Freedom Trails in Boston


Back in Beantown, my first day included a must see for any Boston tourist – the Freedom Trail. This 2.5 mile course leads you through 16 historical landmarks ranging from churches to burial grounds. This isn’t my first rodeo in Boston. I trounced around the city with my dad right after graduating high school in a 2007 northeastern tour of NYC and Boston. We opted to walk the trail solo and just read the placards. We both thoroughly enjoyed the walk taking our time at each landmark, but after experiencing the tour with a trained guide overflowing with interesting tidbits, no comparison. I decided to join a tour group, while my friend that lives in Boston was working away. Our group of around ten people was headed by a local college history teacher dressed in a period Redcoat costume. Our guide not only delivered the facts but witty remarks that spiced up the two hour tour. Continue reading

Lesson Learned: Triple Check the Date!


It’s been a little while since my last post, but no fears for I’m working as we speak on posts for Ireland, Iceland, and Road Trip ‘Merica 2012. In the meantime, here’s a gem of a story from abroad. One of the best lessons I learned traveling was always check the details. I know, it seems obvious, but after so many trains, planes, and buses, details can be glazed over… Continue reading

Kremlin Excursions


Has it already been almost two months in Russia? Three families, a few shots of Vodka and salted fish, and six weeks of Russian language lessons down, and I only have one full week left in Moscow. Here’s a recap of some of my adventures over the past month: Continue reading

From Russia with Love


First week in St. Petersburg (Russia not Florida), and everyday, it has snowed. Oh, by the way, it’s April just in case you forgot. Even the major river running thru the city is still frozen solid in some areas. The whole Vodka and borscht soup deal makes sense – anything to stay warm. Continue reading

An End to Asia


During my time in Beijing, my Letter of Invitation (LOI) arrived from GeoVisions. A LOI alerts the Russian government that a citizen within the country officially supports your visa request, or as I like to think of it, one extra hurdle constructed by the Russia to ensure you REALLY want to enter the country as an American. I’m no expert on visa reciprocity, but it’s a hypothesis I’m sticking with. When I swung by the Russian Embassy in Beijing, how about even with the LOI, the timeframe to process a visa application for a non-Chinese resident at best would be two weeks? Seriously, two weeks. Continue reading

Eighth Wonder of the World – Xi’an


My first stop after Japan turned out to be an airport in China. What I thought was supposed to be a few hours layover ended up as an overnight stay in a random Chinese airport “guest room” – not recommended for those that don’t enjoy sharing your room with a critter or two. At 7:30AM the next morning, I boarded another plane and arrived in Xi’an also known as the home of the Terracotta Warriors – Eighth Wonder of the World. My first day of escapades included a saunter around the drum and bell towers. The bell tower marks the heart of town with east, west, north, and south roads running straight out from the traffic circle. Once I returned to the hostel, I joined in “snack night” where two Chinese guys tried to teach me how to count to ten in Chinese. Wow, tones are quite the mystery. Depending on how you say a word based on your tone the meaning can change from mother into a curse word. Supposedly, someone not familiar with the Chinese language should expect to invest five years into learning the language, and that’s just Mandarin. There are multiple languages within the country that vary in number of tones and meanings of Chinese characters. Continue reading

Snow Festivities


What a way to start off my Japan jainky backpacking stint! Walking off the plane from Shanghai, I could already tell and feel in my fingertips this wasn’t the Georgia-esque climate of southern China with little to no snow and temperatures well about freezing. Sapporo basically exists as Japan’s Alaska with their own version of northern people well-suited to the icy conditions named the Ainu and the Hokkaido territory remaining the last independent portion of Japan until the late 1800s. My first clue in the “I think I may have taken the wrong flight not headed to the beaches of Thailand” mystery – the heated toilet seats. After that little shocker, I found my second clue – trains run in any conditions. The airport train rumbled past almost 4 feet of snow on either side of the tracks before arriving to the Sapporo Station! I’m definitely not in Georgia anymore. Luckily, the first four nights I couch surfed at a residence in the suburbs of Sapporo with a girl named Anna. She recently graduated from a smaller, private university in Virginia and decided to pack up all her personals and teach English in the JET program – organization run by the Japanese government that seeks out native English speakers from all around the globe to teach in Japan. Continue reading


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PC Disclaimer:

Jessica Craven works as an Individual and Organizational Development Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia. The contents of this Peace Corps blog are the intellectual property of Jessica Craven and do not reflect the position, opinion, or views of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.