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Okinawa: always worth returning to

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The island of Okinawa shimmers beneath the wing of our plane, a dark green smudge on the azure seascape. I can’t see it well, ensconced as I am in the aisle seat, already subconsciously distancing myself from this visit. But my daughter, on the other end of the row, peers ...

Taking one of the world's longest train rides

Aug 29, 2015

Taking one of the world's longest train rides

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It was the realization of a dream from a childhood obsessed with trains: taking one of the world’s longest train rides, on the Trans Mongolian Express and Trans Siberian Railway. The trip went from Beijing, China, via Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and across Russia to Moscow ...

Miyagi's hot-spring valley of the dolls

Aug 22, 2015

Miyagi's hot-spring valley of the dolls

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If local train rides, bucolic vistas, simple family-run ryokans and hot-spring baths overflowing with mineral-rich waters sounds like the perfect getaway, Naruko Onsen village in Miyagi Prefecture should be your next destination. Accessible by the Rikuu-East train line, the valley is flanked by wooded ...

London's Bloomsbury has an academic air

Aug 22, 2015

London's Bloomsbury has an academic air

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Many visitors to London know Bloomsbury as a neighborhood of books, B&Bs and the British Museum. But it’s also a district of elegant architecture, hidden parks and upscale boutiques that’s a pleasure to explore on foot. Much of the area was developed during the ...

Rome's regal Quirinal Palace now open to all

Aug 15, 2015

Rome's regal Quirinal Palace now open to all

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Popes and royals resided there in glorious splendor. An emperor dreamed in vain of doing so, too. Nowadays presidents live there. The Quirinal Palace, crowning one of Rome’s ancient hills, is a storied gem whose architectural marvels, elegant gardens and fascinating history— four conclaves ...

Exploring the traces of 'Mockingbird' in Alabama

Aug 8, 2015

Exploring the traces of 'Mockingbird' in Alabama

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Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is always nearby in the southwest Alabama town of Monroeville. The quiet city is the birthplace and current home of the 89-year-old author, and it inspired the fictional town of Maycomb in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book about ...