Good Manners and Good Food: A Home-Cooked Meal in Siberia

Good Manners and Good Food: A Home-Cooked Meal in Siberia

During my years of travel with MIR, I've been served a lavish birthday dinner in Uzbekistan, dined at Moscow's venerable Metropol Hotel, coped with the gooey football-shaped potato cepelinai (think Zeppelin) in Lithuania, and been seated at the damasked dining tables of the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. But there's nothing like dining in a private Siberian home. I’ve eaten meals with Siberian families at homestays in Irkutsk and Ulan Ude, and enjoyed a feast with a family of Old Believers in the village of Tarbagatay. Each was thoughtfully prepared and graciously offered, and came replete with leisurely and engrossing conversations about our respective countries, families, kids, professions, and travels. These intimate repasts have been highlights of my travels in Siberia. Read More


The Puzzle of Plovdiv, Bulgaria: 6 Reasons to Discover This Ancient City

The Puzzle of Plovdiv, Bulgaria: 6 Reasons to Discover This Ancient City

Plovdiv, Bulgaria is one of the oldest cities in Europe – in existence since the 12th century BC, but populated since the early Neolithic age. People settled here on a site protected by three hills, and the many layers of its history begin far below the level of today’s city. Putting together the puzzle pieces of Plovdiv’s splintered history creates a portrait of an enduring and diverse civilization built on layer upon layer of local cultures and connections. Let’s dig down and discover some of the parts that make up Plovdiv. Read More




Republic of Dance: Passing It On in Signagi, Georgia (Video)

Republic of Dance: Passing It On in Signagi, Georgia (Video)

Signagi’s a small town – only 3,000 people live here – but it’s a powerhouse. This is a region where wine grapes flourish, wine-makers depend on traditional methods, and artists breathe new life into ancient Georgian songs and dances. Read More


Jewish Heritage Travel in Vienna and Prague: History and Holocaust Sites

Jewish Heritage Travel in Vienna and Prague: History and Holocaust Sites

Vienna and Prague are not places that automatically come to mind when Americans remember the Holocaust. But Austria and Czechoslovakia were the first places the Nazis took for their own, and therefore some of the first places where the Jews were targeted. Read More


The Castles of Transylvania: Bran Castle and Peles Castle

The Castles of Transylvania: Bran Castle and Peles Castle

Castles in the Transylvania region of Romania are already high on the imagination quotient, especially in places where everyone has read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or seen one of the dozens of movies made about the sinister count. In other places, Transylvania is simply a historical region in central Romania. The Romanians called it Ardeal. Bordered on three sides by mountains, it’s a beautiful place. Here in Transylvania are two famous castles that fire the imagination, Bran Castle in Brasov, and Peles Castle in Sinaia (which is technically 31 miles from Transylvania, but close enough). Read More




Hidden in Poland: A Jewish Family Story

Hidden in Poland: A Jewish Family Story

Karen Treiger, a Jewish traveler from Seattle, is standing with her family at the edge of a hand-dug pit in the forests of Poland, looking down at the place where her husband’s parents hid from the Nazis. With the help of a family of Poles who risked their lives to feed and protect them, her father-in-law, Sam, and mother-in-law, Esther, survived the Holocaust. Read More