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.

Top Three Graveyards

Call me grim, but I love graveyards.  I love exploring them, reading tombstones, and sometimes I’ll picnic in them (if there’s a good tree around you can be sure to find me tangled in its branches).  I treat them like parks – I enjoy their beauty, I respect them and I surely keep them clean.  My favorite types of graveyards to visit are ones with lots of character and even more history.  I’ve made it a point to check out graveyards in every country I’ve visited so far, but three tend to stand out because of their fancy artwork, hilarious legends and wildly extravagant tombs.

Greyfriars Kirk: Edinburgh, Scotland

Greyfriars KirkFun fact about graveyards in Scotland: they are the second most popular place for public sex!  And Greyfriars Kirk is no exception.  During my visit I didn’t see anyone doing the naughty stuff, but I did see the cutest couple doing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance amongst the grave sites.  Greyfriars Kirk is one of the most historic graveyards in Scotland for several reasons:

  1. Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, there was no legal way to obtain a corpse for medical study.  Therefore, grave robbing during the 1800’s became a very lucrative business… but even better if the bodies were fresh.  Because of the lack of suitable embalming techniques, scientists would pay a hefty price to obtain a fresh corpse.  That’s where Brendan Burke and William Hare come in.  Two lazy grave robbers who thought exhuming recently deceased individuals was too much hard work.  They found that it was much easier to get a
    Mackenzie's Tomb

    Mackenzie's Tomb

    person drunk and suffocate them instead – a murder technique that would later be called “Burking” and brought forth the London Burkers, imitators of the Scottish duo.  This led to the invention of the “Mort-Safe”, a cage that was placed over the grave, preventing anyone from stealing a body in the name of science.

  2. Urban legend has it that it is home to the world’s most active poltergeist at Mackenzie’s tomb.
  3. It is home to “Greyfriars Bobby“.  The cute tale that Disney recycled time and time again about a cute pup who was so loyal to his master, the groundskeeper, that when his master passed, Bobby stayed by his grave.  What an adorable story of a man’s best friend.
  4. Greyfriars Kirk is just below the Elephant House Cafe, the place where J. K. Rowling wrote the first two Harry Potter books.  When you sit in her seat overlooking the graveyard, you can see the view that inspired her to write such an imaginative tale.
Greyfriars Kirk

Ohlsdorf FriedhofOhlsdorf Friedhof: Hamburg, Germany

Ohlsdorf Friedhof in Hamburg, Germany is the world’s largest graveyard park.  In fact, it’s so large that it has it’s own public transportation system complete with 2 bus lines and 25 stops.  It’s 966 acre, has 1.8 million people buried there, 12 chapels and 11 miles worth of streets.  The entire park is pristine as it is a German tradition for gardeners to tend to a person’s grave for the rest of eternity, transforming each plot into a miniature garden for future generations to enjoy.

Many of Germany’s late greats are buried here – celebrities, politicians and the extremely wealthy have some of the most extravagant tombstones, colosseums and statues marking their final resting place.  The average joe can grab a plot here too, but they have to pay a hefty price.  Some even begin making payments while they are alive to reserve they place at Ohlsdorf Friedhof.

Ohlsdorf Friedhof

Old Burying Point (Charter Street Cemetery): Salem, Massachusetts

Old Burying Point, Charter Street Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts

I do enjoy hunting through Puritan headstones.  It’s like a scavenger hunt!  How many cherubs, weeping willows and Death’s heads can you find!?  Old Burying Point in Salem, Massachusetts is known for being America’s second oldest graveyard.  It is also the resting place of famous residents of the time of the Salem Witch Trials including the trial’s judges Jonathan Corwin and John Hawthorne.  Sadly, victims of the trials are not buried here, but there is a memorial beside the graveyard.

This might be a small graveyard but it has large trees which are fun to climb.  Take that and add in some history, American heritage and New England culture and you have a fun place for a picnic!

Old Burying Point, Charter Street Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts

Jan! Hold my coffee. I gotta climb this tree right now.


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