Santa Fe: The City Different

The unique landscape, history, architecture, and people of Santa Fe, New Mexico, create an atmosphere that earns the city its nickname, “The City Different.” Far from being a desert wasteland, Santa Fe is an artist’s (and art appreciator’s) oasis. The picturesque city, founded over 400 years ago in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, serves as the capital of the state and as the home to hundreds of artists. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Santa Fe as a Creative City in Design, Crafts, and Folk Art. The city comprises a most unusual blend of classical art and cutting-edge creativity and technology. Santa Fe Opera House If you approach Santa Fe from the northwest, you will surely pass by the Santa Fe Opera House. Like a white-sailed ship on a flat, blue ocean, the Santa Fe Opera House rises prominently in the scrublands with its unusual arched roof and sail-like wind and rain baffles. The open, outdoor format of the main theatre uses a cleverly-designed roof and rain shields to keep the audience dry during Santa Fe’s summer thunderstorms while allowing them a view of the night sky and desert landscape. Occasionally, faraway thunder and lightning interact with and augment the drama of the stage. The Santa Fe Opera company engages in bold experimentation, like replacing distracting supertitle screens with individually adjustable electronic title systems built into the seats. Over 50 new operas have debuted at the Santa Fe Opera; in the 2017 summer season, they plan to premiere The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, based on the life of the late Apple CEO....
Castles on a Hill

Castles on a Hill

Imagine a big, drowsy city like San Francisco or Seattle with clouds hovering low and rain. Imagine the mild seasons, the damp streets, and soggy foliage. Now imagine being able to see just beyond the horizon, the crumbling spires of ancient castles rising into the gray sky. This is what Scotland is like: a beautiful countryside filled with lovely, historical buildings and a long, rich history. Each of these castles tells their own little version of this history. Defender of the Nation Arguably the most popular castle in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has endured more than most other castles have. It has seen more violence and attempts at revolution than any other castle in the United Kingdom. The Scots and English fought over it during the Wars of Independence. Queen Margaret and Mary, Queen of Scots, the mother of James VI, lived in Edinburgh Castle. In the 1500s the castle became a military base, and with its newfound importance came a makeover. Today, Edinburgh Castle proudly houses the Half Moon Battery, a huge garrison, and a jail for war prisoners. It is also a huge part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site. Icon of Independence Out of all the castles to see in Edinburgh, the Stirling Castle arguably has the most attractions. From the largest medieval banquet hall in Scotland to the beautiful views of King’s Knot and Royal Park, Stirling is certainly a huge tourist attraction for a reason. The interior has been restored to mirror what the castle may have looked like back in its heyday during the 1500s. While costumed workers...
Shakespeare in the Rockies

Shakespeare in the Rockies

Despite its growth in the past decades, Cedar City, Utah, has an infectious small-town charm that soothes the busy lifestyle. The small, picturesque Main Street evokes feelings of hospitality and comfortable living. Although a tour of the town only takes 20 minutes, driving past the diners and cafés is enough to convince you that you’re in sore need of a break from the office. But do not be mistaken: Cedar City is not a middle-of-nowhere dot on the map. Its relaxing atmosphere does not mean that tourists would find the city boring. In fact, people from all over the world have reason to visit the city, and it’s not so they can sit on a porch swing and sip on homemade lemonade. Every summer, the low-key inns and hotels that line Main Street prepare for their busiest season as approximately 100,000 people—more than three times the city’s population—attend the Utah Shakespeare Festival, located on the Southern Utah University (SUU) campus. The award-winning event happens from June to October, usually showcasing four Shakespearean plays and four other plays—one of which is a musical. In addition to the plays, festival goers can attend backstage tours, seminars, and Q&A luncheons with the actors and artists. The festival has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Fifty-six years ago, it was formed to keep tourists busy in the evenings after their adventures in the adjacent national parks and canyons. Its purpose was to complement the surrounding attractions, such as Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and Brian Head Resort. What no one anticipated was the effect it would have on the city as...
Qatar: Doha on a Dime

Qatar: Doha on a Dime

A jewel in the desert sands, the Qatar peninsula sits surrounded by crystalline Persian Gulf waters. In its early days, Qatar was sustained mainly by the pearling industry, with fluctuations of its wealth coming from the changing value of pearls. After a brief stint as a part of the British Empire, Qatar has been independent since 1971, and the country’s abundant oil supply gives its residents the highest per capita income in the world. Luckily, it’s possible to visit Qatar without spending a fortune. Winter is the perfect time to visit, too, as the temperatures are still balmy but not blistering—between 63 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Doha, the capital city of Qatar, boasts a thriving cultural scene, with a mix of traditional markets and name-brand shopping centers. First things first! Find a way to visit The Pearl, Doha’s cluster of man-made islands, named for Qatar’s historic pearling industry. All around are some of the world’s most expensive buildings, creating an environment that mixes a Western commercial economy with Middle Eastern flair. Take the chance to do some window-shopping at some of those name-brand stores, like Georg Jensen or Harmont and Blaine. After that’s done, take a breather by walking along the marina, which is traffic free. Best of all, the Pearl is family-friendly, boasting weekly Family Fridays events. After a visit to Doha’s waterfront, find yourself in the Souq Waqif—the standing market. Here tourists can enjoy an up-close-and-personal experience of Qatari culture, but don’t be fooled—although these buildings look over 100 years old, they were actually demolished and rebuilt in 2006 in an effort to preserve the old town. It...
Verbier: The Air is Swankier up Here

Verbier: The Air is Swankier up Here

The world-class ski resort of Verbier lies in the southwest of Switzerland in the canton of Valais. When it comes to skiing in Switzerland, no resort is more idyllic than Verbier. Although not a familiar name to many Americans, Verbier certainly does not go unnoticed. Celebrity regulars include Jamie Oliver, Leonardo DiCaprio, Princess Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark, and the ever-fashionable David and Victoria Beckham. Jeremy Rollason, Managing Director of Alpine Homes International, calls Verbier “the benchmark for Swiss ski resorts.” And he’s right. But perhaps he still isn’t giving Verbs (as it’s known) quite enough credit. In the skiing world, Verbier is considered one of the world’s premiere ski resorts, and it sets a standard for ski resorts around the world. So what makes Verbier so special? Verbier offers everything a visitor could want in a ski resort. It’s in Switzerland, so there are amazing views of the Alps. As you swoosh down the mountain, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the highest Alpine peak—Mont Blanc—as well as the most iconic—the Matterhorn. And the town itself has an abundance of Swiss chalets and plenty of charm. Terrain While Verbier is a great place from which to admire the Alps, skiing is the main focus. The ski and snowboard terrain in Verbier is incredible. If you want to satisfy the skiing needs of your beginner child, your daredevil teenager, and your ski-savvy self, Verbier is the place. Verbier’s own network of pistes is connected to a larger, four-valley system. The Four Valleys encompass six different ski resorts—Verbier, Bruson, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon—and the Four Valleys Pass gives...
Ocracoke: Get Off the Mainland

Ocracoke: Get Off the Mainland

Don’t let the name fool you—this island doesn’t have anything to do with the slimy green vegetable or the quintessential soft drink. Think pirates. Think “hoi toide.” Think undeveloped beaches. Think wild ponies. Think the perfect island getaway. Wild about Wildlife The adventure begins as you travel to the island, which sits off the coast of North Carolina as part of the Outer Banks. The island, which is less than ten square miles, is only accessible by ferry and air. The ferry ride gives visitors their first look at the wildlife of the region. Visitors can’t miss the gulls following the ferry, hoping for a handout, but the unobservant might miss the show sometimes put on by the bottle-nosed dolphins. If the dolphins aren’t in the performing mood, pull out your exotic bird bingo because over 400 species of birds have been spotted on Ocracoke. Not into the ornithology scene? The wild pony herd is a good alternative. The horses are currently cared for by the National Park Service. No one quite knows the history of the Ocracoke horses. The most popular theory is that they are descended from mustangs thrown overboard by Spanish sailors in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. One thing is for sure—there is no horse like an Ocracoke horse. They even have a different number of vertebrae than a typical horse! Teach Me about Pirates Thinking about those Ocracoke horses may get history buffs hungry for more; luckily, Ocracoke is a feast of historical sites. Ever heard of Edward Teach? Probably not. How about Blackbeard the Pirate? Ocracoke was one of Blackbeard’s seasonal hideouts. It’s a perfect...