Category: travel

  • Inside Russia’s exclave Kaliningrad, the Cold War honeymoon was just beginning

    KLAIPEDA, Lithuania—For the briefest of instants the Russian border guard’s placid face betrayed his surprise as we produced our blue US passports. His eyes momentarily widened as he read the gold lettering on our worn travel documents. I imagine Americans rarely cross at Mamonovo, a rural border crossing that’s a gateway to Kaliningrad, an exclave…

  • “Line ’em up and shoot ’em.”

    COMRAT, Moldova — The Transnistrian policeman who had been interrogating us turned to his colleague. “I caught three journalists – Bulgarian, Spanish and American – without accreditation.” His fellow lawman looked us up and down with distaste. “Line ‘em up and shoot ‘em,” he said and turned away. This wasn’t the warmest of welcomes to…

  • OMON goons, discussion culture and five days in the Arctic wilderness

    APATITY, Russia – I look to my right, a man in a black balaclava with what looks like a toy rifle is running full speed toward me and shouting something unintelligible. My first thought is it’s a friend playing a prank. Determined not to let him get a rise out of me, I turn away…

  • Three-day shoreleave in the Faroes

    TÓRSHAVN, Faroe Islands – Provided you’re not a schizophrenic sociopath, those little nagging voices should be heeded. For every so often there’s a nagging voice in my head goading me to head in a certain direction, usually defying common sense and logic. Often I am rewarded by following this advice, other times it’s folly and…

  • A simple plan

    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – The secret to stress-free travel is to keep logistics from getting complicated. So I kept the plan to leave the country simple: Canoe 300+ miles through the Adirondack Mountains, across Lake Champlain, upstream eastward through Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire into Maine. Then ride my bicycle to Edmundston, New Brunswick and catch…

  • The fox in the box and how I was brought to justice

    KODIAK, Alaska – My finest writing seem to stem from admitting illegal activities whether or not the law happens to catch up with me. In this case they did; I was swiftly brought to justice and it was this very blog what gave me away. The Alaska State Troopers log tells the story much more…

  • Hunting Fate in Bush Alaska

    DILLINGHAM, Alaska – The story begins in Bangladesh. For the past week it had been a game of hide-and-seek with poodle-sized cockroaches: I would hide, they would seek. I was learning a lot about myself. One such lesson is that I scream like a damsel-in-distress when confronted with an insect larger than my thumb that…

  • Now it can be told (as I’m safely out of Bangladesh)

    DILLINGHAM, Alaska – When the voice at the other end of the line said he was a police inspector curious about my activities in Bangladesh, I can’t say I was too surprised. I had been warned by foreigners and locals alike that poking around the country would attract suspicion from the authorities and that surveillance…

  • Rangamati days, Bandarban nights

    CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh – I had been waiting a half-hour in the police superintendent’s dingy office, a greasy photocopy of my permission in hand, when the woman with a toddler on her hip appeared. I had gotten as far as the administrative capital Rangamati. My entry had been smoothed over through the generosity of a public…

  • Little boxes of despair

    Little boxes, little boxes, Little boxes all the same There’s the green one and the pink one And the blue one and the yellow one And they’re all made outta ticky-tacky And they all look just the same… Malvina Reynolds (sung by Pete Seeger, 1963) TBILISI, Georgia It all started out with the best of…

  • Striking a deadly pose on a purple girl’s bike

    SALZBURG, Austria It’s t-shirt weather during the heart of winter in this Alpine city. The 6,470-foot peak of Untersberg rises up only a few miles from the city center, reminding this visitor that despite the balmy weather, the majestic Alps are not far. While snow-capped, it’s the only glimpse of snow I’ve yet to have…