Strolling some Mediterranean sidewalks during the late-autumn months, it’s not unusual to see shriveling olives wasting away on the ground. There are, of course, locals who spirit away buckets of a forgotten tree’s olives, or the odd pigeon that might take a peck at the bitter fruit, but it’s been my observation that a considerable amount of urban olives go to waste.Continue reading “Harvesting for a Cause: Picking Olives in Mediterranean Malta”
Arriving in what was to be our home away from home in rural Bulgaria, we knew not a soul. But by the time we left Kalofer, a tiny town tucked away in Central Bulgaria, where the livestock population quite possibly outnumbers the number of humans living there, an impromptu farewell committee was wishing us adieu.Continue reading “Kalofer, Bulgaria: A Story of Life, Lavender, & Lace”
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”
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”
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”
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. This past weekend, we also got to participate in Orthodox Easter festivities in North Macedonia. Given its spiritual ties and the fact that it once had more than 365 churches,Continue reading “Orthodox Easter Celebrations in Ohrid, North Macedonia”
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”
When I unpacked the paper ox ornament last week, it reminded me why I love travel: serendipitous happenings, cultural immersion, and the opportunity to mingle with “citizen diplomats.” With today being the Lunar New Year (called Tết in Vietnamese), it seems fitting to reminisce on a special memory that I made while visiting Hanoi, Vietnam back in 2009.