Delicious History: Zinfandel Wine & Octopus Peka in Kaštela, Croatia

As our friend’s car propelled us up the jagged slopes of Kozjak Mountain in Croatia’s Dalmatia region, we struggled to steady our cameras enough to document the increasingly-magnificent view. Simultaneously fearing for the health of my friend’s tires which risked being ruptured on the rocky dirt road, I marveled at the panorama along this stretch ofContinue reading “Delicious History: Zinfandel Wine & Octopus Peka in Kaštela, Croatia”

Silver Legacies: The Making of Croatian Filigree Jewelry

Master filigree jeweler Viktor Čivljak has a gentle and humble manner despite regularly wielding blow torches and hammers in his making of Old World jewelry. It turns out that the 73-year-old Split, Croatia jeweler also has a penchant for survival, something that we would learn while spending a Saturday afternoon with him, watching step-by-step how to make a pair of intricate filigree silver earrings. ViktorContinue reading “Silver Legacies: The Making of Croatian Filigree Jewelry”

Fresh Delights: A Cooking Class in Split, Croatia

Jakša Bedalov’s earliest winemaking memory was when he was just five years old. Tasked with cleaning his family’s fermentation room near the coastal Croatian city of Split, Jakša remembers his father pushing him so that he could squeeze into the small space. It was a challenging feat since he was a broad-shouldered child. “It was like beingContinue reading “Fresh Delights: A Cooking Class in Split, Croatia”

Exploring the Mysticism of Greece’s Byzantine Icons: Profiling Iconographer Dimitrios Moulas

In a two-room workshop that is dwarfed by the massive Meteora rock formations that surround it, 38 year-old Greek iconographer Dimitrios Moulas demonstrates admirable focus towards his subject — an icon that will soon represent Jesus Christ. With a delicate paintbrush in hand, he carefully draws fine facial hairs. After a few moments have passed,Continue reading “Exploring the Mysticism of Greece’s Byzantine Icons: Profiling Iconographer Dimitrios Moulas”

Culinary Diplomacy Through Spanakopita in Meteora, Greece

For the past five nights, we’ve been staying at a quaint guesthouse overlooking the mystical Meteora rock formations in northern Greece. Six mighty monasteries sit atop the unusual rocks. Some of the structures date back to the 14th century. As if things couldn’t get any better, our hostess and Greek mother for the week has been surprisingContinue reading “Culinary Diplomacy Through Spanakopita in Meteora, Greece”

Finding Harmony on an Accordion in Shkodër, Albania

The moment we stepped into the tiny Albanian bar bearing mint-green walls, I regretted having not been more studious in Italian class years before. The five gentlemen inside the Shkodër establishment spoke Albanian of course, but between the two of us, Shawn and I only knew about five Albanian words. The seven of us rapidly defaulted to Italian, soon learning that weContinue reading “Finding Harmony on an Accordion in Shkodër, Albania”

Albania and its 700,000 Bunkers: Profiling a Man Who Built Them

As our minibus chugged through the Albanian countryside during a 6-hour trip, my husband and I inadvertently created a new car game to pass the time: Who could first spy a bunker as a new one appeared in the ever-changing scenery? With nearly 700,000 bunkers still dotting the southeastern European nation’s landscape, the game didn’tContinue reading “Albania and its 700,000 Bunkers: Profiling a Man Who Built Them”

A Vietnamese New Year’s Reminiscence

When I unpacked a red and gold Vietnamese ox ornament last week, it reminded me why I love travel: serendipitous events, cultural immersion, and the opportunity to mingle with “citizen diplomats.” With today being the Vietnamese New Year, or Tết, it seems fitting to reminisce on a Hanoi happening from my travel memory bank that epitomizes all threeContinue reading “A Vietnamese New Year’s Reminiscence”