Autumn in the Ammergau Alps Nature Park, Near Oberammergau, Germany

The autumn leaves near Oberammergau, Germany have reached their peak, so the surrounding hillsides are dressed in shades of copper, saffron, and a bit of green. One of my favorite places to ride my bike is to the nearby Ettaler Weidmoos, a tranquil nature preserve that’s part of the Ammergau Alps Nature Park (Naturpark AmmergauerContinue reading “Autumn in the Ammergau Alps Nature Park, Near Oberammergau, Germany”

Creating Handmade Italian Marbled Paper in Florence, Italy

The art of paper marbling is mesmerizing. An artisan applies droplets of paint to a small pool of water. The colors appear to gracefully dance upon the surface of the water, but these individual splotches of paint respect the neighboring colors’ boundaries. As the artisan adds more and more colors, this dance continues. Finally, whenContinue reading “Creating Handmade Italian Marbled Paper in Florence, Italy”

Komiža, Vis: Savoring the Off-Season Charms of One of Croatia’s Most Remote Islands

The enchanting Croatian island of Vis has had many identities over the last few thousand years. For a time, it was an ancient Greek colony known as Issa. Then, from the 1950s until the 1980s, Vis was a secret Yugoslavian naval base that was off-limits to foreigners. From there, tourists — and filmmakers — startedContinue reading “Komiža, Vis: Savoring the Off-Season Charms of One of Croatia’s Most Remote Islands”

The Art of Florentine Marquetry: Watching Italian Mosaicists “Painting with Stones”

The arts have long flourished in Florence — the so-called “cradle of the Renaissance.” Hundreds of years ago, there were tens of thousands of artisans in the city, each dedicated to everything from leather goods and hand-decorated paper to jewelry making. Over time, the number of workshops has declined. Nevertheless, Florence still has a sizableContinue reading “The Art of Florentine Marquetry: Watching Italian Mosaicists “Painting with Stones””

Hiking to Georgia’s Gergeti Trinity Church

One of the most iconic images from the country of Georgia features the Gergeti Trinity Church dwarfed by immense mountains. This 14th-century church is crowned with cone-shaped towers and is located in the heart of the Caucasus. It’s just a few kilometers from the Russian border.

Portugal’s Alluring Azulejos

Portugal is a feast for both the stomach and the eyes. It’s a land of irresistible port wine, trayfuls of crispy and creamy pasteis de nata (custard tarts), and buildings adorned with colorful ceramic tiles called azulejos. When you visit Portugal, you’ll spot azulejos on the outsides and insides of many different types of buildings,Continue reading “Portugal’s Alluring Azulejos”

An Apiary on Malta’s Xemxija Heritage Trail

Since ancient times, the island of Malta has been renowned for its splendid honey. There’s even some speculation that the country’s name has its origins in honey. The ancient Greeks referred to Malta as “Melite” (Μελίτη), translating to “honey sweet.” During the Roman period, the island was called “Melita.” In Latin, “mel” means honey.

Armenia, a Land of Lavash

We took the night train from Tbilisi to Yerevan. Arriving in Armenia 11 hours later, we were feeling disoriented, groggy, and ravenous. When Shawn and I chanced upon some ladies baking lavash flatbread inside a restaurant next to our apartment, we immediately perked up. Sensing our curiosity about the baking process, an employee motioned forContinue reading “Armenia, a Land of Lavash”