03 Aug Catch Her If You Can

[caption id="attachment_2201" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Do you choose to face the world?[/caption]  "I choose to face the world" is the motto of this confident, adventurous, inspiring young traveler, Kim Charters. Hailing from Bay City, Michigan, this 19 year old is taking on the world one country at a time--and usually by herself! Her most recent trip abroad included Norway, Germany and beyond. From sleeping on strangers' couches (don't worry, it's safe, you'll here more about it later!), to hiking 10 hours through Norwegian snow with a man and a dog she had just met the day before, to drinking countless liters of German beer and stomping on tables until she couldn't anymore in one of her favorite cities--Kim is a phenomenal, confident example of how to get the most out of your adventures! I've known Kim for a handful of years and she didn't mind answering a few questions for me. So, here is a piece of Kim's story, from her most recent adventures abroad. It is my hope that people like Kim can inspire other young travelers to JUST GO. So, tell me all you can about couch surfing! I am so interested in how it works, how safe you felt, what your hosts were like, what you did, etc. I want to let people know that it’s not unsafe or crazy or any of those other negative things that people assume. "Couchsurfing? Do you mean life-changing experience? So, you start off by going to couchsurfing.com, make...

Read More

16 Jun Famous Landmarks that almost didn’t survive WWII

 When discussing World War II and its lasting impact on international populations and politics the focus is, rightly, on the human cost of the conflict. Six years of war claimed the lives of over 72,000,000 soldiers and civilians worldwide, and some regions have never regained the prosperity they enjoyed before the battles. Every aspect of society was altered by the massive conflict, which saw the birth America as a superpower, the fall of several empires, the rise of the Soviet Union, and the introduction of some of the most destructive weapons the world has ever seen. During the chaotic war years when the preservation of human life took precedence over all else, innumerable works of art and architecture fell victim to the astounding destruction. Mystery continues to surround the fate of some treasures, including Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael, and the infamous lost Amber Room of the Czars. Though teams of historians and experts have devoted years to finding stolen works, repairing damaged décor, and protecting sites against future damage, it is an imperfect science. As ISIS’ recent destruction of irreplaceable historic sites across Iraq and Syria has taught us, sometimes the survival of iconic buildings and structures is left entirely to the whim of occupying forces. Though it may be easy to despair for the art and history of the Mideast during the current conflicts, it is important to remember that less than 100 years ago the treasures of...

Read More

09 Jun Festivals Abroad: Summer 2015

  Although summer hasn’t technically begun (June 21 can’t come soon enough!), the season of music festivals is already well underway! Each year, the number of music festivals worldwide continues to grow, and while being abroad certainly adds a few hurdles to seeing your favorite artists on the circuit this summer, you’d be surprised at just how many international festivals there are that feature major headliners! Of course, we’re always ones to promote local bands, scenes, and cultures, but even locals get excited at the prospects of major international music artists playing their country. So, whether you’re looking to vibe out to electronic music, head bang through a few rock sets, or lightly sway side-to-side with your arms crossed while your favorite indie band strums along (kidding, kidding, not all indie fans are like this!), you’ll definitely find something to suit your tastes abroad this summer. You might even see your favorites along the way! Take a look at an abridged (seriously, there are hundreds) selection below, for just a taste of what you’ll find abroad. Greenfield Festival When: June 11-13, 2015 Where: Interlaken, Switzerland Headliners/notable acts: Slipknot, Motörhead, In Flames, Lamb of God, Gaslight Anthem Isle of Wight Festival When: June 11-14, 2015 Where: Isle of Wight, UK Headliners/notable acts: Blur, Fleetwood Mac, The Black Keys, The Prodigy, Pharrell Williams Orange Warsaw Festival When: June 12-14, 2015 Where: Warsaw, Poland Headliners/notable acts: Muse, The Chemical Brothers, Incubus, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Bastille Secret Solstice When: June 19-21, 2015 Where: Reykjavík, Iceland Headliners/notable acts: Wu-Tang Clan, The Wailers, FKA...

Read More

09 Jun Oh Say Can You Sing?

The Best National Anthems You Haven't Heard Though you may not agree with the politics behind the flag, it’s generally accepted that the United States of America has an excellent national anthem. Originally written by Francis Scott Key as a poem expressing his feelings during the War of 1812, the poignant words were later paired with the music of “Anacreon in Heaven”, a gentleman’s club song from London. The most common places to hear the tune are sports matches, the Olympics, and memorial services, and it’s safe to say that even if you don’t know all the words you can hum a few stanzas. Britain’s “God Save the Queen” and Canada’s “Oh, Canada” are similarly recognizable, and the Francophiles amongst us will certainly know France’s “La Marseillaise”. However, there are 196 countries in the world, all with songs to honor their land. In addition, if we work off the definition of nation as “a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory”, there are even more anthems to consider. It can all get a bit overwhelming, but never fear! Here are 5 of the best national anthems you’ve probably never heard. Qatar – “Peace Be to the Emir” [embed]https://youtu.be/_Ub4frgwRTw[/embed] “Al-Salam Al-Amiri” is a baby as far as national anthems go, only instated in 1996 when the current Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani ascended to the seat of power. The song opens with a great thrill of strings...

Read More

20 May Drink It All In

We’re often told not to judge a book by its cover, but I have absolutely done so. I also generally choose wine based on the label design, purses by their designer, and household cleaners by their mascots. The irresistible power of marketing confronts us at every corner and I can’t say it bothers me. With that in mind, I recently went through a long, LONG list of international soft drinks and chose the ones I would most like to try based solely on their names. Keep in mind that I have no idea what these drinks taste like, so don’t take this as a suggestion. It’s merely a silly exercise in “Well, if I could, why not?” Manzanita Deliciosa – Mexico How can anyone resist a drink named “deliciosa”? This is a traditional apple-flavored soda which apparently makes an excellent pairing with Mexican food. Midnight Taco Bell run anyone? Chubby – Trinidad and Tobago Luckily this name refers to the cute little bottles and NOT the after-effects it has on your body. Apparently the main target is children between the ages of 4 and 9, but they got me hook, line, and sinker. Schwip Schwap – Germany Just try saying this drink name with a German accent, isn't it amazing? I would order this just to have the chance to say it aloud. This orange-flavored cola is a strong seller and is actually produced by Pepsi! Splashe Back O’ Bourke Cola – Australia The unnecessary “e” at the end...

Read More

13 May Treat Yourself

One of my favorite things about traveling is the chance to try out foreign foods, specifically candy. Nothing can compare to the discovery of a new favorite sweet in a wrapper that is impossible to decipher. Foreign candies have also given me some of the more startling taste sensations I’ve experienced. You should never let a few bad tastes stop you from adventuring, though. To help further your quest for sweet sensations I’ve compiled some of the candies you absolutely must try. Some of these are so good the taste more than justifies the price of the plane ticket. Wine Gums – England Wine gums are chewy, gummy candies that are flavored after a variety of your favorite alcoholic beverages, with none of the hangover after-effects. In every bag you’ll be able sample burgundy, champagne, claret, gin, port, and sherry. Cheers! Kinder Country – Germany Purportedly a good source of your daily dairy, Kinder Country bars consist of a milky cream layered over puffed rice and then covered with some of the best milk chocolate you’ve ever had. Super delicious, but it melts fast, so eat quickly! Chimes Mango Ginger Chews – Indonesia Made with ginger grown in the volcanic soil of Java, these chews are spicy, sweet, and great for settling your stomach after a night out on the town. As a bonus they’re also gluten free and vegan, so feel free to share! Alfort – Japan Though many people don’t associate chocolate sweets with Japan, these cookies...

Read More

12 Jan Wish, Kiss, and Touch

The new year is here! 2015 is the year for travel and discovery, and all the personal wealth that comes with it. We’ve put together a list of places for you to go this year that are not only beautiful and entrenched in history, they will bring you good fortune. 1. Edinburgh, Scotland- Grayfriar Bobby Statue Meet the most famous and beloved terrier of Scotland, Grayfriars Bobby. His life-size statue stands near the main entrance of Greyfriar Kirkyard, a cemetery in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The statue was erected to memorialize the Skye Terrier who kept faithful watch over his master’s grave for 14 years until his own death in 1872. A tombstone marks his actual burial site in Kirkyard, where he rests eternally near the grave of his owner John Gray. The story has unfortunately been discredited by recent research, but tourists still enjoy rubbing the nose of the loyal pup for good fortune. City officials encourage you to pet gently, not because he bites, but because his nose has undergone some damage over the years from repeated touching. [caption id="attachment_1340" align="alignnone" width="189"] http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greyfriars_Bobby_statue,_Edinburgh.JPG[/caption] So sweet. 2. Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland- Blarney Castle Kiss it, it’s Irish! When you’re in Ireland, be sure to visit the Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone for the “gift of the gab.” According to legend, proprietor of the castle Cormac MacCarthy was being denied his land owning rights by Queen Elizabeth I. Feeling helpless to argue his case, he...

Read More