Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
The Old Town in Chur is one of the best in all of Switzerland. Its narrow streets and winding alleys are car-free and are home to scores of shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and bars.

Click on title to view photo in large format. The Old Town of Chur is among the best preserved in Switzerland. One of its most interesting buildings is the Zschaler House, shown at the center of this photo. The exquisite frescoes on its facade were recently restored to their Gothic glory. Today the Zschaler House is home to a popular cafe and coffee house. Read More

Buildings that surround the Episcopal Courtyard in Chur, the oldest town in Switzerland

Click on title to view photo in large format. In Chur, Switzerland, pretty buildings surround the courtyard of Saint Mary Assumption Episcopal Cathedral. Modern versions of historic wood chalets, they incorporate traditional architectural details such as the colorful shutters. The 800-year old Cathedral, located on the opposite side of the square, was reopened in 2007 following extensive restoration. It is often described as the most significant building in the city. Many more examples of lovingly restored buildings can be seen on a walking tour of the city.  Read More

Have you ever been stuck with a long layover in an airport and been forced to pay for wifi access? Even worse are the schemes that tease you with 30 minutes of free wifi access and then rudely shut you off. If, like me, you believe that wifi should be a right rather than a privilege, you’ll be delighted to know about the new WiFox app for your smart phone. WiFox provides wifi passwords for more than 70 airports and airport lounges around the world, providing you with unlimited free wifi access.

Screens showing the available wifi networks in airports around the world, as they appear on the WiFox app

Screens showing the available wifi networks in airports around the world, as they appear on the WiFox app

The above photo shows the various screens in the app. In map view, you can tap any wifi icon where wireless information is available. Simply use the button to copy the password to the clipboard and paste into the airport network’s login screen. The map is available offline, so you don’t need an internet connection to use WiFox app when traveling.

The app is brand new and works through “crowdsourcing,” which means passwords are supplied by travelers and pilots as they discover them. Those passwords are then verified by the developer before being added to the map. As a user, you too will be able to add new passwords to WiFox. That means the list of passwords and airports, which is somewhat limited at the moment, will continue to grow over time. Users can also rate the wireless hotspot to let the developer know whether or not the connection worked. Learn more about the iOS app on the iTunes page for WiFox and the Android app on the Google Play page for WiFox. Read More

Monte San Salvatore rises on one side of the crescent bay where the town of Lugano, Switzerland graces the shores of Lake Lugano

Click on title to view photo in large format. The iconic Monte San Salvatore, rising abruptly from the shore of Lake Lugano, is the most famous sight in the city of Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano has long been a favorite destination with the rich and famous. Not so well-heeled tourists, however, will also find much to do. In addition to cruises on Lake Lugano, the surrounding foothills of the Swiss Alps offer a cornucopia of hiking opportunities. For the more sedentary, a funicular whisks passengers to the top of Monte San Salvatore for Read More

Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) in Milan, Italy

Click on title to view photo in large format. Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano in Italian) is the landmark for which the city of Milan, Italy is best known. The enormous Gothic cathedral was built of brick and faced with marble from the Candoglia quarry. Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo ordered construction to begin in 1386, but before long work stalled due to lack of funds. In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte Read More

It’s official. I’ve visited the two smallest countries in the world: Vatican City, and now the Principality of Monaco. The difference between the two, aside from the fact that the first is a City-State and the latter a Principality, is that I was excited to go to Vatican City. Monaco? Well, it was more that I was in Nice, France, just a 25-minute train ride away, and it didn’t make sense NOT to go. Plus, it was an easy add to my list of visited countries, bringing my total to 71.

Since Monaco is less than one square mile in size (.78 square mile, to be precise), I had planned to see it on foot. Unfortunately, I stepped off the train at 2 p.m., into a brutal 95 degree temperature and instantly dissolved into a puddle of sweat. Rather than walking, I caught the Hop-on/Hop-off bus and stayed aboard for the entire one-hour circuit. By the time the route started repeating, the temperatures had dropped a bit, so I hopped off at the only place that had seemed interesting, the Old Town area in the capital of Monte Carlo.

The palace of the Prince of Monaco - slightly underwhelming

The palace of the Prince of Monaco – slightly underwhelming

I checked out the view down to the harbor and snapped a few shots of Prince Albert II’s uninteresting palace. A short stroll led me to the Palace of Justice and into Notre-Dame-Immaculée Cathedral, where I filed past the grave of Princess Grace, better known to Americans as the famous actress Grace Kelly. Then I wondered what to do. I have no interest in gambling, so the casinos were not an option. Shopping, another popular reason people visit Monaco, also held no attraction. As a full-time traveler, I have only a 22″ carry-on size suitcase and it’s full. The harbor was attractive but couldn’t compare with the ports of Nice or Marseilles. Even the architecture was, in general, uninspiring. Frankly, I was bored out of my mind. Three hours into my visit, I was ready to jump back on a train to Nice. Read More