Transylvania, Romania’s central region, is not as spooky as it is portrayed in the book ‘Dracula’. The region charms visitors with its medieval towns, iconic castles, and opulent churches. And no, there aren’t any vampires here… at least, that’s what they say.
Bosnia’s capital city, Sarajevo, is truly where East meets West. Here, humble wooden Ottoman shops juxtapose the luxurious Austro-Hungarian residences in the old town. Further down into the new city, are Sarajevo’s gritty communist blocs, alive with bars, the art scene, and the U.N.’s permanent mission to Bosnia.
Many tourists skip the Balkans, thinking that it’s dangerous, or that there’s nothing worth seeing. The Balkan years ended over a decade ago, so the region is completely safe and there are a million things worth seeing! Serbia is the heart of it all, and a great place to start.
Ohrid, a town in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is a popular tourist destination for Eastern Europeans, for its affordability and range of activities. The entire town and lake of Ohrid are UNESCO World Heritage sites, for their ancient cultural significance and natural beauty. Continue reading “A weekend on Lake Ohrid, the “Balkan Pearl””
Albania is one of Europe’s many hidden gems, and a frugal traveler favorite. From the Northern lakes and mountains to the Southern Riviera, Albania’s landscapes are nearly untouched. Ottoman villages made of stone and wood are scattered throughout the country, built on Illyrian ruins, contrasting Communist-era Tirana, Albania’s trendy capital.
Despite all of Albania’s attractions, this enchanting country has only recently become a backpacker’s destination. Its popularity is increasing as more are realizing Albania’s affordability. I spent 10 days in Albania and only spent $150 (about 130 euros).
Paris is one of the greatest cities in the world, without a doubt. But there’s a lot more to France than simply Paris.
Here are five other French cities worth visiting: Continue reading “Not just Paris: Five other French cities”
Bucharest, like many capital cities in Eastern Europe, is often overlooked. When I told people I was going to Bucharest, they asked me, “Why would you go there?”. Even in Romania, passing travelers told me to skip it. I didn’t have a choice, I was flying out from Bucharest and ending my three-month long Balkan adventure.
I loved it. In fact, I wish I’d had more time there.
Bucharest at first looks like a post-apocalyptic Paris but is very much alive. This inexpensive city is a great weekend getaway or the beginning of a trip through Romania.
Growing up, I remember learning European geography: England, France, Spain, Germany, and all those little countries in the East. This summer, I realized that ‘those little countries’, the Balkans, are some of the most enchanting (an inexpensive) places in Europe.
I spent three months in the Balkans and fell in love with the cultures of this small but dense European region. I already want to go back and see everything I missed!
Based on criteria of natural beauty, architecture, food, friendliness/accessibility, and history, these towns are the Best of the Balkans.* (For more in-depth Balkan Backpacking check-out “Three Months in the Balkans” coming soon).
Istanbul is an ancient city, where many empires have reigned throughout the centuries, each leaving their mark. The Romans built aqueducts, the Byzantines built churches, and the Ottomans built mosques.
The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire sought to raise the largest and most impressive mosques the world had ever seen, and they succeeded. Today, the minarets of the Ottoman mosques still pierce the skies, as the call-to-prayer reverberates through the city.