Happy Pizza and Khmer Karaoke in Kampot, Cambodia

We ended up in Kampot after I had a hipster traveler existential crisis.  Feeling like we weren’t going anywhere truly “off the beaten path,” I opted to cut our time short in Koh Rong Samloem by a day to spend a night in the relative backwater (at least, compared to Siem Reap and Bangkok) of Kampot, in southern Cambodia.

We wanted to have a laid back 24 hours in a laid back town before heading to less-laid back Siem Reap, and Kampot turned out to do just the trick. DSC_0051 (3) DSC_0083 (2) DSC_0095 (2) Read more

We Need to Talk about Yerevan, Armenia

I’ve put off writing this piece for quite a while now.  It’s been over a year (15 months, in fact) since we were in Yerevan, and part of me hoped the distance from the place would make my heart grow fonder of it.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been quite the case.  And while I don’t actively dislike Yerevan – we actually had quite a good time there, all things considered – I have become sort of ambivalent about visiting again.  pak-shuka-covered-market-yerevan-armenia_16234624526_o marshrutka-yerevan_16397184971_o lada-yerevan_16398938915_o Read more

Top Markets in Eastern Europe (Flea and Otherwise)

As the title of my blog implies (the kitsch part), I am a collector.  I have mild hoarding aspirations that I attempt to disguise by portraying myself as a discerning collector of random, yet CLASSY things from around the world.  Most of the time, this turns out to be postcards, maps, pins and badges, and antique clothing pieces – among many others (including snow globes).  I’ve written a post or two about this, but thought it would be useful to provide a run down of my favorite markets in Eastern Europe for anyone with an eye for kitschy communist goodies from the former Eastern Bloc.

We’ll start from Tallinn, Estonia, before making our way south to the Balkans, and east to the Caucasus. Read more

Abandoned in Herzegovina: Urbex in Mostar’s Sniper Den

The Eastern Bloc is great for folks interested in urban exploration (see also here and here).  As luck would have it (luck may be a bad word for it), the combination of poor economic conditions, relatively recent political turmoil, and communist history make for a wealth of abandoned, decaying structures that hold part of the key to understanding the rich, troubled history of the region.  december-balkans-1016jpg_24215660831_odecember-balkans-1111jpg_24008820190_o

Nowhere is the region’s troubled history more visible than in Mostar, the crown jewel of Herzegovina.  And, as it happens, there’s great urban exploration opportunities in the city as well. Read more

Desperately Seeking Trinkets at Sofia’s Bitaka Flea Market

I am a shopper.  When David and I go on vacation, one of our best practices is to arrive in our destination with only carry on luggage, and then check luggage (full of trinkets, naturally) on the way home.  I have some hoarder-type tendencies (it ranges from tchotchke to canines) that are very real, and perhaps they most strongly manifest in my accumulation of things when I travel.IMG_20151017_090328510 IMG_20151017_094034835

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Karosta, Latvia – The Baltic States’ Urbex Mecca

I am a fledgling urban explorer.  Urban exploration, or urbex in shorthand, is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and it may sometimes involve trespassing onto private property (thanks, Wikipedia!).   Urbex is becoming more and more popular as a mainstream travel interest, evident by this year’s induction of cultural industrial complexes to UNESCO’s World Heritage list.Honeymoon Jpegs-384 Honeymoon Jpegs-397

My interest in urbex started with our visit to Chiatura in Georgia last year, and is largely intertwined with my interest in Soviet/Communist era brutal (and largely abandoned) architecture. The former Soviet states are an urban explorers dreams, with many former Soviet military and government buildings empty for the exploring.  So when we (let’s be real, when I), started planning our Baltic Road Trip Honeymoon™, I knew urbex would figure prominently into our plans.  You can read posts I’ve written on urbex in Estonia in Tallinn and in the nearby Lahemaa National Park. Read more

We’re Going to the Balkans…Day after Tomorrow!

Where to start?  My life has been a crazy whirlwind the past two weeks and I want to tell you all about it.  Where to start…

David and I got back from our honeymoon on September 12.  On September 11, a random on Linkedin added me to his network, and I confirmed about midway through the week on September 16.  Turns out, it was a recruiter, and I ran through about six rounds of interviews with a major company in Seattle, let’s call them…Ahab’s Tea…and last week (September 30) received a ridiculously generous offer from them.

October 1, I put in notice with my current job, with my last day being Friday, October 9.  Also October 1, I confirmed with Ahab’s Tea that I would start on October 22.

So…I know what you’re thinking – there’s a 12 day gap between those two dates.  We’re taking a trip – looked around for cheap(ish) airfares, and landed on a trip overland, starting in Pristina, Kosovo, through Macedonia, and into Bulgaria.

Here’s what I’m most excited about, and what I’m reading to get me excited:Christ the Saviour Cathedral in PristinaPrizren o6.01.2010- Read more

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Getting out of Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia

There is no question that Old Town has a lot to offer any tourist – from backpacker to cruiser just in port for the day.  We arrived in Tallinn at the end of Summer, still in the height of the tourist season.   And while all of Tallinn travel can be rewarding, we found the true gems to be outside the UNESCO-listed Old Town.

View of St. Nicholas Church from Toompea Hill.
View of St. Nicholas Church from Toompea Hill.

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An Istanbul to Tbilisi to Kazbegi Odyssey – Christmas 2014, Part 2

And now, the continuation (and conclusion) of the story of the longest travel day of my life… (for Part 1, click here)

Scene 5: Didube Marshrutka Depot, 9am, Christmas Day.  We stumble into Didube metro stop and light is just breaking.  With our bags, we trudge across the dirt lot that is Tbilisi’s largest marshrutka stop.  In Georgia and Armenia, marshrutkas quickly became my favorite method of transportation – egalitarian shared buses or minivans that depart for their destination only when enough passengers board to turn the driver a profit.

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July’s 5 Travel Obsessions

I have written about my predilection for falling down rabbit holes before – see Chiatura, Georgia, what remains one of the highlights of David and my trip to the South Caucasus last winter.  I fall down them all the time, so I thought it could be fun to keep track of my brain’s eccentric wanderings in the universe of travel.  Especially now that I’m attempting to devote more time to working on this blog, I am becoming aware of more things to wrap my mind around than ever before.  SO, here goes:

  • Hungarian Seccesionist Architecture, Subotica, Serbia
The synagogue in Subotica, Serbia - a prime example of Hungarian secessionist architecture.
The synagogue in Subotica, Serbia – a prime example of Hungarian secessionist architecture.

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