Fort Hackenberg

Maginot Line: Fantasy Fortifications

Despite myriad attempts to vilify or justify its construction, the Maginot Line remains above all a paen to the historical contingency (or “shit happens”) school of analysis. It succeeded brilliantly in preventing a replay of World War I. This post takes you with us through our tour of one of the most fascinating artifacts of the Maginot Line, Fort Hackenberg.

Memorial statute at the German Military Cemetery in Saint Mihiel

Apremont Forest: Wie es War

While the extent of the great Western Front scar from the Franco-Swiss border to the English Channel can still be traced on contemporary aerial photography, very few examples of trenches sans artificial stabilization, restoration, or outright replication exist in France or Belgium. The best naturally preserved Great War trenches are in the Foret d’Apremont. Come join us as we explore the trenches of WWI.

Belgium beer at the Abbey Bar

Abbey Bar: Everything but Drunk Monks

With six rotating taps and a list of 250 bottled beers stored at optimum drinking temperatures (per beer type), the Abbey Bar can satisfy almost any yearning for a taste of Belgium brew. And the food is good too.

Merguez & clams made of spicy lamb sausage, chickpeas, and harissa

Le Vieux: A Delectable Work in Progress

Le Vieux has a pleasant atmosphere, excellent staff, a tasty wine list, and some really outstanding dishes including the best orzo I’ve ever eaten. Although there are problems with some of the dishes needing more salt and other seasonings, we expect these issues to be corrected over time. Le Vieux is a wonderful addition this Portland NW neighborhood and we wish Annette and Brian the best of luck.

Mago Scroll III

Mago Scrolls Get a Great Review

The Mago Scrolls were recently reviewed by the editor of the Historical Novel Society and got raves. Following is an excerpt… Hart brings the cooking and menus of the ancient world to succulent life, and his imaginings of famous characters like Hannibal and Hamilcar Barca and their principal Roman adversaries are lively and entirely convincing. Hart’s narrative is totally involving, although some readers will be jolted by the unabashed bawdiness of much of the adventures of Mago and other characters, and the book’s epic action sequences are uniformly thrilling. A strongly recommended romp.

Crispy octopus choucroute with bacon, house kraut, fingerlings, sherry vinegar, and frisée

St. Jack: Un Véritable Bouchon

St. Jack is one of our favorite restaurants in Portland. It has it all… offal, fried foods, wonderfully bad-for-you salads, specials, and the opportunity to watch professionals at work in a relaxed atmosphere. Whether it’s happy hour in the bar or dinner at the chef’s counter, don’t fail to get to St. Jacks. And tell Chef Barnett hello for us.

Roberto and Morgan at a gun emplacement

Sicilian WWII Battlefield Tours

Roberto Piccione is a professional tour guide for all of Italy and provides WWII battlefield tours in Sicily. He has one website in excellent English giving out helpful information ( and has another in the works. We highly recommend that you give him a call if you’re interested in seeing some interesting WWII on the island.

Folks in costumes walk among the tourists

Italian Medieval Festivals

Guest writer Hanna Johnson tells us all about discovering Italy through its medieval festivals. Come learn all about the festivals in Monteriggioni, Viterbo, and Filacciano where folks from different guilds dress and act the roles of their medieval ancestors.

Graves with Memorial Day flags

The Americans: Why the New York Times Travel Section Sucks

To be frank, Morgan is appalled by The New York Times Travel Section’s coverage of World War I’s centennial. Not only have their articles failed to do 1914 justice, but they’re full of hyperbole.

In this post, Morgan sets the record straight while taking you along on our tour of Belleau Wood, the Chateau-Thierry American Monument, the Aisle-Marne American Cemetery, the Bulldog Fountain, and the German Military Cemetery near Belleau.

It’s fascinating history, touring, and photos. The New York Times may never forgive us.

Food carts abound on 19th and Quimby

Portland Spring

We’ve returned to Portland for the spring and are loving it. In addition to visiting some old haunts, we’ve discovered some new restaurants, visited a famous food truck, explored the Wildwood Trial in Forest Park, and returned to the PSU market to see an expanded offering.

Hôtel du Lac de la Madine

Quarter Master Report: Apremont Forest

Hôtel du Lac de la Madine, a classic French restaurant with rooms owned and run by two sisters, was our second favorite place to stay on the trip. Check out the meal and the photos.