Thursday, August 6, 2015

Summer Part 2: Oregon

Family, beach, seashells, sand, Pacific breeze, food, tide pools, bonding.

Summer Part 1: Corfu

Beaches, boats, seafood, old town, Greek bar-b-q, ancient fort, island.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

To market to market...

Two weeks ago we moved back to the city. We're enjoying the advantages the city offers... take-out, shops on every corner and public transport. Today we meandered over to some ruin-pubs where markets can be found on Sundays.

Ruin-pubs are unique to Budapest. You won't see anything like it elsewhere. The bombed-out buildings of World War II that dot the Jewish District of Budapest have been up-cycled to become trendy pubs and hang-outs. On Sundays, some of them open themselves to local vendors. While people drink beer in a courtyard of the old Jewish Ghetto, others are shopping for cheese, meat and veggies. Today our shopping bag was filled with eggs, strawberries, honey, spicy sausage and aged cheese. Yum!

You know where to find me on Sundays!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Traveling at Easter in Europe

Be wise about this. Because traveling in Europe during Easter weekend can end up being dull.

When we planned to visit Helsinki, Finland for the holiday weekend, we thought... Great place to go. Scandinavia isn't so religious so things will be open and it's not tourist season. Perfect! Not so much. Who knew that Finland is actually quite conservative? So much so that on Easter morning when we turned on the hotel TV, we could not change the channel. Only one channel was available - the channel showing Easter morning service at an Orthodox church. So now we know. Finland at Easter means no one is around for three full days. Luckily, we stayed there 4 days, so we had one day to shop the cool design district. Another night to be the only people in an Italian restaurant that I HIGHLY recommend - they treated us like we were their family sitting down to a fabulous meal and conversation. And we had some time to take a mostly empty bus to a nearby town that proved to be quaintly spectacular. While most Finns were laying low, the ones that were about proved to be some of the nicest people we've ever met. Truly, people went out of their way to help us with bus and ferry timetables, recommending sights and downright friendly conversation. Although Easter in Finland is a bit dull for the tourist, it turned out to be a great holiday.

Provoo, Finland, about an hour from Helsinki, has many old
wooden houses and cobble stone streets.

We saw divers digging up "treasures" from the river in Provoo.

Finns proved to be like Alaskans... Duct tape fixes everything!

A lighthouse in the middle of the city.
Helsinki, Finland

Some old buildings remain in Helsinki,
even though the city is quite young.
Finland has been independent only since 1918,
the end of World War I.

A lot of new architecture in Helsinki.

Tallin, Estonia

Want to get off the beaten path in Europe? I highly recommend Estonia. We only visited Tallin, the capital, but it was full of beauty, interest and surprises. Highlights included:

Beautiful old medieval town.
I recommend the walking tour that starts at 12:00
in front of the tourist information office.

Great microbrew scene.
And super inexpensive for local and imported beers!
We tried some great beers at Hell Hunt, Porgu and Hopner.

An up and coming local design scene.
Hit the Kalamaja district!
Tourist information has a great local map
that gives great recommendations in this area.

Few tourists.
Estonia is off the beaten tourist path,
so there are fewer people crowding the streets than in other European countries.
And prices were the lowest I've ever seen in all of Europe!