Travel: Multiplying Peace and Understanding

Donald Trump’s careless, immoral immigration order is not only tragic for humanity but for travel, which promotes understanding and peace.

Shortly after the twin towers went down, I got an email from a National Geographic editor that a pending assignment for a story about an island in the Indian Ocean would not go forward. Exotic destinations were out, he said, Americans were turning inward.

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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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The Blessing of the Olives in Sonoma

Father Kelly Blesses the OlivesFather Kelly Blesses the Olives – Photo: Russell Johnson

There is a wee bit of Pat O’Brian, Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy in Fr. Kelly, a cinema-ready Irish priest with a lilt in his voice and, if we are to believe his sermon last weekend, a fondness for olives and the gin Martinis into which they are dropped.

Certainly none of the evil Father Merrin, played by Max Von Sydow in The Exorcist.

Father Michael Kelly blessed the olives, exorcised them from bitterness, offered the cure Saturday at Mission San Francisco Solano in the town of Sonoma, the northernmost of California’s missions.

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Christmas Chillin’ and Chocolate Fillin’ in Berlin (video)

Weinacht
Weihnachtsmarkt, Alexanderplatz, Berlin  Photo Russ Johnson

I am not a feral shopper, a pack rat ripping through the carrion at Best Buy on Black Friday or maniacally pounding a keyboard on Cyber Monday. I like to take the holidays calmly…and slowly. I would gladly become a standard bearer for a Slow Christmas Movement.

I can do this in Europe thanks to a glass of hot mulled wine or chocolate, a juicy sausage, a gingerbread cookie huddled next to a firepit at a Christmas Market.

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