It was likely Esther Forbes’ Johnny Tremain that turned me into a Revolutionary War-era nerd when I was in elementary school. Something about the patriotism and the coming-of-age, call-to-adventure nature of this old-school YA book made this gem of historical fiction resonate with me.
The first time I visited Toronto, the Smashing Pumpkin’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was charting and Continental Airlines was still actively losing our luggage. Needless to say, I was a kid. I remember marveling at the red brick buildings (we don’t have many of those in Hawaii) and admiring the expanse of flat land on which the city resides.
Casa Loma, the historic castle-museum and garden, was a highlight of the trip, as was a visit to see mummies at the Royal Ontario Museum and a lunch buffet in the revolving restaurant atop the CN Tower. The Ontario Festival was happening near the Medieval Times, with which I had a strange, pre-The Cable Guy fascination, as children often do.
The last time I was in Milan was also my first visit to a police station. Bag snatched after all these years of vigilantly visiting Italy, it undoubtedly yielded the most stressful night I’ve spent in the country. On the plus side, the officer said my Italian was really good.
It’s my belief that we should endeavor always to undo negative memories and refresh them with positive ones, and so I subsequently decided on a return trip to Milan for a month-long stay to better know Italy’s cosmopolitan heart. I wanted to change the narrative of my experience with the city.
It’s the 8th century BCE. Colonists have arrived in Sicily from Corinth, a city-state between Athens and Sparta, to establish settlements. On this southeastern part of the island, across the Ionian sea from the motherland, rises the great capital city of Syracuse. Allied with Corinth and Sparta, Syracuse will one day help dominate Magna Graecia, growing as large as Athens in the 5th century BCE.
There is no right way to travel.
This is what I tell people who reflexively condemn cruising as not “true travel.” It may not be the ideal method for many experienced travelers, but for others, from families to older folks, it’s a very appropriate and convenient means of seeing the world.
New Orleans is arguably the most unique city in the United States.
Settled by the French, ceded to the Spanish, turned back over to the French and eventually sold by Napoleon to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, one can get a sense of the city’s diverse background from the change in management alone. Add upon this the culture brought over by the enslaved Africans and the influence of the Native Americans and Caribbeans, and you’ve got Creole, a stew of diverse ingredients not unlike the city’s beloved gumbo.
Florence, I just can’t quit you. After an adventure in Northern Italy, Austria and Slovenia, I found myself in my favorite Italian city for the second time last year. I had already posted on many of my favorite places in Florence in my previous posts, yet, until this trip, I still hadn’t ascended the Duomo or the Campanile, nor had I been inside the Battistero. These are perhaps the most touristy of tourist things to do in the city, undoubtedly the “top attractions in Florence” (there’s a lil’ sum’n sum’n for the Google keyword crawlers #transparency).
How to build my perfect European town.
Add to one part old world history a dash of chic modernity. Let it age into a unique culture. Drizzle in a beautiful river and sprinkle with romantic night lights. Top with an epic castle. Keep cool with comfortable weather and serve at reasonable prices.
Order up: Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.