Thursday, October 28, 2010

Postcard from Jen in Bella Roma!



Do you need any more reasons to visit Italy?
The latest postcard to join the gallery is from Jen and was taken in bella Roma, my true love. It is not like I need any more excuses to talk about the virtues of this city, but there is always more to discover in Italia. The photo taken above is a shot from a lesser-known site in Rome, il Giardino degli Aranci or the Garden of Oranges. It sits in the Parco Savello on the Aventine hill, a plot of land now belonging to the Dominican order. The Aventine is one of the seven hills of Rome, and, as many of them do, it offers a fantastic view of the city, day or night. Just next door to this beautiful park is another site worthy of attention, Santa Sabina. One of the earliest churches in Rome, it was build in 422 AD. The cypress doors of this church are probably the church's most well-known feature, and the Crucifixion carving on it is thought to be the earliest depiction of this event. Although the oranges are apparently bitter, the view from this Giardino is breath-taking and definitely worth a visit.

Where are you? Send me a postcard! Just take a digital photo, write a 2-3 line message and send it to touristliving(at)gmail(dot)com! I'll turn your photo into a postcard and post it on my blog to share your experience of living like a tourist in your own city.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weekend of the Vache Enragée

I recently heard this phrase, and in addition to finding it hysterical, it seems to describe my recent attitude towards weekends, tearing around the city like a mad cow (vache enragée), trying as many new things as the daylight hours and my aching feet will allow.

Founding Farmers
This Friday, I tried a great restaurant called Founding Farmers, a certified GREEN restaurant, meaning that they purchase local ingredients from vendors that adhere to sustainable farming. There were a lot of very intriguing items on the menu, "comfort food" as it tends to be called, including grilled cheese with tomato soap, lobster macaroni and cheese, and butternut squash ravioli. Yet, I opted for the fish (I wasn't feeling like being comforted), and it was a good choice.

 
Even the bathroom was pretty!

NEA Opera Honors
Thanks to a good friend who was on the ball with tickets, we were able to get seats to the NEA Opera Honors at the Kennedy Center unlike 1,500 other people who ended up on the waiting list. This night was about celebrating great achievers in the opera world: Eve Queler, Philip Glass, David DiChiera and Martina Arroyo, each geniuses in their own right from producers and composers of opera to administrators and singers. I am not "in" the opera scene enough to have known these remarkable people before this evening, but I left feeling reinvigorated at what passion can do. When you really love your work and you have without a doubt found your calling, great things can happen, and all four of these people demonstrated that. Philip Glass said one particularly toughing phrase about how in some ways he wasn't really born until he was in his 30's, that he felt like "an abandoned baby in front of a house — it was an opera house." He explains, "I want to thank the opera world — they took me in."

Memorials
Saturday, I headed off into the city with a museum in mind. I had my groupon folded in my purse, and I set off determined to make it to the Corcoran Gallery. But the moment I stepped outside, I changed my mind completely. I couldn't stomach the idea of being inside, trapped by four walls, when it was 70 degrees and breezy, with sunny and blue skies. I refused. So I decided that it was the right time to go visit all these memorials that D.C. is so well-known for and that I had somehow bypassed until now. I headed toward the Lincoln Memorial, but I knew I needed to stop by the Einstein Memorial, a little known one on the grounds of the Academy of Sciences building.

Einstein Memorial

A massive, 135 ton, statue of Einstein sitting in a kind of "deflated" doll position with an expression that seemed to be a cross between a fatigued, confounded genius pondering all the insanely complicated things Einstein contemplated, and a gentle grandfather-like countenance that invited his grandchildren to climb on his lap, (which the millions of children at the statue did willingly and obstinately).

Lincoln Memorial

Next, it was off to the opposite of this casual, inviting Einstein sitting on the ground, the Lincoln memorial, a formal, classic, rigid Lincoln sitting directly upright, a perfect 90 angle between his back and legs, with his "throne" like chair emphasizing these straight lines. Perhaps uncomfortable, but Lincoln does have a gorgeous view from his open Greek-like temple. He sits and stares out over the reflecting pool, past the Washington Monument, all the way to the Capital.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial
I next visited memorials that to me, so effectively depicted the horror of war, that I couldn't imagine why we still consider that an option. The statues of soldiers in Vietnam with their incredibly vivid and human expressions, one of a nurse holding an injured soldier in an almost "Pieta" position, and three soldiers clearly comrades facing the wall of 58,000 names of those who died serving in Vietnam.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Memorial was just as haunting, also with a black marble wall that showed faces of people in the war, looking like ghosts as the background for a plot of land overgrown with bushes and grass. Life-sized, soldiers dressed for field combat in trench coats and boots and treading through the brush, each again with expressions of pain, concentration and mitigated terror. These memorials were in starch contrast to what my map called the WWI memorial, a round, clean-cut, even distinguished  Greek temple with only the words around the dome making any reference to a war.


WWI Memorial

I never made it to the Jefferson or FDR memorials. Construction impeded my path there. But I took some photos that made me realize how the time had passed between my first visit to this area and to my recent one.



 
St. Patrick's Church
Sunday it was off to a new church, St. Patrick's, on 10th Street. St. Patrick's Parish was established in 1794 in order to minister to the needs of the Irish immigrants working on the White House and the Capitol building. At first glance, it is a little bare inside, but if you look more closely at the stained glass windows and the paintings of the saints above the altar, there are some beautiful pieces. Its Irish roots are also evident as the windows show scenes of Saint Patrick's life and shamrocks are scattered throughout the art and architecture of the building. The outside is also quite magnificent in Victorian Gothic Revival style, complete with gargoyles. D.C.'s own little Notre Dame.



St. Patrick's


Chinatown Coffee Company
In between activities, I stopped into the Chinatown Coffee Co. to get my espresso-fix. I was thoroughly impressed by the presentation, and it was definitely a good caffe latte. Oh, how I miss Italy though... (Refer to my snob post... I know).




Corcoran Gallery
And finally, despite the sun and breeze tempting me to run around the fallen leaves and bask in the warmth of the October sun, I was determined to visit this Gallery that had been so elusive to date. I missed the Chuck Close exhibit... which was upsetting, but in its place was one by Spencer Finch, an apparent admirer of clouds and their ephemeral nature. A sentiment I sympathized with, I was intrigued by this exhibit. Yet, the abstract, post-modern display didn't quite appeal to me or my own thoughts on art. One piece, however, a series of clouds photographed as seen through puddles on the pavement did fascinate me. The Gallery also had other hidden treasures in their permanent collection from Pissarro and Monet to Stuart and Cassatt. Much more manageable in size than the Smithsonian galleries, it was definitely worth the entrance fee and even more so the groupon and its discounted rate.


Spencer Finch Exhibit

Monday, October 25, 2010

Waiting for the Train




Fitting for a Monday Morning

Haven't we all felt this way using mass transit?

The above postcard is another from Santiago in Mexico City, but I think the image can be representative of many cities.

How does this compare to waiting for the train or metro in your city??

Where are you?
Send me a postcard! Just take a digital photo, write a 2-3 line message and send it to touristliving(at)gmail(dot)com! I'll turn your photo into a postcard and post it on my blog to share your experience of living like a tourist in your own city.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recreating Epcot

As we all know, I tend to gravitate toward anything international, and D.C. is a great place for that being the location of so many embassies, international organizations, expats and immigrant communities. This weekend, I once again made use of this international setting.

For those of you who don’t know, what I am talking about in my title when I say Epcot. Epcot is one of the parks in Disneyworld, dedicated to science, innovation and culture. I, however, am specifically referring to the part of Epcot known as the "World Showcase," where different countries are recreated to give you a taste of what that place is like. This was always my favorite part of this Disney Park.

World Showcase at Epcot

So this weekend, I recreated the World Showcase- D.C. style:

Middle East: Mama Ayesha


On Friday night, my mom and I stepped off of Calvert Street and into the Middle East. Mama Ayesha, the namesake and former owner of the restaurant, was from Jerusalem. She passed away in 1993. However, she has been immortalized by the very impressive mural on the side of the restaurant showing Mama Ayesha with all the presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama. Her restaurant continues to be run by family members. Having Middle Eastern heritage myself, I grew up with Warak Inib (grape leaves), Shish Taouk (grilled chicken skewers) and Kibbeh (cracked wheat with ground meat and spices, but that we called Kobaba). The smell of those dishes is one of the only times that I faintly regret being vegetarian. However, there are so many other great vegetarian, middle eastern dishes that, with a mouth full of hummus or veggie grape leaves, I quickly forget that sentiment. The food wasn't exactly my grandma's or uncle's cooking (hard not to be biased), but the restaurant made up for this in character with its red walls, candle lighting and water-fountain wall.

Ladder in the way- But Mama Ayesha in the middle of the POTUS-es

Italy: Dolcezza Gelato

After the Middle East, it was off to Italy alla Dolcezza. This was a gelato place I had been eying for some time. An elegant, adorable setting in Dupont Circle, it uses mostly local ingredients from farmer friends, and they make everything by hand. It is a bit pricey, but for local, fresh ingredients and hand-made gelato, it is worth it. I liked that I could get a kiddie sized cup, which is the perfect portion of gelato for me. I, of course, chose the mint option on the menu, Black Mint Granizado, to be exact. There was chocolate in it, so perhaps that is what was meant by Black Mint, but I never got a definitive answer on that.


United States: American History Museum

Saturday, we stepped into the United States "Pavilion" in the form of the American History Museum. Like all Smithsonian Museums, there is so much to see that I don’t think we even made it out of the west wing of the building, but my tour did include Julia Child’s Kitchen, Kermit the Frog and the First Ladies collection, most notably the inaugural gowns.

Cuba: Cuba Libre Restaurant

Next in the world tour was Cuba, and Cuba Libre was really like a set taken out of Epcot, Hollywood or some old movie. The inside is made to replicate Havana. Sometimes an elaborate décor makes me a little suspicious of the food, but we ordered 4 tapas-sized dishes and each was AMAZING. Tostones with garlic, mojo dipping sauce, shrimp, creamy spinach and pine nuts empanada, scallop ceviche and seared tuna. And if that wasn’t enough, I had a grilled pineapple mojito and tasted the classic mojito. They were probably the best mojitos I have had outside of the Caribbean.

France: French Movie at E Street Cinema


Our last stop on Saturday was in France. I took my mom to E Street Cinema, a haven for foreign language film lovers, and we saw a French movie, “Arnacouer,” or the Heartbreaker. I go to the movies about three times a year maximum because I basically only like witty, cheesy, aesthetically pleasing movies that make light out of life. Therefore, that means that after 1990, there have only been a handful of movies that have fit in that category. Heartbreaker is one of them, a romantic comedy in the style of the 1980’s, but with the class and modern film techniques of this century. Filmed mainly in Monaco, with a beautiful man (Romain Duris) as the lead, it definitely had the aesthetics built in, and the storyline, while predictable, was really quite entertaining. The comedy was still unexpected enough to make me burst out laughing. I loved it, and by the laughter of the women (AND MEN) around me, I guessed that it was a general crowd-pleaser. Little tip: Dirty Dancing fans, go see this movie. I am not telling you why.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Postcard from me to you: Washington D.C.!



Tourism from my Window
So most of you may know at this point that 1) Despite previous hesitations, I currently live in Washington D.C. and that 2) To ensure that I properly Live like a Tourist here, I have made an ambitious-bordering- cockoo list of 365 things to do.

I have not been inside the Capitol yet (tragedy I know), but I have been in the other buildings/areas in the postcard above. I work across the street from the Old Post Office, and my window faces out to Freedom Plaza. This interesting Plaza is either a deliberate or de facto (don't know which) spot for rallies and protests (much like Piazza Republica in Rome). In only my short time here, there have been countless assemblies including the Tea Party protesters, the Coal Industry protesters, the Bike to Work Day rally, and a bunch of other ones that I haven't been able to identify from my vantage point.

Another interesting fact about Freedom Plaza is that it has mysterious markings, crop circle-like when seen from a third story window, but very evidently some kind of map. Well, in fact, these marking (engravings really) are Pierre L'Enfant's original plan of Washington D.C.

Wikipedia also tells me that the plaza was once named Western Plaza and was renamed in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. as he apparently worked on his "I Have a Dream" speech in nearby Willard Hotel. Oddly enough, in 1988, a time capsule containing relics of Mr. King, including a bible and robe, was also buried at the site, only to be opened in a hundred year's time. 

And all this from my window- I just had to take the time to see it!

Where are you?
Send me a postcard! Just take a digital photo, write a 2-3 line message and send it to touristliving(at)gmail(dot)com! I'll turn your photo into a postcard and post it on my blog to share your experience of living like a tourist in your own city.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Floating

It is always fun when you begin the weekend without any particular expectations or plans, and it turns out to be not only fun, but action-packed. I will also say with some amount of pride, that I also managed to explore quite a few different places on my D.C. list.

Since my weekend began with a beer float (explanation following), I think I will stick with the theme of “floating” to describe my weekend (some liberties taken)...


Floating on Beer- Guinness Floats




After many attempts to find the right day and willing participants in this outing, on Friday, a group of friends and I finally made our way to AGAINN to have a beer float! I think this idea wouldn’t have appealed to me if it had not been quickly followed by the description of vanilla and stout ice cream scoops atop a Guinness beer. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Guinness (Tryst’s DuFrein, i.e. Guinness and espresso is another winner). Therefore, I liked the combo of my favorite dessert, ice cream (well… gelato but same family) and my favorite beer. It did live up to my fascination in that it was nothing like anything I have ever tried before, and by the end of the glass, when the ice cream had properly melted and intermingled with the beer, it was even tasty... though opinions varied throughout the group.

Floating on Water- Kayaking on the Potomac



Saturday was a revival of summer and the sunny, breezy, hot day called for being outside. When a friend suggested that we go kayaking, I thought it was exactly what the day needed! So that we did. I have been kayaking exactly once before; so after the workers described the less-than-pleasant status of the Potomac river, I was a little more nervous about a potential capsizing, but looking out on the calm, flat water, I realized that even if my body went into convulsions, I still wouldn't flip. And so we had a combination of floating and paddling on the Potomac while observing the shockingly vast amount of wildlife in the heart of the Nation’s capital. A bald eagle (my first spotting of one in the wild!) circled overhead, while a blue heron curled up on the bank of the river. A crane or crane-like bird emerged from the water with a surprising large fish in its bill before diving back in the water... It was refreshing to emerge from the kayak feeling as if I had left the city for awhile.

Floating in the Heavens- Basilica of the National Shrine



On Sunday, I decided to take on the adventure of getting to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It was an adventure in the sense that using the metro on weekends is like driving a car with a flat tire. It will get you there eventually, but it will damage your being (and mental state) in the process. So I found a bus to take me the 3 miles due east to the Basilica. Living in Rome, it has become natural for me to visit churches. Of Rome’s 200+ churches, I have probably visited 75% of them. It is hard not to get spoiled by the majesty of San Pietro (Saint Peter’s) or by the elegance of San Paolo fuori le Mure (St. Paul’s outside the walls). However, stepping into this Basilica, I felt it could rival many of even the most specatcular churches in Rome. It is the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America and one of the ten largest churches in the world. Dedicated to Mary, the church is filled with gorgeous blue, golden and orange-tinted mosaics depicting her, Jesus and other biblical figures as they are represented throughout the world. I seriously underestimated the amount to see here, and have thus decided to add “Tour the Basilica” on my aforementioned list.

Floating on a Pond- Lily pads at Meridian Hill Park



Sunday afternoon was another reminder of summer, and therefore, I was utterly incapable of staying inside. My cabin fever inspired me to visit the nearby park that I had passed many times before, but never explored, the Meridian Hill Park. If you have ever been to Rome and stepped inside Villa Pamphilj, I would equate my reaction of that discovery to this one. Meridian Hill park (on a much smaller scale than Pamphilij) seems just like your average city park on first glance. Benches and trees surrounding an open lawn where people play football or Frisbee. Like Pamphilij, you have to walk a ways past this to get to the heart of the grounds, and there you find cascading fountains that flow along wide steps leading you to the lowest part of the park where there is a small pond-like pool complete with floating lily pads. I kicked myself for not having my camera to capture the brilliant purples and pinks of the lilies, and instead caught a photocopy version on my phone… In such a beautiful setting, it didn't shock me to see a wedding and a separate model photo shoot going on. On my way out of the park, it did shock me, however, to see a man and his pet Iguana on the lawn, talking to onlookers about the virtue of a domesticated, loyal and cuddly reptile.



A mixture of drinking, sport, spirit and outdoors, it was a great way to float into a new week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Postcard from Matt in Baltimore City!


Why travel to Baltimore?
Most people perhaps don't equate Baltimore with sugar. However, the Domino Sugar Plant is definitely a staple on the Baltimore horizon. One of the oldest companies in the United States, the Domino Sugar Company (as the most recent in the evolution of company names from W. & F.C. Havemeyer Company to American Sugar Refining Company to Amstar Sugar Company) was begun in the 19th Century by William Havemeyer, an English immigrant. The brand name Domino came about in the early 1900's when Henry Havemeyer decided that a trademark name would assure the company greater success, owing to a heightened awareness of the product. The name Domino was chosen because the sugar cubes resembled, take a guess, dominoes.

The company is today owned by British company Tate & Lyle and dabbles more in the artificial sweetener business, however, as Matt mentions, the recognizable plant on Baltimore's skyline is still functional and, according to the Washington Post, even offers tours on the art of sugar making!

If sugar refining doesn't peak your interest, you can instead make your way along Baltimore's Inner Harbor, home of the National Aquarium, Science Center, U.S.S. Constellation (the last existing American Civil War-era naval ship) and Food and Shopping Pavilions. Make sure to stop by another renovated industrial building, now on the Registry of Historic Places, the Power Plant, which today is home to Barnes & Noble, the Hard Rock Cafe and ESPN Zone.  

Where are you?

Send me a postcard! Just take a digital photo, write a 2-3 line message and send it to touristliving(at)gmail(dot)com! I'll turn your photo into a postcard and post it on my blog to share your experience of living like a tourist in your own city. (Remember: whether you are living in Duluth or Dubai- I want to hear about the interesting or unique aspects of your city!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

How to Overcome the Blah Times

I have been having a very blah week. It happens. For some reason, certain weeks/days just seem long, dull and generally uninspiring.

When these days occur, I am reminded of the saying, "Only boring people get bored," which I'll admit, makes me a little angry. However, it gets me pondering this thought, and at the heart of it, it holds some truth.

In essence, if you want to stop being bored, you need to find your own inspirations. So I have decided to make a list (I am predictable at this point) of all the things that motivate me, and perhaps you too, so that the next time we are bored, we can more readily turn to the these things. I have ranked them by easiest to least-easy to do when boredom strikes on your average day.

All-Time Favorite Motivators

1. Techno music
Real techno experts might berate me at my description of techno. In fact, I might be referring to dance, house or trance music; I have no idea. I just like any high-energy, fun, songs that make me want to move. The lyrics aren't always insightful, or even comprehensible, but generally that's not the point. I analyze things too much anyway, so when I want to jump around the room, I don't mind if the lyrics leave my brain empty.

However, fun or interesting lyrics can be a bonus to techno songs, as the two below can demonstrate:

No Stress- Laurent Wolf

"I don’t wanna work today, Maybe I just wanna stay, Just take it easy cause there is no stress." 
Who hasn't felt like this before??

 

Break my Fall- Tiesto

"You enter the room.You brighten the darkness my love. In moments with you, there is no ending or beginning in you..."
Hopefully, you have felt like this too.

 

2. Sunshine
We don't have too much control over this one, but it is something to take advantage of if it is there. Going outside for even half an hour makes me feel refreshed, happier and more alive. Thankfully, there will be plenty of opportunity to do that this weekend!


3. Coffee
Mmmm... my addiction. Even the smell of coffee makes me feel more awake and motivated. I have found that even those who don't like coffee, often like the smell of it, so grind some beans for the hell of it, or step into one of the million Starbucks for a whiff. Guaranteed to make you feel more driven.

swirl around, curl around, whirl around
Credit: hlkljgk "Swirl around, curl around, whirl around"

4. Trying new things
Well, this one is the basis of this blog and really my whole motto on life, but isn't that the point of each day, to try challenge yourself to do something different than the day before? It can be a hard thing to incorporate, but if you try to change even small things, you can find something new to do every day.


Dance When No One's Watching - Bokeh + Silhouette
Credit: Dance When No One's Watching - Vramak

5. Dancing
This one requires the proper setting, at least for me. There are some who have no qualms about busting out in dance, and I salute these people. For me however, I prefer a class, club or a secluded area (unless of course it's a flash mob!) to break out in dance.  But dancing is proven to help uplift the spirit.


Shadow Runners
Credit: Shadow Runners: thelastminute
 6. Running
I have written about this therapy before. Running (usually to techno music) is a huge motivator for me. Sometimes it is getting over that "I don't feel like it" hurdle to actually get me into my shoes, but once I am out on the road, the endorphins kick in and sometimes convince me that I could run forever (I have yet to physically prove this).

One of my own photos: Paris


7. Travel
Probably my greatest passion, but also the hardest to do. Especially if you are living in America and working for an American company, this option is only available for an average 10 days out of the year. So in order to not deprive myself completely, I take weekend trips; I read travel magazines; I look up travel web sites, blogs, news articles, anything I can get my hands on... and of course, I live like a tourist in my own city. Ahh, now I remember why I started this blog!

8. What did I miss? Do you have anything to add?

Happy motivated and inspired Friday!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Smoking: Not Just for Humans Anymore

So, in light of a news article I just read today, it is time to put my wannabe-Zoologist hat back on to tell you about some other interesting animal tales (why was it so tempting to just write tails?? hmm... puns are sometimes stronger foes than we realize).


Photo Credit: AP

The first of these tales is about Charlie the South African Chimpanzee who, as it turns out, could have been the poster boy for "Thank you for smoking." Perhaps the stress of the zoo was a little too much, and Charlie took to easing his pain through tobacco... Unfortunately, I just learned of this cigarette-addicted fiend upon his death, as Charlie has just passed away at the age of 52. Smoking was not likely the cause of death, however, and despite the addiction, Charlie lived longer than the average chimp. Though I don't condone smoking, in humans (or as it turns out animals), it is amazing to realize the depth of characters that animals have. We seriously underestimate our other earthly creatures. RIP Charlie.

Although my own outings to the National Zoo have severely diminished in the past few months, I have been actively following its updates, which have included the birth of SEVEN lion cubs and 49 (!!) black footed ferrets.

4 of the 7 lion cubs born at the National Zoo

These African lions, all born of one father, Luke, are not as endangered as tigers, but they are still listed as vulnerable by the IUCNN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources); the birth of these cubs is a triumph in the "Building a Lion Pride" initiative at the Zoo. If you have a couple spare hours, it is entirely too amusing to watch the baby cubs live on Cub Cam! (don't ask why I know this...)

Black-Footed Ferret at the National Zoo
This little guy featured above is one of North America's rarest animals. Only 15 years ago, these adorable little creatures were virtually extinct. Only 18 of them remained! Since that time, zoos have become instrumental in bringing them back from extinction, and the National Zoo's Virginia campus has played a vital role in boosting their population.

As I have previously mentioned, perhaps I have missed my calling, but to appease this side of my personality, I have discovered the IUCNN "Species of the Day" gadget, now featured on the side bar of my blog. This way I get to learn about all the wonderful creatures (and vegetation) of the world and not have to quit my job, start my undergraduate schooling from scratch and reemerge as a technical expert in the field... at least not yet.

But look how cute the ferrets are!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Postcard from the Romantic Road in Germany!



Oh L'Amour!
Local wine, medieval castles, rolling hills and a winding river... the place for love. No, not Paris. I am talking about the Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse). Romance might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Germany, but that's where you would be wrong.  Kim and Clark, of To Uncertainty & Beyond, sent the postcard above from this gorgeous region of western Germany. This strasse stretches 353 km from just below the city of Frankfurt down to Munich and the Bavarian Alps in the south.

Of the beautiful towns, medieval fortresses, and Gothic churches you can find, you have probably at least heard of the Neuschwanstein Castle. This stunning castle sits high up on a rugged hill amidst the Bavarian Alps, inspiring the design of Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland.

However, you may not have heard of Nordlingen or Rothenburg ob der Tauber, two other gems along the road. The former, Nordlingen, has maintained its medieval character with intact city walls, city gates and 18 towers. However, an intriguing fact about this little city is that it sits in a 25 km meteor crater formed when an asteroid hit the earth 15 million years ago!  The Ries Crater museum is a good place to be reminded of this fact if you get distracted by the medieval surroundings.

The latter, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, described as the best preserved medieval town in Germany, has a double vaulted bridge and a town hall tower perfect for living out Rapunzel or your fairy tale of choice. Not convinced? Apparently Rothenburg is also known as the town of "Eternal Christmas." How can you not make this a stop in your journey? So Bon Voyage and Merry Christmas!

Where are you?
Send me a postcard! Just take a digital photo, write a 2-3 line message and send it to touristliving(at)gmail(dot)com! I'll turn your photo into a postcard and post it on my blog to share your experience of living like a tourist in your own city. (Remember: whether you are living in Duluth or Dubai- I want to hear about the interesting or unique aspects of your city!)

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