Archive for the “Europe” Category

The Ruin Bars of Budapest

One of the upsides to being an independent writer is that I’m my own boss. There are no deadlines, no one to pester me, and no outside burdens. I get to write about what I want, when I want—the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, since the stories on this blog are based on what I see and do, I have no one to say things like, “Matt! There’s a cool new trend in this city, here’s a plane […]

Interesting Facts About Poland

I’m in my other homeland of Poland. While most of my family came from Ukraine, some of my family tree’s roots spread out into Poland (as well as Germany). Right now, I’m visiting Krakow, learning about its Jewish history, exploring salt mines, and drinking Polish vodka before heading up to Warsaw. Poland doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, so in order to spread the love, here are some interesting facts about this amazing country: The most popular dog […]

Halfway Home

Six months ago, I embarked on my last round-the-world trip. It won’t be the end of my travels, but simply the beginning of a new chapter in my life—one filled with shorter trips. It’s hard to believe that time has passed so quickly. It feels like only yesterday that I was exploring Sweden and Norway . The clock has moved so quickly that I feel little has been accomplished over the last six months. Yet at the same time, so […]

How to Conquer the City of Berlin

Berlin is a gigantic city. I knew it was big, but until I decided to explore it by foot, I never knew just how big. I came here for five days with the idea that I’d see all the major sites, some of the not-so-major sites, and get a feel for the city. I didn’t get a chance to see much of Germany’s capital the first time, and I was hoping this visit would correct that. But despite my intentions, […]

How to Survive Oktoberfest

“How many days are you at the Wiesn (Oktoberfest) for?” asked the German girl wearing her Bavarian dirndl across the table from me. “We’re here for five days,” I replied, putting down my stein of beer. As she heard this, her facial expression (and that of her friend) became a mix of shock, disbelief, and horror. “Five days! That is crazy! You’re a bit insane, huh?” she said jokingly. “I hope you survive.” And she was right. My friends and […]

The Cost of Traveling Far Eastern Europe

Over the summer, I left the popular European tourist trail and saw three of Europe’s lesser-visited countries: Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine. They’re located on Europe’s far eastern border and see few tourists. While Bulgaria sees a few more tourists because of its proximity to the Balkans and acts as a stop on the overland route from Turkey to Budapest, the farther north I went, the fewer travelers I saw. In Ukraine, I only encountered US Peace Corp volunteers and a […]

How to Spend Three Days in Helsinki

Helsinki seems to be off the normal “Scandinavian tourist trail.” Most people I know make it to Copenhagen or Stockholm (or sometimes Oslo if they can afford it), but they stop there. Helsinki never seems to be on the travel radar of most budget travelers I know. I’m not sure why. I guess Helsinki just doesn’t get the raving press that other places do. Which is a shame, because Helsinki was a pleasant surprise for me. Like most people, I […]

The Utterly Amazing Ukraine

As a native English speaker, I hit the traveling jackpot. Wherever I go in the world, I never have a problem communicating with people. English is the lingua franca of the world, and if anything’s ever in a second language, it’s always English. In hostels, people from around the world converse with each other in English, which means I can always find a conversation to join. I’m never limited by language. And even if people aren’t fluent in English, they […]

Finding More than Dracula in Romania

As I wandered around Sighisoara searching for coffins, bats, vampires, and human blood, I realized Romania wasn’t going to give me what I wanted—lots of cheesy Dracula tourism. I’d been to Bran, Transylvania and Bucharest and so far had encountered noth-ing about vampires. It was odd. The Romanians just haven’t decided to get in on the vampire trend that’s spreading throughout the world. I admitted defeat. I simply wasn’t going to get what I’d hoped for. I’d have to settle […]

I Despise Sunny Beach

There aren’t many places in the world I despise. Places that fill me with disgust. One of those places is Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. I’ve never understood the hype about it or why people like it so much. Other than being a place to buy expensive drinks, it really has no redeeming qualities. Just like Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. For some reason, Ko Phi Phi has remained “the” place to go in Thailand, much like Sunny Beach is the hot spot […]