"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca you must pray that the way be long, full of adventures and experiences."
- Constantine Peter Cavafy "Ithaca"
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©2008 W. Ruth Kozak
CULTURE
JAPAN

Founded in 710, Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital. (Until then, each new emperor established a new capitol.) Nara rapidly became one of Asia’s most splendid cities. It also became a major centre for Buddhism. For many, this area of Japan is sacred. As are the deer, for they are the messengers of the gods.
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COSTA RICA

Every year, thousands of coffee lovers flock to the Hacienda Puerto Limon Plantation to see how one of the world’s finest organic coffees is harvested and processed. And for a bonus, visitors get to walk amongst some of the most tranquil countryside in the world and explore a historic hacienda.
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SOUTH AFRICA

This is one of South Africa's most famous streets – the only one in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu) – and it has long been a must-see tourist attraction. Every tour to Soweto - Africa's biggest township - stops at Vilakazi Street. There is a famous reason why.
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SPAIN

We enter the historic part of Orihuela City by the town hall and are immediately transported back in time. The town is decked out medieval style. A feast for all senses, we are greeted by colourful tents, the smells of exotic spices, teas, paellas, fresh baked bread, pastries, and goat milk soap.
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CUBA

As I look out onto the Viñales Valley and into the tobacco fields below, a sense of calmness washes over me. Founded in 1875, following the expansion of tobacco cultivation in Cuba, Viñales became a World Heritage site in 1999. The valley is devoted to agriculture, mainly tobacco.
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CHINA

In the Muslim quarter of Xi’an there are countless vendors selling many dishes that use mutton or beef with eastern spices as the base. In the neighborhood near my hotel just a few blocks of walking took me to an amazing Muslim restaurant where they served a dish called du wah (pita bread soaked in lamb soup).
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CHINA

The only thing worse than being sober, is being drunk on Chinese alcohol, or so I thought. Luckily my imaginings were wrong. For the discerning eye, there is a whole world of completely random and strange beers that seemingly pop up out of nowhere and in the most unlikely of places.
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JAPAN

Sacred even before the Daishi established his monastic retreat here in 816, Koya-san is only two hours by train from Osaka. Farmers with conical straw hats worked fields cultivated for centuries. It was a scene lifted straight from the anime of Hayao Miyazaki (famous for classics such as Spirited Away and My Friend Totoro).
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