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Category: Cities & Culture

Going Solo in Chiang Mai

Going Solo in Chiang Mai

After months of dreaming about returning to Thailand to volunteer with the Elephant Nature Park pups, I finally found the nerve to book the long flight across the world for my first solo adventure abroad. I don’t know if it was my approaching birthday, or the dissatisfaction I felt from not really challenging or inspiring myself over the past year, but I somehow silenced the angst-ridden flyer in me long enough to hit the yellow ‘purchase’ button on Expedia. A…

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Edinburgh

Edinburgh

We haven’t necessarily favored all the large capital cities we’ve visited, at least when compared to less crowded parts of the same countries (Ljubljana and Rome being notable exceptions); but with a population of less than a half million people, we thought we’d give Scotland’s small capital a chance to charm us. We spent one morning exploring Holyrood Park, a 650-acre greenspace near the city center whose prominent peak is called Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano that…

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Stonehenge

Stonehenge

About 90 miles southwest of London stands the famous prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. Though the stone circle is the most well-known monument in the area, the history of the area is actually far more substantial than just the visible rocks. More than 4,000 years prior to any construction within the circle of Stonehenge, there exists evidence of the area being used for spiritual or burial purposes. Large wooden poles stood in the area during the Mesolithic period, and leading up…

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Ireland

Ireland

After a short week in London, we decided we’d spend the last bit of our journey touring around the U.K. and Ireland. It wasn’t something we’d initially planned, and we knew the weather might [finally] be a bit squirrelly, but we figured what the heck, right? I mean, we were right here. As with a large portion of our trip, we decided to scope out the ground transit to Ireland. It’s typically cheaper than flying, I’m (as we’ve already established)…

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London

London

Consistently at or near the top of the ‘world’s most visited cities’ list (England’s capital has hosted some 20 million visitors this year), London is renowned not only for its iconic landmarks, but also for offering a veritable melting pot of different cultures and cuisines, with seemingly something for everyone. After arriving via the Channel Tunnel from Brussels, we found ourselves at a sleek, modern loft in Brixton, an up-and-coming neighborhood in south London with a somewhat industrial feel, a…

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Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s busy downtown area is built into the concentric rings of canals (the ‘Canal Belt’), which date back to the 17th century, and include the Singel, Herengracht (Gentleman’s Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal). Originally used as defensive moats, they eventually became employed for merchant ships bringing goods into the city. Today, you can even find floating houses and shops along the canals, such as the Bloemenmarkt – Amsterdam’s famous, bustling flower market where every variety and color…

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Waffles and chocolate and beer… oh my!

Waffles and chocolate and beer… oh my!

In northwestern Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flemish (Flanders) region, sits the quiet city of Ghent. Once one of northern Europe’s largest cities at the end of the Middle Ages, Ghent is now a laid-back university town. Quirky cafes, artisan chocolate shops, and quaint ‘gingerbread houses’ line meandering canals, where coots, moorhens, ducks and seagulls form collaborative, floating communities in the still waters. Amongst the perfect rows of ornately-trimmed canal houses, stone belfries and spires of imposing gothic cathedrals soar above the tapered…

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Paris

Paris

A wistful, “ah, Paris!” was the reaction of nearly everyone who heard we were headed there. The name evokes a hundred images: the city of lights, the city of romance, the capital of fashion, the home of world-renowned chefs in Michelin starred restaurants and some of the most famous monuments and museums in the world. I wondered if it could possibly live up to its reputation. The public transit system in Paris is wonderful. Metro trains arrived as frequently as…

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Zermatt

Zermatt

Nestled snugly amongst the thick evergreen forests of the verdant Matter Valley (Mattertal) sits one of Switzerland’s most beautiful treasures. Named for the prominent peak that stands like a sentry over the remote, alpine village, Zermatt is a veritable haven for skiers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers alike. Under the protective shadow of the Matterhorn’s snow-capped slopes, rustic chalets and Valais blacknose sheep pepper the valley floor. Only three main streets span the hamlet, and for as long as anyone can…

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Rome

Rome

Rome is one of those world cities that I’ve always wanted to visit. Boasting more than 2,000 years of history, the ‘Eternal City’ has been inspiring playwrights, composers, artists, and novelists for centuries. The ancient metropolis is habitually portrayed with such a sense of intrigue and passion that you can’t help but want to immerse yourself completely in the Roman culture. But at its core, I speculated before visiting, Rome is probably just another big city. Although I’ve left many…

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