High Class, Low Cost

High Class, Low Cost

It was a beautiful summer’s day in Paris, and it had just started to drizzle. Before we knew it, my dad and I were caught in a torrential storm, which isn’t nearly as romantic as the movies make it seem, though that may have had something to do with the company. As the lights of a marquee became visible about a half-mile away, we squinted to read the words Les Misérables. At that moment, an unspoken agreement formed between us; our pace quickened. Watching Les Misérables that night taught me that cultural experiences need not be expensive or well planned. Obstructed seating. Standing room. Standby lines. There are countless ways to find a last-minute bargain around the world. That night, we secured two seats to the show for less than $10, when tickets to operas and plays can sometimes run over $100. We were seated near a pillar that obstructed about a third of the stage, but I was so enchanted by our good fortune—a real play in a real theater where the real French Revolution took place—that I hardly noticed. These discount tickets can be obtained for plays, concerts, operas, and even sporting events around the world. The best way to obtain discounted tickets is to call the box office directly the morning of the show to inquire about obstructed view or standing room availability. These tickets are normally sold at a fraction of the price but give you the same access to world-class entertainment that you would typically plan to see well in advance. Similar experiences can be found in the opera houses of San Francisco and...
Safety In The Middle East

Safety In The Middle East

The Middle East’s unique culture and ancient history intrigues many westerners. The Dome of the Rock, the Sacred Tomb, and the Dead Sea are just a few of the region’s distinctive tourist attractions. However, recent political turmoil causes many travelers to feel apprehensive about visiting the region. In 2014, the blog Adventurous Kate featured Sabina Lohr, a seasoned traveler from the United States who has lived in the Middle East. Lohr believes the region is safer than many expect. “I feel safer most of the time in Mideastern countries than I do at home,” she says. “They have problems there, of course, but they’re of such a different variety than in the U.S.” With the proper knowledge and precautions, traveling in the Middle East can be just as safe as traveling anywhere else. 1. Do your research Before traveling, find out the political situation of your destination. Online forums, such as TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, and Frommers.com can provide live information about the region you are in or planning to visit. In addition, the US government’s travel website, travel.state.gov, issues safety warnings and alerts regularly. Avoid traveling during wars or uprisings. If you see a protest going on, don’t stay to watch or participate. Leave the situation to avoid being involved in any possible violence. 2. Take Precautions No matter where you travel, you should always use common sense, stay alert, and stay aware. Don’t trust strangers and avoid drinking alcohol. Most hazardous situations occur because travelers’ drinks are spiked by strangers, or travelers drink too much and lose control. Before you go exploring, take a business card from the hotel or hostel you are staying at. That way if you get lost or can’t communicate in a foreign language, you can give the...
Mountain Springs Thrills and Chills

Mountain Springs Thrills and Chills

There are no troubled waters in the mountain paradise of Glenwood Springs, Colorado—the town boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool, a waterfall splashing into a turquoise lake, and a stretch of the rapid Colorado River. The waters of the hot spring, lake, and river all spell relaxation for a weekend getaway. However, Glenwood Springs offers more than just a therapeutic stay—it is a town rich with history and adventure, including the supposedly haunted Hotel Colorado, a myriad of outdoor activities, and an amusement park on top of a mountain. Visiting Glenwood Springs for a restorative and healing experience is a tradition long in the making. Early Native Americans visited the natural hot springs for therapeutic purposes. The Ute tribe referred to the springs as Yampah, meaning “Big Medicine.” The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool itself has been around since 1888 when, with an entrepreneurial spirit, James Devereux and Walter Horace harnessed the power of Glenwood’s nearby natural hot springs. Three million gallons of mineral water are produced from the spring daily, steaming at 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Nowadays, the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool actually has two pools—a large recreational pool (with waters cooled to 90 degrees) and a smaller therapy pool. Fees to access the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool range from $10.75 to $21.00 depending on the time of year and the day of the week. Another popular water-based activity in Glenwood Springs is a hike to Hanging Lake. A marvel of natural architecture, Hanging Lake has sparkling waterfalls that cascade over the cliffs of Glenwood Canyon into a beautiful and clear lake. The hike to see the lake is a...
Bayanihan: The Spirit of the Philippines

Bayanihan: The Spirit of the Philippines

The Bayanihan Festival celebrated in the Philippines today celebrates the Filipino spirit of cooperation and community. The festival’s name comes from the word bayanihan (pronounced buy-a-knee-hun), which refers to a community’s tradition in which the members help one another to transport their houses. The traditional Filipino house is called a bahay kubo, or a nipa hut on stilts, which is a house built with bamboo sticks and a roof of woven nipa leaves. In a traditional bayanihan, when a family wanted to move, they enlisted the help of their neighbors to lift the house and carry it to the new location. Men would cross bamboo sticks underneath the house and carry it on their shoulders. Similar to a barn raising, moving a neighbor’s home was a time for work and fun. After the hard work of lifting, moving, and establishing the home, the festivities began, including food and games. Filipinos today continue to collaborate to help one another. Their spirit of cooperation and community creates a unique culture that can be enjoyed by Filipinos and tourists alike.   Bayanihan: Cooperation For centuries, the Filipino people would come together to help move neighbors’ homes. Though today moving houses in this way is rare—it does still happen in some rural areas—the spirit of bayanihan carries on. The idea of cooperation is especially evident in the face of a natural calamity, and the Philippines is known for its natural disasters. The Philippine islands are prone to typhoons, tropical storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the Philippines has an average of twenty typhoons each year. The day after...
A Warrior Spirit

A Warrior Spirit

It was my junior year, and school spirit drenched the sky on another cold night of football—I thought it was going to be a dull wait. But then the team came out, tearing off their helmets, their faces already glowing with sweat and their arms clenching. They lined up on the 30-yard line, facing the crowd in the stands. Then the team squatted with all knees and legs at the same angle. They all struck at the same breath, palms and forearms coming together in a loud thwack. And then they screamed and roared with palms against thighs; other palms on chests—thwack—rocking to a beat as the leader screamed. They looked ready for war. Everyone went ballistic. The first time you see it, the Haka looks like lines of huge, hulking men pounding on their arms and legs, yelling with tongues held out like lizards. That is the meaning of the Haka on the surface level: intimidation. The Haka also symbolizes unity. In the words to the chant, the leader yells one syllable per beat: KA MATE! KA MATE! It is death! It is death! KA ORA! KA ORA! It is life! It is life! KA MATE! KA MATE! We are all going to die! KA ORA! KA ORA! But now there is peace! TENEI TE TANGATA, PU-HURU-HURU This is our leader, so hairy NANA NEI I TIKI MIA, Who fetched, WHAKAWHITI TE RA! made shine the sun of peace! UPANE! KA UPANE! Together! Keep together! HUPANE! KAUPANE! Up the step! A second step! WHITI TE RA! HI! Out comes the sun! Ahh This chant can be scary but also beautiful. To some, the Haka inspires fear, but for others, it brings a connection to their ancestors and...
Highway to the Danger Zone

Highway to the Danger Zone

There is something irresistible about crossing dangerous ground. Humans are overcome with a desire to face danger and subsequently to overcome that danger, according to psychologist Saberi Roy. Throughout history, people such as Lewis and Clark and the Wright Brothers have become pioneers in their fields by crossing dangerous and uncharted ground. Today, people are still making dangerous crossings, although the cause of the danger may come as a surprise. According to the World Health Organization, 1.2 million deaths occur annually across the globe as a result of traffic accidents. Some of these accidents can be attributed to outside factors (alcohol, weather, or other drivers), but the common denominator for each them is the road. Roads, while very useful when trying to get from point A to point B, can also be quite dangerous and are definitely a force to be reckoned with while traveling in the United States and abroad. Travelers often seek out dangerous roads for the thrill of the ride or even the majestic views from the steepest inclines. For others, these roads are used out of necessity for commuting and work purposes. Regardless of the reason for traveling these roads, the following three roads battle constantly against humans, nature, and weather, making them some of the world’s most dangerous and deadly. Guoliang Tunnel Road, China Guoliang Tunnel Road was carved out of the Taihang Mountains in 1972 by thirteen villagers in Guoliang. Named by Travel and Leisure as one of the world’s scariest roads, its name literally translates to the “Road that does not tolerate mistakes,” which is fitting for the treacherous tunnel carved into...