LINDERHOF PALACE – Bavaria’s Miniature Versailles

There are three things you learn about King Ludwig II of Bavaria on the Bavarian Alps Royal Castles tour: 1-he died under suspicious circumstances; 2-he was either crazy, eccentric or gay; 3-he was really into the French court, peacocks and country life. The one thing you learn about Ludwig when you actually get to Linderhof,…

BAVARIAN ALPS or How Travel Dreams Are Made

I’m not a mountains person, but as soon as I saw the idyllic, bucolic landscape of the Bavarian Alps from the window of my tour bus, it was love at first sight. All I could think was “I can’t believe God has made something so beautiful.” Give me a minute, I think I might have…

ESTONIA’S GORGEOUS COUNTRYSIDE

You know how parents tell their kids to never get into cars with strange men? This is exactly what I did in Estonia. The strange man in question was the Nice German I met on my first evening in Tallinn. Long story short, as a result of making this acquaintance, I abandoned my original plan…

CRIMEA, Day 7: Tatars, Horses and Sex on a Champagne Picnic

Crimean tour guides are full of fascinating stories from the region’s history and culture. If one such tale is to be believed, in the 19th century, just as Crimea’s southern coast has established itself as the Russian Riviera and a favorite of Russian royals and international nobles, it started to gain a bit of ill-repute as…well, in…

CRIMEA, Day 1: Rolling Hills

Wildflower meadows. One after next, after next, after next. Blue, pink, purple, yellow, white, red. Cornflowers, poppies, daisies, clovers, heather, wild lavender. Cows grazing idly by the side of the road. Cyprus trees peppering wide open spaces. Tiny village houses hidden by the lush orchards. Blue mountain ridges looming in the distance. Echoes of Provence…

ROADLESS ROAD TRIP

What does a Russian country road look like? Something like this: Yesterday I drove out to a Small Village about 150 km outside of Moscow, to check out a potential dacha spot. After about 100 km on a highway, I reached my turn-off point — a small Town of Petushki (“Cockerels”) — — and called…

SUMMER CAMP

I have never been to a Russian summer camp. I was the spoiled brat with a rented dacha, but I would see the camp kids — there was a Young Pioneer Camp at the edge of the village where I spent my summers — and seethe with jealousy: of freedom from grandparental supervision, of bonding…