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Tsukiji Fish Market – Visit It before It’s Gone?

Tokyo, Japan – One o’clock a.m. Our alarm clock goes off. In a hotel room in Ginza, we wake up, take a shower, get dressed, and, rubbing our sleepy eyes, head out onto the dark and quiet streets of Tokyo. Why get up so early? Because the historical Tsukiji Fish Market is slated for closure. Reasons are that it’s too old, too decrepit, and too outdated. The Tokyo metropolitan government built a brand new, modernised facility in Toyosu. The grand move was scheduled for November 2016. But things didn’t work out…
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Kalaupapa – Riding Mules to Saint Damien’s Land of Sorrow

Molokai, Hawaii – Early morning, high up in the misty reaches of the northern mountains of Molokai, we arrive, park our rental car, and then gather with the other tourists next to a mule stable. Distinctive smell of barn, of leather, of feed, of manure, lingers in the air, reminding me of my youthful days spent at my grandfather’s barn in Franklin, Tennessee. A little over ten mules are corralled and saddled. Audrey, a mule skinner, wearing jeans and a fluorescent-yellow T-shirt with sleeves tucked up, inspects each mule. Other…
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Vesuvius – Climbing the World’s Most Dangerous Volcano

Naples, Italy – Vesuvius is considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. You may know its infamy: the destroyer of Pompeii nearly 2,000 years ago. But did you know Vesuvius is one of the world’s easiest volcanoes to climb? If you visit Naples, you can’t miss Vesuvius. The volcano juts in the middle of the urban sprawl, as if the city first staked its claim on the land, and later the mountain decided to pop up. On its slanting slopes, houses and buildings cling, encroaching almost a third way…
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Prague – Rain in My Heart in the Magical City

Prague, Czech Republic – Dolomiti flight 3272 descended through a turbulent headwind. I gazed out a window. Droplets of rain slanted across the glass like tears. Prague in rain. The city of alchemy and astrology in rain. Rain in my heart. I had been trying hard to become a writer. But I became lost. I needed inspiration. Magic and mystery, I believed, lay cloaked in my heart. Prague seemed like the perfect city where I’d find a key to unlock the innocence I had lost. By the time I was…
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Duke Kahanamoku – The Hawaiian Waterman of the Ocean

Oahu, Hawaii – When I was kid, I saw a black-and-white movie about a Polynesian boy, Tico, who lives in a remote seaside village in the South Pacific, where he befriends a helpless, baby shark. He names his shark Manitu. He raises it secretly in a lagoon, feeding it with the help of his girlfriend. When the shark grows too big, Tico reluctantly frees it back to the ocean. Tico grows up in the rush of civilization that changes his village. People eagerly adopt the new ways of living. But…
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The Best Coffee in the World – Caffè Gambrinus

Naples, Italy – Neapolitans are quick to tell you they have the best coffee in the world. After all they’ve invented espresso, so they claim. But when I ask – “Where in Napoli is the best of the best coffee served?” – they can never agree. When Oscar Wilde (an Irish dramatist) and Guy de Maupassant (a French writer) visited Naples, they went straight to Caffè Gambrinus. So I follow their examples. The location couldn’t be more perfect, right at the heart of the city. Right there where the moped-buzzing Piazza Triese…
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What if Lawrence of Arabia Was Never to Be?

Rome, Italy – Have you heard of Lawrence of Arabia? You probably have. He’s world famous. T. E. Lawrence, a British military officer, had embedded himself in the Great Arab Revolt in 1916. He wrote a book about his experience, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which inspired the name Lawrence of Arabia, and propelled him into an international celebrity. His life had even inspired a movie, Lawrence of Arabia, now a classic, starring Peter O’Toole. That film won seven Academy Awards, including the Oscar for “Best Picture.” But what if all…
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Experimental Travel? – A Mind Map

Experimental Travel? — Tourist, Traveler, Explorer?   I did a Mind Map exercise using Experimental Traveler as the nucleus word. Many years ago, I learned this technique from a book by Gabriele Lusser Rico, Writing the Natural Way. Rico calls it “Clustering.” She devised the technique so that a writer can write from within his or her heart. In the writing process, Clustering is the “exploratory stages . . . to untangle a fuzzy mind.” Clustering gives focus. It’s a way of finding that creative spark, a way of tapping…
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A Place that Made Hemingway

Oak Park, Chicago – I like Ernest Hemingway. So years ago I made my pilgrimage to his birthplace. When Hemingway was born in 1899, his Victorian style home was lit only by gas lamps. No radio. No television. Hard to imagine in our time. The boy, Ernest Hemingway, grew up surrounded by books, arts, music, and his grandfather’s storytelling. Not hard to imagine how he had been groomed to become a great storyteller. “His childhood was filled with cheerful moments,” the docent leading the tour told me. A different time…
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Only in the Woods There Is Peace

Umbria, Italy – When you drive to Spoleto, you’d see rising above the medieval town a sacred mountain of Monteluco. Saint Francis of Assisi had meditated there for peace. On the ilex-covered slope, surrounded by the shadows of the trees, you’d find an old hermitage. But you won’t find any monks. The sanctuary is now an inn, schemed by an old dentist. My wife and I had sought refuge from our work in Napoli. After checking into Hermitage Inn of Eremo delle Grazie., we stood gazing from its terrace at the…
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