Category Archives: Romania

Tales of travel and adventure in Central Europe

Sorry Moldova, I Tried. I Really Tried

Working as a freelance travel writer for the past seven years, I’ve found that sometimes things just don’t work out, regardless of how hard you try or how good your intentions are. The following post recounts the problems I’ve had this year in convincing travel magazines and websites to consider an article on the Republic of Moldova. It’s both a peek inside the workings of the travel writing industry and an apologia to the folks at USAID for my having failed (so far) to spread the good word on Moldova.

Earlier this year, I heard through the grapevine about a sponsored trip for travel writers to the Republic of Moldova. The program sounded fantastic. We would visit wineries and monasteries and learn about options for travelers to see areas of scenic beauty and to experience genuine Moldovan hospitality via rural home stays and similar. The sponsor was USAID, working through a friendly and thoroughly professional travel consultant named Jack Delf.

The trip would be fully paid for, an arrangement that made it both hard to pass up and nearly equally hard to accept. I came to travel writing via journalism, where travel junkets are frowned upon. The argument goes that if someone is buying your lunch, it’s hard to be objective about the food. I mostly subscribe to this view and, with only two small exceptions, have never taken a freebie as a travel writer. Read More →

I [Heart] Instagram (But Not The Filters)

IG logoI love Instagram. It’s awesome for quickly taking photos on my trips and building mini-communities on the road. I’ve met more people from IG (and had better interactions with them) than with any other chat or social-media application (including Yahoo Messenger, FB and Foursquare). Photographers love to share images and comments, and are usually keen to grab a coffee or a beer if you happen to be visiting their town. IG interactions are intense … and that’s what I love most about this app.

What I don’t like much (or rather use much) are Instagram’s built-in filters. There are a few that I use now and then (such as Earlybird or Sierra), but I find most of the effects to be too strong (like Nashville or Kelvin) or to give the photos too much of an “Instagram” stamp. Instead, I prefer to use separate photo-editing apps that I’ve downloaded from the IOS apps store. Often I use more than one app to edit a photo.

Here’s a quick list of my favorites and a few words about why I like them: Read More →

Sibiu: Revisiting a European Cultural Capital

Sibiusquare2The following article appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 2007, the year that Sibiu served as one of Europe’s two cultural capitals. Parts of the text are out of date, but the sections about the city’s history and sights still read as fresh as ever. Sibiu really is a great antidote for skeptics (are there still are a few) who somehow don’t believe Romania has earned its membership yet in the European Union.

Although Sibiu’s recorded history goes back eight centuries, a stroll through this city’s broad, handsome squares and neat, cobblestoned alleys, in many ways, feels like a glimpse into Romania’s happier future.

The sheer anarchy of a place like Bucharest makes you wonder if the European Union didn’t maybe bite off more than it could chew this time around, when it took in both Romania and Bulgaria as members in January (eds: 2007). The social fabric of the capital seems so shorn apart, you wonder if it can ever be knit back together. Read More →