An Intricate Labyrinth of Tunnels Beneath Jerusalem’s Western Wall Reveals Clues to Ancient Biblical Life

Among Jewish people, Jerusalem’s Western Wall is the holiest place on earth. The “Kotel,” as it is called in Hebrew, evokes a mystical connection to history, Judaism, and personal prayer. People come to meditate at this sacred site and place notes with their personal prayers into the cracks between the stones. For many, being at…

Relics, Miracles, and Faith Light the Way Along Spain’s Camino de Santiago

It was pure good fortune that enabled me to arrive in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the feast day of Saint Dominic. I was hiking west along the Camino Frances, en route to Santiago de Compostela, when I saw people gathering in front of the cathedral for a procession that gradually wound its way through the old town on streets lined with spectators. Young men in medieval costumes performed traditional folk dances at points along the route. Young women in period dress marched together.  Men wearing red berets played traditional melodies on flutes. The music and the dances were little changed from medieval times.  I felt as if I were observing a cultural tableau dating back hundreds of years.

Costumed Actors Once Again Take the Field to Reenact Historic Battles

After two years of pandemic-induced inactivity, the War of 1812 erupts anew the first weekend in August when hundreds of historically costumed reenactors take the field to recreate the Siege of Fort Erie. The 210-year old battle, the bloodiest in Canada’s history, was one of a series of skirmishes along the Niagara River at the end of the War of 1812. America hoped that seizing the British fort might lead to the annexation of Upper Canada. Unfortunately, the US advance into Ontario coincided with Britain’s burning of Washington.

Yorkshire – Inspiration for Dracula, the Brontës and All Creatures Great and Small

Yorkshire is the United Kingdom’s largest county–about 3.6 million acres—and boasts a turbulent history that rivals entire European nations. In the late Middle Ages, the city of York was second only to London in status and wealth. Today, Yorkshire’s rolling hills are dotted with great houses and the ruins of once-magnificent abbeys. The Transylvanian Count Dracula emerged from his coffin-ship on Yorkshire’s North Sea shore. No matter the political, economic, or religious tumult that rolled northward, Yorkshire retained its stunning natural beauty. Yorkshire’s dales and moors are inspiration for several of the English-speaking world’s greatest novels. Some far-flung parts of Yorkshire have earned the moniker “God’s Own Country” for their curiously enticing bleakness. Yorkshire began life as the seat of Roman operations in Britannia (71-400AD) and, for much of the 9th century, was home to Danish Vikings. That era collapsed with the arrival of the Normans, followed by the disastrous “Harrying of the North” by William the Conqueror’s troops. (The Danes lost, badly.) Norse heritage lives on in place names like Whitby, Sheffield, Scarborough, and, according to some recent scholarship, in the very physiognomy of Yorkshire’s people.

Cycling Ireland’s Backroads Past Churches, Castles, Sheep Farms and Pubs

Cycling the lightly traveled backroads of West Ireland affords time to intimately experience the country, its people and their history. Until recently, only experienced cyclists even attempted such a ride. Motorists would fly past as brightly colored cyclists peddled laboriously up hills, their bikes burdened with panniers filled with clothes and heavy equipment. Cycling seemed more exhausting than enjoyable. But with the advent of ebikes and specialized cycling tours, beautiful and fascinating areas now are accessible to nearly anyone. And one of the most bike-friendly places to take such a tour is along the west coast of Ireland.

What makes this type of tour so satisfying is the pace (avg. speed 11 mph) and proximity of being so close to the land and the people you meet along the way. You can stop whenever you like to appreciate an historic marker, a beautiful garden or scenic overlook when traveling on a bicycle. There’s something about the physical exertion necessary to get from place to place that connects a rider with the land more deeply than if he arrives by bus, train or car.