Poenari Castle and the Myth of Dracula

Poenari Castle as seen from the road below

To visit the real Dracula’s real castle in Romania, you have to know which castle to visit. Shall it be Bran Castle of Transylvania, beloved by tourists and the country’s tourism board, or Poenari Castle of Wallachia, the historically valid but little-known alternative? Those who have read Bram Stoker’s novel about the world’s most famous vampire are often curious about what inspired the Irish ... Read Full Article

A Very Merry Romanian Cemetery

some grave markers describe a happy home life at the Romanian cemetery

Death is no laughing matter in most parts of the world. But things are different in Săpânța, Romania, a small village in the northern part of the country close to the Ukrainian border. For the last 80 years, the Merry Romanian Cemetery has opted to make death a source of amusement, even joy, and a snapshot of local life. Visiting a Romanian Cemetery When I visited Săpânța last summer, the ... Read Full Article

Six of the Sunniest European Winter Destinations

Turkish Aegean is one of the Sunniest European Winter Destinations

Let's take a look at some of the most desirable, sought after and sunniest European winter destinations. Those accustomed to stunning sunsets and balmy eves during their European getaways might balk at the thought of traveling to the Old World during the long, cold winter. But you might be surprised that, from December to March, not all of the continent is covered in wild snow and sleet. In fact, ... Read Full Article

An Historic Stroll through Dracula’s Home: Sighisoara, Romania

Sighisoara, ROmania

Sighisoara, in Romania's Transylvania region, is a picturesque city with winding streets and spiky towers, centered around a medieval fortified city center on top of a hill. It is well set-up for tourism, with comfortable hotels and dining places that are reasonably priced and strategically located for sightseeing. But it gets full of tourists in the hot months, so come slightly off-season ... Read Full Article

Tirana, Albania: From Despair to Hope

13 Restaurant row

An energetic and progressive Tirana is what we see. Fine places to dine, vibrant shops, parks for strolling, traffic chaos, buildings undergoing facelifts, new structures taking form under a flourish of cranes. Locals tell us Tirana has changed beyond belief from its once austere and dull grey of past decades. The country’s sobering history is evidenced throughout the city in Ottoman, Italian and ... Read Full Article

When in Kosovo Enjoy Pristina and Nearby Prizren

Kosovo National Library

The atmosphere is effervescent! Families are out enjoying a sunny Sunday. Small cafes are filled to capacity. The scent of roasting chestnuts wafts from charcoal burners on every corner. A visit to Kosovo shows that tourism is on its way up, and rightfully so! And, When in Kosovo Enjoy Pristina and Nearby Prizren. We absorb the scope of light-hearted activity as we walk along Mother Teresa ... Read Full Article

Sighisoara, Romania: a Tour of the Towers

clock tower in Sighisoara, Romania's

Sighisoara, in Romania's Transylvania region, has beautifully preserved medieval city walls, incorporating nine fascinating towers. Let's visit the towers in clockwise order, starting with the most famous. The clock tower is the citadel's main tower, and is intentionally located at what was considered a sacred compass point, the east. It's easy to see from a glance that its robust, chunky ... Read Full Article

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Russia

Iconic Red Square

Winston Churchill called Russia a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” which is perhaps even more true today; just read the news. Russia is on the far eastern edge of Europe and tourism there can be expensive and frustrating. Nevertheless, the only possible way to understand one of the world’s great countries is to stand on her soil. I worked at the Anglo-American School of Moscow ... Read Full Article

Alba Iulia, Romania: Six Centuries of History in one Hilltop Fortress

The Third Gate at Alba Iulia

Alba Iulia, in Romania’s Transylvania region, has a hilltop citadel where many historical eras come to life, dominated by two massive cathedrals with over 600 tumultuous years dividing them. But far from being stuck in the past, the city is a trailblazer in terms of renovating its assets and achieving recognition on the international stage. In 2012 the municipality was named a European ... Read Full Article

A Visit to Deva Castle in Romania

he ruined state of the castle is due to an apparently accidental explosion during 1848-49

Deva, a city in Romania's Transylvania region, has an evocative hilltop fortress that pays testimony to many past conflicts - military and religious. Deva's extensive ruined castle perches atop a volcanic hill 370 meters high. That makes it easy to see from anywhere in town, especially with the large white letters that spell DEVA around the hill. Unusually for a Transylvanian city, the ... Read Full Article