In the town of Golspie, a coastal community in Scotland’s extreme north, there is no castle. Instead the outline of Ben Bhraggie looms over the rooftops. This mountain is more than it seems: A history lesson disguised as a pleasantly strenuous uphill hike.
Ala Archa is my first national park in Central Asia that looks maintained. No one's sitting in a visitor center handing out maps, but Ala Archa has everything you really need: Regular trail markings, the occasional sign post with kilometers to the next landmark, and a little cafeteria at the base of the park that sells light snacks on the cheap.
As a native New Yorker, I'm sometimes unsure of how famous Ellis Island is. All New Yorkers know it. Do all Americans know it? What about the Irish, who lost a remarkable percentage of their population to American immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries? Or the Italians, who followed close behind?
Paper cupids and foam hearts; Red roses; White doves; Pink martinis handed out by women in lace; An unseen sound system serving up syrupy smooth jazz. I searched for clues I was still in Kazakhstan, my little-known host country whose holiday calendar melds Persian, Russian and historically Kazakh traditions in pursuit of its own post-Soviet identity...
Naples rewards those who give her their full and complete attention, and she spurns those who don't. It's an immersive experience. In Rome and Florence and Venice you can observe the city from the outside, interacting with people, sights and restaurants that are there to serve tourists. In Naples there's no dividing line.