Ronda, Spain’s Magnificent Mountain Retreat

Ronda is a white village, so called because of its whitewashed houses, in the Andalusian mountains 56 miles north of Malaga and the Costa del Sol. Thousands of tourists visit it every year drawn by the magnificent scenery, the architecture and the quaint cobbled streets. I was drawn by the violence. I’m a history buff and I knew that Ronda had always been a battleground. I figured that if the Phoenicians and the Visigoths, not to mention the Romans and the Moors, all passed through these parts, then Ronda's turbulent past couldn't be too far behind.

On the Loose in Kitschy-Kan

Kitschy-kan? "Yeah, kitscny-kan," the local high schooler repeated. "This place is so damn kitschy." He put down his half-consumed can of Coke and jumped off the bridge, clothes and all, into the marina below. Even at this latitude, the summer heat was driving the teen and his buddies into the water, an unusual occurrence here in Ketchikan, famous for its fishing and lately, much to the chagrin of many locals, tourists. The gang had now grown to about 12 adolescents united in their contempt of day-trippers.

Chasing My Viking Past

As the high-speed train whizzed through the mountains enroute to the Norwegian city of Bergen, I reflected on my Viking past. A popular ancestry app said I was 14% Scandinavian, not much I admit, but who was I to question science? I was well-aware of Bergen’s illustrious past. I knew that King Olav Kyyre or Olaf the Quiet, founded the town in 1070 as a transit point for Viking raiders and their spoils. The Vikings were traders as well as explorers and I knew that trade with the rest of the world introduced Viking society to foreign manners ands culture.

The West Coast in the Seventies

The Youngbloods, Steppenwolf, David Bowie and other boomer favourites were just the ticket to kick off the opening reception to The West Coast in the Seventies, a collection of prints and paintings from Vancouver artist and writer Michael Kluckner on view until June 16 at the Petley Jones Gallery. The opening coincided with the launch of Kluckner’s new illustrated novel, The Rooming House, an ode to hippy Vancouver as seen through the eyes of eight 20-somethings who meet at a midtown rooming house in the 1970's.

On the Prowl at Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island, a 96 mile sliver of land 70 miles south of Adelaide, Australia, is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, there are lots of kangaroos around but the island is a nature preserve, often called Australia’s Galapagos, with hundreds of other animals as well - echidnas, possums, penguins and koalas - sharing the area with 4,500 permanent islanders who farm or service the tourist trade. Connected to the mainland by air and ferry, the Island is a favorite vacation spot for Aussies and foreigners.