Recent Articles

Appreciating the “soundtrack of Cairo”

During my own travels in parts of the Middle East, one of my strongest memories is of the rhythmic beauty of the Islamic call to prayer, which is heard five times each day from the minarets of every mosque in every city and village in the region.  So I could appreciate this recent essay in […]

Mañana, Mañana

There is a famous quote about punctuality in Italy, which goes: “When you are an hour late, you are already half an hour early.”  That is less true of northern Italy than of the southern part of the country, and it is perhaps less true in general than it once was.  Nevertheless, it speaks to […]

The emergence of Phnom Penh

Wedged between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia doesn’t always get a lot of attention as a Southeast Asia hot spot.  And when it does, the coverage tends to center on the spectacular, thousand-year-old temples of Angkor Wat.  However, as the International Herald Tribune recently reported, the capital city of Phnom Penh now seems to be gaining ground […]

Those rule-bending Italians

People in Latin societies tend to be rule-breakers, or at least rule-benders.  Not in a malicious way, of course.  It’s just that their cultures tend to be hierarchical and bureaucratic, yet the people are individuals who value close family relationships more than any abstract notion of law and order.  It’s a clash waiting to happen.  So, […]

Bread and business in France

There is a unique story in Business Week about the bread that is made by Paris’ Poilane bakery and the circumstances that led 23-year-old Apollonia Poilane to become the company’s chief executive while still an undergraduate at Harvard. Ms. Poilane was thrust into a management position when her parents were killed more than four years ago in a […]

German work culture may be influencing exodus

Interesting story a few days ago about the angst that some in Germany are feeling over an apparent exodus of professionals to other countries.  Many of these emigrants, though, are not leaving for the usual reasons of lack of jobs. Some are attracted to the warmer climes of nearby European Union countries, such as Spain.  But a surprising number of […]

Creating time to travel

It is one of our great challenges, particularly for Americans with little vacation time — creating time in our lives to travel.  Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding, has a variety of ideas for individuals who are determined to hit the road. Short of simply asking for more vacation time, many people negotiate long-term leaves of […]

Savoring a Kenyan sunset

In a nice essay for the Christian Science Monitor, Daniela Petrova talks about her quest to see the Big Five game animals while on safari in Kenya.  In the end, though, she passes up a chance to see a leopard in order to savor a sunset when she realizes that the pictures she sees with […]

The challenges posed by clans and tribalism

I’ve previously written about clans and tribalism as it relates to Iraq and the Middle East.  But this cultural topic is of course also an issue in other regions of the world, as shown by this recent article about Somalia. … whether Somalia pulls itself together now or explodes into bloodshed again depends not on American […]

Buddhist economics

With all the focus on economic growth and development in the world, it’s interesting to read about a country that may actually be trying to pull back the reins on growth in favor of a more balanced approach.  That, at least, is the story out of Thailand these days, according to this recent article in […]

Cafe culture

I was intrigued by a recent article I came across that described the cafe culture of New York City.  Not the culture that surrounds the crowded Starbucks on every corner, but the life of the European-style cafes where creative professionals gather and network most mornings over coffee or breakfast. Such are the benefits of belonging to […]

Australia and other great train journeys

Trains are a great way to travel and there are many great rail journeys in the world.  One such trip cuts across central Australia, from Adelaide to Darwin.  Beverly Beyette recently took that 1,850-mile train ride and wrote about it for the Los Angeles Times. All told, the trip takes 48 hours, two full days of […]

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    Bob Riel is a writer and a traveler. Go here to read more about Bob, his work and the Travels in the Riel World blog.

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