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Postcards

Greetings from RIO! I have had a great time and I wish that you could be here! As soon as I arrived I traveled from the hotel to the famous Copacabana beach! I never knew that so many celebrities like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Walt Disney, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Marilyn Monroe, and Princess Diana had ever stayed here! After I enjoyed my time on the beach playing volleyball and relaxing, I took a cable car up to Christ the Redeemer. The large stone structure overshadows the city from a high mountain. It is a statue of Jesus Christ as a large percent of Rio is Catholic/Christian. The last attraction Carnival, was by far the best attraction I had seen that day. Marking the beginning of lent, Carnival is one of the largest festivals in the world. There is a parade with many different costumes and thumping music. The atmosphere is the best I have ever experienced. It holds significant cultural and religious significance, and it attracts many tourists.

( ma-haba)! As I write this, I am no longer experiencing Saudi Arabia, but wow, do I wish I were again. The trip started off with Al Masjid Al Nabawi, one of the most important symbols of Islam. Located in the Medina, it is considered the world's second holiest mosque and is believed to be built by the prophet himself. The next stop was the holiest mosque in Islam. The Kaaba, in Mecca, is the center of Islam and is what Muslims face towards during prayer. Inside the black cuboid is believed to be a reflection of a house in heaven. The shear size of the structure is underestimated. I thought it would have been only a few meters but in reality, it stretches 14 meters high. Last on the list of places to visit was the popular ruins of AlUla. Located between Al-Madinah and Tabuk, the ancient site had once been the hub of trade and commerce. I wish you could have been here! Sincerely, George

(nihao)! What a country! I have so much to talk about with very little space! First, I visited the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall is actually a series of fortifications that were built as early as the 7th century to protect China. Stretching an incredible 5,500 miles, it stands as the largest man-made structure ever built. As the wall has survived for so many dynasties, it is now recognized as a unifying factor among the Chinese people. The second destination was the Himalayan mountains where we would search for the famous Tibetan Monks. Although the Mount Everest Peak, located in the Himalayas, is in Nepal, the Northern base is in Tibet. It was awe inspiring to see the peak of the tallest mountain in the world reach in to the sky. Most people who climb the mountain do so from the Nepalese side for political reasons; however, it can be climbed from the Tibetan Plateau known as Qing Zang Gaoyuan. Of course a trip to see the Tibetan monk was incredible and I got to learn about Buddhism, meditation and enlightenment. I was thrilled to capture a glimpse of the Dalai Lama whose wisdom is revered worldwide. Sincerely George A.

Ciao!! What can I say? Italy is the country of beauty and it has it all delicious food, historical sights, beautiful cities and famous football teams! Rome overwhelmed me. As soon as I stepped inside the Colosseum, I felt myself transported back to ancient Roman times and I got chills down my spine as I imagined the gladiators fighting for their lives inside the Colosseum. Another incredible experience was managing to see the Pope inside the Vatican City; he holds an audience with the public on Wednesday mornings, so there is a chance to see him. Whilst I was in the Vatican City, I took the chance to see St Peter's Basilica and Michelangelo's paintings in the Sistine Chapel were simply breathtaking. Milan was another wonder to behold. The baroque Duomo which took 500 years to complete takes center stage with over 3,500 statues and 135 spires. I was also fortunate enough to see Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece 'The Last Supper' which is located in Sanat Maria della Grazie. The trip would not have been complete without a visit to the San Siro Stadium, home to AC Milan and Inter Milan. With a seating capacity of 80,000, I could just imagine watching a live soccer game with a roaring crowd. Wow!!!

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