A Garden and Delights in Lisbon

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Tallinn – the Jewel of Estonia

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During our six month stay in the Baltic countries, we found charms aplenty.  But the three capitals of these countries are the jewels in the northern European crown. Though beset with war and destruction for 1000 years, each now offers …

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