Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
Vaduz Castle, the palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein

Click on title to view photo in large format. The first Vaduz Castle was built as a fortress in 1130. Much of this original structure was destroyed by the Ottomans in 1683. When reconstruction finally began 200 years later during the reign of Prince Johann II, it stayed faithful to the original Romanesque style. The old medieval walls can still be seen on the main floor and lower levels. Today the castle is one of the rarest 12th century Romanesque secular buildings still in existence in Europe. Read More

The Eclectic Architecture in Vaduz, Liechtenstein includes The Red The Red House, a gabled stairs structure with a large tower that contains the living quarters

Click on title to view photo in large format. The eclectic architecture in Vaduz was one of the biggest surprises of Lichtenstein. Shown in this photo is The Red House, a gabled stairs structure with a large tower. The house is named for the dark red color that has adorned its exterior since the 19th century. Another example of unusual architecture in Vaduz can be seen on the trail to the castle of the Prince of Liechtenstein. Halfway up the hill, a contemporary house is topped by a wooden latticework that resembles a giant set of vertical blinds. Read More

“I think I can, I think I can!” The mantra made famous by the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, ran through my mind as the Bernina Express train climbed toward the Swiss Alps. I had chosen to make this particular journey from Tirano, Italy to Chur, Switzerland, because it is the only train that goes up and over the Alps rather than through them. Even more astonishing, it does so without the assistance of a cog system – toothed gears and racks mounted beneath train carriages that are normally employed to conquer steep gradients.

The Bernina Express Railway is the only train to go up and over the alps rather than through them, negotiating 55 tunnels and 196 bridges along the route

The Bernina Express Railway is the only train to go up and over the alps rather than through them, negotiating 55 tunnels and 196 bridges along the route

It accomplishes the climb with the assistance of the Brusio Circular Viaduct, a true marvel of modern engineering. I’d read about it beforehand, but didn’t thoroughly appreciate its genius until I saw it in person. The track wound around upon itself in a sweeping circle, like a giant slinky. By spreading out the climb in this manner, the grade is kept below seven percent. Read More

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