In this podcast, we'll visit 200 Wonders of the World, from the Pyramids to the Great Barrier Reef, to tell the story of our people, our civilization, and our planet. My name is Caroline Vahrenkamp, and I'm a travel junkie. The world is filled with amazing places that reflect the greatest achievements of human accomplishment. In these uncertain times, understanding our great shared history may help to bridge the divides between us. And if not, it will be a fun ride anyway! We'll discuss the history of each place and the story of the men and women who lived there. We'll cover travel notes, examine what else to see while you're in the area, and dig into the local cuisine. Expect a new episode every two weeks. And thanks for listening!
The Wieliczka Salt Mine
In the late 1500s Poland and Lithuania joined to create the Commonwealth, a remarkable, if flawed, experiment in constitutional monarchy that would last more than 200 years. Its legacy of religious tolerance and representative republicanism is strangely overlooked in American history books - and I would guess in other histories as well.
One of the chief economic engines of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the Wielizcka Salt Mine, an amazing wonder delved over 700 years. To visit Wieliczka is to be amazed at the artistry of salt sculptures and impressed by the sheer cheesiness of all the salty dwarves. So many salty dwarves. Or maybe they're gnomes...
Finally, let's grab some friends and make pierogis!
The Süleymaniye Mosque of Istanbul
Suleiman the Magnificent? Suleiman the Lawgiver? Suleiman the Bisexual Poet? No matter how you label him, Suleiman was a fascinating sultan of the Ottoman Empire who strode upon the world stage, and his private life was worthy of a scandalous Netflix show. Among his greatest legacies was commissioning this phenomenal mosque, designed by Mimar Sinan, one of the history's most successul and significant architects.
Listener and traveler Emma Browning returns to discuss visiting the mosque and Istanbul and trying to find vegetarian food in a city known for its meat and seafood. Grab some Turkish delight and enjoy!
097 - Machu Picchu
The world-famous "lost city of the Inca". It wasn't a city, and it wasn't lost, but yes, it was made by the Inca. The incredibly scenic former estate of kings is a true marvel, as I can personally attest, but this episode is about so much more than the ruins that people come from all over the world to see.
Joined by Nick Machinski of the History of the Inca Empire podcast, we talk about the dramatic rise and fall of the Inca Empire, their staunch resistance to Spanish conquest, and the wonders that might have been, like the gold-covered Qoriqancha. Listener and friend of the pod Jesse Oppenheim shares his breathless experience visiting Peru as well. And if you haven't had lomo saltado, you should fix that.
Photo by Allard Schmidt
Mental Health Hiatus
It's all too much for me to take - the Beatles, 1969
096 - The Humble Administrator's Garden of Suzhou
He was from the richest city in Ming China, or one of the richest, and after his checkered political career, he came home and planted a garden. 500 years later, we can still visit his garden and marvel at the humility of Wang Xianchen, the Humble Administrator. This episode is a pleasant diversion beforewe get back to the big stories.
And we'll have Suzhou "smoked" fish while we're here!
Clunas, Craig. Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China
Lonely Planet China
Photograph CC4.0 by wikicommons user Another Believer
095 - The Migration of the Monarch Butterflies
Monarch butterflies are tiny, ephemeral creatures, whose audacious color patterns makes them beloved across a continent, yet few realize how remarkable their migration from Canada and the US to their winter ground west of Mexico City really is. Listener Livia Montovani joins us to talk about visiting the mountain reserves where hundreds of millions of butterflies spend their winter.
We'll also cover the conquest of Mexico and the personalities involved, from Motecuhzoma of the Mexica to Cortés of Spain to the controversial role of la Malinche, the formerly enslaved woman who translated for the Spainiards. It's a story with no heroes, but it needs to be told.
And we'll make carnitas at home with salsa verde!
Baumle, Kylee, The monarch: Saving our Most-Loved Butterfly
Dennis, Peter. Tenochtitlan 1519-21: Clash of Civilizations
Diáz dl Castillo, Bernal. The True History of the Conquest of New Spain
Dykman, Sara. Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-mile Journey Following the Monarch MMigration
Fehrenbach, T.R. Fire & Blood: a History of Mexico
Keeling, Stephen et al. The Rough Guide to Mexico
Levy, Buddy. Conquistador: Hernán Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs
Sainsbury, Brendan et al. Lonely Planet Mexico
Photograph by pendens proditor CC 2.0
Machu Pichu and Inca Trail
Such a wonderful combo of practical tips, food and sites to experience off the beaten path. And fabulous, fabulous history! Found you by Googling "Machu Pichu" and think I am lucky to have found your podcast! Your show is fantastic--thoughtful, interesting, great descriptions and you have such a warm, kind, fun, and informed perspective.
I am 62 and just booked for the Inca trek. Now wished I'd booked an extra 3 days on top of the 2 days we have in Cuzco pre-trek! Lol.
I sincerely hope you get to try the trek sometime. Never say never!
I hope you continue your podcasts and may some wonderful benefactor sponsor your show without impinging on any of your needs/desires and aid you with a crackerjack team of support so you can travel the world and continue your excellent work.
These are indeed difficult and challenging and questionable times. I am from Calgary, Canada and watch with shock and disdain as roadblocks and prejudice have made drastic changes to US and Cdn society tecently. Stay strong, Caroline! And take good care of yourself!
Love this podcast!
Take it easy, we will wait.
Caroline is a great podcaster, I look forward to hearing plenty more of this great podcast