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Stories by Robert Isenberg

Wrong in Playa Flamingo

Never in my life had I imagined myself on a catamaran. Every time I pictured one, I thought of shirtless fraternity brothers and blonde girls in bikinis. I imagined a boozy spring break in Florida. ...

Bullfight in Zapote (video)

Even from the bleachers, a safe distance from the corral, the bull looked dangerously close. A sea of young men surrounded the bull, and every time the animal flinched, waves of contestants rippled away in ...

Manzanar National Historic Site, CA

When I arrived in Lone Pine, that sweet little town at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas, I planned to make a documentary about mountain climbing. I would try to climb Mt. Whitney, and I ...

New Vrindaban Community, West Virginia

You might not expect a Hare Krishna temple in the hills of West Virginia, but the New Vrindaban community has been an active spiritual retreat since 1968. I recently took a road trip with my ...

Biking in Laos

When I arrived in Laos, I was delighted to find that bicycles are cheap, easy to rent, and can ride anywhere. Finding a bike was as simple as saying to my guesthouse owner, "Bike?" The ...

Catching the Holiday Spirit: Newtown, Pennsylvania

By nature, Philadelphia is a hectic city. The people are tough. The suburbs extend forever. The highways are always congested. Plus it was Christmastime, and family obligations amplified every stressful second. Philly is not my ...

December 17, 2011
New York City, 4 a.m. – 7 a.m.

I left Boston at midnight, bound for Pittsburgh, and I knew I'd face a layover. When I ordered my Megabus tickets, I knew the first leg would only last four hours. I knew I'd have ...

November 17, 2011
Gloucester, Massachusetts

Gloucester is usually a sleepy seaside town, known for commercial fishing and tourism. But when my girlfriend and I visited our friends Courtney and Chris, who recently moved to the area, the town was thronged ...

The Real Cancun, Mexico

“It’s totally safe, man,” said Sergio as he swigged his beer bottle and sucked on a cigarette. “Women walk around at night. Kids play in the streets. No problem.” My friends in Pittsburgh were horrified ...

Truro, Nova Scotia

"Truro is a hole," scoffed Timothy, a student from Halifax. "Don't go there if you can avoid it." But somehow I ended up in Truro – twice. This grim little town was nothing more than ...

Mount Washington, New Hampshire

I'm just glad I wasn't driving. The road that snakes around Mt. Washington is narrow and terrifying. There's no guardrail to prevent cars from flying off corners and smashing down steep cliffs. Just to make ...

Bargaining in Cairo

"For you," the merchant murmured, "three hundred Egyptian pounds." I guffawed. Three hundred pounds? For a little wooden lute? I wanted the rababah, to hang on my wall back home, but I wasn't about to ...

June 9, 2010
Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.

It felt like an Ottoman bazaar: Tables and tents formed a maze of narrow walkways, and everywhere I looked, I saw jewelry and CD's and hand-spun garments. Middle-aged woman sat in lawn chairs, wearing floppy ...

June 1, 2010
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

I arrived in D.C. at 8 a.m., after a long night hunched in the seat of a Greyhound bus. Morning sunlight beamed, and as I hiked to Union Station, then to the Capitol, I realized ...

May 6, 2010
Savannah, Georgia

I was pressed for time. Only one afternoon to enjoy historic Savannah. So no museums. No carriage rides. No pints at the local pubs. Only one option: Walk around. But somehow this was enough. I ...

April 12, 2010
Polar Bear Plunge, Pittsburgh

When Bill invited me to jump in the Monongahela River, it was New Year's Eve, and I had knocked back half a bottle of champagne. "It's tomorrow morning," Bill said. "Just bring a swimsuit and ...

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Taking a much-needed break from my grandfather's funeral, I drove to Hilton Head for some sightseeing. I didn't know much about the island – only its reputation for golf courses and wealthy tourists. When I ...

The Balkans by Bus

"Just fly," my friends told me. "Or rent a car. The bus will take forever." The Balkan bus system is a confounding web of coaches and stations. Unlike in the U.S., there’s no equivalent to ...

Amsterdam, Holland

Amsterdam is a maze. Each hour, my friend Billy and I lost ourselves in alleys, canals and cobbled streets. The lanes connected at odd angles; they changed texture, defied logic. Where we expected to find ...

December 30, 2009
Sosua, Dominican Republic

"My friend, my friend!" the men called as we passed. They started as the sun rose, drifting out of their kiosks. "You are hungry, yes? Here is a menu!" "Pretty necklace for the lady?" "See ...

Dubrovnik, Croatia

"I hate Dubrovnik," my friend Amila hissed. "We go there every year. To us Bosnians, it's boring. All the tourists. Too expensive. I hate it." Perhaps. But to this American, no place is more epic, ...

221B Baker Street: Mr. Holmes, I Presume?

Like so many bookish boys, I devoured Sherlock Holmes stories. Years later, visiting my girlfriend in London, I discovered that 221B Baker Street, the detective's fabled domicile, was a "real" place. The Sherlock Holmes Museum ...

Rejuvenated Sarajevo, Bosnia

Before I visited Bosnia, I heard that Sarajevo was once revered for its beauty. Visitors were awed, during the 1984 Winter Olympics, by Sarajevo's sumptuous valleys and alpine mountains. When I visited the city in ...

November 4, 2009
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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