A Spring in Russia, or, “You Should Come in the Summer”

Russia exists on a level alongside the United States, India, and China. It is a culture, a history, a nation that surpasses the individual and escapes comprehension. The contradictions will stand, and fate demands a surrender to a postcard, a snapshot with a few words to satisfy curiosity. Take that as an omission of humility [...]

A Stop in Sofia, Bulgaria

I would not take my parents to Sofia. They struggle enough with D.C. or, for that matter, Columbus, Ohio. Sofia is inaccessible. Sidewalks claw at your feet with hidden angles and general malice. Cyrillic looks intimidating. The language divide demands that the day become a game of charades. The museums aren't intriguing. Speaking with Bulgarians [...]

Planning a Trip: Booking a Flight

No one makes money running an airline. Which is great for consumers, as the market is competitive enough to make profits razor-thin. So don't stress about getting a cheap flight. Flights are already cheap. Buy early. Waiting for a cheaper flight sometimes works, but it's a hassle and a gamble. In general, booking four to six months [...]

Planning for a Trip: Finding Accommodation

Note: This is written for an American who wants to travel to Europe, but it can be applied generally. Finding accommodation is the easiest part of planning a trip, so rest easy. The most important thing is to know whether one is comfortable sharing a dorm-style room with snoring strangers or those entering the room in [...]

Notes on a Weekend Trip to Sarajevo

A few vague recollections before a proper post appears: A 12-hour bus ride through the night isn't as bad as it sounds, and will arrive an hour early The taxi driver at the bus station will overcharge sleepy foreigners, but they are too tired to care Sarajevo Roses are scattered throughout the city, marking where [...]

Planning for a Trip: How to Budget, Pack, and Draft an Itinerary

Note: This is written for an American who wants to travel to Europe, but it can be applied generally. Consider this the first in a series on planning a trip. First is budgeting/packing/planning, which will be followed by how to find a flight, how to choose a hostel, and how to navigate transportation by bus and [...]

Exploring Prague: Oblivious in Zizkov

Being oblivious is underrated. Obliviousness makes me miss the one thing I wanted to see. Or I pay twice as much for a meal that’s half as good. Sometimes, though, I end up in ridiculous positions that are a delight to experience. So it was in Prague. Venturing around the Žižkov neighborhood, a friend (Dustin) [...]

A Humbling Act: Perspective on Being Born in America

Travel is a constant reminder that there, but for the grace of God, go I. I was lucky enough to be born in the churning economic monstrosity that is America. I'd only feel guilty for that if I tried to deny the same to anyone unlucky enough to be born outside it. Had I lived [...]

Getting Lost on a Mountaintop: Hiking To the Wooden Churches of Eastern Slovakia

Well. You're an idiot. Again. Surely I didn't repeat Šumava. You did. Idiot. I lost the hiking map. Sigh. At least in Šumava, I was with seven people. At least in Šumava, I bought another map. At least in Šumava, I wasn't at the most isolated point of the hike before realizing it. The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and [...]

Wild Europe: Perceptions of the Balkans and the East

Travel writing appeals to me because it's possible to be honest and sincere, yet write something ignorant and vapid. That tension, and the problems it reveals, makes travel writing a sociological lens for perceptions and assumptions about foreign countries. London, Paris, and Rome, for example, have mythical qualities and romantic notions associated with them. For post-communist [...]