"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

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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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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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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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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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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We had accepted the gracious invitation of our dear friend and former professor, Mohan, to attend his niece's wedding in New Delhi. He assured us that a traditional Indian wedding was an experience not to be missed. Typically lasting the better portion of a week, it is a lavish celebration.
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If Rupert Brooke had visited Nuwara Eilya he would have felt completely at home. The Sri Lankan hill station, developed by the British in the mid-19th century, retains many legacies of the Raj, despite more than 60 years of independence. Nuwara Eilya is proud of its Englishness.
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Ireland has been called the Land of Saints and Scholars. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, brought Christianity to the island in the 5th century CE. Within 100 years of his arrival numerous monastic settlements had sprang up. Two sites not to be missed are Glendalough and the Rock of Cashel.
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