Oh, I see! moments
Travel Cultures Language

Quaintness, Rudeness, and Bad Food

by Joyce McGreevy on June 5, 2017

An urban view of the Grand Canal, Dublin counters cultural stereotypes of Ireland as “quaint” and “rural.” (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Beyond quaintness and cottages: This, too, is Ireland.
© Joyce McGreevy

A Travel Guide to Cultural Stereotypes

“Do people in Ireland talk normal?” the 13-year-old girl asked me. “You know, do they say things like cowabunga?” As cultural stereotypes go, this was one of the more intriguing. I’d never thought of cowabunga as a barometer of normality.

Cowabunga is a bundle of cultural stereotypes. Considered surfer slang, it’s a word no real surfer would utter. But actors playing surfers on Gidget, a popular ‘60s TV show, used it frequently. In the ‘90s, animated series like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons resurrected cowabunga.

All Aboard for
Aha Moments!

by Joyce McGreevy on May 9, 2017

The Amtrak Station in Salinas, California leads to aha moments, thanks to Trails & Rails, a partnership with the National Park Service. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Catch a train in Salinas, a town made famous by John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden.
© Joyce McGreevy

Time-Traveling on Trails & Rails

Unsteadily hiking the path, I meet a National Park Service guide.  She tells me that “Spanish explorers traveled this historic California trail, named for Juan Bautista De Anza.” This was the land of the Chumash, Pima, and Quechan peoples. Wait—I’m in a moving train. But as I’ll discover, I’m “right on track” for aha moments.

“Believe it or not, you’re in a national park right now,” says guide Kathy Chalfant, as the Coast Starlight rolls southward. We’re following California’s coast and time-traveling to the 1700s. Oh, I see: Sometimes a train commute becomes a journey into history.

65 Countries in One Day

by Joyce McGreevy on May 2, 2017

Traditional dancers outside the Embassy of Peru in Washington, DC show why crossing cultures draws so many visitors to Passport DC. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Elegantly dressed young dancers perform outside the Embassy of Peru in Washington, DC.
© Joyce McGreevy

Crossing Cultures at Passport DC

Crossing cultures, collecting passport stamps—the appetite for travel is insatiable. When I heard about an opportunity to visit more than 65 countries I was intrigued. Imagine, the sheer feast of cultural heritage and traditions!

But a multi-country tour? It recalled the 1969 movie, If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. In that screwball comedy, a busload of tourists barrel through Europe so fast they don’t know where they’ve been until they get their photos developed.

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