From Vandalism to Art: Portugal’s Thriving Urban Art Scene

Portugal Embraces Political and Social Expression for All to See
(Even Seniors are Getting Into the Act)

Today Portugal is one of the hottest destinations for travel in Europe. But back in 2008 the country was hit hard by the worldwide recession. Portugal’s austerity measures had put people under tremendous pressure. Lisbon’s central district, the Barrio Alto, a magnet for youth because of the clubs and nightlife, was being hit hard by vandals with spray cans. Three hours drive north of Lisbon, Portugal’s second largest city Porto was also struggling with defacement of long-empty buildings.

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Thanksgiving Cold Turkey: Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Castle ©Russell Johnson
If you are over 18 you have probably spent some holiday season away from home. A few years ago I flew to Frankfurt, Germany the day before US Thanksgiving for a 1/2 hour business meeting. The meeting was a bust and alone, in a terrible mood on a bone-chilling afternoon, I boarded a train for Heidelberg, where the Student Prince was alive and quite drunk.

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A Day in Sicily – Video

A video condensing a week in Sicily into a day. Starting at the fishing village of Acitrezza, in the Ionian Sea, we go to the fish market in Catania, Palermo, drift through the fog in the medieval village of Erice, to the ruins Taoramina, the ancient island of Ortigia, then sigh at the sunset in Cefalù, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. We met a few characters along the way. (Video is in 4K):

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Fish Story: Morning at the Catania, Sicily Fish Market

I grew up with a narrow definition of fish. Fish was something that you got when you couldn’t have chicken or beef. Where I grew up, in the Midwestern US, fish was walleyed pike or something that was made by the unseen hand of Mrs. Paul. I had to get into my teens to experience seafood and into my twenties to realize that raw fish, in the form of sushi, was not only edible but delicious.

But now, I am closing in on the apogee, way past galaxies of mussels and octopus, past uni, to perhaps the farthest point in fishspace, the market in Catania, Sicily, A’ Piscaria Mercato del Pesce. Here are some pictures.

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Budapest: Wine, Song and Women Who Look Like Zsa Zsa (Audio)

Old world Europe. Where do you find it outside of faded movies these days? Where do you find the heart wrenching chanteuses, the gypsy violins, the grand baroque cafes where you can pine about the meaning of life and nibble on cakes.

If you want that old feeling…go to Budapest.

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