It takes patience and a little imagination to explore the narrow, hushed streets of Barcelona’s Jewish District. Deep in the Gothic Quarter, the medieval heart of the city, more than a thousand years of Jewish history reveals itself in tiny fragments here and there, like a scavenger hunt.
Five hundred years after Spain expelled its Jews, it wants them back.
I stepped into the brilliant sunshine of a plaza in Catalonia, and the first thing that caught my eye was a banner — in Hebrew. Above it, in Catalan, read the translation: “Noah’s Ark: A Holiday Exhibition” at the Museum of Miniatures and Microminiatures.
The ancient Romans were an ambitious lot. At the zenith of their empire, they controlled a good swath of the world’s prime real estate, from London and Iberia all the way to Cairo and Jerusalem.
All around the Mediterranean rim, the heart of Roman territory, you stumble across ruins of this once-mighty civilization. The Roman Forum is just the best-known example of a genre whose brick walls, stone burial markers, and still-solid archways are visible from Salamanca to Sofia.
According to that most scientific of sources, Wikipedia, the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area in Germany is the fourth-largest metro area on the Continent — eclipsed only by such marginally European burgs as Moscow, Istanbul and London.
In other words, Rhine-Ruhr is the industrial heart of the country lately in the public consciousness as Europe’s economic engine. A drive through this West German sprawl reveals the scale of German enterprise — and a devotion to the local beer, Kolsch, that borders on obsessive.
When you travel a lot, sooner or later, a trip ends in the emergency room.
The first time it happened to me was summer vacation, 1986. Violently ill, I received a diagnosis of mild appendicitis at the E.R. and was sent home. When my appendix ruptured the next day, we returned and I was whisked into surgery.
It all turned out fine in the end. And in the intervening decades, rural resort-area hospitals like the one on Martha’s Vineyard have drastically improved, thanks to partnerships with better-equipped affiliates in nearby cities.
Growing up near New York’s Metropolitan Museum, I had no idea how lucky I was to have access to a room full of Clyfford Still’s wild, uninhibited canvases. With their signature vertical drips of paint, they reminded me of the water damage on the wall of our spare room. When I told my dad this, he always said I’d appreciate Still when I got older: “He’s one of the giants.”
The first thing you may notice about Marrakesh, especially if you arrive in the morning, is how cool and fresh the air is. Here on the desert fringe of the Atlas Mountains, chilly, star-filled nights give way to a searing daytime sun. The antidote to this arid climate, as generations of Western visitors have found out, is a cup of fresh-squeezed juice from a fruit cart.