High over Portugal


How could we have missed out on Portugal in our travels all these years, and especially Lisbon? We kept asking ourselves this question during our unplanned, but leisurely stay in the capital of Lisbon, plus a week up north in …

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A Garden and Delights in Lisbon


We took a recommendation and went to the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, a private collection by an developer of oil fields in Iraq early in the 20th century. As befits a devoted art collector, the 6000 pieces he accumulated (his “children” …

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Kosovo: The Ties that Bind


Kosovo is newly emerging as a country, the latest from the former Yugoslavia to be independent – barely so with the ongoing help of NATO and the US since the 1990s. There’s a lot of tough history here, but we …

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Rise and Fall: Montenegro’s Mountain Men


Mountains are in the name of the country, as Crna Gora, or black mountain, from the Venetian title, monte negro. They dominate the landscape, from the very edge of the sea to the innumerable limestone alpine mountains of the north, …

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Tracing Cross-Currents in Albanian Antiquities


In our post about Albanian history (click here to read), we noted all the cross-currents of culture affecting the country – from its Illyrian origins, through Greek and Roman control, the influence of Byzantine and eastern Orthodox Christianity in the …

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Albania Today: Beauty and the Beast


So many people we meet, interested in going to Albania, are both curious and somewhat fearful about it. They imagine a third world country or extreme deprivation or some such horror because of Albania’s 40 year dark ages until 1991. …

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Albania: Middle kingdom, dark descent


Albania’s history can read like a tale out of Tolkien’s Ring trilogy. It starts before the 4th century BC with the sophisticated tribes loosely known as the Illyrians. The land since then has been at the border of the contention …

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Slovenian Time Travel


During our first five days in Slovenia, we time traveled through 50 Million years – from the karst caves still being shaped by their rivers, to a Neanderthal era musical instrument, to the remains of a female Roman doctor, to …

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Passing through Ljubljana


In prior years, we had circled around Ljubljana a few times on the highway while heading to other places, with only its hilltop castle visible from far off. When we finally headed into the city a few days ago, we …

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The Baltic’s Three Jewels – Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn


We planned on six months in the Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and our home base of Estonia – though we weren’t completely sure how we would fill up those months. What we found were charms aplenty in their cities, …

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