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Traveling as a lifestyle affords plenty of opportunities otherwise unavailable, but maybe not as much as the simple power of “yes.” As an introvert, I would tend to accept quiet nights in without much fuss. As someone married to an extrovert, I hardly get the opportunity. But this time, saying “yes” to a pub crawl in Bucharest, Romania led us to an abandoned cable car station on top of a mountain in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Panagia Phorviotissa Asinou near Nikitari - IMG_7170~

In the northern reaches of Greek Cyprus, a stone’s throw from the UN-imposed “Green Line,” separating Greek Cyprus from Turkish Cyprus, there is a village called Nikitari. About three kilometes south of Nikitari, the intrepid traveler will find the Church of Panagia Phorviotissa. And the traveler will be rewarded for his perils.

St Peter Church - IMG_7773~

Just after the turn of the 18th century, however, another church was built here: the present Peterskirche. It was begun in 1701 and consecrated in 1733. It was the first domed structure in Vienna, and its towers are said to have been inspired by the tents of the Turks during the siege just a few years earlier.

Mala Strana - IMG_7336-14

One neighborhood name I’d like to know the story behind is Prague’s Malá Strana, or “Lesser Town,” because for the life of me I can’t tell just exactly what’s “lesser” about it.

St Barbara Kutna Hora - IMG_8040~

We’ll head back to Bohemia, to a picturesque mountainous region just east of Prague, where there sits a small town called Kutná Hora. Now it is home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and at such close proximity to Prague, easy to visit.

IMG_5497 - Santa Maria in Trastevere-1

We didn’t mean to visit Santa Maria, or Our Lady in Trastevere, when we did; we were just looking for good food in the Trastevere (“across the Tiber”) neighborhood. Eventually we would have found our way to it, but hungry as we were when we walked by, I simply couldn’t help myself. I had to go in.

IMG_1442~ Plitvice-2

One of the definite must-dos in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a wonderland of forests, cascades, and lakes. It has a series of nature trails throughout the park. The trails will take you past 16 lakes of various sizes, numerous waterfalls, and beaches. There are even a few ferryboats to give you a pleasant ride over Lake Kozjak.

IMG_7664 ~ General-12

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, one of those mysterious eastern European countries that we typically associate with vaguely Russian accents, lots of potatoes, and that charming style of Soviet architecture that I like to call “cell block chic.”

IMG_9612 ~ Matthias Church-6

The church as it stands today closely follows the plan of the 13th century Gothic church, and its interior paint, frescos, and organ have been completely redone. It is this interior decoration, however, that really seems to set Matthias Church apart. Instead of the stark stone found in most Gothic churches, Matthias Church is almost entirely painted, largely with geometric and floral motifs, and with a pretty blue “sky” above it all.

IMG_1258~ Hvar-6

Today, Hvar is a rock star of the tourism scene. Need a private anchorage for the megayacht you use to transport your harem? Hvar has plenty.