All posts in Essays

  • Moon over the Mosel – A Ferry Ride from Cochem to Beilstein


    As we reached the bottom of the mountain road and began our trip along the Mosel River, I could not help but think about the poor bastards who were responsible for picking all of those grapes. The valley walls were steep and I saw a few men, high above the road, shuffling between endless rows of grape plants, harvesting the fruit by hand.  Our road followed the trail of the river until we reached the town of Cochem; a tourist favorite in the region.

    Many of the villages along the Mosel had experienced a period of strong investment and restoration in the late 1970’s; leaving a bizarre collection of medieval castles and Brady Bunch style condominiums throughout the region.  But we were not in Cochem to judge the architecture, we were interested in sampling the product that made the river famous – the wine.

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  • Is Dark Tourism Immoral?


    Over the weekend I came across an IAmA post on Reddit authored by a man (u/Zombie46) who had recently returned from a leisure vacation to North Korea.  Obvious questions came to my mind immediately.  “Why the hell would anyone want to visit North Korea?” was the question that I muttered most often.  I could not fathom why anyone would want to visit an autocratic, prison camp infested land of despair and oppression.  Truthfully, after reading the author’s responses I’m still not sure why anyone would spend good money on a visit to the DPRK, but many readers brought up a far more interesting criticism.

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  • Mark Twain Hates Your Travel Essay


    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

    - Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

    I may be guilty of violating the main tenet of this site by posting an epigraph so meaningful – dare I say whimsical – but life is too short not to be hypocritical on occasion.  Twain’s position is one of infallibility.  I cannot think of an argument that is capable of diminishing Twain’s assertion that is not saturated with cynicism.

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  • Las Vegas is Infinite: My First Royal Flush


    I once had an oceanography professor who tried to convince the class that all coastlines are of an infinite length, as length is relative to the metric that is used to conduct the measurement.  No one really understood what the hell he was talking about, partly because he was a barrel chested Frenchman who sounded like a drunk Gerard Depardieu, and partly because he would never stop babbling about something called the Coriolis Effect.  It wasn’t until years later, during a trip to Las Vegas, that I finally understood what he meant by the infinite coastline.  Most people consider Las Vegas to be bi-modal by nature; the Las Vegas of residents and the Las Vegas of tourists.  In reality, Las Vegas is infinite – it just depends how you measure.

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  • The Mayor of Bologna



    Italy has been romanticized for centuries, and rightfully so. Florence was one of the most dramatic cities I have ever had the pleasure to visit. The city was overrun with tourists and the line at the Uffizi Gallery was a discordant amalgam of slack jawed foreigners and indifferent Fiorentini, but the streets and piazzas of Firenze brought the Renaissance to the 21st Century. Rome, despite its overcrowding and maintenance shortcomings, has left considerable historical and cultural impressions on even the most hedonistic of travelers. Venice, a glorified cruise port and Epcot Center exhibit, is unrivaled in its beauty. Bologna, the cradle of gastronomy in Italy, is a cooperative of insane, aged communists and social miscreants.

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