Rivers are compelling — whether they’re slow and meandering or fast and furious. With a dual personality, rivers represent both nature and civilization. Regardless, they take you on a journey that metaphorical and literal. The above photo is the Amo River running through Florence, Italy.
Isn’t one of the reasons we travel to meet people from other cultures? It’s the best way to gain new perspectives and an appreciation of the world. Kurt and I met the woman above on a bus traveling to Marigot in St. Maarten. Friendly and helpful, she told us about a local market to visit and enlightened us on some Caribbean customs.
Rooftops have always captured my attention like these in Florence, Italy (above). Maybe it’s the expression “a roof over your head.” Perhaps it’s that you know underneath is a home or business. A rooftop represents not only shelter, but people to me.
Visegrád, Hungary, 2006. For a wedding setting, it’s hard to beat a medieval castle and citadel built in the 13th century on a high hill above the Danube River. My friend Rob and his Hungarian fiance, Kate, got married here. Most of the wedding took place at the citadel. The crumbling walls added an ancient feeling to the ceremony. At one point, Visegrád was the royal seat of Hungary, and the castle was King Matthias Corvinus’s summer abode in the earlier 1300’s.
The tour minivan emerged into what had to be an important historical area of Budapest. The view from the window closest to me was of an especially stately palace adorned with statues, gates, towers, spires — typical castle stuff. The guide began to speak, and I eagerly waited to find out what iconic Hungarian landmark I was looking at.
“There are 16 McDonalds throughout the Buda and Pest metropolitan areas,” said Gabriella, a college student from Greece, who was translating the guide’s commentary, since I was on a tour of Budapest conducted entirely in Greek.
“Huh? Are we stopping for lunch?” was my first reaction to Gabriella’s comment. However, the seriousness of her tone convinced me that this was actually an authentic cultural tidbit she was relaying. Meanwhile, the tour guide, along with the rest of the passengers consisting of Iga, a woman traveling with her seven-year-old daughter, Katerina, as well as her parents and sister, turned to assess my response. None of them spoke English. Continue reading →