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Travelling with Judie Fein and Paul Ross is a treat. Not only are the destinations unusual but the discoveries at each destination are never boilerplate. In Albania, we uncovered religious leaders (imams, dervishes, orthodox prelates), heroes from the WW II era, Greek and Roman ruins, flea markets and bucolic scenery. We tasted the Albanian cuisine, largely fresh foods, locally grown.

Our trip was enhanced by the opportunity to be challenged to write about our experiences and have them expertly critiqued by Judie in a constructive, supportive and non-threatening environment.

Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, Judie and Paul were able to engineer changes to our original schedule, adding both interest and efficiency. After a week in which we got an in- depth look at Albanian history, geography, customs, people, religion, food and institutions, we left for southeastern Italy (Matera in the Basilicata region). An overnight ferry trip from Duress, Albania took us to Bari, Italy. Once again, the itinerary was anything but ordinary. When was the last time you spent three nights in a four-room cave with all the comforts of home? Of course, the food was well beyond any expectations, the scenery was amazing and once again, Judie and Paul found the unusual aspects of life and custom. We had opportunities to write about these events and to memorialize our trip with photography, aided by tips and instruction from Paul who in addition to his technical expertise has an incomparable eye for the imaginative shot.

The final leg of our trip took us to the Abruzzo region where we were lodged in an abandoned medieval town resuscitated to modern standards. Here we participated in the local endeavors of making pizza, pasta and soap. We engaged in truffle hunting and enjoyed our finds with wine, bread, cheese and other delicacies. Our two weeks flew by but we were left with lasting memories, fabulous stories and the photos to prove it.

Melvyn H. Klein, MD

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