In the Fall of 2017, I departed for Slovakia on an exchange program with Rotary International. I kept a blog, documenting my travels, as well as Slovak culture and history. Now I’ve returned to Europe. Starting with a month back in Slovakia, I’m traveling across Europe

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Lugano, Switzerland

"This is the longest railway tunnel in the world." That's what the sign above the passenger car door finally revealed, halfway though the long dark of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. It had cycled through German, Italian, and French before getting to English. At 57.09 km (35.5 mi), the tunnel takes ...
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Santa Village

On the line of the Arctic Circle, in the far north of Finland, you can find the "Hometown of Santa Clause." Rustic wooden buildings sit haphazardly among a wealth of twinkling white lights and a sea of white snow. Reindeer pull sleighs full of visitors in laps through the woods, ...
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The northern-most destination on my trip was Rovaniemi, a city in the remote Finnish Lapland. The arctic circle passes through the northern tip of the city, bisecting one of the region's biggest attractions, Santa Village. I'll save that for next post, though. I arrived at my hostel around 6pm and ...
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Tampere, Finland

Just an hour north of Helsinki, I arrived in Tampere to meet an acquaintance from Rotary Youth Exchange who studies there. Unfortunately, he was too busy with finals to see me, and I instead spent much of my time there in the hostel catching up on some sleep—if I'm being ...
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As of writing this, I have spent the day walking Helsinki with a French guy named Lucas. He was a perfect companion for the day. He was another photographer, enthusiastic traveler, and enough of a nerd to enter a design museum with me. We walked the city from dawn to ...
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Tallinn, Estonia

The trouble with rushed travel (and being a novice blogger again) is there's hardly enough time to learn about, photograph and share all that I discover. Today, I opted to learn. I awoke in Tallinn, Estonia, with the light of a country I knew nothing about filtering in through the ...
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Morning in Bratislava

Hostel life has been more all-consuming than I imagined it would be, however, I have still managed to find some precious time to get out and document the city. I went out early the other morning and just wandered, capturing whatever struck my eye. I do think it would be ...
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Slovak Nightlife

Okay. I'm a week into my trip as I am writing this, and I realize that I'd be reminisce to not mention a new, but authentically—perhaps quintessentially,—Slovak experience I've had since returning to the country. Nightlife. Now, that's not something I've experienced a lot in my life, if I'm being ...
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Slovak Food

It occurs to me that I only ever mentioned Slovak food in passing while writing an Eastward Exchange, or, at most, a brief mention when it came up during my various hikes or trips. Most Slovaks would tell you there isn't much to say, and it is true that Slovak ...
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Hello, Slovakia.

A surreptitiously taken photo of the inside of my first European cafe in years. There's a table in the back corner of a cafe, lit by a spot light hanging from a peeling, plastered arch, and by the cool morning light reflecting off the warmly painted walls of the courtyard ...
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Goodbye, Slovakia.

It is the 26th of June, 2018 as I write this post. It has been a day of many lasts for me. Last day in school, last visit to my favorite cafe, last time on the bus from my village to Poprad, last time seeing one of my dear friends, ...
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Once More in Bratislava

In the previous post, I wrote of the outing I took to Devin Castle with my Slovak friend, Milan. Those ruins were just one part of our larger trip to Bratislava. We toured much of the city and I learned a lot that I hadn't over my two previous visits ...
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Devin Castle

From the highest of Devin’s towers, Slovakia wraps behind and around you, Austria sits across the Danube River flowing at the castle’s base, Hungary rests over and past Bratislava to the south and on a clear day the hills of the Czech Republic can be seen way in the northern ...
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The Great Venetian Scavenger Hunt

Rotary ended our 2-week journey through Europe with a grand adventure. Our bus pulled up to a seaside hotel on the Italian coast outside of Venice. We unpacked, only one last full night of EuroTour ahead of us, and then went down for dinner. As we ate, the Rotarians made ...
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I'm a little ashamed to say I forgot… You see, the fact that the Duomo was in Florence wasn't exactly on my mind when I first turned down one of the streets leading towards the cathedral. It was our first evening in the city and I'd just escaped from some ...
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Nitra is the oldest city in Slovakia and boasts some of the nation's most important events. Once seat of the Great Moravian Empire, it was in Nitra that the brother Saints Cyril and Methodius established their bishopric and brought Christianity to the Western Slavs. It was their belief that everyone ...
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(A preface: As I was cleaning my computer, I accidentally lost photos from Pompeii. Therefore, this post uses images from other photographers. Featured image credit: Paul Kelley from Merrimac, MA, United States, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons) How surreal it is to stand on the threshold of one ...
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The paddy cap rested haphazardly atop my face, failing to completely shield my eyes from the sun. I shifted into new positions in the uncomfortable passenger's seat, then moved the cap, then my body again. This restless effort to sleep was my failing attempt to make up for the rest ...
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The District Conference 2018

The biggest event in our Czech and Slovak Rotary Multi-district is the District Conference in May. There, hundreds of Rotarians from all corners of the Czech Republic and Slovakia gather to discuss their projects, catch up with distant colleagues, bestow awards for exceptional service and meet the year's exchange students ...
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More From Rome

Pantheon The Pantheon is a magical structure and to this day the largest concrete dome in the world. It's rotunda converges on a perfect circle, called an oculus, open to the sky above. From there, a shaft of light, seemingly from Heaven itself, pierces the space and illuminates the exquisite ...
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