Stories

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Test CaptionFRANCE: Space, Time, and Dad – Every trip has multiple beginnings. It starts with the first step out the door; the first plane or train ride; the first border crossing; or the first moment when you feel far away from home. The “firsts” of my trip included leaving my apartment in Burgundy…

tumblr_mhnroaG8CT1qe85tko1_500BOSNIA: From Sarajevsko to Karlovacko – Bata arrived in a big, white van. He had a buzz cut, black sunglasses, and a frenzied Cheshire Cat smile. As he leapt from the driver’s seat to shuffle the group of twelve travelers into our seats…

tumblr_mg8qgmI0RS1qe85tko1_1280ROMANIA: The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina – It was a long and lonely drive over the Carpathians. It began with a steep climb through dense forests, where the sun occasionally pierced the thick canopy and burst into hundreds of yellow flecks of light…

tumblr_miqjn1QYce1qe85tko1_500KOSOVO: Lost Boys and Lost Wars – It was a travel day, so I arrived at the railway station at 9am to load up on snacks. Peanuts, snickers, coke, and a loaf bread. I’d been to Serbia once already—exactly a month before—but had only visited the north.  This visit would be very different…

tumblr_mk3az1Md7T1qe85tko1_r1_1280TURKEY: What’s In A Mound? – I never crossed the Bosporus. Traversing that 800-meter breadth of water—real and symbolic barrier between Europe and Asia—is a benchmark for most of western history’s great eastward journeys. I didn’t do it…

tumblr_mkjuvkvPdw1qe85tko1_r1_1280IRAQ: Kurdish Iraq and the Temple at Lalish – We found Nikson loitering outside the hotel; or Nikson found us. In a white t-shirt, jeans, high-top sneakers, and messy spiked hair, he could have been any seventeen-year-old from Brooklyn…

tumblr_myh6hd4LbZ1qe85tko2_r1_1280WEST BANK: The Wall and The West Bank – I stood in a crowd of young Arabs at the Qalandia checkpoint between Israel and the West Bank. My bus was carrying several dozen passengers—presumably Arab Israelis and Palestinians—the short distance from Ramallah…

Mideast 2 1213EGYPT: So Many Cairos – Omar shouted from the car, “I would go back if I were you.” I closed the door and he sped off. It was after midnight and I was waiting at a rest area in the cold Sinai desert with a bunch of anxious Egyptians. I had arrived from Israel the week prior…

tumblr_mhaj5000C51qe85tko1_500CROATIA: The Dragon of Dalmatia – I heard about The Dragon even before I arrived in Korcula.  On Hvar Island, there was an American girl who was spending the summer traveling the Croatian coast.  She had the misfortune of finding work at a tiny backpacker hostel in Korcula…

tumblr_mfoi1sz0zz1qe85tko1_r2_1280ROMANIA: Transylvania is Creepy (Really) – Transylvania may be the creepiest place on earth, but it’s also the first place on my trip that I really fell in love with. I arrived by train a few hours before dawn and slept on the station platform…

tumblr_mj3h9t9aT01qe85tko1_500KOSOVO: “They Steal History” – My driver pulled over about thirty meters from the military blockade and turned the engine off. There was a tank in the road. Turning to me, he politely explained that he wouldn’t be allowed any further…

tumblr_mgaqibVLiM1qe85tko1_1280ALBANIA: Blame Enver Hoxha – I can’t imagine arriving overland in Albania and not feeling like you’ve suddenly stepped into another world.  It started with the bunkers. Minutes after crossing the border, as my bus crested a hill overlooking Lake Ohrid…

tumblr_ml8bw2BwKR1qe85tko1_r1_1280TURKEY: Ghosts of Borderland – It was a 15-foot stone monument in an empty field. In northeast Turkey. Otherwise there was nothing for miles, except grass and cows and the whistle of cold wind. And beyond that, the Armenian border. In the front seat, my driver turned…

tumblr_mmq7s9O2Lu1qe85tko1_1280LEBANON: NO SYRIANA – Germano’s head bobbed. He was drunk. We were all drunk. It was sometime past midnight and the bar had begun to empty as young people searched for livelier places in Gemmayzeh. But we remained, a group of eight foreigners sipping beers…

tumblr_myhh19Tsa01qe85tko1_r2_1280ISRAEL: Israel and The Golan Heights – It was tough returning to Israel from the West Bank. The streets were wide and modern, there were nice bars and restaurants to choose from, and WIFI-equipped buses shuttled me from city to city. Tough indeed

tumblr_mylybi8D8G1qe85tko1_r1_1280EGYPT: Not So Innocents Abroad – It was all a mistake. I grabbed the kid by the collar and dragged him kicking and screaming back to the train station. I don’t have your money, he was shouting. But I was sure he did. A crowd formed at the ticket counter where I held him…

Short Form >>

tmp_22310-IMG_8730-960995743The Road Giveth and The Road Taketh Away – What’s the worst thing you could lose while traveling? For instance, would you rather lose your smart phone or your bank card? Your passport or your journal…

IMG_6889Five Questions Everyone Asks About Backpacking for a Year – Go backpacking for a year and you’re bound to get a lot of questions afterward. Among them, there are five questions that come up again and again…

8Passport Politics and The Karakoram Highway – Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one to Kyrgyzstan. Because I was carrying an American passport. For years I’ve wanted to travel the Karakoram…