Hey, you’re in Japan—-want to get naked with 126.8 million new friends?  You got this! Do you have tattoos?  No onsen for you.  There are about 20 different signs saying “No tattoos in the onsen.”  Well, maybe if you just have that one lame butterfly tattoo from high school you could put and bandaid over […]

Arriving in Nara last night, we went in search of udon,  While slurping up our noodles in a random noodle joint, I looked up at at the TV and said to HOB “look at that weather forecast—looks like there’s a typhoon over Japan.” Oops!  There was a typhoon bearing down on us, projected to be […]

HOB and I used to take a staycation every spring.  We’d run around Chicago, visiting far away neighborhoods, going to concerts and plays, and walking around with an architecture book doing self-guided tours.  On several of these vacations we took the train out to Oak Park, our visits always seeming to coincide with an event […]

This time every summer I usually go to a conference.  This year that conference is in Chicago.  While I’m kind of bummed not to be visiting a new city, I’m thinking of this as an opportunity to see Chicago with my traveler’s eyes.  After all, travel is more than seeing sights—it is the experience of […]

For years my best travel advice came from a retired doctor named Howard who I “met” on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist.  Howard—in his mid 80’s at the time–was exceptionally cranky, no doubt because he was no longer able to travel (for the record, this would make me cranky too.)  Howard put his pent-up traveling energy […]

Vikings are popular these days, but please don’t invite me to that party.  As far as I’m concerned, being a fan of Vikings is akin to being a fan of Isis.  Like Isis, Vikings destroyed priceless works of cultural heritage (and yeah, they killed a lot of people too).  I’m taking the side of the […]

When we got back from Norway several people asked me “How was the food?” and I answered “I don’t know.”  That’s because, instead of seeking out local specialties and eating in restaurants, we just bought basic groceries from supermarkets and prepared the food ourselves.  That’s not a romantic way to eat and it doesn’t make […]

Norwegians seem to be constantly coming from, going to, or actively engaged in robust outdoor activities.  Oslo is a sea of bouncing ponytails (from the almost comical amount of joggers.)  The trains are full of cross-country ski shleppers.  Women in their seventies are hiking with backpacks and bedrolls.  There’s a national obsession with cabins (one […]

Before we went to Norway I did a bit of research and then I emailed a tourist information office who forwarded me to someone at a museum… ….who scanned me a hand drawn map… …which directed us to a train station called Hell…. …and a short walk through a moss covered forest… …where we found […]

Did you know Norway has a pilgrimage?  Well, I didn’t until we stumbled on it. The pilgrimage is called St. Olav Ways—“ways” because you can choose one of several routes, as long as you end up at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Here I am at Old Aker church in Olso next to kilometer marker 639 (that […]