Iceland: Land of Elves, Eruptions and Economic Recovery

Michael Verdirame

To find the true initial catalyst for the increase in tourism in Iceland, one has to travel a little further back to 2008, where the default of all three of its privately-owned commercial banks caused Iceland to enter a severe economic depression for the next several years, from which it is still recovering.  According to The Economist, relative to the size of its economy, Iceland’s systemic banking collapse was the largest experienced by any country in economic history.  Like any economic crisis, the price of goods plummeted, causing the country’s initial uptick in tourism, as it became much more affordable than it had been previously. 


Marveling at the Wonders of Greece

Sandra Bertrand

From that first step on Greek soil, be prepared to feel a little lightheadedness—a certain dislocation of everyday certainties is underway.  In the midst of a busy Athens intersection, Hadrian’s Arch, once a gateway to some of the greatest of Roman monuments, stands proud in the midday sun. On the Aegean island of Santorini, one dizzying gaze over the precipitous volcanic cliffs and the rumble of lost Atlantis may sound from the depths below.  Navigating another hairpin turn in Crete’s White Mountains, a cri-cri or wild goat leaps in front of your car window—its hooves as nimble as the Great God Pan’s. 

The Reality of Alaska on Reality TV

Michael Verdirame

Alaska, the place in question, is considered the last frontier by many—a vast, empty land with majestic scenery and an extremely sparse population density.  New reality television shows featuring Alaska are numbered in the dozens and still increasing, with “Alaska State Troopers,” “Buying Alaska,” and “Life Below Zero” being among the most popular.  Does the real Alaska, however, live up to the wondrous Alaska that has served as the inspiration for so much so-called reality?  

Getting Past the Past: How Colombia Reinvented Itself as a Tourist Destination

Michael Verdirame

Columbia is a country of extremes and opposites—beaches and mountains, old and modern, urban grit juxtaposed with breathtaking nature.  There is also a great disparity in the distribution of wealth, with the very rich sharing space with the very poor, and a middle class that finds it difficult to stay in the middle for very long.  Additionally, despite Colombia’s recent emergence as a viable tourist destination, that is not meant to indicate that all parts of the country are safe, leading to the perception of extremes between areas that are perfectly acceptable for tourists to explore and those that are dangerous even for locals.

How South Africa Is Still Emerging From the Dark Shadow of Apartheid

Michael Verdirame

It does not take long for an outsider visiting South Africa for the first time to observe the racial divide that still exists.  Many of the types of places created by the segregation of Apartheid—such as the townships consisting of makeshift residences constructed with corrugated tin—still exist, some only a short distance from the major urban centers of big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town.  A trip to one of the upscale malls that are appearing all over the country is unlikely to paint an accurate picture of diversity for travelers. 

The Philippines: Islands In Search Of Identity

Michael Verdirame

An unwitting pedestrian attempting to make his way into Intramuros on foot may find himself a witness to one of these homeless relieving themselves in the bushes, a fairly common occurrence on the streets of Manila.  This dichotomy of poverty bordering wealth that is surrounding more poverty is emblematic of many stark contrasts that exist not just in Manila, but in the entire country.

Exploring Kauai: Paradise on Earth

Veronica Mendez

The island’s most famous trait is its dramatic coastline. Known as the Na Pali Coast, it stretches for 17 miles. The best and only way to fully appreciate the impressive coastline is by boat. While some choose to kayak along the coast, most take catamarans to circumnavigate it.  Along the way there are countless dolphins and whale-watching opportunities, but it’s the Na Pali’s captivating landscape that takes center stage.  

Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the New New York

Sandra Canosa

Once a sea of working factories, then a deserted and crime-ridden no-man’s land, Williamsburg at the turn of the 21st century became a budding haven for New York City’s proverbial struggling-artist types for its cheap rents and quick access to the creative haven of lower Manhattan. A rapid decade and change of gentrification, though, has turned the neighborhood into a coveted – and expensive – place to live, as well as a checkbox on any New York tourist’s bucket list.

The Freedom Trail: A Walk Through Colonial Boston

Kaitlin Ebersol

Despite the expansion and alteration of Boston’s land, many streets from the original colony still wind through the city as mementos of a time long past. The earliest Bostonians settled along State Street and Washington Street, the colony’s two main thoroughfares. Washington Street also traces the route of the Boston Neck where it once connected the settlement to the mainland. Colonists spread from State and Washington Streets northeast along the shore to form the North End, and southeast to form the South End, now Boston’s financial district. 

Exploring the Culinary Scene in Bangkok

Paul Ehrlich

Lan Na – meaning  ‘many rice fields’ – is the name of an ancient kingdom in northern Thailand. And this unique restaurant is modeled on a northern nobleman’s longhouse and decorated with stunning antiques, including several large, rare, wooden Buddhas.  Start with crispy golden-fried squid rings with garlic and zesty Thai spices; or minced duck mixed with an array of herbs. 


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