I'm sharing my travel experiences, candid opinions and what's on my mind. If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further. — Rick
Join me now in York, at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall — a vast half-timbered building with creaky floorboards, beautiful woodwork, and guild banners that go back centuries. My guide Alfred shares some insight into how, centuries ago, guilds brought Bible stories to the people through theater. And just imagining this place as the Old York Stock Exchange is fun.
Andy, my guide in the Lake District, has spent a lifetime exploring Cumbria — and I’m enjoying an entire day with him. Join us as we go over Kirkstone Pass — 1,500 feet above sea level is a big deal around here — and listen in as he tells me why, centuries ago, farmers built all these impressive dry-stone walls.
An intimate moment…just me and the sheep…I had to whisper. It was late in the day (at this latitude, it’s light until 10 pm), and I was really tired, but I had to make a little Castlerigg detour before reaching my destination for the night and my B&B. Join me for this private stone circle moment — and share one of your own…if you dare.
Fifty years ago today, I was a gangly 14-year-old, in Europe for the first time. I’d been dragged to the Old Country by a conspiracy of grandparents and parents solely to visit Norwegian relatives. I hadn’t wanted to go, and I’d arrived with a bad attitude. It was teen culture-shock: No Fanta. No hamburgers. But after a few days, I was wild about Solo (Norway’s orange pop) and addicted to pølser wieners.
I watched the Apollo moon landing with my cousins, sitting on the living room floor of the house where my great-great-grandmother was born. And as I heard them translate Neil Armstrong’s words (“Ett lite skritt for et menneske, ett stort skritt for menneskeheten“), it dawned on me that the first big step was more than just an American celebration. It was a human triumph.
Travel had walloped my ethnocentrism — and at that exact moment, I began to see the whole world differently.
Time travel back to the 13th century with me, to a sacred pagan site at the intersection of two ley lines. This little church in the Cotswolds is dedicated to St. Michael, the archangel who was both an anecdote and an antidote to paganism. (I mistakenly said anecdote, intending to say antidote…but it actually works both ways.) Sheep’s wool once paid for everything here, and — judging by the grooves worn into the pews by the sheepdog leashes — a shepherd’s “best friend” even accompanied him to church.
This little ad-libbed tour demonstrates all the history you can find in a place like this, once you learn how to see it. Just like how you appreciate fine wine the more you drink it, you appreciate heritage the more you visit churches like this one.