Spurning a drug dealer-beggar in Lisbon

I’m in downtown Lisbon,¬†wandering with my camera, taking photos in Restauradores and Rossio, the beautiful light and the perfect cobblestones in contrasting colors. I’m starting to get hungry, and I spot some roasted chestnuts and slow down to get some. A wizened man with two missing front teeth falls into step with me and showsContinue reading “Spurning a drug dealer-beggar in Lisbon”

Milan in the rain, on the cheap

I arrive in Milan on a gray and sopping wet day, and am greeted in the baggage claim area by a bevy of tourist fliers, all of which appear to be for shopping. Haute couture shopping, fine leather goods, discount malls in nearby Switzerland. The fliers and the weather are so discouraging, in fact, thatContinue reading “Milan in the rain, on the cheap”

Hewn into the (non) living rock of Stonehenge

I’ll admit it: the mock documentary This is Spinal Tap made me want to visit Stonehenge. Specifically the line from the song “Stonehenge,” delivered with deadpan idiocy by Christopher Guest, “The Druids! Nobody knows who they were, or… what they were doing.” Who could resist such an enticing summary? This is actually somewhat accurate aboutContinue reading “Hewn into the (non) living rock of Stonehenge”

Salisbury and the Magna Carta

One of the first essays I ever wrote was, quite pompously, about what “abuses provoked men to demand the Magna Carta.” My research consisted of reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on Magna Carta. I mean, hey, I was 12, and that seemed sufficient. I vaguely remember writing something about unfair taxation, loosely tied into myContinue reading “Salisbury and the Magna Carta”

Taking in Bath

If you’ve read Jane Austin, you’re familiar with how trendy it was during the Georgian period for parties of people and particularly sickly women to take the ancient waters at Bath; something that generally turned into a social/tourist outing in which young people would happily subject themselves to a variety of entertainment. Not entirely unlikeContinue reading “Taking in Bath”


To be honest, I’d never heard of the Sikh riots, called genocide by many groups because widespread ethnic killings occurred, until I ran into several thousand Khalistan Sikhs marching in downtown London, to the bewilderment of onlookers, for a remembrance and freedom protest. Intrigued, I walked with them all the way to Parliament Square, whichContinue reading “1984”

Evensong at Westminster Abbey

Last time I was in London, back in 2001, the one big tourist attraction I paid for was Westminster Abbey. This was on December 31, just after I’d met up with a friend of mine from study abroad: after the semester ended, we agreed to meet up at noon in front of Buckingham Palace onContinue reading “Evensong at Westminster Abbey”