads, and a summer at leisure. Plus, they live in Bulgaria's capital city of humor. Yes, that would be Gabrovo. So, it's good to see smiles on at least four of their faces. [2014]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gabrovo, Bulgaria

Honor your founding father.  In the case of Gabrovo, that would be the blacksmith Racho who took advantage of the falls to supply power for his bellows. Today, he stands tall and proud overlooking the rapids on the Yantra River right in the heart of town. [2014]

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Plovdiv, Bularia

Philip II has been marginalized. It's his city, but he must now be contented with a small plaza between a residential neighborhood and a park. Do you remember where he was just a few years ago? At the very center of Plovdiv, ancient Philippopolis. Why the demotion? "He's not Bulgarian," was the answer on the street! [2014]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

A hundred years ago, he would have been playing the accordion, right? But, now it's a keyboard and amplifier that allow him to bring life to Alexander-I-Battenberg Street, the pedestrian core of Plovdiv. Please don't interrupt the maestro! Unless you are going to throw a coin in his case, that is. [2014]

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

With the collapse of Communism, the architectural landscape of Bulgaria has come alive with restored churches and monasteries. The Metropolitan Church of St. Martyr Marina is one of the most important in Plovdiv. Its wooden tower, rising above the entry chapel, was restored even before the collapse of Communism: in 1953. [2014]

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Antalya, Turkey

Join the conversation. All over the world, young folks congregate in quiet corners to hash it out. What they are hashing out is the future of the world. The question for Americans is:  How does the U.S. become part of the conversation in a positive way? [2014]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Antalya, Turkey

That's likely to be a polyglot yacht. If you were eavesdropping, what languages would you hear? Turkish, for sure. But also, German, Russian and Ukrainian, and, of course, English. And, maybe, Chinese and Japanese. "The Polyglot Yacht": Sounds like the title of a poem or short story, doesn't it? [2014]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Izmir, Turkey

In the foreground: two young women have just finished fishing. In the background: two TCG vessels have just finished serving. The frigate and submarine have been decommissioned and are now museum ships. They began their lives with the United States Navy. [2014]

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Izmir, Turkey

Anyone entering Izmir from the airport comes face to face with the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The impressively large relief sculpture looks like it is carved into the rock, but it is really built over scaffolding. What does it remind you of in the United States? [2014]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gaziantep, Turkey

The citadel, or cale, of Gaziantep sits atop a strategically located hill which dominates the fertile agricultural region near the Syrian-Turkish border. It is a smaller version of the citadel in Aleppo, only 60 miles to the south. Although 'Antep' is growing apace, the city hasn't forgotten its historical resources. [2014]

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gaziantep, Turkey

Gaziantep is the queen city of baklava, sobiyet, and yaprak sobiyet. You might consider it the dessert capital of Turkey. Main ingredient?  Pistachios. Other cities are just green with envy. All over Turkey, restaurants use the name Gaziantep to brand their baklava as if it were Key Lime Pie in the United States or Bakewell Tarts in England. [2014]

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

The Asian side of the Bosphorus is largely residential. It's packed with houses jockeying for the best view of the water. Notice how the homes at sea level represent three stages of historical preservation: on the left, fully modernized; on the right, in the process of being upgraded; and in the middle, a traditional wooden structure looking for a face lift. [2014]

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

On the European side of the Bosphorus lies the historical core of Istanbul. The Topkapi Palace, residence of Ottoman sultans for 400 years, sits atop a peninsular ridge that provides an open view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the Sea of Marmara. The Justice Tower, the palace's most visible feature, enabled the sultan to keep watch over his city. [2014]

Friday, August 8, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

The Maiden's Tower is Istanbul's welcome mat for those arriving by sea. Today, it's a restaurant and café from which you can look east and see Asia, look west and see Europe, look north and see the Bosphorus, and look south and see Turkey's inland sea, the Sea of Marmara. [2014]

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Granby, Quebec, Canada

The flamingos in any zoo, including Canada's Granby Zoo, are usually given a place of prominence where everybody can see them. Do you see why? [2011]

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Havana, Cuba

The Havana Zoological Park is a popular place to spend a weekend afternoon, but many of the habitats simply have not kept pace with the times.  The water buffaloes, though, seem to be quite at home in their niche despite the algae bloom in their watering hole. [2014]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Miami, Florida, USA

The Cuban crocodile's range today is restricted to one large swamp and one large island in Cuba. Yes, it's a highly endangered species, but Zoo Miami is helping in its restoration. Perhaps to make up for its smaller size, it has evolved into one of nature's most aggressive crocodiles. [2014]

Monday, August 4, 2014

Key West, Florida, USA

Old Key West's architecture is a feast for the eyes. There are streets upon streets of 19th century houses: white, wooden, well-built, with palms and porches. Even better, they are exquisitely maintained because of the strength of the tourist economy. Many have been turned into guest houses. [2014]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Marathon, Florida, USA

At the end of the Seven Mile Bridge lies Marathon, originally nothing more than a station on Flagler's Overseas Railroad. Now, the rails are a memory, and Marathon has become a place where memories are made in settings like this. [2014]

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Key Largo, Florida, USA

Is that the man in the moon? Yes, it's Henry Flagler, builder of railroads and father or Florida. He dreamed of an overseas railroad from Miami to Key West and lived to see it finished in 1912. The attraction of Key West was its proximity to Havana (and also the aborning Panama Canal). [2014]

Friday, August 1, 2014

Key West, Florida, USA

How far is Cuba from the United States? Here's your answer: only 90 miles. Every business in The Conch Republic is hoping for a normalization of relations. A ferry could leave Key West's old harbor every morning and return from Havana every evening. [2014]