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Top 10 Travel Experiences of 2016

Wadi Rum sunset in Jordan

I’m sure nobody wants to hear this, but 2016 wasn’t all bad for me. At times it would be easy to sink into the growing collective despair. Then again, I find it perfectly healthy to reflect and take stock of the good things that happened over the past year. Truth be told, 2016 was not a bad year in terms of the things I care most about, those being travel and hearing and telling stories. Over the course of these 12 months, I covered distances as far as Alaska to Jordan. I learned about indigenous tourism and finally set foot in a corner of the globe that continues to be thoroughly misunderstood by people from my North American background. I personally feel better educated to share the stories I’ve heard to continually do my part, as little as it may be, to make people less terrified of one another.

Below are 10 of my top travel experiences of 2016 complete with a snippet from the article referencing said experience. Yes, it’s a bit like when a TV sitcom assembles a clip show as a cop-out for an episode, but I hope it’s clear that my intentions are noble.

I also hope it’s clear that I’m not sharing these to brag or incite envy. Rather, I’m sharing them in hopes you might feel compelled to either follow in my footsteps to some of these destinations or to simply recount the positive aspects of your year. Continue reading

Europe / germany / international / podcast / travel

Dresden: Christmas Markets, Refugees and a Slaughterhouse

The following is about a trip to Dresden, more or less. It begins like this:

The chants were growing louder in Dresden.

It ends like this:

“We are humans, right?”

The chants were growing louder in Dresden. I wondered if they were in relation to the recent deportation of asylum seekers whose applications were denied. Or perhaps it had to do with the ongoing evacuation of Aleppo in Syria. Recent death tolls hover around 450,000. Peace remains a faint hope as the international community continues to sit on their collective hands. Meanwhile, innocent Syrians will continue to die. So it goes. Continue reading

Europe / germany / international / photography / travel

Hiking Siebengebirge and Taking in the Drachenburg Christmas Market

schloss-drachenburg-castle-siebengebirge-germany

Schloss Drachenburg. In English, Dragon Castle — basically the name any five-year-old boy would rightly name their own castle.

Germany is littered with impressive castles, so a number are bound to be a tad less significant in terms of history. That’s Schloss Drachenburg. A man named Stephan Sarter earned a fortune and built the property in the late 19th century as a private villa and mansion. Visually, however, Schloss Drachenburg could fit right into the backdrop on any episode of Game Of Thrones. The surrounding scenery provided by forested Siebengebirge (literally “seven mountain range”) helps Schloss Drachenburg fit nicely into the role. Continue reading

Europe / germany / international / travel / United States

4 Thoughts on Being an Immigrant in the Age of President Trump

medora-north-dakota-street

Given the shocking results of Tuesday’s U.S. Presidential election, I wanted to chime in to share my brief experience of being an immigrant in Germany. It seems many of my fellow Americans either don’t value or have forgotten about the importance immigrants have always played in our country from military service to many of the modern innovations we often take for granted. We also don’t seem to appreciate how difficult it is to relocate to a foreign country from linguistic and cultural differences to the loneliness and isolation. Continue reading

Europe / germany / international / photography / travel

A Nazi Military Base Becomes Germany’s Eifel National Park

urft-river-radweg-bike-trail-eifel-national-park-germany

Eifel National Park. It’s a park that only relatively recently came into existence. The Belgian military and NATO used it as a training ground up until 2004 when a legal decree gave it back to the Germans as a national park. A foundation of the decree states that at least 75 percent of the park’s 26,400 acres must be left to develop naturally. Continue reading