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History, Culture, Traditions and the Arts

My Accidental Dinner Date with Royalty

I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I thrust one out to shake his, but that didn’t feel quite right. I hung my arms by my side and that felt worse. Finally I compromised. I clasped my hands together in front of me, waiting for a sign from each of the white-clad Arabs…

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The Countless Legends of Girona

Once upon a time, in the days of the Egyptian god Osiris, there lived somewhere to the south a giant monster with three heads, called Gerió. Seeking to enlarge his empire he headed north where he built a castle and founded a city that would one day bear his name: Geriona, today’s Girona. Or not. Perhaps Girona…

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Catalonia’s Castellers: A Peek Behind the Scenes

Imagine an agile six-year-old clambering up the face of a five-story building, waving from the top, then slithering back down. Leaves your throat dry, doesn’t it? Yet several times a week, that’s exactly what happens when the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia rehearse their castells, or human towers. “It’s not as dangerous as it looks,” said Helena…

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Haunted Dublin (And Not Just Around Halloween)

As Halloween nears, my mind turns to things spooky, haunted, scary. I think of darkened corners, their smell musty from centuries of avoidance, cobwebs clinging to ancient walls, providing goose bumps and sheepish grins in equal doses. In Dublin recently, that spirit – or the spirits – felt quite alive. In the land of mythical…

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Misompuru Homestay: A Sabahan Adventure

The main road leading to Kudat in North Borneo is dotted with dogs: stray dogs, wandering dogs, dogs that belong to nearby farmers, all in danger of being hit by a car doing nothing guiltier than driving. Amidst the dogs off to the left a muddy road climbs a hill and cuts through a few…

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