A Walk Through Athens Greece

As a hardcore history nerd and amateur cultural anthropologist (yes, I’m only two classes away from having a bachelors in Anthropology), Athens was the perfect opportunity to finally live out my fantasy of exploring and studying ancient cultures and their ruins. It was an honor to have a personal experience with one of the most prolific civilizations that has ever graced this planet.  Think about it!  Without Athens modern democracy wouldn’t exist!  The idea of forums and a government by the people for the people was a concept that arose from the Athenians who, like the goddess Athena for whom


Port of Hamburg: Photo Essay

Sorry Philadelphia, but I’m having a love affair with Hamburg, Germany.  I love its old traditions balanced with a spirit of new ideas, its humble, working class beginnings, and this port city’s seafaring feel.  Where Philadelphia’s shipping history was almost snubbed out because of America’s highway system (in recent years, there’s been a huge push to revitalize it), Hamburg’s is still thriving 826 years later.  Honestly, a life at sea is not complete with a stop at Hamburg Harbor. This past winter, I took a trip back to visit Hamburg and was welcomed by unseasonably beautiful weather.  As a result,

Heini Hiltunen Timo Kaukonen, left, sweats it out at the Sauna World Championships.
From ESPN "Sports from Hell"

That Time I Almost Died in a German Sauna

There are two types of people in this world: there are those who go to saunas for relaxation.  Then there are those who turn relaxation into a competition.  Yes, there are literally people who go to saunas to challenge one another on who can stay in a sauna the longest.  Back in 2010 I read a story about that Russian guy who died in a sauna competition in Finland.  The relaxation aspect of it I can get, but I think it’s a bit crazy that people take it to a whole new level and put their bodies through stress just

dall sheep

Have You Seen the Dall Sheep?

Alaska is teeming with wildlife.  In fact, Denali National Park & Preserve is home to 39 species of mammals, 169 types of birds, 14 fish, and 1 amphibian.  Amongst them are wild bears, moose, coyotes, wolves, eagles, and other creatures worth excitedly wiping out your camera and accidentally dropping it for.  But no animal in Alaska gets the older male tourist population more pumped than the Dall sheep. When compared to the other majestic creatures that you encounter in Alaska, the Dall sheep are simpletons.  You can usually observe them far off in the distance, hanging out on the peaks

Sun Rise

From the Darkness Comes Light

Hey there readers, On A Travel Broad, I tend to focus only on the positive and exciting side of my life and travels.  I share with you pictures from my time living in Germany and stories of my jaunts through Europe and North America in hopes of inspiring you to go out and experience the world for yourselves.  But I hardly ever discuss the difficult times I sometimes face.  Some of these challenging times are by my choice because I love traveling and sharing my travels with you gives me purpose.  In the 5 years since I’ve started this blog,

deutsche bahn

How to Navigate Germany When Deutsche Bahn Train Drivers Go on Strike

If you want to tick off a group of Germans, tell them that the train is going to be fifteen minutes late. But if you tell them that none of the trains will be running due to a strike? Utter chaos! Hundreds of thousands of travelers depend on the Deutsche Bahn to transport them to airports, cities and neighboring countries in Europe. But as Deustche Bahn train drivers prepare to go on strike tomorrow through Monday, these travelers, many of whom will be converging on Berlin this weekend for the 25th anniversary of its fall, are scrambling for an alternative.

roma kids

Playing with Roma Children

Below Acropolis in Athens, Greece, Roma children work as street performers, playing accordions, drums and the bouzouki, a type of Greek guitar, for money.  They purposely target marketplaces and tourist areas, knowing that that’s where the cash flows the fastest.  There are several levels of aggressiveness when it comes to begging.  Some casually perform on the street corner — in fact, the older kids are very talented at playing folk music, turning street corners in to concerts.  Then there are others who go from cafe table to cafe table playing music while simultaneously begging for money. Some get creative by

favorite place in the world

Answer to the Infamous Question, “What’s Your Favorite Place in the World”

“What’s your favorite place in the world?”  It’s often the first question that everyone asks when they learn that I’m a travel writer.  In my younger years, I often answered with a place I had recently gotten back from, mostly for the sake of conversation.  “Oh I was surprised how much I loved Denmark” or “I loved Barcelona for the food”. But the more I travel, the more I realize that there is no definitive answer to this question.  People sometimes expect me to pick a favorite place because of the sites (“isn’t Paris the best because of the Eiffel

York Post

York: England’s Most Haunted Town is Actually Charming

York: England’s most haunted town.  Seems like a bold claim, but when you look at York’s gruesome history of the Black Death, murder, poverty, war, and genocide you can kind of see where these ghost stories come from.  As a result, many businesses in York are cashing in on things that go bump in the night.  Nightly ghost tours take upwards of 75 thrill-seekers at a time to go ghost hunting at famous sites, hotels offer premier rates to stay in their “haunted suite”, and pubs have banners and signs claiming York’s most haunted pub, not because of any quantifiable

cats of athens

The Cats of Athens

People often talk about how many dogs are roaming around Athens, but let’s take a moment to enjoy the cats. With the picturesque views and the natural coyness of cats, I have enough photos to do a 15-month “Kittehs of Athens” Calendar if I wanted to.  Here’s a few of my favorite felines so far.

24 Hours in Paris: Part 3 of ?

After a long day of hiking through the windy streets of Paris gazing at the elaborately ornate buildings, Nicole and I were exhausted!  Our night was uneventful — we ate dinner, drank wine, attempted to party but Paris was just too bourgeoisie for our taste.  We called it an early night and retired to our hostel to prepare for our flight the next day.  We had a big day ahead of us… but it ended up being bigger than we expected.

Scene 3: The Great Escape — Taxi Heist

We had booked a Ryanair flight out of Paris for 12:20 p.m. so the next morning we woke up early to pack, shower and have a hearty breakfast before heading to Barcelona.  We went down to the front desk to ask what was the best way to get to Beauvais-Tille Airport, the airport Ryanair advertises as being in Paris — we quickly learned this wasn’t really the case.  It was 9 a.m. but according to the hostel worker we had a 2 hours journey ahead of us — a subway ride to the edge of the city followed by an hour and a half on a shuttle!  As soon as we got that startling piece of information we bolted as fast as we could to catch our flight.  We got to the shuttle station within 20 minutes, giving us about 2 hours before the gate closed.

We spent several precious minutes trying to make sense of the shuttle schedule before a man walked up to tell us that the next shuttle wasn’t going to come until 11:20, the exact time our gate would close!  We had only one option — to take a taxi or be stuck for another day in Paris! NEVER!  It just so happened that the man who informed us of the next shuttle departure was also a taxi driver (how convenient).  In a panic and desperate to leave France, we took his offer.  We loaded up into his taxi and headed off to Beauvais-Tille Airport.

Before leaving the city limits we asked him how much this would cost.  “Oh, no more than 45 Euros,” he replied, “did you need to go to an ATM?”  It made sense that it would be about 45 Euros.  Compared to our taxi ride from the airport to the hotel in Berlin was about that much, so it was reasonable.  We checked our wallets and saw that we had more than enough between us to cover the cost.

The freezing rain, bumper to bumper traffic, the ticking clock and the random fear that maybe we just got “Taken” by a guy posing to be a taxi driver created a lot of anxiety for Nicole and I.  But frequent check-ins with Google Maps assured us that we were headed in the right direction and that we would get there just in time.

With only a 45 minutes to go before the gate closed, our taxi rolled up to the middle of a parking lot between two terminals.  He pointed off to one of the terminals and said “that’s terminal two — that’s where you need to go”.  We then looked at the cost of the taxi ride — 150 Euros!?

“Well now we have to go to an ATM because you said it would be 45 Euros.  We have 45 Euros but we don’t have 150!”

Suddenly, his ability to speak English vanished and Nicole and I were left pointing at wallets and ATM cards yelling “More money — more Euros — ATM”.  He shrugged, pursed his lips and shook his head.  I decided to stay with the car while Nicole ran to terminal one, which was closer.  She spent about ten precious minutes hunting down an ATM but returned with enough money to pay the damn bill.

We then ran with our luggage in the freezing rain to terminal two.  We made it just in time… but there was one last speed bump.

Scene 4: The Great Escape — Ryan Air First Class

This is the day that I learned Ryan Air actually offers first class seating.  Nicole and I booked our tickets ahead of time and got a killer deal — 35 Euros for a flight from Paris to Barcelona.  Or at least it was a deal before that intense hit from the taxi bill just 5 minutes earlier.

I checked in with ease and waited for Nicole at security.  The man at the check-in desk spent a lot of time inspecting Nicole’s ticket.  He then leaned over to her and said “I’m sorry, but this ticket is for yesterday.”  NICOLE BOUGHT A TICKET FOR THE WRONG DAY!  With only 30 minutes to go, Nicole ran to the ticketing desk to correct the error.  I saved her place in line while she negotiated with Ryan Air.  The workers at the desk took their sweet time while Nicole and I exchanged panicy glances from across the terminal.  At this point in the trip, we had ESP, and all I could hear in her thoughts were “are we gonna make it out of this God damn country?  I can’t be in Paris another night.”

With 15 minutes to go before the gate closed Nicole returned to the check-in desk with her new ticket.  We were amazed at the lack of urgency in how the airport staff approached this situation.  Even though the guy at the check-in desk was up to speed on the issue, he was still confused by Nicole’s newly purchased ticket and wasted precious minutes calling the ticketing desk that was 20 feet away.  The conversation was in French, but I imagined it went something like this:

“Silly American girls!  Let’s make them suffer for thinking they could go on vacation in our country.  How dare they call football ‘soccer’.”

With 7 minutes on the clock we charged through security.  Beaten, haggard, drenched and completely exhausted by the ordeal, we joined the rest of the travelers in line, waiting to board.  But there was one question left unanswered:

“Hey Nicole,” I asked, “How did you fix your ticket?”

“Well,” she began, “I was forced to buy a new ticket.  First class for 250 Euros!”

Some might say we were defeated by Paris — but dammit, we survived!  We were robbed, chastised, cat called, harassed, and swindled, but we lived to tell the tale of our 24 hours in Paris.  We were off to Barcelona and when we got there we quickly learned that it was worth every stinking penny.


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