Tastes like Empire

My language acquisition usually begins on the menu. I don’t speak French but when it’s cold in Paris I look for a boisson chaude. I don’t speak Turkish but every morning in Istanbul… Continue reading

Kyrgyz Trek – Day Six: Going Back, Going Forward

Walking those last hours of descent back to pavement and electrical outlets was a time of comfortable contradictions. Steps tentative with battered ligaments, but perhaps a tiny bit of swagger after traversing the… Continue reading

Kyrgyz Trek – Day Five: Looking into the Abyss

That first hot cup of tea was glorious after a long cold night, and when I tipped my tent to dry in the morning sun and panes of ice cracked and fell off,… Continue reading

Kyrgyz Trek – Day Four

It was the best of campsites, it was the worst of campsites, but first we had to get there. Day Four started in another perfect mountain valley, whose light green-blue river of melted… Continue reading

Kyrgyz Trek – Day Three

I awoke surrounded by monsters. Their growls, snarls, and roars made Jurassic Park sound like a petting zoo, and I was very aware that I could see no further than the fabric of… Continue reading

Kyrgyzstan Trek Day Two – Orcas and Golden Spirals

Sometime in the mid-1980’s my family went to Seaworld, in large part to see Shamu the killer whale. (We didn’t know any better.) My brother had recently been given one of those thin… Continue reading

Kyrgyzstan Trek – Day One in the Mountains of Heaven

On Day One of my 6-day hike in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, I had no idea what to expect. Apparently my guides were playing it by ear a bit too. The route normally… Continue reading

Getting Oriented in Kyrgyzstan

The goat-thing in front of me was perfect. And I was worried that I’m a bad traveler. For starters, I confess that I wasn’t 100% sure of how to pronounce Kyrgyzstan when I… Continue reading

European spring 2022

The night before my first tour of Europe after two years of covid-enforced sabbatical, I wrote a post about the energy filling my mind and rattling through my body. But then I took… Continue reading

It’s Time

I’ve rarely been so sorry to be right. January 2020, at our annual Rick Steves’ Europe annual guide conference, they asked me to say something about preparing tour members for the crowds. Those… Continue reading