Wandering Through Moscow

Some months ago, I found a 1977 book published by the National Geographic Society: Journey Across Russia: The Soviet Union Today. A writer (Bart McDowell) and a photographer (Dean Conger) covered 30,000 miles, visited 50 cities and towns, and the 15 constituent republics of the U.S.S.R. It’s an admirable effort that avoids ideological propaganda, even with […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Talkin’ Brno Blues: Alienation and Dislocation While Traveling

The morning is the worst part of the day. If I’m forced to breakfast, I’ll glare at the food as I eat, or moulder over a glass of tea with too much sugar. The upswing is that the day improves as time passes, so I’ve the rest of the day to enjoy after a hellish […]

The Country Music Highway of Eastern Kentucky

Before I left for the Czech Republic, I wanted to take another road trip. As luck led me, I took two, but this is about Kentucky. The other is a story for another day. I love travelling in Appalachia. There’s so much that’s familiar, but the accents change dramatically. It’s like visiting a distant cousin. […]

The Second City of the Czech Republic

Brno has a reputation for being more laid-back than Prague, and it seems to be true. Prague doesn’t let anyone breathe. You constantly chase the bus or tram;  the crowd carries you wherever it pleases; you take a brisk walk to the next sight or meal to cram in everything. You’re fresh and excited the first […]