May 25, 2015

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Bhutan: land of colorful clothing

    What a visual treat to travel in a country where everyone looks like they are in a folk costume headed to a festival. In Bhutan, the National Dress is the norm and “formal” National attire is required in the Dzongs.  There’s no such thing as casual Friday. So, what does this mean? The men [...]

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May 18, 2015

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Bhutan: Religion around every bend in the road or river

  I’ve had a lot of people ask me to tell them about my recent trip to Bhutan.  It’s very tempting to respond with “It was interesting” or “I had a great time.”  Instead, I like to answer the question with something specific about the country that will stick in their minds. What sticks in [...]

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May 11, 2015

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Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design

  Last week I had a chance to visit Ireland in Chicago. Spending a couple of hours at the The Institute of Art’s exhibit “Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design 1690-1840” was like taking a wee trip to the Emerald Isle. Now I’d rather go to the real Emerald Isle, but this exhibit was a [...]

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May 4, 2015

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Faces of Bhutan

    I can’t tell you how many times the thought, “This feels like being in the middle of the pages of National Geography Magazine” popped into my head when I was in Bhutan.   Then I’d pinch myself and say, “I’m really here.” I was lucky and had a chance to go to Bhutan [...]

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April 27, 2015

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Bhutan: Splendid Isolation

  The photo above speaks a lot to me about Bhutan, a very small country in the Himalayas.  I was fortunate to be able to visit Bhutan in March (2015) on a tour organized by GeoEx. The photo which I call the Monk and the Hipster is a meshing of the old and the new that [...]

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April 20, 2015

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Chicago Botanical Gardens

  by Judy Bereza, Guest Blogger A trip to Chicago for those of us who live in Grand Rapids almost always involves the usual suspects – shopping on Michigan Avenue, Theatre, Dining with a capital”D”.and maybe a museum or two, especially if accompanied by children.  However, venture a bit farther afield, and an extraordinary experience [...]

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April 13, 2015

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Austin: Creative to the Core

  Austin, the city that tops “best places to live” consistently is the 4th most congested city in the country.  Whew.  Every 25 years the populations doubles. Why is it so popular? Quality of life.  Great weather.  Lots of Green Space.  And at its core, it’s a Creative City. And that’s what makes cities cool [...]

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April 6, 2015

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Let’s Talk about Austin, Texas

Let’s think about Austin. I’m thinking about  Austin and the terrific three day experience I had there with the AustinExchange group from Grand Rapids in February. It’s hanging in my mind.  Why? Austin is hip  and cool, everyone wants to live there. Why? The music.  The culture of non-conformity, the do-what-you-want vibe, the anti-materialism undercurrent, [...]

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March 30, 2015

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Keeping Austin Weird

In February, I had the wonderful opportunity of going with a group of Grand Rapidians to visit Austin, Texas with the goal of learning about the city and exchanging ideas with its leaders. Perfect timing.  It was cold and miserable in Grand Rapids while biking weather in Austin.  But the experience was so much more than [...]

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March 23, 2015

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The NOT-Forgotten Coast

      by Linda Laughter, Guest Blogger Last week Linda wrote about the Forgotten Coast.  This week she ventures into more populated territory. In our escape as snowbirds, we thought we would try going south along the Gulf Coast of Florida. We ended up in Indian Rocks Beach, just a brief drive from St. [...]

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