*I just want to preface this, and to ward off angry comments, by saying that I love Ukraine and I love trains. Just not those two things put together.* There is being uncomfortable, and then there is taking the night train to Kiev. Is it possible to get used to shuttling between the Ukrainian capital […]

A couple of weeks ago I was sipping limoncello on a balcony overlooking the lower Amalfi Coast, but it feels more like an era has passed. Much has happened since then, and dreams and reality have intertwined a seemingly endless number of times. I might still be on that balcony sipping limoncello, or I might […]

It’s hard to remember the last time I approached the passport desk without an underlying sense of dread. Adding to my detriment, Ukrainian immigration officials are like rabid dogs, sensing my uneasiness and eager to draw blood (in the form of a back-room bribe). As a result the woman behind the desk spends an eternity […]

If you live in Rome and want to go to Siena, it’s necessary to change trains in a little town somewhere in the middle called Chiusi-Chianciano Terme. I get a cappuccino to still my train-rattled nerves and find myself back in the station, passing the time until my connection by reading Italian fairy tales. A […]

I love idioms as much as anyone, and use every opportunity during conversation to slip one in. Sometimes even without opportunity. -How are you? -In seventh heaven! On cloud nine! And that’s no pie in the sky! -Umm, okay. Want to get something to eat, other than pie? -How out of the blue! Oh would […]

Greek monuments litter Italy at nearly the same rate as beggars and churches, but nothing serves as an icon to Greek Tragedy like the Italian post office. Government bureaucracy is a bad word in every country, but only in Italian do the syllables rise and fall with the singsong charm of a French guillotine. Burdened […]

When you’re traveling on a tight budget, one of the first things to go are the train tickets… paying for them that is. Now, you might think that this would cause a problem, mainly in being able to take the train, but when the country you’re train hopping in is Italy and the person in […]

If you’ve done much traveling in Southern Europe you’re probably aware that the train station is generally the worst thing you’ll experience on your trip. In Pisa it’s the opposite, which doesn’t mean that the train station is nicer than those others, only that the rest of the city is so wretched as to make […]

After spending eight months in Polignano a Mare, a pearl of a city buried deep in Italy’s heel, a combination of factors led me to make the move to that famous capital located squarely mid-calf, Rome. In the more than four months I’ve been here, I’ve often questioned my decision to move from a seaside […]

One thing I remember quite well from my preteen years, other than the ever-present knowledge that God would throw me in hell for masturbating, is that people would constantly come up to my family in restaurants and elsewhere to congratulate my parents on how well-behaved my 4 siblings and I were. What’s the big deal? […]

“Excuse me.” I looked up over the pages of my book at a frail looking man with an English accent standing in front of me. “Yes?” “I wondered if you wouldn’t mind switching seats so that I could sit next to my wife.” I looked over at the woman sprawled out on the seat next […]

I haven’t ever liked olives. The very sight of them repels me before pulling me back in pings of longing like an abused lover convinced that the next time will be different.  I know, you’re likely sitting there thinking to yourself, “oh, but I quite like olives.” I’m sure you do, and I envy you […]

Watching the Edward Snowden sideshow escalate in the past week has sent increasingly violent waves of nausea through Washington even as it has sent Hollywood executives scrambling over the prospect of developing a film adaptation (or five). Of course, the lack of an ending on “Chasing Snow” (Snow Fall? Snow Games?) leaves things in momentary […]

Love… Happiness… Time… Life… More loaded words to give further reason to use ellipses… and then some questions. What would you do for love? Would you sacrifice your time, your happiness, your sanity, for it? If the answer is yes, than I highly recommend the Austrian film Amour. It will leave you with all the […]

Far from the world of pizzas, pastas, and gelati I’ve been immersed in these last two weeks lies another, dirtier truth. While I’ve managed to shove it as far back into my wardrobe as I could, the truth is starting to smell. It’s high time I did my laundry, you see, and not only because […]

The passport desk is an interesting place. All that separates you from entering, or in this case leaving, a country is a thin yellow line and some glum looking individual sitting in a little glassed-in cubical. Regardless of where you are, they all look the same. Immigration officials are almost like royalty in that they […]

Whoever it was that conceived of the word “tedious” must have spent some portion of his or her life as a teacher. Not to say that teaching is boring, often the contrary, but when you’re spending seemingly the same rainy December day leading the same roundtable discussion on the same hour-long topic hour after hopeless […]

Helsinki Harbor after sunset

-On the Shoot of the Latest BMW Short Film- One of the first things I notice upon stepping out of Helsinki-Vantaa airport, literally the first thing, is the seemingly endless queue of taxis which await me. What’s odd about this isn’t the fact that these drivers are lined up at one in the morning anticipating […]

I’m on the new express train running from Kharkiv to Kiev in a record four and a half hours. These express trains are nice, which is to say, they’re almost akin to the second class compartments on Western European trains. Before leaving Kharkiv I committed the error of opening a liter and a half container […]

Note on a Dream: Some dreams are brought to us as a product of the food we eat, the people we are currently loving, or a temporary situation life may have found us in. Perhaps this dream then is some product of one of the three, or perhaps it is something else entirely. As I […]

The lights flash, the music pulses and I am with you. You – a masterpiece, a Van Gogh all awash in glittering indigo. Your arms are over your head, your hair fluttering in fated wind, your blue top rising, tantalizing over your abdomen and I feel like an inexperienced seaman. I want to reach over […]

I feel, despite its beauty, disconnected from this place. Though the square is, in every corner, bursting with life I am foreign to it.From the left a couple stumbles towards me carrying a box of doughnuts and a bottle. As blissfully unaware as they are of the world taking place around them they are nevertheless […]

It is a threatening, overcast day when I step out from Amsterdam’s central station into the beating heart of the world’s foremost adult playground. I only have a day here and after dropping off my luggage and waiting in a seemingly endless queue to get a reservation for my next train that day has turned […]

Realizations are sometimes easiest made in the dark isolation of a train compartment… listening to your beating heart.