Dresden and the History of Saxony

Dresden, Germany is today a reasonably sized city of about 550,000 known for its low cost of living and tech renaissance (Silicon Saxony). But this belies a centuries-old history worthy of a much more major metropolis. From 1547 until 1918, it was the capital of the Electorate of Saxony (part of the Holy Roman Empire)…

Germany’s Rhineland

Editor’s note: Like Sam, I loved my time in the Rhine Valley, although I based myself in Bonn and Cologne rather than south as he did. His take on the religious history of the region is amazing, a wonderful contrast to my own experience. For more of Sam Spector’s adventures, click here to visit his…

Majestic Drachenburg Castle

Castles on the Rhine. There is a fairy tale quality to this abject reality: castles are truly everywhere along the Rhine River in between Mainz and Bonn. Some are ruins; some are intact. Some are medieval stone keeps; some are more modern chalets and villas. Some are museums; some are lived in still. A castle…

The Micro-Nation of San Marino

Editor’s note: like Sam, I also have the goal to visit most, if not all, countries of the world, but especially all the countries of Europe. San Marino is one I’m missing, and will make sure to hit the next time I’m in Italy. For more of Sam’s adventures, click here to visit his index…

Japan’s Spectacular Himeji Castle

As American tourists, we tend to think of Europe as the pinnacle for spectacular castles. However, while certainly there are some amazing castles all across the European continent, that perspective ignores one of feudalism's greatest homes: Japan. Japanese feudal society was every bit as complex as that in Europe, and with it came - as…

Lisbon: Alfama

If comparisons between Lisbon and San Francisco are to be believed - and I heard many such statements before coming here, from friends and Rick Steves - this is where they come from. Walking up hills on winding, narrow streets while dodging street cars that rattle by does indeed remind me of San Francisco, at…