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A Tower Worth Mentioning

Written by Hank Martin in W. Europe

I spent an hour in Paris once, driving around the sparkling Eiffel tower at midnight and then leaving town again. That was all I needed to see. It was the second time I had visited. The first time I officiated a wedding under that same metal wonder. You could say that by the second visit we were already friends. That first time I walked Champs Elysee with Joe Dassin echoing in my head. I slept on a park bench for the night too, and got woke up by a street sweeper the next morning. Why didn’t I get a hotel? There were none closer to Notre Dame Cathedral than the park bench. But most of …

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The Spain that Sucks You in, Spits you Up and Steals your Passport

Written by Hank Martin in W. Europe

The night started off with tapas and sangria.These are obvious delights when in Spain. But this happy-go-lucky place known as Barcelona has a dark side that can make a fool out of any passer by and destroy a good night in the city. Barcelona is known for its crime. Pick pocketers, scammers, and plain old muggers lurk in the corners. In fact, a lot of these criminals make more money through thieving than honest people do by working hard. The police get so many reports about stolen goods they simply file them alphabetically without even taking a second look at the paperwork. (So I saw in my experience.) This cool city is filled with exotic …

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Watching Sunrises

Written by Hank Martin in Middle East, N. America, W. Europe

A sunrise and sunset have one thing in common, nobody watches them anymore. We are too busy. Can you remember ┬áthe last time you watched the sun crank itself into the sky and bring light to the world, or slip behind the horizon in a prism of color? I have seen sunrises and sunsets all over the world, and each one is different. Israel In Nazareth I hiked Mt Sinai, crossing a highway now cleaving the mountain in two. We wove a drunken path up the mountain, cutting back and forth in big half circles. The sun rose on the way up, exposing patches of wild green grass and clay earth underfoot. Finally summitting, we …

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Bologna at Night

Written by Hank Martin in W. Europe

It is dark out and there is a man crouched under a nearby bush smoking crack. The further I plunge into the Bologna park the more movement I hear. There is a rustling of leaves there. A sniff and cough in front of me. The sound of footprints from behind me. A beautiful brick walkway outlines the outer edge of the park, and in the center are several fountains spewing water. They make the only other sound besides my thumping heart and the occasional whoosh of a match being lit and crunching of branches underfoot. As darkness settled in to Bologna the rats of the city climbed out of their holes and embraced the world …

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Villa D Este: Gardens, Grottos, Frescoes and 100 Fountains

Written by Hank Martin in W. Europe

High above, and outside the city of Rome there is a mansion of decadence where you can avoid information overload. From the park bench outside of the mansion you can look towards the octopus city of Rome that spreads with large tentacles. Here you can watch the sun set on the epicenter of the old Roman Empire and reflect on what you have just experienced. Villa de Este overwhelms the other big site in Tivoli worth visiting- Hadrian’s Castle. While Hadrian’s Castle is a skeleton from the past, Villa D’Este is a never ending room by room tour through art, history and architecture. Built by a scorned catholic cardinal with more money than a man …