Cradle and graveyard: across the Orkhon valley

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In brief: Over millennia, the valley has nurtured life, empires, art and religion – and seen its share of death and destruction as well. The Orkhon River Valley is the UNESCO-recognized cradle of Mongolian – and much of Asian – …

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Restless: Mongolians and the Gobi landscape

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In brief: Mongolia’s people, homes and even its landscape are naturally on the move. They say that the morin khuur, a traditional ladle-shaped Mongolian stringed instrument topped by a carved horse’s head, sounds like a wild horse neighing or wind-blown …

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Something old, something new in Ulaan Baatar

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In brief: In Mongolia’s capital city, known as UB, old values like the Buddhist faith have found new strength and the new is slowly transforming daily life. Ulaan Baatar – or UB, as the capital is known – now contains …

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Zanabazar – Mongolia’s monastic hero

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In brief: The 17th c. monk Zanabazar has become a fitting hero for the newly independent Mongolian people, one whose legacy has been spiritual, practical and artistic. Born in 1635 in Tibet, Undur Gegeen Zanabazar was a prodigy in languages …

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Cold comfort at the summer palace

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Sometimes the least traveled places can be the most interesting, even in tough conditions. On a dark, bitterly cold day, we went to Kolomenskoye Park at the outskirts of Moscow because of the ravine. The ravine, we had chanced to …

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Going with the flow

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We had seen quite a lot of Lisbon and its surrounding towns when we first visited in the fall of 2017. This time we kept quite busy with other matters and enjoyed the pleasure of just living in the town, …

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Observation post: Moscow

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Waiting in Moscow for a few days before beginning a rail trip across Siberia, we were pleasantly surprised to see the old city in such fine shape. We had not been here for 25 years and 40 years respectively, and …

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Iron, water, blood in Yekaterinburg

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Yekaterinburg began in 1723 with a dam made of Ural larch, one never replaced till this day. It was a planned city, named in honor of Queen Catherine I, and organized as a factory town for metal-working, where the factories …

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Granada a la carte

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Except for one day during our visit in Spring 2018, Granada was as sodden and chilly as the rest of western Europe. Yet, on this first trip together to the south of Spain, we were still ardent to drive here …

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Locks and loads: Panama’s Great Connector and Divider

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In brief: Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific was an engineering triumph, one you can see from a trip within the Canal. But it also split the country, a division of the well-off and poor still evident today. The locks of …

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