Abandoned Cities

Fascinating and mysterious, abandoned settlements offer a glimpse at how people lived in the past. See how time similarly stands still in five haunting—and visitable—abandoned cities in a variety of countries. Kadykchan, Russia Kadykchan—located near the Avan-Yurvakh River, 40 miles northwest of Susuman, Russia—used to be a work settlement built by gulag prisoners in World War II for coal extraction purposes. The coal mining in the area grew less lucrative throughout the years, and people eventually had to move out in order to access basic services like school and medical care. People left in a hurry—leaving a lot of their belongings behind. By 2010, the city that once housed over 10,000 people had been completely abandoned. Now you can find crumbling relics such as old toys and other belongings scattered throughout this silent city. Craco, Italy Craco is a commune that sits atop a hillside, overlooking a valley of hills. The ghost town is located in the region of Basilicata and the province of Matera about 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. Around ad 540, the town was first inhabited by the Greeks who called it “Montedoro.” Its residents slowly started leaving in 1892 because of harsh environmental issues. It was eventually completely abandoned in 1980. However, because of its beautiful medieval architecture, it remains a tourist attraction as well as a popular filming location. Hashima Island, Japan Hashima Island, nicknamed “Battleship Island,” is located nine miles outside of Nagasaki. It served as a coal mining facility from 1887 to 1974. It featured concrete apartment buildings and a sea...
Siena, Italy: The Race of Life

Siena, Italy: The Race of Life

The stone streets billow with pedestrians, taxis, delivery trucks, Fiats, mopeds, and pigeons. Every one in ten Italiani is walking a dog. A one legged pigeon hops quickly away from a curly-haired toddler whose sole intend is chasing down the cagey, little creature. The perfume of restaurants mingles with the heavy presence of cigarette smoke. Groups of tourist mosey through the streets and it would seem like the average Sunday afternoon in Siena, Italy . . . until the drums start. As the cobbled streets twist and intersect, so do the crowds, waiting around every corner for the cadence and it’s carriers. Then without warning three boys in medieval attire blossom into view. In the lead is the drummer followed by two flag bearers whose broad weeping movements brush over the closest pedestrians. These boys belong to the Contrada Capitana dell’Onda, the Wave Contrada. Their legs are clad in light blue and white stockings with matching tunics and caps. The small procession stares forward, well-rehearsed and unphased by the crowds. In a few weeks the first of two horse races known as the Palio will begin. Each year in Siena, 10 of the 17 Contrade, or neighborhoods, enter a horse into the famous race. The race itself takes mere moments since the riders only complete 3 laps around the track. However, the weeks leading up to this historic event are full of parades and celebrations, the celebration of an age old culture. The contrade are 17 distinct areas of the city, once originating from guilds. Centuries of competition has created a city of allies and rivals. What started as...
Edge of the Ocean

Edge of the Ocean

North of everywhere in Europe lies a winding, wet road that has been considered the best road trip in the entire world. The road stretches across churning waters, whose waves crash over the asphalt and smash into passing cars. The drive inspires awe in all who face it. This exciting drive is known simply as the Atlantic Ocean Road. Located in Norway, the Atlantic Ocean Road, known in Norwegian as the Atlanterhavsveien, crosses an archipelago connecting the coastal towns of Kristiansund and Molde. Architecturally stunning and inspiring bridges connect more than five miles of asphalt to tame the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Of the eight bridges that make up the highway, the Storseisundet Bridge is the most striking. As you drive, the bridge arches into the sky, and seems to cut off as if it leads straight into the heavens. In addition to impressive architecture, the highway provides wonderful attractions to enhance the experience for daring adventurers. Some of these locations reside along the highway, while others are great additions to a longer visit to the area of Fjord, Norway. Kvernes Stave Church and Rural Museum If religion excites you, the Kvernes Stave Church and local museum is the place to visit. A beautifully rendered church, built in the same site as an ancient stave church, has been built near the Atlantic Ocean Road. This structure has gorgeous, intricate carvings of dragons, ivy, and vines. The local museum provides detailed history of the area, allowing patrons to travel back in time and feel what an eighteenth-century village would have felt like. The museum is built in an open-area style, combining...
TSA Trouble

TSA Trouble

Bored while waiting to board? Pull out a smartphone or laptop and be ready for a healthy dose of “what?!” and “no way!” The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has its very own mind-blowing blog and Instagram, full of illegal items that were discovered as passengers went through security to board their flights. Gain a new respect for the people who pat people down everyday and who x-ray everyone’s belongings. Weapons, smuggled animals, cute TSA dogs, and good traveling reminders abound on these unrealized gems. Here are some of the highlights. Seeing Stars Ever seen throwing stars in movies? Jackie Chan isn’t the only one trying to dodge these bad boys. Everything from classic ninja shurikens to decorated folded throwing stars are found in passengers’ luggage. For comic book fans, batarangs are also popular items that are regularly confiscated, so next convention, consider flying home with a softer, fuzzier souvenir. Looking Sharp Introducing the lipstick knife, the belt buckle knife, the comb or brush knife, the key knife, the phone case knife, and the gun knife. Normal household objects are too often transformed into mini weapons, and earn the groans of hundreds of fellow passengers whose travel plans were accidentally interrupted. A Wild Ride Turtles, snakes, and birds together usually equal the inhabitants of a neighborhood wetland. However, these animals have been found by TSA officers, hidden within the confines of pantyhose, socks, and pants. The animals were taken care of by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers and the individuals smuggling them were arrested. Talk about a wild ride. Held Up History Age doesn’t even give passengers a pass in...
#Wanderlust

#Wanderlust

After a much-needed nap, I woke up to my husband’s voice saying, “You’re going to wanna see this.” And with heavy eyes, I begrudgingly peeked out my window. To my surprise, outside were vibrant, blissful, cotton-candy skies as the sun rose over Tokyo. As I watched the sun slowly and gracefully illuminate the city, I thought, “This is exactly where I need to be.” I’ve always loved to travel and have always longed to be somewhere I’ve never been before. But, as I braved adulthood, that feeling slowly wilted away. Finally, after seeing countless travel photos on my Pinterest feed, I had an epiphany. Why not travel? After all, nothing can substitute for experience. At first, the sole purpose of my travels was to make memories.   But little did I know, I was going to gain much more than that. Through travel I’ve learned three valuable lessons—the art of letting go, the beauty of simplicity, and most of all, the power of contentment. The art of letting go is a lesson I’ve already learned, but also keep relearning each time I leave the comforts of my apartment in Salt Lake City. And the learning starts as soon as I lock the door. Travel teaches us how to let go by forcing us to leave most of our possessions behind. But I’ve learned not only to let go of possessions but also to let go of pain, worries, and other distractions so that I can fully enjoy each and every moment. One particular memory that has come to mind was when my family and I were in the southern Philippines. I...
Baltic Wonders

Baltic Wonders

Through countless centuries, Europe has been ravaged by war as various groups have tried to conquer as much land as possible and claim territory. The evidence of this history is manifest not just in history books but also in architecture. The Baltic States—Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania—showcase great examples of architectural diversity resulting from war. With baroque cathedrals, medieval castles, Russian Revival churches, and Soviet Union–era complexes, these countries are hodgepodges of architectural history. New architecture demonstrates that all three countries are becoming leaders in modern architectural design. However, blending the new and old poses challenges, and each country has met those challenges in different ways as they try to simultaneously preserve their architectural history and create a new style for the future. Latvia Looking out over Latvia’s capital city, Riga, is like watching two worlds collide. In the old-town area of the city, many homes, shops, and cathedrals stand as evidence of just how long people have lived in the city, while just to the east, the new city glistens with more modern buildings. Chris Holdaway, who spent a few months in Riga, said the city has done a good job separating different building styles. “They have downtown, which is very urban and very modern with lots of glass with cool architecture, and then it blends in really well with Old Riga.” Holdaway said the city has parks that create a visual buffer between the newer part of the city and older parts of town. “You kind of hit these parks and you walk through these really pretty paths and they take you into the old city,” Holdaway said....