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.


6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Road Tripping Alaska

This past September, my roommate and I embarked on #RoadTripAlaska.  We flew into Anchorage, rented a car and hit the road with only a vague idea of what we wanted to accomplish.  I must say, that given the minimal planning, my roommate and I did a phenomenal job going with the flow and making it up as we went along. But after the journey, I had a dose of retrospect.  Looking back there are things that I learned on the journey that I wish I had thought of beforehand — but I guess there’s always next time! 1. Bring toiletpaper

That Bible in the Bedside Drawer

A Gideon Bible where it's often found, in a hotel nightstand.Have you ever wondered why there is a Bible in the bedside drawer of many hotel rooms around the world?  I always thought it was humorous since hotels are notorious for being a hotbed of sin but I never really thought about why until a couple of weeks ago when I arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada for work.  I always accepted that there was a Bible in the bedside drawer of every hotel room I’ve ever been to, but I never pondered why a Bible is among the many amenities that hotels provide worldwide.

It all started in 1898 when John H. Nicholson and Samuel E. Hill arrived at a hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin.  The hotel was very crowded and only had one double room left for the two businessmen to share.  Even though they didn’t know each other, John and Samuel decided, what the heck, it’s only for a night.  While bunking with one another, the traveling salesmen realized that they had one thing in common: Christianity.  They bonded over their common faith and they talked into the night, toying around with the idea of starting an organization for traveling Christian businessmen.  That is when Gideon International, also known as the Christian Commercial Travelers Association, was born.

As the group grew over the next few years, they thought about how they could fulfill their Christian duties and spread the word while on the road.  Since many of them spent time working in hotels and traveling, they decided to start distributing Bibles to hotels.  The Bibles would not only be for fellow Gideons, but also for people who sought the word and needed wisdom from the Good Book.  The first hotel to start the tradition was the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana in 1908.  Since then, the group has distributed more than 1.7 billion Bibles to more 190 countries around the world.

Since many Gideons are businessmen, they have a bunch of interesting marketing statistics out there to evaluate the effectiveness of their program.  Through research they have determined that 25% of hotel guests will read the Bible left in the bedside drawer.  They have also determined that each book has a life expectancy of 6 years and they replace these books once they are worn out or are taken.  The bibles are also free to the hotels as the program is funded 100% by donations made to the Gideons.

But what about other religious texts?  Take a look at the Marriott chain.  Because they are Mormon owned, every hotel room comes with a Book of Mormon.  Other hotel chains also offer guests the Koran, the Chinese Tao Te Ching, the Hebrew Bible, Buddhist literature and even books on Scientology.

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