World Traveler's Cup

It’s world cup time, which means we’re all pitted against each other over various countries. (Let’s face it, at this point in the game, 75% of us are mad at the other 25% because our countries have lost.) But, alas, we put aside our differences and go to work every day. And even though only a handful of us have someone to cheer for anymore, we still think other countries are pretty cool, and we would know—collectively, we’ve been to quite a few. Thus, we thought it’d be fun to share our favorite places we’ve traveled, and where we dream of going next.



Death Valley, CA, is one of the most memorable places I’ve been. I went there for a geology field course. It was warm during the day and cool at night. The moon looked tiny against the expanse of flat land and 360 mountains. Sound poetic? It was! It felt a little like outer space might—rocky, dry and so quiet.



My favorite place I’ve ever traveled to is Ireland. I went there on my honeymoon two summers ago. We had the best time—and, miraculously, the best weather. It was 75 and sunny the whole time. Not very Ireland-y, but incredible! I love that Ireland is small enough that you can see so much in a short time. We probably saw 60% of the country in a week. Everyone was super friendly to us as tourists. Also, when we arrived in Dublin, we discovered Bruce Springsteen was playing that night at Croke Park stadium, home of Gaelic football. We got tickets and saw The Boss belt out his classic American hits with over 80,000 Irishmen singing along. Oh, and Bono made a special appearance for a few songs, too. How can you not love a place where it’s acceptable to have 5 versions of potatoes served to you in one meal??! I cannot wait to go back! (Even though driving on the left side of the road is terrifying!)

I really want to go to The Netherlands. My grandfather was born in Holland, and I’ve love to visit this part of my heritage.



I’ve been to Paris twice, and each time I still couldn’t get enough. With all the exquisite architecture, art and the delicious food (I have an extreme sweet tooth), there’s always something new to see and experience.The best way to see Paris is just by walking, as there is something beautiful around every corner. This city is so full of history, it is easy to imagine how it must have looked in generations past. A must-have experience is going to the top of the Montparnasse skyscraper for drinks at night; you can see the Eiffel Tower all lit up and the entire city glowing along with it.

If I had an open field of possibilities, I think next on my dream bucket list would be Greece or Italy. The architecture and scenery looks absolutely amazing. Hopefully someday I’ll go for that goal!



My favorite place I’ve traveled is probably Ireland. All the cities I visited were great, but Kilkenny had it’s own, unique charm. There’s something really neat experiencing an old town that maintains a lot of the same narrow streets and at the same time have a castle. (Plus extra points for a good local pub and a place with really good Irish stew). Since we’re relating this post to sports, I’ll mention that when I was there, I found out Kilkenny has a very popular hurling team (the “Cats”) that I’ve been told “are like the Yankees of Hurling.” I also was able to see the Gaelic Football national championship which was like a mix of soccer, hurling and rugby.

If I could travel anywhere, I think Japan or Munich would be a lot of fun.



My favorite place I’ve traveled has by far been to Lucca, Italy, although it’s really hard to commit. I went on a two-week trip around Europe with my Abuelita when I was 16, and just fell in love with it all (and now I can say that I was in Portugal on my 17th birthday, because that makes me a cooler person). Unbelievably beautiful and nostalgic—even if you’ve never been before. And the only other best way I can think to describe it is warm, and I don’t mean temperature. I even took a rock (shhhh) from each country, and Lucca’s rock sits on a shelf in my apartment now. (The photo above is not mine, unfortunately—all documentation of this trip is currently at my Abuelita’s house in Chicago.)

I’d undoubtedly love to travel to Japan.



I traveled to Siem Reap in the Angkor region of Cambodia, famous for its ruins and temples, including Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm in 2001. I had been traveling through the States and Europe for over a year, and had seen my share of castles, churches and museums (and Pubs), but this was something else entirely. The ruins of an ancient civilization that had been reclaimed by the jungle and then unearthed again. Every surface of every building is intricately carved with scenes of Gods and Apsaras. The sheer scale of the complex is hard to comprehend. I think I took something like 12 rolls of film (see above re: 2001) in 3 days. On top of that the people are generous and friendly, and the food is spicy. What more could you want?!

I’ve got a long list of exotic places I’d like to get to—sights to see—but there’s just something special about going home to Australia to catch up with friends and family.


Matt K

Duluth, MN / Hibbing, MN. June 2014. Grandma’s Marathon. (3:25:49)

“You’ll never see another town like Duluth. It’s not a tourist destination, but it probably should be. Depends what season you’re in there, though. There are only two seasons: damp and cold. I like the way the hills tumble to the waterfront and the way the wind blows around the grain elevators. The train yards go on forever, too. It’s old-age industrial, that’s what it is. You’ll see it from the top of the hill for miles and miles before you get there. You won’t believe your eyes. I’ll give you a medal if you get out alive.” – Bob Dylan, 2009


Matt T

My favorite place I’ve ever traveled is Barcelona. In college I was able to go on an “art history euro-trip” where we hopped around a few European countries for 2 weeks. The trip as a whole was a blast but our final stop was Barcelona. The weather was perfect, the food was amazing (paella forever!!!), the beach was awesome and there was famous street art everywhere.

My “to visit list” of countries is pretty long and each has its own reason to visit, but if I had to pick an ideal place at this point and time it would be England. I’ve played soccer most of my life but never been to a proper game. During this World Cup time it’s hard not to dream of catching a rivalry match between two Premier League teams and chanting along with the fans.



Post college graduation (circa 2007), I went with my aunt, uncle and Baba to Ukraine to spend about a month with family. Our trip was filled with art galleries, landmarks, miles of sunflower fields, visiting the Black Sea, eating a lot of sausage and cheese and drinking way too much vodka.

Alaska has been on my list since I was a teenager. I’m saving the trip until my kids are older and can appreciate the beautiful landscapes and fresh air. They say photos only capture about half the majesty and they have already made me fall in love. I hope that doesn’t mean I have too high expectations for the visit?!??!