Situated on the eastern coast of Spain, Valencia is the country's 3rd largest city, behind Madrid and Barcelona. There are roughly 800,000 people who live in Valencia proper and about 1.6 million that live in Valencia's metro area. It is also worth noting that Valencia's harbor is the busiest container port in the Mediterranean and the 5th busiest in Europe. That means that this is a city of economic importance. Stuff happens here.
Today, I’ll be telling you some of what happened to ME (and one very unlucky friend) while I was here.
If you've been a reader for any amount of time, you probably know that I started this website when I moved to Hanoi, Vietnam to work as an English teacher. However, you might NOT know that Hanoi was actually the 2nd time I had lived internationally. The first time was my study abroad, during which I spent a semester living in Madrid, Spain.
This is the first installment of what is going to be a #ThrowBackThursday series. I'll be digging up some choice photos from my time in Europe, re-editing them, and sharing some thoughts and/or stories about each of the places I visited. So let's get to the good stuff!
From the craggily, black mountains, to the mossy green volcano-scapes, to the endless stretches of artic desert, to some of the world’s last glaciers, Iceland is the stuff of legends. And, as it turns out, Iceland has quite enough legends to go around!
Before leaving for this trip, a friend of mine, who had recently returned from her own journey to Iceland, loaned me a book called A Traveller’s Guide To Icelandic Folk Tales by Jón R. Hjálmarsson. Now that I’ve lived to tell the tale, I want to share with you some of the more compelling tales that (supposedly) occurred in the places that I visited on my trip.
I would be so racist against Indian people by now if I hadn’t taken so many trains. In a place like India, my white skin makes me a huge target because of my perceived level of wealth. As such, most of the interactions I have with locals are about money, and the unfortunate majority of them are not positive. Traveling through this kind of environment, it's easy to get cynical. My saving grace throughout my whole time in India was my time on the trains.
Varanasi is known as the holy city. It is said that all the Hindu Gods live here. After finding enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, Buddha came here to do his first teaching. There is also a sizeable Muslim community here. The city is therefore packed with religious landmarks and temples.
First, on a clerical note, Calcutta was renamed, or, more accurately, respelled, officially in 2001. Spelling it as "Kolkata" is apparently more phonetically accurate to the Bengali pronunciation, whereas the "Calcutta" spelling was a viewed as a remnant of British colonialism. I'll be using the "Calcutta" spelling just because it's more widely recognized by Westerners... I think.
I'm going to kick this post off with some history, and work my way up to the problem I almost had with the Bangladeshi police. It's going to be heavy on writing and light on pictures, so if that's okay with you, let's get started.
Waking up in Dhaka I hear the ringing of bells on rickshaws, people yelling, and dogs barking. I am staying on the 9th floor of an office building that rises high over the slums on Dhaka’s southwestern outskirts. I look out the window, and I can see a rainstorm blowing in from the south. The Muslim call to prayer eerily wafts over the half-finished buildings all around me from the local mosques.
This article is a brief guide to Dhaka, as well as a narrative of my arrival and experience in this chaotic city. And it's been moved! This article has become a city guide in it's own rite, so when you click on this article, you'll be prompted to visit this guide in its new location.
(It's better this way, I promise)
Since Burma's history isn't exactly common knowledge, let's start by filling in some of your knowledge gaps. The first question is a simple one: what is Mingun Pagoda?
Fair question. It’s not quite on the level of the Great Wall or the Pyramids, so most people have probably never heard of it.