Mugged in Guatemala City

Before I saw the mugger’s knife, I noticed his shirt: a roll-your-own-logo tee, the kind you’d order online as a gift with a relative’s favorite hokey catchphrase. Official Olympic Beer Drinking Team. Duct Tape Ph.D. I’m With Stupid. That kind of shirt. An English catchphrase on the shirt, even though he mugged me in Guatemala…

Madrid Impressions: Round Five

The latest installment: VENEZUELAN DIASPORA I meet Ecuadorans and Colombians in Madrid — and should, according to immigration-to-Spain stats — but not as often as I meet Venezuelans: two waiters and a manager in one restaurant; the part-owner of another; students, job seekers, new arrivals. Ties between the two countries are old, run deep. Some…

Marrakech: First Impressions

Marrakech is two places: the walled, labyrinthine, thousand-year old Medina, and the relatively modern city that sprawls around it. The airport, train station and plush hotels are in the outer city. The Medina has all the tourist color: mules tugging carts through open air souqs; alleys twisting between pink adobe riads; passersby in hijabs, djellaba,…

Budapest: First Impressions

“Bad trip idea, Tim,” I thought, and grimaced as my dilapidated Soviet-style metro creaked into yet another gruesome station on the M3 line. This was my first trip to Budapest, and my ride-in-from-the-airport impressions boded badly. Clunky bus to the subway, unpromising countryside, metro stations like the one above. Resigned to a lousy visit, I…

Istanbul: First Impressions

(♦)  Istanbul ranks with Athens and Rome as a ‘must see’ for history buffs. King Byzas, Constantinople, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Ottomans: ancient humans were busy here. I hadn’t understood this, frequently pictured myself with a dunce cap while conducting pre-trip research. ‘Course, I’m the same guy who hadn’t known that cricket is popular;…