In 2004 and 2008-2011, I traveled throughout Eastern Europe to write my 2nd book, The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us. The book includes 60 photos. This page lets you download those 60 photos as well as see several more photos that don't appear in the book.
Download the 60 photos from The Hidden Europe
To see the 60 photos that are in the book, download one of these three formats and then see them in your favorite ebook reader:
- PDF: Viewable on all PCs.
- ePub: Viewable on all ebook readers except the Kindle. Just download the file and import into your ereader.
- mobi: For Kindle users (download and import via USB, see below).
Read this if you have a Kindle: When you buy the Kindle version of The Hidden Europe through Amazon's website, photos are not included because Amazon charges publishers by the megabyte whenever they deliver a Kindle book (other ebook stores don't do this). Had I put 60 photos into the Amazon book, I'd make pennies on each book. To get around that problem while still letting you see the photos that appear in the hardcover version, we're making the photos freely available here. All you have to do is download the .mobi photo file and then import it into your Kindle (follow the USB instructions to do it for free).
The 50 best photos from Eastern Europe
The 60 photos that appear in the book aren't my best photos from Eastern Europe. Why not? Because I preferred putting photos of some of the people that I met or other photos that readers of the book would appreciate.
But what if you just want to see pretty photos from Eastern Europe? Below are my 50 favorite ones. Only a few of them made it into the book.
Step into Dubrovnik and the rest of Eastern Europe....
Turkicha, Bulgaria. A village where I stayed 2 weeks relaxing and writing my book.
A curious Bulgarian goat.
Veliko Tarnovo has an amazing monument in the center of their city. It's on an island.
Welcome to Croatia and the Adriatic Sea!
Krka National Park. Not as nice as Croatia's Plitvice National Park, but still quite nice.
Omiš is a surreal town along the Adriatic. It takes only 10 minutes to walk most of Omiš, but the setting is out-of-this-world. Omiš is squeezed between the Adriatic Sea and a near vertical mountain range. What’s dramatic is that it seems like God cut a narrow slice off the mountain range to let a river sneak through. When you ride along the river and peek on the other side the mountain wall, you’ll see that the other side of the mountains plunge into a valley. In short, the mountain range is thin, but tall, and has a narrow gap to go through them. It’s marvelous.
Although Split isn’t as famous as Dubrovnik, it’s Croatia’s second biggest city after Zagreb. The Roman Emperor Diocletian put Split on the map when he built his retirement home there. The Palace of Diocletian is the best preserved Roman palace in the world. Its tall walls are about two football fields long. Even though the basement halls are completely bare, they’re useful for helping you imagine the original (and now vanished) rooms upstairs. That’s because the basement was a mirror image of the Palace’s layout upstairs. It’s obvious that the retired Roman Emperor enjoyed his final years here, reminiscing about all the innocent Christians he gleefully slaughtered and executed.
If the Dalmatian Coast is the crown of Croatia, then Dubrovnik is the finest jewel on that crown. Lord Byron called Dubrovnik “the pearl of the Adriatic.” Founded 1,300 years ago, Dubrovnik fell to the Venetian Empire in 1205. In 1358, Hungary defeated the Venetians, but in 1382 Dubrovnik bought its freedom from Hungary and become an independent and wealthy republic. It did well until Napoleon crashed the party in 1808. I’ve arrived in Dubrovnik by taking a seven-hour ferry from Hvar, a bus ride from Split, and a hitchhike from Mljet, but this time, Ana’s car. No matter how you come to Dubrovnik, you won’t want to leave.
Church in Dubrovnik. Although many of these Croatian pictures are from Dubrovnik, there are plenty of other wonderful towns along the coast. It's one of the world's most beautiful coastlines and the highlight of Eastern Europe.
Dubrovnik is Venice’s ugly sister. However, Venice is such a supermodel that Dubrovnik is still incredibly beautiful. Dubrovnik is like a Venice without the canals and the romantic twists and turns. Instead Dubrovnik is like a grid in a bowl. Because the edges of the town curve up, it adds a cool dimension, although people who hate stairs will avoid the town’s edges. After entering through the Pile Gate, walk down the Placa, the main promenade, until you reach the clock tower. Everywhere you look is a work of art. Unlike Venice, Dubrovnik was built like a fort. You can walk on top of its impressive walls. They’re two kilometers (1.25 miles) long and up to 25 meters (yards) high with 16 towers. Dubrovnik is the poor man’s Venice and that’s still pretty darn good.
Šibenik is a Venetian-styled town and is my second favorite Croatian town (after Dubrovnik). It’s a fabulous seaside maze to explore. Unlike Zadar, Šibenik is built on hilly terrain. Its multiple levels, along with its quiet, pedestrian-only streets that overlook the Adriatic Sea, make the town a romantic dream.
Tallinn was my home for nearly half a year. The Old Town is straight out of fairy tale.
The Town Hall in Tallinn's Old Town is perfect at Christmas.
Walk down Andrássy Avenue and make sure you see Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) during the day and night—you’ll feel like you’re in Paris. The Hősök tere (Heroes' Square) is heart of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. I took this at sunset when the sky had yet to fully darken.
National Museum in Budapest. The natural light was perfect.
The first thing I learned when I arrived was that there are two cities in Budapest: Buda and Pest.
The Bay of Kotor has snowy Mt. Lovćen overlooking it.
Francis Tapon jumping at Mt. Lovcen in Montenegro. It feels like heaven, but it's the Njegos Mausoleum.
Kotor Bay - my favorite place in Montenegro and perhaps my favorite place in Eastern Europe! Perast is another gem.
Kotor is a dreamy setting.
LEFT: Kotor has two artificial islands called St. George island and Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rock). Legend says they were created by throwing rocks and ships at the same spot on the same day of year for decades. RIGHT: Francis jumping around in Corfu, a Greek island next to Albania.
Some don't consider Greece as part of Eastern Europe, but if you have to choose between Eastern Europe and Western Europe (assume there's no such thing as Southern and Northern Europe), then Greece obviously falls in the East. However, my book (and these photos) focus only on Greece's northern part, because it's the most connected with the Balkans and the rest of Eastern Europe.
Greeks like to collect skulls.
Meteora: imagine your daily commute up that. I went up every one in a day!
LEFT: Sunset in Meteora. RIGHT: Greek doors that go on forever.
Wedding portrait with a tank in the background, a very romantic setting in Tiraspol. The part of Moldova that is under Russian control is called Transdnistria. Its capital is Tiraspol. It feel like communism is still "working" there. They have their own currency, which no other country recognizes.
The Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai, Lithuania. There’s no reason to spend any time in Šiauliai. It’s a rather dull and gray city that still hasn’t shaken its Soviet vibe. However, 12 kilometers north you’ll find something worth seeing: Kryžių kalnas (the Hill of Crosses). As the name suggests, it’s a hill with an insane number of crosses. Thousands of crosses of every size cover the mound, which takes just five minutes to climb. Although the hill is overflowing with crosses, there are a few paths that allow you to walk among the densely packed religious icons. Most crosses are personalized: they might indicate their country of origin, quote a Biblical verse, or ask God for cash. On the hill’s summit is (unsurprisingly) a big cross, along with a statue of the Virgin Mary. The hill has a surreal feel since it’s in the middle of nowhere. It makes you wonder if the same aliens who made those crop circles came here to plant a bunch of crosses.
Gdańsk, Poland. I strolled down the wide pedestrian street, arching my neck to see an enormous cathedral stretch to the heavens. Adorable shops and cozy cafés lined the street.
Poznań is the capital of the Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) region and it’s yet another lovely Polish city. Its pleasant pedestrian streets culminate in the Stary Rynek (Old Market Square). At the heart of the square is the elegant sixteenth century Town Hall, which the Germans ran for centuries. Poznań flourished because it is strategically located between Warsaw and Berlin—a perfect pit stop for a merchant.
The Poznań square has plenty of museums, but I preferred gawking at the pastel-colored buildings, which looked particularly great with the dashes of white cumulus clouds and snow.
Sunset in the Danube Delta
Calafat, Romania. Roma are sometimes called gypsies.
A Roma checking out another Roma.
Romanian horses in the Danube Delta.
NATIONALITIES LEFT TO RIGHT: French, Italian, French, French/American, French, American. We at the end of the Danube River, where it empties in the Black Sea in Romania.
LEFT: Church in Timisoara, Romania. RIGHT: The Endless Column by Constantin Brâncuşi in Târgu Jiu, Romania.
The uncle of Natasha Perranault gave me a tour of Kaliningrad, the most unknown part of Eastern Europe. I did a podcast about Kaliningrad with Natasha. His face was photo-perfect.
Ice-fishing on a lake in Kaliningrad, Russia. It's a part of Russia that few know. I hung out with this guy until it got too cold for my California blood.
Russian caviar with butter.
Biker through a window of an abandoned municipal bath in a Russian village.
St. Petersburg Triumphal Arch
St. Petersburg royal house.
Lenin still pointing the way in St. Petersburg.
Slovenia's Julian Alps can take you breath (and life) away.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia.
Mountain goat having a snack in Slovenia's Julian Alps.
Francis Tapon celebrating on Triglav, Slovenia's tallest mountain. It's where you can find the most extreme and dangerous backpacking trails in the world.