A week in the dense, central heart of Panama, the small, narrow pathway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was the memorable international trip I was privileged to get the chance to take on this month.

Panama, a country of less than 4 million people on land less than that of Pennsylvania, is best known for its powerful Panama Canal that was American operated until 1999. Until 1989, it was run by the dangerous despot Manuel Noriega but since then democracy has flourished and, with the New York Times profile in toe, is growing its tourism sector to try to compete with more popular Belize and Costa Rica.

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During my eight days in Spain: three nights in Madrid, one in Burgos and Vivar del Cid, one in Pamplona, one in Sitges and two in Barcelona.

Eight days in the hub of ancient kingdom turned struggling modern Western European stalwart Spain proved to be among the best trips of my life.

I went Running with the Bulls and saw the first bullfight of my life, but I also had suckling pig at the oldest restaurant in the world, saw more Picassas and Dalis than ever before, ordered tapas, sangria and paella in Spanish, swam in the Mediterranean, visited Gaudi and, of course, did so while reading Hemingway’s the Sun Also Rises for the first time.

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I spent the last week on a road trip dotting across the southern half of cloudy Ireland.

Touring with longtime friends Michael Butler and James Spadola, I knocked off a couple items on my list. We drove more than 600 miles and roughly hit this map. Our itinerary here and expenses here.

See highlights of the tour below.

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European Backpacking


From Oct. 1 to Nov. 4, 2008, my friend Sean Blanda and I backpacked Europe. We chronicled our experience at

See our stops and some video below.

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Swiss Alps

Looking at the Swiss Alps from Zurich, Switzerland on Oct. 16, 2008.

Looking at the Swiss Alps from Zurich, Switzerland on Oct. 16, 2008.

I wasn’t on the Alps, so this is an item ripe for being redone, but I did get to see those famed mountains on an exceptionally beautiful day in Zurich, Switzerland.

Paris, France

Mona Lisa

My Mona by you.

Big Ben

Oct. 7, 2008

Oct. 7, 2008

Italian Pizza

A $2 U.S. slice of pizza I bought in Venice, Italy.

A $2 U.S. slice of pizza I bought in Venice, Italy.

OK, if you have pizza in Italy, it’s supposed to be in southern Italy. I got mine in Venice, which is about as far north as most breezy, jetsetting tourists like me go.

And, let’s face it, what I got was decidedly influenced by the American conception of pizza, which, if you wanna be honest, is better anyway.

Still, boom, I did it.

Chinese Food