Showing posts from June, 2019

Norway: The Land of the Midnight Sun

I arrived in Oslo, Norway late in the afternoon on solstice day, June 21st. Instead of giving in to jetlag, I joined our host for a walk to the harbor after dinner. The harbor was packed and lively with a street concert that featured pop performers like HRVY and screaming teenagers dancing to his music. I decided to stay at the concert and listen to a few more songs. It was still light when I returned to the hotel past 11:00pm and crashed out when I hit the bed. At around 4am I was woken up by bright lights peering through the window shades. Did I miss 24-hours of daylight? I wonder. Like most people, my goal for visiting Norway was to see the UNESCO World Heritage Natural site Norwegian fjords.  And most international flights to Norway land in Oslo, so my itinerary included 48 hours to explore Oslo. Coincidentally, the city was hosting a pride parade the following day, Saturday and it was said that more than fifty thousand people were expected to attend the pride event. Our guid

Romania's Charming Cities: A Photo Essay

One of the most pleasant surprises of my recent trip to Romania was visiting charming and photogenic small cities like Timisoara and Sibiu. These cities are a photographer’s dream. Although I would not consider myself a photographer (I was more into travel writing when I started my blog), I have to say that I took so many pictures in my travel to the Balkans. Now that I've had a bit of time to go through the photos and reflect on my visit to Romania, I realize that the photos help me remember everything in detail. Join me as I re-visit my tour to Timisoara and Sibiu Historic Center. Sibiu The thick fortified wall and one of the towers along  Strada Cetăţii are impressive. The remaining defense wall and four defense towers are the last parts of the third fortification ring built in medieval Sibiu in the 1300s. They were restored in the 60s. 1. Potter's Tower and the Old City Walls. Cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses. 2. Architectural Galore

Serbia: A Travel Journal

The Road to Belgrade Do you like the Chinese Highway? asked our guide. We were on a bus ride from Sofia to Belgrade and had just crossed the Bulgarian/Serbian border.  Our guide tried to explain the Chinese connection in order to give us some background of Serbia's complex geopolitical history.  The airstrike by NATO in the late 1990s destroyed a portion of transportation infrastructure and industrial facilities in Serbia and fueled an anti-Western sentiment. Serbia looked to the east and tried to maintain an alliance with Russia and China.  China invested in the infrastructure of Serbia and became a great ally in the Kosovo dispute, one of the issues being negotiated over Serbia's acceptance into the European Union (another complex issue, but worthy of a mention because it kind of answer our question why the process of going through the Serbian border took longer.) The bus ride was lovely, with a stretch of green flatlands and rolling hills and mountains. It was an exhi