Czech Republic - U Zeleného Stromu Distillery

Czech Impressions: Absinthe, Part 2

Search for lists of the world’s oldest distilleries still in operation, and you’ll see a few names coming back over and over. Of course, several Scottish whiskies go back to the late 18th century. Buffalo Trace in Kentucky, dating from 1775, is America’s oldest. Further south, Jose Cuervo was first granted a permit to produce tequila in Jalisco, Mexico in […]

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Czech Absinth

Czech Impressions: Absinthe, Part 1

Absinthe in Czech Republic, really? Yes! Unbeknownst to most, the country has a substantial and long-standing absinthe tradition. This shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering Central Europe’s taste for funky herbal liqueurs (recall, for example, Becherovka). There is evidence that absinthe was produced in Czech Republic as early as the second half of the 19th century, […]

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Dushanbe - Shah Mansur Bazaar

Tajik Adventures, Part 6: Dushanbe, Shah Mansur Bazaar

Now that we’ve explored Dushanbe’s cultural attractions, we’ll head to the central market. Shah Mansur Bazaar, also called the Green Bazaar, is easy to find: it’s a bona fide landmark, alongside club Port Saïd and the beer factory. “The heartbeat of Dushanbe trade,” says Lonely Planet. In a city literally named after a market, expectations are high. […]

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Dushanbe - Shaftoluzor Restaurant

Tajik Adventures, Part 5: Dushanbe, Chateau Loser

Dushanbe, population 778,500, capital city of Tajikistan. Our final stop on a journey that didn’t quite go as planned, before we cross the border back to Uzbekistan. “Dushanbe” means Monday in Tajik, allegedly because it started as a small village hosting a popular market on Mondays. When the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was created in 1929, the metonymy was replaced […]

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Road to Dushanbe - Khushekat

Tajik Adventures, Part 4: The Painful Road to Dushanbe

At the close of my survival guide for Tajikistan, I promised you the world’s worst hotel. A place that puts to shame all of the first-world problems you might have encountered in the West, such as inadequate climate control, capricious hot water in the bathroom, or unresponsive TV — it offers none of those three luxuries. This place has […]

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Green Market - HAlmaty Green Market - Horse Meatorse Meat

Kazakh Adventures, Part 2: Impressions from Almaty

Just as I did for beshbarmak, I’d like to interrupt my Tajik Adventures series to give a little bit of background about my recent horse steak post. So let’s head to Almaty, the former capital of the former Kazakhstan Social Socialist Republic. And let’s start with a former Soviet landmark, Café Ldinka. I say former, because it burned […]

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Khujand - Panjshanbe Bazaar

Tajik Adventures, Part 3: Khujand’s Panjshanbe Bazaar

In my previous Tajik Adventures post, we looked at the more pedestrian attractions of Khujand, Tajikistan’s second largest city: decrepit hotel Leninabad, the ill-fated Lenin statue, and Café Rashvan. So far, none of these features really justify a journey to that remote part of an already remote country. Enter Panjshanbe Bazaar, regularly mentioned on lists […]

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Khojand - Lenin Statue

Tajik Adventures, Part 2: Khujand, Where Lenin Is Bad

Once upon a time, there was a country named Soviet Union. It was known, among other things, for its adoration of the great Vladimir Ilyich Lenin; its peculiar conception of art, known as socialist realism, and its insistence on making such art omnipresent in the lives of its citizens; its obsession with WW2 and its slightly distorted historical […]

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Tajik Souvenir

Tajik Adventures, Part 1: Survival Guide

Get ready for a series of travel stories from all over Central Asia, starting with Tajikistan! One could argue that this is really “Part 2”, as I’ve already recounted my lunch in a colorful Dushanbe restaurant here. Back then, the title of the article (“I Ate Dinner in a Tajik Hellhole”, which by the way was not chosen by […]

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