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2606, 2019

Visiting The Mikoyan Brothers Museum

By |June 26th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Visiting Mikoyan Brothers Museum. MiG. That just sounds cool. The Soviet MiG jet fighter. As a kid, I imagined F-14s and MiGs dancing in the air in combat as I played war. That name MiG is not just a random jumble of letters but is named after the two designers of the MiG, Artom Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. I am going to be focusing on Mikoyan, I am sure Gurevich is a great guy, but I visited the Mikoyan Brothers Museum, and, well, I am Armenian just like Mikoyan. Artom Mikoyan was born in Sanahin, which can be found in today’s northern part of Armenia, and when he was born, it was part of the Russian Empire in 1905. Sanahin is well known on the tourist trail for the stunning 10th century Sanahin Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. And only five minutes away is the Mikoyan Museum. How is that for some very cool logos! A MiG-21 stands on a platform, ready to launch into the sky. This is just a typical village, sloping [...]

2006, 2019

The Yazidis Of Armenia

By |June 20th, 2019|Categories: Asia, Off The Beaten Path|1 Comment

Yazidis in Armenia.  The Yazidis have been in the news for all of the wrong reasons over the past several years. The Yazidis practice their own unique religion and caught the ire of ISIS. Yazidis are spread throughout the world numbering 1.5 million, but the highest concentration can be found in northern Iraq. ISIS was intent on decimating the Yazidis population through a series of killings, kidnappings, forced conversions, slavery, and expulsions. The Yazidis have had better success in Armenia where they comprise the second largest ethnic group. That is not saying too much, since there are only approximately 35,000 Yazidis in this former Soviet Union republic. Armenia is hyper-homogeneous with over 98% being ethnic Armenian. The Yazidis make their homes across 19 different villages, and they are free to speak their own language, practice their own religion, and attend Yazidi schools. The Yazidis follow one God, making them monotheists. Their God created the world and then assigned a Heptad (fancy word for seven) of Holy Beings (Angels) to oversee life on earth. The preeminent of the [...]

1706, 2019

Eight Days In Mauritania, An Agenda, Part II

By |June 17th, 2019|Categories: Africa, Off The Beaten Path|0 Comments

Sample Itinerary Mauritania.  This is the second part of my trip to Mauritania.  To see the first part, check out sample agenda Mauritania. Ben Amera Ben Amera is the third largest monolith in the world. The first two that claim that record can be found in Australia. Ben Amera rises over 630 meters (over 2,000 feet). A monolith is a geographical feature comprised of a singular giant rock. It is pretty cool. After a lazy breakfast at Zaida’s Auberge, the gear was packed, and we were back on the road in our trusty steed, the pickup. Around lunch, we arrived in Afar, one of Mauritania’s larger towns, which is tiny. I eagerly whipped out Tripadvisor to check out the restaurant options. I wanted to avoid another meal of goat stew. I fell into mild depression, when Tripadvisor produced zero dining options. I settled on a coke and took a brief walk through the market. One local offered her hand in marriage at one of the vegetable stands, but I politely declined. We headed back on the road [...]

1406, 2019

The Assyrians Of Armenia

By |June 14th, 2019|Categories: Asia, Off The Beaten Path|1 Comment

Assyrians in Armenia.  I have visited Armenia every year since 2003. I have seen a lot of changes, and many for the better. Money has poured in. Infrastructure has improved greatly, whether it is roads, hotels, restaurants, and tour providers. With the improved infrastructure and positive media, I have seen tremendous growth in tourism. The vast majority of tourists, of course, are all visiting the same sights (and rightfully so, they are fantastic). There is Noravank. Khor Virap Tatev Monastery. All must-sees. But if you have time, no matter where you are, it is always great to peel back a layer of that onion. While enjoying an Armenian barbecue (khorovats) on a lazy and warm Saturday afternoon in a dacha outside of Yerevan, my friend Aspet gathered my attention. Aspet, who is a double threat, he is both an Armenophile and historian, informed me that this dacha was located in the Assyrian village of Arzni. And that is quite interesting for the fact that Armenia is a quite the homogeneous nation. Over 98% of this diminutive population [...]

1306, 2019

Palle Bo … Re-Invented Himself At 50

By |June 13th, 2019|Categories: Podcast|0 Comments

Palle Bo … Re-Invented Himself At 50 Palle has traveled to 80 countries On today’s episode, I welcome Palle Bo to Counting Countries.  Palle and I have met twice over the last couple of years, once in Manila and once in Chicago, but today is the day where we made it official with an interview. Before I introduce Palle, I am reminding you that Counting Countries is now partnered with Patreon. Patreon is a platform that allows patrons, that’s you, to support creators, and that is me creating Counting Countries.  I have been extremely fortunate to be be able to create this podcast and be able to meet so many interesting and compelling travelers, but I have also spent a tremendous amount of time and some money creating this podcast.  So for example, some benefits are extended interviews.  Some Patrons are able to listen to an exclusive additional 20 minute interview with last month’s guest, Petro.  Or a five minute update from Fabio Cao, from former guest, who has finished every country in the world. And a [...]

1006, 2019

Visiting The Principality Of Sealand

By |June 10th, 2019|Categories: Europe, Off The Beaten Path|6 Comments

Visiting Principality Sealand.  How many countries are there in the world? Well, it depends on who you ask. If you are standing in the General Assembly, they will inform you there are 193 sovereign countries as recognized by the UN. But the debate is just getting heated. There is another group of countries that walk and talk like a country but are not recognized by the UN. Two of the best known in this category are Taiwan and Kosovo. They have all the trappings of a sovereign nation; like borders, currency, national anthems, armies, and visas, but mostly due to political issues are not recognized by the UN. Some lesser known countries in this category also include Abkhazia, Transnistria, and Somaliland. There is another category of micro-nations that fall somewhere between striving for legitimacy and novelty. The Free Republic of Liberland was founded by a libertarian in 2015 in a patch of uninhabited and unclaimed land between Croatia and Serbia. There is the new micronation that is in the process of birthing, the Principality of Islandia. There [...]

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