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Riding the Highest Narrow Gauge Railway in the Balkans

Riding the Highest Narrow Gauge Railway in the Balkans

Did you know Bulgaria is technically part of the Balkans? I feel silly saying it, but I did not know that until I actually visited. I had always thought of the Balkans as being the countries of the former Yugoslavia, but in reality, the Balkan peninsula (and thus, “the Balkans”) includes Bulgaria as well. So when I read about the only narrow gauge railway in Bulgaria and learned that it was also the highest in the Balkans, I decided I had...

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Searching for St. Ivan’s Chapel

Searching for St. Ivan’s Chapel

Staring ahead of me, all I saw was green. The leaves were an amazing bright color of green, occasionally reflecting the glaring sun that they so thankfully blocked out. I felt like I was in a tunnel and had no idea how long it would stretch. I questioned whether I should continue, but told myself that I would give it 20 more minutes. If I walked for 20 more minutes without seeing some sign that I was on the right track, I would turn around...

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A Day Trip to Rila Monastery

A Day Trip to Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Bulgaria. The colorful monastery was first established in the 10th century by St. Ivan of Rila. After being destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th century, the monastery was renovated with the help of the Russian church. It was later destroyed once again by a fire in the early 19th century, after which a group of wealthy Bulgarians paid for it to be rebuilt as a way to build...

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A Tasty Tour in Toronto

A Tasty Tour in Toronto

As I planned my weekend trip up to Toronto, I was approached with the opportunity to take a food tour with Tasty Tours Toronto. But not just any food tour – their Oh Canada! Farmer’s Market Sweets Tour. With a sweet tooth like mine, how could I say no? The tour was originally scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, ending at 12:30 – which would give me just half an hour to get across town to start my bike tour of the city at 1:00. I wasn’t too...

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Bulgaria in Photos

Bulgaria in Photos

I have to say, travel to Bulgaria exceeded my expectations in many respects. There were mountains and forests and rivers; cute cobblestone streets and massive Soviet era buildings; colorful monasteries and really, really old churches. Oh, and some amazing Roman ruins. A little bit of everything, to be sure. Take a...

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The French Lessons Begin

The French Lessons Begin

The third time is supposed to be the charm, right? Maybe in other things, but not so much with languages. At least not so far. French is the third foreign language I’m trying to learn, after six years of Spanish in high school/college and three years of Russian in college, plus studying it during my career break. I thought that it might be easier this time around, but so far not so much. Learning French has been hard! I’m taking a class...

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Biking Around Toronto

Biking Around Toronto

I haven’t sat my butt on a bike in more than two years, but when I got the opportunity to do a bike tour of Toronto with Toronto Bicycle Tours, I jumped right on it. With limited time in the city, it seemed like it would be the perfect way to see a lot in a short period of time – better than some trolley or double decker bus tour! I lucked out with perfect, sunny weather for my Sunday afternoon “Heart of Downtown” tour. We met at the...

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A Taste of Toronto at the Taste of the Danforth

A Taste of Toronto at the Taste of the Danforth

My first real introduction to Toronto came around 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night as I stepped out of the Broadview subway station and started walking toward Danforth Street. It wasn’t hard to find my destination – I just followed the crowds and the music to the beginning of the Taste of the Danforth, Canada’s largest annual street festival. In its 21st year, the festival sees around 1.5 million visitors over a three-day period (by...

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Deciding When It Is Not Safe to Travel

Deciding When It Is Not Safe to Travel

I have never thought much about safety while traveling. This may seem odd, but let me explain. Most of my travel early on was to Europe, which generally doesn’t raise many eyebrows – or travel warnings. I traveled with groups not because I feared for my safety, but because I was nervous about figuring out logistics and I wanted to meet new people. My first non-European country (aside from Australia) was Egypt in 2007. Again, I...

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A Preview of Toronto

A Preview of Toronto

I first visited Toronto last June for TBEX – a travel blogging conference. I flew in Friday night and departed early Monday morning and spent most of the time in between at conference sessions. Needless to say, I didn’t see much of the city itself. Therefore, I am very excited to visit Toronto again next weekend. The city is an easy trip from Chicago; just a short flight on Porter Airlines will take me from Midway Airport to Toronto’s...

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