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Do I really need to learn Chinese to read Chinese characters?

Of course there are Westerners who learn Mandarin or Cantonese or Korean or Japanese, but I wondered – can you learn to read Chinese characters without learning Chinese? I read somewhere that Mandarin and Cantonese, while having entirely different vocabularies, use the same written characters. So a person who speaks Mandarin, would “read” the characters in Mandarin. And the Cantonese speaker would read the exact same characters in Cantonese. So, could I read those same characters in English?… Read More

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Seduced by Stairs

Despite being afraid of heights, I feel an intense urge to climb every staircase I encounter. I’ve climbed stairs to walk along the ledge of the Musegg Wall in Lucerne. I climbed to the roof of the Alcazaba at the Alhambra in Granada. I took the dome tour at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City when I was in Rome. I climbed up the narrow, circular, steep, stone steps to the highest roof of the Alcazar in Segovia.… Read More

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Granada: Palacio de Dar Al-Horra

Palacio de Dar Al-Horra, located in the Albaicin neighborhood, was the last house tour of my visit to Granada. The last day of my trip, at the end of an entire week of sightseeing in Granada – yes, I bought tickets for the Alhambra for two days – yes, I’m an architectural junkie. So, tired, I arrived at the palacio, and it turned out to be one of the best of the many palacios that you can visit in Granada. The house has quite a few exhibits inside in contrast to many of the houses that are open for tours that have only empty rooms.… Read More

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Segovia: Coleccion de Titeres de Francisco Peralta

If your visit to Segovia was a one day dash to see the Aquaduct, the Alcazar, and the Cathedral, you missed a plethora of interesting museums and exhibits.  Hiding away in the upper floors of the Puerto de Santiago is the Coleccion de Titeres de Francisco Peralta.  This was a stumble-upon for me while out walking my first day in Segovia.  But that is the beauty of getting off the main drag, getting off the tour, slowing down, and doing what used to be called “slumming” – that is, walking around just to see what there is to see.  No goal.  No destination.  No guarantee of anything interesting.… Read More

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