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Category: Culture

The road to Porto includes Aveiro

When traveling, all rental cars feel like a red convertible along a palm-tree lined beach road.  Wind in hair, classic rock on the radio, and a glass-bottled Coca-Cola in the cup holder.  A couple of the details are different in our case – the rental car is very compact and white, the music playing is […]

Azulejos

We are immediately taken by the azulejos, the Portuguese blue tiles that cover the inside and outside walls of so many sites.  These tiles are both art and construction material, and they come in the form of realistic stories and geometric patterns. The most traditional are an incredibly calming blue; however, as we explore further, […]

Port and cheese

Portugal’s staple foods are our favorite snack at home or abroad — cheese, bread, charcuterie, and wine.  Instead of a true dinner, one night in Lisbon we indulge in only these wonders.  From two different wine bars, one in Belem and one in Lisbon, we eat and drink and snack until we’re a little too […]

Portugal history lesson

The first two mornings in Portugal include walking tours of the city full of history and local bites.  Although Portugal’s history could go back as far as prehistoric times, followed by the Carthaginians and Romans, we’ll being in 1143 with their independence. They hit a true high in the 15th and 16th centuries as one […]

Officially obsessed with happiness

We are.  Obsessed with happiness.  Maybe that’s the problem.  We define happiness as pleasure and triumph, and unhappiness as the lack of those things.  And it turns out, we don’t skip down the street in complete joy all the time; in fact, we don’t do that most of the time, even in the metaphorical sense.  […]

Bumthang, Bhutan’s Switzerland

Famous for producing honey, cheese, and yak textiles, the region of Bumthang continues to surprise us.  The weather is as crisp (read: cold) as any place we’re visiting, but the air is incredibly clear letting us appreciate the mountains that climb on all sides of the very narrow valleys.  Adding to the scene, we are […]

Photo shoot dressed in gho and kira

The gho and kira are the traditional and national Bhutanese dress for men and women respectively.  Until very recently, it was legally required that all Bhutanese citizens dress in this style all the time.  Today, this style is considered formal wear to be worn for business and special occasions, as well as anytime one enters […]

Bhutanese happiness, getting closer

We still haven’t cracked the case: why is Bhutan widely considered one of the world’s happiest countries?  But we hope we’re inching our way forward.  Among many other things, Bhutan’s happiness (also interpreted as ‘contentment’) stems from its major religion, Buddhism, and its politics, a constitutional monarchy. The Buddha said: `Contentment is the highest wealth’, […]

Nomadic woman in Punakha

Happiness is a place

Thimphu is littered with dogs, high off the knowledge that no one will do them harm. “That dog”, they say, “could be your mother from a past life.” Bhutan is a deeply Buddhist country, with an unapologetic tie between church and state. Urbanization is moving people from the countryside into the overcrowded and rapidly developing […]