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) […]

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 […]

Discovering Romani Culture in the Czech Republic

With the exception of stereotypes*, it’s difficult to find information concerning Romani (gypsies) in Europe. Rick Steves has a brief article on his site, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations gives a bit more information. For a continent obsessed with museums, only one exists** in Europe dedicated to the history and culture of the Roma […]

Another Castle in Moravia: Helfštýn

Castles intrude upon most of my trips. I don’t plan to visit, but a friend always drags me along. After a handful, they blur together like cathedrals. Not being Catholic, the cathedrals come off to me as beautiful (sometimes), but pompous and slightly shameful. At least with a castle I get a view of the countryside or […]