Spain Without a Map: The Matarranya

I pull the car to a screeching halt, and hop out to take in this moment. After an hour or so of fairly uneventful driving from Valencia heading north, the landscapes begin to reveal the first of many medieval hilltop villages and I capture a few shots with my camera before continuing on. A short […]

Arabic Calligraphy – A Tangible Culture

Arabic is spoken by about half a billion people around the world and is the language of the Islamic religion – from Jakharta to Casablanca, the reading of the Qu’ran and prayers are in Arabic. Muslims revere the Qu’ran as the literal word of God as recited to the Prophet Muhammad, so the written book […]

May The Cork Be With You

Olive oil, wine, and cork.  Lots of cork.  I know of few places whose story can be so thoroughly woven together by and distilled down to such spare components. Portugal’s Alentejo region is these things and more. But trying to describe this region beyond these finite products is for me a futile exercise. As with […]

In Cod We Trust

Some foods are so intrinsically tied to a place that often they shed a light on its past vicissitude much better than any museums or monuments. One of them is cod: the consumption of this fish is widespread across several continents, from Russia, to Western Africa, from the Caribbean to England, to the point that […]

X Marks the Spot

In good news, the world of travel is moving towards a greener, cleaner way of sashaying across the globe.  Trufflepig is right in the scrum on these efforts. We are tickled pink that whatever momentum Al Gore attempted, Greta Thurnberg is striking into a butterfly effect. But this is not an article about environmentalism or […]

The New Colossus

I spent a lot of time in China in the early 2000’s, trying to make up for an overly euro-centric upbringing. I knew there was a world I’d overlooked, and hadn’t been taught about in school, a missing hemisphere. I’d read books like Ernst Gombrich’s History of Art which ignored the “East” side of the […]

Get Back – 15 ways my heart aches for Andalucia

Something’s afoot in Andalucía, Spain’s deep south.  First it started with the discovery of an Almohad-era Muslim Hammam in one of Sevilla’s most iconic tapas bars.  Then, just last week in the nearby town of Utrera, reports came in that archeologists had unearthed one of the largest and best preserved medieval Jewish synagogues in the […]

The Man with the Donkey

Last November between lockdowns, I made it down to Turkey for a glorious trip accentuated by a moment of pure serendipity. Making my way down the Aegean coast, I was in touch with a friend back home, and let him know I was headed to the Troy/Gallipoli area, known as Çanakkale – a place I’d […]

Priorat Priorities

I’ve never met a wine-growing region I didn’t like.  But there’s a difference between producing wine and cultivating a wine culture, and the best measure of how successful a wine-growing region can be lies not just with the quality of the wines they produce, but how well the place weaves together the distinct threads of […]

The River, the Cross & the Mud Angels – a Story of Florence

The church of Santa Croce is one of those monuments that never ceases to amaze me, no matter how many times I visit; and truth be told, I plan on spending some time there each time I’m in Florence. There are so many reasons as to why it keeps luring me back: for one, this […]

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Tyler gives us the low-down on the remote plains of Mongolia and the surprises therein…: The same year that “Ice Ice Baby,” “U Can’t Touch This,” and the eternal Jon Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” were all released, that same chunk of time gave birth to the modern state of Mongolia – with ‘modern’ being the […]

Forbidden Love, Portuguese Style

When I travel to places I don’t know, I like finding the threads that bind destinations together. This exercise in dot-connecting led me recently to follow the trail of one of Portugal’s most popular, and bizarre legends. Alcobaça, about an hour or so north of Lisbon, is a quiet town with an outsized history and […]