I should start by telling you that Gangi (pronounced "gan-chee") isn't *technically* a ghost town. It's actually trying REALLY hard not to be. In an effort to revitalize this town, the mayor of Gangi decided to start selling the vacant houses to outside investors for €1.00 a piece. This insane bargain comes with 1 string attached: that you will spend no less than 35,000 EUR (43,212-ish USD) to fix up the house within 5 years. Yes, this is 100% true, and if you want to, you really could buy one of these houses right now. Mull it over as you read this article.
Catania is the second largest city in Sicily. The population of Catania proper is about 320,000, but there are a combined 1.1 million people who live in the metro area. In Italy overall, Catania is the 10th biggest city, and the 7th largest metro area. This is a major population center for Sicily, second only to Palermo, which will be our last stop on this trip. Catania is not the most well-known place, but it's definitely not small either. It's actually really big, especially by Sicilian standards. But Catania's burgeoning population should be surprising. This isn't exactly prime real estate.
I think that most people who visit Malta arrive suffering from an information deficit, because one of the first tourist attractions any local will tell you to see is a 45 minute movie explaining things. Indeed, at first glance, the Maltese capital city, Valletta, will leave you incredulous. I think that everybody who lives there knows that it requires some explanation. All that I kept thinking when I first arrived was "How did this place come to be and how do I know so little about it?" Well the movie answers those questions, and more. But for now, you'll just have to hear it from me!
To finish this series on Algeria, we're going to dive headfirst into the legendary Casbah of Algiers. This is the oldest neighborhood in Algiers, and many locals would also say that it's the most dangerous. In fact, the vast majority of locals that we asked about it told us that they themselves would not walk through this neighborhood alone. Yikes!
Now, if you've been following this series on Algiers/Algeria, you know that I've been preaching about how unexpectedly safe Algiers turned out to be. So it might seem odd that I'm now telling you about a place that is supposedly so dangerous. Well let me kick this off with a spoiler for you: the Casbah isn't so bad.
At a glance, much of Algiers is almost a mirror image of its former colonizer, France, which sits just across the Mediterranean. Visually, it is defined by Parisian-style buildings, almost all of which are colored white. However, in spite of its surreal visual similarities with France, it only takes about 10 seconds of walking the streets of Algiers to realize that it is a world all its own.
I’m going to tell you this up front: I LOVE this city.
Something like 90% of all tobacco in Cuba comes from the Pinar del Río province, and Viñales is the cultural center of this province. That means that, if you have ever had the pleasure of smoking a Cuban cigar, this is (probably) where it came from. But Viñales has a lot more to offer than just agriculture; it's also a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as a national park in Cuba.
After decades of harsh political rhetoric, assassination attempts, international crises, violent incidents, and economic sanctions, the American and Cuban governments have taken the first step towards making nice. The first direct international flight from the U.S. to Cuba touched down in August of 2016 so, for Americans, Cuba is now open for business!
This quest brought us to the edge of the world, literally, to the bone-chillingly massive cliffs of Látrabjarg. Here’s a spoiler alert for you: it was mind-blowingly gorgeous. A friend of mine recently pointed out that I’ve said similar things about a great many of the places I have visited, so let me up the ante a bit: this was one of the top 5 most beautiful places I’ve seen, EVER.
This is the all-you-need-to-know guide to Nashville's indie side, including all the best bars/venues/music. We're even building out a section for Nashville's frequent but elusive secret shows. And you won't see a single cowboy hat! Probably.
I arrived in Italy pretty directionless, so their vivid descriptions of discovering beautiful seaside towns along the Italian Riviera that were completely void of tourists were enough to sell me. Of course, that was the 1980s, and today it isn't quite the same, but Cinque Terre is still incredible.
Mumbai's Kamathipura is the oldest red-light district on the Indian subcontinent, and is the 2nd largest on the entire continent of Asia. The 1st largest is Calcutta, which is something that I didn’t realize when I was actually there. If I had we probably would have paid it a visit, like we're about to do in Mumbai.
It was another 20 or 30 minutes through the canyon before we finally saw Turtuk off in the distance. As we approached, the canyon grew wider ahead of us, and we saw a small collection of trees. It wasn't long before we were in the middle of those trees, and I was taken completely by surprise by what we found. Tucked away in such a remote part of the Himalayas, Turtuk was like a lot like Shangri-La. Despite its harsh, rugged surroundings, this village was a little slice of heaven.
At 18,380 feet (or 5,602 meters) above sea level, Khardungla Pass is the highest motorable road in the world. To put altitude in perspective for you, that's almost 13 times the height of the Empire State Building. It's a little less than the length of 115 (American) Football fields. It is the equivalent to about 3.5 miles. It is also 780 feet higher than Everest Base Camp.
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.
During one of my rainy days in Sa Pa, one of the hostel workers told me about an organization that had just been initiated that allowed foreigners the chance to have a question and answer session with former Viet Cong soldiers, and interact with children who were growing up with disabilities caused by Agent Orange. I was beyond excited to hear that such an organization existed. This was going to be the real deal.
Considering making Hanoi your home for a while? Awesome! It's a great place to live, but it can take some getting used to, and knowledge is power. This guide should answer all the questions you could have about moving to Hanoi, but if you're still feeling uncertain, don't hesitate to reach out and ask me yourself!
We sat on the deck of the boat eating our dinner together. Nobody was speaking. We were not in good spirits. Lightning flashed silently off in the distance in all directions with increasing frequency. The coast of Sumbawa sat calmly a few hundred meters away. I watched the lights twinkle from shore, wishing I was there instead of on this boat. With the wind picking up, we could all feel the storm coming.
The rest of us, strangers to one another at this point, looked at each other, and then with an uneasy shrug climbed down onto the deck of this tiny boat. It bobbled precariously with every passing wave. One thing was certain: this was going to be interesting. So let’s fast-forward a little bit, shall we?
We were driving overnight and I was doing my best to sleep but it was tough with our bus driver trying to break some sort of land speed record on the winding, bumpy mountain roads. It didn’t help that I had to twist and mangle my long white-person legs into terrible positions to fit into my seat in the first place. We made it to Mù Cang Chải a little bit before sunrise. This town would serve as our ‘base camp.’