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


Travel Tips: Doug’s Excellent Siberian Winter Adventure

Travel Tips: Doug’s Excellent Siberian Winter Adventure

Just one month before Douglas Grimes (MIR's founder and president) and his clients arrived in Irkutsk, the temperature had registered -35 Fahrenheit. January in Siberia can be chilly. Doug planned the custom winter trip for writer Sophy Roberts and photographer Michael Turek, and figured that the weather in February would be a little more inviting. And it was: it was 19 degrees above zero the day they spent playing on the Lake Baikal ice. 19 degrees and snowing. But, warmly dressed and undaunted, the crew stepped boldly out onto the thick ice of Baikal and did what Siberians do so well: enjoyed themselves. Read More



An interview with author Caroline Eden about Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus

An interview with author Caroline Eden about Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus

Travel, culture, and food writer Caroline Eden, an occasional MIR traveler, has just the book for you, featuring sumptuous photos and tantalizing recipes from quite a few of MIR’s destinations. Entitled Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus, it is gorgeous enough for the coffee table, but will more likely be found propped open on the kitchen counter, spattered with dabs of butter and drips of pomegranate juice. Also, mark your calendars: Caroline will be hosting a special tour for MIR in 2017, Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan, during the spring festival of Navruz, March 18-27. I caught up with her recently to find out more about Samarkand. Read More


Witnessing the Fall of the USSR: Doug’s Memories of August 1991

Witnessing the Fall of the USSR: Doug’s Memories of August 1991

It's been 28 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We're marking the anniversary with eyewitness accounts from MIR colleagues and contacts. In this installment, Doug shares his memories of the fateful days of the August coup in 1991, and his travels from Seattle to Moscow to Kamchatka in the Russian Far East. Read More


Super Poland: 7 Reasons to Visit Poland Now

Super Poland: 7 Reasons to Visit Poland Now

For years Poland has been one of the top 20 most visited countries in the world, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Few countries lay claim to such a wealth of architectural treasure and natural beauty as Poland. Lonely Planet designated it #7 in the Top Ten Countries to Visit in 2016, writing, “If any country in Europe can boast superpowers, it’s Poland.” Here are seven of its super charms. Read More


“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

Born in 1909, Maria Prymachenko spent her long life in a Ukrainian village with the humble name of Bolotniya, which means marsh or swamp. As a girl she came down with polio, which interfered with her schooling and left her with a painful limp. But her vivid imagination and irrepressible use of color made her a giant in the Ukrainian art world in spite of, or perhaps because of, the limitations she encountered. Her fantastical paintings of imaginary beasts, birds, flowers and ordinary villagers doing everyday things brightened the walls of Kiev’s Art Arsenal earlier this year in a first-ever retrospective of more than 300 of her works. Read More