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Stone banquette with carvings of warriors and priests — Templo Mayor Museum, Mexico City. Photos by Julie Skurdenis

There is an old adage that “all roads lead to Rome.” It’s a statement with much truth in it, since most, if not all, roads in the early centuries of the Christian era did lead to Rome, then the center of a vast, far-flung empire.

The same adage could be applied to 14th-century Tenochtitlán, then the center of the Aztec empire in Mesoamerica. All roads seemed to lead to Tenochtitlán. Or at least they did from AD 1325 to 1521.

Before then, the Aztecs...

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In China, more than 92 million people share the family name Li, but those with the family name Wang number 92.8 million, or about 6.6% of the population.

Travelers can hop on and off Germany’s sleek InterCity Express trains easily with either a Eurail Global Pass or a German Rail Pass.

Once an economical and easy way to travel around Europe, rail passes over the years had become more of a headache-inducing puzzle. But in 2019, Europe's rail passes underwent some sweeping changes that have made them an affordable option again, and much less confusing to shop for -- and made me nostalgic for their glory days.

As of this year, "Select Passes" -- where you could mix and match countries as you like to suit your itinerary -- are gone....

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According to tradition, the colors of these Maltese fishing boats represent a fisherman’s home village. CREDIT: Gretchen Strauch, Rick Steves’ Europe.

Sailing into the stony harbor of the island of Malta, surrounded by ramparts and turrets, you realize that this strategic and much fought-over rock midway between Sicily and Africa has had a long and difficult history. But its parade of foreign rulers (Phoenician, Roman, Greek, Arab, Norman, Sicilian and British -- to name a few) make it a fascinating place to explore today.

The imposing capital city of Valletta is a monument to this hard-...

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A walk along Dublin’s O’Connell Street median is filled with history, though the 400-foot spike in the center — called The Spire — is a memorial to nothing.

A walk through the heart of north Dublin recalls Ireland's long fight for independence, and makes a fine introduction to the historical lay of the land.

Start at the O'Connell Bridge, which spans the River Liffey. The river has long divided the wealthy south side of town from the working-class north side. From the bridge, you can see modern Dublin evolving: A forest of cranes marks building sites all over town.

Leading from the...

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Lace makers on the Venetian island of Burano are proud of their craft tradition.

Long a city of aristocrats, luxury goods, and trade, Venice has an amazing culture. Its fantasy-world atmosphere of elegant decay is like nowhere else in Europe. But with souvenir hawkers everywhere pushing cheap masks, glassy baubles, and lacy doilies, it can come across as a tacky tourist trap. Look behind those tired clichés, though, and you'll get glimpses of Venice's history.

MASKS

Venice's ubiquitous, ornately decorated...

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The Hartland Covered Bridge, built in 1901 and covered in 1921, is the world’s longest covered bridge, stretching 1,282 feet over the Saint John River in New Brunswick, Canada.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 523rd issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine. This is the public forum where you can send in your travel experiences, observations and opinions to be printed alongside those of your fellow subscribers. Unlike in online-only forums, however, in this public space the material undergoes fact-checking before being published.

Also, travel companies about whom complaints are written are each given an opportunity to provide a response....

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The Douro’s hillsides are lined with stepped terraces, built over the centuries, and more modern large, smooth terraces, with vines planted in vertical rows. Photos by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

An endearing slice of Portugal is the Douro River Valley, the winding, terraced region that produces the country’s beloved port wine. This is Portugal’s answer to Germany’s romantic Rhine River Valley. But, unlike the Rhine, the Douro was never a strategic military location, so, rather than castles and stony ramparts, visitors encounter farms and sleepy villages. The only thing fortified here… is the wine.

The Douro region, where port is produced,...

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