Now if I told you that there’s a town called Berat in Southern Albania with UNESCO protected Ottoman era houses, a romance novel-worthy castle, and an exquisite icon museum, you’d probably want to go, right? Berat is gorgeous but also relaxing and super-duper friendly.  Let’s make that gorgeous, friendly, relaxing and budget friendly too—-our lovely guest […]


This morning we woke up in Shkoder, Northern Albania, ate a ginormous breakfast at our  hotel and met up with a driver who drove us two hours to get on a small boat through Lake Koman. Lake Koman is actually a reservoir formed inside a dramatic mountain gorge in the 1970’s and it powers a hydro electric system.  We cruised […]

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The worst grade I ever got was in high school architectural drafting.  I signed up for the class because I thought it would be a cool elective and had visions of studying the great buildings of the world through drafting their architectural elements.  This did not happen—instead we traced pre-designed building features from templates in various […]


The first time I visited the Baha’i Temple, about ten years ago, I said “Wow!  This building is so symmetrical” and then didn’t think much of it afterwords. I’d like to believe that my architectural frame of reference is more sophisticated these days, so I made another visit to the temple.  This time my reaction was “Wow! […]


Packing makes me happy and after last week’s picture deleting debacle I sure needed cheering up, so I got busy packing for our next trip.  Packing light is one of those things that’s great in theory but in practice I want to stuff too many things in my backpack.  Here’s what I’ve learned is worth schlepping around […]


Last week my boss announced it was time to clean out our offices.  She was serious enough to go into my meeting calendar and mark all the open time slots as busy, so I had no excuse to put it off.  (While everyone in my department received the same directive, as the office slob I know […]

I recently asked for some advice from fellow blogger Sophia Hsiao, whose gorgeous nature photography has me longing to visit Taiwan.  In response to my inquiry about Taiwanese cities to visit, Sophia recommended a few and added “Each city has its streets”.  Sophia then listed the best streets in her recommended cities. As a smart traveler, Sophia knows you can’t just show up […]

Should you visit the Republic of Georgia?  Absolutely.  Can you travel independently in Georgia?  Yes, but only if you do your homework.  Focus your travel planning on transportation, finding great guest houses, and be prepared to respectfully appreciate Georgia’s religious culture. Transportation: Before I traveled in Georgia I was confused and intimidated by the transportation infrastructure.  From the outside […]

People always tell me “You’re so adventurous!”  Of course I take this as a compliment but, well, I feel a bit like fraud, what with my fear of flying and generally risk-adverse personality.  An authentically adventurous woman?  I once knew one: her name was Emily and she was my grandmother. My Gram, Emily Evans Shaffer Harrington, was […]

Any of you nerds out there wait breathlessly for UNESCO to announce the newest additions to their list of World Heritage Sites?  [Raises hand].  Well, a few days ago I was delighted to read that stećci, tombstones from medieval graveyards in the Balkans, had been added to the list. Most Stećci—about 60,000 of them—are found in graveyards in Bosnia […]