Lebanon pt 1: Beiruuuut

I flew into Lebanon WANTING to love the country. I don't know why, exactly; I had been to neighboring Israel (/Occupied Palestine) and enjoyed it, and I spent several years in the Middle East as an adolescent, so I was familiar with the region already. But something about Beirut specifically got me very excited, and [...]

In Search of Greek Gods

Like many Americans (and probably Westerners in general), I grew up reading stories about Greek mythology: the (lecherous) adventures of Zeus and his jealous wife Hera, athletic Athena being distracted by the golden apples, the grieving Orpheus who tried to save his love Eurydice from Hades, the minotaur and cyclops... The world of the Olympic [...]

Christmas is (was) in the Air

Every November and December, Christmas markets pop up all across western, central, and eastern Europe. They're some of the main tourist attractions during the Christmas season, with each city offering variations on local specialities, seasonal dishes, ornaments, and handicrafts. So of course, as I was backpacking around the region, I managed to catch quite a [...]

Krampuslauf 2018! (Salzburg, Austria)

Krampus, if you're unaware, is a wonderful Christmas tradition in the Bavarian region of Germany and parts of Austria. While Santa is a jolly fat old man who rewards good children with toys and goodies, Krampus is like his evil sidekick. He's a horned, cloven-hooved demon who kidnaps bad children, tortures them with switches and [...]

Chernobyl

April 25-26 1986 saw the worst nuclear disaster to date: the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine. For nearly 3 days, the USSR managed to keep the disaster a secret from the world. During that period, the people living in the immediate vicinity continued their lives, unaware of the danger and radiation they [...]

Transnistria (and Moldova)

Oh, Transnistria, you're so cute. You want so desperately to be a real country, but nobody will actually take you seriously. Transnistria (aka Pridnestrovia) is a strip of land along the eastern border of Moldova, Europe's poorest country. A remnant of the USSR, it claimed sovereignty during the 1990s and actually had armed conflict with [...]