Travel

An Eastward Exchange

In the Fall of 2017, I departed for Europe on an exchange program with Rotary International. I spent a year in the Tatra Mountains of northern Slovakia, learning about Slovak culture, teaching myself photography and blogging. Traveling the Europe, searching for things to document on my blog; that experience taught me the skills I am now putting to use as a journalist.

Featured Posts

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 …
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. …
Bardejov
"How far these city walls have come," I thought, gazing from the battlements of Bardejov, over sprawling development, towards the green pastures beyond. The fortifications of Bardejov's historic center were erected in 1300s to deter invaders after the city's great wealth—wealth accumulated from its …
Červený Kláštor
Just setting foot within the first courtyard of Červený Kláštor (the Red Monastery) it is evident why this place inspired legends. The orderly cobblestone underfoot and the warm hues of the tiled roofs and crumbling walls gave the impression of sanctuary against the wild …
Slovenský Raj
Waterfalls are abundant in the Blue Ridge Mountains of my home, but our paths force hikers on long detours through the forests to circumnavigate them, keeping everyone a safe distance from the potentially treacherous cliffs. This safety precaution is likely wise, yet, it is …
A Week of Skiing at Jasná
My breath wet the mask through which it passed, quickly freezing and collecting flakes from the densely falling snow, glued even harder by the rushing air of my descents. Even while my face numbed against these cold gusts, the inside of my coat heated …
The Tatras’ Symbolic Cemetery
Every so often a day will pass when circumstance conspires to bring you adventure. So it did for me one snowy winter morning not long past. I rose early, around 5AM, with hopes of catching the dawning sun against the Tatra peaks. Regardless of …
Viennese Christmas Markets
The size of the Viennese Christmas markets is not what makes them exceptional. If that was so, any shopping center with a half-a-theme could compete. It's the atmosphere and the quality of the goods that inspired global admiration for this seasonal Austrian wonder. My …

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With graduation on horizon, pressure is on to be responsible, settle down and start a career, even at the expense of my own aspirations. This is the story of those dreams, why they are what they are, and how I subverted even my own expectations in pursuit of a quest ...
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As part of an assignment for my a photo stories class, each student was assigned to pick a zip code and capture its essence in an essay. I wanted to explore somewhere new, so I picked 27243, otherwise known as Efland, N.C. North-west of Chapel Hill, Efland would seem to ...
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Coach Daniel Corhn looks on as East Henderson Eagles Billy Johnson, Ty McCrary and Donaven McHenry lift weights, six feet apart. On a recent afternoon, the East Henderson High School Eagles drilled on the football field, lifting weights, running and building agility. The practice looked far different than usual, however, ...
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We open on the mountains of Letcher County, Kentucky. Elaine Tanner and Jimmy Hall both have deep roots there, in Elaine's Cherokee heritage and Jimmy's multi-generational family history on Beaver Mountain. When Jimmy’s uncle passed and that very property went up for sale, the couple jumped at the opportunity to ...
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Bowls in various stages of production scattered the workshop around Mike McKinney, piled onto tables and shelves besides a host of different woodworking equipment. At the center of it all sat the lathe, illuminated by studio lights and backed by a wall of hanging tools. Behind the lathe, Mike prepared ...
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Lynne and Ken Smith dance to music played by Brett and the Usual Suspects. (Left to right: Delany McQuaig on guitar, Brett Chambers on drums, Alphonza Kee on bass, James "Coffee" Yourse on piano.) “Our first rule is…?” Brett Chambers called over packed tables painted in dim lights from the ...
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Mark Weems passes on the musical heritage of the Appalachians and Peidmont regions at the North Carolina School of Traditional Music, which he and his wife founded and operate. A multi-instrumentalist with a distinguished career, Mark is an old-time country and folk music veteran who now puts his time into ...
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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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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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(Photo Credit: www.visitbratislava.com) 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 ...
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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 all of my remaining photos from EuroTour. Therefore, this post and every following one on EuroTour will use photos from other photographers.) How surreal it is to stand on the threshold of one of the Earth's most iconic stories ...
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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 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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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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The sun had set on Rome by the time our bus pulled to a stop in front of the hotel. Orange tungsten bulbs and the occasional white flash of passing headlights lit the street, reflecting off pavestones slick from recent rain and casting a dim monochrome haze over the shadowed ...
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Joyce "What you are thinking I am...I am," the tour guide at the head of our bus introduced herself. She had large glasses, a long dull-colored dress and a mass of messy hair spiraling down from the top of her head. She looked something like a cross between Harry Potter's ...
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Of all the cities we visited, Barcelona was one of the most touristy, yet the crowds were a cinch to escape. Swarms of these tourists and gimmicky vendors crowd the city's main promenade, La Rambla, and flow down the larger streets of the Gothic District, but a quick step off ...
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