Around the World in 18 Barbers’ Chairs

From Bulgaria to Vietnam, Shawn visits barber shops around the world.

Kalofer, Bulgaria: A Story of Life, Lavender, & Lace

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson Arriving in what was to be our home away from homeContinue reading “Kalofer, Bulgaria: A Story of Life, Lavender, & Lace”

An Apple for an Apple: An International Tale of Citizen Diplomacy

As the midnight train bound for St. Petersburg rumbled through the pitch-black Moldovan countryside, I tried valiantly to remain asleep, but my attempts were futile. The cabin was cozier than expected. We had plenty of room to stretch out and we were given care packages filled with comfortable bedding. However, the atmosphere was sweltering hot and unfamiliar. Romanian-Moldovan and Russian filled the air,Continue reading “An Apple for an Apple: An International Tale of Citizen Diplomacy”

Grape Diplomacy in the Moldovan Countryside

In the late-afternoon light, the gingerbread homes of the Moldovan village, Rosu, were bathed in golden hues. The homes’ green and periwinkle-blue fences, and wooden adornments on their gables cast frilly shadows on the dirt road, as Shawn and I embarked on an evening stroll. The wire arbors over the homes’ driveways were brimming withContinue reading “Grape Diplomacy in the Moldovan Countryside”

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 earlier. 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”

Orthodox Easter Greetings from Ohrid, Macedonia

This spring, we’ve had the fortune of observing Easter celebrations not once, but twice. In Croatia, where Catholicism predominates, we celebrated Easter in late March, whereas we also got to participate in Orthodox Easter festivities in Macedonia this past weekend. Given its spiritual ties and the fact that it once had more than 365 churches,Continue reading “Orthodox Easter Greetings from Ohrid, Macedonia”

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

As our minibus chugged through the Albanian countryside during our 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 panorama? With nearly 700,000 bunkers still dotting the southeastern European nation’s landscape even today, theContinue reading “Albania and its 700,000 Bunkers: Profiling a Man Who Built Them”