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Writer & Historian

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Journeys

Russian afternoon tea in SPB – A travel essay

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February 25, 2011
Russian afternoon tea in SPB – A travel essay

By Soviet standards it wasn’t much of a parade on Russia’s national Flag Day this year (August 22). No ballistic missiles, no goose-stepping Red Army corporals, no anti-American speeches. In fact, the people that were sipping “Russian Afternoon Tea” with champagne and red caviar in the lobby of the Hotel Astoria probably didn’t realize...
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A mountain in Tonga

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February 10, 2011
A mountain in Tonga

Passengers gawked from the Twin Otter as the only female pilot flying Royal Tongan Airlines circled Neiafu, the capital of Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga’s far north. We were looking at flat-topped Mt. Talau which oversees one of the safest and prettiest harbours in the South Pacific, aptly named the Port of...
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Breathing tango in BA

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February 7, 2011
Breathing tango in BA

In Buenos Aires the people live for and by the tango. We went in search of it in this sprawling metropolis of more than 15 million ‘portenos’ on the south shore of the broad Rio de la Plata that forms the border with Uruguay. What we found was the iconic heart of the city.
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The legend of Evita lives on

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February 5, 2011
The legend of Evita lives on

A gaggle of tourists winds its way through the labyrinth of mausoleums secluded behind the high walls of Buenos Aires’s La Recoleta cemetery. Great mounds of mortar and marble dwarf the passers-by who gawk at the graves of the city’s great ones – generals, priests, politicians, diplomats. Here too lie the city’s famous writers...
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Freedom Day on Robben Island

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January 28, 2011
Freedom Day on Robben Island

Robben Island. April 28, 2008. One day after Freedom Day. It fell on a Sunday this year, giving South Africans the Monday off. Getting to the island is harder than usual with the crowds of families flocking to the popular historical spot. They are enjoying a sunny annual national holiday that marks the day...
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Slumming in Colombia

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January 28, 2011
Slumming in Colombia

Three young ‘tweens’ were showing off their salsa steps in a makeshift schoolroom high above the noise and traffic of Medellin, Colombia, the city that cocaine built. They wore tight-fitting blue jeans and sleeveless T-shirts. Three young soccer players outside seemed disinterested. They had no time for dance. Soon a grandmother started to scold...
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Old Batavia still intrigues

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January 28, 2011
Old Batavia still intrigues

Rohindra parked the tourist bus near the town hall of Old Batavia, the Dutch colonial capital of Jakarta. I was the lone tourist on the bus, a sign of the bad economic times that have led Indonesia into growing political turmoil.
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San Francisco night

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January 28, 2011
San Francisco night

John’s Grill. It doesn’t sound “historic”. Doesn’t even sound interesting. Of all the gin joints and chop shops in San Francisco, why pick this one for a late-night martini? Because this is where writer Dashiell Hammett hung out back in the 1920s. That’s right. Dash himself had lunch here regularly. Yes, the same Dash...
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Berlin’s graffiti heaven

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January 27, 2011

A stand-up comic by night and city tour guide by day, Summer Banks will lead us on no ordinary romp through Berlin. This transplanted Californian is here to teach curious and slightly adventuresome tourists about the finer points of graffiti art and alternative living in the squats of the trendy and in some ways...
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Red Souls in Smoky Moscow

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January 6, 2011
Red Souls in Smoky Moscow

Wild fires still raged around Moscow in mid-August and the smoke clouds above Red Square hung heavily over the brown marble block that sits below the ominous red walls of the Kremlin. This is the final resting place of the leader of the October revolution, the event that changed the world in 1917.
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