Podcast #32 From Slovenia—Riding the Balkans 2018: A Live Update

When I set off on this 2018 Eastern European Tour, I had no real plan except to search for the best stories in food, wine, and culture. I wanted to discover the truth about the region. Like me, most North Americans do not understand what is happening over here—my aim was to find out. Now […]

Albania to Montenegro—with riding Vlog (video)

It’s with regret and sadness that my time in Albania nears the end. From Sarande to Tirana the history, people, food, and wine excelled and beyond expectations. Only the thrill of discovery, something new helps to cure the sadness of long goodbyes. So it’s the open arms and welcome of Montenegro and the promises of […]

Feeling Like Royalty In Tirana

What I thought would be a night or two in Tirana is now three nights. In between getting work done, laundry, and learning about Balkan wines from Jimmy, I continue to meet a host of influential people from the Albanian world of hospitality, literature, and wine. The largest distributor, exporter, and importer of wines in […]

Albanian Hospitality & New Friends In Tirana

The Dinasty Hotel in Tirana meticulously built, with beautiful wrought iron accents, hand laid stone tile floors, handmade furniture, and beautiful stone walls. Tables on the patio are all made by hand with beautiful mosaics. The four-story building looks nothing like other buildings in the neighborhood. Bay windows, stained glass, and curved balconies fitted with iron […]

Paradise Tucked Into Tirana: Uka Farm & Winery

I’ve been looking forward to meeting Flori Uka for many months. He’s a sommelier turned winemaker and along with his father and brothers, is focused on sustainable and organic farming for not only wine grapes but for fruit and vegetables. After the fall of communism in Albania, a 2-hectare parcel of land outside Tirana returned […]

Berat—On the Castle Trail

When I tell Muharrem the hotel I’m thinking of staying, he picks up his phone and makes a call. “You will stay in a traditional hotel, not a modern hotel.” But the hotel he called was booked. He makes another call and books me a room at Hotel Muzaca, a hotel in a traditional stone […]

Another Ali Pasha Fortress? Gorgeous Gjirokastër Albania

I face more Sarande traffic madness to get out of town; I find myself more bold and aggressive, which isn’t always a good thing when riding a motorcycle on foreign soil. But I make it out of Sarande and head down to the valley through the same mountain pass I arrived two days earlier. To […]

Forging Change And Excitement In Albanian Wine

I take nearly three hours to ride from Gjirokastлr to Cobo winery, just outside the village of Berat. I still fight with Google Maps, and once inside the town of Fier, I pull over at a roundabout to look at my phone to make sure I don’t miss a turn. Two men drinking coffee at […]

From The Romans to the Ottomans: Butrint, Albania

Just about 10 miles south of Sarande is Butrint, some of the most incredible ancient ruins in Albania and the Balkans. So with most of my gear unpacked and safe in my hotel room, I follow the coast south to Butrint. I’m told that to explore and experience the ancient site, I’d need to plan […]

Finding Hope & The Future For Albania

I wander the promenade after sunset, catch a group of local musicians, and then settle in at a nice restaurant for my first Albanian meal. Mare Nostrum has a large covered patio and tonight is teeming with lots of people. The buzz in the air is a mix of languages, some Greek, Italian, and various […]