Attending church abroad: More museum than mass

The gray and blue stone shoots out over the tops of the uniform orange shingles of Bruges’ buildings. Equally beautiful, yet somehow out of place, St. Salvator’s Cathedral towers over the carefully crafted, old-timey Bruges like a grandfather sitting next to a 20-year-old with full makeup, striving to look old enough to get into a bar. The authenticity sometimes missing in the tourist packed streets oozes off of the cathedral. There is no doubt in my mind that this place has been a place of worship since the 10th century. You can feel its quiet respect in the air as you walk through the red wood doors. The interior is big, but not cavernous like some of the other churches in the area. It’s quainter, eliciting more of a homey than intimidating feeling. It’s smaller and emptier than the Church of Our Lady, across town. It does have one thing I’ve yet to see in a cathedral, though. Mass.  A priest, dressed in purple vestments in accordance with the Lenten season, is flanked by two white-clad deacons. They wait at the end of the aisle leading to the altar. The congregation sits quietly, facing forward, waiting for the music to start and signal the beginning of the service. I almost don’t notice them when I enter; the rack of postcards and souvenirs blocks the sight of the priest from...

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Why do we travel?

They say there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers. So the question, “why do we travel?” can’t be dumb. However, (and I would bold, italicize and underline that word if possible) there are some answers that are so lacking in intelligence that I find myself staring into the void wondering where we went wrong. Rick Steves speaks to my soul (this isn’t an unrelated tangent — I promise). He writes that there are “ugly Americans.” These are people who look at the world and instead of trying to understand it, write it off as inferior to their own...

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Light up the Night: Music, sweat and glow-sticks

A neon crowd of girls stand in a black-lit room, yelling to each other over the pounding bass of the dance music. It could almost be a typical scene from a Friday girls’ night Uptown. There will be dancing, maybe even a punch or two thrown. But it’s 8 p.m. on Thursday night, and they’re not at Brick Street, New Bar or anywhere else Uptown. The black light hits neon leggings, t-shirts and tennis shoes that occupy the space where workout equipment usually sits. They’re in a fitness room at the Rec. Two girls with glow-stick glasses and flashing...

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