Friday, December 26, 2014

Southwest Road Trip

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Almost exactly 2 months after returning to the US, at the end of September, we headed out again for a much shorter trip.  We were driving towards San Diego via the Grand Canyon.  We planned about 2 weeks away from ‘home.’  Our renter was still paying our mortgage and then some, and neither of us were quite ready to settle down.  It seemed like a perfect time to get one last visit in to our close friends in California while we still had the luxury of time to spare.  We left heavy rain and flash flood warnings behind us in the plains, and headed over the Rockies, which had an early dusting of snow amongst the turning aspen. 
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Monday, December 8, 2014

London

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London holds a special charm for us.  It was the first place outside the US that we traveled together, and almost certainly where David finally fell in love with travel.  We spent just two days there on our first visit in 2003; we were traveling with David’s mother, and drove on through England and Wales, and finally Ireland (as an aside, this is also when we discovered how much more fun travel could be with other people).  We returned for 5 days in 2006, celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary.  This was our third visit.  Generally, we are much more interested in traveling to new places than revisiting old ones, but London keeps drawing us back.  It’s the only foreign destination we’ve been to more than twice.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Aston Martin

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We happened to be in London during two big events.  One was the birth of Prince George, which was more interesting to watch other people be excited about.  The other was the 100th anniversary of Aston Martin, which Lana wasn’t that interested in.  David was riveted.  The centenary was held in Kensington Gardens, just a few blocks from our hotel, and Lana very patiently spent part of a morning there as David ogled and snapped pictures.  She did have some interesting people watching, as it drew a different crowd than the park typically sees.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Scotland

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We flew from Amsterdam to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we rented a car, and immediately drove to Glasgow, an hour to the west.  We rented a cottage in Glasgow for a week (a cheaper town than Edinburgh), and were looking forward to a slower pace, and cooking our own meals.  Our travel fatigue is obvious when we reviewed our pictures for the first two days.  On the first day, David took his normal series of pictures of our accommodation, as a visual mnemonic, and we both had snapshots of amusing aisles in the grocery store while we shopped for our meals.  Half of one, long aisle was devoted to canned beans, from single cans, to 4-packs, and even small, wheeled palettes (maybe 30 cans each?), ready for customer pickup.  We didn’t know the Scots were so serious about beans.  Another aisle was taken up by ketchup, mayo, and other condiments.  On the second day, there are only pictures of the three meals we made—we didn’t even leave the cottage.  It was wonderful!  The cottage itself was another AirBnB arrangement, and was very nice.  We had a full kitchen at our disposal, as well as a washing machine (and clothes lines in the large back yard, for drying).  The street out front has little car traffic, but lots of pedestrians, and we enjoyed people watching.  It was in the 70s, and apparently that’s roasting hot for the locals, who are all wearing as little as possible, and sporting lobster red sunburns.  We read books, reviewed our photos—we were just catching up to pictures from Croatia by then—and watched a movie.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Amsterdam

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We flew from Copenhagen to Amsterdam in mid-July 2013 (whoa). It was chillier and rainier there than it had been further North in Denmark, but after so long chasing the summer, we were more than happy to be able to don jackets and scarves. We definitely felt a wry sense of humor in Amsterdam. From these giant clogs out in front of our hotel, to the strange giant horse wallpaper above our bed in our hotel room.

We stayed in the Vondelpark area of Amsterdam, which was near to the canals, but far enough outside of them to be able to afford our hotel. The location proved to be great one, near the freshly completed renovation of the Rijksmuseum.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

New York City Marathon

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We’ve fallen even further behind on the final ‘Round The World posts because we had some actual travelling to do!  One of Lana’s long-term goals has been to run the New York City Marathon (she’s run three other marathons before our trip), and she entered the marathon’s lottery for several years. The rules have since changed, but when she set this goal, if you entered the lottery for three years and didn’t get in, then you had guaranteed entry the following year.  Her plan had always been to run it on that fourth year, which is also the year she turned 40 (ahem, that would be this year).

Unfortunately/fortunately, last year she somehow managed to “win” the lottery, but found out while we were in Istanbul. At that point we didn’t know when we’d even be home, let alone how Lana would manage to train for a marathon while still traveling. Thankfully, the NYC marathon allows you to defer for a year (of course you don’t get a refund for the year you defer). But realistically it made more sense to defer, and run it in 2014 as she had initially planned.  The theory was that she would have plenty of time to get back in shape and train. 

Due to a series of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances (family health, injuries) it was not, in fact, her best training cycle. Add to that the 40 some odd pounds she’d gained on and after the trip, and not managed to lose. All of this an excuse explanation as to why she was nervous that she was not feeling particularly confident going into the trip.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bicycles everywhere

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David is an avid cyclist, and he was always looking at the bikes we encountered on our trip with the eye of both a cyclist and a photographer.  He didn’t indiscriminately take pictures of every bike he saw, but limited himself to bikes that stood out to him for some reason.  The bikes in this collection are the best of those.
Above: Penny-farthing bicycle and tricycle at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut.  Below: Classic Schwinn “Le tour” with original Sugino components in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Copenhagen

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We were very fortunate to be able to stay at houses our friends owned in several places, and Copenhagen was one of those.  We made friends with several of the people on the cruise we took in the Galapagos, and we’ve kept up with them by email and Facebook.  We met lots of amazing people along the way, and when you meet other people who enjoy travel as much as you do, and you’ve had shared experiences with them as well, these are people you want to hold on to.  For all the crap people talk about Facebook, it’s been one of the easiest ways for us to casually keep up with friends we met along the way on our trip.  While in Budapeşt Lana shared a photo of her gelato (big surprise) on Facebook.  Our friend Judith, who we met on our Galapagos cruise, commented to ask if we were planning to visit her hometown of Copenhagen.  When we said yes and told her when we’d be in town, she then offered to let us stay at her apartment, since hotels there are quite expensive.  We were thrilled, both just to see a friendly face, but also because as we quickly discovered, she was absolutely correct about the price of hotels. Money aisde, the notion of a stay in someone’s home and access to their kitchen was always a most attractive option.  We accepted immediately.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Denmark

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With our friend Nicole on her way back to the US, we were back to hunter-gatherer mode of finding a place to sleep each night, and deciding where to go.  We had a flight to Copenhagen, but no firm plans yet, and we only booked a hotel for our first night there one day in advance.  However, we were renting a car, and we knew we could be a lot more flexible with arrangements.  We felt right at home in Denmark as soon as we stepped off the plane.  One of our first sights in the airport was the folded paper lamp we have hanging in our dining room at home; here it was in a small gift shop on the concourse.  When we reached the luggage carousel, our bags were already there, side-by-side.  It was definitely one of our best airport experiences.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Vienna

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We arrived in Vienna by train from Prague, not long after noon.  After locating the apartment we were renting together, we found a place to eat lunch, and encountered Berner-Würstel for the first—but certainly not the last—time.  Vas ist das?  It’s cheese-stuffed sausage, which is then wrapped in bacon.  It originates in Austria, and we kept coming back to it—it’s extremely tasty, if we even need to clarify that.  Cheese stuffed bacon wrapped sausages--how could it not?

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Packing your life up for a year


Packing all of your belongings up for being away for a year is surprisingly different from simply moving, where you pack up, move, and then immediately unpack again.  We expected it to be different, but our preconceptions were not very accurate.  We are both organized, list-making, plan-ahead people.  We’ve moved efficiently in the past, so we didn’t feel particularly challenged by the idea of packing everything up, and then moving back into our house again a year later.  While we didn’t fail spectacularly in any sense, it wasn’t as smooth as we’d hoped.  In hindsight, we found a number of things we wish we’d known to anticipate.  If you’re packing up for an extended period—whether for travel or not, we hope some of these realizations will help you.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dresden

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We visited Dresden, Germany as a day trip from Prague.  The drive took just under two hours, and was very scenic; a portion of the drive was on the Autobahn, which wasn’t really any more exciting than any stretch of interstate highway between Montana and North Dakota, or Kansas and Colorado.   We parked blocks from the center of old town, in a parking lot that paved over some great building that had been bombed, but never rebuilt under Communist rule in East Germany.  The city center was full of gaping spaces that had been re-purposed as parking lots, or in some cases, simply fenced off pits.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Prague

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We'd had incredible luck with weather conditions for our entire trip, in part because we were chasing summer around the globe.  However, our first day in Prague was one of those rare rainy days. We were enough ahead of the weather that when we arrived, the first thing we did was find a department store where we could buy umbrellas.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Crossing Bridges

Twin Falls, Idaho

We crossed a lot of bridges in our travels; some of them were even physical ones.  Locations of each picture are in the alt text, if you hover your pointer over the image.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Victoria, Canada

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Auschwitz and Birkenau

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This will be a difficult post to write, and to read; it was certainly a difficult day, but one we don’t regret.  While planning our trip through central Europe with our friend Nicole, the three of us had agreed to tour Auschwitz while we were in Poland.  Nicole arranged for a private guide who would take us through the original Auschwitz I camp in the morning, and the expanded Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp in the afternoon.  The tour included a car and driver to take us from Krakow to Oświęcim, the city where the camps were formed.  The drive was 70 minutes, and our driver played a documentary video showing the interview of a Soviet army photographer who was attached to one of the units that first reached Auschwitz.  It was much more raw and devastating than what we had previously seen in American documentaries and films about Auschwitz.  Eventually, we all had to look out the windows and simply listen to him; the photographs were horrific.  We were all wondering silently whether or not we were prepared for what we were going to face.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Postcard: London

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Victoria Tower, Palace of Westminster, London, England.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Handles, Latches and Knobs

We already shared a collection of doors, but sometimes the hardware was the most interesting part of the door:

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Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay
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Dalat, Vietnam

Monday, August 25, 2014

Krakow

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After Budapest, the next stop on our Central European Tour was Krakow, Poland. We took a 6 hour bus ride from Budapest to Krakow, which Nicole had booked before she left. She joked that her confirmation email either said we were booked for 3 seats to Krakow, or she had just purchased an organ grinder monkey. So when they let us on the bus, were were already in a good mood. We had a rest break in Slovakia, which was on the Euro, and required one to use the bathroom. After running around getting change and then waiting in line to go, the bus was already running when Lana finally got back on the bus. It was a very pretty drive, and a much more comfortable bus than we'd been on in other parts of the world (Bolivia we're looking at you).

In Krakow, Nicole had arranged for a two bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, in the old town district.  After settling our bags there, we explored town a bit, found a grocery store, and stocked up for making our own breakfasts for the next several days.  After eating both lunch and dinner, we knew Polish food was wonderful, but we also knew our only healthy meals were going to be the breakfasts we’d cook for ourselves.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What’s Your Sign?

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We posted the amusing signs we’d collected from South America to Australia, and predicted we’d have more to share.  Here they are!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Budapeşt

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After our Bosnian adventure getting back to Zagreb, we boarded a train the next morning destined for Budapeşt, Hungary (the ş is pronounced “sh”).  We were excited to see it, but doubly excited  because we’d be meeting our dear friend Nicole there, and traveling with her for the next three weeks.  Nicole is a similar type A planner to Lana, and we gave her carte blanche to plan our travels together, within the confines of our budget.  That was a huge relief to us; the constant hunt for our next accommodation, transit, and destination was wearing us down.  It was a win-win, as she got to plan the trip, which she enjoys, and we got to tag along for once.  All we’d need to decide is where to eat, and we never really got tired of that. 
We arrived in Budapeşt in the late afternoon, and experienced the first benefit of our new travel planner when we checked in: the hotel was much nicer than anything we’d stayed in for quite a while—and at a modest price.  Nicole had the advantage of time in advance for research to find an excellent bargain, and she’s also a veteran traveler with mad skills.  We only had to wait in the lobby about 30 minutes before she arrived from the airport.
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Sunrise; Sunset.

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Victoria, British Columbia

This is simply a collection of the best sunrises and sunsets we saw across the world.

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San Juan Islands, Washington

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Through Montenegro, into Bosnia and Herzegovina

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With two free days between commitments, we had decided to drive through Montenegro, and spend the night in Bosnia and Herzegovina before returning to Zagreb to drop off our rental car.  The welcoming committee at the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was pretty cute.  Apparently, this is where the action is at in the neighborhood.  We’d done our research, and we had all of the necessary papers (it’s essential to have a green insurance card for your car, indicating that it is covered internationally, or you will be turned away).  The border crossing was pretty low tech—a hand operated drop-arm gate next to a small hut.  We drove East, and crossed into Montenegro a little later in the morning.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Croatia: Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik

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We drove further south, to Split on the Dalmatian coast.  Split (pronounced spleet) is one of the older cities in the region, dating from the 4th century.  The architecture was wonderful.  Only a few streets are large enough to allow cars; most streets were just for pedestrians, so it was very quiet.  We stayed in a tiny sobe apartment off  the alley below (the first window on the ground level was ours).

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Collection: Doors

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Waterville, Washington

We saw (and passed through) a lot of interesting doors in our travels; here are some of the best:

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Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay

Friday, July 25, 2014

One year gone, One year back

It’s been a whole year--367 days since we flew home from London. We're having a hard time wrapping our heads around that.  I have to tell you--it’s been such a hard year.


Returning knocked us for much more of a loop than we expected. Part of that was just the disorientation of staying in one place, and having more than 6 sets of clothes to choose from. In fact, David pulled out 6 or so sets, and has been wearing just those, with the rest in storage. Everything looked different—the grocery store, the excess of fortune and luck we live in here.  Different things were important to us. We struggled to find a way back in, like trying to jump into an already turning jump rope.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Plitvice, Croatia

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We flew from Istanbul to Zagreb, the capitol of Croatia.  We rented a small car there, and were very happy to be in charge of our transportation again—it had been four months since we last drove, in Australia (if you don't count the scooter we rented in Hoi An, Vietnam for a day).  We drove into the city and bought a sim for our phone, which was much easier than we feared, and then bought ingredients for a picnic lunch, which surprisingly, was harder than we hoped.  While the man at the phone store spoke English, the women behind the deli counter at the grocery did not.  As we traveled further into Central Europe (which many Westerners refer mistakenly to as Eastern Europe), we became more accustomed to English being somewhat uncommon.  It was not a bad surprise, and we got along fine with gestures and smiles, but it was the first time since leaving South America that we’d encountered a business where English wasn't spoken.  We ate our picnic lunch at a scenic spot on our way south, towards Plitvice (Plit-veet-say) Lakes National Park, in the middle of the country.  It wasn't a place that had been on our list to see, but we read about it in one of our travel books, and we had time so we thought we'd add it to our itinerary.  We're so glad we did.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Europe Map Overview & Postcard: Amsterdam

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands

An overview of our final leg of the trip, from Croatia to London, through Central Europe:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meals of Europe


With some exceptions, we managed to eat reasonably healthy meals until we reached Central Europe.  The amount of fat in dishes there was significantly higher than we had become accustomed to, and it was very seductive.  How do you say “no” to cheese-filled, bacon-wrapped sausages?  We also were able to cook for ourselves sometimes in Croatia, Poland, Vienna and Scotland, but more often than not we found the sweet siren call of western food to be too much to resist. Also, there was quite a bit of good ice cream in Europe, and excellent beer.  We were in deep trouble. These meals are from: Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Scotland and England.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cats Around The World

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Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

We didn’t see as many cats around the world as dogs, but we saw plenty, and many were quite photogenic.  We were certainly missing the indoor cats in many areas, but it was interesting to see where outdoor cats were common, and where they were rare.  We don’t remember seeing a single cat in Australia, for example.  Occasionally, like the cat in Petra, they are interested in us, but for the most part they were more interested in their own agenda, where that was a nap or…mostly it was a nap.

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Estancia, outside Puerto Natales, Chile.