BRETAGNE – Notes & Photos

Bretagne is possibly the most underrated corner of France, at least among the far-abroad travelers. While you’ll find many an American book, blog and podcast singing paeans to the glories of Dordogne, Collioure, the Loire Valley, Alsace, Normandy, the French Alps and Provence, Bretagne evades their attentions. And for the life of me I cannot…

ALSACE – Notes & Photos

Alsace just might be the most visually Disney-like place I have ever been to. Every town and village is candy-colored. Every half-timbered storefront beckons like the Witch’s house in ‘Hansel and Gretel’, with their candies and pretzels and storytelling signs. Roses and wisterias snake up facades and fountains. It’s almost too whimsical, almost fake. But…

PROVENCE and CÔTE D’AZUR – Notes & Photos

It was in Provence that I actually liked France for the very first time. It was October 2003, and I had finally escaped the misery of Paris for a long weekend with my girlfriends.  I still remember catching that first glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea from the road — its sparkling waters blending into cloudless blue…

TRAVEL READS – September 2015

Autumn is in full swing across the Northern Hemisphere. Here in Moscow September brought a freakish bout of absolutely gorgeous weather, with sunny days, blue skies, and temperatures reaching into the high 20’s C/80’s F. A true “babye leto”, or “women’s summer.” And now, let’s move on to … GERMANY In many countries fall means harvest festivals,…

TRAVEL READS – August 2015

Every day I come across awesome reads from fellow expats, travel bloggers, news magazines and other great sources and think, “so-and-so would love that!”  Sometimes I might forward the articles privately, but most of the time they disappear into the abyss of my memory and the Internet.  Well, no more! In this new feature, which is a…

CRIMEA, Day 15: Caves, Bones & The Sorting

Breathtaking. That is the only word to describe the Eminé-Bayir-Hasar caves located at the bottom of Chatyr-Dag (“Tent Mountain”) plateau that is part of Crimea’s main mountain range. The name itself is a preview of things to come – translated from Turkic it means “a vortex on the side of a mountain near an oak…

CRIMEA, Day 14: Waterfalls and Those B*tches

Apparently, what’s considered extreme travel everywhere else is just a casual stroll in the park for Crimea’s tour guides and the unsuspecting Russians/Ukrainians they manage to lure in. My two guide-assisted ascents to mountain waterfalls – on the same day, no less! – made parts of my solo hike to Czar’s Beach seem positively tame…

CRIMEA, Day 11: Chufut-Kale Cave Fortress

The medieval cave-town and fortress complex Chufut-Kale is probably the most unique cultural site I have ever visited and, dare I say, is probably one of the most unique cultural sites on the planet. Located high in the limestone mountains above Bakhchisaray, this system of naturally-formed caverns and man-made fortifications was last inhabited by Karaims,…