Istanbul: A city at a crossroads

Istanbul is a world apart. It’s got one leg in Europe and the other in Asia, but it doesn’t quite feel like it belongs in either.   It’s also now firmly on the traveler map. Everyone’s calling it “The New Prague.” You won’t be the only backpacker in town.   Still, there are off-the-beaten-path gems […]

Cappadocia: Balloons and fairy chimneys

The area known as Cappadocia stretches across part of central Turkey, further east than Ankara. There are few big cities. What the region is known for is its astounding natural beauty and the uniqueness of its landscape.   Göreme: Cave hotels inside fairy chimneys   Göreme, population 2500, is one of the centers of Cappadocia’s […]

Plovdiv: A step back in time

Bulgaria is not like the rest of Eastern Europe. It’s edgy and authentic. Right now I’m in Plovdiv, a town with a distinctively modern and eclectic feel. It has character.   Weird and wonderful Plovdiv   When you stroll down the pedestrian thoroughfare in Plovdiv, there are no tourists around. There may be a cafe here […]

Novi Sad: Good people, bad trains

Most people of a certain age associate the former Yugoslavia with war, violence, and general misery. But among travelers, these countries are known for their edginess, down-to-earth spirit, and unpretentiousness. Serbia supposedly has some of the friendliest people, best nightlife, and loveliest countryside in Eastern Europe. So I couldn’t wait to get to Novi Sad, Serbia’s […]

Eger: My 26 hours in limbo

Before I get into this post, I want to acknowledge that I am incredibly privileged to be backpacking around the world. Most people never get the chance to do something like this even for a few weeks, so the fact that I’m four months in and going for another eight is pretty incredible.   That […]

Lviv: Quirky, charming and fun

If my first week and a half in Ukraine was something of an education in ex-Soviet life and culture, Lviv has felt like I’m right back in Central Europe.   Wandering around the medieval streets, visiting churches, churches, and more churches, and enjoying coffee in an outdoor cafe — you could just as easily be […]