Beginner’s Guide to Mongolia’s Magnificent Monasteries

Beginner’s Guide to Mongolia’s Magnificent Monasteries

Mongolia holds a special place in the hearts of adventurous travelers, who come back with tales of its vast steppe, rugged mountains, clear glacial lakes and vivid blue skies. But beyond its natural outdoorsy appeal, it is also a land of deeply spiritual people. The country’s shamanistic traditions may be better known to the world, but Buddhism has played just as important a role in shaping Mongolian history and culture. For those traveling to Mongolia, a visit to a monastery is a must. Here are four must-see monasteries in the "Land of the Nomads." Read More


Beginner’s Guide to World War II Sites in Western Russia

Beginner’s Guide to World War II Sites in Western Russia

The memory of World War II is still a big deal in Russia, and understandably so. Almost an entire generation of men was wiped out in what is known here as the Great Patriotic War. Estimates of casualties in Russia alone range from 7 million to 14 million, half of them civilians of all ages and genders. Everyone lost someone, and no one has forgotten. A sobering story of treachery, tragedy, heroism and survival, Russia’s memory of its World War II experience has been an important influence on its contemporary character. These are some of the most important of Western Russia’s WWII sites... Read More


Travel to the Balkans: A Beginner’s Guide

Travel to the Balkans: A Beginner’s Guide

A remarkably complex region, the beautiful Balkan Peninsula includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. It is a brilliant mosaic of competing cultures, ethnicities, languages and ideologies, and serves as a sampler of contrasting landscapes. The region is a collection of cultures for the connoisseur. For anyone traveling there, it’s hard to know exactly where to go and what to see. Here’s our Beginner’s Guide to the Balkans to help you sort out these contrasting little countries and get the most out of your travel there. Read More


Beginner’s Guide to Romania’s Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

Beginner’s Guide to Romania’s Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

As a MIR tour manager for more than 17 years, I've led many MIR tours to the Bucovina region of Romania and to its painted monasteries, constructed in medieval times. Bucovina is a remote province tucked in the northeastern corner of Romania near Ukraine. Today the painted monasteries are pilgrimage sites for Romanian Orthodox believers, as well as highlights for travelers from all over the world. Nuns live and work at most of these monasteries, standing out in their distinctive black habits and veils. Here are some notes on what to look for when you visit four of Bucovina's most notable monasteries: Voronet, Sucevita, Moldovita, Humor. Read More


Top 10 Places to Discover in Tajikistan: Undiscovered, Remote, Incredible

Top 10 Places to Discover in Tajikistan: Undiscovered, Remote, Incredible

Tajikistan is different, remote, adventurous, and undiscovered to this day. Very few travelers go there. Flights in and out are limited, and border crossings and the drives they entail are often arduous. In general, comfort can be difficult to find outside of a few hotels in the capital, but that same lack of infrastructure and the absence of any significant tourism means that authentic adventure and genuine cultural exchange are easy to find (in fact, difficult to avoid). Here's my list of 10 places (in no special offer) I recommend to travelers who want to experience this special, and undiscovered, destination: Read More


Insider’s Guide to Georgia’s Wine Country

Insider’s Guide to Georgia’s Wine Country

The little South Caucasus country of Georgia is a gorgeous place, boasting fabulous food, music and mountains. Its warm Mediterranean climate, deep black soil, saw-toothed mountains and Black Sea coast combine to make Georgia a Garden of Eden, overflowing with wine and rich in culinary flair – everything you could wish for in a destination. Georgia's Kakheti region is famous for its wine, and the towns and wineries here are definitely worth a visit... and a wine-tasting... Read More


4 Marvels of Moldova: Wine Country and Time Capsules

4 Marvels of Moldova: Wine Country and Time Capsules

Moldova, in spite of its growing reputation as prime wine country, remains one of the least-visited countries in Europe. Moldovans have imbibed a Slavic way of enjoying life, which shows up especially in the increasingly hip capital, Chisinau. Moldova remains in a more relaxed, simpler time and place. Here are four of the little-known highlights that intrepid travelers deserve to experience. Read More


8 Must-See Places in Central and East Europe: Hot Spots in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and More

8 Must-See Places in Central and East Europe: Hot Spots in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and More

Changing with every moment that goes by, the hip and historic countries of Central and East Europe should be visited now before they are fully and irretrievably “discovered”... but where to start? Born and raised in Poland, MIR’s Director of Sales Joanna Millick has traveled all over Central and East Europe. Here are some of her personal favorite places. Read More


4 Must-See Places in Belarus: Soviet Nostalgia and Chagall

4 Must-See Places in Belarus: Soviet Nostalgia and Chagall

Belarus is a country of wooden houses, factories, forests, and farmland where time slowed drastically after the devastation of WWII. If you didn’t get a chance to visit the Soviet Union before its demise, Belarus is the place to catch a glimpse of it. Read More


3 Reasons to Love Croatia

3 Reasons to Love Croatia

It’s a hard heart that doesn’t fall in love with Croatia at first sight. It’s easy to visit this country for what you think will be a few days, but you end up staying weeks and even months in what has become one of the top travel destinations in the world, lush with natural beauty, sandy beaches and emerald waters, historic hilltowns with swashbuckling backstories, and 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Here are just three reasons – so many more – why so many are captivated by Croatia. Read More