Why you’ll Cry and Laugh at the LiBearty Bear Sanctuary

Blind maligned Max enjoys his fruit treats at the LiBearty bear Sanctuary

The LiBearty Bear Sanctuary in Zarnesti, Romania, will possibly be the most memorable experience of a trip to Eastern Europe for families and animal lovers. For starters, Zarnesti is located half an hour southwest of Brasov, a lovely historical town in the middle of the country. It boasts great hotels and restaurants and a lush setting in the Carpathian Mountains. But be forewarned: even as ... Read Full Article

Six Great Places for Spring Travel in Europe

Paris a great spot for Spring Travel in Europe

It’s always a stunning time in Europe when the sleet and snow of winter makes way for the glowing renewal of spring. Parks and gardens blossom and bloom, cities return life again. Ahead of the summer throngs, it’s also a fabulous time to baulk the European crowds, while keeping the back pocket in tact with friendly shoulder-season rates. From the Italian Lakes to Vienna, Budapest to Seville, we ... Read Full Article

Tracking Down Dracula at Snagov Monastery

interior of Snagov Monastery

Few visitors to Romania come to Snagov Monastery. Fewer still have ever heard of it, in spite of its connection to the life (actually the death) of Count Dracula, the country’s most famous native. Technically,  as a fictional character – and a vampire, Dracula didn’t live OR die. But his real-life counterpart, Vlad Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler), did end up at Snagov, maybe.  Vlad the Impaler followed a ... Read Full Article

Visiting Romania’s Maramureș County

Playful suggestion of the underlying themes of Maramureș County

Many Romanians vacation in Maramureș, a county in Romania north of Transylviania and south of the Ukrainian border, for the same reasons foreigners do. They are curious to see life as it existed centuries ago. Maramureș is like Pennsylvania Dutch country in the US:  horse-drawn carriages, hand-embroidered clothing, rural crafts, and lifestyles based on agriculture. The crafts are best ... Read Full Article

Zemun: Belgrade’s Most Charming Neighborhood

Zemun with a view toward Belgrade

Belgrade, with its relaxed attitude, friendly residents and incredible food and drink, can also be sadly short on charm. Outside the historic center, districts tend to run together, and in New Belgrade, indistinguishable rows of apartment buildings seem to stretch for miles. But the city has at least one neighborhood that can be considered distinctive and yes, even charming: Zemun. Longtime ... Read Full Article

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