Architecture-focused travel

Leipzig, Germany

A change of pace in this historic, music-rich urban center.

Leipzig, in what was East Germany, was one of Europe’s most important music centers. I knew Felix Mendelssohn Barthody and Johann Sebastian Bach lived here. As it turns out, Clara and Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, ...

Meteora, Greece: The Old Master

A meeting with Father Pefkis.

In the mountainous interior of Greece near Meteora, gigantic granite outcroppings, most of them topped with Christian monasteries, point skyward like fingers tipped in prayer. They are a stone’s throw from the pass of Thermopylae, ...

Small-town Italy: Urbino

Urbino, a former center of culture during the Renaissance, has largely been forgotten by tourists due to its location in the Marche region of Italy. But, despite having far fewer visitors than its more glamorous ...

Cheap art in L.A.

Museum tour via Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner.

An old friend and his fiancee were flying into Los Angeles from Texas in July, on their way up to Santa Barbara. They were staying one night in L.A., and asked me to join them ...

A night at the (Chinese) opera

This Beijing performance art may be an acquired taste...

“Tonight we will see living national treasures!” our guide, Bao Chui, announced dramatically while poking his chopsticks around our noodle lunch in Beijing. To the uninitiated, the Beijing Opera can be either a dazzling visual ...

Wagner's Lucerne

This idyllic Swiss city celebrates the composer's 200th birthday.

May 22 is the bicentennial of the birth of German composer Richard Wagner. Although born 1813 in Leipzig, the operatic genius has a strong connection to Switzerland. Wagner – then Royal Saxon Court Conductor – ...

Queen Califia's Magical Circle

Take the kids to this sculpture garden in Escondido.

Thirty miles up I-15 from San Diego, in Escondido, you’ll find Queen Califia’s Magical Circle. This is the unnatural habitat of wild animals that escaped from the imagination of Niki de Saint Phalle. She’s the ...

Louisiana's Great River Road

Antebellum homes adorn the banks of the Mississippi above New Orleans.

Louisiana’s Great River Road is actually two historic corridors reaching seventy miles from New Orleans to beyond Baton Rouge on either side of the Mississippi. First Spanish, then French, and finally Creole landowners built their ...

Trip to Basel, Birthplace of LSD

Behind Basel, Switzerland’s bourgeois persona is a mind-blowing history currently experiencing its 70th anniversary. Inside the walled-off compound where multinational pharmaceutical giant Novartis (formed when Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz merged) is headquartered is a futuristic glassy-steel ...

Celebration of Life at Day of the Dead, Oaxaca

See the real Mexico in its traditions.

“The word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates ...

Ol' Tennessee Smokies

Breathtaking vistas, Southern charm, BBQ and moonshine.

Lots of tourist amenities have sprung up around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the U.S., and it’s no wonder. The stunning scenery and wildlife have attracted people to the ...

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